Some of you who have been in shepherding for a long time remember the debacle in the 90’s involving some sheep, legally imported from Belgium, who became the subjects of a USDA investigation. The sheep were confiscated from one farm, but another chose to fight and engaged in a multi-year legal battle with the USDA. Our new property is the farm where the sheep were removed immediately. Their heartbroken owners rented out their cheese facility for a number of years but after a fire in the cheese room were unable to continue. The bold, deep blue interior of the house has a mournful quality that brings to mind abandoned dreams. It is both beautiful and sad.
Our hope is to restore this property and renew the hope of sustainable sheepraising on it. Despite a history of loss, the property still has tremendous potential for pasture-based lamb-raising and perhaps endeavors like pigs, chickens and ducks. The land slopes gently away from the home, awarding us a clear view of any animals at any time. A trickle of a stream segments the property vertically, promising water in dry years and drainage in damp ones like this summer so far. The land is fertile but not fertile enough for demanding crops like corn or rich enough for dairy cows. It is exactly the kind of land that should be designated for sheep enterprises. We have a view of the Lowell Wind Project, which I don’t mind at all.
While I am grateful for all of the opportunities that farming in suburban Williston has provided, I am excited to return to small-town living. I am excited to have a town and a region to contribute to and to form long-term relationships with. I am excited to meet the other shepherds in the area. Matt is excited to have a garage where he can work on implements with his tools organized and his work area clean and uninterrupted. The rescue parrots we have will be excited by the high ceilings and great sunlight in the house. The property has a defunct cheese plant on it with a dual septic system, a walk-in cooler and many other neat goodies. Sadly, the state of disrepair means that we’ll need to invest a large chunk of money in this building to get it off the ground as a rental cheesemaking facility or renovated on-farm slaughter facility.
Stay tuned for some tales of sheep-moving and some new adventures.