Lehfeldt Ranch

Lehfeldt Sheep


Lavina, MT

by Heather Bilden

The Lehfeldt family has a long tradition of raising sheep. Coming from German roots, they raised sheep in Iowa and relocated to Montana back in 1885. For generations the family has worked together raising animals, keeping their business sustainable and local. Currently Lehfeldt Land and Livestock is run by father and son team John and Erik Lehfeldt with guidance from John’s father Bill. Becoming part of the family business was a natural fit for Erik, who attended Powell College in Wyoming and studied Range Management. There is no typical day for Erik, who spends mornings coordinating sheepherders, shearers, and lamb and wool buyers. He and John work with a diverse crew of people, and rely on advice from Bill to keep business running smoothly.

Springtime at the Lehfeldt’s brings a crew of sheep shearers that swiftly turn fleecy Rambouillet coats into bags of wool. Their wool is sold to Ibex, where it is turned into high quality merino wool clothing. Lambs are born on the ranch north of Lavina. The bands of sheep are then moved up to the Snowy Mountains where they graze until the snow flies. They process their lamb at the Butcher Block in Roundup, a USDA certified plant, and sell their lamb products at Good Earth Market – everything from chops and roasts to ground lamb and sausages. They have been selling lamb at GEM since 2008, and are proud to be part of the Co-op family. As Erik said, “With fewer voices in agriculture, it is very important to stand up for the person that stood up for you. Good Earth Market has been standing up for its producers since the beginning.” In return, he continues to support the Co-op in every way he can.

If you’re looking for a few recipe ideas, Erik’s favorite way to prepare lamb is to thinly slice a leg of lamb and simmer it with hot sauce to make tacos. My personal favorite is Red Lentil Soup with Lamb Sausage, a recipe that was featured in the Good Earth Market newsletter a few years ago.

Red Lentil Soup with Lamb Sausage

4 Tbs olive oil
1 Lb lamb sausage
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tbs flat leaf parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dried red lentils
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup orzo pasta
6 lemon wedges for garnish

1. In a medium skillet, brown the sausage. Remove from the pan and slice ½” thick.
2. Add olive oil to the pan and sauté the leek, onion and carrots 3 – 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the lentils and stir for 2 minutes. Add the broth and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Add the sausage and simmer 10 more minutes
4. Meanwhile, cook the orzo in a large pan of salted water for 10 minutes. Divide it into 4 soup bowls and ladle the soup over it. Garnish with lemon and enjoy!