Sheppard Farm on Apple Hill

Heather Sheppard-Lunn
(717) 634-8101


Pasture News. A Highland Blog. 
3.24.24, Headed into season, Safety First
It's been while since I posted and hopefully, I'll get better at that. We had a wonderful year last year: we had over 70 calves born on farm, made new clients into friends, and welcomed the public into our New Building which houses our storefront for both events and shop! As we work with the public more, I wanted to hop on here in the hopes maybe some of you are reading this. We are a working farm not a petting zoo or farm attraction. Our cows come first. Making hay and feeding hay is second...and whether the public likes it our not, our guests come 3rd.  We cannot be open every day for people to stop by on a whim. We cannot accommodate every age, allergy, phobia, or request. The Highlands are trained to the best of our ability to deal with all sorts of people but they are not machines. They move. They step and kick. They are aware of new people. Our farm policy is NOT to use new babies in tourist events, especially not bottle babies. That is for the biosecurity of the calves and your safety since i would never separate Mamas from babies unless absolutely necessary. Just because you see another farm doing an activity, does not mean it happens at Apple Hill. Please respect the rules we have on farm as they are for our Cattle's safety as well as yours! We look forward to welcoming friends to the farm and at our Off Farm visits happening this summer!

1.11.23, New Year, New Attitude
So many changes happened last year and I am thankful for every single change. This year will be one of progress forward for sure. We are replacing an old dilapidated building with a new farm store, office and education space! The building in question was the old pig farrowing and chicken pen. Literally, has not been used for anything but junk collection since we stopped raising pigs in the 90's. While very rustic, and has great memories of my brother being attacked by chickens for collecting their eggs, it's time to say goodbye. It's my hope that by creating an education space, we can teach people about not only the Highland Breed, but also farming and agriculture at large. Many people are far removed from their food system, putting their feet in the grass, or knowing what goes in to daily chores on the farm. 
I get asked very similar questions over social media, a business tool I don't really care for but use. Top 3 questions:
1-Do you have calves for sale? (they want a bottle baby)
2- Do you sell Miniatures or Micros? (The damn things do not exist)
3-I want to come visit/brush/pet/hug/see your Highlands, how can I do that?

Fortunately, the answer to number 3 is YES! However, this time of year, it's cold, muddy,and the bulls are working. It's not the ideal time to visit. We will be offering 3 different opportunities for visitation: Hayrides, Meet and Greets, and Private Tours.  All of these will be listed soon on our website and on social media. We will also start offering bookings for groups of 10 or more. These can be educational tours which are for specific ages for school groups, 4-H and FFA clubs, etc. They can be team building or retreat events for businesses or groups to spend time together in nature with Highlands outside of work. Highlands are not certified as therapy animals, but brushing out a cow or simply spending the time in the herd can be very grounding. As we build this new functional space on the farm, however, we are going to have to initially limit our visitors. I know everyone will be thrilled with this final product and what is means for the farm. We look forward to sharing our farm and our Highlands with you in 2023.

3.31.2021, Winter Comes Full Circle.

I’m feeling some big emotions today. We’ve been so worried about Winter‘s calf, when would it get here how big would it be would she be OK?

Winter story started three years ago in the late March snow storm. At the time, we had nowhere to put a calf but in my bathroom to keep it warm. For two weeks we carried her outside to walk. We worried that she was going to make it. We worried when she didn’t drink enough and we worried when she drank too much. During those first two weeks,  she was showered with love by three little girls who wanted nothing more than this calf to make it. Our whole family poured our love into this calf. Maisie learned to use the potty because of this calf. Carys sat and read to her. Eva carried her outside and walked her. My husband and I made & washed countless bottles. Winter grew stronger & we knew she would make it.

When she outgrew the bathroom, Winter moved to a barnyard and was raised by a Mini Horse and a Donkey. When she started growing horns, we pulled the smallest fall weanling over and gave Winter a heifer sister. Cherry pushed her around but helped her act more like a cow. We watched her grow slowly over the summer and there were tears when she moved over to the Main Farm to continue her journey as a weaned heifer. She was headed to "Kindergarten." 

Every time we’d see her, she would come to us for love and to check on her girls. Winter's personality was still the same, and my girls watched her grow and be a good heifer. She continued to grow and thrive.

Last summer, Winter came to our house to be bred. She was still our Winter, she looked after the girls when they were in her pasture. She hated her boyfriend. She’d come to the gate for scratches and bath time. Once she was bred and moved back out to the pasture, she relaxed back into herself, but always came to her family. 

And today I watched her give birth to her first calf. I walked up to her as she was pushing, scratched her and told her it would be ok. Then the calf’s head came out and I helped her with the last push...even if she didn’t need it. And told her she was a good cow every step of the way. She has cleaned him and he’s nursed all on his own. I brought Winter's girls to see her brand new calf, Sven. Most mothers would not want people near their new calf. Winter proudly introduced her calf to my daughters and accepted their treats and brushes. And as she’s lying here with her new baby, I am overcome.

She is my family’s love embodied in a vibrant amazing creature. She is sleepless nights. She is Maisie’s laughter. She is Carys’s hugs &radiant smile. She is Eva’s resolute personality. She is my husband's comforting disposition. She is my heart. Winter is the years of Highland devotion.

Each calf is our responsibility, our charge to ensure the best life for them. Winter has come full circle and I got to watch and be apart of each moment. I am blessed to be the steward of this Highland farm, this land and these animals. I am thankful for this beautiful day and thankful to bear witness to this Beautiful Life.