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Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
Volume ∞ Issue ∞

2nd annual Sheep and Fiber Farm Tour

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Sep 28th, 2012
Posted in All Features

Llamas can be found at the Barn Quilt Farm in Rochester as part of the farm tour. Photo submitted by Tiffany Prow, Barn Quilt Farm

As summer disappears into autumn, and temperatures dip lower, many will reach for that favorite cozy sweater, shawl, or scarf. While it’s easy to think of where it came from, in the most literal of senses, we may not think about the farmer or shepherd that put in the countless hours of work before that wool ended up in a store. Luckily, there’s an event that highlights this beginning stage that’s not only local and educational, but fun for everyone.

This weekend, October 6 and 7, four regional farms will provide a free, inside look to visitors. The farms will open their doors to the public from 10am to 4pm, both days, and visitors will have a chance to interact with the shepherds of fiber animals such as alpacas, llamas, heritage sheep, and Angora goats and rabbits. Each of the fiber farms is dedicated to the promotion of sustainable fiber animals and the education of the fiber arts.

The shepherds will be on hand to demonstrate some of the equipment they use, talk about their livestock management practices, and give folks an opportunity to see their animals. In addition, each shepherd takes an active roll in processing the fiber, so there will be carding, spinning, and weaving demonstrations. Each of the four farms will have a variety of products for sale as well.

The first of the four highlighted farms is the Ellison Sheep Farm in Zumbrota. More than 30 years ago, Nancy Ellison took her first weaving class while in summer school at the University of Oslo, Norway. For the last 20 years, she has actively raised rare breeds of natural-colored sheep, including Shetland, Icelandic, and Gotland breeds. Her barn studio houses the fiber equipment, while the old, farm silo provides a breathtaking display of her fiber arts, including Scandinavian spinning, weaving, and felting.

The Ellison Sheep Farm is also an authorized dealer for Ashford, Kromski, Louet and Shacht spinning wheels, carders and looms, and is the largest dealer of such in a five state region. There are many handmade, used or antique wheels and looms for sale, just in case you get a hankering to try it yourself. Handspun yarns will also be available for sale.

The second farm on the tour, operated by Nick Gau and Tiffany Prow, along with their children, is Barn Quilt Farm. The picturesque, 10.5 acre farm is nestled in the heart of southwest Rochester. The family happily raises llamas, alpacas, angora rabbits, and heritage CVM sheep, which can be hand-fed by farm visitors. “Come and enjoy our guest speakers, browse the handmade crafts, and bring the kids along for a family-friendly day,” enthuses Prow.

Kindred Spirit Farm, the third farm on the tour, is home to four breeds of longwool sheep, including Gotland, Leicester, Lincolns, and Romneys. In addition, two Angora goats and Angora rabbits, also make their home at the farm. “We produce lustrous fleeces, washed wool, batts, roving, handmade felt, locks, handspun and mill spun yarns,” notes shepherd Stacey York.

The farm will demonstrate blending fibers on a drum carder and spinning art yarns. Visitors will be welcome to experiment with color and try carding their own batts. Discussions focused on raising endangered or heritage breeds of fiber animals will also be highlighted at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm both days.

Last, but not least is Wiscoy Valley Farm, on which Jean Mueller raises Shetland and Marino sheep. At the farm, Mueller will demonstrate floor and table loom weaving, as well as electric spinning wheels, including the single band and double band wheels. In addition, she will host Norwegian Weaving and Natural Dyeing discussions and demonstrations at 10:30am and 2pm, both days.

The mission of Wiscoy Valley Farm is simple. “Wool is a sustainable, biodegradable resource, which has used its natural advantages to improve our lives for many generations. From raw wool to spun yarns and stylish cloths, it is a multi-practical, eco-friendly fiber for the world we want to live in and the one we want to leave behind,” says Mueller.

Those wishing to attend the Sheep & Fiber Farm Tour may visit as many farms as they choose. A map and route for those choosing to visit more than one farm is located online at More information is also available at

•Ellison Sheep Farm - 15775 Highway 60 in Zumbrota -

•Barn Quilt Farm - 702 23rd Street SW, Rochester -

•Kindred Spirit Farm - 20232 121st Avenue, Spring Valley -

•Wiscoy Valley Farm - 32741 County Road 17, Houston -

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