I found Anne Sammons of Leaf Livestock Co. on Instagram: adorable lambs, beautiful weaving, and a family farm full of life and fun. When I asked if Anne would like to be the next featured farm and flock, she kindly agreed and I'm so happy to have some of her most recent yarn and fiber--yes, fiber!!--in the Flock Farm Yarn Shop. Plus, Anne and her flock are in Illinois, one of my favorite fiber locations.
One of the things I most enjoyed about pulling this feature together was the opportunity to speak with Anne via phone and talk about our experiences with wool, mills, the industry, and family and work dynamics. Anne told an intriguing story: she came to fiber after having a flock of sheep for many, many years. And now, she's an amazing weaver who also happens to spin. It's such fun getting to know members of this community and I'm grateful Anne is joining this Flock!
Interview with Anne
KTS: I understand Leaf Livestock Wool Co. began in the 1990s with Polypay sheep. So, can you tell us a little bit about your flock's development over the past couple of decades?
Anne: Our flock has evolved and grown with our family. We started out in 1999 with a group of 15 Polypays from a flock from W Nebraska. Over the next 10 years we bought a flock from Montana and acquired stellar genetics. To grow our flock, we kept many ewe lambs and bought a flock out of MN in 2007 and grew to around 250 sheep.
We started adding natural colored sheep to the flock around 2008 because I commented on the beauty of the animals and wool.
We currently run 120 animals in the combined flock of Merinos, Polypays, Columbias and natural colored ewes. We are planning to get down to around 100 this summer.
KTS: You've been developing genetics for multi-colored sheep fleece. Aside from the fun and intrigue, what are the advantages of breeding for different colored fleece?
Anne: We acquired the natural colored Rambouillet/Columbia cross animals because I was drawn to the beauty of the brown and multi shades animals. The variety of shades appeals to hand spinners and people who want variety without dyeing the fiber. The shepherd enjoys the genetics behind the colors and is striving to breed structurally correct animals. We have also used Rambouillet or Columbias in the natural-colored breeding program. They are excellent mothers.
KTS: Are there any specific shepherd stories you'd like to share: something touching, funny, or just really indicative of life with sheep?
Anne: The Shepherd has a brilliant memory. He spouts genetics and family lineages as we are working with the animals. He points out when grandmas are in the same pen as their granddaughters. He grew up with livestock, I grew up in town, so I have only the experience of learning from him. He is always explaining and teaching. The Big Ohio sale in early May is right around our anniversary. For several years now I’ve been receiving sheep for anniversary and Mother’s Day gifts.
KTS: What are your plans for 2023 or 2024 and/or the broader future? Anything new on the horizon?
Anne: We are in the process of building a pond on our farm and planting 1,500 Christmas trees per year. We will have a beautiful Christmas tree farm and a pond & barn to visit. We’ll have a gift shop for me to sell our wool products. Someday we’d love to have a barn for classes and meetings or celebrations. This is a long-term dream of ours. We are 3 to 4 years from opening the tree farm. The pond will be finished this year. We’ve been considering downsizing the flock even more because as we plant more trees on our farm ground, we lose hay ground. We are to the point where we have to buy hay to make it through to grazing season. It’s challenging to find time for all of the sheep chores along with our other responsibilities.
KTS: Where can yarn-lovers find you online? And, if spinners would like to purchase fresh fleece from you, what's the best way to get in touch?
Anne: Our web site is https://www.leaflivestock.com
and you can follow our day-to-day events and stories @