About Brunner Family Farm Mohair (plus 2 projects) – NorthCoast Knittery

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About Brunner Family Farm Mohair (plus 2 projects)

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     If we hopped into a car and drove north east from the shop for about half an hour- we might find ourselves sitting in quiet Fieldbrook, CA. Less than 900 people can call Fieldbrook home, and some of these people are members of the Brunner Family- operating Brunner Family Farm. You may have already seen (or bought) some of the Brunner Mohair that arrived into the shop just last month. Out of excitement I immediately announced its arrival to the shop, however, now that we've worked with this luscious yarn and have grown to know the Brunner Family a bit better- I wanted to give them a more in-depth introduction. 
     The Brunner Family Farm has not always been in the Angora goat business, however, they have been a strong part of our local agricultural community for over 10 years. Sarah Brunner (farmer, wife, mother, knitter, Weekday Market Manager, among other titles) was kind enough to respond to a few questions regarding the Brunner Family Farm's mohair production and family. Below you'll find my questions followed by Sarah's responses and photographs she's taken around the farm. Then, below that, you'll find two different project ideas for the Brunner Mohair, one being a free pattern we can send you when you buy the yarn.

First of all, how did you decide on this incredible palette of colors for your yarn?

     Because we raise "colored angora" as opposed to "white angora" goats, there are variations of natural earthy tones in the fleeces of our goats. With our very first batch of mohair, we wanted to see the fiber in its purest form and so we chose not to dye our yarn. The result was a blend of silverish gray with subtle contrasts of black and red. After gaining insight into the base color produced by our fleeces, for our second batch of yarn, we chose dye colors that would complement and add to the base. Being a knitter myself, I also chose colors that I gravitate to when picking out yarn for a project. Matt, who has worked professionally with color pallets for years in his day job in graphic design and printing, applied his expertise in pairing these colors together as a group.

You mentioned that your family's Angora Goats are a fairly new addition. When your family was given the opportunity to buy the Angora Goats, was it a difficult decision? Or were fiber animals always an interest?

     For us, it's never a difficult decision to acquire new animals, it's more difficult to not try new animals! Before bringing the angora goats to our farm, we had enjoyed raising dairy goats for many years. Up until getting the angoras, we had raised several animals for meat, eggs, milk, and honey, but not yet for fiber. I really enjoy working with textiles and thought it would be fun to try and produce our own. We thought briefly about trying to keep sheep, but their personalities and management requirements didn't fit with our desires, we really love goats! A short time after we bought our new farm property in Fieldbrook, I saw an add on craigslist for a whole herd of colored angora goats for sale. The breeder, who was selling his herd in order to retire after 20 years of raising angora goats, was really helpful in getting us started. We learned that there are not a lot of people raising angora goats in our area and its always interesting to us to try things that are unique.

Are there plans to expand the herd or bring in any other fiber animals?

     We are actively working on expanding our angora goat herd. We are starting with breeding our current does with good quality genetics from registered bucks outside of our herd. A lot of problems can arise from bringing in new animals, so we plan to prioritize breeding our own before buying more angoras. However, in the interest of sourcing other animal fiber to blend with our mohair, we may eventually add rabbit or sheep to our farm family. Alpaca would be nice too!

Do the goats have strong personalities?

     One of the things I love most about raising animals is the distinct personalities and unique qualities each of them possesses. Goats are the epitome of this notion. Each one of our goats stands out in some special way from the rest of the herd. They are either super shy, playful, curious, love to nibble on your shoe, enjoy snuggling, jumping, dominant or submissive, and nearly all of them come to their own name. One of our goats is nicknamed "Houdini" for her unbelievable talent for opening gate latches! 

How has the family taken to them?

     In my opinion, there is no better way to raise children, then along side animals. Our kids have grown up from day one, milking goats, sharing their space with dogs and cats, processing chicken, collecting eggs, and now shearing goats. The animals cultivate a sense of nurture and empathy in our kids and in return our kids provide hours of attention and play. The goat stalls and pasture are our kids preferred playgrounds where they build forts for them and conduct elaborate imaginary games where the animals are the star performers. It warms my heart to see the tenderness and almost instinctual communication exchanged between animal and child.

What else would you like to mention about Brunner Family Farms?

     We strive to produce organic food, flowers, and fiber in an ecologically balanced agricultural system. Guided by permaculture methods and regenerative farming techniques, we proactively manage the health of our plant and animal species by mimicking the synergy in natural ecosystems. Providing food, fiber, manure, and companionship, our livestock family is at the heart of our farm. We are committed to providing them with the most humane treatment, with particular attention to food quality, health, safety, and love.

     Laura and I each took home some of the Brunner Mohair, and we were able to quickly finish up a project with this fuzzy bulky weight. Laura somewhat improvised a 4x4 ribbed cowl that turned out a sweet, cozy, easy-to-wear size. She wrote down the pattern which uses only 1 skein, and we would be happy to print it up and send it out for free with the Brunner Mohair that you order. Simply mention the Easy Mohair Cowl in the 'notes' as you checkout. Laura used the color Sea Breeze, and as of writing this blog post- there's only 1 skein left. 

     The project I knew I wanted to knit up was a hat design that I've been eyeballing for a while. The hat is called Fidra, and it's available to purchase for $6 on Ravelry. Note that I purposefully sized-up my needles, because I wanted a loose slouchy fit (for my unfortunately huge head size). You will need 2 skeins to complete this project. The color I used was called Mochachino..... Which has completely sold out, at least until next year. :)

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  • Virginia (NCK Marketing Assistant): February 22, 2016

    Hi Susan! I will also be emailing you in case you do not see this reply…. but at this time there is no knowing when the next batch will be in, or even if they will be producing the same colors. I will save your contact information in case the next round of Brunner yarn arrives sooner than I realize, but your best bet is to join our mailing list and/or follow us on Facebook to keep an eye on updates :)

  • Susan Schnadhorst : February 20, 2016

    Hi, I live in England but my Mum lives in Eugene and she sent me a link to your website.
    I read about the fabulous angora yarn produced on Brunner Family Farm and fell in love with the Mochacino colour. As it has sold out is there any way to reserve some of next year’s batch? You could send it to my mum’s address if that’s easier.

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