23rd Washington County (New York) Fiber Tour

by Site Admin on April 20, 2015

Romney breeders will enjoy an early spring weekend at one of the longest running on-farm Fiber Tours in the United States, where six of the farms raise Romneys: The 23rd Annual Washington County Fiber Tour – The Natural Home for Diversified Farms (April 25 and 26, 2015, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We have it all! Sheep – several breeds, alpacas, cashmere and Angora goats, Angora rabbits. Our 15 farms raise excellent quality animals on diverse types of farms, for beginning or experienced farmers to visit Tour the fiber mill. Attend demonstrations and workshops. Learn how to raise the animals and use the fiber. See the results of our year round efforts – from baby animals and soft shorn fleeces to luxurious yarn and hand-crafted clothing, even cuts of lamb. Reserve lunch at Dancing Ewe, and lovely village restaurants. All this – and a lovely springtime weekend on the farms. http://washingtoncountyfibertour.org, Mary Pratt, elihufarm@localnet.com, 518-744-3947.

The full press release follows:

The 23rd Washington County (New York) Fiber Tour — The Natural Home for Diversified Farms

Washington County is the most agricultural county in Eastern New York, with broad diversity among its farms. The 23rd Annual Washington County Fiber Tour (April 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 pm.) is a strong example of that diversity. A recent study by Helen Trejo of Cornell University concluded that Washington County has the most fiber-producing farms of any in New York State. http://washingtoncountyfibertour.org

One of the longest running events of its type in the United States, for 2015 the Fiber Tour showcases 15 farms and a large commercial yarn mill. “Visitors will meander through the most scenic parts of our County,” said Lubna Dabbagh of Blind Buck Farm. “Pick any farm as a starting point, then travel along our winding roads and through our historic villages. Enjoy meeting the farmers and their animals.”

The quality of the fiber-producing livestock on the Fiber Tour matches this diversity. For instance, Ensign Brook Farm, which raises Romney and fine-wooled sheep, has won numerous prizes in live animal, fleece, and yarn competitions, including at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival. Elihu Farm has been producing prize winning Romney and crossbred sheep and fleeces nearly 30 years, and regularly wins awards in competitions at fairs and festivals, including the Eastern States Exposition.

“Romneys are an easy breed to raise outdoors on pasture,” commented Mary Pratt of Elihu Farm. “Their rugged constitution and heavy fleece helps them to thrive in rain or snow.” No wonder that six of the farms on the Tour produce Romney sheep.

The most primitive sheep breed on the Fiber Tour is the double-coated Icelandic. Another rare breed is the Leicester Longwool. The Merino and Cormo sheep have very fine wool for clothing with next-to-the-skin softness. Blue Faced Leicesters and Friesians complete the sheep on the Tour. Dancing Ewe Farm’s Friesian-crosses produce the milk for delectable Tuscan cheeses, thanks to co-owner Luisa Somers, a native of Tuscany. They also grow a useful soft fleece.

Five farms with alpacas grace the Tour with elegance. Quarry Ridge Alpacas is delighted with its new home-bred huyaca stud, which has won six halter and fleece Championships as a youngster. The alpacas at Breezy Hill Ranch have also won numerous prizes. “Alpacas are earth-friendly animals,” explained Faith Perkins of Quarry Ridge. “They’re economical to feed and have one of the finest fibers in the world. Besides that, they are fascinating!”

In addition to sheep and alpacas, the Fiber Tour features cashmere and Angora goats and Angora rabbits. St. Mary’s on-the-Hill Cashmere has raised cashmere goats since 2004 and quickly became recognized for the quality of both their live animals and their cashmere fiber. For the past four years, the sisters have exhibited the Grand Champion Cashmere Doe at the New England area Cashmere Goat Association Breeders’ Show. Their goats’ fleeces also place well in international caprine competitions.

Fiber Tour members promote the textile arts with demonstrations and workshops each year, such as hand spinning, dyeing, clipping fiber from Angora rabbits, felt making, wool carding, and blending fibers from different species. Handspinners and farmers can also learn how to choose fleeces and live animals for their fiber quality.

Fun activities include tours of the fiber mill, goat cart driving, sheep shearing, sheepdog herding and finger puppets. Young animals continually surprise with their antics while their dams hover nearby. Individual farms also offer breeding stock, unprocessed and processed fiber products, and a wide variety of quality handcrafted items in their shops – from yarn to garments designed by the members, along with cuts of lamb and Tuscan cheeses.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • RSS

Previous post:

Next post: