Tammy White is the sort of farmer who makes you want to be a farmer—actually, no, she's the sort of farmer who makes you believe you can be a farmer. Or, in our case, fiber farmers. For a few idyllic hours, we left the land of dairy and butterfat to walk around with, learn from, and posit many a question to Tammy, the shepherdess at Wing & A Prayer Farm. She offered guidance on curing goat skins; taught lessons on the fiber of different wool breeds; humbly explained how her family survived after their first alpaca gave birth to a cria (baby alpaca) when they didn't know she was pregnant; plus, we briefly discussed bartering mucking for natural dyeing/spinning lessons. (A dream.) We went with the knowledge that a visit to her farm would surely deepen our desire to someday grow a fiber flock, but we left with the deep need to include a miniature donkey (or four, like her) in our plans. If you need evidence of why this is so, behold Kalinka and Bilbo, the mini donkeys below. You understand, yes? The small farm community in Vermont continues to inspire in us the drive to do good and to be open to others who might want to see / participate / believe in a different way.
For a bit of fiber animal guidance, the animals pictured within are: sheep, miniature donkeys (not fiber animals, but good guard companions), angora goats (with the ringlet curls), and alpacas (the goofy other-wordly creatures).
While walking the grounds at Wing & A Prayer, you cannot help but feel included among the menagerie of breeds and species. For one thing, the animals around you are so clearly happy and loved—a contagious disposition, if there ever were one. Beyond that simple fact of life on the farm, Tammy and her family has spent decades creating a warm, welcoming, and educational environment. As you look around, there's a morsel of information about this animal, a tidbit about that one, a hopeful message here & there for anyone who dreams of farming, or who is simply curious. After a long and hearty pasture walk, we settled in her big, well-lived in kitchen so that Sam could touch all of the yarn and talk knitting for a little while. (Their scrumptious farm yarn can be found here. Shetland is wow, wow, wow.)
She is a small farmer with big vision. She is quite what we aspire to be — a breath of fresh air, really. For an industry that can often feel insular—reclusive, maybe?—her farm is a reminder of the good that small farms can do for animals, for communities, and for the Earth, our common home.