“I’m in a Bit of a Jam!”

No matter how busy my schedule may be, or what other commitments I may have made, when the farm’s fruit is ready for harvest, everything else stops! The season of the different fruits (or in Italy we used to say, “Frutta di Stagione, and that meant seasonal fruit, usually for dessert) on the farm produces large yields from early spring to early fall.

With all this fruit, I make many things. But the favorite of family, friends, and customers is the delicious jams !

Strawberries, Blackberries, Peaches, Apples, and Pears all grow on the farm and all have their moment to be in the spotlight!

It just happens to now be our apple and pear harvest.

A favorite jam of mine is spiced pear. It combines the wonderfully mild taste of pear with a few strong holiday spices. The taste will leave you wishing for … another jar!

Whether your favorite jam is Strawberry, Blackberry, Peach, Apple, or Pear, there are always jars of Frutta di Stagione in the shop and waiting to go home with you!!

 

We’ve been fleeced!

Fifteen years ago, I thought a sheep was a sheep. They all had open, black faces and white, spongy wool, apart from that “black sheep of the family” that so often figures into metaphors and allegories.

Around that time, my family and I moved to Kentucky, and, during our first Christmas here, we found ourselves chauffeuring animals to and from the local church’s nativity scene. From these first interactions with sheep, I loved the animals, and I spent several years researching them before deciding to welcome a small flock to our farm.

Strauna, Stella, Yerba

Strauna, Stella, Yerba

Our flock of five sheep includes a Tunis, a Shetland, a Shetland/Icelandic cross, and twin Tunis/Icelandic crosses. When sheering them each spring, I’m struck by the diversity of their fleeces – some have two-layered coats, some have wool with lots of crimp, some leave us covered in lanolin while others seem to have none at all – but the diversity of our flock pales in comparison to the wide array of fleeces that we’ve been processing at HeartFelt.

In the past week alone, we’ve been working on fine wool, coarse wool, and fiber from hair sheep, let alone several alpaca fleeces.

In our collective culture, we hear about the value of Merino wool or “baby alpaca” fiber, but the truth is that each wool and fiber has something distinctive to offer fiber artists. Coarse wools like Lincoln might look scratchy and unruly, but their strength is commendable. Fine wools, such as Romney and Merino, might lack strength and crimp, but their softness doesn’t go unnoticed. Short, spongy staples, like those from a baby doll sheep whose wool we’ve been processing, might be difficult to card, but they felt beautifully.

In short, the next time you see a label that just reads “100% wool,” it might be interesting to consider what sort(s) of sheep once wore that wool.