The thing about meat is, it doesn't happen overnight. To be a successful meat producer, you have to plan years in advance for what you want to be selling. Some farmers will shorten that process by purchasing already weaned animals from another farm that birthed them, so the farmer only needs to finish the animals out to butcher weight. There's nothing wrong with that process and it works quite well for many farmers, however, all of our market animals are born, raised, and finished on our farm, which lengthens the time it takes us to raise them for butcher.
We first added sheep to our farm in the Spring of 2016. The flock of St. Croix/Dorper hair sheep traveled to Green Fire from our team member, Kate's farm in Illinois. They fit well on the farm, and found their pasture place in the silvopasture, alongside the pigs. All went well in their first year, and the early winter resulted in 18 healthy, happy lambs. The lambs remain with their mothers (ewes) for their entire life. They nurse for a few months, but are able to eat forage when they are as young as two weeks old. They'll actually start to nibble solid food a few days after birth. By the time they're 4-6 weeks old, as much as 50% of their nutrition comes from solid food, instead of their mother's milk.
If you're following the timeline, this means the lambs were born in February of 2017. Lambs are not ready for butcher until they are fully grown. That's right - our lamb meat (despite the term) does not come from the cute baby lambs you see depicted as frolicking through fields of flowers at Easter. Our lambs are fully grown adults that simply haven't reproduced. This usually takes about nine to ten months. So, by the timeline, the lambs were raised out on pasture with the flock through the grazing season, into the fall. This small flock resulted in our lamb supply for 2018.
Because it was our first time offering lamb meat at market, we weren't sure how it would sell, and so, chose not to expand our flock size after our first lambing. However, we have found the lamb meat is well received and so, are currently planning to expand our flock size to increase our production in the coming years.
We'll have more lamb available towards the year end, but a limited supply. Watch our newsletter for updates - we appreciate your patience! Thank you!