Shepherds Knoll Farm began as a family farm located in Rice, VA. The farm began from our desire to live more naturally, to eat organically grown fruit and vegetables and to have eggs, dairy and meat from animals that were always on organic pasture instead of being raised in confinement.
The journey began in August of 2006 with a small herd of Dexter cattle, two milk cows and a small flock of chickens.
A lot has changed since then.
But the one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to managing the garden, the pastures, and the animals without the use of chemicals, hormones, or unnatural fly control products. It’s a core belief that’s important to us and to our customers.
Our main push the last couple of years has been to grow our Dexter herd and expand the self sufficiency and sustainability of our small homestead. Our appreciation for farmers (all of them) has grown by leaps and bounds. So much about farm life was unknown to us. We had lived in suburbia all of our lives. True greenhorns . . . for sure. We quickly learned that life and death are regular visitors on a farm. We learned that things change quickly and there are a lot of things that will not wait for a more convenient time. And that multiplies rapidly as you add more animals to the mix.
There is a cycle to life that we are learning to listen to, to move with and to cooperate with. We are beginning to more fully appreciate the deeply spiritual aspect of husbandry. There is great beauty and wonder to experience on a farm at all levels and it is definitely worth all of the hard work, and pain that it takes.
There is nothing better than watching a newborn calf and mamma cow as they get acquainted, or the smell of fresh hay stacked in the hay barn, or the sound of a flock of geese down at the pond, or the sound of an old broody hen fussing at you as you collect eggs, or watching calves frolic in the spring pastures. Nope. . Nothing at all is better . . . in this humble farmer’s wife’s mind at least.
In 2016 we became friends with Doug and Donna Spencer when they moved into our county and contacted us about Dexters. During that year while they worked on establishing their farm and building their home we became friends. In mid summer of 2017 Barry and I began rethinking what our future held because our sons were adults now and didn’t see farming in their future. The more we pondered this the more we were impressed to start planning a move east to the Chesapeake Bay area, a area where we’d vacationed during our childhood and a lot during our adult years. But while selling our farm was not going to be easy for various financial reasons, selling our wonderful Dexter herd was going to be emotionally difficult. For those of you that have had Dexters, you know they are easy to love. We knew each of these critters by name and knew each of their unique personalities. The idea of selling each of them off individually didn’t sit well. We started selling a few in pairs. Shortly after a few were sold, we purchased a lot in Ophelia, VA and Donna and Gwen decided they would become partners in Shepherds Knoll Dexters. The farm sold in late spring 2018 and the remaining herd was moved to Donna’s farm and have been thriving. Hopefully Shepherd Knoll Farm Dexters will have some calves again soon for prospective buyers.