Early Summer

Let me start out by acknowledging that I’m farming on stolen land, land which I accessed through my white privilege, and my white privilege affects my every interaction with customers, vendors, lenders, neighbors, and strangers. Black Lives Matter. As a farmer and food producer, I have a responsibility to work for progress in food justice and plain old justice for cops who murder black people. The Friendly Ewe will be donating $1 from every on-farm purchase for the month of June to Black Lives Matter.

As the global pandemic continues and across the country, rightfully angry people take great risks to rise up and demand justice, it has become summer on the farm. What follows are some thoughts on where the farm is at right now. This is a small-scale farm that’s supposed to be part of the solution, the new world, which is very easy to talk about and much more difficult to realize.

There has never been an easier season to milk. Lambing and the arrival of covid pretty much coincided. “I can’t – I have to milk,” was a common refrain in previous years as I struggled with invitations to evening social outings or weekend getaways. Those things don’t exist now. I’m home all the time, which makes milking, as well as keeping regular store hours, much simpler. We had a record number of lambs born on the farm this year – 13 – including our first set of quadruplets. All were healthy, all ewes lambed successfully, and all lambs are now off to good homes.

The pasture is more lush with each year of rotational grazing and manure spreading building the organic matter in the soil. The homestead feels more realized than in past summers, with no new construction happening. Things are mostly working as they should – the fence charger, the online store, the cheese recipes. I bought a new ice cream maker that works way better, and I only wish I had invested in it sooner.

Covid has cut both on- and off-farm sales. I spend a lot more time focused on marketing than in the past, when it often felt like demand exceeded production. It’s been more challenging to find several staples needed on the farm. Minimizing the human interaction has put ideas I had about on-farm education on hold. There is no Zoom sheep milking class in the works.

I would like to stain the barn this summer. Ideally, I’d get rain gutters and the rain barrel set up for the garden, build some kind of trellis/arbor situation for the deck, and build a chicken tractor and get a few layers. I’m not sure if any of that will happen, as keeping up with what’s already here seems to take up more time than I have.

We welcomed Saskatoonberry, an angora bunny, to the farm this month. He’s a sweetheart who will produce astounding amounts of super-soft fiber to blend with the wool.

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