After months and months of waiting and anticipation, the 2012 Fiber CSA yarn has arrived and is on its way to its new owners.
Customers who purchased a share in our 2012 alpaca fiber CSA were investing in the harvest of a specific animal's fiber. They pre-bought a share in the late fall and once shorn last Spring, that animal's blanket fleece becomes the customer's. We then sent the fleece off to a mill for processing into yarn.
And then the real waiting began. This year, it was a long, long wait. But a huge thank you to our dedicated customers. They were always patient with us as the wait dragged on and on. . . and on.
But the wait was worth it. The yarn is beautiful, soft and expertly spun.
What follows are pictures of what I've heard called "yarn porn." You might have to be a knitter to understand.
This is from Bella and it belongs to Connie. Connie wasted no time in picking up her yarn and I wouldn't be surprised if she is already half done with whatever she chooses to knit it into.
This is super-soft, super lightweight yarn from Artie.
It's like trying to hold air in your hand.
Cinco's yarn is a stunning blue/grey that almost looks lavender in some light.
Krispy Kreme's yarn has as much personality as the young lady herself.
Maia's yarn is the most unusual color, and I might be leaning towards it as my favorite, although it's really hard to pick just one favorite.
It's a deep chocolate brown with a hint of reddishness to it.
And then we have Charlie's Angel's yarn.
Charlie was no angel on shearing day. She was a spitting machine. But with yarn this gorgeous, who cares.
We are anxiously waiting the finished products that will come out of this yarn -- sweaters, shawls and who knows what else. We'll post pictures as soon as we get them.
The 2013 Fiber CSA is sold out for this year, but we will have plenty of non-CSA yarn available later in the year. It usually takes about six months to go from shearing to yarn.
We begin shearing in early April. Although if it continues to spit and snow and do all kinds of un-Spring-like things, we will be delayed a few weeks.
So a huge thank you to our CSA customers for having the faith in us to pre-purchase yarn sight unseen -- not even yarn. Fiber still on the animal. We appreciate your business and hope you love the end results as much as we do.
Thursday was a big day at the farm. Way back in November, we started offering shares in Ohio's first alpaca fiber CSA. The shares were an instant hit.
Our shareholders had the opportunity to buy the blanket fleece from one of seven outstanding alpacas. Or, they could buy a share of mixed fleece from several of our girls dyed with natural plant material from the farm. Or, last but certainly not least, they could purchase a share of roving.
Buying a fiber CSA is an exercise in "Hurry Up and Wait." You have to have vision to be a fiber CSA member because it takes almost a whole year for your animal to grow your sweater (or whatever else you're going to knit.) But the wait is worth it. Plus, it gives you time to plan exactly what you've going to make with your new yarn or roving. It gives you time to dream.
On Thursday, the whole process advanced a bit. Thursday was Fiber CSA Shearing Day!!!
Shareholders were invited out to watch their alpaca have its day of beauty. Some of the previously shorn animals heard about the excitement and came out to watch.
Judy came to watch Krispy Kream have her day at the spa.
Krispy is a lovely gal. Yes, she has a bit of a mustache, but hey, who doesn't. We love her just the same. Plus she grows beautiful fleece.
Judy got a before and after picture with her alpaca . . .
. . . and is now thinking of what she will make with the yarn when it comes back from the mill.
Connie was next to watch her gal Bella's spa treatment. (By the way, have you noticed that both Judy and Connie have picked alpacas with the exact same hair color as their own?!)
Shearing can be boring work and even more boring to watch, but Connie got into the thick of things by helping to hold Bella. She whispered sweet nothings in her ear and Bella was just fine with everything.
Connie was able to get acquainted with her yarn in its pre-yarn stage.
And then she took her naked alpaca on a bit of a walk about.
Next up, Trish and Artie.
Artie has a head of hair on him like nobody's business. Trish told him so. Right to his face.
That's the kind of relationship they have.
Artie has some long fiber. The ends are a bit dirty from his rolling about, but that comes out in the wash and he will make squeaky clean and brilliant white yarn. I think Trish may end up dyeing it and we are anxiously awaiting her knitting creation from this young man.
And that brings us to Corrie and Charlie's Angel.
All I can say is poor Corrie. Charlie is normally a very nice girl. She loves to follow you and see what's up, but it's on her terms. Not yours.
Shearing Day is definitely not a day that is on Charlie's terms.
So Corrie had to have her picture taken with Charlie from a distance.
Farmer Gal, an expert at ducking when Charlie spits, held Charlie while Corrie, wearing very sassy boots, waves from a spit- and kick-free distance.
Corrie was a trooper. She got in there for alpaca holding when the shearing began.
And she accepted Charlie's heart-felt apology when all was said and done.
O.K., maybe Charlie didn't really apologize. Maybe she had more of a demon grin when it was all over, but in her heart she's sorry. Honest.
After each animal is shorn, the herd has to come see who the "new" girl is. They have to get reacquainted. Discuss their shared experiences. B#*%h about the humans in their lives.
We have a few more fiber CSA animals to shear and a few more alpacas that are making yarn for the farm store.
The fleeces will be skirted and then sent to the mill. Shareholders should receive their yarn in August. It is a long process, but where else can you say that yes, I made this sweater from an animal I know. And in Corrie's case, an animal that spit on me.
Now that is a conversation starter!
This past fall, one of our fiber CSA members came out to the farm to take pictures of "her" alpaca.
This is her boy, Artie. Artie has always looked like a creature from Star Wars. But he holds a soft spot in our hearts because he was the first alpaca ever born on the farm.. And he's darn cute.
This is Ember, with the sunlight glowing off her stunning fiber.
And this is the beautiful Charlie's Angel.
Charlie is a wonderful girl. Calm, friendly and always confused looking. If you need help with a project, call Charlie. She's always hanging over your shoulder, trying to see what you're doing so she won't be far away.
The light colored alpaca in the middle is Bella, with Ember in front of her. Bella was originally a Colorado girl who moved to the Midwest to become a That'll Do Farm girl. She's happy she moved east, saying she prefers our winters, especially this one, to the cold of Colorado.
Our CSA members are the best. They are taking their adoptive parent status very seriously. We're anxious to see the first projects they knit with their fiber and look forward to posting those pictures here as well!
We're pretty darn excited here at the farm. The current issue of one of our favorite, "go-to" magazines has a story that is near and dear to our hearts.
Among the featured articles in the March/April issue is a story about how to "Start a Fiber CSA."
And that is exactly what we did back in November of 2011. We started the first alpaca fiber CSA in Ohio.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a way for customers to buy, in advance, "shares" of the upcoming harvest -- in this case, the harvest is either yarn for knitting or roving for spinning.
In the article, entitled "Common Threads," the author details how to go about starting your own fiber CSA.
But, if you're like most people and you don't have a couple of dozen fiber animals lounging around in your backyard, it also details how to go about joining a fiber CSA and having somebody else raise "your" animal for you.
We have a few of those fiber-type animals lounging about at the farm and we'd love to have you in our CSA. We'll do the "dirty" work, you reap the rewards!
We offer our yarn CSA two ways: by individual animal, in the natural color or by several of our animal's fiber mixed together and then dyed with natural plant material.
Either way, you have a true connection to your fiber. When somebody asks, "Did you make that sweater?" you can answer, "Yes, and would you like to see a picture of the animal it came from!"
Of course, there are some downfalls with having this article in print, and several of our animals featured. Joey the llama and Michaelangelo the goat now have huge egos, thinking they are extra special because their handsome faces grace the pages of a magazine.
But the other goats quickly put them in their place -- they tried to eat the magazine when we showed it to them. Goats are like that. They won't stand for any uppity behavior.
If you're interested in purchasing a share in our 2012 Fiber CSA, we have a few left:
This is Appletini. She's a suri and her fiber has outstanding luster and would make a beautiful shawl or elegant sweater.
And this is Maia. Her fiber is the most beautiful deep, rich chocolate brown. Once you put your hand into a bag of this fiber, you'll be a goner.
Both are super soft. We also have our roving and mixed animal CSA available.
If you happen to be someplace that sells Hobby Farm Home magazine, pick up a copy. I know you'll find it interesting.
How's your christmas shopping coming along? Are you a "had it done for months" kind of person or a "what, Christmas is this week -- boy am I in trouble" kind of person?
Normally, I'm pretty good about having everything ready, but this year I am definitely in the later category. This year, for some odd reason, I decided to make all my Christmas gifts.
But maybe I should have decided something that important earlier in the year -- like in May or even July. Thanksgiving week was not a good time to come to a "let's have a home-made holiday" conclusion.
So if you're in the same boat as me and still need a few gifts for the important people in your life, with no hope of having them made in time, let me offer you a few down-on-the-fiber-farm suggestions:
Gifts $20 and Under
$5 each. Hand-made here at the farm, needle felted Santa ornaments. Santa's beard is made from cria tips. Crias are baby alpacas and cria tips are from the young alpacas first shearing. Soft and fluffy, they make expressive Santa beards.
$16.50 for six. Bottle Cap Magnets. These recycled bottle cap magnets are perfect for the knitter in your life. We also have them for alpaca or llama lovers, Wanna-be farmers and farmer's market goers and also dog lovers.
$4.50, $8, or $12. That'll Do Farm's own raw honey. Fall harvested, raw, wildflower honey that tastes as fresh as can be. Even non-honey lovers will love this sweet treat. If you've never had fresh, raw honey, with none of the taste pasturized and filtered out, you owe yourself a taste.
$20. Art Batts. Beautiful, mixed luxury fiber for the hand spinnr. All the colors of the farm are hand carded together so you can spin up a dream yarn. There are several colorways from which to choose.
Gifts $50 and Under
$50 Roving CSA. Another gift for your favorite spinner. Plus, this is a gift that keeps on giving. You'll receive a certificate for giving now until the roving is ready in the summer. Included in the price is registration for one free class at the farm, occasional coupons for discounts at the farm store and an invitation to a shareholders only fall picnic and mini fiber festival. The roving is 100% alpaca and comes in two complimentary colors, chosen by us.
$21 - $25. Farm Yarn. Unique, soft as a baby's behind yarn from our own alpacas, in a variety of natural colors. No knitter would ever be unhappy with a skein or two of this yarn. Think of the fun he or she will have deciding what to make with this Ohio-born-and-raised yarn.
$27. Alpaca Socks. Super warm and cushy. If you know someone who spends a lot of time outdoors hunting, farming, skiing or just plain walking, treat them to a pair of these socks. So warm your toes will think they are in Florida. They are also perfect for indoor-lovers who never do anything more rugged than sit on the sofa watching the snow fall.
Gifts $450 and Under
$260 - $425. Produce CSA. This year, give the gift of good health. This is the ultimate "I don't know what to get them" gift for parents or for your own family. Plus, they will think of you for a full 17 weeks this summer as they pick up their produce. Both our full and half shares are still available.
$180 - $200. Fiber CSA. Similiar to our produce CSA, but for the fiber lover of a different kind. A limited number of naturally dyed shares are available, and just one or two spots are left in our signature yarn CSA. This is a knockout, one-of-a-kind gift that will have them talking about your for years!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go finish knitting a sleeve. Do you think its necessary that a Winter sweater have two sleeves?
Who said things slow down in the fall? I demand to know because that person is a liar!!
We've been up to our eyeballs with end-of-the-year things here. So busy, in fact, that we didn't get around to naming two of our baby alpacas. So we're asking for your help.
Hop on over to our alpaca page and see the two nameless cutie pies. Then come back here and leave your suggestions. Remember, all names of crias born this year will start with the letter B so keep that in mind when you put on your thinking caps.
Good luck and think fast. The contest ends this Sunday!
On a different alpaca front, we're slowly putting up the purchasing info for our Alpaca Fiber CSA. If only I had paid more attention in computer class in college, this whole process would be a little bit easier.
Oh wait, we didn't have PCs in college. We worked on something called VDTs (Video Display Terminals, I think). Little tiny screens with blinking bright green letters. That could drive you batty by the end of the day.
So, now that you know I went to college in the computer dark ages, please be patient with me! All fiber CSA info should be up by tomorrow night. However, if you are driving by the farm and see a PC come sailing out of the window, please pick it up and give it a good home.
Big news for 2012!!
That'll Do Farm is now offering Ohio's first Alpaca Fiber CSA.
What the heck is a fiber CSA, you ask? We think it's one of the coolest ways out there to buy yarn or roving and support your local farmer.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The term traditionally applies to vegetable farmers, but we are taking a page from their book and applying it to fiber.
In a typical vegetable CSA, customers buy "shares" early in the season for a percentage of the upcoming harvest. The same holds true with a fiber CSA, with the only difference being that the "crop" isn't vegetables but alpaca fiber. When you purchase a share, your money is used to help feed and care for the animals and for their shearing in the upcoming season.
The share offers you, the fiber lover, and us, the fiber producers, a chance to form a relationship that benefits us both. We encourage you to come out to the farm, to become involved in the process of growing fiber. We want you to gain a better understanding of how fiber is produced, how the animals are cared for, and the many steps involved in putting beautiful, soft yarn or roving into your hands.
In turn, we are helped financially, knowing that when the fiber is sent to the mill, an end market is already in place.
What exactly is a share? You have the choice of three options:
Signature Yarn, $180 per share
Choice of one alpaca's prime blanket fleece in its natural color -- you pick the alpaca. We mix that with 15% Merino Top. You'll receive "your" animal's yarn in worsted weight. We invite you to come out to the farm to have your picture taken with the alpaca you've chosen. Or, if you're shy or live too far away for an up-close-and-personal visit, we'll send you a picture of your animal.
Farm Yarn, $200 per share
This is a mix of our own alpaca's prime blanket fleece with alpaca fiber we have purchased from other Ohio farms. We are discriminating fleece buyers and pick only the cream-of-the-crop fleece for our Farm Yarn. It is mixed with 15% Merino Top and then hand dyed with natural plant dyes, mostly from our own dyers garden and from wild plants growing on the farm. Yarn colors will vary from year-to-year, but they will always be in subdued, natural colors ranging from the rich, brown tones of acrons and walnuts to beautiful yellows and greens of coreopsis and black eyed susans.
Roving, $50 per share
If you're a spinner, you will certainly enjoy the luxury of our pure alpaca roving. Full of luster and soft as a cloud, That'll Do Farm's roving is offered in its natural color, Each share comes in two complimentary colors, chosen by us. You can either spin them together or separately -- that design element is left up to you!
Whichever option you choose, you will also receive the following benefits:
-- A Shareholders Certificate
-- Registration for one class per year at the farm at no charge
-- Occasional coupons for discounts at the Farm Store
-- An invitation to a shareholders only fall picnic and mini fiber festival
-- The satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a local farmer and purchasing an Ohio-grown product!
The alpacas are shorn once a year, usually in early April. The fiber is then sent to a local mill and, depending on the mill's schedule, will be returned to the shareholder in August. Yes, we know it's a long time to wait, but we also whole-heartedly believe the wait is worth it. We may be slightly biased here, but we believe our yarn is spectacular. Soft to the touch, yet warm as can be. And knowing which animal it came from makes it that much more special.
2012 Fiber CSA shares will go on sale, on the website, tomorrow. If you are interested in Option A, which is a specific alpaca, don't wait too long. We'd hate to have someone buy "your" alpaca while you were deciding!
You've all probably pretty much figured out that 2011 has arrived. How it got here so quickly, I'll never know. But it is here nonetheless and we shall embrace it. (Maybe "embrace" is too strong a word. How about we go with "learn to live with it." That suits our style a little better.)
Lots of interesting and exciting things are planned for That'll Do Farm this year. Perhaps the most exciting is the upcoming introduction of our fiber CSA and our produce CSA.
What, by gosh by golly, you ask is a fiber CSA or a produce CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it's a way of bringing non-farmers closer to their produce and fiber. You, the customer, will have the opportunity to buy weekly "shares" of our vegetables or yearly "shares" of our fiber. We will begin offering "shares" next week, once we get all the nitty-gritty pricing details finalized.
In addition to their share of the vegetable or fiber "crop," our CSA shareholders will receive an invitation to members only picnics, weekly e-mail updates, special discounts on classes and a whole host of other benefits.
Plus, shareholders get the experience of knowing where there produce or fiber came from and how it was grown. They will have a real life connection with the farmers responsible for growing their food and their fiber.
We hope you'll think about joining either or both of That'll Do Farm's CSAs.
And, if that's not enough to set your ears a-wigglin', we'd like to invite you to take a look at another project in which we are involved:
The Ohio Natural Fiber Network is a group of Ohio fiber producers working to bring you the best animals and highest quality natural, local fibers. We hope to make this site your go-to spot for fiber information and events throughout the state. Please bookmark it and check back often as the site grows.
So Welcome 2011. We're glad you're here and we are going to enjoy each and every one of your days. Although sub-zero days and stinkin' hot 90 degree plus days will be a challenge, we are going to learn to live with them!