Though the current weather suggests we are in the throws of a deep winter, here on the farm…in between cracking ice and schlepping hay through the snow…are preparing for the coming Spring and that means getting ready for Powhatan´s Festival of Fiber.
So what does that mean? We have taken washed and assorted Shetland Wool fiber to the mill for yarn, roving and felt. And we are hard at work felting dyed wool for purses, cuffs, hats and jewelry.
I am hitting the dye studio and dyeing silk noil and silk ribbon. The silk ribbon will be used to embroider our felt hats, jewelry and purses.
The silk noil is being hand carded with our naturally colored angora bunny fiber for spinners. Some of it will be handspun into yarn so that knitters have this unique yarn to create our Edwardian Stole pattern or projects of their own choosing. I don’t believe any farm is producing anything similar.
This is a lot of work, but so much fun to do, and an outlet for that is creativity. I am a believer we all need that outlet to feel fulfilled as a human being…but that is just me.
As I look out my window at another four inches of snow and 25° temps, my mind has moved onto spring as I work with brightly colored silk and soft fuzzy angora. See you at the festival that will take place in Powhatan on the last Saturday in April. Google it for more info.
Everything on a farm, if you want a farm that actually functions as a farm, needs to earn their keep, provide a service or a product. I am reminded of this as I gather my receipts and prepare my taxes. I evaluate what and why I raise things. Of course the sheep are the central piece. They provide wool for yarn, felting and roving. And the animals themselves can be sold. They also reduce the need to mow. Goats also provide fluff and they are great for clearing new pastures. Even the chickens, though I don’t raise enough of them for selling eggs, do provide my breakfast, they keep the insect population down, they eat kitchen scraps and provide entertainment. But what about the bunnies?
When I bought my first angora rabbit, my intention was to have a small animal that would provide fiber for my own spinning. And every three months, I would harvest quite a bit from the one rabbit. But as I began to grow my farm, rabbits became a key ingredient. I began raising a variety of natural colors, the different grays were my favorite. Also, I began breeding a French/English combo for the ideal fluff to guard hair ratio for lovely spinning. The fiber is used to blend with wool in some of my batts. But my recent discovery is to blend the fiber with dyed silk noil to produce a textured natural colored yarn with pops of color and texture. I sell the yarn, but also the blended fiber in the form of rolags for spinners.
At the moment though, I am spinning some the of angora/silk noil combo yarn for kits to create a lovely lace shawl. (Look for the kits at the Powhatan Fiber fest at the end of this month and soon on my Etsy site.)
Now one added benefit from raising a few rabbits on a farm, and that is the poop. The poop is collected from under the hutches and composted. It is then spread in my vegetable and flower gardens. Last year, in a small plot, I produced more tomatoes than ever. I had lots for salads, pasta and canning my famous stewed tomatoes and peppers. Last week I even traded the poop for help with cleaning the barn.
This year we decided to breed an English fawn buck to a French/English blue doe. We had our challenges, but we are enjoying watching our 4 surviving little babies. Each is a different color, we have a black, chocolate, lilac and blue. They are four weeks old and are starting to eat solid food in the form of hay and rabbit pellets. We might sell the black as I have three already. I handle them daily to get them used to human touch as angoras need frequent grooming. When I visit the babies, they reward me with lots of little kisses as they explore my fingers. I love the daily doses of cuteness. Wish I could bottle that commodity!