The 18 residents of Anne Vonnegut’s Autumn Vista Farm were treated to a bit of a spa day on Feb. 15 when Kevin Ford, international sheep shearing champion, stopped in from Massachusetts with his large non-motorized blades. The three rams and 15 ewes were given their annual “hair cuts” by hand. Ford said he’s been doing it this way for more than 40 years. “You won’t see this very often,” Vonnegut said of the hand shearing Ford offers. The wool comes off the Leicester Longwool Sheep in one full coat of wool that Vonnegut and helpers place on a sorting table to clear out excess debris before she will wash it. Leicester Longwool Sheep are a rare English breed originally brought to America by George Washington. According to the Livestock Conservancy there are fewer than 200 annual North American registrations and an estimated global population of Leicester Longwools of just 2,000. Vonnegut will bring some into town for the Greene County Historical Society’s grand opening of the Fiber Day and Textile Room on April 6 to graze on the lawn outside the museum at 360 Main St. in Stanardsville. She said she’ll also bring her spinning wheel to show how she makes yarn from the fleece.

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