SHEPHERD’S WAY FARMS • Northfield
We phoned Jodi Ohlsen Read at Shepherd’s Way in early March, on what turned out to be the busiest lambing day of the year. “I just came in from bottle-feeding babies, everyone’s happy in the barn,” she laughs. “I think there were 28 new babies yesterday. We must be at about 140 total for the year, almost half way there.”
The number of players in the dairy sheep industry has shrunk in the last few years, so Read is tackling the milk shortage head-on. “We knew we needed to grow our flock,” says Read. “More cheese means more milk, more milk means more sheep, and more sheep means finishing one barn and building another.” To fund construction, Read successfully raised over $60,000 on Kickstarter in January. She’s also received a grant from the USDA to help with production of cheeses, meats, and wool products.
“To have somebody look at your plan and what you’re doing and support it,” says Read, “the validation is nice and the operating capital is extraordinarily nice. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so busy, and it’s really exciting to have all these tools to finally get things rolling at a level that will make the farm self-sustaining.”
Her Big Woods Blue continues to be one of the state’s finest blues. She’ll bring back the popular Morcella—a soft, bloomy-rind cheese made with morel mushrooms—once the sheep have been munching on green grass for a while, probably around May. Shepherd’s Hope, their popular queso fresco, will also return after a winter hiatus.