A Happy Place to Live & Grow - Wing & A Prayer Farm

Monday, April 25, 2016

In a little corner of Southern Vermont, there exists a happy place, a place where storybook tales are made.  It's a place filled with creatures, large and small, of fur and feather with whimsical names like Padme and Kalinka, Blossom and Peter Pan, Lilac and Paisley, Malcolm and McDuff, Poppy and Polka Dot.  It's a place where everyone feels loved and even the smallest, or weakest is treasured and nurtured.  Although happiness and joy abound, some days are filled with sadness and heartache - because at Wing and A Prayer Farm, every living thing is celebrated and when one of their own passes through the Pearly Gates, their loss is mourned.  Death is not taken for granted, not just something to be expected.  This is no ordinary farm, in fact, it is so special that I've struggled for days to find the words to satisfactorily tell this story.  Even now, I'm not sure I have, but let me try.
Wing and a Prayer Farm

For the past few months, I've been following the Instagram, Facebook and blog of a beautiful farm in Shaftsbury, Vt -  where farm animals are referred to by name, where creatures great and small seem to live an idyllic life in a place you might find described in a James Herriot novel.  When I reached out to Tammy White - the 'Mom' of every living creature at Wing & A Prayer Farm - this past January, she suggested I visit in Spring during lambing season.  I knew from reading Tammy's blog and seeing photos on Instagram that we were right in the middle of it now, so when I contacted Tammy last week and she had some time to show us around.....you can imagine my excitement!

Tammy and her husband, Jim, bought the property in 1989.  Like most passions do, things evolved and today the 20-acre farm is home to 6 alpacas, 50+ sheep, 12 angora goats, 50 chickens, ducks, a peacock, two miniature donkeys, 7 cats, 3 dogs, an American Guinea Hog and a Lionhead bunny and honeybees.  In addition, two horses and a Shetland pony also call the farm home.  Tammy and Jim happen to also have three 'human' kids who were lucky enough to grow up barefoot on the farm.  I say lucky... first because I quoted Tammy and second because it's plain to see that any living thing would be lucky to spend it's life on this farm.  It takes only minutes to witness how much love Tammy has for each and every animal and seconds to see how much love they have for her.
Wing and A Prayer Farm in Vermont
Tammy and two members of the family.
The Whites raise a few varieties of sheep - Shetland, Cormo, Cotswold and Merino.  And no.....I can't tell you which is which.  They also raise Angora Goats, who Tammy lovingly refers to as the Muppets.

Wing and a Prayer Farm

When we visited, 10 lambs had already joined the farm this lambing season.  We were able to quietly visit some, so as not to upset the Mama's.  Cute doesn't come close to adequately describing these little bleating creatures (and you thought toddlers were noisy!).  Makes sense now why Mary had a little lamb.  Lucky Mary!

Wing and a Prayer Farm




Wing and A Prayer Farm

Yes, every animal is tagged, but not for Tammy's benefit.  She knows every animal by its name.  The tags are to assist helpers, veterinarians and the like in the event Tammy is not available.



Shaftsbury Vermont Wing and A Prayer Farm

The chickens are oblivious to the cats on the farm.....it's pretty obvious cats know their place in the pecking order because there were no antics between the two, at least not during our visit.   In fact, going by this posture, I'd say the chickens might have the upper hand.



One of the more showy creatures at Wing and A Prayer is the peacock named Mario.
Wing and a Prayer Farm

For perspective on size....he's taller than Elena who is 5 1/2.

Wing and a Prayer Farm in Shaftsbury VT

Wing and a Prayer Farm

By now you probably assume Wing and A Prayer is simply a farm for the loves of Tammy's life - and that is quite true, but Wing and A Prayer is a fiber farm and Tammy's other passion is YARN.  The animals provide fiber which Tammy uses to create beautiful yarns in all sorts of colors and textures. When not caring for the farm, Tammy might be found working in her 'dye' garden which she uses to create natural dyes for her fiber.  After spending a couple hours on the farm, I left wondering exactly when Tammy might find time to close her eyes and rest her tired body, but judging from her warm and welcoming hospitality, it seems she does manage.
Tammy at Wing and a Prayer Farm
Appa, the bunny with Elena & Tammy
What struck me the most during our visit, aside from the calm and friendly animals, was Tammy's nurturing personality.  In her soft-spoken voice and loving demeanor, Tammy is a genuinely kind and caring human being.  She loves every living thing, values every living thing and passionately shares her knowledge and love for her farm in a way that draws visitors into her calm and placid world, almost entranced.  I'm sure that comes in handy when handling animals, especially those in labor.  I know this to be true because last evening I watched a video of Paisley delivering two beautiful lambs while Tammy looked on, lovingly encouraging and complimenting Paisley's progress and her     adjustment to being a first-time mom.  What might have struck me most was Tammy's tearful joy at the birth - a birth probably in a long line of births before it over the years.  Yet still, today's was celebrated, and cheered and that right there is an indication of the love and affection that is so evident on Wing and a Prayer Farm.  To watch this video....use this link:  I promise you will see what I mean and you too will be cheering Paisley on!  https://katch.me/wingandaprayerf/v/0cd84430-7453-358c-b6f6-2be8c1abd364
Be sure to turn your sound up, as Tammy speaks in a very soft, soothing voice during delivery.  And stick with it - the video is about 30 min. long and the first lamb doesn't come for about 15 min. in. All new moms and every child should be lucky enough to have such support and love!

Recently Charlotte Lyons visited Wing & A Prayer and lettered this beautiful board - the perfect storyboard explaining Wing & A Prayer Farm to visitors.  To read her blog post about her visit to the farm, use this link: http://housewrenstudio.typepad.com/charlotte/2016/03/spring-at-the-barn.html



Even with the photos, I don't feel like I did justice to what we saw and felt, but hopefully you get the idea.   What I learned from our visit was this.....Tammy raises a lot of animals, some for fiber, some for eggs but at the end of the day, the love given to each and every living being has nothing to do with it's contribution to the farm.  I've learned that when an animal dies or a lamb is stillborn,  Tammy feels the pain and loss as much as you or I would mourn the passing of a cherished family pet.  She writes about it with honesty and emotion in her blog.  Her farm is more than business, it's family......from each little lamb to each barn cat.  Any animal who is lucky enough to call Wing & A Prayer home is lucky enough.

Shaftsbury VT Wing and A Prayer Farm

If you want to experience more of Wing & A Prayer Farm, you're in luck.  On Mother's Day, May 8th from 12:00-3:00pm, you can visit during the Open Farm event.  Tammy promises to have her famous pies for sale, fresh eggs and visits with all God's creatures who live on the farm.  Thanks for reading. To learn more, watch lots of videos and see more beautiful photos....follow Wing & A Prayer on Facebook, their blog or Instagram, using the links included below.  See you back here soon at Life As I See It.

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7 Comments »

7 Responses to “A Happy Place to Live & Grow - Wing & A Prayer Farm”

  1. Well written article. I was a guest at Tammy's farm last year in June. It was a wonderful experience. Tammy is just as you describe. I love watching the life on the farm through her, and now through you. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you Linda! It is impossible to spend time on the farm without feeling the love. Wing & A Prayer is a very special place for sure!

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  2. A lovely and perfectly captured profile of Tammy and the farm. Thank you so much for the mention! An unexpected surprise.

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  3. I always love to hear and see more about this charming farm and it's proprietors! Discovered it first by reading about the stitching workshops in Vermont...on Instagram! Thank you for sharing what you saw and felt when you visited. A visit is on my bucket list, if God so pleases to grant me that wish. Until then, I will be thankful for stories and videos and photos.

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