At this point in life, as adults, most of us have had the pleasure of visiting petting zoos when the fair comes to town… but what if you lived in a petting zoo?! That used to be me, when I lived with nanny and pop-pop. Now I visit them as frequently as possible.
Currently, nanny, pop-pop, and “Uncle John”, as he will be referenced, live on Angel’s Wool Farm. It is seven acres deep, including wooded area pop-pop and Uncle John use for hunting. They have Angora rabbits (10), Shetland sheep (10), llamas (4), horses (5), chickens (a lot!), fish, dogs (2) and cats. Quite the mouth full! They also have some bountiful gardens for healthy eating.
As you know, sheep and llama grow long hair that needs to be cut, or sheared. So here is OUR process on the farm:
- A local man, who’s really more of a friend!, comes to the house and we corral the animals for “easy” grabbing. One-by-one the sheep and llamas are sheared of their wool from neck to tail.
- Nanny will wash the wool in large red tubs (typically!) with soap and let it soak. As kids, we helped with this a lot! You have to pick as much hay and kaka out of the fleece, as the whole piece is referred to as, as possible.
- After two solid wash/rinse cycles, wool is dried completely and taken in small pieces and run through a drum carder, which is a past time for pop-pop. Back in the old days, this used to be done by hand, but now there are LARGE machines that are capable of carding. The act of carding helps smooth out the knots that form in the fleece while getting out a lot of the hay/grass/etc. Due to the size of the farm, nanny and pop-pop now send off the wool to be washed and carded but we hold on to these traditions!
- The fleece is now ready to be spun into yarn. Nanny sits at her spinner and it twists the pieces together so tightly, keeping it tight for knitting and crocheting. Depending on her needs or ideas, nanny will add angora hair to the yarn, to help soften the wool and add a fleck of color to it. Angora can be spun by itself but it has a tendency to stretch and lose shape due to its fineness.
- Nanny will knit or crochet the yarn into hats, scarves, mittens, etc.
Nanny and pop-pop have a lot of products so they will do several craft fairs a year to help off load, while teaching young children and older adults about the process from start to finish.. just like I did for you! Their longest craft fair is Friday – Sunday and it’s called Hay Creek. I spent this weekend with nanny and pop-pop for MANY years, helping run our stand and teach people about the farm. They dress up in colonial costume, nanny will sit with a rabbit spinning and letting kids pet the bunny. Pop-pop typically has his carder set-up so the kids can learn about cleaning wool. Kids of every age, even adults, love their stand so much. I can personally say, I love to teach about the farm, too. It is coming up Sept 7- 9 to anyone interested in learning more.
Nanny and pop-pop have lived on the farm since 2000, and we lived with them the first year and a half! We always stayed for weekend trips as kids, and now I try to take the kids out as much as possible. It is important to hold onto the old traditions, otherwise it just becomes something we will see in a book.
If you’re interested in seeing the farm yourself, please visit their facebook page *located below* and request information. If you would like to purchase one of their beautiful pieces, you can also message their page. Please note that the farm was written about with the permission of the owners.