Every year there are hundreds of County Fairs, State Fairs and Festivals to attend in all 50 states of the United States. In attending these activities there is an endless selection of creative wearable art that can be purchased for a fair price. Some prices can be bargained down a few dollars or so, and some prices can't be bargained at all. Have you ever wondered why some of those beautiful one-of-a-kind wearable objects of art are so expensive? In this article attempts will be made to explain some of those costs and why they exist. Cedar Fen Farm is a good example to use in providing details to why those extra special handmade goodies can be priced at what the average buyer would call, ridiculously priced. Common sense is needed in understanding the prices as numbers will not be presented in this presentation. It is the amount of time, labor, money in and money out; which are only a few examples, that explain some of the costs associated with running a working farm.
Cedar Fen Farms is located in Baldwin, Wisconsin and is owned by Heather Landin, who by the way also works as a Product Development Specialist for 3M Company. Heather raises Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester and Icelandic sheep. In her community she would be the local shepherdess to go to with questions regarding the care of sheep and the type of fiber they yield. For Heather it's a labor she loves. And, the ability to be grateful for and appreciate a flock of healthy sheep is the motivation that keeps her going. Healthy sheep bring in an income to help run the farm in a productive way. Raising sheep is not just putting them in a pasture that provides good grazing during the months that provide an adequate food supply.
Raising sheep is hard physical work. Sheep first off; for those who are not familiar, often have sets of twins and even triplets to be cared for. Heather explains in one of her Facebook posts a time when Myrtle had rejected her new born lamb, and during the adjustment period Heather played surrogate mom and bottle fed the rejected lamb. There are many long sleepless hours spent taking care of a new lamb that needs to be bottle fed and nurtured until it's true mom comes around to the understanding that the little one truly belongs to her.
Along with bottle feeding the little ones, a shepherdess also has to provide adequate feed to adult rams, ewes and for those less than one year old, lambs. During the months of warmer weather when the supply of grazing material is readily available because Mother Earth instantly supplies sustenance, everything seems to go quite well. It is the coming of the Winter months when the grazing is not so good that really takes a big chunk from the pocket money. Hay by the bale has to be purchased, and as many as twenty large bales at a time are what it takes to get through the Winter months. By the way, large bales are those bales of hay you see sitting in a pasture after harvesting that are almost as large as a small car.
On top of all that there is the rising cost of blood testing that needs to be done annually, and more frequently if necessary. The cost of shots, inoculations, worming and shearing also needs to be added into account. Can you imagine worming 53 ewes in a day or two? Well, while you are trying to imagine that, visualize planting 140 annual trees in the space of two days. Heather does it all.
Then there is the Winter snow. Frank a seasoned Border Collie sheepdog works the flock with his partner Minnie. Back in 2010 Frank rescued a first year ewe who had been trapped under a tunnel of crusted over snow. She was after the remnants of a bale of hay. From the looks of things she was buried for a few days, and after receiving vitamin B shots was able to return to eating and drinking. The vitamin B perked her up and she was no longer disoriented. Thank God for Frank, a real trooper.
Not only do they have to be fed, they need to be kept warm by coating them in cold weather. If the weather is extremely cold there is the barn that has to be stocked with hay for them to bed down in. Yes, coats are actually made just for sheep. The coats serve two purposes. They are used for warmth and also used to prevent the fleece of the sheep from getting full of pasture debris (vegetable matter). Shearing of fleece is usually done in the Springtime. A video of shearing sheep is provided for your enjoyment.
It all just seems like so much work. But, Lilith's twin Icelandic; Moorit Spotted lambs of (2013) are absolutely beautiful. And, Vanya, Isobel's ewe lamb (Spring 2010) placed top of the ewe lamb class. Frank and Minnie are true heroes. And, Heather....she is just Wonder Woman! There is nothing to match the feeling of knowing that you have produced a product that will serve your local community in a good, positive, and productive way. From all of this work comes to the fiber artist, a fleece.
The Icelandic fleece is a double coated fleece, consisting of an outer and undercoat and comes in a full range of colors to include white, brown, tan, black and mixtures. Both coats can be spun together. The outer-coat staple length can be as long as 18 inches and the undercoat can be as much as 4 inches long. This fleece tends to be an all purpose fleece depending upon which staple length you use. When mixing the thel and tog it is possible to spin a yarn that can be used for next to skin wear. Can be used for knitting, crochet, weaving, needle work and other stitchery.
The Bluefaced Leicester fleece is a long-wool breed and the staple length ranges from 3 to 6 inches with locks resembling distinctive, spiraling, thin locklets. The fleece comes in colors of white with a recessive gene that will produce sheep with a black and gray fleece. This fleece is suitable for weaving, crochet and knitting. Fleece also creates a fiber that is durable yet soft and is able to stand up to wear. Great fleece for socks, sweaters, hats, gloves or mittens. Would yield a beautiful shawl as Bluefaced Leicester fleece tends to drape well in finished objects.
This is only the first phase of completing those wonderful wearable one-of-a-kind objects of art. Heather is the source that many fiber artists use as their supplier of fleece. Once a fleece is purchased a fiber artist then has to process the fleece for use in creating yarn or felting fiber. There are dozens of uses for fleece, and those uses are limitless to the creative fiber artist. If you would like to read more about Heather use the links provided below. Cedar Fen Farm is an excellent source for your fiber needs. Heather is very knowledgeable and can help you accomplish your goals in creating beautiful fiber art projects.