Danette Cross

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since Feb 11, 2013
St. Ignatius, Montana, zone 5b
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Recent posts by Danette Cross

Thea Olsen wrote:I'm well aware of that. I Suspect we'd also need some supplemental feed during the growing season at least at first, while we work on improving the quality of the pasture.

Yeah.  I sometimes use a small bucket of oats to get my sheep to follow me from their upper pasture to the lower.  Good thing about sheep is that they trim and fertilize!!
2 years ago

Thea Olsen wrote:We're considering getting a few sheep expect the endeavor to be economically viable even though I'll keep most of all the wool for myself. We live in the suburbs, on a 1.5 acre horse property (with no horses).  My mother-in-law (who owns the property) is currently paying a hefty sum for mowing every week during the growing season. I've eliminated large chinks of lawn by planting other things, but there is still a lot of it. We could rotate a small flock of sheep around most of it, and reduce the mowing to a more manageable amount.

Just remember that summer isn't the only time that you need to feed sheep.  During winter if you have snow on the ground you will need to feed them a good quality hay, and perhaps supplement with oats like I do in chilly Montana when the temps really drop.  And of course, loose minerals.  Sheep can't use a salt lick block.  The number of sheep will determine if you have enough grass to feed them during the grazing season.
2 years ago

Uriels Katana wrote:I started crocheting and found this wheel. Can anyone tell me which one or anything about it. What it's missing. Is it worth purchasing? I want to get more involved with this art. I'm sorry if I'm not doing this right. I'm not sure how to make my own posts.


Hi Steph, this is not a complete wheel, it has a broken flyer and missing parts.  In my opinion, don't buy it.

OK, Got my Flax Harvest in for 2017.  I bought 'Marilyn" from Belgium and the Netherlands, and got a decent crop.  My main goal is seed stock this year.

I also finally got Mission reek Farm's website coded and loaded and there is a Blog, Video Gallery and a video on there about my studio.  Mission Creek Farm
2 years ago

You say you make a profit on your sheep, but you don't appear to account for your time spent processing. What hourly rate would you give yourself? And how doe sit stack up when you factor that in as well?

You do need to count your time. As the old saying goes, time is money.  So how I do it, is during the design process, I do a lot of testing, from how long it takes to wind a warp or process the wool etc., for a given project, then how long it takes to make the item.  Then I add in the cost of materials, which for me is pretty low because I raise and process my own wool.  Some suggest going to a commercial processor, but that can be cost prohibitive, and I don't always get the hand in the wool that I want.  Usually comes back far too dry and over processed. An example from last year:  I was blessed with 6 Churro fleeces for FREE, they took me 2 days to wash and dry (16 hours). I picked and carded 4 of them (60 pounds of wool!) That took about 13 hours according to my notes. I dyed 4 pounds which took very little time on my part, only about an hour of set up and rinsing, the rest of the process happens in the dye pot or on the drying rack, while I am doing other things. So now I had 60 pounds of picked, carded and dyed (to blend in with the natural) wool.  I went to a show and sold 35 pounds of it ( along with many other things) for $25 a pound. A return of 875/29 = $30 an hour because the fleeces were free. Now when I have to fold in my hay costs and the shearer for my own sheep, that drops to about $15 an hour, but that is still above minimum wage just for wool.  When I weave an item or make yarn, the cost of the item offsets the time cost.  For instance, a 4 oz. skein of hand dyed, hand spun yarn costs about $25, and you get 4 of them per pound if you have a good market for your work. In an 8 hour day, I can spin up 3 pounds of wool, that's 12 skeins with a potential income of $300, that $100 a day, so about $12.50 an hour.

Of course all of this fluctuates: where did you get the wool, what did you pay for it, what is your market and what can it bear?  How much in equipment costs etc.  I am blessed in that I have all the equipment, though no automated picker or washer, I do that with a small picker and wash my fleeces in large baths by hand.  But most of that process is again, the wool sitting in the hot bath soaking, then I drain, and put into a second bath.  I usually put each fleece through 4 baths and 1 rinse. So, what I want to convey is that you have to have your process down and efficient to make it work.  I have a system where I know what to do while waiting on a step in the process, like picking washed and ready wool, while a fleece is soaking.  Or spin while waiting for a dye bath to set etc.  Keep moving!
3 years ago
Thekla, I did a short video tour of my studio and put it on youtube.

3 years ago

Thekla McDaniels wrote:That's great Danette.I love to hear about people making a profit or even breaking even.

How have you managed to quantify your time?  That's always my biggest question.  I do work that I enjoy, but it seems like some of the time I should be generating funds to support the life I love.

Any perspective to lend on that question?


I can wash and dry 3 fleeces in a day, and pick and card about 3 pounds while I wait on soaking and drying etc.  So in one day I can get 3 fleeces ready for picking and carding and about 3 pounds of wool from dry to ready to spin. Today is an example of a lot of time but not much to show for it though, spent 6 hours in my studio and got only one 20x20" pillow cover done.  BUT now that I got all the yarn choosing, pattern choosing etc done and fiddling around done, tomorrow I will weave up the other four and move onto another loom for horse blankets.  So, some days it seems like you are getting nowhere, then the next you launch forward. If I could get an image to upload from my machine (doesn't seem to want to let me do that) I would upload picks of my sheep and studio.

You can't gauge on a daily basis, has to be by project.  If you get an idea of what you can sell your items for, then get the process down to as efficient as possible, then you can see how much time it takes to make X number of Z and see if you are making any money (and materials of course).  Getting a fix on COGS (cost of goods sold) is a real challenge! Especially when you keep coming up with new things (which you have got to do). New items take practice, testing etc., that's a time vortex!
3 years ago
I raise five sheep just for their wool, and I make a profit on them.  I process their fleece myself, spin it into yarn, sell it as combed fiber, yarns, and weave items from it, all making me more money that what it costs to fee them.  If you do not have the skills or the market for selling the "value added" wool, then it will probably cost you money to have them.
3 years ago
With all this rain, I haven't had to water my small patch of "Marilyn" from Belgium once!!  Hope to get a good seed crop - and a little to spin!
3 years ago

R Ranson wrote:This cloth, I want to appear as rustic as possible and if it works, I'll weave some more and make a jacket from it.

I love an almost tweed in linen.  If the sett is right, it has the greatest texture!
3 years ago