-a journey of more than 250 years-
We are often asked about the history of our iconic barn. The barn is one chapter in a 250 year old story. We are proud to carry on the small family farm tradition, which for us began in the 1700s with the Hill family who were among the first to farm and raise sheep here on the northern slope of Red Hill. The Gilman Smiths came later, as well as the Carter family, and the small family farms continued into the 1900s. During this span of time the English grey partridge was introduced, possibly raised on one of the farms, and they eventually found their niche alongside the native ruffed grouse. While quite elusive, occasionally they can be spotted perching on the old stone walls. In the 1920s, the farms and Red Hill boarding house were absorbed into a gentleman's farm estate, and the Hutchins' "Juniper Farm" barn was built in 1924. The barn was the the heart of the Hutchins' estate farm, which raised dairy cattle (with on-site milk pasteurization), produce, and thoroughbred horses. After the Hutchins' estate was subdivided and sold at auction in 1949, the barn was used as O.Rundle Gilbert's US Patent Office museum and the entrance point for Gilbert's Red Hill Ski Area- the original ski trails on Red Hill. Ruth and Ray Conley, whose maternal grandmother was Edna Hill, purchased the property in the mid-1950s. As Partridge Rock Farm, Juli's grandparents Ruth and Ray Conley produced vegetables and pork from 1957 to 1980. Juli and Stephen Hird celebrated their wedding in the central barn in 2002. In 2010, Juli learned the magic of handspinning yarn and wanted to produce her own wool for the craft. The Hirds purchased four sheep in the spring of 2010 and the tradition was reawakened with a new generation of Hird children growing up here on the small family farm. Since then, our mission has expanded to the preservation and promotion of fiber arts traditions, such as handspinning, natural dyeing, weaving, knitting, crochet, and felting- through our on-site retreats and involvement in the Sandwich Fair natural fiber arts exhibit and demonstrations. Over the years we have also proudly hosted fundraiser events for local nonprofit organizations, as well as weddings for folks with ties to the Lakes Region, wanting to "come home" for their wedding.