Farm Visits

Farm Visit – Meeting some Icelandics

Saturday, March 31st was time for another farm visit – and of course it was the coldest day so far this spring. When I say spring I’m using the word to relatively – it has been cold here the past week. Normals for central Alberta this time of year are the high single digits on the plus side, creeping up to he double digits. Instead we were greeted with lows of -20C and highs of -11C (and don’t even get me started on the wind chill). All the snow we missed out in November and December has decided to fall in March, and apparently, going into April.

But shearing and fleece pick up waits for no weather – so off we went to Daysland to visit a flock of Icelandics.

Mama and twins – about 12 hours old.
Whenever I go to pick up fleeces from a farm, when I first walk into where they’re being stored, I want to giggle like a schoolgirl. To a spinner and fibre lover, to walk up to a giant pile of fleece that you get to sort through is too exciting for words. It can be overwhelming, in the best possible way.

It’s a whole world of fibrey possibility staring you in the face, and the chance to visit the farms, the farmers, and the animals that this wonderful resource comes from is something I feel very privileged to be a part of.

Despite the cold weather, we had an awesome time. I had yet to meet a flock of Icelandics, so I jumped at the chance when Petra contacted me saying she had some fleeces from her flock.

We arrived at about noon, and whisked ourselves quickly from the car to the quonset where the fleeces were stored since the shear. It’s always so hard to pick just a few – my immediate reaction is always to yell “I’ll take them all!”. Instead, we rolled out a bunch and I gave them a pick through. This flock had some really beautiful colouring, and a wonderful range of textures and fleece characteristics. That’s one of the things that keeps unimproved primitive breeds like Icelandics close to my heart – the diversity from sheep to sheep is always an exciting thing to see.

After I picked five, off we went for a tour. This is probably my favourite part of all my visits – even more than picking through the fleeces. The fleeces I get to play with well after I leave, but the visits give me the opportunity to really chat with the producers and learn about their farms.

It is actually lambing time for this particular flock, so I was greeted with babies that were one week, 12 hours, and 3 hours old when we got there. The ones less than a day were all resting inside, under heat lamps. The little guys born the previous week were outside living it up with the rest of the flock.

Looking for treats and chin scratches

Most of the flocks I’ve visited so far are pretty friendly – this one definitely included. This ewe in particular was very interested to see if I had anything good to eat. I didn’t, unfortunately, so she decided to try snacking on a button on my jacket instead. Realizing that wasn’t particularly tasty, she moved onto my husband for goodies and scratches, where she proceeded to sneeze all over him, and then move off to look for better opportunities. I think this girl wins the prize for most personality.

After meeting the flock it was time for us to head on back home with fleece haul. It was a nice drive, sunny, and I even spotted a giant snowy owl hanging out on the side of the road.

We have one more visit scheduled this week, then a bit of a break between farm visits. It’ll give me some time to process, spin samples, and catalogue everything that I’ve gotten the past few weeks. The website will be updated over those two weeks as well, so you can grab yourself some new lovely fleece to work with.

I also asked a quick question on Instagram this past week – and quite a few of you are interested in washed, unprepped fleece. I heard you loud and clear, so stay tuned, because I’ll be offering that was well over the next month! As always, to stay updated on any new additions to the website, plug your email address in to form to the form on your right, and follow me on Instagram and Facebook.