The Russell Farm
Susan and John have been raising sheep for fibre on Barnston Island since 1972 when ‘Sweater and Scarf’ came to live on their small farm.
Located on the traditional territory of the Katzie people, the island is a central point for British Columbia’s Lower Mainland fibre-shed.
The Russells currently keep about 40 sheep bred specifically for wool suited to projects for spinning and felting. Most sheep are crosses of Gotland, Romney, California Variegated Mutant ( CVM) or Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) .
Contact Susan at smrussel(at)sfu.ca to find out what fleece are currently available and to book a visit to the farm.
More About Us
- Our goal has varied over the decades- but always has been to farm and to preserve for future farming these almost 12 acres of deep, silty loam.
Now we run a fibre farm, producing fleeces for artists, handspinners, knitters, felters, weavers, anyone who wants to play with wool, from our loveable Gotland and Gotland cross sheep
Meet some members of our farm and fibre family
Bluebell is a Gotland X. For a few years now her fleece has been purchased by the same individual and has been used beautifully for a wide variety of spinning and felting projects.
Creampuff is a Romney and Gotland X with a white fleece. In spring of 2020 she gave birth to Triplets Puffball, Esther and Elizabeth.
Our companion donkeys Sparky and Dorothy are both rescues and love company! Always happy for a scratch or brush, just please don’t feed them without asking first.
A major activity for (one of) us and visitors to our farm is ‘communing’ with sheep.
Living With Sheep
This involves sitting on the ground with them, letting them lean on you for hugs or gazing into their sheepy eyes fondly as they eat or chew their cuds.
They all have names.
They may not know these names but they know my voice, my face, each other’s faces and if you visit they will remember yours too.
- We feed us and our sheep as much as we can from this piece of ground, to keep them and us happy and healthy.
- We’ve grown acres of kale, turnips, oats, winter wheat and a variety of grass mixes. Kale is their favourite. Hooves down.
- During the winter the sheep usually eat 3rd cut hay grown on the island by our neighbours. Barnston Island grows hay crops like nobody’s business.
Strip grazing the field on a sunny day.
The ewes are fed on a slatted floor, which keeps their fleeces clean. Because the long and lustrous Gotland fleeces can almost felt on them and certainly ‘cot’, they are shorn now with 8-10 months growth.
Two donkeys, Dorothy and Sparky, protect the flock from coyotes and dogs. The donkeys hate dogs and tolerate sheep. They love all other visitors.
Crusher dust keeps their hooves dry and hard in the night paddock around the barn.
We have registered Gotlands, recordable Gotland (lower %age), Gotlands crossed with Romney cross, CVM cross Gotland x and some BFL cross Gotland ewes plus three older mostly Romney ewes: Pickles, Bella and Blacky. The wool is white, creamy, black, grey and brown or silvery grey.
Our wool in the studio: spun woolen and worsted, dyed and felted
- Are you making with our wool and posting on social media? Please Hashtag your work #barnstonwool so we can find what our fleeces become! https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/barnstonwool/