See the shearing of rare heritage sheep Saturday at Mill Swamp Indian Horses

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Step back into agricultural history at the annual sheep shearing at Mill Swamp Indian Horses Saturday, Feb. 24. 

The event begins at 9 a.m. and guests are invited to the event at 9299 Moonlight Road just outside of Smithfield.
Audrey Teller, assistant director of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, will discuss and demonstrate the shearing of rare heritage breed sheep including the native Virginian, Hog Island and the Colonial Leicester that originated in England in the mid-1700s. 

Teller will discuss and demonstrate shearing techniques and explain the steps in colonial wool production. There is no cost to attend. Guests are urged to bring a lawn chair.

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The small herd of colonial sheep that are maintained at Mill Swamp Indian Horses live primarily off of pasture, brush and hay. This winter saw the birth of four new lambs, two just last week. 

Gwaltney Frontier Farm Executive Director Steve Edwards said sheep were vital to early colonial farm life. 

“We can see in tax records and wills that sheep ranked right up there with hogs when it came to keeping a family fed and clothed,” Edwards said. “They dwarfed goats in terms of agricultural significance.” 

Mill Swamp Indian Horses is the program name of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, a non-profit breed conservation and educational program is the home to a wide range of rare and often nearly extinct American heritage livestock including Colonial Spanish horses, Colonial Spanish goats, and heritage sheep.