Well Manor Farm is both an arable and sheep farm, specialising in breeding rare breed Gotland sheep, as well as a few Pygora goats (a cross between Angora and Pygmy goats). The farm has grown its Gotland herd to over 160 ewes and has, as a result, branched into markets that utilise the unusual fleece the sheep produce. It now sells knitting yarns and spinning fibres, using the goats for fine fibre. The farm has created a brand for this called ’The Little Grey Sheep’, as well as a website to provide the necessary marketing. A LEADER grant has helped the business develop further by providing funding towards a new barn where the wool will be showcased and sold to the visiting public. Emma, who is running the wool side of the farm says, “The barn is nearly finished, all the corner posts and door surrounds are being made from our own chestnut and oak which were felled last year in our sustainably managed woodlands. It is wonderful to have been able to source our own wood for a building that should be with us for the next 250 years”.
The barn will provide a place for visitors to meet other wool enthusiasts, attend courses and learn about the farm and various crafts that utilise the wool. It will sell the fleeces produced on the farm, as well as the yarns, knitting patterns and clothing, all made from wool produced by the farms Gotland sheep. The barn will also accommodate a studio for weaving and spinning, a classroom to cater for the school and educational visits, and a specialised shearing shed with a viewing gallery.
Emma continues, “The Well Manor Barn is critical to the future development of the existing wool business. Production of fibre has increased significantly and we hope to continue this growth. The barn will enable us to do this successfully by providing a clean shearing shed operation, as well as an area to showcase the yarns and fibres”.