Serenity Sheep Farm is a diverse homestead farm
in Montana's Gallatin Valley, with two cozy, antique Sheepherder's
wagons restored just for farm stay guests. We recently spoke with
shepherdess LaVonne Stucky about her unique farm stay. Here's the scoop:
1. Could you tell us a bit about the setting of your
We are nestled in the heart of the Gallatin Valley, near Bozeman,
MT. Visitors are greeted by mountain ranges on all
sides. We have several well-known rivers in the area and are
just a few miles from the Headwaters of the Missouri River.
2. What's your farm's history?
It is part of the original 160 acre homestead my husband's
grandfather farmed with horses. He raised 4 children by
himself in a time of no electricity and running water.
3. How did you get the idea for your unusual farm stay
lodging: two sheepherder's wagons? Do you know of any other farms
where guests sleep in wagons?
I know of other wagons for rent, but not in a farm
setting. Having sheep I was always in love with they
lifestyle of the shepherds who tended their flock. There are
still many around to this day and they lead a very solitary
life. Serenity and solitude are just the respite many are
seeking today, if only for a day or two. When I saw an ad in
the local classified newspaper for a sheepherder's wagon for sale,
I waited. I gave it a week or two. The ad was still
there, so I called and the rest is history.
say the inside of the Winona didn't look a thing like it does
4. What is a typical day for your farm stay
The stay can be as private or interactive as they'd
like. Quite often they will do the chores with me in the
morning and they love interacting with the animals.
5. Aside from your farm, what else do your guests come to
do in the area?
We have so many things available in the area, like the Museum of
the Rockies, fishing, hiking, biking, hot springs, caverns and lots
of other things to see and do. We have lots of great places
to eat in the area and a lot of them specialize in local
6. What made you want to work with sheep and
It was sort of a happy accident. A friend of mine was
raising sheep and 2 of them were born on my birthday. I got
to name them. Thinking back, I am sure she had this in mind
all along, but I wound up buying those 2 girls. Two sheep led
to too many, as I like to say, and here we are. I call it a
hobby run amuck! So what do you do with all of that
fiber? Marketing it has not been an easy road for me.
Twenty years later I long for a "cult following" of spinners and
knitters, but that hasn't happened. I do have a handful of
folks who love my wool and I am grateful to them and for
them. When I discovered needle felting about 10 years ago,
I felt like I had finally found the reason I have sheep.
It had come full-circle for me. Now I wish I only had more
time to needle felt!
7. You offer lots of options for folks who want enjoy on
your farm ... farm stays, birthday parties, kids' day camps, tea
parties, classes. Which of these are your favorite ways to interact
Being a new business, most of these are ideas and hints for
folks. I have yet to host a tea party or even a birthday
party, but my classes, kid's camp and the overnight guests are
beginning to take off. Sometimes it's frustrating, but then I
realize I am right where I need to be right now. Slow growth
is good, really it's best. If I got too busy too fast I may
pull my hair out, but there are no worries there.
I'd just needle felt myself a wig out of my wool!
Teaching folks about the animals is my favorite thing.
It's typically geared more toward the children, but I find that
most of the adults who visit learn quite a bit too. I love
having a farm that's loosely based on the old-fashioned homestead
farm. We have a bit of everything here and it's so much fun
to share that with children and adults. I even hosted what I
called a "Grandma Camp". Instead of kids one week I had two
retired ladies. They had a blast. It was a gift from
one friend to the other for her birthday. She had flown out
from NJ, just across the river from NYC. She'd never
experienced anything like it.
8. Anything else you want to add?
In sharing the farm with others, I often hear the adults speak of
their Grandparent's farm or their Uncle's farm they went to as a
child. It occurred to me this summer that there's an entire
generation, and possibly even two, who will never be able to say
those words. For that I love sharing our farm and keeping it