Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Sheep and Fiber Farm Tour is Oct. 12-13

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/14/2013 3:25 PM

E-mail article | Print version

WELCH, Minn. — At first glance, it looks like cattle grazing in a pasture along Goodhue County 7 just outside Vasa.

But, they aren't cattle, they're yak.

Clear Spring Farm owner Melodee Smith said yak grunt like an ox, have the head and hooves of cattle, the buffalo hump, the tail of a horse and pant like a sheep to keep cool. Their horns are distinctively yak.

Her yak are among the animals featured on the third annual Sheep and Fiber Farm Tour from Oct. 12-13.

The purpose of the tour is to promote natural fiber, as well as the fiber animals, farmers who raise them and artists and companies who use natural fiber, said Jean Mueller, who raises Merino and Shetland sheep near Houston.

In past years, the tour has attracted 200 people per day, Mueller said. Attendees come from all over, she said, and include people interested in starting their own fiber animal farm and people looking to purchase fiber.

At her Wiscoy Valley Farm, Mueller will feature solar dying at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. She will dye with yellow wildflowers, birch leaves, marigolds and buckthorn.

People of all ages are fascinated by it.

In addition to the four featured farms, the tour includes a stop at the Faribault Woolen Mill and a Yarn Bombing at the Houston Public Library.

The woolen mill will hold tours at noon and 2 p.m. both days, Mueller said. The mill makes wool blankets, throws and accessories.

Yarn Bombing has grown into an international phenomenon, with International Yarn Bombing Day held June 8.

The Yarn Bombing at the library will be the first one in this area, Mueller said.

Knitters are covering items outside the library in hand-knitted and crocheted fabric. Knitters also can mail items to the library at Box 37, Houston, MN 55943 or bring them down the weekend of the fiber tour.

Smith is excited her farm will be a stop on the tour.

"I love sharing my animals with people who are interested in them," she said.