From left: Gene, Carole, Kim, Hannah, William, Etta and Shawn Ray.

Pleased to Feed You, the Rays

We raise: We currently have about 100 Dorset cross commercial ewes (female sheep) and 40 nannys (female goats which have had kids). We rotationally graze our pastures and spring lamb (ewes give birth in the spring).

What motivates you? God, family, community, good pasture.

Community involvement: Currently we serve on parish council, the county Farm Bureau board, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association board and several others.

Achievements: Last year the family was awarded the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Award by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. It was great to share this with Shawn’s parents. Etta was asked to represent Ohio youth at an American Sheep Industry legislative trip to Washington, D.C. All five teenagers (including exchange students Emil and Sanja) received straight As on their report cards this year.

Why we farm: The mental health that physical labor can provide. The joy of working with your family. The sense of accomplishment from improving the land and animals.

When did you join Farm Bureau? Late 1980s

Why are you a Farm Bureau member? We can no longer stay on the farm and just contend with Mother Nature. No matter how independent we want to remain, everyone else wants to change our game plan. It takes all of us under the Farm Bureau banner to have influence over those trying to change the game plan.

Our future: More sheep, better grass and, someday far from now, GRANDKIDS!

Our biggest challenge: It is a toss-up between time and predators. Between full-time jobs and school activities, we have to fit in farming and chores. Plus, we live in an area surrounded by coyotes. Our guard dog went missing one year and we lost 14 lambs the next week to coyotes.

Biggest misconception (you’ve heard) about farming: That farmers don’t care about their animals. They don’t realize the time you spend bottle feeding, looking for and rescuing lost animals, crying when you have to put down a sick animal, or being amazed when you witness the birth of an animal.

Who is your role model? Shawn’s Uncle Albert “Bub” Rayner. He was a great farm manager, family man, outdoor sportsman and knew how to balance everything perfectly.

Leg of Lamb

8 lb. bone-in leg of lamb (or one 4-5 boned, rolled and tied)
2 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
2 tablespoons salad oil

Cut small slits in surface of lamb; insert garlic slivers, Rub lamb with oil. Place on rack in roasting pan. Roast leg in preheated 450 degree oven for ONLY 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees and continue to roast for 1½ hours or until meat thermometer registers 150 degrees for medium. Brush roast with glaze last 20 minutes of cooking. Let roast stand 20 minutes before carving. Serve with remaining Peach Glaze. Makes about 10 servings.

Peach Glaze
½ cup Peach Schnapps
2 tablespoons margarine or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup brown sugar
8–10 drops Real Lemon
½ teaspoon allspice

Mix all ingredients until cornstarch dissolves. Stir over medium heat until slightly thick and smooth.

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.