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Peace Fleece Wool Story

Written by Peter Hagerty, co-founder of Peace Fleece.    Porter, Maine. April 22, 2011




    When I was a young boy, I remember fearing the Russians. I grew up by the ocean and my brother and I would sit on the rocks at night and imagine a Russian submarine sending a group of men ashore in a rubber boat to land on our beach. But they never came and we were disappointed. Years later during the Vietnam conflict I had a life changing experience. As a naval officer I had refused orders to serve in Vietnam. As a result I learned a lot about military law.

    After being discharged, I ended up going to the war zone to help other American soldiers who were in trouble. One night on an island in the Mekong River four young soldiers from the Army of North Vietnam, men I had been trained to kill, arrived in a dug out canoe unannounced. The island was a Buddhist monastery and they had traveled through Laos and Cambodia, risking their lives to meet with their spiritual leader. After a few awkward moments, we ended up spending the night talking about baseball and our sweethearts back home. I realized that night that someone else had caste these young boys as my enemy.

    In the early years of Peace Fleece we bought wool from Russia and later the Ukraine but much of this wool was contaminated with a hard burr and to remove it was costly and time consuming. Today the Russian textile mills are up and running and consuming every bit of fiber grown in the country. This is very good for the Russian mills but it is not so good for Peace Fleece.

     Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the death of Nikolai Emelianov, the man who first sold us wool back in 1985, it has become more and more difficult for Peace Fleece to source quality wool in Russia. As the centralized Soviet economy sank into a dark abyss, wool brokers hurried to stay afloat. But many were sucked under.


Marty and Pete circa 1995

     I met my wife Marty shortly after returning home from Vietnam and we moved to Maine and began raising a family and a flock of sheep. But the memory of war and the growing nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union played havoc with my nightly dreams. Then I remembered that night on the Mekong. Maybe there was somebody in Russia who also had a family and shared my despair. My search to find this person began in the summer of 1985.

     My purchase of Russian wool happened miraculously within the first 24 hours of arriving in Moscow. I met Nikolai Borisovitch Emelianov of Exportjlon who agreed to sell me three bales of Merino wool. This purchase turned out to be the first of its kind in US-USSR trade history. Marty thought it might be important for me to write down what happened in the coming years, to revisit our ups and downs. I hope that you might find some pleasure in reading about this journey. It has been a good exercise for me to write it all down.

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1985
     I traveled to Moscow for the first time in August of this year, knowing virtually no one in the Soviet Union. Thanks to what is now called 'synchronicity' but back then was called 'luck', I met the one and only person in the entire country that could sell me Russian wool on my first day in Moscow. Due in part to the persistent work of an old acquaintance, Jessica Stern, who I unexpectedly ran into in the National Hotel early that morning, I was seated by afternoon in the offices of Exportljon, the USSR's textile ministry, awaiting the arrival of Nickolai Borisivitch Emelianov.

    "Mr. Hagerty," Nickolai announced with a flourish as he entered the long, narrow birch panneled meeting room, complete with a painting of Lenin at one end and a window facing out onto a playground at the other. "How can Exportljon help you today?"

    I began by saying that I wanted to purchase Russian wool, bring it back to Maine, blend it with wool from our sheep and call it Peace Fleece. "Not possible. Look. maybe I can sell you a container, but only a few bales, not possible. The paperwork would kill us. Plus we have never shipped to your country before. Nice idea but please tell me, what is your reason for this?'

    I knew this conversation was going nowhere. A woman I sat next to on the plane from Frankfurt cautioned me that when doing business with the Soviets I must never show emotion. That would be seen as a sign of weakness. But now I was so disappointed that I felt the tears beginning to well up behind my eyes. This was a crazy idea anyway. Here was Nikolai in his Italian designed suit and Gucci shoes and I didn't even have a matching coat or tie.

    "Please, talk frankly, I am sincerely interested in your motives," he said. I took a deep breath and struggled to gather my thoughts.

    "Well, Mr. Emelianov, I have a daughter who is eight years old and a son who is 5. I believe that if you and I cannot do something today, even in a small way, to bring or counties closer, then the chances that my children will survive this Cold War are lessened. My daughter may never know what it feels like to fall in love, my son may never see the birth of his own child."

    Emelianov stood up and walked down to the window and looked out at the playground. "You sound just like my wife" he said with his back to me. "And sometimes these women….". His voice trailed off and he picked up the phone and keyed in an international number. It was all done in a few minutes. A colleague in England agreed to sell me three bales of Type 22 Russian Merino that he had just received from Nikolai. I was to head to London as soon as possible to close the deal.

    This moment is for me right up there with the marriage to Marty and the birth of my children. I will always be grateful to Nikolai and the words of his wife which gave this project its start. In the years to come, I would continue to encounter this phenomenon of running into just the right person at the right time. It was like they were just around the corner, waiting for me to show up.

    The Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho wrote that "If a person is on the path that his passion demands , then the rest of the world will conspire to make his journey a success". If there are any heroes in my story, they are those people who often risked their well being, even perhaps their lives to ensure that this project of peaceful coexistence through trade would succeed. For them I will be forever grateful.

     The day the wool arrived in the port of Boston, our wool broker Bill Kenny called me and was angry that customs was charging us an outrageous duty because the US did not extend 'most favored nation' trade status to the Soviet Union. Then the Longshorman's Union refused to offload the wool because it was "communist".We became national front page news when the wool was finally landed on the docks.

    We held a press conference at the historic Customs House Tower in Port Office Square to celebrate, then trucked this wool to Rhode Island where it was blended with fleece from our Maine sheep farmers' wool pool and spun into yarn in New Hampshire to make the first four colors of Peace Fleece. They were People to People Plum, Negotiation Grey, Samantha Katya Pink and Soyuz Apollo Blue, names assiciated with examples of the few times our two countries had cooperated.



Liberated Soviet wool


1986
    When I returned to Moscow one year later, I purchased an additional four bales, satisfying our appetite for Soviet wool for the next four years. The Australian wool company Modiano was instrumental in facilitating transfer of the bales into the United States.

    Traveled back to Russia with my friend Lem Harris who had spent several years before WW II working in a combine factory in the south of Russia. His daughter Sara was the second American ever to marry a Soviet citizen on Russian soil. Her husdand Sasha and their three children became my family in Russia for the next four years. I played on their neighborhood soccer team several times, mostly in the snow. We would start the game with two feet of snow on the field and by half time it was flattened down and very fast.

    While in Russia on a second trip later in the fall I met again with Nilolai and introduced the idea of his state company purchasing fine wool from the State of Texas. We also purchased a second shipment of the Type 22 wools. Soviet Life Magazine ran a story on Peace Fleece and Exportljon which made Nikolai very pleased.

    Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev began warming up what turned into a personal friendship but the US State Department was offering little help in assisting trade between our two countries. We were contacted by NBC's "Today Show" and asked to come to its New York studio to discuss our unique US-USSR trade agreement but we were unable to go because Marty had promised to host a Girl Scout awards dinner the same day.


1987
     National and international news media were hungry for examples of trade cooperation between the two countries and chose to focus on Peace Fleece, in part because there were so few examples of trade to profile. Several stories addressed the same theme, "If a small family farm from Maine can establish trade with the USSR, why not larger US companies"?

    Since the end of the Korean War the US and the USSR had been in an out of control arms race, creating weapons that could destroy each other many times over. When I was a second grade student we were instructed to hide under our desks once a month while Mrs. Kennedy stood on hers, making exploding bomb sounds with her mouth as air raid alarms droned in the distance. My the mid-80's many people wanted to believe that we could move beyond this nuclear crisis and coexist peacefully.

    During this year we appeared twice on the front cover on Wall Street Journal and also in an article in People Magazine as well as many local newspapers throughout the US. One day in October a BBC crew filmed in the morning and Walter Croncite's CBS crew arrived in the afternoon. Later that same month Vladimir Dounaev, a very popular Soviet journalist stayed with us for five days and filmed a very lovely story on us for his "International Panorama" show that was broadcast throughout the Soviet Union.

     In November we finally got together with the "Today Show" when they came to our farm for an in-depth profile. The response was overwhelming. Our phone did not stop ringing for days. The NBC switchboard that gave out our phone number said it was one of the largest viewer responses they had ever handled. It was important for us to see all this publicity in perspective. We were less than two years old and struggling to produce a high quality knitting yarn and we were riding a wave of world wide optimism over which we had little control. What this coverage gave us was a strong customer base that exists to this day. Apparently we symbolized on a very small scale a growing hunger to find something in common to share with our historic enemy, the USSR.


1988
     Searching for more wool, myself and a group of friends from Maine traveled to Moldova and Ukraine as well as to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan where I saw Russian Mig fighter jets flying to war against the US backed mujhadeen militia in the mountains of Northern Afghanistan. I met sheep living in downtown Samarkand, an anciet city on the Silk Road. These flocks would graze the public parks by day and bed down in sheds behind modern apartment buildings. But I found no wool soft enough to use in Peace Fleece.

    This year we began purchasing Texas fine wool from Don Forte and continued blending this American wool with its Russian counterpart.



Village spinner near the Afgan Border


1989
    Celebrated New Year's Eve (January 9 in Oxthadox Church) with a group of Russian and American business friends in Siberia's capitol, Novosibirsk. -40 degrees day and night. We slept in our beds with all our clothes on. Our group was keen on doing business together and would meet over samovars of tea to spin out ideas and concepts.

     Traveled alone to Kazakhstan in search of wool. There I met Afghan soldiers who had returned scarred from the war in Afghanistan and we shared traumatic war experiences. Thanks to these men I came to accept that, even though I had not fought in combat while in-country, I had some form of trauma left over from Vietnam that I would return home to address.



New Years Day after church, Novosibirsk


     In June of this year Marty and I took our family to live with our partners Vica and Igor Butenko and their children for two weeks in Russia. I had met this very industrious couple the previous year and was overwhelmed by their energy. They ran a student craft project on a neighborhood school's top floor after classes ended. Vica suggested that these students make crafts for Peace Fleece. Their first project was painting the wooden ball on the top of a pointed shaft and our Peace Fleece knitting needles were born. Due to the collapse of the economy these young artists could make more in a few hours painting for Vica than their parents could make in a week.

    We all flew together to the south of of the country where we made our way to the border of the North Caucasus and saw for the first time the bright clothing and rich culture of the Muslum people that lived there. Saw samples of Merino wool in Stavrapol but was unable to arrange transport to the US due to the unstable political climate in the country.




Heading to summer pasture in the Caucasus Mountains


My ten year old son Silas and I drove thru Montana looking for some fine wool for Peace Fleece and met several colorful ranchers near Glacier Park. Silas learned to drive on the Montana back roads. The farmers and ranchers we met were a politically conservative bunch but they listened to our ideas of blending Soviet and Montana wool together and in the end they were most interested in the price we were offering. Dana Milton, a rancher from Roundup, Mt came to Kazakhstan with us the following April.





Pete w.Soviet Sheep Farmer

1990
     The USSR was now coming apart at the seams and it was more and more difficult to contact Nikolai Emelianov. By the winter of 1990 we were running short of Russian wool and I was disappointed to learn that the Type 22 was no longer available. Hyman Brickle and his son Max of Rhode Island had some experience with the USSR and that year helped us source several thousand pounds of wool from the south of Russia.

     Then one day I received a call from Nikolai. He was on a business trip to Texas and we planned a meal together in Boston on his way back to Moscow. It was a very emotional time. He told me how bad things were at home and asked me if I could help his young daughter find a summer job in the Boston area. She went on to attend Middlebury College in Vermont. But when I came to Moscow the following year, I learned that he had suddenly died of a heart attack. His office was in a state of disarray and most of the staff was leaving to arrange a new, post-Soviet life.

     In April of this year Peace Fleece brought the Wednesday Spinners from Maine to Moscow to teach high school students from across the USSR how to work with wool. At the Exibit of Economic Achievement we sheared sheep and gave spinning, knitting and weaving demonstrations to these eager learners.




Sarah Christie of Blue Hill and Vica of Moscow passing out spinning wheels to Soviet Students


     During this wool workshop I was invited to stay with the family of Luba and Sasha Reotov. They had two children, Anna and Sergei and we all lived together in an apartment about 5 miles from the center of Moscow. Over the next 21 years this would become Marty's and my home while in Russia and this family would become an extraordinarily important part of both our lives. Luba had a small cooperative named "Just Friends" which made tall, lanky and beautiful 'kukla" dolls which we brought home to our friends in America. Luba's first project for Peace Fleece was sewing brightly colored knitting needle cases.

    The following September Victoria arrived in Maine with 10 students from Moscow, including Sergei. All were high school age, all had some English language classes but none of them could say much more than 'hello'. They stayed with families here in our small town and went to school every day. They brought traditional Russian crafts they themselves had made and sold them at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardiners annual fair. The income from these crafts paid for all their airfare plus allowed them to purchase items for their families back home.




Luba and Sasha at Dacha Woodpile


1991
    As a response to the First Gulf War, I traveled to the Middle East to find Arab and Israeli shepherds who might be willing to blend their wool together for Peace Fleece. I discovered Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salaam, a community of Palestinians and Jews living together. Here also lived Abu Abed and his large flock of Avassi sheep. One of my fondest memories of the Middle East was arriving unexpectedly at a luncheon in his Bedouin tent and watching how his family automatically made a place for me to sit. I was handed a plate of food and somehow expected to follow the animated conversation.

Silas, second from rt, w. Jewish and Arab kids washing sheep prior to shearing.

Peter and Abu Abed


1992
    In the winter of 1992 I traveled twice to Riga, the capitol of Latvia in the Baltic Republics looking for wool. There I met with sheep farmers but they viewed the Russians as long term occupiers and refused to even speak to me in the Russian language.
Click here for adventures from Latvia

Click here for adventures in Russia and the Middle East


1993
    The following year I began working in Kazakhstan with the All Union Sheep Breeders group outside of Alma Aty. Then I traveled to the nearby country of Kyrgyzstan where I lived in a yurt and visited with shepherds in the mountains around Lake Izzyky. That summer we washed freshly shorn Merino fleece in glacial runoff water heated with burning cow and sheep dung. We baled this wool and loaded it onto the first Lufthansa flight ever to visit Kyrgyzstan. We saw Kyrgyz women beating wool with long metal whips to make thick, colorfully designed walls for their yurts. We purchased more Russian stock from the Rhode Island Brickle family inventory because we were still coming up short on wool..



Merino sheep in Kazakhstan


    Traveled to Israel with my family and a group of spinners, weavers and shearers to oversee the Peace Fleece Sheep and Wool Festival at Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salaam. Many Arabs and Israelis came to learn how to spin, knit and felt wool. Our crew helped Abu Abed's family shear 300 of his sheep. We then washed and sacked the wool, purchased it and flew it home in the belly of our plane. It was blended with the fleece of our Maine island flocks and spun into our first rug yarn.



Bedouin weaver at Wool Festival


    

Pete shearing Abu Abed's sheep

Abu Abed's wool at Tel Aviv Airport


1994
    We started a sheep health project with Land O' Lakes, working with Palestinian and Israeli farmers, veterinarians and academics to eradicate three diseases, anthrax, brucellosis and hoof and mouth, three diseases that thrived on both sides of the Green Line. Every June for three years we would hold a conference on health issues, Palestine hosting the conference one year, Isreal the following year. Talk of historic grievances was not allowed in the conference. And I can never remember asking anyone to leave. The great thing about disease is that it does not respect political, religious or culutral borders. Both sides had to work together for a successful eradication.
    Also we were invited by Zacharia, a community activist in the the small Palestinian village of Beit Sera, to provide veterinarian services and worming medicines for the sheep and goats of his village. That effort has evolved into the Woman's Sheep and Goat Project which Peace Fleece funds through the sale of certain of its yarns and kits.



Dr Arafat worming sheep and goats in Beit Sera

Zacharia of Beit Sira


    Our friends Babbie and Stu Cameron asked us to help with the Rainbow Socks, a humanitarian project that they had started since returning from the Balkan War. Bosnian women living in refugee camps were using knitting as therapy to help them recover from the traumas of genocide they had personally experienced. They would knit in a circle while one of the group, still knitting, would tell her story. When it came to the difficult parts, the speaker was allowed to pause and take as long as needed. Everyone just kept on knitting, waiting for her to begin again when she was ready. Her story was finished when she set down her yarn and needles.

    Over the next two years we helped gather and send to these women in Croatia over 60,000 lbs of yarn and 600 lbs of knitting needles, some of which was donated by Peace Fleece customers and friends. One of the most moving parts of this project for me was calling other small yarn companies like ours and asking them for yarn donations. Everyone was enthusiastic and all made substantial contributions. We all set aside any competative instincts and worked together to help these victims of war.



Donated wool repacked at Peace Fleece and ready for shipment to Croatia

Happy Workers


    Click here to see refugee letter


1995
     Peace Fleece joined forces with Land 0' Lakes to create the Moscow Area Sheep Association (MASHA) . We translated a lamb and wool correspondence course into Russian and hoped that our members might supply Peace Fleece with wool. But ultimately the fleece from their sheep was not suitable for our purposes. Began teaching sustainable farming and sheep shearing courses at the Sergeiv Posad Agricultural College outside Moscow for three weeks each during the fall and spring term.
MASHA Curriculum



1996
     Started working with the Korneva Family in the Istra Region of Russia. They had a small flock of sheep and cows and were homesteading under the new laws that were allowing farmers to purchase private land and lease state land. Ludmilla's mother would hand shear and spin their wool and knit socks which we purchased and began selling through our Peace Fleece catalog.


     Korneva Family     

     Shepherd Vera     

    Granny's Spinning Wheel


1997
     After four years of working with Land O Lakes in the Middle East, the second Arab uprising forced us to leave because it became too dangerous for Palestinian and Israeli sheep farmers, vets and academics to meet safely.


    

Our office in Ramallah

Dr. Nassar Hawanidih with Israeli Shepherd at Kibbutz Naushon

Making morning sheep cheese in West Bank

     Purchased a small flock of sheep back in Russia from Pavel and Galina Potstrelov and moved them to Fydor Krut's farm about 20 km away. These were black and white Romanov sheep traditionally grown in the Moscow area and northern Russia. Fydor would care for the sheep while I was away and he would keep all the lambs and I would keep the ewe's wool. We sent this wool by train to a friend living in Kazakhstan who made felted baby booties for Peace Fleece called valienki.


Our sheep from Pavel and Galina

     During this year we began blending some lovely Ukrainian grown Merino which we bought from a Russian broker named Felix . But we were becoming increasingly frustrated that we were not able to make direct contact with a shepherd whose wool we could purchase. Private marketing of commodities like wool had been handled by the government since the 1917 Russian Revolution and business practice was slow to change.

    "It was crazy to do business with these Russian and Ukrainian wool dealers," Felix told me in a recent conversation. "I would go down there to buy wool and my contacts would not show up. I had to go get some heavy people to locate my contacts for me. It was and still is very dangerous down there, especially in the South of Russia. Very hard to do business."


1998
     Spent three long days on a horse herding sheep with a distant family cousin named Tim Turner who ran about 2000 Texas fine wooled sheep on the Edwards Plateau near San Angelo. Tim spotted the sheep from the air while buckaroos on the ground headed them towards home. A crew of Hispanic shearers kept us busy and we washed the wool and sent it north to be blended into Peace Fleece. This same year we purchased our first lot of Texas mohair from Beve DeMoville and Peace Fleece became a blend of 35% Russian, 35% American wool and 30% Texas mohair.


Shearing on the Turner Ranch


2000
     The Moore family runs about 2000 Merino sheep over reclaimed coal country in Southeastern Ohio. This Appalachian farm has been on this site for eight generations and starting this year became the principal supplier of our domestic wool.


Moore Family


Moore Farm in Southeastern Ohio


2001
     In June I receive news that the 26 year old son of our Russian partner Luba has died in Moscow, leaving a wife and a young son behind. When I meet with Luba and her husband Sasha we ventured into a new dimension of our relationship as we grieved this tragic loss together.

     One week before Sept 11, I was heading home after an unsuccessful effort to find new sources of Russian wool. Just that very morning a prominent Russian wool broker had failed to meet me at the Hotel Minsk. I was very discouraged, tired and somewhat disheveled. I boarded a plane for Prague where I was to meet an Australian who had been very upbeat in his e-mails saying that he would be happy to help me find wool. I was not very optimistic.

     There waiting at the Prague Airport was Simon Neylon who in the next week introduced me to Romanian Open Top Merino wool. Simon's enthusiasm overwhelmed my somber mood and before I knew it we pressed forty kilograms of fleece into two boxes and added them to my checked baggage for home.


2002
     First large shipment of Romanian wool arrived and entered the blend. Some of the cleanest wool we have ever seen.

     The Sheep Adoption Project began this winter when a group of Washington State farmers visited the Potstrelov farm with Peace Fleece and found that, due to the extremely hard financial times, Pavel and Galina were being forced to sell or eat their replacement ewes. These American farmers purchased several of these ewes with the understanding that the ewes would remain on the farm and produce valuable offspring. In exchange the farmers received a photo of their sheep with adoption papers written in Russian, an annual update on how she was doing and a pair of mittens from her wool if so desired.

     Traveled to Pavel and Galina's farm to help with the spring shearing of their flock. Pavel is quite weak but still will not put down the shears. Galina tells me that he has some kind of blood disease that I later learn is leukemia. We plowed up the garden with the horse and plant potatoes.


Pete riding Valiet w. Pavel planting potatoes


2004
     I arrive at Luba's flat on Yaltinskaya Street in time to watch the horrors of Beslan unfold on Russian television. Children, many attending school for the first time, are being held captive in this small town in southern Russia by Chechen separatists demanding the release of their Muslim comrades held in Russian jails. When Russian troopers storm the school, hundreds of innocent children and teachers are killed.


Luba with Chechen family talking about the tragedy at Pavel and Galina's farm.     

Schoolyard outside my Moscow apartment the
day after the Beslan tragedy

    As my friend Luba and I travel the Russian countryside over the coming days visiting the three farm families with whom we have worked over the years, the horror of Beslan and the dying children is relived over and over in our conversations and shared grief. I watched the faces of my Russian friends as they took in all this news. I wondered privately how much pain can this country endure?


2005



Goodby Pavel


     Pavel dies. I enjoyed eight years with Pavel and Galina. With her husband gone, Galina told me that she could not go on farming by herself. I have not been back to visit her village of Sheplova but understand that she has moved to the city. The few times that we have talked on the phone she is unable to even mention the sheep or the horses.

     Lacu Sarat Farm is a large agricultural operation that was modeled after the Soviet era collective farms and has approximately 900 Merino ewes, rams and lambs. It grows all its own grains and forage on over 1000 acres of rich land about ten miles outside of Braila which is on the Danube River in southeastern Romania.

Simon (ct.) and Farm Manager Peter (rt.)
talking wool prices at Lacu Sarat

Pete Hagerty shearing.

     Simon and I visited there during shearing and we both had a go with the clippers. Over lunch as we chatted with the shearing crew I realized that this is what I was looking for all these years, to be wolfing down a meal with my clothes covered in lanoline, enjoying the fellowship that comes from hard work and a love of raising sheep. I felt very grateful for this moment in my life.


2006

     We celebrated the fifth anniversaty of our Yaroslavl partnership with an office gathering of our staff during the coldest winter in recent memory. The production of our knitting needles and wooden buttons by our artisans in Yaroslavl and Moscow is now overseen by very special group of managers. Several of them have spent time in the States and appreciate the complexities of running an international business. They have set up a small freight company to expedite both the import of raw materials from Maine and the export of finished wood products from Russia.
    



       Yaroslavl, Russia staff.
        Back row, Ivan, Oleg.
       Front row, Dima, Marina and Kostia



Ivan's grandmother Lidiya
sanding our knitting needles



Ivan's father Yuri
pointing our knitting needles

Click here
to meet our artisans and close friends.


2007



Students from Pyatyorka Orphanage
working on their riding technique.


     This year saw the introduction of a horse therapy curriculum at the Pyatyorka Orphanage in Yaroslavl. Peace Fleece helped sponsor a two day program where horse trainers, riders and social workers came together to see if teenagers who had grown up as orphans might benefit from making connections with four legged friends. There was tramendous enthusiasm and students from the orphanage were selected to begin the project.


Click here
to learn more about the horse therapy project.


2008



Luba with her new felted kittens.


     While taking care of her mother Luba began to make wonderfully imaginative and beautiful felted farm animals which she sold to her new friends in America through our web site. Sometimes I would call her in the middle of a winter's day and she would tell me how her mood would be uplifted the minute she began felting.
Click here
to see more of Luba's felted animals.


2009

     Luba's mother died this August. Born in a small village 12 hours SE of Moscow in the Russian Steppe, she saw her husband go off to war in 1940 and not return for five years. Near the end of her life Tatiana could no longer tolerate Moscow and yearned for the small village of her childhood. She lived out her last two years at Luba's country dacha, knitting by the pechka (woodstove), planting her cad (garden) in the summer and keeping up a non-stop dialogue with friends that had been dead for many years. Her dying left an empty place in her famiy's life.



Baba Tatiana 1920-2009

Click Here to Read more about Baba Tatiana's life.

The Dacha, 70 km. s. of Moscow

Click Here to Read more about life at the dacha.


2010

Cook Ranch Rambuiollets on early winter pasture, South Dakota

     With the Romanian wool form Lac Sarat, the Moore's Merinos and the Texas mohair we increased our color offerings of Peace Fleece. We also became concerned about the carbon footprint of our imported wool and chose to focus on conflict in our own country. To learn more about our Native American communities and the challenges they face, we met Leonard and Estelle Cook and their son Lenny and daughter Carol who ranch about 15,000 acres on Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. We were fortunate to purchase their Rambuiolett wool clip for our Peace Fleece blend. Our first two colors that include their wool are Mourning Dove and Blue Jay and are availale in both worsted weight and DK sport. We now have 42 colors in both weights.


Thunder Butte with the Cook Ranch barely seen down in the hollow


>


During the spring Marty and I headed to Russia to follow a longtime dream of mine, to return to Luba's ancestral home and find out what if anything still existed there. Please join us for this inspirational voyage.


2011




Doctor Khassan Baiev, Chechen Plastic Surgeon and author of 'Grief of my Heart'


    This winter seemed to drag on forever at our farm. We enjoyed a record breaking run of maple sap and made over 13 gallons of syrup on our small evaporator. But the colds winds of March blew down with force from the north into our valley and even now as I am writing in April it is snowing outside. Our oldest and closest four legged friend King lay down this week, never to stand again. It was with a mixture of joy and sadness that we burried him in the front pasture.

    Two Sundays ago we had Dr. Khassan Baiev from Chechenya visit our farm and after a pot luck supper with close to forty guests we all squeezed into the largest room here in the barn for a movie of his work in his Caucaus Mountain republic. During two long and viscious wars with Russia, Dr. Baiev treated soldiers on both sides of the conflict and has received awards for his courage and compassion from both Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International. To read more and see the film, please go to his website.

    Dr. Baiev seems to be one more in the long line of special people that have appeared at just the right moment to inspire and offer direction on our journey. It has taken me over three months of research and writing to get this story into this readable format. Many times I have been overcome by emotion as I reflect on whom I have met and what I have seen and felt on my travels. Thank you for taking the time to read what I have written. We here at Peace Fleece join with you in celebration of the journey that you are on in your life to follow your passion.

    All the best, Peter