Learning Ahead: Season of Sheep Shearing

The Fiber Arts & Local Farming:
Sheep Shearing & Knitting

In the 19th century, Western Massachusetts saw a huge merino sheep boom when many farms purchased Australian sheep for their incredibly soft fleece to produce wool for textiles.  The Hilltowns’ landscape provided ideal pasture for livestock grazing.

Although this craze for merino wool did not last long, and some of the farms no longer exist, there is still a rich and long tradition of fiber farms in Western Massachusetts that continue to produce fiber and yarn for hand knitters and textile artists.

The benefit of purchasing local yarn is that you are more involved in and aware of the entire process of producing your wool.  Unlike commercially produced yarn, which is often processed and shipped from overseas, local yarn speaks to the land and farmers that cared for the sheep and cultivated the land.  Often, the wool is processed locally and requires many hands to create it: from the farmer that cares for the animals to the sheep shearer, spinners and hand-dyers, locally grown yarn offer the hand knitter a deeper connection to our community’s agricultural roots.  It also supports the local economy and helps foster collaboration and sustainable consumption. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiber Festivals Begin with Shearing Season

New England Culture & Learning Through the Lens of Sheep & Wool

Sheep & Wool: Catalysts for Community-Based Education in Western MA

In the early spring, New England history and culture come alive with the arrival of newborn lambs and the shearing of sheep for the production of wool. The wool industry has strong ties to western Massachusetts, with annual events that celebrate our historical past and other events which showcase modern day shepherds and their flocks.

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Four community events take place this spring that are rich in learning opportunities! Baby animals, history, animal husbandry, and even fiber arts, are all great catalysts for learning through community engagement at these annual events: Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
February 28th & March 1st, 2015
(Original broadcast: Feb 28, 2009)
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Sheep Shearing

Shearing the sheep and skirting the fleece at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. Click on photo to see more images. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfied


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

  • Lunch Money – “Wake Up, World” – Dizzy 
  • Pete Seeger – “Maple Syrup Time” – Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger
  • Kitty Donohoe  – “Maple Syrup” – Bunyan and Banjoes
  • Phil Rosenthal – “Buffalo Gals” – This Land is Your Land
  • Nashville Bluegrass Band & Kid Pan Alley – “Extra Hand” – Kid Pan Alley
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • Carla Sciaky – “Sheep Shearing” – Spin the Weaver’s Song
  • Justin Roberts – “Field Trip” – Pop Fly
  • The Hipwaders – “Field Trip” – Goodie Bag 
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • L. Frank Baum – The Story of Baa-Baa Black Sheep
  • Teresa Doyle – “The Shearing” – If Fish Could Sing … and Sheep Could Dance
  • Matt Nathanson – “Starfish and Coffee” – For the Kids Too
  • Moxy Fruvous – “Maple Syrup Time” – If I Had a Song: Songs of Pete Seeger Vol. 2
  • The Hipwaders – “Things You Want” – Goodie Bag

HFVS Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

SHEEP SHEARING & MAPLE SYRUP EPISODE

Sheep Shearing

Shearing the sheep and skirting the fleece at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. Click on photo to see more images. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfie

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
March 9th & 10th, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

  • Lunch Money – “Wake Up, World” – Dizzy 
  • Pete Seeger – “Maple Syrup Time” – Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger
  • Kitty Donohoe  – “Maple Syrup” – Bunyan and Banjoes
  • Phil Rosenthal – “Buffalo Gals” – This Land is Your Land
  • Nashville Bluegrass Band & Kid Pan Alley – “Extra Hand” – Kid Pan Alley
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • Carla Sciaky – “Sheep Shearing” – Spin the Weaver’s Song
  • Justin Roberts – “Field Trip” – Pop Fly
  • The Hipwaders – “Field Trip” – Goodie Bag 
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • L. Frank Baum – The Story of Baa-Baa Black Sheep
  • Teresa Doyle – “The Shearing” – If Fish Could Sing … and Sheep Could Dance
  • Matt Nathanson – “Starfish and Coffee” – For the Kids Too
  • Moxy Fruvous – “Maple Syrup Time” – If I Had a Song: Songs of Pete Seeger Vol. 2
  • The Hipwaders – “Things You Want” – Goodie Bag 

Land of Lanolin: 5 Ways to Learn About Sheep & Wool this Spring

Honor Your Woolies

It is quite possible that you have on a wool sweater, right now! You might even buy sweaters from consignment shops to make cute little wool pants for your toddler. Thank goodness for sheep, farmers, and wool. We would all be colder without them.

In the next few months, you might be able to put your woolies away until next winter. What better way to commemorate the event than to spend time with sheep? Farmers around Western MA will free their sheep from the hairy locks that bind them and allow their skin to feel the glorious sun shine.

Here’s a sheep shearing demo from a previous season at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA:

Sheep shearing is a great opportunity to learn about animals and textiles. It is also a great excuse to visit a local farm! To follow is a rundown of what is happening in the land of lanolin this spring (and late winter) in Western MA:

  • Shearing Day at Winterberry Farm, in Leverett will be on Saturday March 10, from 9:30-4:30: With only a couple of weeks left of winter, the sheep will be shorn! Actual shearing is from 10:30am-12noon. They will shear 30 sheep this year, as there were no losses to coyotes! There will be great food, lots of music and gorgeous wool in many forms. There will also be fiber and herding demos, sheep and angora rabbits, goats, poultry and a llama named Sam. There is no charge- but contributions to the farm scholarship fund cheerfully accepted. If you just want to buy fiber, come by on Sunday March 11 from 2-4pm. Winterberry farm is located at 21 Teawaddle Hill Road in Leverett, MA. For more information, visit www.winterberryfarm.org. (DONATION)
  • The 39th Annual Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair, at the Cummington Fair Grounds, will take place on Saturday, May 25th and Sunday, May 26th from 9am-4pm: This event has it all! There will be fiber and woolcraft vendors, sheep shearing demonstrations, sheep dog trials, fiber and woolcraft workshops for adults and children, sheep shows, a fleece show and sale, a fleece to shawl competition and food booths. It is sponsored by The Pioneer Valley Sheep Breeders Association, the Massachusetts Federation of Sheep Associations and the Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources.  For more information and map, go to www.masheepwool.org. ($)
  • Sheep Shearing Weekend at Hancock Shaker Village, in Pittsfield MA is on April 27th and 28th from 10am-4pm: In addition to the regular farm activities, the Village’s Merino sheep will be shorn and there will be special hands-on textile demonstration and activities conducted by volunteers from local spinning and weaving guilds. For more information on the event, call 1-800.817.1137 or visit www.hancockshakervillage.org. ($$)
  • Wool Days at Old Sturbridge Village will be on Memorial Day weekend, May 25th -27th: The Museum is open from 9:30am-5pm. In addition to all of the learning experiences that are usually at OSV, there will be a full schedule of events, including herding, carding, dying with natural sources, exploring wool from different kinds of animals, knitting, crocheting, and much more.  The schedule of events is at www.osv.org. ($$$)

  • The 10th Annual Sheep to Shawl Festival at Sheep Hill, in Williamstown will be on May 4th and 5th from 11am to 3pm, rain or shine: The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation (WRLF) hosts this great event. It occurs on a beautiful hill, which allows participants a wonderful view of the sheep and the dogs as they move around. There will be food to purchase, activities for children and fiber arts and herding demos. WRLF is located at 671 Cold Spring Road, Williamstown, MA. www.wrlf.org ($)

Don’t settle with wearing a sweater. Learn how to make one!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Heary-Selah — Theresa is a teacher and a freelance writer, making her home in Greenfield, MA and Wright, NY with her family.  She teaches at S.H.I.N.E. (Students at Home in New England), a social and academic support program for middle school students in the Pioneer Valley, and writes about home-schooling and technology.  Theresa’s interests include home-schooling, gardening, cooking, hiking, and dancing.

Suggested Events 03/12/11-03/18/11

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Suggest an Event

It's sheep shearing season! Winterberry Farm in Leverett will host their 23rd Annual Sheep Shearing Day this Saturday in Leverett, MA. Take the kids and be a part of this New England tradition. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

If you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

SPONSORSHIP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events 03/07/09-03/13/09

Sheep shearing at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA:

SUGGEST AN EVENT

If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page.

FEATURED EVENT

Martial Arts for Women Hilltown Families listserv member Nancy Rothenberg from Spirit of the Heart (better know for her outstanding martial arts classes for children) is offering a great martial arts class geared especially for women ages 30 and over on Friday mornings from 9-10:30am in Northampton at her studio. She’s offering a free trial class this Friday, March 6th, 9am-10:30am.  This is a great opportunity to not only learn a bit about self defense and physical empowerment, but it’s also a chance to have some fun with other women and to get some exercise.

Spirit of the Heart Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center is a not-for-profit martial arts school dedicated to the prevention of violence through the practice of self-defense, conflict resolution and the art of Indonesian Kung-Fu. http://karatenorthampton.com. If you have any questions, give her a call at 585-1661 or email her at nohokungfu@netzero.com. Hope to see you there!

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Ben Rudnick & Friends

Original bluegrass songs and traditional tunes make Ben Rudnick and Friends CD, "A Frog Named Sam," is an instant family classic!

Tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturdays from 9-10am on Valley Free Radio (VFR), 103.3FM (Northampton, MA), or listen via streaming audio at www.ValleyFreeRadio.org. Every Saturday VFR offers four hours of commercial-free, quality family program from 6-10am.  It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons!

Mark your calendars for two great upcoming concerts on March 28th:

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings and Delays | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

Saturday – 03/07/09

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Sheep Shearing & Maple Syrup Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

SHEEP SHEARING & MAPLE SYRUP EPISODE

Sheep Shearing
Shearing the sheep and skirting the fleece at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA. Click on photo to see more images. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfie

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Feb. 28th, 2009
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
Radio  Facebook Twitter

  • Lunch Money – “Wake Up, World” – Dizzy Music
  • Pete Seeger – “Maple Syrup Time” – Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger
  • Kitty Donohoe  – “Maple Syrup” – Bunyan and Banjoes
  • Phil Rosenthal – “Buffalo Gals” – This Land is Your Land
  • Nashville Bluegrass Band & Kid Pan Alley – “Extra Hand” – Kid Pan Alley
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • Carla Sciaky – “Sheep Shearing” – Spin the Weaver’s Song
  • Justin Roberts – “Field Trip” – Pop Fly
  • The Hipwaders – “Field Trip” – Goodie Bag Music
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • L. Frank Baum – The Story of Baa-Baa Black Sheep
  • Teresa Doyle – “The Shearing” – If Fish Could Sing … and Sheep Could Dance
  • Matt Nathanson – “Starfish and Coffee” – For the Kids Too
  • Moxy Fruvous – “Maple Syrup Time” – If I Had a Song: Songs of Pete Seeger Vol. 2
  • The Hipwaders – “Things You Want” – Goodie Bag Music

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