I went with my sister and mother to a sheep farm: Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm in CT (Connecticut), near my brother’s house. My sister was able to chat to Sue about the various trials and tribulations of sheep farming, and I dug into the piles of fleece and yarn.
Sue was very lovely and answered loads of questions. She used to show her sheep, but last did that in 1995 or so. Now the farm processes their own wool and food products for sale in markets around CT. The farm produces hundreds of pounds of sheep’s cheese, prepared foods, yoghurts and milk each week. Here’s a quick interview with Sue about cheese names!
Farming is hard. You’re dealing constantly with birth and death and body fluids and ailments. Imagine your own family’s bodies and all their ailments, then imagine you have hundreds of bodies and spirits to mind. It’s hard, it’s sometimes sad and exhausting. But you just have to see how lovely they are! This cheeky lamb was in the feeding spot.
The CT government seems to make it difficult to actually make a living in farming. The wool remainders with any dung are considered “hazardous waste”. And in some places in CT, like if you have a horse you need to have a dumpster to truck out the waste which you can’t compost…. because it would “stink”. When I was growing up, the towns near mine were full of farms. Over my lifetime they were sold and turned into posh housing developments with roads with names like Jennifer Road. Over time, the character of New England’s landscape has changed. Sue is holding out with her farm, but it sure isn’t easy.
Photos from our visit
You can see me standing here with Sue and my clutch of fleecy bits in front of a lovely New England red barn.
A shop sign! How cute!
Totes adorbs. My sister called these “teddy bear sheep” but this lamb is actually South Down.
This is a Tunis lamb. Lovely colour. Sorry it’s blurry!
Here you can see Sue showed me some issues with this fleece which was dry. This is the grading table. It gets bagged and sent down south to North Carolina. Then up to Vermont to be spun. They can’t clean it in CT simply because the waste of soapy water would not be allowed.
Here’s some finished marled yarn hanks hanging.
It was a lovely visit and I learned loads. Mainly: sheep farming is really hard. Which is something I knew already~! But I appreciate all the work that goes into wool processing.