When Jaime and I planned our trip to Portland for Quilt Market, we knew we had to set aside a day to visit one of our favorite yarn producers, Imperial Stock Ranch, in Shaniko, Oregon.
Jeanne Carver of Imperial Stock Ranch was there to greet us with her herd of adorable Columbia Sheep, including some sweet lambs.
|Jeanne with Charlotte Rose, one cuddly lamb-ster.|
|One of the many majestic old barns from the early days of the ranch|
|Scott training one of the young herding dogs|
The Carver family shared their love and respect for the land they live on and the animals there. Since they became stewards of the land in the late 80s, they have been working towards more sustainable and healthier ranching practices to improve the surrounding environment. Dan Carver shared with us his experience of seeing the health of their land reflected in the native fish. In the decades they have been working the ranch, and by working together with other local ranchers, they have seen the yearly count of salmon in the rivers go from what you can count on one hand to, in years recently, over 800 salmon.
|Wildflowers and wild sage|
|A large skirting table | The wooden chute for bagging wool|
Each sheep is sheared and--one fleece at a time--the fleece is skirted. It is thrown whole onto the skirting table, where dirty bits and locks that are too small will fall through the wire mesh table. Someone will give it a look and remove more of the dirty and short pieces that aren't fit to go to the mill and become yarn.
Then the fleece is handed off to someone who will bag it. The wooden chute is about 10 feet tall and holds a giant bag open. Once a few fleeces are in the bag, a person will climb into the bag and step on the wool to pack it into the bag. The fleeces continue to be added until the person inside stomps enough fleeces to fill the bag and climb out. That sounds like an awesome/greasy job! I bet all that lanolin makes for some really nice skin.
|Jaime and I stand on over a ton of freshly bagged wool|
|Many of the sheep like to spend the afternoon in the field next to Jeanne's backyard|
|What else would young Charlotte Rose wear around her neck but an Imperial Stock Yarn bow?|
|Jaime and some sleepy lambs|
|Can we please take these babies home?|
Thanks to Jeanne, Dan, Keelia, Scott, Leah, Blaine and everyone at Imperial Stock for sharing your story with us, and for making fantastic American yarns!