Fairfield Finns is a small family farm in Victoria, Australia and is ethically run by Gerry and Maureen Shepherd. They have been breeding Finnsheep, or Finn for short, for more than 20 years.
In Finland, Finns are traditionally kept in sheds for almost 8 months of the year due to the weather. This practice of keeping the sheep indoors might have contributed to creating a calm temperament in the breed. Although the Shepherds’ flock live mostly in paddocks in sunny Australia, this calmness is still evident in their Finns. The Shepherds are also in love with the Finns’ friendly nature and acceptance of humans.
Their short tail and clean breech mean that Finns are naturally resistant to flystrike and breech strike. So they do not need tail docking or mulesing.
Finns are rare and a heritage breed sheep. Finn was recently added to the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia and is classed as critical because of their low numbers here.
The Shepherds are currently owned by 160 sheep and 2 alpacas on their Victorian farm with numbers growing quickly each Spring. At the moment the farm is a delight with many sets of triplets flourishing in the paddocks.
The Finns are more labour intensive to look after than other sheep. They are multiple lambing sheep with triplets being the norm but can have up to 7 lambs in one birthing! The sheep only have two teats and can normally only raise triplets easily. So Gerry and Maureen have to bottle feed some of their lambs.
The Shepherds started off with white Finns. But with patience and perseverance, they have successfully bred Finns with Bond Corriedale sheep to get the first coloured Finns in Australia. They believe these are the only black Finns available in Australia.
The fleece and tops from Finns are beautiful to hand spin. They are lustrous with excellent handle. Finn wool is also very soft and has a low prickle factor. You can wear it against your skin. In Finland, Finn wool is made into underwear to wear throughout winter.
Gerry and Maureen had a vision to produce yarns from their Finns. So the fleeces were saved over a few years and when they eventually had enough stored away, the fleeces were sent to Valerie in Braybook to be scoured. Then they were handed over to Cashmere Connections in Bacchus Marsh to be made into tops.
Then the tops are spun into yarn at Wangaratta Mill. Not only are the yarns Australian, they are very much Victorian!
Ecoyarns currently stock the fleeces, tops and also the 2ply and 8ply yarns. If you would like some 4ply or 5ply yarns, please let me know at email@example.com. I would be happy to order some in for you.
So whatever your favourite craft might be — spinning, knitting, crocheting or hand dyeing — I hope you will enjoy making something wonderful with this Australian grown Finn wool.