Feb 28, 2012

Tuesday EWESday: Show Me Some Leg!

This is a wonderful easy recipe that you all should try. If you have enjoyed a lamb sandwich at the Ohio State Fair this is the same recipe they use at the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association booth in the Taste of Ohio Cafe.
Fun Sheep Fact: There are 3,400 sheep farms in Ohio with 129,000 sheep and lambs. Ohio ranks 13th in the production of sheep and lambs and is the largest sheep-producing state east of the Mississippi. There is a
sheep farm in every Ohio county.

Feb 21, 2012

Tuesday EWESday Will EWE take my challenge?

What food is more romantic than lamb? Even if you prepare your favorite lamb dish in your sweat pants wearing your slippers, it still gives you the feeling as if you are in a fun, swanky restaurant. Consumers often only make lamb their meat of choice for special occasions or when they dine out. Lamb sometimes catches flack for a few reasons.

1. Someone they know may have had mutton (old sheep) some place sometime and now it has a stigma.
2. They do not know how to cook with it.
3. It may be a little over your budget.

For whatever reason you do not eat lamb, often or at all, I encourage you to take my challenge and eat lamb once this month. Incorporate this healthful delicious protein into your family’s diet. If you are a savvy shopper look for a shoulder roast or buy ground lamb so it will be a little easier on your pocket book. If you want a more traditional leg of lamb, it is easy and you will be happy with your choice. You can find lamb at almost any grocery store or you can contact me directly to buy lamb from our farm.

Leg of Lamb
Servings: 12

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 whole bay leaf, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 to 9 pounds American Lamb leg, bone-in

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 to 3 hours

In small bowl, mix together soy sauce, oil, garlic, pepper, ginger, bay leaf, thyme, sage and marjoram.
Place lamb on rack in roasting pan. With sharp knife, make frequent slits in surface of lamb. Move knife from side to side to enlarge pockets. Rub herb mixture into each slit. Rub any remaining mixture over roast.
Roast in 325ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes per pound or until meat thermometer registers 145ºF for medium-rare, 160ºF for medium or 170ºF for well. Remove roast from oven, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Internal temperature will rise approximately 10 degrees. Pan drippings can be used in gravy or skimmed and served au jus.

Fun Fact: The gestation (length of time before animal will be born) of a ewe is 145 days.
This is a little ewe lamb at one day old.

This is Campbell when she was 3 years old. She was leading
one of our Horned Dorset Ewes named "Mac"
in the Guys and Gals Sheep lead contest!

We raise Horned Dorset sheep. The Horned Dorset is known as the "mother breed" because they are wonderful mothers and have good milk supply. Dorset ewes are today considered the greatest milkers of all sheep, and their lambs grow very rapidly on the rich, abundant milk. Dorsets, unlike most other breeds of sheep, which generally lamb once a year, have the genetic ability to breed year round. Three lamb crops in two years is not uncommon. Dorsets are extremely hardy and productive animals, producing a desirable carcass, medium white wool, abundant milk, and fast-growing, numerous offspring. This makes them a good choice for a commercial operation or a small family farm. In addition, their gentle temperament makes them quite suitable for children.

Feb 20, 2012

Lost in the Food Fact Clutter?

I along with Rachel  Heimerl (left) and Gretchen Mossbarger
(center) are three farm women volunteers representing Ohio.

CommonGroundTM website now answers consumer questions about farming and food

Contrary to popular belief, straightforward answers to your farming and food questions do exist. Now, consumers can find answers in one location as a result of www.FindOurCommonGround.com.
The website has transitioned from informing audiences about the CommonGround program to providing a resource for consumers on many of the most popular food and farming topics. As CommonGround sorts through the questions and some of the misconceptions consumers may have, the program’s volunteers will provide visitors with a combination of firsthand accounts of what happens on their farms and scientific research.
“I hope our website will make people aware of the fact there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Jennifer Schmidt, a CommonGround volunteer and diversified farmer from Sudlersville, Md. “Not all farmers live near or have access to urban consumers like I do in the mid-Atlantic region. Our website is a great way for farm women from all over the country to connect with consumers and share our stories.”
The enhanced site will introduce visitors to farmer volunteers such as Schmidt, who also is a registered dietitian. It also streamlines its focus on the top eight issues consumers ask volunteers about food. Those issues include:

• Animal Welfare

• Antibiotics

• Corporate Farms

• Food Prices

• GMO Foods

• Hormones

• Local/Organic

• Safety

CommonGround volunteers, like Bennett, Colo., farmer Danell Kalcevic, will dive into each issue by addressing consumer misconceptions related to their farm.
“For me, I want consumers to know that we (farmers) do not do things to harm anyone, and we eat the same food they do,” said Kalcevic, who raises a variety of crops, including wheat, millet, sunflowers, corn and cattle. “It is counterproductive to intentionally do things to the land, crops or animals we raise, and eventually sell or export, because that food ends up on our tables. I encourage consumers to check things out before spreading information that could be false.”
But sharing farmers’ personal stories serves as only one part of the equation. Making sure consumers understand the regulations farmers must follow is just as important, said CommonGround Volunteer, Renee Fordyce, who raises crops and cattle on her farm in Bethany, Mo.
“I am not a scientist, nor do I have a Ph.D., but I can speak from my personal experiences,” said Fordyce. “Sometimes all people want is a simple answer to address their concerns about food. If they want more meat to my answer, I feel comfortable directing them to CommonGround’s website because of the sound science we have to back up our experiences.”
From research to recipes, CommonGround volunteers hope to help visitors will find the answers to their important questions about food.
Have a question you want answered? CommonGround will not let it go unanswered. Find us online:

Website: www.FindOurCommonGround.com
YouTube: FindOurCommonGround
Twitter: @CommonGroundNow
Twitter Hashtag: #CGConvo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CommonGroundNow

About CommonGround™

CommonGround is a grassroots movement to foster conversation among women – on farms and in cities – about where our food comes from. The United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers using a wide range of activities. USB and NCGA provide support and a platform for the volunteers to tell their stories. The opinions and statements made by the volunteers are not necessarily representative of the policies and opinions of USB or NCGA

Feb 13, 2012

To eat or not to eat....at a popular chain?

While the short video from a popular burrito chain has been out for a while now, I just watched it today. The video vilifies large farms and encourages viewers to buy from local small farms like ours.

 While I support and advocate for consumer choice when it comes to food, it has become my tag line that “Local is great but bigger is better.” When I say bigger is better I mean it from a global viewpoint. I am thankful for customers who support smaller local growers like my family. We have a niche market to feed a sector of people who can afford to pay a bit higher price for their food. But there are those customers who must watch their dollar more closely and maybe cannot or choose not to buy as much local food. By going to a grocery store to buy meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables, you still support a family farm somewhere. Many people do not realize that 98% of all farms in the U.S. are family farms. Whatever decision you make for your family, I feel very confident in saying either is JUST FINE and even more importantly SAFE.

This time of year, my children love strawberries, berries and fresh vegetables. Our Ohio climate does not support the growth of these year round, but a farmer somewhere is producing this product and I am grateful because my children can have a balanced diet year round. When it comes to animal agriculture, our weather can be very difficult on livestock. Those animals raised inside have a safe and climate controlled home.

This particular chain also encourages people to buy meat that is organic and antibiotic free. My son Parker is prone to ear infections. When he is under the weather I take him to a Dr. If the Dr. says we need to treat this infection, then of course I want to do what is safe and best for my child. We use the proper medication for the correct length of time prescribed by the Dr. I certainly do not want to use medication if my child is not sick. If his body becomes used to it, then when he needs it, the medication will be ineffective.

I think we live in a very clean home but yet sometimes Campbell and Parker get sick. This is the same with animals. We do our best to keep the animals in a clean environment so that they can remain safe and healthy. Antibiotics cost money and producers avoid using any medication unless absolutely necessary. If a medicine needs to be used, there are stringent guidelines for each type of medication that must be followed and documented. I know from personal experience that sometimes animals get sick or injured, and I know my standards of care are very good. It is in the best interest and safety of the animal to treat that infection or illness so that they can continue to thrive and be healthy.

From a logical farming perspective we must continue to advance our farming practices or we will never come close to supplying enough food for our expanding population. There is only so much farm land that can be used to grow our food. We cannot create more farmland so we have be the best stewards of our land and produce the safest and largest amounts of product from what land we do have. Both large and small farms need to work together to feed our ever growing population.

As far as the popular burrito, I will still enjoy a chicken burrito with no beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce and guacamole every once in a while. I will not be thinking about it being organic or antibiotic free. What I will be thinking is that a farmer worked very hard to produce the grain that the animals ate and another farmer worked equally as hard to raise the animal. So whether large or small, organic or not, local or in another state, if you enjoyed a good meal today thank a farmer.

Feb 7, 2012

Tuesday EWESday!

Tuesday EWESday is a new segment of my blog I want to dedicate to EWE! Anything goes if it has to do with sheep. I have been raising sheep for a long time. I hope to share some fun and even educational things about our great industry, as well as some things I have encountered along my way.

Did you know that a Ewe is a female sheep?

February is “Lamb is for Lovers Month!”
This recipe is one that my grandma passed on to me and we have served at many parties. It is simple and easy which are important for busy people on the go. My kids love to help mix up the sauce too!

BBQ Lamb
(Serves 8)

1 American Lamb Shoulder roast (approx. 5lbs)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic power
Worcestershire Sauce to taste
1 onion chopped
½ brown sugar
14 oz bottle of ketchup

Place lamb in a roaster or Crock pot. Set heat to high. Pour in chicken stock. In a bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire, sugar and ketchup until mixed add in onion. Pour sauce over the roast. Place lid on and do not open for 6-8 hours. Cook until roast falls apart or pulls apart with a fork. Serve on a Kaiser Bun or bread of your choice!

*if roast is tied together with string, remove before roasting.http://www.reesefarmroots.com/