long nights best used for spinning

Our off-farm ventures are paused for now, but we’re hard at work turning last spring’s wool into beautiful yarn.

Hey ewe locals: use coupon code HEYEWE for 15% off all Etsy purchases if you’re picking up on farm instead of shipping, now through the end of the year. Or send us a message to schedule a time to shop by appointment in the farm store while wearing a mask.

We’re so grateful for all the support this year – thanks for making 2020 the best it could be.

Fall on the farm

Updated: You can find us at the Bethel Farmers’ Market Saturdays from 10a-12p at the Methodist Church on Main St. until Thanksgiving.

We’ll also have an Outdoor Market at the farm this weekend (10/24-10/25), 2-5p on Saturday and 12-4p on Sunday, with yarn and art set up outside if it’s not raining. Come say hi to the sheep and do some holiday shopping. Please wear a mask. We’ll reschedule if we get rained out.

Dairy production is finished for 2020, and we’ve moved into fiber production, spinning, dyeing, and knitting. Thanks to all who purchased our products so far this year! Breeding has started for lambing 2021, and so the cycle continues.

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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Brebis Gnocchi Recipe

Chef Corey Dilts turned brebis, our soft, chevre-style cheese, into gnocchi, and kindly provided his recipe!

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Brebis Gnocchi
Serves 2-3
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups brebis from The Friendly Ewe
1 cup finely grated pecorino romano
2 duck eggs (also available at The Friendly Ewe)
1 1/2 cup semolina pasta flour, plus some extra for rolling, available at Fare Share Coop
2 teaspoons salt
1) Beat eggs together.  Thoroughly combine eggs into brebis cheese and mix until smooth.
2)  Gently fold the flour, grated cheese, and salt into egg and cheese mixture, being careful to not over mix the dough.  It should be soft and a little on the wet side.
3) Using extra flour to dust board as needed, roll into logs about 3/4″ thick and cut with a sharp knife.  Optional: Gently roll each ‘pillow’ over the tines of a fork to give a texture that will help hold sauce.
4) Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add a generous amount of salt (in Italy they say for the pasta water to be “salty like the ocean”).  Add gnocchi to water and stir very gently to prevent them from sticking.  They will first sink but then rise to the top as they near completion.  Let them float at the top for 30 seconds, and then using a slotted spoon, skim finished gnocchi from the water and add to the sauce of your choosing!
Gnocchi can be cooked fresh or laid out in a single layer on a floured tray and frozen.  Once frozen, they can be transferred into a bag and kept frozen.  Cook directly from frozen – do not thaw.
Where does the name “brebis” come from? Chevre simply means “goat” in French. This cheese is similar to chevre, but comes from sheep’s milk, so we chose brebis, which means “sheep” in French.