Saturday, November 9, 2013

A First for Us

It was 15 years ago this month that we moved to Upstate South Carolina.  At the time, our oldest child was about to turn 13 & he wanted sheep.  We had told the children that when we moved to the farm they could have any animal that they wanted to be responsible for if they would read 3 books about the breed & pay half the cost.  

Glen wanted sheep & we knew exactly where to get his first sheep.  You see, a few years before we moved to South Carolina, we were travelling from Florida to my parents’ home in Ohio.  We made our usual stop at Tamarack on the West Virginia Turnpike.  As we walked through the parking lot we saw a truck with a few beautiful sheep.  The owner was just walking back to the truck so we struck up a conversation.  It turned out that the gentleman was from Anderson, South Carolina.  We were familiar with the area simply because my father-in-law was a Clemson graduate (class of ’49!) & we came on the annual family trip to homecoming.  After a nice chat with the sheep farmer, we started to walk away but I turned back & asked if he had a business card on the chance we might one day visit on the annual Clemson trip.  I tucked his card in my purse.  That came in handy a few years later as Glen wanted to acquire a small flock of sheep.  It was Glen’s interest in sheep & the need for me to figure out what to do with their gorgeous wool that has helped us to evolve to where we are now as a farm. 

Five years ago, Glen married a delightful young lady whose family own a berry farm in Anderson. Kelli & Glen decided that they wanted their own flock of sheep at the berry farm.  Although Glen started with Tunis sheep here many years ago, he decided that they wanted to raise Romneys at the berry farm.  We all did a little research & he found a handful of ewes in North Carolina.  After we’d all visited the flock & Glen & Kelli had chosen their favorites, Glen & my sweet husband returned the following week with a trailer & brought them back.

Glen was not done, though.  He located a young ram in Georgia so one day he & I took a meandering drive over to check out the ram.  The plan was that we would go look at the ram & that Glen & his father would return later with the trailer to retrieve him. 

As we drove along, it became obvious that we were travelling quite off the beaten path & that it was a bit longer of a trip than we imagined.  I told Glen that I did have a tarp in the back of my car so perhaps we should just throw the ram in & drive home with him rather than make another trip.  We’ve done more foolish things in the past.  The ram was quite handsome & only about three quarters grown.  Glen bought him, we spread the big blue tarp & a few spare towels, wrestled him in & hauled him home.  I drive an SUV so Glen rode home in the backseat just in case the fellow should prove to be a jumper.  After a few moments of uncertainty, he plopped down & behaved for the two hour ride.

Glen & Kelli have taken very good care of their little flock.  They acquired Jack, a handsome Anatolian Shepherd pup, who has grown to be a wonderful livestock guardian.  And they’ve had several lambs through the years.  Their flock gets lots of admiring visitors at the Hardy Berry Farm.

Every spring my sweet husband shears their flock.  The Romney wool is long, wavy & has such a pretty sheen to it.  They have sold some of their fleeces but I also have some of them here.  When they announced that they were expecting their first baby at the end of October, I decided to get busy on a very special project.  I carefully picked through the fleece, washed the best  & spun a nice yarn.  Once they discovered that they would be having a little girl, I pulled more wool & dyed it one of Kelli’s favorite colors.  

Although I do knit, I wanted something “perfect” for our first grandbaby so I talked with a sweet friend who is quite the expert.  I met my friend, Jan, many years ago when Saturday Market was just starting.  She was a knitter who was sucked in by my weekly yarn display.  She would often come minutes before market technically opened to see what was new.  I had custom spun yarns for her in the past & was quite confident that she would not only do wonderful work but would enjoy being part of our heirloom project.

After some discussion & much browsing, we chose a pattern for a little asymmetrical baby jacket.  She sampled the yarn I’d already spun, told me how much more I would need to produce & went to work.  She even found the most perfect little sheep button!  She delivered the finished treasure to me this past week & the first thing my husband said was, “Well, now you have your final farm story for this season’s market.”  So here is baby girl’s wool jacket.  It is from Mama & Daddy’s sheep which were shorn by Grandpa, spun by Grandma & lovingly knitted by a very special friend.  And it seems like the perfect way to end our eleventh season at Saturday Market where I have been blessed to sell yards & yards of yarn through all these years!
Our very first grandchild, sweet little Jane Autumn Potter, was born on October 31st.  She was merely hours old when we presented her with her sweater.