Hard Work, Small Dreams: Bentwaters Farm June 16 2017, 2 Comments
Off the beaten path and nestled on the shores of where Pepper Creek and the Mobjack meet, Larry and Rosalie Brown have built a flourishing farm out of hard work and dreams. Their white farmhouse rises from the marsh to greet you with all of the charm and humility only found in times gone by. The farmhouse was built around 1895 by one of the Armisteads, a group of brothers who built each other’s homes. It then changed hands to the parents of Paul Blanock, former Commonwealth Attorney, and in 1980 was purchased by the Browns.
A romance story of the truest kind, Larry was serving in the Air Force, stationed in England, when he met Rosalie, a children’s nanny. The two soon fell in love and he whisked her away to the United States, settling in Gloucester and later relocating to Mathews. Rosalie had always dreamed of living on a farm, “Growing up in England, I’d always wanted to be a children’s nanny or a farmer, and I was a children’s nanny for a number of years. When we came here, I just knew I was going to get sheep. My father and mother were alive at that time, dad went with me to get sheep and that just started it.” Having been exposed to the processes of spinning, knitting and weaving in her childhood, the progression to raising sheep for the production of wool was a natural one. For Larry, growing up in Hampton and a self-proclaimed “gear head”, the farm life offered a chance for him to return to his roots, as farming ran in both sides of his family lineage.
From a small dream, blossomed Bentwaters Farm and the promise of a simpler life. The Browns soon evolved from raising Dorset and Hampshire sheep, which are mainly used for meat, to raising sheep for the production of fine wool and wool products, which are handmade and dyed onsite. Over the years, their farm has expanded to include Dwarf Nigerian goats, English Angora rabbits, a bevy of chickens, Guinea hens, quail, a llama and bees.
Their love for their craft is evident, not only in the way they speak about what they do, but also in their passion to pass on their trade, both having taught in one capacity or another. Rosalie teaches a number of classes from dying to felting at The Bay School Community Arts Center, in Mathews and Rosalie and Larry have both done educational presentations at a number of historical sites in Williamsburg in addition to the programming conducted by Colonial Williamsburg.
The Browns have a deep and abiding love and respect for their animals that is apparent when wandering the property. When Rosalie walks among the goats and sheep, she calls each one by name and stops to visit with them for a while, often stopping to play with the young kids.
Bentwaters Farm is a member of the Middle Peninsula Artisan Trail and is open to visitors seeking to experience the hands on process of wool production. For more information or to visit Bentwaters Farm for yourself, visit their website: http://bentwatersfarm.webs.com: