Why Shepherdwoods Farm
Between March 1990 and August 2007 I worked at Blackberry Farm in Aurora, IL. First as an interpreter in the Weaver's Cabin and the last 17 years as Lead Interpreter. In the Weaver's Cabin I learned to spin yarn on an 1840's antique spinning wheel and to weave on an 1850's 4 harness loom. I had bought an 1860 spinning wheel months before and wanted to earn how to use it. Soon after I bought a 1850 weaving loom previously owned by an Aurora taylor of men's clothes of the same period. I thought Blackberry gave lessons. Turns out I was hired to demonstrate whie I learned. We demonstrated 5 days a week to school groups and then during the summer seven days a week to visitors to the park. This was all done in time period costumes - floor length dresses with long sleeves.
All of this got me thinking of owning my own sheep. At a monthly guild meeting, members made up of those in the Weaver's cabin, a friend said she was going to put sheep on her property and did I want to put sheep on it with her. I imediately said Yes. Then went home that night and told my husband what I had done. Most husbands would have decided right then and there that their wife was crazy. Alan was his usual calm self. Boy! did he not know what he was in for.
In 1996 we bought the property we have still in Marseilles, IL. Five acres, most of it pasture with a bit of woods to the West. The house, shop and barn on the South Eastern edge. We brought the 3 sheep from Judy's farm and quickly added more. Two of our first sheep were Finn/Rambouillet - April and Emma, large sheep initially bred for their ability to birth 4 - 6 lambs at one time. We bought them not for breeding but for their very soft white wool. Our third sheep was a Shetland wether, named Hadrain. A miss spelling of Hadrian. It sometimes was miss prounced as Hay-Drain.
We later added another 4 more Finn/Rambouillet ewes - Alphalpha, Spanky, Darla and Babe and 2 Shetland ewes - Helga and Deserie and a succession of Shetland ewes and rams in the last 20+ years. To bring in a different blood strain of Shetland sheep we had semen straws collected from a Flett Shetland ram in Canada. Using these straws many of us AI-ed our ewes to breed for lambs.
From 1997 to 2007 we featured our annual Shearing Day event here on the farm in April. The shearer came and everyone was able to watch the sheep get their wool sheared off. There were many other vendors for people to shop around. Our church's youth helped to sell the pulled pork sandwiches as we all walked around smelling the delicious aroma of barbequed pork roasting.
In 2017 I opened the Farm Shop in the building behind the house. We weren't doing many away fiber shows by then and needed to have a safe dry place to display yarn, wool, spinning and weaving equipment as well as conduct classes. We coupled the "brick and motar" shop with an easier access online shop and facebook page in early 2020 - just before Covid hit.
Now the flock of 10 ewes is a closed flock and we don't have the rams anymore to breed with. I miss the lambs racing around, but when you are reaching 70 it's easier to not have to wake up at 5 or 6am to check for lambs.
We still have the shop and online store. We still, and hopefully always will have, the sheep. Their wool is soft and warm. The wool provides us with additional income, Winter socks, mittens, scarves and hats. A hobby of spinning, knitting and weaving. And 10 little friends that come up to you for a treat of a piece of bread, an ear scratch and you get treated with a tail wag.