In the beginning, when we only had a few ewes, I made the decision to learn to shear. Having been a dog groomer for some time I felt I could handle the clippers well. That I did, but handling the sheep was much more challenging than any of the nippiest, matted, spoiled-rotten lap dogs I had groomed. I had a mentor, though, who was willing to put up with this novice and soon things got better.
Per, my husband, could not bear to stand there and watch me suffer over the 30 lambs we had in 2003, so he also jumped on the shearing ship and now we can handle most of our lamb flock. By 2008 we have close to 170 lambs! We still rely on our mentor, Randy Reiter, who diligently helps us, and reminds us that we will get better once we reach that 10,000th sheep. I am at about 1000 head now, with Per close behind.
Our wool is then sorted by purebred wools versus crossbreds, colors, and quality. We drive it to a mill in Belgrade, (near Bozeman), where Becky Weed, at 13 Mile Farm, converts our best wools into yarns. It is nice to be there in person to discuss processing. Her mill promotes sustainable practices, too, such as solar-heated water and biodegradable soaps. They recycle the waste water onto their pastures. We like the idea that they make full use of their mill’s operation.
Our garment yarns are created from the softest lamb fleeces and a few select adult fleeces of both our purebred Icelandic and high percentage crossbreds.
We do our own shearing, skirting, and selection for the best yarns. They consist of both tog and thel, to be durable with minimal coarseness. 2 ply yarns will really soften with use from the downy thel fibers characteristic of Icelandic sheep. 3 plies are excellent for pattern knitting. Most fun are knitted felted projects as Icelandic wool is known for its great felting ability. We will be happy to assist in finding the right yarn for your project today!