By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz around this one-of-a-kind sheep farm at Southbrook Vineyards. It is the real deal. The Niagara Local was invited to a farm tour. The owner, Juliet Orazetti, texts me: Let’s meet at the winery, we just brought some sheep there.
A sheep grazes in the field behind Southbrook Winery[/caption]
Sounds great to me. I park near the tasting room (instinct) but then retract (sheep don’t drink wine). I spot a barn in the distance and walk over, where I find Ann Sperling, who happens to be the winemaker, wrapping a plumbing fixture with pipe tape to fix a broken water hose. Ann is a handy lady. She is also Juliet’s mom.
Juliet tells me after we get into her pick-up truck and drive over to the sheep grazing behind the winery, that she started working with Southbrook’s sheep back in her university days. She’d come home from UBC on holidays and in the summer to work as a farmhand to help raise and breed the sheep. Juliet, a bonafide animal lover, loved the work. But, Southbrook was barely making even on the sheep rearing, it was becoming a bit of a burden.
Owner Juliet Orazetti with her sheepies[/caption]
When she came back from Vienna after completing her Masters in Animal Breeding and Genetics, Southbrook offered her the opportunity of a lifetime. They offered her and her husband, Martin Weber, whom she met while at school in Vienna, the chance to run a sheep farm on their land, over 75 acres of gorgeous fields and woodland property. You may wonder what are the rental fees for this amazing gift. Juliet points to a rather large pile of animal effluent and says ‘That’s it, that’s our rent’. Manure! That enriches the soil of the vines and helps them grow optimally. The sheep also help keep the weeds down in between the vines. Keeping the sheep also enables Southbrook Winery to maintain their certified bio-dynamic winery qualification; a unique designation that requires raising livestock, caring for them through their full life cycle (birth to slaughter), and using their manure as compost.
So with that beautiful gift, Juliet, and Martin, have now gifted their animals as well, and, likely have the most pampered sheep and pigs that anyone has ever seen this side of the Atlantic. Come on, the pigs get whey from Upper Canada Cheese and fruit from the Fruit Shack for their afternoon snack!
Pampered piggies trying to eat my shoes, and getting their daily belly rub from Juliet[/caption]
Pigs have free range of a very large forested space[/caption]
I have never seen a farm this amazing. I was blown away by the love and kindness Juliet bestowed on her animals. They’re her babies for sure. She hugs and kisses them and later that night just quietly takes the ticks off her clothes. It’s all part of a day’s work in the country.
The sheep are entirely grass fed, no grain whatsoever. They graze in quiet, secluded pastures next to a forest, where the pigs roam freely among the trees. Martin, who did his masters in Livestock Science, specializing in raising pigs at the same school in Vienna, is equally passionate about the ethical treatment of animals. It shows. Their rams, Kaiser Franz Josef is a Charollais breed, prized for his meat traits, Nils is Gottland and Finn, he is beloved for his wool qualities.
Sheep are moved to new grazing pastures every two days through the use of moveable electric fence enclosures.[/caption]
I highly recommend you join Juliet for a tour of LincFarm. Tours are available by foot, or, maybe you can talk her in to letting you hop in the back of the pick-up truck, my favorite!
What to expect for your tour:
Expect to take your time and really relish being surrounded by happy animals and bucolic, pastoral vistas.
Some of the animals will be very interested in getting your attention, especially the pigs, and may even try to hug you, sit on your lap and try to eat your shoes.
Don’t wear designer clothes. If you’re hitting up wineries that day, you may want to bring a change of clothes.
Long pants, a light long-sleeve top, and a hat will be great to keep the bugs away.
Finally, it’s not every day that you see a farm like this, raising animals with this caliber of kind treatment. Expect to be amazed. Farms like this are rare, and this one is truly visionary.
Want to read more? Here’s the Farm review for LincFarm@Southbrook
Linc farm wool offerings[/caption]