It's a good time to talk about wool

As we all start thinking about winters evenings, putting the fire on and tucking our feet into a great pair of warm socks and slippers of an evening. It's been the perfect time as the outdoor jobs have slowed down now to catch up with a good friend to talk about sheep. More specifically about keeping them and using their fleece afterwards for more than just a mulch for the garden.


So what do sheep have to do with the goats milk soap business?? Well plenty! They drop right into my business of running a smallholding. I don't pretend, the goats milk really does come from our actual goats, and the sheep fit into the mix beautifully managing the land we own. More smallholders to be should be keeping sheep.


I now know I was wrong when I originally said 'I'm definitely not having sheep!'. One trip to a fellow smallholder who owns the most beautiful and characterful flock started that change in my mind right there and then. Not only did they all run up to us but everyone was a different colour, the fleeces were long and wavy with beautiful patterned faces. Some had horns and some not. I've asked Lucy, from Patchwork Sheep if its ok to share some of her beautiful creations here and she has allowed me to do so. She doesn't do it for meat she's all in it for the fleece and the beautiful things you can make with it, her felted back fleeces are the new 'in thing' sheep skin rugs without the skin and absolutely stunning.


Patchwork Sheep and below the creations by Lucy from her flock who now numbering 100 still all have names!


Originally of course my idea of sheep, as is many others, was a flock of all white blobs walking about a green field, but the Patchwork Sheep flock is beautiful and when I saw what she was able to produce with her fleeces I was amazed. Not long after that and after a stern word from my father, who was at the time flagging a bit during a hot day, trimming a particular long grassed weedy part of a field was 'You need Sheep!". He was of course right, we did. I hadn't even considered actually having some, but we were drowning in grass. Now, on that note, not that you should get a few sheep just because you have any old patch of grass however... they do need rotation space, sheering, and a whole host of other considerations that we will be covering on our new course... So I went ahead and picked up two rams who were for sale by Lucy from Patchwork Sheep. They were not far away and she wanted a loving and preferably a smallholding to take them on who would possibly continue to breed from them. Well several years later, here I am breeding from them and they've produced beautiful lambs. I don't mind admitting that I am fully obsessed with sheep.


So!! since the obsession has taken over I want more people taking on these fantastic animals and I'm very lucky to be around so many talented women who have small flocks and craft also. So here it is the announcement of the brand new Sheep and Crafting Workshop!!


The new workshop is co written by me and Esther Howie from Tyddynys on Anglesey where she has a flock of Shetland and Jacob sheep. Esther uses the fleece to spin her own wool, felt crafts and peg looms it all into beautiful keepsakes for the home as well as wool that made the hat and jumper in the below image. It's the oldest tradition of a smallholder to keep livestock like sheep and to process their fleeces into items for sale or for the home. We both have slight different take on our management, Esther uses a sheep dog and mine are all bucket trained, so you will have the opportunity to ask us both about how we manage our herds and find one that suits you.




Our flock here at The Clean Goat is a complete mix and I love them all dearly, we have too many breeds and mix breeds to list. At the moment I'm doing a cushion, and planning a few more rugs for my use and a few for commission for friends and family.



Crafting with fleece is such a wonderful pastime and certainly fabulous to do in the winter evenings beside the fire. So with that in mind it seemed the perfect combination for a workshop, not just learning the crafting and using the fleece but also keeping the animals on a small scale. The workshop is aimed exactly at people like us who have a desire to use what is created from our own land. Not only are sheep eco friendly, they eat grass and grass is a great carbon converter, but they cut grass without fossil fuels and are extremely cute to look at, particularly mine but then I am rather biased....



We only have two dates available Saturday 4th June 2022 and Saturday 16th July 2022. One event will run here at The Clean Goat Smallholding and one will run at Esthers smallholding Tyddynys on Anglesey. Both dates will run the same and with a limited number of 12 places per course. The full course content will be advertised soon but to provide you all with a summary;


+ All the legalities will be covered and a talk about land management and rotation.

+ Myth busting for keeping sheep.

+ The Sheep Year, a year in the care of sheep covering welfare, basic care, shearing, the health issues for sheep, additional feeding and breeding throughout the 12 months.

+ The breeds and the fleeces they produce for the process of crafting.

+ Esther will show you the art of spinning and talk you through the process of washing the fleece and its other uses. The opportunity to try your hand a needle felting as well as using a peg loom, and maybe make yourself a little rug/seat pad or little cat bed.


You'll be able to meet the sheep and hopefully all being well both places will have some healthy happy lambs bouncing about then also. Esther has been running crafting courses at her smallholding for a number of years and is very talented in the craft, together we bring a passion for keeping sheep and a wide knowledge base as well as a deep passion for the topic.



If that's the sort of thing you'd like then you can book online now, there are only 12 places on each day so its extremely limited numbers. So please even if the workshop isn't for you perhaps someone you know would absolutely love to get involved, forward the email to them and help us share the passion for these amazing animals.


Click here for a link to book online;


BOOK ME A PLACE RIGHT NOW!


Check out Esther Howie and her flock direct here;

www.tyddynys.com


And my original inspiration for sheep keeping and in fact where my first two came from;

Patchworksheep



I really hope to see some of you there,


Emma

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