Thank you, fiber farmers!
By: Peggy Allen
It is humbling to receive gifts. When we knew for sure that this mill was going to happen, we also knew we had no real idea how to process wool with the elaborate equipment. The only way we are going to master the craft is practice, practice, practice. To that end, we have reached out to area farms to see if any would be willing to donate some fleece to us to practice with the equipment.
The response has been overwhelming. As I drive down dirt roads to more dirt roads to pick up these donations I am moved by the generosity of friends and strangers. And I’m thrilled at the chance to see how other sheep farmers set up their barns and chore areas. One farm in Unity NH has the coolest old barn with a brilliant feed system for his Jacobs and another farm has a clever watering system made up of a guillotine styled sliding board that gives her a quick way to refill the water bucket without having to haul it up and over a railing.
A farm in northern Vermont that I visited has erected one of those hoop barns that is so bright and big you could hold a circus show inside. Instead, Katie’s sheep mill about the floor, cushy from layers of hay, able to select from not one but three round bales of hay for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As I jam bags of raw fleece into the back of my CRV and hit the snowy roads, I just grin. We are fortunate, and by fortunate I mean for everything and everyone. Sheep farming has been an expansive journey filled with lessons, joy, heartbreak, and generous people.
As Amanda and I set off on this new adventure I so look forward to thanking the folks who donated to us by mastering the craft of processing wool and meeting even more sheep farmers and their wool very soon.