Heaven is a Cold Day at the Farm

Yesterday my mom and I ventured up to Marlow, NH to Mack Hill Farm as I wrote about last week. We were wholey underprepared for the awesomeness that is Lisa’s farm but wow were we happily surprised. After getting lost trying to find the farm we pulled into Lisa and Frank’s driveway to see a pile of pigs — literally a pile.

I have used the phrase pig pile a lot in my 25 years but to see a steaming pile of the biggest pigs I’d ever been near was something else — welcome to Mack Hill Farm indeed! We had seen about 4 other species of animals before we stopped the car, beautiful turkeys, roosters, dogs, and sheep too of course.

When we tallied it up Lisa is singlehandedly caring for about 130 animals. Her Icelandic Sheepdogs had seven puppies just the other day! She has two horses, Prince (above) and Pearl, 50ish chickens, two cows, 30 sheep, turkeys, pigs — everything you can imagine. The best part is that Lisa is so good to her animals, taking the time to talk with each of them everyday and connect with them. They flocked (no pun intended) to her no matter where we went. That socialization was so wonderful — when the pig would walk right up and shove his snout in my back or the turkey would try to preen the flap on my boots or George, the sweetest of all the sheep, just wanted a hug. This is a farm and yet the temperment of the animals is one that allows them to help Lisa as much as possible.

Look how cute they are! I had never seen pigs this color before, Lisa has named them all largely out of the Harry Potter books, which is awesome. They are so sweet, will come right up and nuzzle you — a little scary as they’re HUGE but so so wonderful that they’re not afraid!

Now the part that you’re all anxiously awaiting I’m sure. The sheep! Lisa has about 30 Icelandic Sheep, which I know I mentioned are known to be the Triple Threat of sheep. Their fleeces are the feltiest and are so soft. In addition they’re low in lanolin so the loss is less on their fleeces. They were gorgeous, everything I’d hoped they’d be.

They were so friendly that I just fell in love. Lisa scattered a tiny bit of grain on the ground and there they came, hanging out with us for as long as we’d let them. We learned about their relationship with Maggie the big dog, who was the boss of the sheep from the sheep perspective and so on. We learned about how George goes off on “dates” with area sheep (read between the lines here folks) because he’s just that good.

Some are beautiful and reddish, with names like Miguel and Selina. Some are dark greyish black like George and others are creamy and beautiful. It’s so funny, clearly some of the sheep are the princesses of the group having kept their coats cleaner than the rest, regardless they were wonderful to be around. They didn’t seem to mind us and we knew these were the sheep for our yurt!

We went inside for tea and snacks, totally unecessary but so so welcome, and talked wool. Lisa has about 180 pounds we think. The next shearing is going to be in April and we’ve committed to take that too. Lisa’s husband Frank is even going to skirt it for us, which is awesome as that’s been the bottleneck thus far in the process as we learn what we’re doing. So now I can sleep at night again, we have ALL the wool for the yurt I think — I’m going to check my math but the idea of locally sourcing all of the wool has become a reality and in the process I’ve made an amazing new friend.

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3 Responses

  1. Dear Kate,

    Charlotte told me about your project and just forwarded this, too. wow! wonderful!

    How do you handle the raw wool? What is skirting the wool?
    Are you spinning it before using it for the yurt? Is the yurt on your place in NH?

    Best to you, and to Margaret & Gene!
    Niki

  2. Hi Niki!
    Thanks so much for checking out my project! The wool that I have so far is safely tucked away in huge huge bags in the barn until it’s a little warmer out. Then I’ll skirt the wool, meaning I’ll take out the vegetative matter, poop, sweaty/matted bits, so that it can be cleaned at the mill. Once the wool is transformed into batts at Fiber Dreams I’ll be felting it into cord (consider that spinning in this case) so that I can crochet with the 2 inch diameter cord.

    I’m am building it at the house in NH and am hoping people will come help as it’s going to take a lot of hands 😉 You’re always welcome!
    Love,
    Katherine

  3. wow Kate. have a good time in mongolia?

    i am heading over to LisaNH in Marlow tomorrow to maybe take her last puppy, purple girl! and also sneak peak at sheeps and ask her about the wool as I am starting to get serious about building my own yurt here in Newton, NH.

    i friended you on FLickr. which is also where i met LisaNH over two years ago, my fave flickr friend.

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