I have spent a significant amount of time since receiving the grant check pondering and researching equipment. As I thought about things, it dawned on me that I needed to make this grant count as much as I possibly could not only for myself, but for other sheep producers in my area. I needed to think bigger and more out-of-the-box. Not to mention out of my comfort zone. Initially, I intended to find ways to add value to goods that I produce, by my own hand, with my own fleece and fiber. But what if I could also come up with a line of products that would necessitate more fleece and fiber than my merry little band of sheeples can give me, and that my own little paws can create? What if I needed to buy fiber from other KY farms and pay others for their skills and talents, thereby allowing them to work where they live? Hmmm…what if??? (More on this to come.)
I began giving such serious thought to how that would all work that I gave myself a headache. I researched the best equipment at the best price to accomplish my goals and I made a tweak or two to the original plan. All my research led me to a line of drum carders that, while quite a bit less expensive than the “big names” in the fiber industry, came with rave reviews and highly recommended. The lower price allowed me the upgrade of going extra-wide and motorized—which in turn would produce more sellable fiber faster!
I happened to be finishing up in the barn the evening my Big Brother drum carder—ordered online and shipped from Oregon—arrived. I was greeted by a rather dirty look from my husband as I came through the door of the house. Apparently, it took quite a lot of effort to wrestle the cumbersome and weighty box through the door and onto the kitchen island.
We began to carefully unearth the carder from all the padding and packaging that assured its safe and intact passage all the way across the US. Wow, I thought. It didn’t look quite that big on my computer screen.
My husband to the rescue once again–the next day he went to work designing and crafting a table for the carder. He made it from an antique door I drug home from a yard sale because I just knew it would come in handy someday! Today was that day! Made almost entirely from salvaged materials (the door and deconstructed pallets) the total cost of the carder table was $8.00 and change which purchased the 2x10 planking for the top.
And the cherry on top was all the extra storage space underneath. Perfect for organizing and creating space in the room I have set aside for this Small Scale Farm Grant endeavor. (This was formerly my crafting room/office. Or, as my son referred to it one recent day—“The room where Mom’s crafting dreams go to die.”)
I began to discuss my wool product ideas with my sheep mentor, Kathy Meyer. And she began to become interested in a potential partnership. We are very close in age, and while both of us love our farm lives, we also hope to one day (very soon!) be able to produce farm income in a less physical manner. As a horsewoman, I am fond of saying that I just don’t bounce like I used to. As a farmer of sheep, goats and cattle, it would be fair to say that I don’t trample, throttle or head-butt like I used to either. Little by little, a vision for a natural, upcycled, eco-friendly line of wooly products is taking shape. I’ll keep you posted! Meanwhile…back to dirty fleece!