Everything sheep at The FARM on Martha’s Vineyard

Big sheep, little sheep, lots of sheep were the focus of the weekend at The FARM Institute. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Sheepapalooza — the first annual celebration of sheep at The FARM Institute — was held last weekend.

Activities began Friday evening and went through Sunday, with opportunities to visit with the lambs, learn about sheep management, prepare lamb meat, sample sheep cheese, and learn about wool, from shearing to spinning, weaving, and wearing.

The program began Friday evening, with a presentation and discussion with Stan Potratz who owns Premier 1 Supplies and also manages some 700 ewes on his farm in Washington, Iowa. Potratz discussed the national picture on lamb consumption (Americans eat more garlic per year than lamb) as well as emerging ethnic markets and individual sales, the wonderful possibilities for the Vineyard market, and fencing and grassland management.

Saturday cookbook author and caterer Cathy Walthers gave a cooking class, using recipes with Middle Eastern and Indian flavors to prepare ground lamb, rib chops, and shoulder chops. A variety of hands-on activities were also available to learn about cheese-making and the use of renewable wool.

Sheep shearer Andy Rice from Brattleboro, Vermont, spent Sunday in the historic Katama Barn, demonstrating his skills on The FARM Institute flock, and educating the audience about wool and sheep as he worked. Outside, Mr. Rice demonstrated how sheep dogs round-up and herd their charges.

“We had a great weekend,” says FARM director Jon Previant. “We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.”