The Hickories farm sheep stroll is an annual event where the livestock manager and farmers aided by over 200 people help move the sheep from the summer fields to their home in the barn for the winter. I was lucky enough to attend in two capacities this year, first I set up a section for RusticWares charcuterie boards and was invited to attend the event (even though it had already sold out days earlier).
The sheep stroll is much more than the simple act of bringing in the sheep for the winter. It is an opportunity for the community to come together to support a local non-profit organic farm. It signifies the beginning of winter, the holiday season and an opportunity to purchase vegetables, fruits, jams, pickled treats and meat from the fall harvest.
Last night was going to be the years largest blood moons – perfect for an event that happens at 5PM on December 3rd in Connecticut, and it must have been spectacular. Unfortunately, it was overcast in our neck of the woods and clouds blocked any chance of seeing a giant moon hanging in the nights sky.
In addition to The Hickories country store offering a huge array of products that were directly grown/raised on their farm – two local businesses were there serving up coffee, hot chocolate and food. Eggz – a food truck parked at Holbrook Farm had a tent set up and were serving mac and cheese, hot dogs and a few other goodies was very well received with a line of people waiting for their dinner. And Redding Roasters (located in Bethel, CT) was serving up hot chocolate and matcha tea.
Before the sheep began their move Dina Brewster, the owner of The Hickories gave a speech that provided some instructions on how to organize for the sheep to come marching through, but also an impassioned plea for what The Hickories stands for and what they mean to the community and the local farm community. Local small scale farms like The Hickories rely on the sun to grow their crops, warm their sheep and now run the entire operation. All energy used by The Hickories is off-set by the installation of new solar panels on the roof of the main barn.
Dina’s passion for the land, the animals and her employees is evident in voice. The deep respect for the earth, wind and sun and what it provides her, her family, farm and the community is clear and we can all learn something by simply stopping to listen – or becoming part of your own local farm organization.
Farms are disappearing at an alarming rate, and Im sure you have seen the bumper stickers that read “No Farms, No Food” and it is 100% true. If you truly care about where your food comes from – if you want to know it hasn’t traveled across the country – or globe for that matter. If you want to know what goes in to the soil and on to your vegetables, if feel local community farms should not be turned in to McMansions or Walmart’s – you need to support your local farm.
The produce, meat and other items a farm may sell is typically more than your neighborhood grocery store but isn’t knowing where your food is coming from worth it? I think we all have at one time or another caught glimpses of factory farms and their workers, or conditions at animal processing plants. Think about that next time you are at your large national chain grocery store staring down at a package of chicken thighs floating in a pool of salmonella – I get shivers just thinking about it.
If you want to start making small changes in the way we live – visit your own local small farm, ask questions and get involved.