So 2015 has brought a LOT of firsts! This is our first time raising sheep, our first lambing season, our first time shearing and processing wool, and my first time writing a blog! Oh the pressure!!!
Our journey began during the summer of last year. My husband Alberto and I have always wanted to start our own business - something that can be totally our own, throw our hearts and souls into, incorporate everyone in our family, and fulfill us to the very core. And I really wanted it to be something that hopefully, one day would replace my current occupation. I know, right? The first thing you totally think of is sheep! Who wouldn't?
So the search began for the breed of sheep that we wanted. I finally settled on Romney for a variety of reasons. They are hearty, big sheep that are resistant to foot rot (always a plus). Considered a long wool sheep, they're fleeces are full of lots of crimp (excellent for handspinners), have great luster, have a pretty long staple length, and their wool can be processed for an assortment of garments, accessories, and home products. It's great for felting, too! I just really love the look of this breed. They are simply wooly...big puffs of wool scattered throughout our pasture! They have wool everywhere, which can be a challenge to keep clean, but we coat our sheep, so that helps.
So now that we picked our breed, it was time to find someone who was selling. Looking in September for a breeder was somewhat difficult. Most breeders had already sold their spring lambs and other flock members that they wanted to get rid of. Anyone who was selling, was all the way in Oregon or South Dakota...totally not doable. Luckily, my husband stumbled upon a quaint, family operated farm in Vermont. So Alberto inquired about her sheep and asked if the shepherdess had any for sale. She responded that she would be willing to sell twin 18 month olds and a 3 year old. Jackpot!!! Our deposit was sent and so began our adventure. Let me just say this, Pennsylvania is a naturally beautiful state. But Vermont is spectacular! So driving seven hours to get these three was an awesome experience.
Kim and Chuck Goodling, owners of VT Grandview Farm, greeted us as we pulled up to their picturesque farm and B&B. (If you can ever make the treck to Vermont, you have to stay at this farm! The Goodling hospitality is beyond compare...such great people!) They showed us around their farm and finally to the sheep that we would be taking home with us. At this point, I sensed a little hesitation from Kim. Even though these animals are livestock, and a business venture for most people, they become a part of your life, especially sheep. I truly believe that a shepherd has a different kind of relationship with their flock, then say any other livestock farmer. And it was totally apparent in Kim. But she explained that she was diving into another breed, Gotlands, and had to start thinning out her Romney flock. So we loaded the girls up the next day and off we were! And so this exciting, crazy, awesome, and fulfilling adventure began. I can't describe the feeling that I had that day. Finally, I was doing something that would bring me such pleasure.
To this day, I still keep in contact with Kim. She's the first person I contact when I have a question. Her advice is to the point, which I appreciate. But she's also quick to say, there is no wrong or right way to handle things. And I truly admire how she lives her life and has raised her family with experiences and values that will be apart of them forever. Luckily, we have some great mentors/fellow shepherds tucked in our back pockets that we can pull out if we need to.
From that day on, we have loved every moment of owning sheep. Our little flock of three has grown to ten! And will quickly grow soon with the arrival of new lambs!!!