2017-08-11 / Maine

FACES OF THE FAIR

Sheep farmer Joan Rolfe
BY JULIETTE LAAKA
Times Record Staff


ONE OF JOAN ROLFE'S YEWS rests in a paddock during the Topsham Fair Thursday. 
JULIETTE LAAKA / THE TIMES RECORD ONE OF JOAN ROLFE'S YEWS rests in a paddock during the Topsham Fair Thursday. JULIETTE LAAKA / THE TIMES RECORD TOPSHAM

Joan Rolfe raises the sheep and spins wool. She displayed four yews lounging in a paddock at the Topsham Fair Ground on Thursday.

Rolfe is active in 4-H, which she called a wonderful program that teaches youngsters about responsibility, work ethic and consideration of others.

There are 33 children involved in 4-H in Cumberland County, she said, and 22 members showed their sheep at the fairgrounds Wednesday night.

A retired physical therapist, Rolfe lives in Pownal at the Rolfe Farm but grew up in the Boston suburb of Wellesley, Massachusetts. As a youth, she was not involved in 4-H because there was nothing quite like that in her hometown.

She moved to Pownal in the 1970s with her family when her children were young.

Rolfe keeps a total of five yews, a mix of Oxfords and Romneys, from the days when her four children, now grown, were active in the local 4-H club.


JOAN ROLFE JOAN ROLFE Rolfe said that, to her, the most interesting thing about sheep is they are a dual-purpose animal, raised for both wool and meat. She said her yews do not have names, but ear tags, and they are not pets. The eldest yew is 11.

“It isn’t easy being a farmer,” Rolfe said. “You’re at the mercy of the weather, and you work seven days a week. (The yews) need to be fed twice a day no matter what.”

Rolfe said she makes sweaters for her children and can make one in two months, or a year, depending on how much wool and how much interest she maintains in the project.

This evening at 6 p.m., 4-H members will participate in a dairy goat show.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., members will show beef and dairy cows, and at 2 p.m., 4-H demonstrations are scheduled to begin.

On Sunday, there will be another 4-H demonstration at 2 p.m.

The Topsham Fair concludes Sunday.

jlaaka@timesrecord.com

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