My maternal grandparents were farmers in Kentucky, and I had fond memories of visiting the farm, but would any of those memories or some genetic tendency really help me run a farm? I had a small garden on my rental property- but really, a farm?
I had been a knitter for several years (actually when I was about 9 years old my aunt taught my sister and me how to knit while sitting on the porch swing at my grandparent’s farm in Kentucky, but then I took a 25 year break), and the need to know the origin of the fiber that I held in my hands, became an increasingly loud call. Where did this wool come from, what type of animal grew it?
Thus I set about on a several year journey. I took spinning classes at a local fiber shop to better understand how fiber becomes yarn. Next I started visiting various kinds of fiber farms, to see what animals produced the fiber that I now spun on my little wheel. I visited farms with alpacas, llamas, goats and finally sheep.
Finally, it was a call put to hand spinners via Spin Off magazine to save rare breeds of sheep, just as a gardener saves a precious heirloom tomato seed, that led me to Shetland Sheep – their fine wool, natural colors, small size, and hardiness all seemed to be the right fit for a small fiber farm. Thus Ananda Hills Farm was born.
Our mission at Ananda Hills Farm & Fibers is to produce food and fiber using methods* that enhance the health of the land, the customers, and the local economy. We seek to feed ourselves from our land, growing as much of our own food as possible. The farm operates on a natural cycle of life and rebirth that follows the seasons of the year.
*Although not certified organic, we use organic methods and products in the pasture and garden which include: farm generated compost, cover crops, crop rotations, organic fertilizers, organic soy-free grains for the chickens, unsprayed local grass hay for the sheep, herbs and homeopathy for animal health.
Ananda Hills Farm & Fibers is located on the Olympic Peninsula in Port Ludlow, WA.
Farm Tours are available by appointment
553 Embody Road
Port Ludlow, WA 98365
Jennie jokes that part of the reason she bought the farm was so Ananda could have a job! Ananda is an Australian Shepherd, a herding dog, who prior to coming to the farm, always needed to be kept busy. Ananda was 2 years old when she moved to the farm and had no prior experience with sheep. Jennie took Ananda for herding lessons for several months before the sheep arrived, hoping she might catch on, even though she had not come from working dog lines.
Both Ananda and Jennie thoroughly enjoyed visiting the sheep farm where the herding lessons were given. Both learned a lot but Ananda was not the strongest herder and tended to get a little bored and distracted if the sheep stopped moving. Her trainer felt that when she had a flock of her own she would probably do better….. and, in fact she did—but as it turned out she was probably a better Frisbee player! Ananda passed away in November of 2015, just shy of her 16th birthday. She was, indeed, a joy and will be forever missed as the namesake of the farm.
Oh, and the name Ananda comes from a children’s book by Madeline L’Engle, and translates to the joy in existence without which the world would collapse.