Monday, September 26, 2011

The Liebrechts of Sutton

42 years of sheep farming - the Liebrechts of Sutton

By Manfried Rider. Starhemberg
42 years ago Frank Liebrecht got a stipend of $ 15.- for each sheep he purchased. The Quebec government paid for the other 50%. And so it started. Now he has 250 of the critters on 170 acres. It used to be an average of 400,but Frank and Susan cut it down to a manageable size. The little dude in the picture above was a "bottle baby" until yesterday explained Susan. When we entered the barn, the little sheep came running up, bleating sorrowfully and in desperate need of Susan.
"Do you ever fall in love with one of the lambs?", I asked. " "Of course we do, there are some real characters sometime and you hate to see them go, but this is our business and sentimentality does not pay the eletric biill"
For more than 30 years the Liebrechts had an average of 400 sheep, now, they are comfortable with 250. 50 ewes of which shall remain for breeding, the rest of the heard is pre-sold.
"We keep six rams to serve our ewes" explains Frank. "And after each breeding season is over, we replace the rams because I do not tolerate inbreeding. All of our sheep are of a singulat breed and we get new rams for the next season. There is a lot of inbreeding going on in the industry today, but I shall have nothing to do with it. We want the highest and best quality,  because our sheep, our lambs, are sold to top consumers and they are expensive."
"I cannot afford a good rack of lamb anymore, I exclaimed":. Frank chuckled and told me to "get some pork, it's a lot cheaper". But, after seeing the incredible amount of work it takes to put a lamb to market, visiting the warm barn where the youngens are being brought up and often hand bottle fed by Susan, then being tranferred into another barn to harden the little guys up and then, seeing them in this incredible pasture, framed by the Sutton mountains on one side and rolling hills on the other, I get it. I am still not able to buy that rack of lamb, but I have just come to realize that it takes an almost superhuman effort for two peole to work every day to produce this delicate meat, the incredible effort that Frank expends weekly to mowe his acreage with his old International Harvester, and the great love that still shines between Frank and Susan,a retired Sutton school teacher.

To prevent the Coyotes menacing the herd, Frank and Susan have a couple of donkeys on the payroll and woe-be-gone to any critter which wants to interfere with the well being of the herd. The donkeys look serene and friendly, they let me pat them, but if need be, they will fight any intruder mercilessly.
The farm of the Liebrecht's is on the corner of Alderbrooke and Jordon roads in Sutton and it is possibly the most beautiful spot in the Sutton area.  From the front porch of their log cabin you cansee the whole of the Sutton mountain range, and gazing down, there are all those incredibly beautiful sheep. This is truly what the name"bucolic" symbolizes.
"At 250 head", I am semi retired". muses Frank, to which his wife instantly replied:"You are not, we are not. We got a lot of years left to do this". Good for the Liebrechts. They embody all that is good and wholesome in this farming community of ours and are among the nicest and most welcoming people we have met since moving to Sutton in 1999. A friend of ours owns "La Bergerie", a sweet Bed and Breakfast place  that is built around the theme of sheep and lambs. There are wooly creatures everywhere in the house, beautiful paintings of sheep and lamb, and when we called Susan Liebrecht up and asked if your friend Maxime would be able to vitit the farm she immediately affirmed that it would give her and Frank a great pleasure to show our friend around!


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