Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So much to blog about...

I don't even know where to begin! Okay, first the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Patrick and I are very excited to announce that we are starting a second flock and a second yarn and fiber CSA on Patrick's family farm in New York's Hudson Valley.

There are many, many reasons for this decision. The first is that we are always looking for ways to make our business more sustainable without over-crowding or diminishing the quality of life for the flock. We realized a while ago that we could pretty easily sell twice as many shares but having twice as many animals on the Vineyard would make our lives immeasurably more complicated. Why? Because we don't own the land we are farming on the Vineyard. We have a five year lease on our farm at Tisbury Meadows, but the leaseholder- Martha's Vineyard Land Bank- has the right to make a lot of decision about the number of animals and time we can graze them on the property. They also have the right to terminate our lease if they choose to at anytime, although I don't think that is really a concern. 

The majority of our flock on the Vineyard resides at Felix Neck, a Mass Audabon wildlife sanctuary, and that had been a really good fit for us for a year. But, the Executive Director made the decision not long ago that she no longer wanted our dogs to be on the property. She would very much like the sheep and goats to stay, but without the dogs. She feels that they are too disruptive when they bark, which, of course, is their raison d'etre. 

As many of you remember, less than a month ago, one of our ewes (Salina, Truman's mom) was viciously attacked by a dog at Felix Neck. There is no doubt in my mind that, if Biscotti and Fettucini hadn't been there, Salina and many more would have been killed. 

All of this is to say that we will no longer be able to pasture the flock at Felix Neck. It would be beyond irresponsible of me to leave sheep and goats there without any defenses whatsoever. I am heartbroken about the move, but there really is no other option.

I do want to say that I totally respect the ED's decision- she has to do what's right for her property and we have to do what's right for our animals. We are sad to be leaving but grateful for the time we spent at Felix Neck.

So, as you can see, Patrick and I were eager to have greater control over the land our animals are pastured on, and the only way to do that is to have them on land we own or have a lease on. Since three acres of farm land on the Vineyard is priced at about $13 million right now, starting a second flock on our own farm seems to be the way to go.

So here's the plan. In a couple of weeks we will be temporarily moving ALL of the animals down to New York for the winter. This is so that I can be down there to get the new farm up and running without feeling like I need to go back and forth every week to check on things up here. In the Spring, the nanny goats and ewes will be moved back up to the Vineyard before kidding and lambing. The rams and buck will remain in New York where we have better fencing.

We are purchasing more cormo ewes and angora nannies to start the flock in New York for the NY CSA shareholders. The amount of fiber current shareholders will receive will not be effected at all by the move. Animals that belong to MVFF will continue to belong to MVFF no matter where they are pastured. The new animals will belong to Hudson Valley Fiber Farm, as will some of the kids born to the MVFF nanny goats in the spring. The most important thing is for everyone to know that their will be plenty of fiber to go around!

If you currently own a share in Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm but live in New York, you are more than welcome to come visit the NY flock anytime. In fact, all shareholder's are welcome at either farm anytime. The new farm will have an on-site yarn shop housed in an old church that Patrick and I own and it will be stocked with lots of handspun, local farmstead yarns and spinning fibers and indie dyed yarns. 

Erin and I have a lot of cleaning to do to get it ready to open and we are having a wood stove put in to make it ultra-cozy, but our goal is to have an open house/holiday party at the end of November/early December and hope that lots of you will be able to come. 

[For those of you from NYC, the farm is located right off the Taconic Parkway, near the Beacon train stop on Metro North.]

Weather permitting, the shearing is on for this weekend on the Vineyard. This will be a pretty low-key event compared with the one in April because it is being held at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. Please dress warmly- and if you want to help- in clothes you don't mind getting goaty. There will not be food for sale at the even but I am trying to get some box lunches made up by a caterer, so I will need to know how many people are coming ASAP. Please email me at susangibbs1 AT mac DOT com if you will be coming.

Last weekend was Rhinebeck, the big New York Sheep and Wool show, and it was so lovely to get to meet so many new shareholders. It was also great to catch up with so many old friends.  We had a small, shivering meet-up for cookies at 3:30 on Saturday and ooohed and aaahed over each others purchases.  (Mine were a bit disappointing- I bought 4 new panels (fencing) and a large bottle of Dr. Naylors' Hoof and Heal. Very exciting.)

As usual, I spent the majority of the day recording the results of the Angora Goat show, so my photos from the festival are nearly identical to the ones I took last year. This year's judge was Dr. Fred Speck, the formost authority on Angora goats in the U.S., if not the world, so I learned a good bit about goats that I didn't know, which was great.
Patrick and Logan sitting at the Emcee's table.

I did sneak away from the show for about an hour to nap in the truck and saw this tree on the way back. I love the kids rolling down the hill.
This is the line for food.
And this is the line for the bathroom.
The ravelry party was a lot of fun but COLD! There must have been 700 people there and one of the people representing the Elks Club told Sara that if they had know how many people were going to show up for it they never would have rented the place! 

One very exciting thing that happened at the party was we met our very first Hudson Valley Shareholder! He was sitting at our table and asked me lots of questions, then signed up on the spot. I LOVE that our first shareholder in New York is a man! He has already joined the MVFF group on rav and I'd love it if ya'll would make him feel welcome. His rav name is AGuyKnitsinCT if you want to friend him.

We have sold five more shares on etsy since the weekend so expect to see some new faces in the group.

I have been asked to speak at the second meeting of the new Boston knitting guild- Common Cod Fiber Guild- on Friday, November 14th. Now, I am TERRIFIED of public speaking, so if any of you could make it to the event it would be awesome. I'd love to see some friendly faces. Should I survive, we can all go out for drinks after. I will post the location of the event here as soon as I get the details.

We haven't heard anything about who won the Tech Makeover contest but I really appreciate all of you who voted and left comments. I'll let you know as soon as I hear something, but keep your fingers crossed!
UPDATE: On the contest website it now says that they will be announcing the winners today!

I just found out that the calendar printer's made an error when calculating our bill which will allow us to lower the price of the remaining calendars to $18! Five of them were given as door prizes at the Ravelry Rhinebeck party and everyone loved them. They will make great holiday gifts for the knitters on your list, so order a couple before they are gone. 

To celebrate the launch of the new Hudson Valley CSA I am giving away 5 MVFF calendars! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and the random number generator will choose the winners. Just to keep things interesting, tell us in you comment how many of your holidays gifts you will be knitting or creating this year. The contest will end on Sunday night at 7 p.m. and winner's will be posted shortly thereafter. Be sure and leave some kind of name (real, rav, whatever) so we can identify the winners.

More soon!


Elizabeth said...

Wow, congrats on the new CSA. I am so impressed with you guys. Hope to visit one day!

Threadless (Maureen) said...

Congrats on the big news! WOW! It's great to have two locations to try to get to for a visit! ;)

So very pleased at the success of the farm(s)!

KarenS said...

Congratulations on your exciting news!

I will probably knit just 2 or 3 gifts for Christmas. I've finally learned to be more realistic about what can be done in the time left before Dec. 25 :-)

Karen (tangles on Ravelry)

Sarah said...

Hi! Great to hear about the new flock in NY. I have some bills to be paid, but the first spare money I get is destined to buy me a share. Anyway, I am knitting for Christmas some small items this year (hats, mittens, cowls). I think the total right now is around 12 items, but I keep adding to it so we'll see. I am about halfway done so hooray!

annenyc said...

Congrats on your expanding your flock with the new Hudson Valley CSA! We definitely hope to visit when it's ready. All the best!

BeccakBecca said...

I was hoping to knit two items for Christmas (socks and a man-sweater) but then my spring share came and I got distracted. And, I will be there for the Common Cod Fiber Guild talk! The Guild is a lot of fun, no need to be nervous. They will love you!

Pumpkinmama said...

Wonderful news! If you ever want to try grazing some of the flock out at Cape Pogue, let me know. I imagine that would make your life even more insane, but we'd love to see the job they do on the bittersweet and poison ivy out there!

mydogpetey said...

I've just sent this post to 9 people this morning.
So exciting!
Kathy (mydogpetey on Ravelry)

jordiw said...

We (Nicki and I) were talking about you on Sat at Rhinebeck.... sorry we didn't see you! The conversation was mostly hoping you were ok and that we hadn't heard from you in a while etc etc.. and pondering still what to do with our yarn!!

This is a great idea. I can't have a single reason not to visit now. The only way it could be closer would be if you moved into the Hudson River Park!!

miss ewe said...

Oh, congratulations! That's really exciting news!
I may knit one or two Christmas presents this year, but as the days drift by, it looks less and less likely!
(do you actually have any time to knit at all with all these critters to look after?!)

A Crafty Lawyer said...

How exciting about the new farm!

I'm hoping to knit or spin gifts for anyone who might appreciate them. No sweaters, since they take so long. But socks, mittens, scarves, and I'm working on a pillow. There are a few knitters in the family who, I hope, would enjoy some of my handspun yarn. I recently gave away a skein of tailspun mohair that I bought from your Etsy shop -- it was so soft!

Suzanne (acraftylawyer on ravelry)

KnitChickKim said...

Congrats on the new flock. How exciting!! As far as Christmas knitting -- I am just about finished a shrug-style vest in a chunky baby alpaca for my daughter and I've already finished one scarf. There will probably be one or two more gifty-items on my needles shortly. Again, congrats!!!!

June said...

That's great news! I hope I can visit your new location.

Hopefully, I'll be able to complete a few scarves and hats for Christmas gifts, but with a new grandson on the way and knitting for charity, I have many other projects in the works.

(thehook on Ravelry)

Helen said...

I am excited you will be so much closer to home (NYC) and I will definitely come visit with my 3 year old! I think I might knit 2 or 3 gifts this year, but should money be tighter than expected, that number might go up! Congrats on the big move - good luck and we'll see you soon! Helen, David, and Sarah

Tactile Travel said...

A warm, supportive and happy group of fiber lovers are looking forward to whatever you feel like saying at the Common Cod Fiber Guild. Don't worry about a thing... except where you'd like us to take you for dinner before the talk!

Sorry to have missed you at Rhinebeck, and we won't be down for shearing this weekend. Boo Hoo! I'll be hoping for no wind and warm weather for you.
Ciaobella on Ravelry

Crista said...

Susan and Patrick:
It was great to finally meet you and I am excited to know about the NY farm (on my way to Mom and Dad's. You will be seeing my name pop up on your shareholder site shortly.


Jenny said...

Congratulations! NY is way further for me, but I will definitely at some point want to come up and visit the farm there. My DREAM would be to move and run that yarn shop for you but that is about as possible as me doing a cartwheel. Um, which is to say it's really quite impossible. :)

See you on Saturday!!

jazzywalker said...

Wow, everytime I read your updates, the news gets better and better. A second flock, how exciting. I am planning on knitting a few gifts this year for Christmas, a scarf and socks to start.


Anonymous said...

So how did I miss the part about how to become a NY CSA shareholder? Beacon is much easier to visit than MV for a New Yorker who does not drive!


Elena said...

calender please! I think I'm kniyying one or two gifts.

Max said...

That's exciting news! You're very brave to step up this way. Thanks :)

Will be very pleased to see you next month at Common Cod.

Sarah said...

It was so great to chat with all of the farm gang at the Rav party. You'll definitely see some familiar faces at the Guild meeting - we'll be your fan club!


mugginsquilts on Ravelry said...

It all sounds so great, Susan. I am proud to be a member of your thriving community. I am knitting 8 gifts for Xmas. mugginsquilts

Diane said...

I don't see how you do it all. I'm knitting NO gifts for Christmas........too much pressure. I knit something for someone when it feels right, then on the card write Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, and whatever else you might celebrate.

D. Driver

Maggie said...

Susan, that's so exciting! All of it, I mean (though it does stink about Felix Neck). Wow, my head is spinning thinking about it--I can't imagine what yours is feeling like!

Bonney said...

Congratulations!! Good Luck with your new venture! It IS getting to be time for new calendars; isn't it?!

Katom Burke said...

As always it was a pleasure to see you guys at Rhinebeck. Congrats on the new farm! My grandparents live in western CT so maybe in the spring when I bring the new baby out to see them, we can visit the Hudson farm.

I'd love to start Finn's first year in a MVFF calendar!

I have 4 Christmas gifts knit already. 2 more in progress and about 6 more queued!

Susan said...

My head is spinning too, Maggie. As some of you who have been with me for a while know, I am not so good with change. In fact, I HATE it.
We had been toying with the idea of a NY farm for a while an getting kicked out of Felix NEck really made the decision for us.
Thank God we have Erin or I would probably just get in to bed and refuse to get out.

Dee said...

Best of luck with your new flock! I hope to make at least half of my gifts for the holidays. I had better get started!

Meg said...

Congratulations on the big news, how exciting! I am knitting 2 or 3 gifts this year. Plus teaching my bf to knit.

Jen said...

Hi Susan, Great news about the new farm, I just bought a share!! I'm knitting hats and socks for my three boys and haven't decided what to knit for my husband yet. Also, thanks to your post about handmade holiday gifts I found tons of gifts on Etsy! I already feel less stressed knowing I've taken care of so much shopping. Thanks a million! Jen (ayearandaday)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm not planning on knitting any gifts now; although, that could change, and I might knit a scarf or some quick knit project. For Christmas related knitting, I'm knitting the felted trees from the new Mason Dixon book and Christmas stockings. Focus is on completing UFOs.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new farm! I am thrilled to be a shareholder, and can't wait to visit your new shop. Thank you for helping agriculture in Dutchess County--farming is such a wonderful part of the area, and it seems to be slipping away. Maybe you will be a stop on the Town and Country tour?

Creating Christmas gifts--in an ideal world, I would finish one quilt, knit three scarves, and knit multiple linen tea towels. I suspect reality will prove to be far more modest...

Linda (Inkdarkmoon on Ravelry)

misplacedpom said...

I'm planning on knitting my sister a replacement hat since the package I sent last year for Christmas (which incidentally included my whole family's presents) got "lost".

I'm really excited about the NY CSA! It's really not that far on the train from NYC, very exciting!

Joanb said...

Hi Susan - it was great seeing you, Patrick and the boys at Rhinebeck.

CONGRATULATIONS on the new endeavor. I'll be mentioning it on my blog. Deb and I will definitely be visiting you.

Can't wait to see you at your new CSA around the holidays and then on MV in the spring.

You're all amazing. Love ya...

Zoe said...

yes congrats on the CSA! I'll try and plan a visit the next time we go see the in-laws!

Sara said...

Oh, congrats on the new farm space. Hopefully, next year I will become a shareholder.

I will be creating or knitting 75% of my Christmas gifts.

themamajama said...

It was wonderful to meet everyone at Rhinebeck. I love that we get to be fairy godparents to more fluffy babies! If hope all their tootsies appreciate your purchase.
Hope the shearing goes well.

Lisa said...

Congratulations! How exciting to be able to expand this idea you had!
I'm knitting 6 or 7 gifts--depends on how much I get distracted. Kid hats--easy! As for the rest...we'll see.

Cindy said...

Hi, and congrats on your 2nd flock. CSA is amazing and I'm so happy to see it expanding into the fiber world!

I'm going to knit a hat for my son and also hope to do some ornaments for relatives and friends.

Cindy (mischiefmanaged on ravelry)

Katie said...

Congrats on the new farm! I will probably only be knitting 2-4 gifts this year.

I am KatieMN on Ravelry

Susan:) said...

Yay for a new farm! And one that is closer to me than the Cape. I am psyched I will be able to visit!

Logan said...

I plan to knit less than 5 gifts for Christmas this year. Too much pressure!

Knittermaster on Rav

Anna Marie said...

Great news about the HVFF. I think I might be one of the new shareholders who bought over the weekend. I am so excited! For Christmas gifts I am keeping it small. I few pairs of socks and some hats and scarves. I did sweaters one year and really stressed myself out. I promised not to do that to myself again!
Auntyannknits on ravelry

--Deb said...

It's ALL exciting news! And I'm tickled that you'll be several hours closer for the winter, so I certainly HOPE we'll get to see each other at some point. (Chappy really wants to see you again.) It's all so wonderful--I'm so happy for you!

Oh, and that bathroom at Rhinebeck? It's ALWAYS got a line. The one by the main entrance is better AND has the most entertaining attendant! (And, how sad is it that I recognize the bathrooms?)

sara said...

What exciting news about the new farm. Congratulations to you! For Christmas knitting this year, I think I'm making around 10 or so gifts - most of which are small (oven mitts, toys) and several of which are already done!

mitbitna on rav

Susan in Maryland said...

Glad to hear abut the new CSA and that is closer to me. Maybe I can arrange a visit sometime. I'll probably be knitting two or three Holiday Gifts this year.

Carrie Rose said...

That's so exciting, I'm so jealous! I swear I daydream about my future farm everyday!

I don't know how to knit yet (I know, I know, learning is on my to-do list!) but I'm a big crochet/sewing/crafty girl and plan on making the majority of my christmas gifts this year. It always feels so much better to give a gift you created!

Oh and I must congratulate you on your tech makeover win, you deserve it!

quiltarama said...

Congratulations on winning the tech makeover!! I'm knitting just a few gifts this year. I just finished my first one tonight -- woo hoo! I have at least 4 more planned. And then, I'm knitting something for me! Can't wait to see the little critters when the web cams are up!

Knitarama on Ravelry

Lilea said...

You do seem to thrive at top speed. Way to go girl!!
I decided last January that I would be knitting socks or mittens for all my sisters/brothers/in-laws, nieces and nephews for this Christmas...I have 6 more for family..and a few more for random people that seem deserving of a warm pair of socks. I love to surprise those who least expect it.
all the best to you and your flock.
Lilea in Maine

marcy said...

i am a wsj article reader, given to me by my dh who may tend to think i have too much yarn, a spring 09 share holder and owner of 2 calendars. have 4 holiday knits to make and aside from the 2 mvff calendars i bought, would love one for myself!!!
knittinggolfer on rav

yarn-sitter said...

Oops! Left my comment about what I'll be knitting on the wrong post. Duh! So to repeat myself, I'll be knitting mostly fingerless mitts and socks because they're fast and easy. (yarn-sitter on Rav)

HatboxRose said...

I'm so happy about the Hudson Valley Fiber Farm, it's close by and that will be great for me. Congratulations on your second CSA.

I'm knitting two gifts and keeping it fun for me, no pressure, just enjoyment. :-)

Anonymous said...

A new farm in the Hudson Valley? So exciting! You'll be right down the road from me. And I can't wait to see the shop. You guys pose a triple threat to me, in addition to being close by, I just got my first spindle at Rhinebeck and now in the market for roving in addition to yarn.

I'm not yet sure what I'm making for Christmas presents. Just recently learned to knit, so I will probably knit a couple of gifts and weave a few others.

(MountainSpring on Rav)

Jessica said...

eek! Christmas presents already?!
well, I'm almost finished a hoody for, uh, me...

anyway, I'm thrilled to see that you are finding practical ways to expand. I have no concept of where the hudson valley area is, but I DO know that it must be closer to Philadelphia than MV!

All my love to the goats, sheep, and pups, please!

~Jessica Rice

abeesley said...

I will be giving 4 crocheted totes, one scarf, and at least 2 pairs of socks this Christmas.

Rasnovas on Ravelry said...


We live about 15 minutes from your farm (assuming the directions take me to where I think you are) and I am SO looking forward to buying in! And taking my daughter to see the goats! And being able to say I'm buying local yarn!

And congrats on the tech contest!

Being so excited has made my grammar all screwy! YAY!

We were also looking for you guys at Rhinebeck, somehow we missed you guys! Another time then :D

Jean said...

How exciting! I'm sorry I missed you at Rhinebeck.

Steph said...

congrats on the new CSA and congrats on the tech makeover!

I've made my mom a sweater, my dad house socks, my father in law a hat, and I'm working on a scarf for hubby and a wrap for my mom in law.

Turtle said...

wow, so much big news! and all good, congrats! just bought a share, so happy! would love to visit if i make it home this next year! huge congrats to you!

Vaedri said...

Congratulations on so much good news!

Jean said...

As someone else put it, I must be greedy, having now purchased a share of the new farm/flock as well as the old one. Now all I need to do is find more time for fiber as opposed to the work that pays for it! And heartiest cograts on the tech makeover. I can't wait to get up close and personal albeit from afar!

VirginiaKnits said...

Congratulations! I'm not a shareholder yet, but I'm hoping for a Christmas gift--another CSA means more opportunities to join in the fun! I'm knitting 8 hats for Christmas this year, and I feel a little selfish because I'm having so much fun making them. Is that giving or receiving?

Anonymous said...

For Christmas, I'm knitting one toddler sweater and bear hat, 2 pairs of socks, one scarf, and one hat. I live in California, so the woolens I knit are for gifts. I combined a family visit east with Rhinebeck sheep & wool. What a great time! On Ravelry, I'm brii.

Michelle said...

I've knit 3 pairs of socks for Christmas gifts and will do at least 2 more, I think. Also I am doing a pair of fingerless mittens.

I am meezercat on Rav (I did not realize there was a MVFF group on Rav - off to sign up now!)

Danielle said...

So glad I got to meet you, working at the Rav party. I hope to see you at the Common Cod event too!

Susan said...

Hey Danielle! Ya'll did such an awesome job at the party. Please come to the Common Cod- need to see lots of friendly faces to get through this.

Anonymous said...

This is great! and even more tempting to join! I plan on making some mittens with some of the yarn I've got stashed away...not a grand plan but functional nonetheless.
(jsample on ravelry)