by Brittany Croll
As you pull into the gravel driveway leading to Willow Hawk Farm, the sign reads “Caution: animals at play.” This intentionally small operation is a labor of love for Ashley and Greg who own the 18-acre farm.
Ashley described herself as a “fiber person” who wanted to try raising sheep. Together she and Greg have embarked on a journey that now includes producing roving (not twisted) yarn typically used by hand spinners, natural and dyed finished (twisted) yarn, fleeces, lamb meat and free-range eggs. The pastured-raised sheep are mostly Romney, which is a “long wool” breed with mild flavored meat. Willow Hawk’s flock averages 30-35 ewes, with new lambs each year. In addition to the sheep and their two guardian Great Pyrenees, they have about 18 chickens to produce the eggs and several farm cats that serve as the official greeters.
In addition to the sustainability ethos that Greg and Ashley adhere to, what really sets Willow Hawk Farm apart is their commitment to community. For the past 17 years Ashley and Greg have served as a host farm for the Temple Hall Non-Owners Sheep Club, which is a Loudoun County 4-H program. As part of this program, the group will learn and experience all things about raising sheep and compete in the Loudoun County Fair in the summer. Many of the kids will participate for multiple years becoming part of Ashley and Greg’s extended family.
To experience Willow Hawk Farm firsthand, attend their Spring and Fall Farm Days. Ashley conducts spinning and dying demos, enthusiastically explains the in-depth hand dying process, the young lambs are in pens for visitors to pet, and the 4-H kids provide tours highlighting the bank barn which is built into the hillside on the property. They also make sure that the tractor is out for visitors to sit on, which is usually a favorite activity.
When asked what is one thing Greg and Ashley would want people to know about their farm, they replied nearly simultaneously, “We have happy lambs!”