This Week’s Headlines
Schooleys to host picnic on historic farm in Hagerstown
By CARYL VELISEK
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (June 2, 2015) — Pat Schooley got interested in Barbados Blackbelly sheep when she saw an article in a rare breeds magazine about a farm in Virginia that had a flock of them.
As a result of that article, she purchased seven ewes and a ram in 2008.
The flock she and husband David tend at their Old Forge Farm of Barbados now numbers 50, and includes 38 ewes and nine mature rams.
They market the animals for breeding stock and as 4-H club lambs.
Barbados Blackbellys are a hair sheep, rather than a wool sheep, although, if raised in cooler climates they often develop a wool undercoat that they shed in the spring.
“They are good natured and friendly,” Pat said.
Originally of African ancestry, Barbados Blackbellys were developed by the people of Barbados, an island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, hence their name. They were first imported into the United States in 1904.
Barbados Blackbelly’s are able to tolerate heat and, unlike most domestic sheep, they will breed year round.
Their color ranges from tan to a dark mahogany red, with black stripes on the face, black legs, belly, chin and chest. They are also polled, unlike the American Blackbelly which is horned.
The Schooleys have a dog and cats and raise a number of fowl including white and colored peacocks and peahens, turkeys, geese and guinea fowl.
The Schooleys, originally from Indiana, have four grown children and came to Maryland after living in Massachusetts. Dave is a physicist and Pat has been a teacher and a realtor.
They found the 120 acre farm in Washington County while looking for a home to restore.
The beautiful old, two-story, three-bay field stone house on the farm was built in 1752.
The Schooleys purchased the farm 29 years ago and have been restoring it to its former elegance ever since and it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
In the 18th century, the farm, known then as Antietam Forge, was a small, industrial community with an iron forge producing iron products including nails and tacks.
There was also a grist mill and a lumber mill on the property, with housing for the workers.
“And I like living in the country,” Pat added.
Adept in many crafts, Pat has done “all kinds of work” including making puppets to restoring the home’s wood floors and making punched tin panels for her home’s kitchen cabinets.
When the Schooleys heard the land adjacent to their farm was to be developed, Pat got involved with the Washington County Historical Trust.
She now writes monthly historical articles for a Hagerstown newspaper and wrote about their house in her column. She has also written a book titled, “Architectural & Historic Treasures of Washington County.”
The Schooleys will be hosting the Frederick County Sheep Breeders Annual Picnic this year at their historic Old Forge Farm, 20702 Old Forge Road, Hagerstown, Md., on June 15, from 3 to 7 p.m.