Small Flock & Fiber Symposium

Small Flock & Fiber Symposium Offers Education in Wyoming

The turnout for the first Small Flock & Fiber Symposium might not have been what organizers hoped for, but those on hand left the two-day seminar with plenty of information about all areas of the sheep and wool industries.

Put on by the University of Wyoming Extension, the Sept. 23-24 symposium in Casper, Wyo., offered classes on everything from predator management to wet felting and dying of wool yarns. Those in attendance came from a variety of aspects within the industry, representing everything from small flocks to wool mills.

Funded in part with a grant from ASI’s Let’s Grow Committee, the symposium kicked off with presentations on wool from Larry Prager with Center of Nation Wool and ASI Wool Consultant Ron Cole. Nearly all of the symposium’s attendees expressed some interest in working with wool, so the tips offered on handling fleeces was a perfect lead-in to an afternoon of fiber-related activities.

Brandi Forgey taught a class on wet felting that drew not only the seminar students, but many of the other speakers/instructors. As you might imagine, wet felting involved quite a bit of water and would certainly be a great activity to teach kids during warm summer months.

Karen Hostetler and Brenda Bayliss of Wyoming’s Mountain Meadow Mill followed with a class on dying wool yarns. At the mill, all dying is done by hand using natural techniques, which the two taught to a half dozen students during their time in Casper.

On the sheep side the first afternoon, symposium organizer Scott Cotton of the University of Wyoming Extension taught on using sheep and goats to combat weeds, while Kent Drake with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture spoke on predator prevention. U.S. Department of Agriculture area veterinarian John Duncan lectured on identification and traceability issues to close out the first day.

The second day included a presentation from Amy Hendrickson of the Wyoming Wool Growers and sessions on feeding the flock and poisonous plants by Cotton.

But the largest crowd of the symposium was on hand for a presentation by Jenny Nixon of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as she talked about selling your products online. She covered website options ranging from Facebook and WordPress to hiring your own web designer and building a custom website. She also talked about putting social media to use.

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