Meet the Farmers
Jay and Margaret Braymiller own and run the animal arcadia that is Stillwater Farm in the rolling hills of Boston, New York. When they bought the property in 1991, they were tasked with restoring a 200-year-old farmhouse and rehabilitating 32 acres of long-neglected farmland. Today they raise sheep and chickens for market on pasture, providing them the utmost care and respect to move freely and engage in their natural behaviors.
Farming and food production runs in the Braymiller family. Jay grew up on a 500 cow dairy farm, learning the principles of livestock husbandry. Margaret, the granddaughter of a butcher, was raised with a deep respect for animals and the nourishment they provide. Stillwater Farm is a marriage of their experiences and values and a testament to their love of animals and the outdoors. Jay and Margaret have instilled the farming ethos in their three daughters—Leah, Molly, and Anna.
Margaret really wanted the children to get involved in the youth development program, 4H, with a focus on raising animals. As cows were too big, the girls first tried raising a pig but it wasn't the right fit. Once they tried sheep, they fell in love and have been raising them ever since. A few weeks after the Braymillers dropped their lamb off to a local restaurant, the owners told them it was “the best lamb we have ever had, how do we get more?” This gave the family the confidence to start actively raising more animals. In 2011, they established barns and pastures for lamb and chickens to roam with unlimited access to both. The farm is also home to several companion animals, including horses, a donkey, lifetime resident sheep, and two potbelly pigs, Elenor Pigby and Penny Lane.
Stillwater raises lamb and chicken for the local market, producing between 50-70 high quality lamb and 350 chickens for meat and eggs per year. They raise a variety of sheep, primarily Southdown, Hampshire, and Suffolk breeds prized for their mild flavor, making it a welcome option for those who prefer less gamey lamb. You can find their lamb on the menus of Western New York's most esteemed restaurants. As Stillwater’s farm-to-table dinner series has taken off, much of their meat is now set aside to be cooked up by award winning chefs and served right on the farm.
Stillwater is very much a family business. Leah is the president of CARE at Stillwater, a non-profit that supports pediatric cancer patients from nearby Roswell Park Cancer Center. Molly creates all of the flower arrangements and is a server at the dinner. Jay’s sister Carol attends every event and her husband, a two-time Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee, provides the music. Margaret focuses on the animal husbandry practices, making sure the animals have everything they need to be comfortable. Jay is responsible for daily barn cleaning and also works closely with the chefs to ensure they have all the products they need to create their beautiful meals.
In 2021, Stillwater will host a total of 18 farm dinners. Before each dinner, the Braymillers offer a farm tour to their guests. Each family member showcases a barn, introducing the animals and allowing guests a chance to interact with them. Stillwater Farm is passionate about exposing children to the practices of humane animal husbandry and regenerative agriculture. Guests have the opportunity to purchase farm products for retail, such as blankets and hides sourced from their animals. They also have two events with the Punt Foundation, a charity that helps families battling pediatric cancer. Through their farm-to-table experiences and the events hosted to support pediatric cancer patients, Stillwater Farm is committed to sharing their farm with the community.
Regenerative & Sustainable Practices
Stillwater Farm believes in raising animals with care and respect, while working diligently to regenerate their 32 acres of rolling farmland. They are committed to humane, regenerative, and sustainable practices that benefit the land, animals, and their community. Their practices and philosophy leads them to:
- Treat animals like the sentient beings that they are, which means all of their sheep and chickens are given unlimited access to pasture and receive the time, care, and attention they deserve. All of their animals are respected for their instinctive needs and supported to engage in natural behaviors providing 24/7 access to the pastures and barns.
- Feed animals a healthy diet of locally milled grain (from a mill 7 miles away), protein-rich hay, and their fill of fresh green grass when the season allows it. They use the 2nd or 3rd cutting hay to maximize protein content for animal feed.
- Use byproducts from the barns to enrich the flower and vegetable gardens. Aiming to create as much of a closed-loop system as possible, all excess organic matter stays on the farm and is recycled back into the soil for future growing cycles.
- Their foundation, CARE at Stillwater hosts pediatric patients and their families to provide a safe space to enjoy the outdoors and learn about nutrition and humanely raising animals for food.
- CARE at Stillwater supports the next generation of agriculturalists through an annual scholarship to a local 4H-er in memory of owner Jay Braymiller’s brother.