Farmer – Jessica Roosa
This Old Farm
In 2001, the home farm ground was purchased outside of Darlington, IN. It was purchased with the thought of better understanding what it takes to farm while being able to raise children that had the opportunity to grow up in the country, learning how to work a full day. One of the first things to arrive on the farm were 3 Katahdin ewes and a ram. There was no business plan, nor thought of making this a full-time ag business. Over time, the love of the land slowly chipped away at the pull from corporate America and a steady paycheck. In 2009, a processing facility was purchased to get pastured pork, lamb, grass fed beef, and pastured poultry to, what I saw as, a growing market. I knew we needed to be able to provide a meat product with none of the additives used in the conventional meat stream.
As my knowledge in the agricultural industry grew and my actual farm time shrunk through the expanding processing business, the farm diversification model changed. While I handed off the responsibility of growing pastured pork and grass-fed beef to other local farmers, we kept our sheep flock growing. That original sheep flock grew and grew to what we have now, which is 200 ewes, giving us a near year-round supply of lamb. We are primarily a grass fed and finished operation rotating on green grass in the warm seasons and feeding a mix of haylage and hay in the cold season. We supplement with non-gmo corn when we need to meet higher nutritional needs. We offer a mineral mix formulated for sheep.
Through the years we have discovered that our Katahdin lambs are sought by an ethnic market that likes the smaller lambs we produce. In 2019, we processed our first group of lambs under a Halal exemption at our processing business and would like to see this market grow. Our goal is to be able to have individuals or businesses select their lamb that is then walked into the facility with minimal stress and processed in a manner, just like the last 2000 years.