Today we’re featuring The Black Sheep Fiber Farm in our Producer Q&A series. We love their dryer balls to naturally soften clothes and improve dryer efficiency. They are available in the shop for $5 each; four are recommended for an average dryer size.
When did you realize that you wanted to be part of the local food and gardening movement? We did not set out to become a fiber farm, but it is an evolution of “a hobby out of control”. I have had a life-long interest and love of animals. We started small and grew the flock, till at one time, there were over a hundred head. The fiber production, spinning and weaving came about to help solve the problem – what do we do with all of this wool? Fiber shows and farmer markets became our venue for selling our produce. The local food and gardening movement became our neighbors.
What excites you most about your business? I continue to be most excited about the animals, working with genetics to produce the softest, most spinnable and interesting colors of fleeces. We specialize in natural colored sheep, and have several distinct blood lines within the flock. It is also challenging to create new and useful products from the wool that we produce.
What do you like most about central Ohio? We were born and raised in Northeastern Ohio (snow belt), attended Ohio State University, and now reside in Southwestern Ohio. There is a distinct difference in the weather pattern of all three locations. We definitely prefer the winters here. Our farm is located in the foothills of Appalachia and not far from the Ohio River – very scenic. We enjoy the soft rolling hills and differences in the landscape, and the relaxed, slower pace of the folks that live here.
Where do you see your business in 5 years? As we approach the “Autumn of our lives”, I expect in the next five years to continue to downsize, but cannot imagine life here on the farm without sheep in the pasture. Over our thirty years in operation we have made some wonderful friends and business connections. We will look for ways to continue our association and ways to easier manage a smaller flock and still continue to produce quality wool and wool products.
Thing to grow? Over the years we have always raised organically grown gardens producing 80 to 90% of the food that we eat. There was a Holstein cow for milk, butter, cheese and ice cream with the excess milk going to feed out calves, pigs and poultry which then became our meat supply. Our homestead approach to life made us as independent and self sufficient as possible in today’s society. The favorite thing to eat and grow is not something that you can put on a plate but the self sufficient life style.
Gardening tool? Our best tool is on a hammer size handle, with a 4 inch hoe chopping blade on one side and a three prong fork head on the reverse side.
Kitchen tool? There is a new favorite in the kitchen this year. It is a new enamel steamer that has done a marvelous job with asparagus , broccoli and cauliflower.
Thanks, Kathy, for sharing about your farm and business! Learn more and view pictures of the sheep at The Black Sheep Fiber Farm website.