Visiting the sheep, alpaca, and goat fiber farms during the Washington County Fiber Tour in New York was the highlight of my year so far! Each farm had a unique narrative with fiber animals ranging from Merino sheep to Huacaya alpacas and Cashmere goats. This reflects the wide breadth of fibers available in New York.
During the Fiber Tour, fiber farmers welcomed community visitors and answered questions to expand knowledge about the animals, fibers, and their fiber farm business. We visited 10 fiber farms on April 25 and 26 including: the Crazy Legs Sheep Farm in Fort Edward; Alpacas of Breezy Hill Ranch in West Hebron; Quarry Ridge Alpacas, Fiber Kingdom, Moments in Time Creations Farm, Blind Buck Angora Goats, and Birken Hill Farm and Fiber all in Salem New York; St. Mary’s on-the-Hill Cashmere and Ensign Brook Farm in Greenwich; and Elihu Farm in Easton New York. It was a delight to see the different types of animals, meet the farmers in person, and be in a community-based fiber setting.
The tour was really a celebration of the fiber animal’s lives, and a time to appreciate them for their social and cultural value. The tour allows for personal interactions and observations of the fiber animals to develop an understanding of their intrinsic value. Wool, mohair, and alpaca fibers are living extensions of the animals. Clothing and textiles made of animal fibers are rooted in a sense of community and are a continual celebration of the animal’s lives, especially since the animals are not killed in the process of shearing, or combing fibers. The tour links people with fiber animals and can provide greater transparency for current farm-to-fashion supply chains.