On Saturday, the last day of my staycation not devoted to laundry and checking work emails, Cristin and I piled into the car and headed up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a working farm (and restaurant, and cafe, and educational center) located on the old Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills.
The last time I visited, back in October, the chickens were out to pasture, and the leaves were turning. Life on the farm was quiet, everyone hunkering down for a long winter of root vegetables. On this visit, on the first warm day of spring, the farm was abuzz with energy and excitement, lettuces were blooming in the greenhouses, and...
...the lambs were arriving! Just that morning, three lambs were born on the farm, joining many of their cousins, who arrived earlier in the week. The two and three day old lambs were hanging out with the rest of the sheep, testing their limits with Stella, the giant Italian sheepdog, and generally enjoying themselves. The newborns (by which I mean, born just that morning) were asleep in the birthing pens, exhausted from the morning's efforts, while their mothers hovered protectively.
But happiest of all was this guy (furthest on the right), a full-grown sheep. The sheep snack on hay stored in a wire pen. The pen has a few head-shaped holes in it, and the sheep stick their faces through to get to the good stuff. Somehow, this one managed to get his whole self into the middle of the haystack. He stood there, no doubt warm and cozy, eyes shut, and chomping away. The hay pushed itself into his mouth - he didn't even have to reach out to grab a bite. He looked even happier than the pigs did in their shit.
Visiting the lambs was fun, and they are completely huggable. They're soft and cuddly and goofy and funny. None of which makes them any less delicious. Now, I know - I'm ruining a perfectly adorable post by bringing up the fact that the majority of these lambs are being raised for one reason: food.
But it's visits like this - where I get to see the process from the start, where I see how well cared-for these animals are - that reinforce my decision to eat ethically-raised meat. The idea mass-produced chicken makes me squirm with nausea, but the idea of a meal raised at Stone Barns? That I can do.