Lambing: My favorite time of the year on the farm! I love to watch all the babies frolicking in the corral. On our farm, we are almost through with the first lambing season of 2021. It is a busy time, but we enjoy this season. While there is much work to be done during this time, it allows us to spend a lot of time together as a family. On our farm, we lamb every eight months which gives us three lamb crops in two years. This is referred to as accelerated lambing. We are able to to do this because of the breed of sheep we own, which are Polypay. Polypay sheep are known for their maternal instincts, prolificacy and dual purpose of producing both meat and wool.
To be successful sheep producers participating in accelerated lambing, we must keep the newborn lambs and their mommas, which we call ewes, as healthy as possible. To do this, we have worked with our flock veterinarian to develop a flock health protocol that outlines any treatments and vaccinations our sheep may need. We also provide our flock with a balanced feed ration to ensure they are getting all the protein, energy and nutrients they need to thrive. Finally, we work to manage our pen maintenance to provide our flock with an environment that is comfortable and keeps their wool clean.
The arctic temperatures that Nebraska experienced in February were hard on us producers, but the lambs are very resilient. Being prepared for the adverse conditions on our operation is important for the comfort of our animals. We have a barn where the babies are born and spend their first 48 hours. However, during extreme cold temperatures, we let the lambs and ewes remain in the barn for an extended period of time until we feel they are ready. This time inside the barn allows for the ewes and lambs to form their bond, and we can make sure the lamb has eaten and can withstand the extreme outdoor elements. Before the lambs are let outside, we administer their first vaccinations to boost animal health.
Outside in the corral, we are making sure the pens are bedded down with straw and the babies have a warm place to go to get out of the cold. The lambs can go in the feeding area where they can eat special supplemental pelleted feed and lay under heat lamps.
Just like the lambs, the ewes are also resilient. Keeping their feed bunks full and giving them clean water will keep them warm and give them plenty of nutrients to care for their babies.
We aren’t just celebrating lambing season almost being done in February. We also are celebrating Lamb Lovers Month! To have a proper celebration, we are cooking up one of our favorite lamb dishes. I found this recipe on the American Lamb Board website. They have a bunch of delicious recipes on their website. Go check them out!
This dish is perfect for a cold February night.
American Lamb Burger Helper
- 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1 pound ground American lamb
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 to 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup asiago cheese
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup parsley optional
- Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.I ended up using Rotini noodles because that was what was available at my grocery store.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add onion and sauté until translucent.
- Add ground lamb, sprinkle with salt. Sauté, breaking up the lamb with a spatula until the lamb is cooked through and no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain excess fat.
- Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, broth (starting with one cup) and remaining spices. Add cooked pasta. Adjust broth as needed to reach desired consistency.
- Remove from heat and add heavy cream, asiago and cheddar cheeses, and stir to combine. I couldn’t find asiago cheese in my grocery store, but I did find a shredded cheese mix that included asiago that I used.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!