Why Does the Chicken Coop Move with the Sheep?

Shelburne FarmsSo you want to know why they move the chicken coop with the roaming sheep herd ? Well it’s not for some goober reason like to get to the other side of the road. No, not these chickens.

The chickens eat the bugs that hurt sheep hooves.

How simple. Poetic almost.

And there’s the llama that protects the sheep flock from coyotes. Yup, a llama. I guess even coyotes don’t like to be spit on. The llama does have backup, just in  case: a portable fence.

Now, where does all this take place? At Shelburne Farms in Vermont, a majestic combination of farm life and cultured landscape once owned by members of the Vanderbilt Family.  Yes, THOSE Vanderbilts. (are there any others?)

Breeding Barn at Shelburne Farms

Breeding Barn

Not Your Average Farm

  • 1,400 acres? Check.
  • Uber fancy homestead-turned-hotel? Check.
  • A breeding barn that may be nicer than my home? Check.
  • Landscape arranged by Frederick Law Olmstead? Check. Yeah, that dude who designed Central Park.

That Was Then, What About Now?
It’s still a working farm, and dedicated to sustainability education. The camps they have for children made me wish I was a pre-teen again so I could have gone somewhere like this instead of playing kickball. But that’s the only reason to wish to be a pre-teen. Agreed?

Making Cheese at Shelburne Farms

Making cheese

How Now, Brown Cow?
The Brown Swiss cows who live here are productive for 6-7 years. I wonder how long people have/will consider me productive…?

The herd is moved every 24 hours to sustain the pasture. And a fresh pasture keeps the cows happy. They’re also happy after the twice-daily milkings: 4:30 am and 3:30 pm.

This milk in turn makes the (famous?) Shelburne Farms cheese. 5,000 pounds of milk go into making 530 pounds of cheese. Do you think the cows know that ratio and that’s why they’re productive for only a few years? I would be exhausted by those prospects.

The cheese ages for six months up to three years.  And the tasting at the end of the tour lasts about 3 minutes. Yummy!

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Gardens at shelburne Farms

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[…] bridges, incredible Americana at the Shelburne Museum, and a Frank Olmstead landscape design at Shelburne Farms. Vermont surprised me with how much I learned and loved […]

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