If there's ever been a true symbol of spring, it's the newly-born lamb and the newly-hatched chick. Ferme JAE Farm in Beechgrove, halfway between Luskville and Quyon, currently has plenty of both.
New lambs are arriving on schedule for the flock of North Country Cheviot x Suffolk and Rideau Arcott sheep owned by Andrea Goffart and Jozsef Veres.
Inside the 1930’s era barn, mums, new-born lambs and a group of sleek and happy youngsters busily munch on sweet hay in large open pens.
Outside, a second group of sheep is just as busy, grazing the bright green grass on the 177 acres still known in the area as the Emmerson farm.
"Right now we are building up our flock," explained Goffart, who began her life-long dream of farming when she and Veres bought the property six years ago. "Oddly enough, we got into sheep on account of a horse. In December 2012, we went to buy a horse and ended up bringing home 13 bred ewes [female sheep] as well. By mid-January, the first lambs in our flock were born. Raising sheep is a highly personal thing. Many of those original lambs and their mothers form the basis of our current 83-head flock. It was a steep learning curve for us for the first couple of years. Now, thankfully, the learning has leveled off but as long as we keep animals, we will keep on learning."
Veres grew up on a small farm in Hungary, not so different from his current life in Canada. For him, it has been a return to his roots. The process of operating a small farm in Hungary was much less mechanized than it is here. “Nowadays, it would be difficult to do everything the old way; there just aren’t enough people around to help with the work," he remarked.
Some things are still done the old way, though. Predator control, for example, is overseen by the two right-hand dogs, Terra and Sunny. The continuation of the North Country Cheviot and Suffolk genetics are looked after by two magnificent rams, Caspian (Cheviot) and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (Suffolk).
JAE Farm specializes in farm-gate sales of grass-fed lamb. The flock is fed on pasture from May to November and are given hay from the fields for when they cannot graze outside. In addition to lamb, the farm also produces chickens for meat and eggs, as well as raising the occasional pig. Whatever they raise, the philosophy of ethically produced meat is paramount to the couple.
"It's important for me to offer our animals a really good life," said Goffart, "What’s good for them is also good for me as a consumer. Mass animal production may be responsible for feeding the masses, but it compromises the animals’ quality of life. Animals are sentient beings. Just like humans, they deserve a dignified life. Everyone should know that their lamb or pork chop was once a beautiful individual with a family. It helps us to shoulder our responsibility towards animals. If people met their meat while it was alive, maybe they would make responsible animal welfare decisions… or become vegetarian.”
"Less than a hundred years ago, we all knew where our food came from because we grew it ourselves," Goffart added. "I am romantically drawn to that time."
JAE Farm sells lamb by the order: fully butchered and frozen, by the whole, half or individual cuts. Chicken is also available by pre-order, as are pork and eggs.
Address:1287 Chemin Taber, Quyon
Telephone: 819 351 5513