Austin and Jessica Armstrong of Armstrong Artisan Farm in Walnut Cove are hosting Farm Fun Day and Sheep Dog Trials the weekend of June 2 and June 3.
“We thought this would be a good way to invite people to our farm and educate the public on agricultural practices while having fun,” said Jessica Armstrong.
Armstrong Artisan Farm launched in 2010 with sheep, a few cows and one pig. They’ve now grown to supply meat at farmers markets and select restaurants such as Salem Tavern in Winston-Salem and The Traveled Farmer in Greensboro. They also sell directly to the public.
Austin is a graduate from North Carolina State University and double majored in agriculture business management and animal science and Jessica is a graduate of Wake Forest University. Both took their knowledge of sheep and the discipline ascertained through flock management, put it into practice and today produce top quality pasture raised pork, lamb, fresh eggs and beef.
The weekend event is slated to offer wool spinning demonstrations, colonial era spinning, tours of the farm and their sheep, chickens and cows, live music, games, along with educational information and sheep dog trials.
“The sheep dog trials will be all day Saturday and Sunday,” Armstrong said. “One handler and one dog will work out on the field with a few sheep at a time. The owner and their dog will attempt to get the sheep to perform tasks or move to certain areas of the field all while being timed and judged. It’s no easy task.”
Armstrong explained dogs will be up to 500 yards away from their handlers with the sheep.
“They’re trying to move the sheep as precisely as possible. This demonstrates real life farm use where dogs are integral to the life of the farm.”
The dogs have to be in tune with their handlers at all times while never losing focus on the sheep, according to Armstrong.
“Watching these dogs work is amazing. There’s always enjoyment watching someone or an animal do a job well. For kids there will also be fun games and activities that they may not get to do every day. We’ll have a large corn pit which is like a sand box filled with corn.”
The couple hopes the two-day event gives the community an understanding of how farms today work.
“There are fewer and fewer family farms these days which makes it hard for people to see the real amount of work that goes into a farm and how passionate farmers are about what they do. Everyone has a connection to a farm in some way and should understand where the items that they wear and consume come from,” she said.
A typical day for the young farmers consist of waking early to check the animals, and then give them water, feed and hay as needed. Each afternoon the family rechecks and gathers eggs from chickens. The eggs then have to be washed, sized and put into cartons or flats.
On Wednesday and Saturday, Armstrong said they travel to farmers markets and on Thursday make deliveries to stores and restaurants.
“People also make appointments to stop by the farm at various times to pick up products or meet the animals,” she said. “What I enjoy most is my children learning how to care for animals and the work ethic that growing up on a farm will instill in them. Even at their young age you can see a love for farming in them.”
For more information about Farm Fun Day visit Armstrong Artisan Farm’s Facebook page or their website at http://armstrongartisanfarm.com/.
Farm Fun Day will be held at 1499 Brook Cove Road in Walnut Cove Saturday, June 2 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 3 from 1 until 4 p.m. The cost is $5 and children 9 and under get in free.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.