This image is part of an ongoing VT History Photo Essay Project. The project objective seeks to explore VT history through images that also reflect the art and photography of the respective time period. Eventually the best images will be curated into a gallery on the website. Unless otherwise specified, the history is sourced from the excellent book by Charles t. Morrisey: Vermont - A History.
In the last post I presented a brief history of sheep in Vermont. The sheep industry dominated the economy of Vermont in the 1830's and 1840's. This image shows sheep post-milking and headed to pasture. I shot this picture at the Vermont Shepherd Farm with the 1890 barn in the background. The early 1800's original barn burned down, the victim of a serial arsonist. David and Yesenia Ielpi Major today operate the farm which is the oldest sheep dairy farm in the United States. They are wonderful and welcoming individuals who readily gave me access to their farm. Not only was I rewarded with some great images, I learned much from David and Yesenia. Among the products Vermont today is known for is maple syrup. I have personally observed the intensive effort required to gather and reduce 40 gallons of sap to a gallon of syrup and willingly part with cash to purchase the sweet nectar. After witnessing the effort required to produce a wheel of sheep cheese, I likewise will never question the price. From pasturing, to milking, to rending, and to aging- a great sheep cheese requires much effort. But the end result in my opinion well justifies the value. So although sheep are no longer a dominant piece of the Vermont economy, for a few hard working individuals sheep farming still provides rewards to both the producer and the consumer.