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By Emma Shivler
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Blue Shepherd Farm in Rocheport, Missouri, just minutes outside of Columbia. This farm hosts an interesting mix of flora and fauna. They have “u-pick” berry bushes (both blueberries and strawberries), as well as a small herd of black Welsh mountain sheep.
The berries are delicious and available to pick by appointment during the summer months. The sheep aren’t a public attraction, but they’re equally important. Only about 1,500 black Welsh mountain sheep currently reside in flocks in the United States, and they’re considered an endangered breed in the wild.
Blue Shepherd Farm is home to 20 to 40 of these sheep, depending on the season. They’re purebred registered breeding stock and help to provide lambs to producers of this breed all over the country. Owners Steve and Caroline Andriano has sold lambs in the Midwestern states and the East Coast.
Blue Shepherd Farm itself is a sight to see. The sheep are well cared for and the farm boasts both historic and innovative adaptations for their care. A magnificent 125-year old barn sits on the property. It has been restored to store hay and looks like it came straight out of a movie.
In addition to the historic aspects of the farm, there are also some interesting innovations, such as specialized feeders that allow the sheep to feed from below (reducing the work for both the sheep and the farmer), and a small chute to help catch the sheep as calmly as possible when the time comes for shearing their wool or providing other routine care.
My favorite piece of the farm, however, is in one of the fields where the sheep graze. It’s a small, picturesque lake with a cute little dock. I can’t imagine a more perfect scene: the beautiful lake with a group of black Welsh mountain sheep in the foreground.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the sheep face to face. This breed is very sweet — for those not familiar with animal agriculture, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near them without a secure fence in between (as is the case with most rams). However, the black Welsh mountain rams are quite docile and were just fine having us stand around in the field with them. This was a special experience for me, an animal science student at MU, to experience a different type of sheep and a different type of farm.
Steve and Caroline have obviously done an amazing job cultivating this beautiful and productive space — visit in season to pick some berries while getting a glimpse of the gorgeous scenery and, of course, the sheep.
Blue Shepherd Farm was the location of COMO Living’s Gourmet photoshoot this issue.
You can read more here.