Sheep at Peterson Farm

$9,955 of $26,000 goal

Raised by 104 people in 9 months
A History of Peterson Farm
Peterson Farm is located just outside of the heart of Falmouth at the intersection of Woods Hole Road and McCallum.  It is one of the oldest farms on Cape Cod dating back to 1679, where for about 300 years the Weeks family raised cattle and sheep. In the mid 1900’s it was sold to Capt. John Peterson, giving the farm its present namesake.  The farm was eventually purchased by the town in 1998 and is managed by the Conservation Department who are responsible for maintaining the land as publically accessible open space and grassland.  The farm’s unique habitat serves as a sanctuary for a diverse group of wildlife, especially birds and is frequently visited by birder watchers, nature lovers and dog walkers.

When Sue Schoen, the previous shepherd, moved to Western Massachusetts to pursue a larger farm of her own, the sheep vanished from Peterson Farm. Uncontrolled by the natural lawn-mowing of foraging sheep the grass grew tall and invasive weeds began to spread. Commercial mowing was needed to keep the brush at bay.

Who are we?

This is where we come in. We are Diana Wickman and Simon Thorrold. Growing up on farms in Connecticut and New Zealand, we have a passion for animals, farming and locally and ethically produced food.  We both work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and are teaming up to restore Peterson Farm back to its hay day; a real working sheep farm. Ten Katahdin ewes will be making the move from an island in Maine to Peterson Farm in mid May. They will be the starter flock for what we hope will grow to be a flock of about 30 ewes and lambs. The ewes will be rotationally grazed on the pasture, fertilizing and restoring the land and keeping the open grassland habitat that is so critical to the wildlife in the area.  We look forward to reviving a Falmouth tradition of welcoming spring with new lambs on Peterson Farm!

We have big dreams for this special town treasure and a lot needs to be done to restore it to its former glory. The shepherd tenancy is an unpaid position and while we will be able to cover some costs we are asking for your help with the farm infrastructure.  Our hope is that Peterson Farm becomes an even more popular destination for town residents and visitors, located strategically through Beebe Woods from Highfield Hall.

What we need

First, most of the perimeter fence is either missing or has been extensively damaged and overtaken by invasive plants. With the highest concern for safety of both our livestock and visitors to the farm our first plan is to restore the fencing, replacing the three stand electric with sturdy woven wire. The fence will keep sheep in, and potential predators out, of the fields. In addition to keeping the animals safe, doing the fence right will ensure that it remains effective and attractive for at least 20 years and will help to keep maintenance costs low. We want to be able focus most of our attention on the welfare of our animals and health of the grasslands and having a sturdy fence we can rely on is the first step.  The materials needed for the fencing project totals $14,000.

Second, we are seeking money to buy a compact tractor. A tractor is essential for most all the farm chores be it re-spreading manure over the fields, repairing fences, controlling invasive plants, and transporting bales of hay from the barn to the pasture. A reliable, pre-owned compact tractor that will suit our needs will cost $12,000.

We can’t wait to get started and are excited to share our love for this special place with everyone who visits the farm. We hope you will be willing to donate and turn these dreams into reality.
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Hi Folks,

Thank you ALL from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of support we have received. It has been great to see many of our donors visiting the farm! If you haven't been yet make it a point to come by soon. We are so grateful to each and everyone of you. None of this would be possible without the great support of our community.

So much exciting stuff has happened in the last week and a half! So without further adieu, this is what's new:

#1: The sheep have arrived! (See photos here: http://benshotme.com/selected-albums/sheep-return-to-peterson-farm/ )

On May 9th we trailered 10 Katahdin yearling ewes from just outside of Bath, ME to Peterson Farm. They are from Foggy Meadow Farm on North Haven, ME. Katahdin sheep are a species of hair sheep, which means they do not have wool but instead shed their coats. If you visit over the next few weeks you'll notice they look a little patchy with tufts of the old hair still hanging on from the cold Maine winter. In a few weeks they will look as if they were freshly shorn and will have uniform short coats; ready for the Cape Cod beach weather.

#2: Temporary Fencing is In Place

Last weekend, with supplies rescued from old fence during the clean up day at the farm, we were able to use a bunch of old t-posts and some old woven wire to create a new grazing space for the girls. They did a great job grazing down their first two pastures and even were munching on the Common Nettle patches (we were surprised). Good girls!

This new space, approx. 450' x 100', will be partitioned off using (electro-net) in order to intensify their grazing on sections at a time. This is the best approach for both the health of the sheep and the health of the pasture. We will write more about rotational grazing in the future as our grazing expands.

#3: We have a social media presence!

Follow us at:
Instagram: PetersonShepherds
Twitter: Peterson Shepherds

These will be great resources to get the latest updates, fun facts and photos of everything happening at the farm. We will also be posting flyers at the farm and around town with up coming events - so stay tuned and follow along.

We still have a long way to go:

We are actively looking for a llama to join our flock and still have hundreds of feet of fencing that is needed to be completed so the sheep can continue working on cutting down the grass so we can remove invasive plants and truly give the sheep room to roam.

We really can't wait to see you all on the farm so be sure to come by and say hi when you see us there.

All our best,
Diana and Simon
The Peterson Shepherds
The Sheep Arrive Back at Peterson Farm
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$9,955 of $26,000 goal

Raised by 104 people in 9 months
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