This weekend is the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival and Sheepdog Trials in Orange, Virginia. Every year, at this time, I am reminded of how we got into farming and I remember fondly our first year with sheep.
Hubby and I were both professionals in the Corporate world, living in the country on a few acres. Each weekend we would look for things to do, farm related, to learn about what was out there because I especially knew being an accountant was not my life long dream. When we met a farm owner/fiber artist from West Virginia at an Alpaca Festival in Charlottesville, VA, I knew we would follow much the same path that she and her husband were following. The next weekend was the Fall Fiber Festival, we attended and made the commitment. We purchased our starter flock of Romney x Border Leicester sheep. We were on our way to raising sheep for fiber.
I remember our trip to West Virginia to pick up the sheep. Autumn in the WV mountains was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. Driving through the valleys, in a light snow fall, on our way to Romney and looking up the mountains, seeing all the the glorious colors of Autumns’ majesty, embracing us, let me know this was the right decision.
When we reached Tranquility Farm it felt like Christmas Morning! Sheep, sheep, everywhere..I couldn’t get out of the truck fast enough. Our new flock had been put up the night before, so we made the trek to the barn to see them. We had decided on a ram, Anthony, who was the “apple” of the farmers eye. A big dark grey boy with a black face and black stockings. The farmer had worked with him since birth, had shown him and they were obviously best buds. Katlyn, a dark blue grey ewe, was a wild child free spirit whos fleece had won several ribbons in competition and then there was Betsy. The most beautiful champagne grey sheep I had ever laid eyes on in my life. She was a beauty queen and she knew it. While we were in the barn talking and interacting with our new flock, one other white sheep kept coming up to us for scratches. She was so friendly, we figured she might be their pet. Well she wasn’t, she didn’t even have a name only a number 122. So, 122, a.k.a. Natalina came home with us that day too.
So began the most wonderful time of our lives and though were are now seasoned, that newness has never worn off. Each addition, each birth, every fleece, every year brings me back to the first day we had sheep on our farm. Though time has passed and flock grew with every passing Spring, our first four sheep will be forever in our lives. Those first four are gone now but as I look out into the pasture, I see all that have come since and with a tear for those lost, I have a smile for those gained.
If you get the chance to attend the festival this weekend, it’s worth the trip to see all the goings on. Be sure to take in some of the Border Collie trials, they are always exciting and fun to watch. If the “bug” bites you to become a farmer after your trip, be prepared for the ride of your life. There are so many words to describe this life, the one that comes to mind most with me is “joy”!
This is the first part in a series of first year stories that I will share with you – not daily, but over the course of several months.
Tomorrow will be back to the same old, same old.
“Love what you do..do what you love.”