The first question everyone asked Vicki Schmidt at the Troika Drafts
and Shoeing Shop in Hebron during Sunday’s Open Farm Day was, “Can we
see the twins?”

The “twins” are a pair of very rare Shire draft horse foals that were born in May on the farm off Route 124.

They are believed to be one of only three known sets of Shire twins
in the country, said Schmidt as she showed visitors around New
England’s only  full-service draft horse facility during the 20th
annual Open Farm Day Sunday.

More than 100 farms in 16 counties participated, according to
information from the state Department of Agriculture. Farms offering
everything from barn and field tours to hayrides and demonstrations of
milking and sheep shearing brought out plenty of folk despite the bleak
weather.

This was the first year that Christina and Doug McAllister of South
Paris took their five children, ranging in age from 5 to 11, to the
event. And the children could be found right at the stall where twins
“Dice” and “Domino” were with their mother Starbright.

“I like the twins,” said 11-year-old Tianna Sugars, who was with her
sister, Adri McAllister, also 11. McAllister said she admired the color
of the horses, which range in age from spring foals to 30-year-olds.

Schmidt and Frank Walker, who have owned the farm for the last eight years, kind of fell into the horse business.

“It was totally by accident,” said Schmidt of the day she took home a
rundown horse, the type that today would be called a rescue horse.

“One became two and two became 20,” she said of the fleet of 22
Shires and two Clydesdales she currently has on the farm. Both breeds
were once on the extinction list. There are only 7,000 Shires in the
world with only 3,000 in the United States and Canada, she said.

Schmidt said farming is a tough business but she refuses to become a nonprofit.

“I believe agriculture should be profitable,” said Schmidt. “I refuse to become a nonprofit. It’s a false economy.”

Her horses are used as work horses and some are shown in horse shows.

“Every horse here has to earn his keep,” she said.

Except for the twins. “The twins right now are pampered,” she admitted.
But even the twins will eventually earn their keep. “I can’t afford
them if they don’t earn their keep.”

Schmidt said she has opened her farm on Open Farm Day for the past eight years and always has a good turnout.

Asked what the second most popular question is of visitors, it’s simple, she said. “Can I pat them?”

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