Questions you may have
Can I come to the farm and buy lamb or chicken there? As much as we would like to sell our lamb and poultry directly from the farm, we don’t. We don’t have the time or the set-up to be a retail location. Please come to the farmers’ market or contact us for an alternative delivery.
Are the lamb, poultry and eggs organic? No, they aren't. We advertise our lamb as 100% grass-fed. This means that they are never fed grain---just grass in the summer and hay in the winter.
Our poultry is pastured and free-range. They always have access to the bugs, grass, weeds, and whatever else they can find around the farm. They pick through the hay that we feed the sheep, ensuring that almost no nutrients are wasted.
Why isn’t Meadowlark Farm certified organic? The simple answer is that the winter hay that we feed the sheep and the chicken feed is not organic. We would love to have a 100% certified organic operation. Sadly there are very few organic farmers in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon. Organic animal feed is hard to find and must travel a long distance. So the questions become that of values: shall we support our neighbors who grow our hay and keep them in business, or buy organic hay from someone miles away? Shall we support the locally-owned Zamzow Feed Mill and keep this important processing asset in business, or import organic feed from hundreds of miles away? We have chosen to support our community and forsake the purity of the organic label. Our farm is a registered organic farm with the Idaho Department of Agriculture. Simply put, this means we use no herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Do we use antibiotics or hormones on the livestock? Our philosophy is that healthy soil grows healthy grass which grows healthy animals. We try our very best to provide an environment that gives the animals optimum health. They have clean water, fresh air, shade & shelter, nutritious food, and exercise. We never use growth hormones. Very rarely do we use antibiotics, like penicillin. Antibiotics can be overused in people and animals. They are tools, ones that we employ after observation and deliberation---never as a first thought. We prefer rely on natural remedies like apple cider vinegar and garlic.
How do you combat worms and other internal parasites? We have used some high powered worm killers in the past. For months you could find that chemical-laden sheep poop in the pasture. You could find it because the micro-organisms in the soil refused to break it down. Normal poop decomposes quickly, within weeks.
We have been removing the sheep that are prone to parasites from the flock for several years in our effort to have sheep that are genetically resistant. So we naturally have fewer problems. For the few ewes and lambs that may have them, we just give them a mouthful of 100% garlic juice. It seems to be working.
Do you sell anywhere else besides the Boise Farmers Market in Boise? We sell to a few restaurants and caterers in the Boise area.
Do you ship? We've looked into it and the shipping is as expensive as the meat. We encourage folks who love good lamb and chicken to support farmers close to their home.
How many sheep and chickens are on Meadowlark Farm? We maintain a flock of 1 ram and about 55 ewes. Each year we have between 80 and 100 lambs. This number of sheep matches our ability to provide high quality pasture for them. Each year we raise several hundred meat chickens in batches of about 150 each. We also have about 100 laying hens. We could raise more animals, but they would need more space than we have.
Where are they butchered and how? The sheep are butchered at Northwest Premium Meats about 6 miles away in Nampa. The chickens are butchered at Intermountain Poultry in New Plymouth.
There is a lot of stories about the damage that livestock do and how we all could do the planet a favor and not eat meat. How do you explain this dilemma? We should all eat less meat. Period. That may be surprising to hear from farmers who raise meat, but we should eat less of it and buy high quality when we do.
So why eat meat at all? Eating high quality meat is not just about the meat. Livestock that is integrated into a diversified farming system provides several advantages.
1. Resources are recycled. Little goes to waste. Livestock eat surplus or blemished grains, and produce.
2. Pasture is a carbon sink.
3. Pasture builds soil and provides an important habitat.
4. Livestock, especially ruminants, convert the earth's most plentiful product, grass, into meat and milk. These are nutritious products that humans can eat.
5. Animal manure is a valuable fertilizer.
6. Livestock provide an income stream to diversified family farms.
7. Taking care of livestock provides meaningful work for a wide variety of ages and physical abilities.
8. Raising animals helps us become better human beings.
The only meat we do eat is grown by someone we know and trust. We only buy organic milk when we can't buy it from someone we know. If you're going to eat meat, eat grass-fed, humanely-raised meat raised by a local farmer.