Sheep farming joins carpentry career | Master Edition
EPHRATA, Pennsylvania — Elvin Hoover never knows what he’ll find when he makes the short walk from his office to his hoop barn. There may be twins. Or even triplets.
It’s part of the fun of the double life he leads. He spends much of his day assembling dovetail drawers, completing about 140 in 50 hours, for his joinery business. The rest is spent caring for his sheep.
Hoover, who grew up on a dairy farm in New Holland, transformed his 5-acre property into a place to pursue a wide range of goals.
“I have a lot of dreams,” he says. “I am always energetic. I hope eventually, maybe in 20 years or something, to sell the woodworking business to another party or someone who is interested in continuing.
If things go as planned, sheep will be Hoover’s future. The 27-year-old expanded his flock by around 10 ewes when he started four years ago at 75. This lambing season has brought more than 30 arrivals, and he expects around 120 in all.
That day, he noticed that twins had been born. It’s not unusual. There are often more lambs whenever Hoover visits the pitchers in February. There will be another lambing in May and one in October.
Ewes are trimmed once a year and vaccinated four months before lambing.
“Otherwise they don’t require too much work if you have good genetics,” Hoover said. “I will deliver these 50 ewes in a month and I will have no problem. I won’t have to help them. These will be completely natural births.
Sunset Acre Katahdins is the name of Hoover’s sheep farm. Hoover moved into this property in March 2017. He recently bought the land from his father, Aidin, who bought it to help his son get started.
The setup has everything Hoover needs. A giant carpentry workshop with all the equipment needed to assemble drawer boxes to fulfill his orders. The stable was built with the help of family and friends. He can walk from his house to his office to the sheepfold in less than 200 steps.
Hoover wanted to venture away from the dairy life he lived as a child. He quit farming for a few years and spent time improving his carpentry skills. He returned to farming and started with sheep. It was a smaller type of cattle that matched the size of his property.
“When I started with the carpentry shop, I thought that’s what I would do,” Hoover said. “Eventually it got to the point where I wanted something else, instead of being stuck in the store all day. It’s relaxing in the evening to come here and do my chores. I like it that way .”
One day he wants to buy a bigger piece of land, probably outside of Lancaster County, and become a full-time sheep farmer.
Smokey Mountain Woodworking is Hoover’s other business name. He says he has all the orders he can handle. A stack of finished drawers was waiting to be shipped to one of the furniture companies that requested them.
Hoover branched out into other businesses. He recently became a reseller of sheep and goat handling equipment. Everything is hot-dip galvanized, he says. He also sells breeders. He can be reached at 717-445-6020.
All of these interests help Hoover create many revenue streams without spreading too thin.
“I’m basically living my dream to some degree,” he said. “If one business goes down a bit, hopefully the other will do well. I don’t have all my eggs in one basket. But you don’t want too many baskets or you don’t care correctly.
A morning in the store and an evening in the barn is a perfect day for Hoover.