By day, Bridget Patrick is the Risk Communication Specialist for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. She’s the person in charge of keeping us informed about threats such bovine TB, avian flu and feral swine. Nights and weekends, however, she manages her Happy Goat Lucky Ewe Fiber Farm in Mason. With the help of her Great Pyrenees dog Girlfriend, Bridget tends her spinners’ flock of sheep and goats that produce the magnificent fleeces she turns into “hand-painted” yarn. (As the video below explains, the process is a trade secret she shares only with those who take her classes.)
Many of you may have seen Bridget selling her wares at the Meridian Farmers Market and more recently at the Lansing City Market. Faced with deciding whether to follow her fellow vendors into the new city market facility this winter, Bridget will instead open a small shop on her farm sometime this spring or summer. The on-farm shop, converted from an 1865 chicken coop by husband Joedy, will allow her to market her to market her yarns and rovings, as well as her knitted and felted garments directly to consumers.
Bridget also plans to travel with the fiber animals and use them as an educational opportunity so that school children can see where wool and quality hand-made clothes come from.
“When I bring a goat or a lamb into the classroom, children are wide eyed and thrilled to be so close to a farm animal,” Patrick said. “The miracle of wool is that grass, sunshine and water make a sweater – there
is nothing more down to earth than that.”
By combining direct farm sales, agri-tourism and agri-education, Bridget is at the cutting edge of a new movement where imaginative small producers are generating additional income streams that can help make their enterprises sustainable over time.
Stay tuned for our next installment when the shop opens.