Down a narrow winding road in Peninsula, lush woodlands give way to a 100-year-old farmhouse framed by a white-picket fence. Next to the farmhouse a white rabbit sits beside a small pond full of splashing ducks.
This picturesque scene is exactly what Laura Minnig, who grew up in the English countryside, had in mind as the perfect place to raise her own family and grow old.
“It’s a privilege to get to live here in the national park, and I want to share that with other people,” says Laura, who took over the 12-acre Spicy Lamb Farm with her husband, Michael, in 2007.
The sprawling farm, which specializes in raising sheep and lambs, offers sheepdog trials, where dogs are timed as they herd sheep through a series of gates from one side of a field to the other.
Laura also rents Dorset sheep to owners of large plots for use as sustainable landscape maintenance. It’s more cost-effective to use sheep than mow and it helps the environment by cutting down on carbon emissions, she says. “The original idea of lawns came from sheep,” she explains. “In the old estates, that’s how they maintained these lawns in the first place.”
But Laura isn’t afraid to embrace modern approaches to keep an eye on her flock. In her office on the second floor of the barn, high-tech equipment allows her to precisely track and monitor the weight, health and growth of every one of her sheep and lambs.
As part of her daily routine, she checks each sheep for parasites by examining their feces under a microscope. With the help of an ultrasound machine the farm received through a research grant, she is able to measure how much meat each lamb will produce before it goes to the butcher. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” she says.
As an environmental planner, Laura sees Spicy Lamb as a way to educate others on the better farming methods she practices. “I can preach environmental stewardship and sustainable farming,” she says. 6560 Akron Peninsula Road, Peninsula, 330-657-2012, thespicylamb.com