In order for sheep to be healthy, they need to be sheared at least once a year. We shear our ewes twice annually (our lambs are not sheared). Since sheep cannot shed like other animals, excess wool can impede their ability to regulate body temperature and affect their hygiene, causing infections and endangering their health. Too much wool can also affect their ability to move quickly and avoid predators (we have coyotes in Tomales). Don’t worry, shearing doesn’t hurt sheep, it's like getting a haircut.
First, we separate the ewes (mothers) from the lambs (babies).
Next, the ewes move through the corral and up into the mobile shearing unit (we made this name up, we’re in the wine business - mobile bottling unit). Where the ewes wait their turn “patiently” for a haircut.
There are sliding wooden doors inside the trailer separating the ewes from the shearers. When the shearer is ready, they slide their door down and bring the next ewe inside the trailer. Let the shearing begin!
Once the ewes are naked, they exit through the open doorway back into the pasture to get acclimated.
Now, rewind and let’s look at where the fleece goes once it is removed from the ewes. Do you remember the little doorway underneath where the ewes were waiting their turn? The shearers slide the fleece towards the opening and the fleece is collected on the other side.
Sheep produce lanolin, also known as wool wax, to repel water off their coats. Lanolin is produced by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals (sheep!). Greasy to the touch, the fleece has to be cleaned and the lanolin removed in order for us to use the wool.
The unprocessed fleece is put into the Dominator. This machine (costs as much as some cars) came from New Zealand and is used to press the wool into a bale. This used to be done manually by jumping into the bales to press down the wool (short workers took their turn last to ensure they could get out)!
Once the bale of unprocessed wool is full, it is sealed with giant hooks and removed from the Dominator.
A full bale can weigh up to 450 pounds. These bales now get shipped off for processing.
Reunited and it feels so good! Back to the sheep...the lambs are now released into the pasture with the ewes. Did you know that lambs and ewes can recognize each other’s calls? Pretty cool, huh?
(sheep really can jump)
Now we move the sheared ewes and lambs to another pasture to make room for the next round.
Our sheep are kept in separate pastures, so we can keep track of their ages.
Two fast facts this month:
Meet Gordon, the Kiwi that has sheard over 2.5 million sheep!
He travels all over the world and is a third generation shearer.
Shearers wear special moccasins that grip the floor, so they have
good traction for shearing (ewes can weigh over 200 pounds).
ARTISAN OF THE MONTH
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT LONG MEADOW RANCH (LMR)?
Banquet Sous Chef & Charcutier
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH LMR?
I started with LMR on October 5, 2012
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT AT LMR?
My favorite project is the continuous project of our charcuterie program, it does not stop or take a break. I watch over our salumi as if they were my own children, I create them, care for them, and mold them into what I want them to be as they grow old and age.
WHAT DO YOU WISH OTHER PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT LMR?
I have the pleasure of working with an incredible staff. Mark Faulkner and Brian Albright are the backbone of the banquet and charcuterie kitchen, big shout out to these guys!
TELL US HOW YOU GOT INTO COOKING. WAS IT A NATURAL FIT FROM THE START OR DID YOU TAKE VARIOUS AVENUES BEFORE LANDING IN THE FIELD?
I believe it started as a toddler before I could even speak, my Italian mother and grandmother would give me sausage while they were cooking up tomato sauce or Italian sausage sandwiches; the story goes my first words were “Italian sausage” and here I am today making sausage for a career. I had my first kitchen job when I was 16 doing dishes on Catalina Island and I have been cooking since.
WHAT KIND OF TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY?
I see more and more restaurants every day moving back to the true artisan ways of doing it yourself by hand, using the highest quality ingredients and believing in the work they do. The trend of farm to table and nose to tail is becoming the normal and responsible way of the restaurant industry, as it should be.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I am inspired by all the hard working microorganisms responsible for all the delicious fermented foods we all love and enjoy such as salumi, cheese, yogurt, pickles, bread, hot sauce, funky sauces and of course alcohol.
BEST VACATION YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN?
The best vacation I ever had was 21 years ago to the Napa Valley on my honeymoon. I was a young inspired chef of a little Italian restaurant at the time in Central California. The Napa Valley was so exciting for me, I was in love with the food, wine, vineyards and of course my beautiful wife. I knew at the time one day the Napa Valley would play a role in my career.
RED OR WHITE WINE?
Is it hot or cold outside, am I eating, what am I eating, am I eating with company, if so are we celebrating or is it casual? These are all good examples of what may change my ideal glass of wine at the given time, but when in doubt I will take a glass of bubbles!
BIKE OR MOTORCYCLE?
Bike, the one thing my mom has ever asked of me is no motorcycles, so I respect that. Although I stop to look at motorcycles more than I do bikes.
SUSHI OR PIZZA?
Pizza, even sushi can't top pizza!
IPHONE OR ANDROID?
MOUNTAINS OR OCEAN?
Both, you gotta love California!
AT THE TABLE
VANILLA-CAMPARI PANNA COTTA WITH RED PLUM COMPOTE
Recipe Courtesy: Tim Mosblech, LMR Estate Chef
10 oz. heavy cream
½ c granulated sugar
3 T Campari
4 T freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ea. gelatin sheets (or 1 T powdered gelatin)
1 ea. vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
plum compote (see recipe below)
Special equipment: 4 4oz ramekins, molds or small tumblers.
Heat cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add Campari, orange juice and the vanilla bean seeds. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to cream, stirring until dissolved. Pour into four, 4 oz. capacity molds or small tumblers. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until set. Top with a generous tablespoon of plum compote before serving and enjoy!
1 lb. red plums
¾ c sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole star anise
Roughly chop the plums, retaining the pits – they can be added, as they will be removed after cooking. Combine plums, sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until plums are very tender and compote thickens. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Transfer compote to a bowl, discarding pits, cinnamon stick and star anise.
Can be kept refrigerated for 6 months. Try it on ice cream, yogurt, or toast.
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