Sky Dance Farm, operated by Bob and Prudy Barton in Lanesborough, Mass., provides Wild Oats Market with lamb and mutton from its flock of Navajo Churro Sheep. North America’s earliest domesticated farm animal, the Churro were central to the Navajo culture for hundreds of years, in the process escaping the “production” breeding techniques that have robbed many farm animals of their best natural attributes.
The Navajo Churro are intelligent (for sheep), hardy, and providers of wonderful wool for blankets and outerwear. Their meat is preferred by knowledgeable chefs because of excellent flavor, in part due to unusually low levels of lanolin in the Churro’s wool and meat. At Sky Dance Farm, the Barton’s small flock of sheep lives in a 200-year-old barn and is rotated for grazing over 30 acres of fields and pastures.
Sky Dance Farm has been supplying lamb to Wild Oats Market for the past ten years. Wild Oats carries a variety of their lamb products, including lamb shanks; leg of lamb; rack of lamb; lamb chops; lamb stew meat; and ground mutton, in its Frozen Meats section. Please note that not all cuts of lamb may be available all the time. If you would like a specific cut, such as leg of lamb, it’s wise to call ahead (413-458-8060) to see if the store has it in stock.
The Bartons raise their heritage-breed sheep on grass and local hay and allow them to range through the farm’s eight pastures. At 9-14 months of age the sheep are delivered live to an excellent local, USDA-inspected butcher, Hilltown Pork in Canaan, New York.
Although Sky Dance Farm is only 15 minutes from Williamstown and Pittsfield, it can feel like a different world. In some ways time has stood still at the farm. Sheep have replaced cows, but the fields and woods, and the barn, streams and ponds are much as they were 200 years ago.
Sky Dance is home to numerous gardens and up to 100 creatures – four dozen chickens, 30 Navajo-Churro sheep, and sometimes Tamworth pigs. All the animals at Skydance are heritage breeds, ancient strains not bred to maximize market value. These are animals that have retained natural hardiness, higher resistance to diseases and injury, and ability to thrive on a broader range of diets. They are easy and good as parents and babies. These qualities make them ideal for part-time farmers like the Bartons.
Watch a video of Skydance Farm, produced by Bob and Prudy’s son, Adam Barton.