March 17, 2016

Where did winter go?

Dear Friends,

I started a letter to you in January, and it went:

It’s that time of year!  If you love to sled, ski, snowboard, or just play in the snow in general, you’re in heaven!  I guess us ranchers are in heaven too, because we’re sure grateful for the snow and moisture.  Only we don’t seem to be playing.  Yep — dressing and undressing all day long, as we go about the winter routine.  We had guests (a visiting apparel brand) on a perfect day December 14th, and the next day everything changed.  We’ve been locked in snow, ice and frozen fog since, never seeing the thermometer break above the freezing level.  The wood stove seems to be the center of the universe!  Or maybe the laundry room is the center of the universe!

It’s now March, and the demands of winter pulled me away from my newsletter.  I don’t know what happened to the weeks!   It was trade show time followed by lambing and calving.  So at this point, I’ll just forget the past and focus on today.  And maybe you’ll forgive my failure to get a newsletter out.  It also helps, that Keelia is back from maternity leave!  Thank you!  We have a beautiful grandson, and Keelia’s presence back in the yarn culture.  Now those are blessings!

We continue to have wonderful people come into our life.  The work we have been doing since 1999 in taking wool through the process journey to yarn and textiles, has drawn an amazing array of knitters, designers, companies and customers down our gravel road.  More and more, people committed to making a difference in their personal choices, inside their companies and with their customers, are making decisions that reflect their beliefs in how land and animals should be treated.   People want to know what’s behind the label, who is the “maker,” and was there care and compassion in the process.  This really began in the food sector, but it’s long since moved further out.

What’s ironic, is that these aren’t really new concepts.  In many ways, it’s a return to the old ways.  Just as in many industries in recent decades, as a culture we’ve seen agriculture shift from smaller family owned and operated farms and ranches, to more consolidated and corporate owned large scale operations.  There have been some tradeoffs in that, just as there always are.  But today, the pendulum is swinging back, and family farms and ranches are entering an era of renewed importance.  Small and midsize farming operations won’t ever replace large scale agriculture, but there are values of ethics and practices in family ranching that we need to emulate throughout the industry.  Sometimes the way forward is to go back.  Today, we’re returning to an old story familiar in many ways, yet with expanded knowledge.  Dan has said for years, “Everybody’s Grandma used to raise chickens!”  People are raising chickens again, and they’re returning to their roots not only in their search for more nutritious foods, but for all things that nourish us. Traceability is going to become ever more important in the future.

Speaking of things that nourish us, how about a really good nap in the spring sunshine!  I think this looks like the perfect nap.

Warm Regards,