Posted on 1 Comment

Saving the Best for Last

Our New Place

To our surprise and delight, the house we thought we might have to walk away from has been freed from bureaucratic encumbrance, and is ours again to buy.   Some poor file clerk pulled the file again, found the missing document, and suddenly we were good to go. We close on Friday.

About our new farm:

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.

I am also excited to paint some of the blue wallpaper in a bright, sunny yellow shade.  We are ready to renew.

Stay tuned for some tales of sheep-moving and some new adventures.

Posted on

Still in Limbo

I’ve been away from the farm blog and our Facebook page dealing with sheep lately.  We’ve been working hard at buying a farm, and it hasn’t gone particularly smoothly.  I mentioned a farm in Brownington.  It would have been a great farm, but we couldn’t come to an agreement with all of the parties who owned it.  Three were ready to sell it, but one seemed hesitant.  While we were waiting to hear about our offer on the Brownington house, we went to look at other houses in case the whole plan fell through.  We found a different house in Albany during our search, and because we had not heard from the other sellers in a timely fashion, we changed direction and made an offer on the Albany house.

Things were going well with the Albany property, which has many appealing features and is more modern than the first property.   When we started the title search process, however, we hit a serious issue.  The property was surrendered in lieu of payment to the bank, but the paperwork wasn’t completed correctly, and the error would potentially leave a new purchasers (us) potentially liable for debts incurred by the prior owner.  So now we are waiting for the paperwork to be redone, and there’s a chance that the re-doing could uncover other issues that would delay our ability to buy the house indefinitely.

I feel like my life is on hold.  I can’t prepare much for the move or finalize the sheep situation until we have a place for them to go.  I have five more Bluefaced Leicesters coming in July 22-23, a ram from Terra Mia farm in Oregon being delivered on July 4,  and 14 Border Leicesters under the patient care of their current owner while we wait for a barn and field to be available.  Not to mention the barn builders and the roofer who await a timeframe from us on owning the house.  I admit that my stress level has been pretty high, as we don’t have a lot of appealing property options in our pricerange if we can’t make this purchase.  We will farm somewhere, but it could be less than we had hoped for.