Monday, April 02, 2012

A Visit to Clear View Farm

Earlier in March, I returned to the Chicago area to visit my mom. Between hanging out and knitting and generally doing fun mom stuff, she'd planned a special fiber field trip out to Waterman, Illinois to visit Clear View Farm with her regular knitting group.

Clear View Farm is run by Sandra Schrader [who also happened to be my bus driver when I was a lot younger! It was fun to see her again]. She raises prizewinning Cormo sheep on her farm, as well as the usual farm assortment of chickens, barn cats, and a dog.

Cormo sheep are a cross between Corriedale and Merino; they were bred for high-quality, low-micron (fine) fleece, good mothering instincts, high fertility, and easy manageability. They are medium sized animals with lots of wool. Sandy keeps her sheep covered year-round to keep the fleeces clean and free of too much vegetable matter, which makes spinners very happy.

Clear View Farm Cormo
Soon-to-be-mamas

We were excited to visit the sheep, who were in their barn out of the weather. Many of the ewes were expecting lambs... unfortunately none of them had been born by the time we visited, although some were very close - we missed two sets of twins by just a couple days. The sheep were a little shy... justifiable due to having lots of strangers in the barn... but got a lot friendlier when we took out coffee cans full of grain treats.

Clear View Farm Cormo
Everybody wants a treat

A couple of Sandy's local farm friends also visited and showed off their handspun yarn, goat milk soap, and angora rabbits (and fiber)! Here I am in the farmhouse, holding a German angora rabbit, who was more fluff than bunny, and so hot under all that fur that he was panting.

with angora rabbit
Bunny!

He was a visitor from Happy Hoppers Angoras. German angora rabbits are bred for fiber production and have to be shorn. We also got to meet a French angora rabbit, who had a much less dense coat and was a beautiful grey-brown color. French angora rabbits shed their fur and must be plucked.

We all hung out, knitted, and had a potluck lunch, all the while keeping an ear on the baby monitor Sandy had hooked up in the barn, hoping to hear about new lambs. 

Nearly everyone took home a little souvenir of some kind. I purchased some combed top and some rose geranium-scented soap. Mom got a skein of beautiful angora-cormo blend yarn.

On our way home, we decided to stop at Esther's Place, a sweet fiber shop located in a Victorian house in Big Rock. Even though the shop wasn't supposed to be open on Monday, Natasha was kind enough to let us in and wander around. I got a skein of her hand-dyed sock yarn - it's an uncharacteristic color for me, but it's lovely!

IMG_1051
Handpainted sock yarn from Esther's Place
Had any fun fiber field trips lately?

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