• Letter to Readers
  • Letter to Readers

    It was a day like today in June of 2007 that we published the first print issue of Vermont’s Local Banquet magazine. The word localvore had newly been coined and folks were engaged in localvore challenges in an effort to reduce the distance food travelled, thus the carbon footprint, and to support a growing farming economy.

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Articles tagged with: Sheep

Vermont Preserves Unusual Breeds

Katie Sullivan | May 15, 2017 | Summer '17 | Issue forty-one

Gotland sheep

As the major breeds of animals in agriculture become ever more populous, farmers are increasingly aware of the genetic peril we face when we rely on just a few highly specialized breeds of a handful of species.

Last Morsel—A Slow Tan

Caroline Abels | February 10, 2016 | On the Farm

Sheepskin

Sheep aren’t raised for their skins, but the soft pelts that are a byproduct of meat and wool production are a fluffy reward for farmers and homesteaders who spend many hours tending their flocks.

The Shearer’s Daughter

Helen Whybrow | February 09, 2016 | Spring '16 | Issue thirty-six

Gwen shearing a sheep

During peak shearing seasons, Gwen often leaves her house at 4 a.m. and doesn’t return until after 10 p.m. Over those long days she might shear more than 100 sheep and drive several hundred miles, barely stopping for a meal. She estimates that annually she drives 40,000 miles and shears 8,000 to 10,000 sheep.

Sheep Dairies

Why aren’t there more in Vermont?

Katie Sullivan | August 25, 2015 | Fall '15 | Issue thirty-four

David Major’s flock at Vermont Shepherd

Vermont is famous for cow dairies, but as the market for artisanal cheese has boomed, goat and sheep milk cheeses have entered the mix. Over the past 20 years, a number of farmers have launched goat dairies for farmstead cheese and for fluid milk sales. Some are former cow operations that switched business models when cow milk prices plummeted. Others began with dairy goats from the start.

Set the Table with Mutton

Katie Sullivan | August 21, 2014 | Fall '14 | Issue thirty

Sheep in pasture

I once had a “wild” sheep named Janet. When I would walk down to the field where she was kept with the other sheep, she would observe me with calm confidence. Then, when I would open the gate from one enclosure to the next, she’d jump the fence and run away up the hill.

A Boost to the Butchers

Julia Shipley | December 01, 2009 | Food Systems

Tony Brault and Gary Barnes

In March 2009, in an attempt to help strengthen Vermont’s meat-processing infrastructure, the Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program awarded $40,000 in grants to four facilities. For recipient Tony Brault, it was perfect timing; he had been planning to add on a spiffy retail area to his slaughterhouse. But for grantee Gary Barnes, who runs a meat market, the amount he was awarded would barely begin to cover the cost of adding on a separate processing area for wild game, so as of this writing, he had not collected the grant funds. Nevertheless, the grants helped both of these meat facilities in northern Vermont, with and without funding, and here’s how.

A Breed Apart

Caroline Abels | December 01, 2009 | Issues Archive

Ben Machin

On a 40-acre hillside in Corinth, Ben Machin raises a flock of 60 Tunis sheep. They’re a “heritage breed”—a domesticated breed of animal that has a long genetic history but is now endangered. As industrial agriculture continues to rely on just a few breeds designed for maximum growth in the shortest amount of time, more sustainable farmers are raising heritage breeds as an alternative—and to save them. Ben, a 35-year-old farmer who also works as a forester with Redstart Forestry and Consulting, is managing the flock that his great-grandfather started in the 1920s. Local Banquet editor Caroline Abels recently spoke with Ben about his unique sheep and why heritage breeds matter.

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Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape ties into larger questions of sustainability and the future of our food supply. 

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