First day of fall Sheep shearing time spinners take notice!

Sharon Watterson, Providence Knitting Examiner

September 22, the Autumn Equinox, and time for the shearing of the sheep at River Bend Gotland and Shetland Sheep Farm. The owner, Shelley Nussbaum, has hired a professional sheep shearer to shear her 15 Gotlands tomorrow night. Hoyt Hemmons of Pennsylvania is an expert shearer and very well known in the shearing world…there are no second cuts, which is great for spinners.

River Bend currently raises Gotland and Shetland sheep and is the largest Gotland breeder on the East Coast. The farm has an open door policy, that means you can visit, and Shelley gets lots of visitors: families doing holiday pictures, Boys’ and Girls’ Club groups, so call Shelley to set up a time to visit for your spinning or knitting group.

Shelley with her sheep in September

Located in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in Farmingdale, the farm has a long and interesting history as a preserved working farm. River Bend Farm is more than a 100 years old and some of its outbuildings were used as army barracks during World War II, which later were turned into chicken coops by Holocaust survivors.

Shearing-time is a very exciting and busy time and won’t happen again until March. The Gotlands are a very special breed. Their wool is long and silky and prized around the world. “Its lustrous, long locks are a spinners delight. Easily dye able and can be mixed with many other fibers to make works of art. Please check back to see the many fleeces and beautiful shades of grey that come out of the Gotland sheep.”

Shelley has repeat customers from all over the United States for the fleeces and welcomes new customers by way of the Internet. Her customers range from spinners, to artists using the wool to do masterpiece artistic wall hangings. She also has sold her sheep in 8 states to date, to give people new lines to upgrade their flocks.

Supreme Champion at Sheep & Fiber Festival

The sheep are shown twice a year, The Garden State Sheep Breeders Sheep and Wool Festival, and the Stars and Stripes Freedom Festival. River Bend Farm does very well, winning 1st or 2nd place ribbons: perfect venues for seeing and buying the River Bend Farm sheep.

The sheep are grained and pastured. Shelley finds that feeding them alfalfa produces a much softer adult fleece and handle, almost like a baby lamb. Graining yields almost double the fleece. Currently the sheep are 50-75% crosses, Shetland and Gotland, so River Bend’s fleeces are in great demand by spinners. The Shetlands are mostly curly and the Gotlands, long and wavy.

Prices for the fleeces range from $10-$12 per pound, usually about 2-5# for Shetlands and $15-$20 per pound, usually about 3-8# for the Gotlands.

The fleeces will be for sale for spinners every where. Rhode Island spinners can contact Shelley at tel: 732-539-5101.

Shelley Nussbaum is delightful to speak with and has a wealth of information to share.

For more info:
Contact: Shelley Nussbaum, 200 Casino Drive, Farmingdale, NJ  07727
(732) 539-5101

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