Stephen and Annette Robbins manage a flock of Animal Welfare Approved Finnsheep sheep at The Green Shepherd Farm, LLC in Bovina, New York. The couple met over 7 years ago in New York City, where Stephen worked as a designer and Annette as an analyst for a major bank. After years of city living, the Robbins decided to leave New York City for good and pursue their dream of having a farm.
They moved to their 50-acre property in the western Catskills and began developing a plan. Being very hilly, the land was more suited to raising animals than producing crops, so the couple started learning all they could about sheep. Stephen began taking classes at Cornell Extension and researching sheep management and breeds; not long after their empty pastures were filled with life. Now in their fifth season, The Green Shepherd Farm is home to 16 breeding ewes and 30 lambs.
Stephen and Annette raise Finnsheep, a Scandinavian breed which is ideally suited to the long winters and cool summers common in the Catskills. The sheep are a natural fit for the hilly landscape of the farm and are noticeably friendly. “They’ll come right up to you and wag their tails if you scratch their chins,” Stephen says. As the sheep graze the pasture they’re protected by a guard llama, and Stephen notes that they have not lost a single sheep to predators over the years as a result.
Stephen and Annette believe that one of the many benefits of pasture-based management is that the grass itself is much more palatable and nutritious for the animals, which results in a better tasting, superior lamb. One of Stephen’s proudest moments as a farmer was when a local restaurant filled the room with customers and served shepherd’s pie made from their product. “When I looked at the room full of people enjoying our lamb, a product raised on sunshine, rain, dirt, and grass—it felt really amazing to see those smiles,” he recalls.
“It’s a good thing to treat animals with compassion and intelligence,” Stephen explains. “We try to utilize as much of the animal as possible, everything from the fiber to organs. Not just to be efficient, or for the income, but because we believe it is a terrible shame to waste anything from these creatures.”
The Green Shepherd Farm, LLC, pastured lamb is available at local stores in the Bovina area. Alternatively, customers can order whole lambs direct from the farm.To learn more about The Green Shepherd Farm, LLC, visit http://greenshepherdfarm.com or contact Stephen or Annette at firstname.lastname@example.org.