Will-O-Wood Farm

Locally Raised Lamb

our story_intro

We are a family owned farm located in the rolling hills of the Appalachia region of southeast Ohio. We are dedicated to raising the highest quality lamb for our customers by combining the sheep’s natural ability to gain weight on the grass pastures of our farm and finishing with higher energy feed to provide a consistent quality product on a year round basis. We believe that similar genetics combined with a consistent feed program and proper management throughout the year, will provide the most desirable eating experience for our customer.

The farm was started in 1970 by Don & Meta Van Nostran. Don had just graduated from Ohio State with a BS in Animal Science. Meta was still in college and needed two more years to complete her degree in Family and Consumer Sciences. They both knew they wanted to raise sheep and southeast Ohio was the logical place. Athens County was the home of Ohio University where Meta finished up her degree and took a teaching position in the local school district. The county also had an opening for a 4-H agent position which Don was hired to fill.

With college completed and a source of income secured, it was time to begin looking for a farm to raise lambs on. The first farm we willowlooked at was the farm we bought. It had been a sheep farm many years before when Merino wethers were kept for their wool during the world war. Fences were pretty well gone but with some elbow grease we were able to move a small group of Dorset ewes to the farm that first summer. Over the next few years, two sons were born, Matt and Ben, and the flock was expanded and the breed we settled on for the long run was the Polypay. Since that first year, over 40 years ago, we have continually kept sheep on the farm and expanded to 140 mother ewes and over 200 lambs each year.

In addition to raising lambs we have also established a reputation for our Polypay rams among other breeders throughout the United States. We select only the highest quality ram lambs that show outstanding structural correctness, are born in the fall of the year and are from a multiple birth. We have found that these traits are the most requested from our customers that are looking for productivity and longevity in their replacement ewe lambs.

In 2009, we started a new venture in cooperation with the Kroger grocery store chain on supplying them with fresh lamb on a year round basis. We started with one store in Athens and our first delivery was two lambs. Since that time, the business has expanded to three stores in Athens and Columbus, Ohio and we are currently marketing between 350 and 400 lambs annually.

Since this is more than we have been able to produce with our current number of sheep, we have tied into producer flocks that have purchased rams from us. This allows us to continue to strive for similar genetics and we guarantee a market for our ram customers lambs.

In the future, we plan to continue to expand our relationship with Kroger and add more stores throughout the central Ohio area.