Monday, April 13, 2015

Shearing Day
It's baby central right now at Roving Acres Farm, and we just know you want to experience some cuddles yourself!  So mark you calendars for May 9th because that is the date for this year's Shearing Day Event. 
The event runs from 11:00 to 4:00, and we will shear an animal around 11:30 and another animal around 1:30.  We usually do a sheep and a goat, so if you stay long enough you can see both.  We have live music from the band "Mud in Yer Eye" and we have free food including light lunch fare.  We will also have demos based on interest which could include skirting, picking, carding, and spinning.  We will also have our farm store open for the day.  But most importantly, we have lambs, kids, and baby rabbits to cuddle!
This event will happen regardless of weather, so please dress accordingly.  We are a real working farm complete with mud and what-not (it's the what-not that you have to watch out for!), so boots or old shoes are a must. 
Please contact us at or 440-594-1230 if you have any questions.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ask The Fiber Farmer

As fiber farmers, we here at Roving Acres Farm get asked a lot of questions.  You might think this would be tedious, but it's not at all.  We love to answer your questions, and think that a lot of you are curious about what we are doing and why.  We thought it would be a great idea to have a regular feature on our blog that addresses those questions.  If you have any questions, please feel free to post them or email them to us.  We will be happy to answer those questions in future installments.

One of the questions we get most is "What made you decide to be fiber farmers?"  This is usually asked with an incredulous expression. Other people look envious, but also glad that they aren't the one's on this adventure.  It is hard to understand why someone would want to take on such a huge amount of work, so let me see what I can do to explain. 

First, none of us grew up on a farm.  Chris had some experience visiting a relative's farm and saw lambs "prepared" for dinner.  He has always said that he never wants to be a farmer!  However, all of us just love animals and the outdoors.  Beth and Sarah always wanted to have some land and some animals to care for.  At one point I (Beth) saw a newspaper article about a woman who kept angora rabbits and spun the fiber into yarn.  I thought, "Wow, that's so cool!"  I carried this idea around with me for years, never really thinking anything would come of it. I continued to knit and secretly dream of owning some sort of animal that produced fiber.

In 2009 I saw another article in the newspaper about the Cuyahoga Valley National Parks and the Countryside Conservancy and how they rehab farms in the Cuyahoga Valley and then lease them out.  They were having a call for proposals for a farm, and they were going to be offering tours.  I decided to go on the tour, and thought that it could possibly be a fiber farm.  I had lunch with Chris after the tour, and I told him all about it.  I thought for sure he would tell me that I was crazy and I needed to drop that idea immediately.  To my surprise he thought it was an amazing idea, and he encouraged me to write the proposal.  So, I then called my daughter, Sarah, and asked her what she thought about helping with this.  She was also excited, and we launched right into writing the proposal.  We only had two months to complete the proposal, which involved research, interviews, farm visits, and learning to write a business plan.  Chris told us later that he was sure we would give up.  But we fooled him, and we got it in on time.  We were very excited!

But alas, that was farm was not meant to be ours.  We were not the winning proposal.  However, we loved our plan so much we decided to try to find a farm to buy.  We found a real estate agent (turns out it isn't easy to find someone who specializes in farms!), and we looked at many, many farms.  We finally found one that was just right.  Located in beautiful Pierpont in Ashtabula County, it had a 100 year old barn, gorgeous pastures, an orchard, and woods.  The house was in a state of remodeling, but it was just right for our needs.  We bid on the farm and got it!  We were both excited and terrified! 

So, that's how it all began.  It's been a crazy adventure, but we are so glad we are doing it! Let us know if you have any questions, and we will be happy to answer them.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Welcome Back!

It has been a long time since we have been able to post on our blog due to problems with our web site.  While we have managed to handle all kinds of issues on our farm, we were finding that managing our web site was becoming a real problem.  So, we made some changes, and we are back!

First, I hope you will explore the new tabs.  We now have organized our features so that you can find pictures of our animals, animals that are for sale, and pictures of our fiber.  You can also go to the calendar page to see when we will be out in the community, where we will be vending, and when we have events at the farm.  There's lots more information, and we feel this layout will work so much better.  We are also using BlogSpot as our blog site, and hope that this will work much more smoothly.  We would love to get your feedback, as well as things you would like to see here.  Feel free to give us ideas for blog topics, or questions you would like to have answered.  This will be much more fun if it's interactive!

Lots has been going on around the farm while we have been away from this web site.  We have new barn siding, which is fabulous!  No more snow and rain in the barn, and the pigeons are staying outside.  We couldn't be more thrilled!

We also worked like crazy to get fiber out to mills, and a lot has been coming back.  And boy, is it gorgeous!  Here are some examples; assorted Jacob yarns, mohair blend yarn, and Navajo churro yarn.

This is just a little bit of what we have been up to, but I will save more for later. We have a lot of catching up to do!

  Maddie says "Hope you'll stop back!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Interpretting Micron Tests Pt. 1

This past month while we were skirting and skirting and skirting we collected samples from all of our finewool fleeces and sent them off to Texas AgriLife Wool and Mohair Research Lab for micron testing. We sell fleeces to handspinners as well as sending them to small mills so we really wanted as much information as possible about the product we are growing.

The testing was super fast and they sent us so much information! Here's the first page of what we received.

As you can see it lists all of the animals we sent samples of and a whole bunch of letters and numbers that don't make a lot of sense at first. I'm going to dig deep into my college stats class memories to break it down and see what it tells us.

The first column is the average micron count, or the average diameter of the individual fibers in each sample. Just for reference a human hair averages 40-80 microns wide. For Benny, one of our natural colored cormo crosses, his fiber has an average micron count of 21.2 putting it at the high end of the fine wool range.


The next column is the standard deviation between micron sizes of the many fibers in each sample. This is a measure of how different the micron count of individual fibers are from the average micron count. The smaller the standard deviation, the more uniform the fiber is and the easier it will be to spin. Mr. Ben's SD is 3.9, a small number indicating a fairly uniform micron count throughout his fleece.

Up next is the "CV mic" column which stands for coefficient of variation in microns. This is another measure of variability within the fleece sample but instead of measuring the variation in microns it gives a percentage of deviation between fibers. Benny's CV is 18.5 (that's a percentage remember) and anything under 21% is considered "excellent" standard of uniformity so once again Ben has done a good job.

The next two columns break down just how fine the fibers are a little more with a few percentage. "<15 %" is the percentage of fibers in the fleece under 15 microns while "CF %" is the weirdly named comfort factor percentage or the percentage of fibers under 30 microns. As you can see only 2.2% of the fibers in Benny's fleece sample were under 15 microns, but they are almost all under 30 microns making it a nice, next to skin soft fleece with very very few prickly hairs.

In the very last column is a measure of how the wool will be in a spinning situation in a sort of confusing category called Spinning Fineness. Its calculated using the average micron count and the CV.  It gives an estimation of the quality of the fiber for spinning where the smaller the number the better.

This whole section of the report can also be summed up with a histogram, a sort of graph. A very fine, consistent fleece will have a skinny little curve towards the left of the table. A less consistent fleece may have a big wide hump spanning many microns. Here's Benny's histogram, tall and skinny and nearly completely under 30 microns. Way to go Ben!

There's a whole other section dealing with staple lengths but I think this post is getting long and confusing enough so I'll save that for another day. I hope you all found this as interesting as we did and he's a picture of the famous Benny (actually named Beignet) for your time.