Home

                 Anchorage Farm, Saugerties NY,  Registered Romney Sheep 

 

Aug 16 starts thrid roundin paddocks 1 and 2

Our mission  is regenerative  agriculture in the Hudson-Catskills region  with purebred Romney sheep — the world’s most important dual-purpose breed.

Our vision  is  to cherish   the whole web of life  from micro to macro on this  250 year-old riverbank farm  as we raise  superb  Romneys  for the 21st century.

“Mother earth never attempts to farm without live stock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve  the soil and to prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; ample provision is made to maintain large reserves of fertility; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall …”  Sir Albert Howard An Agricultural Testament  p. 4

 

Our goals

  •  true dual-purpose sheep
  •  flock fertility above the  the breed average
  •  uniformity of fleeces within and between animals
  •  improving  the breed from within
  •  biodiversity and  balance with  indigenous flora and fauna
  •  soil health (high organic matter content, thriving underground biota, minimal  erosion as splash, sheets or gullies)
  •  human and animal health and safety

Some objectives set years ago:

  • wean 1.6 lambs for every ewe exposed
  • sell >500 lbs of fleece/year direct to handspinners or yarn mills
  • have >10%  of  lambs  each year that are  “recessively colored”
  • flock free of ovine progressive pneumonia and  caseous  lymphadenitis
  • high ethical standards
  • no serious accidents to animals or people

As of early 2024 all objectives but the 1.6 lambs/ewe exposed are well-sustained. Last year we shortened the breeding season markedly.

As the climate emergency worsens, in 2023-24 we are changing course.   We want to better the farm’s greenhouse gas balance sheet * and, more important, to enhance the ecosystem services** its 61 acres offer to the larger community.  These objectives overlap. We also are phasing out out buying fodder grown where neonicotinoids or glyphosate are routinely used or can’t be ruled out.  

These resolutions don’t mean we plan to be “full organic” in five years. We’ve set no timetable, for example to get reduce use of  chemical dewormers, desirable as that would be for soil and animal health. We aim to start in 2024.  Here’s why:

In October a sheep brought in May 2023 from another farm died here, thin and too weak to stand steadily. The vet attributed death to malnutrition from  resistant intestinal nematodes.  We took this loss as a sentinel event impelling action to combat the worsening national endemic of  drench-resistant parasites.  We plan, with the help of our vet, Dr Ferguson,  to get much more targeted in drenching. Stephen and Cameron are starting to do fecal egg counts for Strongyles (family Strongylidae),  comparing our at-home results with those from the lab at Cornell. We will use FAMACHA as well, though that is pretty specific for Haemonchus,  the most notorious of the very pathogenic Strongyles.

Breaking news Feb 15 2024: To further these ambitions,  we have bought a white Romney ram born in NZ in 2022 at the Kikitangeo South stud in Aoraki, South Canterbury. This ram comes from a flock that has been selecting rigorously for forty years on rams resistant to such intestinal nematodes and with exceptionally sound feet.  He will stay in Aoraki for good.  We will arrange to have him collected and the semen sent to the USA  for LAI on most of our ewes in October 2024. to further these designs.   We should also have semen from him for sale.

A key element of our climate-smarter operation will be that our sheep get as much as possible of their feed from our own pastures. In a nutshell: improve pastures through adaptive paddock management with more trees, and feed less grain. 

We will continue to uphold all the great qualities of purebred dual-purpose Romneys embodied in the American Romney Breeders’ Association breed standard and to nurture the heritage genetics of recessive color. 

            [*] Greenhouse gas balance sheet for a livestock farm is complex.  To summarize, we make a case that even if the CO2 equivalent of methane is reckoned using GWP20, the farm may now be “carbon neutral,” because of its woodlands.  To read more on our accounting methods and a discussion on methane, go to  Greenhouse Gas Balance Sheet under News and Views.

Comments or questions may be sent to sqs1[at]columbia.edu.

            [**] Ecosystem services are realized through

  • carbon drawdown through woodlands and grassland soil
  • encouraging biodiversity, with priority to native biota
  • safe space for pollinators
  • production of high-quality high-protein food
  • production of high-quality natural fiber–wool
  • preservation and improvement of healthy soil, “the gift of good land” (Wendell Berry)

The list is in no special order and not comprehensive.

For more depth and breadth, go to Ecosystem Services at Anchorage Farm

Click here to get acquainted with our new manager, Cameron Pedigo

The slide-show is a seasonal sequence through 12 months , but not all images are from the same year.