What started decades ago with only two sheep as a wedding present, has in the meantime multiplied thousandfold and resulted in a “shepherding with heart”. After I had to acquire the knowledge about shepherding completely by myself as a career changer, our flock now consists of 350 Rhön sheep, 650 black-headed sheep, Coburger chestnut sheep and 70 goats – oh! And of course Pauline, our donkey, who is always with us. And even if I would never have thought it possible myself: the passion and my heart for shepherding grows a little bit more every day; not only with me, but also with my son Oliver, who has already decided to take over the farm one day.

You are not only one with nature when the weather is nice; you are always or not at all.

Together with our herd, we manage the vineyard in Hünfeld and the Dreinberg in Friedewald. In doing so, we are real all-rounders, as our goats explicitly protect the limestone meadows on the slopes of the Dreienberg (which belongs to the Rhön Biosphere Reserve) from scrub encroachment by nibbling off copses and hedges.

They join our Rhön sheep – a very special breed of sheep, which, apart from the pitch-black head, are conspicuous for their completely white coat – and black-headed sheep with characteristically dark feet. These four-legged friends could best be described as “natural lawnmowers” that prevent overgrowth and thus ensure the survival of the plant and insect diversity on the limestone soil of the vineyard.

The colorful bunch is rounded off by our eight herding dogs who keep watch at night and ward off wolves and other predators. Especially when we leave the barn in two flocks in mid-April and wander the meadows at the Dreienberg in Friedewald and the Weinberg in Hünfeld. Two permanently employed shepherds tend the flocks together with my son and are out on the pasture for ten hours a day. Time that I myself would like to spend with my charges, but which I simply lack as a “part-time” shepherd. I am still regularly employed by a construction company that simply didn’t want to let me go! That doesn’t change the fact that my heart beats full-time for my flock and I see my real calling in it.

Being a helping hand to nature gives me a kind of fulfillment that will never be found in regular working life. And on top of that, I can be sure that Oliver and someday his children will be able to enjoy this patch of nature in the same condition as I do right now. Neither rain nor storm will prevent me from doing so! Although – if I’m honest – it’s more fun on nice days, of course. Nevertheless, you are not only one with nature when the weather is nice; you always are or you are not at all.

— Elmar Spies


Rhoenschaf Eigenschaften Landschaft

Dense forests and calcareous grasslands

Rhoenschaf Eigenschaften Wetter

Rough weather due to
Continental climate

Rhoenschaf Eigenschaften Nahrung

All kinds of bushes
From the willow

Rhoenschaf Eigenschaften Wolle

Weather resistant fur


spinning mill
dyeing works

Done! Our wool reaches the farm stores.

Done! Our wool reaches the farm stores.

Mährles heroes
– Elmar Spiess