This small hill farm in Weston, VT is where I grew up. We have had sheep and gardens here for the past 47 years, and before that, there were artists and bakers, a summer camp, and small scale farming that was so typical of Vermont in the last century. The slate-roofed, timber frame barn built in the mid-1800s, and partially rebuilt in the 1990s, is the structural heart of the place. More recently, practical and inelegant plastic covered greenhouses were added to extend the season for tomatoes, grow starter plants and offer sheep well lit and protected winter housing. The land is rocky and sometimes steep, outlined with stone walls, and well suited for the mix of sheep and gardens that we raise on a small, intimate scale.
My father was the original tender of the land in our family. At some point early in my college years, my annoyance with farm chores evolved into a fiery curiosity to learn about and grow plants. I have been cultivating this ground, as well as other people's gardens, continually since 1988, and thankfully, New England winters are good for resting the back and the soil. Organic methods and a reverence for the land has guided what has happened here for as long as my family has been caring for this place, and from what I know of the former owners most likely long before our time here as well. I do use some conventional medicines for preventing parasites in sheep or for dire health situations, but prevention is always the first defense. Building the soil and recycling animal nutrients back onto the land is the fundamental work of the farm, and the rewards are both basic and profound-food, fertility, fiber for warmth, and simple beauty.
My father, Alan, with his misbehaving sheep.