Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I am reborn as a shepherdess

I've been withholding important information from all of you. I have to have some secrets. But I was busting to share and now can, complete with visual documentation.

I awoke an ex-shepherdess pouring my old flock. By afternoon, I was reborn as a shepherdess. I can not explain how important this is to my evolution into the new Apifera here in Maine. I just wasn't ready or willing to be sheepless.

It all happened in a nice organic way. At first I was looking for Katahdins, the breed we had in Oregon. I love that breed. They are a hair sheep and that made more sense for us there. But I began to rethink it all, and I am a lover of felting and so many friends and followers who are avid knitters/spinners, that I realized wool sheep make much more sense for me here. I then started researching fiber, and came upon a breed that is endangered, and is known by fiber enthusiasts for its wonderful wool, and the breed itself are a lot in temperament like my old flock-good mothers, easy keepers, and calm and personable. The more I researched about it, the more I knew these were the ones. And then of course we visited the farm and I loved them, and the couple raising them also have a fiber mill-so that means I have not only a knowledgeable teacher, I have a place to take my fiber for processing.

These are Romeldale/CVM sheep. The Romeldale is is a fine wool breed [created from Romney rams and Rambouillet ewes in the 1900's], and the California Variegated Mutant [CVM] is its multi-colored derivative. The CVM and Romeldale sheep have never been numerous, and today they are quite rare. The CVM's are listed as critical on the endangered list, so I like we are helping them. Fiber enthusiasts are avid lovers of this breed. Commercial breeders tend to breed out any color.

I chose two spring ewe lambs, and one yearling ewe. I also brought home two of their retired girls, and I am thrilled as the fiber on both is awesome. I neglected to bring some of it home with me to photograph! I was so excited, I forgot, but will go back and get some to show you. The elder matriarch gives this incredible silver fiber-just gorgeous. When you look at these photos, it is the color underneath the top coat that will show up in the fiber-I chose many that have silvers and grey. Both the retired ewes have good years left for fiber [they won't be bred] and both have beautiful fleeces.

And then...I had to have her. The battle baby. I might not breed her, but she was such a little sweet lump of wool, and comes right up to you like a pup. We think she might catch up and she is out of the retired white girl so I am hoping she produces a nice white fleece like her mama.

So that is a quick introduction. You will be hearing a lot more about them-and the fiber end of things. I can't wait until spring and sheering! I don't have a ram yet, and I will see if I get one in spring.

This is going to be fun, lots of new things to learn and I already have a shearer lined up who is highly experienced and used by many shepherds around here.

You will be meeting the flock in greater depth as the days and weeks go on.


Claire MW said...

How exciting! I'm delighted to see your new friends, and thrilled that you will have fibre in future! Hooray! What lucky sheep they are!

Susan Cobos said...

How exciting! I wish you good luck on your many new adventures. I love reading your blog, thank you.

Cathy said...

They are adorable, K, and I'm so happy that you have SHEEP again! Can't wait to experience the fiber.

Jacquie said...

As a spinner and knitter, I am delighted that you chose such delicious fiber. Perhaps I can look forward to future etsy offerings? Especially if you, with your artist's eye, decide to do some dyeing. Enjoy the.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

It was so wonderful waking up and thinking...there are sheep here! Yes, I will be selling fiber-roving and more. I am blessed that there is a fiber mill at the farm where we bought our sheep, who has a lot of experience. i got to have a tour of all her equipment and am so excited for sheering day i can hardly stand it. So yes, there will be easy offerings!! And, I will be processing Sophie the goat's fiber, and Birdie the llama's wool.

Joanne said...

I'm excited you'll be selling your fiber! I love sheep and someday I want to move out of the city so I can have some!

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~