This year at the beginning of 2022 my New Year’s Resolution for the farm was to have a year of “yes”. To me this meant that if an opportunity came my way I would do it, ready or not I’d say yes.
The first “yes” came in the beginning of March. While scrolling through facebook someone on a sheep page mentioned the YCP with the application form for shepherds. Curious, I read through it and learned that the YCP, Youth Conservation Program, connects kids 9-18 with farmers of heritage sheep. In April the farmers are given a list of essays written by the kids and they get to choose which child will be the recipient of a year old ewe. In May the farmers and the kids all meet at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, where the ewes are given over to their new farm. Throughout the year the kids must show the ewe at two fairs, breed her in the fall, and use her wool in the spring, whether they sell it or make use of it on their own. Through all this the original farm stays in contact and helps mentor the kids.
Shortly after agreeing to donate a ewe to the YCP I was contacted by the NH Sheep and Wool Growers Association. In May they also hold a festival at the Deerfield Fairgrounds. They had an opening in the heritage breed display barn and had heard about us from other farmers. They reached out offering us a booth to display two of our sheep and to sell our products produced by our flock. This was the following weekend after the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I agreed to this as well and spent two consecutive weekends away from home. I met so many new faces, and had great conversations with individuals that want to get into farming or have a small flock of their own.
Then in June a very good friend of mine talked me into raising turkeys. A yes I was not prepared for, but was happy we agreed to. We now have 9 weird birds running around the farm. Although they’ll be tasty at Thanksgiving, we are enjoying their antics and silly noises when they greet us.
The next “yes” came when I was asked if I could send photos to the Livestock Conservancy and the following magazine cover featured myself and #7(one of my favorite ewes) in July.
In August I was approached by the Belknap County Nh Farm Bureau and asked to host a meeting and do a farm tour for the members that showed up. Nervous as all get out I agreed and had 6 wonderful individuals come to the farm. I got the opportunity to sit in on the meeting and hear about all the wonderful things they’re trying to do to help farmers, big and small. I highly suggest whether you’re a farmer or not, even if you just raise chickens or have a tractor, to reach out to your county farm bureau and ask to attend a meeting. They are a wonderful group of people looking to help keep NH rural.
As August came to a close it still leaves me 4 more months of opportunities to say “yes” to. It’s a daunting task, and I was not prepared to say yes to any of these opportunities that came my way. But with supportive family and friends I was able to get prepared, had a great time and made some amazing connections and networked with great people at all events. My year of “yes” has propelled my farm farther forward then I ever could have imagined and I can’t wait to see what comes next.