In March 1998, our family moved from Fort Collins, Colorado to Trout Run, Pennsylvania with 5 Angora goats, one Border Collie, a cat and half a dozen Angora Rabbits. The veterinarian assured me it was too late in the breeding season so I did not need to worry about separating the buck from the does during the move. Five months later, our first Angora doe kids were born. I soon had too much fiber for my own use. The fall of 1998, a lucky connection placed me into a booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, launching my business, Steam Valley Fiber Farm.
Over the years we added numerous animals to our farm. Nubian goats provided milk for the family and for orphaned bottle babies. We raised Jacob sheep for 6 years, but they wouldn’t stay inside the portable fencing. The Border Leicester sheep were easier to manage and their fleece was my favorite for blending with the Mohair from my Angoras. With the combined count of sheep and goats, we averaged 100 head in the springtime post kidding and lambing season. We had Border Collies to herd the sheep and Maremma Livestock Guardian Dogs to protect the goats. We raised 4 breeds of poultry and in the later years a few pigs as well. Our animals were fed certified organic grain, local hay and were rotationally grazed. Lamb and pork, goats’ milk and goats’ cheese along with the bounty of organic garden vegetables and fruit from our orchard fed our family and farm interns.
My husband, a Naturopathic physician and Homeopath, worked off the farm to pay the mortgage so I could farm. My two sons were ace farm hands and maintained the incredible 2 story 140 year-old bank barn and smaller sheep barn. My parents lived with us in the summertime. My mother treated us with her baked goods and my father spent his time digging a pond and advising us on our projects. In addition to raising the livestock, my work as a fiber artist continued to expand.
Roving for hand-spinners was the first farm-raised product produced from our Mohair and wool. Steam Valley’s dyed roving was sought after for its intense colors and softness. Yarn and socks were added as the farm’s fiber production increased. Hand-dyed yarn became so popular that it required hours of additional help to wind and label it, particularly from my sister, in order to meet the demand of the Fall Fiber Shows. Spinning wheels, spindles, dyes, books, peg looms, sheepskins and more filled our booths at the shows. Best know for our Rainbow wall of yarn, Steam Valley had an avid following