By Buffy Calvert
Been trying to count the sheep on the slopes of that fascinating farm on the Tremperskill and still keep driving? Or smiling at the lambs playing King-of-the-Mountain on their heap of hay? Or wondering about a new breed of cattle – white-faced like Herefords but belted like Galways? And how about the sign, “Currently on sale: lamb, beef, goats”? On the hoof or neatly packaged?
David Burris, Manager of Argyle Farms, true to his motto, “I speak my mind, not to make you mad but to make you think,” laid it all out to a packed house at the Andes Roundtable on August 28th. After on-line and on-site negotiations between owners Jean-Louis and Zee Danis and David, an experienced chicken and goat breeder and eager for a new challenge, David came on board in June 2010. [see Andes Gazette, January 2011]
He has since moved into the newly renovated Jaakson farmhouse and sells meat prepared by an FDA-approved local butcher. Call ahead: Argyle Farmhouse, 676-4501 for neatly packaged cuts of beef, lamb or goat (“lean, tender and tasty,” he assures us.) The hope is to make the farm self-sufficient. Although David does all the work himself (with the occasional help of a young girl) he called professional shearers for the spring shearing which netted 195 pounds of wool that he expects to get carded, spun and woven into Argyle style blankets. He pulled out 2 feral hives of bees from the Jaakson barn, split the workers and re-queened them into 5 hives. Four more swarms appeared. Now he has 12 hives, yielding 200 pounds of honey. Maybe next year, maple syrup. Argyle Farms registered pheasants and lamb are already on the Andes Hotel menu.
So that you can keep your eye on the road without counting, we have David’s word that in March and April 270 lambs were born. (1.75 per ewe.) And all from one (randy) ram! So there are now 475 sheep.
As to that new breed of beef cow: Belted Galways are small-boned. White-faced Herefords are sturdy. David mated the two for a new hybrid, white-faced and belted, the best of both. David is open to suggestions for a name.
Lastly, those magnificent guard dogs, huge, white, and super-attentive. It’s an Italian breed which bonds with the sheep and goats. There are now 5, keeping bears and coyotes (and curious humans) at bay.
David is dedicated to buying his supplies locally. He would be happy if we did the same.~