The farm, built along a ridge abutting Saville Hill, is a work in progress that began in early 1990 and is the realization of a dream come true for owners Ron and Elizabeth Jackson. Carving what exists today from out of 172 acres of rolling woodlands, they began with the basics... building an access road, nearly a mile in length, which culminated at the end of the ridge with a spectacular view of the Allegheny Mountains and the Jefferson National Forest. Long commutes from New England and weekend camping were the order of the days as they explored the area and made plans for how the farm would evolve. The first timber logging operation was started in 1991 to make way for the pastures needed to support the planned flock of Corriedale sheep. During the spring of 1991, with help from their son Alex, they spent a two week vacation building the first barn... a major milestone, since at last, they had a roof over their heads! For details of that adventure, click on the barn photo!
The following three years were busy. A small pond was dug to capture water from the only spring on the property, electrical power and telephone lines were run, a deep well was drilled and the beginning of the stock barn was undertaken. Ron designed both barns so that just he and Elizabeth could handle most of the construction tasks themselves.
In late summer of 1994, Ron retired from Raytheon Company in Massachusetts and he and Elizabeth pulled up stakes and moved kit, caboodle, three cats and their Border Collie, Molly, to the farm here in the valley! To say that it was interesting is probably an understatement. It was busy for sure. They did the move themselves, renting a twenty six foot van, pulling a fourteen foot trailer, loading it with a lot of help from a few abused friends, their son-in-law Vlad, daughter Eva and two and a half year old grandson, Adam. The caravan headed south with Ron and Molly in the van pulling the trailer, Eva driving Ron's pickup with Adam aboard and Elizabeth and the three felines following in the Pathfinder. Quite a spectacle to say the least.
Since they planned to be bunking in the barn for a while, they stored most of their belongings in Lexington, again pressing some friends and their younger daughter Andrea into service. They unloaded most of the goods (including Elizabeth’s baby grand piano) into storage and, finally, on-site full time, things could really get rolling. The first order of business was to run water lines to the barns and electric power to the stock barn. The priority then focused on the completion of a bunkhouse addition to the stock barn before winter arrived. By mid-October, they were in the snug little 20x20 addition, complete with indoor plumbing, a decided improvement over roughing it in the barn loft, but a dramatic change from the 3,500 square foot colonial residence they had left in New England!
The preceding spring, they had made a commitment to take eight brood ewes from Hal Walker's Valley Lamb and Wool Company. The girls were scheduled to arrive just after the first of the year, so much work was in store before they were ready for the big day. The first barn wing and stalls were barely finished when the bred ewes arrived with lambs due in just another eight weeks. As it turned out in fact, Ron and Elizabeth were frantically putting the finishing touches to the second barn wing roof, when the first lambs were being delivered in the pasture!
With these first Corriedale ewes and a fresh crop of lambs in residence, Ron and Elizabeth turned their attention to building their mountain top dream house. The previous fall, Ron had subcontracted the poured concrete foundation and septic drain field work, but now it was time to begin work in earnest on the construction of the house itself. Never hesitant to defy convention, their first effort at house building was a 3,100 square foot contemporary octagon design! They built the house themselves, and it took them two years.
In between, they saw the flock size grow and managed to add additional fenced pasture and a pond fed cistern water supply to accommodate the ewes and newborn lamb arrivals. They also took time out from house building to add a second pond, funded with help from a Chesapeake Bay Watershed conservation grant. They also added an adjoining parcel bringing the farm size to 232 acres: it was a busy but productive time
In October 1996 they finally moved into the house, although there were still a few details to complete such as kitchen cabinets, the deck and rails and Elizabeth's spinning and weaving suite! Ron built the custom kitchen cabinets with walnut harvested from the farm at the time they cleared land for the pastures. A year later, Elizabeth had her looms in operation for the first time in nearly three years! Finally in early 1999, Elizabeth hosted the grand opening of her Fiber Arts Studio and Shop, located on the ground level of the Octagon.
Visiting friends, seeing the cozy bunkhouse for the first time, jokingly comment that its a miracle they are still together! Come visit and see for yourselves what its like to make a dream come true!
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