xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Maryland’s first sheep milking farm, in New Windsor, to hold its first class on raising sheep

Maryland’s first sheep milking farm, in New Windsor, will hold a class for members of the community to show that there’s more to the sheep milking industry than they might think.

Colleen and Michael Histon operate Shepherd’s Manor Creamery, where they will hold a class for the first time to educate people on the ins and outs of sheep milk farming.

Advertisement

The event is presented by Future Harvest, a nonprofit focused on sustainable agriculture, and will be held Sunday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $20 for members of Future Harvest or $40 for nonmembers. Those who wish to participate must register beforehand by searching for “Lambing at Shepherd’s Manor Creamery” on www.eventbrite.com. The event will end with a potluck, so registered guests are asked to bring a dish.

The sheep at the farm are currently in lambing season, when adult sheep give birth. The Histons also sell cheeses and soaps that they make from the sheep milk, though they said they won’t be able to produce sheep cheese until after lambing season is over.

Advertisement

“Every year we have to have a lambing season where we generally go probably two months where we’re doing nothing but lambing, then we’ll choose when we’re going to start milking,” Colleen said. “After the lambs have been able to start eating grain and hay and drinking water on their own, it can be separated from their mother without us having to bottle feed them.”

Colleen is able to make the soaps all year round, so they will be available for purchase the day of the event, according to the event posting by Future Harvest.

Sunday’s class won’t be an opportunity to meet the sheep, but instead will be a lesson focused on an uncommon industry in Maryland.

“This class was not about the fact that we have sheep that we milk,” Colleen said. “It’s about teaching people how to care for sheep, how the problems occur, how we raise lambs, how we birth out, the confinement areas that they’re in; how they’re penned and how if a mother is having problems, how we handled that problem, how we diagnose issues that are going on with them.”

The couple used to be meat sheep farmers and got into sheep dairy farming after a trip to California where they met a cheesemonger who sold a variety of different cheeses. He told them dairy was a better idea because very little sheep meat is produced in the United States.

Colleen said she finds multiple aspects of her profession in the sheep milk industry rewarding.

“It’s rewarding when you save a lamb. There are a lot of things that happen to sheep, a lot of things within the birthing process that can make it difficult to have live lambs,” Colleen said. “There are issues that occur, so it’s great when you notice you have a mother that’s in distress and you save her lambs and you save her. The reward is having them all turn out in good health.”

Colleen said she likes that their sheep milk also benefits those who are lactose intolerant. According to Colleen, sheep cheese has a softer taste than goat cheese and can present fewer issues for those who are lactose intolerant.

Although Colleen enjoys the rewards of what she does, it’s also a lot of work, she said, and that’s something she wants to convey to the class on Sunday —so that people can really see if it is something they want to do.

“I hope that anybody who doesn’t have sheep and is contemplating whether to get them make a more educated decision on whether or not it’s a thing that they should be doing,” Colleen said.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement