This past week I spent an eye-opening, heart-warming day at Star Thrower Farm to help with the new season’s lambing. My visit was at the tail-end of the birthing season so only a dozen ewes were still pregnant… and over the course of a nice warm Spring Minnesota day, none decided it was time. Still there was plenty to do on the farm, located about one hour west of the Twin Cities, helping gracious hosts Scott and Deborah Pikovsky feed the bottle babies, shoo the errant lambs back through the fence (just wait until your back is turned), befriending the guard llama, planting, cleaning, watering… and corralling those that were off for processing. Very visceral experience.
Scott and Deborah are relatively new at being shepherds and farmers, heading into just their sixth year, but first and foremost, Star Thrower farm is about making cheese. They sell for meat, pelts and fibers as well but it’s really about the cheese.
Several times during the day Deborah said “animals first” – referring to how decisions are made at the farm. Yes, they could host events, weddings, make the farm a tourism showcase but they don’t. This is farming at its roots and every choice is filtered through the effect it will have on the animals and the land they graze.
I understand even more just how hard running a small farm is; expensive in time, in labor and even “simple” matters like grass seed. Look into the cost of seeding 60 acres some time.
Star Thrower breeds Icelandic sheep. They present a wide array of patterns and colors, 17 in all. They’re docile and loving, their lambs curious and playful. Their milk, rich with high yield.
Cheesemaking will start up again in June as the lambs are weened; one 24 hour job replaced by another.
I’m already looking forward to coming back later this summer to see how they are doing, and will definitely come back next Spring for lambing!