SOUTH PARIS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — John and Doreen Simmons aren't exactly enjoying a quiet retirement. More than 100 lambs have been born on their South Paris farm, named Stoneheart Farms, since mid-February. Usually, the births go smoothly. But sometimes they don't, and then John has to help the ewe along.
"You want your ewes to be like children. You want them to like you, but they shouldn't need you," John Simmons said.
Dealing with difficult births is not a huge deal to the Simmonses, though, since John was an ER doctor and Doreen was an ICU nurse for 22 years. They've been growing their flock for the past 20 years, with the idea that they would farm in their retirement. "I don't play golf. I don't have a boat. I don't like fishing, but we love to farm," John said.
Most of the lambs born on the farm will end up being served at Portland-area restaurants. Some are sold to other farms for breeding stock, and they'll keep a few to keep up the flock in South Paris.
What makes Stoneheart Farms unique, though, is what the Simmonses have done with their new barn. They put in a commercial kitchen, and they now sell fresh pasta, too. Doreen says her father passed on his love for cooking to her. "My only regret is that my dad is not here to see this," she said. "He had a thought of maybe opening a small restaurant with me and cooking."
Stoneheart Farms sells its pasta year round. The couple will start processing lambs in June and sell the meat through the end of the year.
John said, "It's the secret to happiness. You need to have someone to love, something to look forward to and something to do when you get up in the morning. I think this kind of covers all of that."