If you think buying local is a new trend, consider again. Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm recently celebrated 100 years of being just that. At this local business, one can buy cheese, meat, milk – and even wool socks, sweaters, vests and blankets – to help keep one warm on a cold New England night.
Situated on 175 acres, Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm is located in Lyme, Connecticut since 1917. It is also home to proprietors Suzanne and Stan Sankow. Livestock at the farm include 600 head of sheep, making it the largest sheep farm in the state of Connecticut. You can add a dozen Jersey cows and a few chickens to the mix, too.
At the New England Regional Cheese Competition at the Big E this past September, the farm won three awards. They were as follows:
Best in Class – Gold Medal, Feta Pesto -Sheep
Best in Class – Silver Medal, Feta Cheese -Sheep
Best in Class – Bronze Medal, Pleasant Cow Raw Milk Aged Cheese
You may have tried any of these awarded cheeses if you visited the Eastern States Farmer’s Market and Wine Barn during the Big E last month.
Beaver Brook was originally founded as a dairy farm, but expanded its product offerings over the years to include meat, yogurt, ice cream and, of course, wool products. I like to have a little fun when customers ask why a cheese shop is selling wool socks. I jest that they come with the sheep’s milk cheese.
The farmstead was purchased a little over a hundred years ago for a couple thousand dollars. Dairy was its main source of revenue until the collapse of the milk industry in the early 1980’s. Sheep were introduced in 1984, and in 2002, cows were re-introduced. The stage was set for all of the wonderful cow and sheep products you can find at the farm these days, which are listed below.
Farmstead: An aged sheep’s milk cheese with a natural rind. This cheese has a wonderful, slightly tangy flavor.
Pleasant Valley: A delicate, aged sheep’s milk cheese with a natural rind and a mild, rich flavor.
Herbs de Provence: Made with the farm’s own Jersey cow’s milk using cultures, rennet, Herbs de Provence, lavender and salt.
Sheep’s Milk Herbs De Provence: Made with the farm’s own pasteurized sheep’s milk using cultures, rennet, Herbs de Provence, lavender and salt (seasonal).
Pleasant Cow: An aged Jersey cow’s milk cheese with a smooth, mild flavor and creamy texture.
Aged Feta: A raw milk cheese made from the farm’s Jersey cows, with cultures and salt.
Nehantic Abbey: A Jersey cow’s milk cheese, aged six months or more, with a dry, sharp flavor.
Pleasant Son Aged: Made from their own Jersey cow’s raw milk, cultures and rennet in a salt brine.
Other Milk Products
Yogurt: Made with traditional cultures, giving it a smooth, rich and unique flavor.
Gelato: Incredibly creamy. In vanilla or chocolate flavor.
Raw Milk: Available at the farm. It is recommended that you call first for availability.
Note: Lambs and calves on the farm are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
With great pride in craftsmanship, fleece from the farm’s flock is sent to quality textile mills like S&D Spinning in Millbury. Wools contain only natural, undyed colors.
Socks: Made in-house from the farm’s own wool.
Sweaters and Vests: Come in all shapes and sizes, including roll neck pullovers and button-downs. Available in an assortment of colors.
Blankets: Made on a loom, the farm blankets are very warm and in high demand. Great for a good night’s sleep on those cold nights.
A wonderful video of the farm, including the land, animals and story behind it, can be found on their website (beaverbrookfarm.org) under the “In the News” menu selection on the homepage. Follow the link entitled “CPTV – Sharing Connecticut” to see the video.
Beaver Brook Farm is located at 139 Beaver Brook Road in Lyme, Connecticut. They can be reached at (860) 434-2843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also just visit. The farm is open 9am-4pm, seven days a week. Animals don’t take a day off like us humans.
I would like to thank Paul Sankow for all his help gathering information and photos to make this story possible.