We’ve decided to pursue fiber sales, but not meat ones. Pursuing meat sales is something we’ll worry about once we’ve made it through enough breeding seasons to have extra lambs at all. And the economics of a fiber flock work out better for the current life circumstances we have going on. With a fiber flock, you can always skip a breeding season and focus on only breeding the ewes that will give great fiber and good-enough lambs for slaughter. Then they eat way less, but still pay their hay bills.
Selling fiber is ok, it just tends to be more of a slow trickle than a burst. And we have to be open to the entire country to get reliable sales. I don’t mind shipping though, and we’ll certainly explore sending fleeces to the mill once we get into 20 or more fleeces regularly. Fiber milling is an interesting field, given that as infrastructure goes, nobody is really taking it up, so there will be lots of machinery available as the mill owners, who are generally like 70+, retire or pass on. Something to think about in a few years, maybe.
Preparing fleece is a lot of work. There are ways to cut down the workload, but sheep grow that stuff pretty long because they need it, so it’s always going to be a bit of work, even if we ultimately send everything to a local mill and focus exclusively on high-value yarns, roving and felting batts.
And next year, since I won’t be growing any babies myself, we’ll go ahead and put in a real garden, finally go back to having poultry (going to go all-in and get ducks, chickens and geese) because the eggs really are Just Better and hopefully have a successful second lambing season.
I hope to post more to this blog and get more pictures up in the new year. It does help to take little snapshots of how things go.