Raising sheep on a small farm is pretty much a break-even proposition. That is if you have a good year and don't count the value of your time. In a bad year you'll have to pay to farm.
Most farmers have to buy supplies retail and sell their product wholesale. They have little control over the prices they receive. So one approach to farming is to turn your raw materialsyour meat or milk or woolinto a more valuable product that you can retail yourself.
One year I decided to try this approach myself. I learned how to wash the wool, card the wool, dye the wool, and felt the wool into hats. I learned how to spin. Then a friend and I founded the Halifax Hat Company, selling the hats at craft fairs and farmers markets.
The entire process is done by hand. We use only natural dyes, some of which come from plants we gather on our own farms. Every hat we make is unique. No two are alike.
Wool is warm, and when tightly felted it repels the rain. I still wear the first hat I made. Good felt lasts a long time.
As with the farming, working with felt and natural dyes makes me feel connected with nonindustrialized people all over the worldand through the ages. It's an ancient craft.
Unfortunately, several years ago my business partner developed rheumatoid arthritis and was unable to subject her hands to the stresses of the felting process. At the same time, I developed diabetes and focused all my spare time on understanding that very complex disease. One result was the two books that are described on other pages.Hence business at the Halifax Hat Company is currently dormant, and we are unable to take new orders at this time.