Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about your farm?
Tamara White: We are in Southwestern Vermont and we have 20 acres. We are a fiber farm raising alpacas, registered Shetland sheep, registered Merino sheep and 10 registered Angora goats for mohair. Tomorrow I am picking up some more sheep. I get a lot of rescues, that how my flock grows. I do have some breeding here so we do have some lambs and kids in the spring. We have a ton of poultry and turkeys for Thanksgiving. Mostly they are free ranging and foraging. We have lots of good pastures. We have been doing this since 2004. We started pretty small with a project for the kids. They started with a few chickens as projects and it blossomed into the farm we have today.
MF: What got you into fiber farming?
TW: When we started with sheep, we got them because we thought it was an efficient way to manage our property. We have quite a bit of un-forested acreage, so rather than mow we decided to put a few sheep on the property. Then when it came time for sheep to be culled we had to make a decision about eating our sheep or not. We put our own lamb in the freezer, but it’s not my first choice for farming. The fiber, as a product, felt like a more natural business for me to manage. I started looking into how I could support the flock by selling the fiber. I joined the Vermont sheep and goat association. I am really impressed by the world of textiles, fiber art and natural fibers. I fell in love with wool as a product. I think it is quite magical how you can grow a product to wear from your sheep. They are out there taking care of the land and then they give us this product we can use. I think the utilitarian properties of having fiber as a product was really appealing. MF: What is happening on a fiber farm this time of year? TW: In this particular week I am between shearings. I do most of my shearing in October, but I was growing my Angora goats out a little long and will shear them in the beginning of November. Tomorrow I am picking up a few sheep. This week I know I will have to process a lot of wool, because I have to create an order for a fiber mill in Vermont. Before I bring all the fiber to them there is a lot I need to do. MF: Why did you decide to join Instagram?
TW: I always posted a lot of photos on Facebook on our “Wing and Prayer Farm” account and Twitter. Pretty rapidly I could connect with fellow fiber enthusiasts on Instagram. The pictures would be something really easy to have a conversation about and a simple way to share information. The hashtags are amazing, if I want to see what someone is doing for “hand spun” I love how I can just pull up all those images, and I can see things right away that I know might be of interest to the farm. They might be someone we can learn from. I prefer the networking on Instagram over other social media because it is easy and colorful.
MF: Is there anything you are looking forward to sharing this week in particular?
TW: You are going to want to cuddle a sheep by the end of this week. My sheep are going to be in your lap, that is a big thing around here.
(This interview has been edited and condensed. All images courtesy Wing and a Prayer Farm.)