Joseph Vess – Meadowview, Virginia

Welcome Joseph Vess, who bought the farm, as it were, to become our Lead Dad of the Week!

Joseph and his wife Emily Robinson were working in Washington, D.C., when they decided that that fast-paced life wasn’t for them anymore. He was traveling three months of the year for his nonprofit work, and her position at the Smithsonian Institute involved long hours – and travel. When their son was born in 2015, they asked themselves: what would happen if they moved to where they liked to vacation, a town six hours southwest of D.C.?

The answer is: They’d become farmers.

“My wife and I run a sheep farm” in Meadowview, Virginia, he said. “I don’t go hardly anywhere anymore, and I love it. Our son Thomas, who is in second grade, is having an extremely unique experience of growing up in a rural area.”

Vess remains a consultant for Equimundo, a global nonprofit that is working to advance a new image of masculinity, but his days are occupied with his sheep. “My wife jokes that it was easier packing up our whole life and moving six hours out here than finding childcare in D.C.!”

Being able to work irregular hours – both as a consultant and as a sheep farmer – has given him vastly more time with his son. While he’s happy for his city friends who are achieving career milestones, he said he doesn’t miss that life. “The day before I went on paternity leave, I was offered a promotion and my heart sank,” he said. “I love the work I do. It’s fun, it’s interesting. But it’s still my job. It’s hard for me to get as excited about it as my son.”