Bruce and Lindy Gallup's love affair with farming began as a way to keep their 2-year-old son busy when Bruce was studying dentistry.
“We were living in someone’s attic and needed to get (our son) out of the house, so we visited farms to keep him active and busy,” Lindy said.
“He’d look at animals and sit on the tractors,” Bruce said. “So this kind of filtered us toward farming.”
Then Lindy, who has a degree in zoology, became interested in spinning wool.
When they looked at a place to put down roots, they looked in Maine. Bruce’s family had vacationed in Maine and New Hampshire, so it held a strong connection.
“We came to Maine and bought a farm during the dairy buyout and converted to sheep and llamas,” Bruce said.
They started with two sheep. Now they have a herd of about 50 or 60 at their Swiftwater Farm in Turner, where they strive to live sustainably — not off the grid, but almost.
Lindy sells the sheep's wool. The llamas, while not a direct source of income, earn their keep as watchdogs for the sheep, protecting them from coyotes and other predators.
They also have free-range hens, which lay chemical-free eggs with rich orange yolks, as compared to the more familiar pale yellow.
Pastures are used for grazing one year and farmed the next. Compost is used to enrich the soil for an abundance of produce.
The Gallups also grow hay and use every bit of land. “We call it intensive grazing. We rotate. It’s healthier organically, and we don’t have to pay for chemicals. It’s just Mother Nature as it should be.”
They also make use of the sun and the wind. They first began to insulate their farm home and from there began setting up windmills. Eventually they installed solar panels.
“The whole farm is sustainable,” Bruce said. "We even overproduce a bit (of energy). Our hybrid car saves gas. We are not survivalists. For us, it’s the right thing to do.”
They add that it has been a good way to raise their children. It’s “teaching them responsibility and to have an affinity toward others. It was great when they were little, as teens not so much. But now, as young adults they appreciate it more.”
Lindy’s time is spent canning vegetables, selling wool and some of the meat, and taking care of the animals. A busy dentist, Bruce said that “when I’m not doing the dentist thing, I’m working with the animals. It’s a labor of love. We just love the animals, the environment. It’s nice to come home to.”