Sheep Farming in Vermont

The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival will be held the end of this month at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds. This is an annual event that brings together sheep farmers, wool vendors, crafters, and educators to showcase and discuss spinning, knitting, farming, and all things wool.

Sheep farming has been very important to Vermont’s agriculture for a long time. Sheep were introduced to Vermont in the beginning of the 19th century, and though the sheep farming boom was eventually replaced by Vermont’s famous dairy industry, sheep farming and the wool and fiber industry remain an important part of today’s Vermont’s agricultural trade. The value of sheep farming can be seen by items in Vermont’s newspapers, particularly through the middle part of the 19th century.

The following is an announcement from a wool manufacturer, simultaneously advertising services and thanking local customers for their loyal business.

Detail from the August 13, 1839 issue of the Rutland Herald

Here is another advertisement, eye-catching and reappearing in many issues of the Burlington Free Press:

Detail from the September 20, 1844 issue of the Burlington Free Press

Though at the midpoint of the 19th century dairy farming was quickly becoming prominent, sheep were apparently still a source of pride, as can be seen in the announcement below.

Detail from the September 30, 1852 issue of the Vermont Watchman & State Journal

It was not uncommon for there to be discussion in the Vermont newspapers of this century about the tips and techniques of the farming trade. Sheep farming was part of this discussion, as can be seen from the two clippings below:

Detail from the January 30, 1846 issue of the Burlington Free Press

Detail from the June 25, 1875 issue of the Vermont Farmer

Finally, here’s an example of an advertisement for a sheep farm sale. One can only wonder if the farm is still being used today in Vermont’s wool industry.

Detail from the November 21, 1844 issue of the Rutland Herald

– Sally Blanchard

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