Approximately 8 miles northwest of Freeport, outside the commotion of shoppers and traffic, is a small sheep farm in Durham. Soft Rain Farm has a sweet, unpretentious, classic, old farmhouse and barn. There, you will find Mary Fallon, tending her flock of Finnsheep and a few other breeds for 4-H, fiber and meat. She is also tending to her children.
About twelve years ago, Mary fell in love with a widower who had a mixed flock of sheep which he kept to maintain the pastures; it was motley flock. As Mary waded into role of shepherd, she began to realize that with such a diversity of genetics she could not predict things like size, fleece quality or softness, horned or polled, or a sheep's natural breed disposition. But as a knitter, she recognized the value of the fleece breeds and really began to research them. The Finnsheep struck her as the perfect sheep: beautiful fleece, medium sized, super friendly and a variety of colors. Because she had young children, the docility and friendliness of the Finnsheep was extremely important.
She culled most of the other sheep and focused on Finns, but through the years, has added a few other fleece breeds; Coopworth, Shetland and Icelandic. Soft Rain Farm has a solid flock of about 20 sheep.
Mary's daughter has bought some of her own sheep which she shows through 4-H, becoming a shepherd in her own right. All of her children and husband are involved with the sheep and the annual cycle of shepherding and improving the flock gives their lives a rhythm and an external purpose that has taught them so much. Mary feels that her sheep are her teachers and she pushes herself to learn more, not just because it enhances her own experience, but because she owes them and her own children her very best.
Currently, she is using Aroostook Fiberworks in Ashland to process her fleeces. We were fortunate to pick up a few skeins of her Finnsheep, which are available on our website. Mary also sells her fleeces at the Common Ground Fair.
If you would like to visit Soft Rain Farm, you need to contact Mary ahead of time via email maryerin88
We thank Mary for letting us visit her farm and use a photo we took for our homepage.