Last week, I had the pleasure of corresponding with Angela King of Enno Farm in North Carolina. Angela and her family raise Shetlands–a breed I have not yet featured here; so I was very excited to hear more about her flock! The story about their farm name is perfectly scientific, as you’ll see 🙂 Angela was kind enough to answer some interview questions and share some lovely pictures of her sheep. Enjoy!
[Photos by Hannah King, except for the lovely picture of her and her sheep taken by Angela King]
How did your farm/operation get its start?
As a hand-spinner, I knew I wanted fiber animals. We saved all extra income provided by my husband’s research endeavors to buy land and build a house. We now have 48 acres in North Carolina’s Piedmont. Our farm name is a phonetic spelling of NO, the chemical formula of nitric oxide, the molecule my husband focuses on in his research. It made our dreams come true!
What kinds of fiber animals do you raise and why?
Once we had the land, and a good fence, we got guardian llamas and Shetland sheep, because I love to spin Shetland wool and we thought their small stature would be good for us as new shepherds. We’ve never looked back! If anything, we have fallen head over heels for the sheep and their wool. We love the hardiness of the breed and tell people that they thrived despite our ignorance the first few years. We love the range of natural colors. Shetlands come in 11 colors and 30 marking patterns, so all of our sheep can be quickly recognized as individuals. And since the adult sheep are about the same size as my dog, the kids and I can do most of the work ourselves. Hoof-trimming, feeding, de-worming… they are easily handled. We can haul individual animals, including rams, in a large dog crate in the back of my RAV-4.
We splurged for guardian llamas that also have nice fiber for blending with the Shetland wool, and if you hang out with fiber people and have kids, it’s just a matter of time until you get an angora rabbit. Hannah got a German Angora, Dudley, as a birthday gift several years ago after falling in love with him at a sheep show. She sells his fiber to fund her sheep addiction. Hannah is also adding a new breed to our farm. In 2014 she received a Leicester Longwool ewe, Poppy, from Colonial Williamsburg through the Youth Conservationist Program. More Leicesters will be joining Hannah’s flock this summer.
What is your favorite part of raising fiber animals?
That’s a hard question. I love lambing–and Shetlands are naturally good at delivery and mothering so there is rarely cause for heartbreak. It is always exciting to see how the ram/ewe combinations we select produce. We are breeding for good conformation and a soft, crimpy fine fleece because that is what I like to spin.
Our kids also show our sheep and while a lot of work, that is also fun. We have made great friends in the show barn and a large part of our travel involves sheep. Showing wool sheep is relatively easy. Once the lamb is halter trained, just pick some straw off before it enters the ring. No washing or clipping allowed. It’s always a learning experience and we like to hear judges’ comments on our breeding program. And showing livestock is a fantastic way to teach kids responsibility and perseverance! Sheep have helped me raise two great kids.
But I love working with the sheep on a daily basis. I enjoy watching them, and their fleeces, grow. Their antics in different seasons are amusing. Their individual personalities (from crazy-headed pain-in-the-butt to absolute love bug) are entertaining. Their routine needs help keep us grounded in a busy world.
If you are a spinner/knitter/weaver, what is on your wheel/needles/loom?
I am spinning Shetland roving that I hand-dyed. The roving is from two cream colored ewes and I dyed it in colors that remind me of the ocean. I am washing a fleece from a ewe called Flirta (white and crimpy and one of my favorite ewes). I am carding moorit Shetland and mixing it with llama fiber that I dyed dark pink. The batts remind me of chocolate raspberry candies. And I am, in theory, knitting a shawl, but I am to the lace edging and I have little time where I can sit down and concentrate on counting stitches so the shawl is progressing very slowly.
What would you like hand spinners to know about your fiber?
There are different styles of fleece acceptable in Shetland sheep according to the North American Shetland Sheep Association (NASSA). But we are breeding toward what I like to spin: soft crimpy fibers, a variety of colors. The markings will sometimes allow for a depth of color if the entire fleece is processed together and customers who like to use natural dyes rave about the depth of color they can achieve. And our sheep lead a good life. They live on pasture, get checked daily to watch for any problems and seem quite content. We are definitely well cared for. We offer heavily skirted fleeces, roving and mill-spun yarns.
How can interested buyers get in touch with you?
Our farm Facebook page (Enno Farm) is a great way to get in touch with us. It also showcases photos of our sheep doing sheepy things. Right now that’s a lot of lambs running around pastures. But we also show breeding stock for sale and wool, roving or yarn available for sale. And if anyone is in NC, come see us. We love to show off our sheep!
I love farm visits and meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)