Our journey with sheep began in 2000 with a couple of Suffolk cross whether lambs purchased to help us control a couple acres of overgrown, rocky pasture at an old farmhouse we had purchased in the Howell, Michigan area. We were intrigued with the eco-friendly benefits of sheep vs. lawn mowers and excited to have the sheep sounds added to the sounds of chickens, ducks, cats and dog at our small hobby farm. We quickly found ourselves enjoying the sheep and looking for more.
In 2002, we were given two ram lambs said to be Shetland, but with characteristic indicating they were likely Icelandics. These rams yielded our first spinning fleeces (beautiful gray shades) which got us into handspun yarn and led us where we are today.
In 2007, our oldest daughter and 4-H member, Laura, entered an essay contest sponsored by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. She was very fortunate and was awarded a CVM Romeldale ewe named Gabrielle, which was generously donated by the Little Orchard Farm in Bow, Washington. We traveled to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for the award ceremony. It was a long ride back to Michigan with a very talkative lamb in the back of a minivan.
Later in 2007, a 4-H friend gave us three registered Shetland ewes. After we loaded them on the trailer, we learned that they had been bred and we could expect lambs in the spring. With that, our Shetland breeding program was also underway.
Today, we have roughly 50 head in our herd, have expanded out poultry production, added a beehive, and now include a few pigs.
Huntington’s Disease Research – GM1 Cooperating Farm
With a niece and nephew living with Huntington’s Disease (HD), we have now become a cooperating farm for some important research to find a cure for HD. The important GM1 research program uses the sheep who are specially bred to contain a specific genetic anomaly and is shown to be promising. Jim serves on the national board of directors for The Shepherd’s Gift, a fundraising organization to support these efforts. For more information on HD, visit Huntington’s Disease Society of America and to help with funding, visit The Shepherd’s Gift.
Who We Are
Our head spinner and crafter is Bea (“Aunt Bea” to some 90+ nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews). In addition to being Mom to seven children, working a part time job, volunteering at church, and as a 4-H leader, she was also crowned the Fowlerville Fair’s Homemaker of the Year in 2007 and the Michigan State Fair Homemaker of the Year in 2008 (yes, tiaras and sashes included!). Bea grew up on a farm with sheep where her dad liked to say they grew kids (16 of them) and groceries.
Jim is the head shepherd with a full time job as an Environmental Engineer. Farm life is a big change for a kid that grew up in the city in a house on a 50 by 80 foot lot, but he reads anything he can find about raising sheep and listens to what those with experience have to say.
The goal of our farm is to provide high quality spinning fiber, vegetables, and other farm products in an environmentally sustainable manner. While we are not certified organic due to the amount of government paperwork required in order to make this claim, we do not routinely use any chemicals in our operation. We strive to help preserve heritage breeds of livestock and (most importantly) to create a positive environment in which our children and grandchildren can grow and learn. Introducing stock into our flock as a cooperating farm with the GM1 research program is our newest focus.