Back Creek Farm is our source for local pasture-raised lamb, sold through Firsthand Foods. Joe and Robin Hampton have run the farm since 1984, in addition to their full-time careers in government agriculture, which they retired from in January, 2017. The farm has always been an activity to do together. During a period when their jobs had them traveling, they hired two staff members, Derek and William, whom they continue to rely on.
Their lambs are on pasture, guarded by a pair of Akbash dogs, a Turkish breed that’s only semi-domesticated. The farm also raises cattle for beef; they share pastures with the sheep, along with some llamas. The animals eat grass all year; when the Hamptons supplement the animals’ feed, they spread the hay over the ground rather than using a hay ring, to encourage the animals to move about and thus fertize the whole pasture.
For years, the Hamptons only sold sheep to the Bosnian-American community. In 2015, Weaver Street Market asked Firsthand Foods about sourcing local lamb; Jennifer from Firsthand contacted the Hamptons. To increase profit, they began raising larger lambs, breeding their ewes with larger males and working to have enough supply that they can let the lambs grow longer. They raise Katadins, a breed that puts no energy into making wool but instead grows quickly and has a mild-flavored meat. The breed is also naturally resistant to parasites. Another challenge is to have a year-round supply of lamb; sheep are seasonal breeders who usually have their lambs in the spring, but the Hamptons are trying to alter this by breeding the sheep with types that lamb at different seasons.
Watch a video of our visit below.