Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Shepherd Profile: Miranda Tanis, Jacob Sheep

This is the second in a series of Q&As with Livestock Conservancy members who raise sheep or have raised sheep for wool. The opinions expressed by the shepherds do not necessarily reflect those of The Livestock Conservancy.

Miranda Tanis raises Jacob sheep on Howard Knit Knacks Farm in Tuscola MI. She has been a Livestock Conservancy member since 2009.

Why should a breeder sell their wool?

Not only to promote the many uses of their breed, but also to give another job to the animal. Fiber can be used as stuffing, mulch, spinning, weaving, felting, knitting and such. The use of wool is not limited to just yarn and fiber arts.

Why have you chosen to sell your wool in the form you do?

I sell in raw, ready to spin, spun and finished item form. I chose these to showcase that Jacob wool can be used for many items. And because not everyone spins, knits or likes the smell of raw wool, no one feels left out from experiencing the greatness of natural fibers and Jacob wool.

What is one important thing you have learned about sheep management as it relates to selling their wool?

Feeding. Took me a few years, but I have learned where to hang the hay racks during the winter so they don't pull hay down or habit rain on their backs. Because I don't coat my flock, I need to keep them as VM free as I can from shearing to shearing. Pasture feeding 6 months or more a year help with that.

Why not coat sheep?

I don't coat mine because the horns tear them easy. Or they might get caught on a strap. Also the cost of coats go up because you need a bigger size as the wool grows. BUT coats increase what your wool can be sold for, as it is cleaner and spinners like that.

What is one important thing you learned about selling your wool?

You get out of it what you put in it. If you don't watch their feed, clean burrs from the pasture, don't cut evenly, don't skirt well, don't set the fleece on a clean surface, then you lower the top dollar you could ask for your fleece. And every fleece has value. The heavy VM pits could be set out for birds to build a nest, the poo tags can be used as mulch, second cuts can be stuffing. Wool that is not next-to-skin soft can create bags, coats, rugs, slippers, cushion covers, lap rugs, coasters, potholders, table runners. The list goes on and on and on.

Are you a Livestock Conservancy member who sells your wool? Want to share your experiences? Email Deborah with your answers to the above questions, and you may be featured in an upcoming post.

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