The pandemic has left lots of us in need of haircuts — including sheep.
The Queens County Farm Museum is hosting its annual Sheep Shearing Special Admission Day on May 8, where visitors are invited to witness the Little Neck farm’s six sheep and two alpaca shed their winter coats in preparation for the warmer weather.
Because of the pandemic, the farm was not able to celebrate its annual fleece shearing in-person last year— the process was streamed virtually via #Barncam, the farm’s digital education programming.
“This year we are thrilled to have people on the grounds to see it in person,” Sarah Meyer, the farm’s director of communications and sales, said in an email.
Shearing is vital to maintaining the animals’ health. The extra weight of fleece can cause a sheep to overheat in the summer, and would create a hotspot for parasites. Removing the layers protects the animals from unnecessary ailments, and provides a sustainable source of clothing material.
Fiber artisans will highlight this cycle of fiber production by showing off their wool spinning and weaving skills.
Most of the shaven wool will be sent to Battenkill Fibers, a fiber mill 190 miles north, where it will be washed, carted and spun into yarn. The transformed material will then find its way back to the Queens Farm and to be sold inside its Farm Store.
Also available at the Farm Store are hats and scarves created by Queens fiber artists. And for those of us less experienced but who want to give weaving a try, grab-and-go fiber craft kits will be available for home crafting at the Con Edison Ecology Booth, which also features the Adopt-A-Worm Composting Program for home composting.
Though the day is mainly about the sheep shearing, there is much more available to explore on the farm’s campus.
“The program also includes the live bluegrass sounds of New Orleans-influenced Mama Juke. Crop circles under a canopy of trees will mark social distancing locations to enjoy the music,” Meyer said, adding that guests are encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets.
A food paddock and beer garden will feature East Coast Street Tacos, CBao Asian Buns and Queens’ own Rockaway Brewing Co. Visitors can also stock up on fresh harvests grown on the farm’s grounds — lettuce, spinach, pea shoots, asparagus and nettles from the farm’s fields, eggs, herbal teas, raw honey and, of course, yarn spun from the fleece of its sheep and alpacas.
And in keeping with its mission, the farm is offering visitors educational guided tours that showcase its 324-year history and regenerative farming practices. Its famous hayrides are also included in the festivities!
The Sheep Shearing Special Admission Day will last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., though ticket times will be staggered to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Advance tickets are required, and run at $12 for adults and $8 for children under the age of 13.
For more information or to make reservations, visit queensfarm.org.