Hello, I am Janet Childs and live in rural Virginia sixty miles from Washington DC. For years, I was the owner and creative force behind the Breeders’ World an online resource and internet marketing firm that worked specifically with livestock breeders across the United States. I loved helping people put their businesses online, designing web sites, and the ever changing challenges of internet marketing. But after ten years and 5.2 million annual visitors later, I felt a calling to support the local farm movement. So I decided to sell my business and focus on the family farm.
I have been involved in farming as long as I can remember. I grew up on a dairy farm, married a beef farmer, and now own a sheep farm. Raising livestock has it challenges, but nothing is as gratifying as seeing the results from pasture to plate. You see, what ends up on your plate, isn’t accidental. It has taken us decades to breed the right genetics, find the ideal management plan, and design the perfect feeding program.
Some of you may know me and my family through Virginia Lamb & Meats -- where each week we sell meat raised on our farm at farmers markets in the Northern Virginia / Washington DC area. I am the executive chef for Virginia Lamb & Meats where I develop recipes for our value added line and prepare dozens of different entrees, salads, breads, soups, and stews for our weekly markets.
Why this blog…
One of the greatest joys of selling our meats at farmers markets is the opportunity to meet face to face with our customers. We no longer rely on a middle man, who then sells our meat to a wholesaler, and then a retailer, and then the consumer. We get to look the consumer in the eyes, answer their questions, and get instant feedback. I have answered hundreds of questions on recipes, how to best prepare different cuts of meat, and what we do on the farm. I have found that our customers are not only hungry for the meat they purchase, but equally for stories from the farm.
I created this blog years ago, but only posted to it occasionally, never knowing exactly what to say. Yet, when I spent time with family and friends all I could talk about was food! What new recipes I tried. This year’s favorite heirloom tomato. Or which chicken laid which color egg. You name it, I talked about it.
After a while my excitement no longer concealed their rolling eyes. Then I noticed I was no longer asked to bring food to family gatherings. Hmm, I thought back to what I might have done to offend. Let’s see, I had brought a plum tart in July, then there was the Caprese salad in August, oh, and the artisan sheep cheese and sliced apples in November. The mystery was finally solved when one of my family members openly criticized me for “always talking about food!” I was hurt. But I was also guilty as charged. I raise food, harvest food, and cook several days a week in our certified kitchen. I am totally bought into eating local and seasonal. And I absolutely love my fellow farmers at the farmers market, especially when they share a new way to fix a seasonal vegetable. But now this seemed to be an off-limits topic at family gatherings. So I decided to take the stories from the farm and marry them with my passion for food and go find like minded people who love talking about these things as much as I… and so this blog was reinvented, re-titled, and rejuvenated.
If you like talking about food or just love eating it, I hope you stop by and stay for a while. Oh, and feel free to talk all you want! I promise this is a safe place for any self professed foodie (you know who you are). Please join me as we openly converse about all the exciting things we love about food.
A little about our farm…
Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River, the family farm is close to 250 acres of pasture and rented ground in rural Virginia.
In 2002, we were honored to receive the “Outstanding Shepherd” Award from the Virginia Sheep Producers Association. And both Corey and I have been privileged to serve individual terms on the Governor appointed Virginia Sheep Industry Board. Corey is also a well respected and sought-after judge at county, state, and regional livestock shows.
There is no doubt that our flock has evolved over time. What started out as a business to breed top show lambs for 4-H and FFA competitions across the country has grown into a regional meat enterprise. All of the years we spent selecting and managing for top carcasses has also won us praise from our farm to fork customers. We continue to love the challenge of producing sheep that do well in the show ring, but we will never lose sight of the end product -- a lamb chop with size, flavor, and tenderness.
With such high demand from our restaurant and farmers market clients we began increasing the size of our flock two years ago while adding other meat raised on the farm to our retail sales. Our farm runs approximately 40 head of grass fed cattle, 75 ewes, 15 meat goats, 175 free range laying hens and 900/broilers a year. We also finish out a handful of pigs every spring and fall.You can currently find us and our meat at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington DC every Sunday from 8:30am to 1:00pm. We invite you to stop by.