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.