I first met Anne Gentry in early fall 2010 at a Fiber Festival in Montpelier, Virginia where I was photographing a herding dog exhibition. Anne was among a group of exhibitors showing sheep, llamas and alpacas and explaining the nuance of each breed. I was immediately attracted to the Scottish Black Face sheep raised by Anne and her husband Richard on their farm in Central Virginia. As their name suggests, these sheep usually have a black face (but sometimes with white markings) and black legs. The Scottish Blackface is the most common breed of domestic sheep in the United Kingdom but is somewhat of a rare breed in the United States.
After explaining who I was and what I did, I was invited to visit their farm and photograph during lambing in the spring. What could be cuter than newborn lambs, right? Unfortunately, with the arrival of spring my schedule filled up and by the time I could make the trip, most of the lambing was over. Undaunted, I met with Richard and Anne on their farm in April. As it turned out, Braeburn Farm is located just above Massies Mill, which is only about 20 miles from our home in Nellysford, Virginia. The more we talked, the more interested I became in this breed of sheep and their behavior. Ultimately it was decided that I would do an entire portfolio of the farm over a one-year period, sequencing through the four seasons as well as special events like the shearing operation performed by an Australian who still uses manual clippers so as not to traumatize the sheep. How cool is that?
So the Gentry’s have opened up their farm to me and periodically I visit and roam around with the sheep, horses and dogs. I already have some interesting anecdotes that I’ll share with you in future posts. Please check back from time to time to see how this portfolio is progressing.