Honouring the Wound

12 December 2023

Sponsored in part by:

Ad description: Cover of the book Sheep, Shepherd & Land, and the words, "THE book about Canadian Wool, by Anna Hunter. Photos by Christel Lanthier. Buy now."

Content warning: death of an animal.

There’s an easy rhythm in knitting that I haven’t yet found in raising sheep. Most days are pretty straightforward. Other days, it feels like I’ve reached for a garter-stitch dishcloth project, only to find myself in the midst of brioche cables.

This is the story of one of those times.

I have a small flock of Old English Southdown Babydolls, a diminutive, polled breed that looks like a lovely mix of an Ewok and a teddy bear. Though somewhat timid, they are always smiling. My first ewes, Leia, Rey, Rose, Soka, and Dune were named after five strong, capable Star Wars women. With time, my flock expanded and after a successful 2023 lambing season (my very first), I had ten ewes, two wethers, and a ram named Gordon.

September 4, 2023, was a spectacular late summer day in west Québec. The sky was clear, and it was unseasonably warm. It was my three-year anniversary as a sheep farmer, and I was happy.

Images by Karri Munn Venn.

Copyright © Karri Munn-Venn except as indicated.
image description: a portrait of a white woman wearing glasses; she is in front of a barn, and there's a small brown sheep behind her

About Karri Munn-Venn

Karri Munn-Venn is the co-owner and head shepherd at Fermes Leystone Farms (pronounced LAY-stone) located on unceded Algonquin territory in west Québec. She shares this piece of paradise with her fabulous husband Trefor and their three kids. Karri is a knitter, teacher, and knitwear designer. In 2017, she created Phoenix Fibre Arts Studio (now part of Leystone) from a love of knitting and a desire to promote thoughtful, environmentally responsible making. In 2022, Karri left a career in social and climate justice advocacy to focus on farming and fibre arts full-time. Fermes Leystone Farms was established in 2020 at the edge of the Gatineau hills. Clearly identifiable by the beautiful hillside vineyard, Leystone is also home to 15 varieties of chickens , a sweet flock of Southdown Babydoll sheep, Scottish Blackface/Valais Blacknose sheep, a trio of alpacas, and Loretta, the guardian llama. Everything at Leystone is guided by a desire to nurture. We seek to nurture the land, the plants, and the animals, using sustainable, regenerative practices. It is also important that we nurture our family, our friends, ourselves, and our community. Everyone is welcome here.

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