A Morning on Wing & A Prayer Farm
A small breed-specific fiber farm in Shaftsbury, Vermont.
Words and Photos by Jenn Bakos
Mornings on a farm are typically known for the early rising hours, checking in on the animals after the night’s rest and tending to crops. But of course, they are much more than that. The rituals and chores of the day can set the tone for the hours that follow. On Wing & A Prayer Farm, the day begins with a strong pot of coffee, longing eyes from several dogs and cats waiting for breakfast, and a good sense of humor.
Tammy White, alongside her husband and children, own and operate Wing & A Prayer Farm. The farm originally began as a hobby project after the family became inspired by a trip to England in 2000. Sparked by the many sheep farms dotting the countryside, the family decided they wanted to acquire some sheep when they returned. After extensive research dug up by kids, they decided to start with a few Shetland sheep. They instantly fell in love with the sheep. Soon enough, two sheep became four, which doubled a few years down the road, and doubled again! With an expanding flock and the large quantities of wool piling up, the family finally decided they could make more of their growing farm.
Since then, the farm has flourished with a variety of animals and avenues of business. Currently, the farm mostly sells their fiber for yarn, which is derived from registered Shetland, Cormo, Cotswold, and Merino sheep, registered Angora Goats, and alpacas. Along with the fiber, they sell fresh eggs, chickens, turkeys, honey, home made soap and there is even room to sell a few home made pies!
When it comes to the four (or two)-legged animals on the farm, each one has a different duty to fulfill, and a unique personality to match. The different breeds of sheep and goat provide their fiber as mentioned above. The chickens provide eggs, the alpacas not only provide their fiber but are great guard animals (same goes for the mini donkeys!), the dogs oversee that the other animals aren’t getting out of line, and the cats oversee (and maintain) the entire situation. It’s quite the cast of characters!
On this particular spring morning, the rain was steady and you could see your breath in the air. Winter’s chill still lingered but our hearts were warm from the night before when two little lambs were born to Wendy, one of the ewes that had gone into labor that evening. After the routine cup of coffee and feeding the dogs and cats, it was off to make the rounds. We layered our clothing and stepped outside. The dogs trailed at our heels waiting for a slight hint we might toss around the old tennis ball that they were anxious to play with. We started at the chicken coupe, which was a flurry of activity. Clucking and cooing, the chickens left their roosts for the greener yard where they would spend their day roaming the grounds, staying on pest control. Mingling amongst the chickens were the ducks, all strutting in a line in search of their favorite puddle, followed by Mario, the albino peacock that roams and displays his feathers for all. Next we greet Peppi the pig, offering our mornings ‘hellos’ and promising our return with food from the barn in just a short while.
Back at the barn we begin the morning’s feeding process. We start with the loudest sheep or animal first, and then make our rounds to the remainder of the group with hay and feed. On chilly days such as this one, it’s also crucial to make sure the herd was going to be warm enough and out of the rainy weather. After our initial tasks were accomplished, we tucked back into the barn to check in on the newborn lambs and make sure mom and kids were doing alright… and of course to give them some much needed human love and attention too… it’s imperative when it comes to baby animals and farm life!
Our morning continued on. Chores were met and the animals were tended to. At eleven o’clock we briefly stopped our duties to wait for the sheerer to arrive for the goats. It is trulyamazing the work and dedication that goes into this farm, but it all seems so worth it. There is so much that can be learned from the honest work with the land and animals and it is clear that there is much gratitude present for what they give in return.
One thing is certain: Tammy’s heart and soul is poured into this farm and she treats each animal with the utmost love and care. She is so committed to their wellbeing and ensuring their happiness. It makes for a great relationship with the animals, the land, and the surrounding community.
You can find more information and even visit the farm yourself by going to http://www.wingandaprayerfarm.com