Our Farm to Your Home
Everything begins with our animals and the care they receive. Thistle Cove Farm is a no kill, low stress farm and the animals respond by producing incredible wool. Our sheep fleeces are long, with an incredible handle and beautiful crimp making them an absolute joy to process, spin, knit, crochet or weave.
Our fleeces have received the Virginia’s Finest seal of approval which means our wool has met quality standards established by industry experts and approved by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Thistle Cove Farm is only the third farm in the Commonwealth to receive this designation.
Our small flock consists of Romney, Shetland (a rare and primitive breed), Merino and crosses who eat only whole corn, alfalfa hay produced on our farm and drink mountain spring water. They receive excellent medical care and only the vaccinations required to keep them in excellent health. De-worming is done when their health requires and not because of scheduling demands.
Our sheep are sheared the third Saturday in April, weather permitting, and the event is open to the public. Call before coming to make sure weather hasn’t caused us to re-schedule.
Clinton Bell, a neighbor and fellow shepherd, has one of the largest flocks of Suffolk and Suffolk crosses in the Commonwealth and has been shearing for four decades. He’s incredibly patient when asked questions or asked to be photographed.
Clinton shears the sheep and I skirt the fleece; which means I pick out the worst of the dirt and other debris. Once that’s accomplished, the fleeces are packed in boxes to be sent for further processing. I usually keep a few choice, select fleeces for hand spinning, dyeing and then knitting or weaving.
The dirty, matted portions of the fleece I use for mulching in the garden. Dirty wool is perfect as mulch because it leaches fertilizer and holds rainwater and, when covered with wood chips it requires very little maintenance. On a farm, that’s a good thing!
Cleaning and Carding
I work with a small, family owned and operated mill to process my fleeces. Once the fleece arrives at the mill, it’s washed to remove lanolin, dirt and other organic materials and is then sent through a carding machine to prepare the wool for spinning or roving.
Spinning and Roving
Depending upon the year and what we need, the wool clip is either processed into blankets, lap rugs, yarn and, sometimes, roving (cleaned wool ready for hand spinning). All woolen products are made from 100% virgin wool; that means the wool has never been used to, first, make something else. If you don’t see the 100% virgin wool label, it’s possible that particular item started out in life as a carpet.