Our Maine Farm
Icelandic Sheep Dogs
Build Your Farm: helpful links and
Fleece, Roving, Wool Yarn
Roving, Wool Yarn... welcome to our Maine Icelandic Sheep Farm
Our Icelandic Sheep lamb in April, To learn more about
Icelandic Sheep, visit our resource section: Build
We're often asked how we came to build our farm. David and
I came to Maine with no idea of building a sheep farm. David had
built a small cabin in the woods of Limerick, Maine when I joined
him there. No running water, no electricity, but a fantastic ever
flowing spring of wonderful water... and a lot of dreams. By day,
he was a machinist, I was a critical care nurse. By night we had
a portable sawmill, and we worked together as sawyers... it was
great. Do you know you can eat anything you want and never gain
weight when you spend your days cutting wood?
As time went on, we cleared land and planted an orchard and grapes
and an arbor of northern kiwifruit. We had solar power and a generator
for electricity, a gasoline engine for the water pump…eventually
power came closer to our road and was sort of affordable…we
went on the grid. We expanded the original cabin, including adding
a smaller cabin 40' from the house as a bedroom for the teenage
boys... I highly recommend a bedroom for boys 40' from
the main house!
then... just when life was going so smoothly... I saw this picture…you
may have seen it…in the old Raising Sheep the Modern Way.
A white horned Icelandic ewe. She became an obsession. It just seemed
that no other breed would do. It had to be Icelandic Sheep.
I met Barbara Webb at Jager Farm in Massachusetts..she was the
first to import Icelandic sheep into the USA. I drove down to meet
her and see her sheep in September 1995. I bought 4 ewes and 2 rams
there and then. I had no barn, no fence, no truck…so we agreed
that she would keep the sheep until the following spring in exchange
for the lambs…then I had to figure out how to tell David that
we were shepherds!
We just eased into the realization over the winter…we had
5 acres of woods cut and found that there are more rocks than dirt
here. No wonder no one had farmed it before! we sawed up the lumber
and built our barn, put up portable fences and portable shelters
and by the summer of 1996 we got the sheep and more sheep from Canada
and Montana…17 in all. They were everything I had imagined…it
was crazy and wonderful, a fantastic dream come true.
is work…no doubt about it..it wasn’t a shock, I had
grown up in and around farming. We both had gone back to our machinist
and nursing jobs…so now we had a fairly regular schedule and
better income…and kids in college. As the years go by, and
I am a grandmother, I do less nursing and more shepherding…life
When it seems crazy and I start wondering WHY DID I DO THIS!!??
I go sit with the sheep and in an instant I know why. They are beautiful
and real and honest.
The dogs…well they are as sneaky as the sheep about possessing
humans. I first saw them at Stefania Dignum’s home at Yeoman
Farm in Parham, Ontario. Stefania, an Icelander longing for sheep
like home, brought the Icelandic sheep to North America . She has
beautiful dogs..and our first fellow, Boti, came from her home.
Well, then we needed a friend for him, so I was able to find a woman
in Iceland to help me and I imported Goa, an 8 week old bundle full
of love and dog kisses….she in now known as the “licking
mother”, so named by Amelia our granddaughter.
We breed a litter or two a year…they are such wonderful
dogs that the world needs more of them. They are truly devoted to
humans and silly happy companions will to work for food and friendship.
We sell our dogs unregistered as pets and companions so the price
remains affordable to the average family. There are always cards
and letters and emails with pictures and stories of the pups we
have sold…it is worth all the wet newspapers and getting up
in the night that comes with raising puppies. Our pups are now in
Then came the llamas…we traded sheep out to Michigan in exchange
for llamas, not guard llamas, just stand around and look pretty
llamas…I am still not sure what I was thinking on that occasion.
And the angora bunnies…”let’s just breed them
once”…now there are 6, but they are really cute.
now, with our 7th lambing soon to happen, what would I do differently…well,
the “big house” still isn’t finished so I would
have finished that project. I would have considered the land...we
are a glacial dump…rocks and boulders, no way to use equipment
in the fields, fencing is a heroic act. Maybe I would have learned
to spin before I had hundreds of pounds of wool…but that is
all just hindsight. I would never reconsider the breed or the life.
David Patterson & Elaine Clark
P.O. Box 54
Limerick, ME 04048