As 2017 winds down, I find myself reflecting about all that has happened. We have been so blessed to be on this journey with our sheep. We've watched life and death, sickness and health, and most importantly the value of patience and hard work. In March, we found another North Carolina mill and started meeting lots of new fiber friends. It amazes me how fiber weaves people together as much as the fabrics that get created. Everyone I have met has been helpful in so many ways. Earlier this month, we added a new family member: a Livestock Guardian Dog named Venchenzo. I've learned a tremendous amount from all fiber people and Maremma people. It has been quite the journey.
Our Mill: Shepherd's Gate in Youngsville
Alesia Moore and her family started their mill in January of this year. She has been involved in all things fiber for a long time. Currently, she is the secretary of the NC Sheep Producers Association. We went to her mill this summer and she showed us how she processes the yarn and then she showed us how to shear our own sheep (after the accident with our shearer). The best part of choosing a young mill is that we get to learn together about yarn. I am definitely open to finding our niche in this ever growing market and she is willing to try lots of different types of processing techniques. The picture in the background is one of her amazing creations: Zadie (lopi style yarn with pink thread). It is absolutely stunning and I am super impressed.
Life is full of circles. You see, I started my teaching career in Franklin County in 1997. I actually lived in Youngsville for a short while. Being able to travel back to the county, see some friends, visit her mill, and learn to shear sheep was extremely rewarding. I showed my family where my career began. I cherish the memories that began shaping me into the person and teacher I am today.
The first show I attended was Carolina Fiber Fest in March and I met up with Anette Skoog who sells the Gotland pelts from her Swedish sheep. During this show, a lady from Pittsboro contacted me to learn more about my sheep. She purchased two of my ewes (the mom of the lamb this yarn is from) and will be picking them up in January. I am grateful to her for our chats and knowing that my awesome sheep will be well cared for at her farm.
The second show I attended was Maryland Sheep and Wool. This is sort of the Super Bowl of the fiber world. I stayed with Laurie (who I bought Huck and Finn from) and got to volunteer. If I can suggest anything, it is to volunteer to learn. I met tons of people and had outstanding conversations about fiber. I spent time with other AGSS members and learned the full history of the Gotland breed.
The last show I attended was SAFF in Asheville, NC. I volunteered at the wool show and even entered two of my fleeces to learn. I met another Gotland breeder who is extremely knowledgeable and shared so much of her wisdom with me. Additionally, I spoke with so many that I finally knew for certain I wanted a Maremma as our LGD. Again, I highly recommend working these shows. Volunteering opens your eyes to the bigger picture.
Other Fun Things
I entered a photo contest with ASI and we won scenic east with the January 7, 2017 picture I took of Huck and Finn in the snow. It was so rewarding to accomplish this award. Laurie and her husband framed the page from the magazine and sent it to me for Christmas. I am eternally grateful to all that I have met and the friends I have made.
Our Farm wishes each of you a Very Merry Christmas and an amazing 2018!!!