Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watching the Lambs & New Yarn

Occasionally I have shared on this blog a few of my favorite things - things that make my life happier, easier or better in some way.  One of these 'favorite things' is a regular peek into the goings-on at Juniper Moon Farm, a small livestock farm founded by shepherd Susan Gibbs (all photos courtesy of Juniper Moon Farm). 

Susan left a New York City job as a network news producer to purchase a starter flock and begin shepherding on Martha's Vineyard, eventually moving to Virginia to found Juniper Moon Farm (JMF).

The photos alone on the JMF blog are guaranteed to make me smile.  Beautifully shot and thoughtfully captioned, the images lend a fascinating look into the sometimes peaceful, often frenetic life of a livestock farmer.

Lambing season is currently in full swing and the blog is regularly updated with photos of the new arrivals.  A popular feature of the blog is called the "Lamb Cam," three live action cameras offering full sound and views of barns and pens with mamas, babies and the occasional farm hand or visitor.

Of course there are loads of darling lambs to see (cute overload?... nah!).

But in addition to sheep, Susan also regularly features the hard-working, Italian Maremma shepherd dogs and their puppies, 

playful goats,

delightful chickens,

honey bees,

and other interesting critters.

The public is welcome to visit the farm, and special shearing days are held for visitors.  The next one is Saturday, May 14th.

Hotels are located in the vicinity of the farm, but I'm dying for a chance to visit for one the farm stays where guests stay for long weekends or up to a full week on the farm itself, welcome to pitch in with the animals and chores, sit and spin or knit in the fields, take private yoga, knitting and spinning classes, or explore the area rife with vineyards, wineries, and historic sites such as Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello.  Ahh, it sounds wonderful!

If you live at too great a distance for a visit, the JMF website features an online shop with lots of interesting farm products, like pottery yarn bowls and mugs, beeswax candles and farm 'shares' that allow partners to buy a portion of each year's shearing.  At $100, you get a lot of really lovely yarn or fiber, your choice.  

I found this Youtube video to be interesting and informative in explaining the farm's beginnings and community-supported approach:

Community Supported Agriculture at Juniper Moon Farm video

An exciting new venture for JMF is their own line of yarns, designed by Susan and with pattern support from designer Tanis Gray, available soon in three weights and fiber blends like this "Chadwick" Merino/ Baby Alpaca blend. 

Giveaway Fridays are undoubtedly a draw for some readers, especially when you hear that Susan recently gave away an entire flock ...  You read that right, an entire flock of animals.  But more often there are other, smaller goodies from the shop or artist friends.

As idyllic as it appears, Susan frequently points out the hard work and difficult aspects of farm life including the fact that this has been a sad and difficult lambing year with some unexplained illness and losses amongst the babies.

I have been contemplating lambs a lot lately, as it seems Passover/ Easter is the season for these innocent, pure, beautiful creatures.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but the difficult part was narrowing my photo features down to just these, they are all so captivating.

If you find farm life intriguing, check out Juniper Moon's website at  If you need a smile today, I recommend that you watch the lamb...

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