The Farm

We raise fiber animals with a focus on struggling heritage breeds.  We believe in ethical treatment of our herd and maintain a hands on, personal relationship with our land and animals.  Our sheep live a natural life grazing year round on  our pasture and woodland.  Our herd consists of Navajo Churro, Jacob and Icelandic sheep.  These breeds are hardy and require minimal human intervention to survive and thrive in their western North Carolina habitat.  Each breed offers a unique and diverse fiber type. 

We believe the most sustainable method of farming starts from the ground up, utilizing carbon to produce climate beneficial textile products.  We practice Carbon farming.  This is simply farming in a way that reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions or captures and holds carbon in vegetation and soils.  We build our soil through compost, recycling waste fiber, feed and manure to feed our pasture grasses and legumes.

A Brief History of the Navajo-Churro:

The Churro, or ‘common’ sheep, are considered the first domesticated sheep of the continental US. Brought over from Spain by the Spanish Conquistadors during the 16th century, they were used to feed the armies and Spanish settlers, as well as trade with the natives, including the Navajo people. 

The Navajo adopted the Churro sheep who thrived in the adverse condition of the southwest.  They became an integral part of the Navajo lives and livelihood, feeding and clothing the people, as well as being used in their famous woven blankets and rugs. 

By the 1930’s, it is believed that there were over 550,000 Navajo-Churro sheep.  The US government believed that the sheep were too many in number and were causing damage to the grass lands, as well as cross breeding with the ‘fine wool’ sheep. The Indian Bureau and the Soil Conservation Service began a program to heavily reduce the number of existing herds. This meant the targeted massacre of hundreds of thousands of Navajo-Churro sheep.  The Navajo were encouraged to use the finer, shorter length sheep fleece, but these didn’t dye as well, broke more easily, and didn’t produce durable weavings. 

By the 1970’s, only about 450 ‘native’ Navajo-Churro were left. They were on the brink of extinction. Luckily, the importance of this breed was recognized and conservation efforts were started to bring back this amazing breed of sheep. Today the Navajo-Churro is still considered a “Threatened” breed. There are over 4,500 registered with the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association, and numbers steadily continue to grow. 

We are so honored and have the opportunity to work with this incredible breed, and to help them continue to grow and thrive! 

 

The Process

Every spring we begin the process of yarn production by shearing the sheep and their guardian llama.  Once the wool is shorn we pick through and skirt the fleeces, removing all unwanted material in preparation for washing.  The waste material is composted and the skirted raw wool is weighed, packaged and brought to our local fiber mill to be washed, carded, and spun into yarn.  Churro, Llama, and Icelandic wool is processed into lopi, and use for our woven 'farm to home' collection. The Jacob yarn is processed into a medium weigh knitting yarn and available for sale in our yarn shop.

We dye our lopi yarn using black walnut husks, usnea (lichen), and plant based indigo.  Black walnut is harvested from our trees ever other spring and usnea is collected year round from the fallen tree branches.  The dying process is done in small batched by hand right here on the farm.  Once the yarn is ready, we can begin designing and creating our finished textile pieces.

 

The Product

Pieces in our product collection are designed and handcrafted by Jessica Sanchez.  Each piece is one of a kind and composed of our own, home grown, hand dyed yarn.  Jessica has built her own handmade looms inspired by the design of traditional Navajo frame looms.  True to the history of our Navajo sheep, her weaving technique mimics that of the Navajo.  This slow production process ensures the highest quality finished product and extreme attention to detail.  We are happy to work with clients to design custom woven pieces for their home.  Contact us here to begin the process.