Friday, May 4, 2012

Growing local in Chattanooga with goats & more

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 - by Jen Jeffrey


Moving to Flat Rock, Ala., from Southern California, Sherry Johnson loves farm life. Though she was surrounded by the suburbs, she always tried to live away from that so she could have her land and her horses. Having a love for horses and the farm, Sherry has fond memories and wanted her children to have that same connection to land that she had.
On 58 acres Sherry lives with her husband Larry, a retired electrician. When he and Sherry first attended the Chattanooga Market, he developed an interest in iron work.
“He would always watch the blacksmiths that were there demonstrating and wanted to learn about blacksmithing. He soon tried it out himself, loved it and has been doing it for about four years. He makes forks, steak flippers, all kinds of hooks and will sell them at the Chattanooga Market. We have yarn, ironwork, eggs, produce and meat … we are probably the most diverse booth at the Market,” Sherry insists.
Larry helps Sherry with jobs that may require the tractor or to get bales of hay, but pretty much, the farm business and the passion for it is hers.
Sherry brings Chard, Kale Arugula, lettuce and snow peas to the market as well as several types of peppers (hot and sweet). “We also bring some tomatoes but so many people grow those, we try to have different things to offer. We sell garlic every year - and not a lot of people do that at the Chattanooga Market,” Sherry says.
The main focus for Sheerlark is in their livestock, meat goats and dairy goats, though the dairy goats are for their personal enjoyment. She also raises sheep and lamb. Sherry sells lamb and wool products from the sheep.
“I don’t spin my yarn; I have it processed at a small wool mill called Stonehenge in Michigan. I ship it to them, they ship it back and I sell yarn either natural or… I do dye some. I dye with natural dyes, usually just single colors,” Sherry proclaims.
“We raise laying hens for eggs, and we also raise Chevon. Back in the 40s there was a competition held in Texas to come up for a name for ‘goat meat’. The winner came up with Chevon because ‘Chev’ in French was the word for goat and Mutton or ‘Mouton’ for Sheep. He came up with ‘Chevon’. I liked that name and thought it had a nice history to it, so I use that..
“Selling our meat to the Chattanooga Market, customers are mostly those that are interested in exploring different types of meats, or maybe for the health benefits - because it has the lowest fat and is the leanest red meat that there is,” Sherry says. 
There are several ways to use goat meat if someone is not familiar with goat.
Sherry explains, “I tell people the same thing about the goat or the lamb… it is a young tender meat that is grass fed and it’s lean… so you don’t want to overcook it. If you are cooking something like chops, you want to use high heat and sear or broil it but keep the inside pink, because you don’t want it to turn into shoe leather. Another cut from the shoulder or something - you can braise it or cook it in the oven like pot roast. You can use it just like you use beef,” she states.
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