How our little farm began...
My husband and I moved to Colorado, from the suburbs of Detroit in 2006. He had only been in Detroit for a couple of years, having moved from Virginia, and didn't plan to stay. We saw the signs of the auto industry being in trouble, and knew that both of our jobs, somewhat related to the industry, might be in trouble. We weren't raised as farmers, and have never done this prior to moving to Colorado. I was a manufacturing engineer in the auto industry, and Larry worked doing graphics simulation for a closely related industry. Things weren't looking great in Detroit. Larry also had family in Colorado, of which included his grandfather, who still owned a section of land in eastern Colorado that is still farmed for wheat today. He was 103 at the time, and we really wanted to be able to spend time with him before he passed.
So we found jobs in Colorado and rented a home in Longmont, to give us time to sell our house in Detroit, and get settled in Colorado. We knew, owning 4 dogs at the time, that we wanted some land. I knew I wanted a garden and some fruit trees. We talked about getting some chickens... This was going to be a big change from living in the 'burbs.
In June of 2007, we moved into our home on 6 acres in Berthoud. It already had raised garden beds to get me started on a garden and some tulips. My husband decided it was time to get started with the chickens. I had envisioned getting 6 or 12 to get started, to learn how to raise them, and see how our dogs would behave around new, feathered friends. I got a call at work one day, my husband was so excited, he had ordered our chickens. I asked him how many, he said he ordered 100!!
That's how our little farm began.
Our chickens showed up a few weeks later. In the meantime, we had begun discussing raising sheep the following year, but knowing we would need livestock guardians. We did a lot of research on llamas, donkeys, dogs, and other things (like hot wire, and night eyes and sound systems). The research pointed strongly to Great Pyrenees dogs (as well as Akbash and Maremma). I called the Colorado Great Pyrenees Rescue to see if they ever had working dogs available. They not only told me that it was rare to get a good working dog through a rescue, but that since we had never owned this breed, they wouldn't send a rescue to us. It was disappointing, and we started looking for local breeders. We prefer to rescue animals, and I didn't really want to buy a bred dog. But we had time, we weren't going to get sheep until the next summer.
Then I got a phone call. The rescue changed their mind when they got a frenzied call from a woman in Missouri with almost 100 dogs that needed homes ASAP, as her husband had started shooting her livestock and was threatening the dogs. So we drive 21 hours to Missouri and back in one weekend and picked up our pups, Atlas and Goliath. And since dogs need to be raised around sheep to learn to guard and protect them, we had to find some sheep, QUICK.
We found Laverne and Shirley with a local sheep breeder, and now, we were chicken and sheep farmers. All of this happened before the end of the summer of 2007, mere months after we bought the farm. Our first lambs were born on New Year's Day, 2008.This little farm was the real thing!
It's been a fun ride, and we grow a little every year. Long Shadow Farm was officially established at the beginning of 2008, and we've grown to over 300 chickens, dozens of turkeys, a handful of ducks, and over a dozen full time ewes. We love every minute of farming! We weren't trained on a farm by our parents or grandparents, we didn't study Agricultural Engineering in school (even though I went to an ag school, myself). We learned all of this by reading (we suggest "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin), by doing, and by learning the hard way.