It’s been a busy fall season at the farm. After taking most of the summer “off” (due to our decision not to breed last fall) we have been to a slew of fiber shows. The Tunbridge World’s Fair was a great success despite the impact of Hurricane Irene. We had more sheep entries than ever and a full barn for the first time since I’ve been the Superintendent. Our new goat judge was a hit with both exhibitors and spectators, and we also launched a new fiber and fleece competition in partnership with the Crafts department in Floral Hall. I’m hoping this competition will continue to grow in the next few years, and also inspire more entries in the hand-spun yarn category.
We sheared the flock on September 30, then packed off to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival for two days in the cold wind and rain. The weather was miserable and attendance was down, but we still managed to make enough sales and contacts to have a worthwhile event. I have a few ideas for advertising the Festival next year that I think would help draw both Vermonters and out-of-state visitors. The great thing about the show being held at the Tunbridge fairgrounds is that it’s close to us and also a more intimate venue that is easier for visitors to navigate.
Two weeks later we put in an appearance at a new event that is in its second year. The Christmas in October Shoppe is sponsored by the Tunbridge Women’s Group, and aims to raise money to support the restoration of historic buildings in Tunbridge. This year, a portion of the proceeds also went to flood relief for victims of Irene, so we were happy to participate as a new vendor. We saw a lot of our friends and neighbors but didn’t experience much traffic from tourists, although the event took place during peak foliage season. Hopefully with a little more advertising the Shoppe will become a fixture on the area’s fall calendar of must-see events.
As if all of these events weren’t enough to keep us busy, we also had the challenge of locating and bringing in a new breeding ram. Because Navajo-Churro sheep are relatively rare in our area, many of the small farms share bloodlines between their flocks. After a great deal of searching we happened upon a ram owned by Betty Hauger at Log Cabin Lamb & Wool in Winterport, Maine. The one-day road trip to pick him up was exhausting, but we’re thrilled to welcome Tunbridge as the new flock sire. His deep brown color and large horns were exactly what we were looking for this year, as we try to introduce new color patterns into the flock and maintain a number of horned ewes. Lambs will be due in mid-March of 2012.
While we’re waiting for the lambs to come, I’ll be experimenting with dyeing and hand-spinning various fibers. We’re also expecting a fresh batch of roving from Hampton Fiber Mill in Richmond in the next month or so. And if you are interested in grease fleece now is the time to contact us – we have many different colors to choose from.