mr clipper

i spent mother’s day assisting a professional shearing team at our neighbor’s alpaca farm. i mean, when your neighbor needs help with fiber and you get the chance to watch a pro, really, the choice was obvious.


i guess i was expecting someone old. maybe even grumpy. i never, ever imagined this pair: two young men, well traveled and tender with fiber. they met in the peruvian andes of course.


they sheared 20 alpacas in a quick morning. we swapped stories. in those few hours in my neighbor’s barn, my current love of fiber and the fondest memories of my twenties spent travelling the world filled my mind and heart. tales of south america  and asia flowed amidst countless facts of alpaca fiber and dyeing and shearing equipment and staple length.

if anyone is ever in need of an alpaca shearer, mr clipper’s shearing service comes with my highest praise.

taking the show on the road

if you read this blog with any regularity you might know by now that i am thoroughly engaged in my emerging local fiber scene. we have had a growing flock of jacob’s sheep here on our farm since 2005.  we have been raising and dyeing with farm plants since not long thereafter. if you looked over the past decade, you might just say we have been building to what is about to happen this very week. oh gosh. deep breath. we are setting up as vendors at a regional fiber event. Yep, I am actively packing, weighing, winding, sorting our inventory of farm wool products and heading to Asheville, North Carolina to SAFF, the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. at this very moment thinking about it makes me a bit nauseous honestly. i know that once me, my two youngest kiddos, and my farm’s apprentice load all of our tables and signage and wool and displays into our vehicle and head south east, we will be nothing short of thrilled.

so for the days ahead i will be elbow deep in this


and this


not a bad place to be. friends, anyone within reasonable driving distance of Asheville, come on out. cheer me on, check it out. there will be hundreds of vendors, livestock and fleece shows and more excitement than i can even imagine.


wrap up

i have been composing and recomposing posts over the past week. they swirl in my mind but nothing seems fitting enough to push the birth announcement of our newest farm baby elowyn pearl smith down the page. what my friends could be more interesting or compelling than a bugtussle babe?

nothing. nothing. nothing.

alas, it has been a week. a week of sleepless beauty for my buddies in bugtussle. a week of cuddling and greeting the world for their 4th child and a week of farm life for each of us.

so, i will write and move the image of the newborn farm babe down the page a notch.

here in the hollow we are wrapping up, the garlic planting, the last great farm task of the season, is near complete. the field crops are winding down and the high tunnels are full of hope for late season bounty. i am spending the final moments in my dye studio, a place born and treasured here in the 2015 season. a spot that welcomed our farm’s first ever indigo dyeing workshop, and a nook that i have sought day after day as i tried to develop a new farm enterprise.


the japanese indigo is setting seed, the goldenrod is passed, and now i am playing with the delightful marigolds:  strong in scent and offering a deep golden yellow.


it has been a great year full of life and color. a few more dye vats and i will close the studio for the season and prepare in earnest to attend our first ever fiber show SAFF in the meantime, a few more thousand garlic cloves beckon so off i head. a good end of season indeed.