As lambing, milking, and pasture time are the focal points at 3-Corner Field Farm, each year on our farm begins not with the New Year, but with preparation for the lambing season.
MarchThe sheep are shorn in preparation for lambing. Fleeces are bagged and the best are set aside to be made into yarn. Shearing the ewes at this time makes lambing cleaner and, therefore, healthier for the lambs.
AprilLambing begins, and everyone helps out caring for the newborns and their mothers (dams). Lambs are kept in the barn for a few days to make sure they are healthy and strong. Then, the lambs and their dams go out to pasture together.
MayWe start milking the ewes this month. The ewes spend all of their time out on pasture. The grass is lush and succulent so their milk is plentiful.
JuneThe milking ewes get plenty of exercise walking to the milking parlor twice a day (some of the pastures are a half-mile from the parlor). Our herding dog, Sweep, can take them back-and-forth by herself while the shepherd stays in the field to set up the fencing in the new grazing area.
JulyEwes and lambs are given fresh pasture daily to ensure that they have the highest quality grass on which to produce milk and to grow.
AugustOn the hottest days of summer the lambs relax in the shade during the day and spend evenings and early morning grazing.
SeptemberWe return to the Green Market at Union Square in New York City to customers and chefs who have waited patiently for this years lamb and sheeps milk cheeses.
OctoberAs the days shorten, the dairy ewes are milked less frequently and then the milking season ends for this year. The ewes are placed on our less productive pastures to reduce their milk supply and to add fertility to the soil with their manure. As always, Francoise, our guard donkey, is on the job.
NovemberThis is breeding season on the Farm. The ewes are divided into groups that include one breeding ram each. The colors on their wool indicate if they have been bred successfully.
DecemberDuring the early winter months the sheep live on pasture that has been allowed to grow in the autumn and is stored under the snow. When the grass is gone, they eat hay that we deliver to them. Their long fleeces protect them from the cold. Roque, our Maremma-Abruzzi guard dog, protects the sheep year round. Her thick coat keeps her warm on the coldest nights.
JanuaryWhen the snow is deep, we use a tractor to make paths for the flock to access the year-round stream and to find sunny places in which to lie down and ruminate. When the stream is frozen, they eat the snow as a source of water.
FebruaryToward the end of the month, we start training this years dairy lambs to go into the milking parlor. This prepares them for the first day they will be milked. With a little grain and some gentle coaxing, they learn not to be afraid of this new environment.