Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Know Your Farmer - Sinclair Family Farm

I love this picture of the sheep and chickens together!
For many people a trip to the farmers market is just a produce oriented grocery run, quickly grabbing the items needed for tonight's supper or this week's juicing. Not many people pay much attention to who is certified organic, who is not, and which farms may practice organic farming, but just couldn't afford to get the certification.  The questions of how produce or livestock are raised require getting to know the farmers and, if you are lucky and able to, a visit to their farm or orchard. 

Sacramento is lucky in that we are within 10-50 miles of hundreds of farms, thus our Farm to Fork Capital designation. Many of these farms do provide opportunities for the public to come and visit for fun with a bit of education combined. Some of the well known farms with visitor days include Capay Organic, Soil Born Farms, and Twin Peaks Orchard. Each of these  provide opportunities to see where and how your produce is grown.


Sinclair Family Farm has a Day on the Farm as well (details at end of post), but their focus is on livestock and showing you an environment where pigs, chickens, sheep, and cattle are being raised in the best way possible.  They raise happy animals.

I was invited to go visit the Sinclair Family Farm in Newcastle. The Sinclairs are not multi-generational farmers with a history spanning 50-100 years. Instead, Karin and Keith got involved with farming first through participating in 4H programs when they were young. Once they met and married, they had children of their own and bought a 15 acre property in Penryn. Soon their children started raising animals for 4H as well. Their daughter, Tina, raised sheep and their son, Matt, raised cattle. Over the years they added more sheep and cattle, bought more property, and then added chickens and pigs.




Yes, honey too
There are two farm properties. The one in Penryn is their original property and has the chickens, both egg layers and fryers, pigs, and the lambs that have been weaned from their mamas. They also grow some produce as well. The property in Newcastle is 125 acres and is where their son now lives and the sheep and cattle are bred.


They have 26 breeding cows as well as a dairy cow and a couple of bulls. The young will be raised for 16-18 months.


There are 100 breeding ewes who often have twins or even triplets. The majority are Dorsets, which can breed twice a year. The sheep are bred in Newcastle and then once the lambs are weaned, they are taken to Penryn to finish growing.


They have 600 laying hens for eggs and 200 fryer hens.

The pigs are the fewest - only 9.  

Karin Sinclair and I chatted about the raising of farm animals that eventually go to slaughter. The Sinclair Farm has not been certified as organic because to do so takes a lot of time, paperwork, and money.  Yet they practice organic methods. (This is something that is true for many farmers and why it's important to know and talk to the farmers at the market instead of judging them by a sign alone.) In their case the animals are primarily pasture raised with just a bit of supplement of grains. That means healthy, non-GMO feed. They only get a shot a year, no antibiotics. The cattle get an annual CD&T and a vaccine for diarrhea/respiratory. The sheep get an annual CD &T plus a booster of Vitamin B complex and selenium. 



With all the issues regarding meat recalls, organics, GMOs, and abuse of animals, I want to know that my meat came from animals that lived happy, healthy lives. That's what I saw while visiting the Sinclair property. Happy cows sitting under the shade of a tree by a pond. Happy sheep grazing on fresh, green meadows.


The Sinclairs have created a Meat Buyers Club for selling not only their own, but other farmers' products. The nice thing about their service is that it is not a monthly thing where you are obligated to buy a set amount every month.  Instead you can order what you want, when you want.  





The Meat Buyers Club includes the following:

 - meats:  lamb, pork, beef, chicken
 - eggs:  chicken, duck, quail, goose
 - sausage
 - nuts
 - produce: fruit, veggies
 - coffee
 - breads
 - pastas
 - condiments: sauces, marinades, marmalades


Click here for the order form

You can also find the Sinclair Family Farm stand at the following farmers markets:

    Auburn - Saturdays
    Roseville - Tuesdays
    Rocklin - Thursdays



Day on the Farm is scheduled for Sunday, June 8th from 10am to 3pm at 641 Lozanos Road in Newcastle. 

• Family friendly for all ages
• Sheep dog demonstrations each hour
• Visit with the animals
• Learn about spinning wool - from the lamb to the wheel
• Gold Country Sheep Producers will offer a drawing for a freezer lamb
• Sierra Foothill Producers will be available with their local products for
sale

...and more!

For other Farm-to-Fork style stories like this one, click here: Farm-to-Fork

Photos provided by Sinclair Family Farm
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