I often wonder whether the holiday gift I’m giving is REALLY going to be appreciated. For a gift that gives more, and risks less, I make a donation rather than give an ordinary gift. Worthy charities abound, but one of my local favorites is the Adopt-a-Sheep program at Shepherd’s Way Farms. You’re probably familiar with Sheperd’s Way’s award-winning cheeses, like Big Woods Blue, Shepherd’s Hope, and Friesago, available at farmers markets, co-ops, and grocery stores around town. Every time you purchase a Shepherd’s Way cheese, you’re supporting the farm. But if you’d like to do more, and ’tis the season for that, think about adopting a Shepherd’s Way sheep.
With $100, you choose a name for one of Shepherd’s Way Farms sheep. Shepherd’s Way will give the name you select to one of their beautiful East Friesian-cross ewes or ewe lambs—they’re all girls, of course! You will receive a card with your sheep’s chosen name along with a picture of the Shepherd’s Way Farm flock.
The Adopt-a-Sheep program has been critical to the small farm’s survival after a fire destroyed their barn and most of their flock a few years ago. Since then, Shepherd’s Way has had to keep their flock small—about 200 sheep—and house the sheep in an old machine shed. Cheesemaker Jodi Ohlsen Read and shepherd Steven Read have been slowly building a new land barn on what they wryly refer to as their build-as-we-can-afford-it plan. Once the barn is finished, they hope to grow the flock to the size it once was, about 800 sheep.
The great news is they’re almost there! They have salvaged the roof of a nearby historic barn, and built a cement foundation and block walls. The new barn will be more protective, and heated for lambing. One of the last stages will be a clear plastic casing atop the cement walls under the salvaged roof to let in light, but not drafts. Your sheep adoption will help to finish the barn. It’s a great group gift for teachers and one that supports local farms and food. Then plan to visit the farm during lambing season in the spring when the barn is finished so you can see what you helped build. Sheep names will be displayed in the new barn for all visitors to see.
Shepherd’s Way Farms
8626 160th Street East
Nerstrand, MN 55053