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Life of an Urban Shepard

Posted 3/22/2016 1:07pm by Charlie Payne.

       Well first let me first introduce myself, my name is Charlie Payne and I am a 28 year old single male and the first in four generations to return to agriculture, along with juggling a job in the conservation field. Growing up with a veterinarian for a father, I have always been around animals and always loved farming; but never thought that I would find myself living on a farm, much less owning and managing one. In September of 2014 I found myself in the position to purchase a small farm in the NW corner of Delaware County Ohio and thus began my journey into farming and raising livestock. My journey probably started at a much younger age when my mother first taught me to cook and to have a passion for the food that we consume. I have always been a bit of a foodie, and have had a passion for cooking with the best possible ingredients and this is what has lead to my interest in eating as local as possible and the concept of farm-to-table dining. The following blog will be a look into my life as a beginning farmer and the highs and lows that come with working with livestock. 

      The madness truly began in the spring of 2015, when my father and I decided to purchase a flock of 26 Katahdin ewe's that would make up our starter flock. Please note that before this I had never owned a sheep, let alone almost 30; and outside of a summer spent working on a ranch like property in Nebraska, I had zero experience with building fence, breeding and birthing, and the general care associated with raising livestock. Luckily between living in a great farming community and the internet here I am almost a year later with almost 40 lambs born on the farm so far this spring. I will say that this much joy hasn't come without its share of low's, and where there is life there is also unfortunately death. Last fall we had to put down a ewe that had contracted a debilitating autoimmune disease, had another that twisted the ever complicated digestive track that sheep have, and finally one that decided to drown herself in a water trough. To say that this first year has been a lesson in hard knocks would truly be an understatement. But with these lows also came some amazing highs. We were able to process 3 lambs last fall for our own consumption and to start drumming up sales of future lamb. The feedback has been absolutely incredible, with many folks saying that it is some of the best lamb that they have ever had. I have also gotten to learn how to be an animal OB, with more knowledge of female anatomy, birth, and nursing than I ever thought that I would, and have experienced more times than I would care to admit the joy of helping bring new life into this world.

Brand new lamb

    This brings us to present day. It was funny, just last Friday, I had helped my neighbor run cattle through a chute that afternoon and came home to a ewe in labor and struggling, I was able to get the lamb pulled and after a second birth we had healthy twins nursing off of mama. It was 10:30 at night by this point, I hadn't eaten dinner yet, and was covered in cow and sheep manure, as well as a lovely mixture of amniotic fluid and OB lube and thought to myself here I am doing this instead of out at the bars trying to meet folks... And yet here I am loving every minute of it and following my dream of bringing great food to people, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I look forward to sharing this life with you and hope that you enjoy following along.

Same lamb already nursing

As always know your food, and know your farmer,

Charlie   

Wheel Barrow