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Lydia’s Flock: The joys of raising sheep

May 2nd, 2019 | Category: Community

Squalicum Valley Farm offers products, classes

by Lydia Strand

Lydia’s Flock began in 2010. An avid knitter, the decision to raise my own fiber (sheep) for knitting stemmed from a desire to take an active role in the production of my yarn, feeling a sense of responsibility to see the process through from sheep to finished product, much like with our food production. I felt that with a mix of hands-on and classroom education, I could raise happy, well-loved sheep that would, in turn, produce exceptional, locally grown, wool created into lustrous yarn whose qualities would speak for themselves in the color, loft, hand, and durability. I envisioned knitting beautiful, well-made, and long wearing garments to which I had an emotional connection, created deliberately, sustainably, and with integrity from our flock of sheep to my hands.

At home on the farm. PHOTO BY LYDIA STRAND

At home on the farm. PHOTO BY LYDIA STRAND

While we did not have access to farm land, we decided we wanted to raise two sheep who would initially live in our backyard; a Shetland ewe lamb, Clover, and Black Welsh Mountain ewe lamb, Thistle. Utilizing the King County Property Map (in 2008, we purchased a home in Rainier Beach on 1/4 acre lot) and driving around our neighborhood looking for residential space/lots that were not being used and were rich with untended forage, I contacted land owners to ask if we could graze our sheep on their otherwise unused parcels and they agreed. We then added a starter flock of 6 Icelandic sheep. For 8 sheep, we were able to secure nearly 4 acres in two separate locations. Using portable electric fencing and solar chargers to rotationally graze them, we were able to keep the sheep in the city for a year- with our first three lambs being born in Seattle, then made the decision to expand the flock which would require us to relocate to a more rural area.

From late 2011 to mid 2013, we continued to farm in Snohomish County on rented land, expanding our farm offerings to include pasture raised lamb.

After taking a farm management job on the southwest Oregon coast in mid-2013 and finding it was not the right fit for us, we packed up our flock and returned to the Midwest. In July of 2018, we returned to the Pacific Northwest, again with our sheep flock in tow, to our current farm location in the Squalicum Valley just outside Bellingham.

Guardian dog, Pala, rests with Zola and her triplets, and another lamb. COURTESY PHOTO

Guardian dog, Pala, rests with Zola and her triplets, and another lamb. COURTESY PHOTO

Over time, with immense learning and great dedication, our farm is now able to offer single source, small batch yarn and pastured lamb to those who share and support our vision and values around slow making, happy, well-loved sheep, and sustainable animal husbandry using regenerative agricultural methods, practices that reverse climate change and prioritize the health of the sheep and soil all while supporting local and transparent supply chains in all the products our farm has to offer.

See the Farm’s “Flock Shop” offerings of yarn and more on their website (www.lydiasflock.com). In addition, registered Icelandic and Shetland breeding stock are available, and pasture raised lamb is harvested on farm throughout the year and sold. PHOTO BY LYDIA STRAND

See the Farm’s “Flock Shop” offerings of yarn and more on their website (www.lydiasflock.com). In addition, registered Icelandic and Shetland breeding stock are available, and pasture raised lamb is harvested on farm throughout the year and sold. PHOTO BY LYDIA STRAND

In addition to yarn and roving sold through our website and on the farm and pastured lamb available seasonally, we also offer registered Icelandic and Shetland breeding stock for sale and teach Beginning Shepherding courses each summer. Our next classes are scheduled for Saturday, June 22 and Saturday, August 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and focus on raising sheep in the PNW using sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices. We will also be hosting a farm open house “Lamb Day” on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Raising this cherished flock of sheep has been one of the greatest joys of our lives. We hope that the products which come from our farm speak to just how humbled and grateful we are to have to a small role in sustainable agriculture and climate beneficial fiber production.

For more information, see the website at www.lydiasflock.com.

 

Upcoming events

Sheep Farming on Pasture in Whatcom County: In partnership with the Whatcom Conservation District’s Farm Speaker Series, Lydia’s Flock will be hosting a pasture walk on Thursday, May 16 from 6-8 p.m. at 4269 Y Road, Bellingham. The event is free; RSVP is recommended. Hear from Lydia Strand of Lydia’s Flock, Doug Bajema of Northwest Tractor Services, and Amber Van Hove of Northwest Shearing. For more information, see https://whatcomcd.org/node/260.

 

Lamb Day: Enjoy a farm open house at Lydia’s Flock on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 4269 Y Road, Bellingham. For more information, see www.lydiasflock.com.

 

Beginning Shepherding courses: Saturday, June 22 and Saturday, August 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 4269 Y Road, Bellingham. This class from Lydia’s Flock is a full-day, hands-on educational opportunity designed for new and aspiring shepherds who want to raise sheep in the Pacific Northwest using sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices. Topics include choosing the right sheep breed for your farm, housing, fencing, nutrition, health and healthcare basics, developing a management program, and connecting with a mentor. For more information, see www.lydiasflock.com.

 

 

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