Industry Spotlight: Romy Schill, Sheep and Lamb Producer and her view on SDG 2, Zero Hunger

RschillRomy Schill was raised on a dairy farm near Moorefield. She met her husband Ryan Schill through Ontario’s 4-H program and when they married in 2008, they knew that they wanted to farm. Romy had studied at the University of Guelph receiving her degree in Agricultural Science. After Romy worked off the farm for a few years and after getting some farm experience, the couple decided to concentrate on sheep. The barn was rebuilt and set up to handle their new flock.  They now have 300 ewes (female sheep) and hope to increase their herd size to 500 in the coming years. Their farm, in Wellington County, has been in the Schill family for 94 years.

Their sheep are a combination of both commercial and purebred d stock. The sheep are marketed to other farmers for breeding stock or to the local auction ring for meat. They also sell some lamb meat and sheep products (wool, yarn, sheepskins) from the farm gate and at a few farmers markets.

Romy is a board member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed. The Upper Canada Fibreshed is an affiliate, not-for-profit organization within the international Fibershed network committed to building a regional fibre system centered around local fibres, local dyes, and local labour. It nourishes emerging, bioregional textile communities of producers and consumers, that value sustainable agriculture and hyper-local textile manufacturing. Its members believe that supporting bioregional textile networks will change the way we make, purchase and use textiles, envisioning a different culture based on soil-to-soil systems for environmental regeneration.

SDG2When asked her top #SDG, Romy replied “With our farm we truly support sustainable resource use and soil to soil fibre systems to achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. A huge commitment to animal health, care and environment gives our animals the opportunity to be productive creatures.”

Want more? Visit our blog post ‘not a baa-d look’ and learn about our #SenecaFashion sheep sheering project.

 

Not a baa-d look

“There are great interdisciplinary opportunities between our classes to build an emotional connection between fashion and agriculture. I mean, fashion comes from agriculture. It’s a resource.”

June 13, 2019

 

When Kirsti Clarida, a Veterinary Technician professor, and Philip Sparks, a Fashion Arts professor, met last year through Seneca’s faculty development program, they knew they had to work together.

“Within 10 minutes, we looked at each other and we were like, ‘Oh my God.’ I have sheep and he needs fleece — it’s a no-brainer,” Clarida said. “The sheep we have at King Campus, they absolutely need to be shorn. They get hot and they can’t regulate their body temperature.”

The collaboration between Clarida and Sparks resulted in a sheep shearing project that saw more than 100 students from both of their programs pass through the barns at King Campus recently, learning about the process of shearing wool and turning it into yarn and clothes.

“There are great interdisciplinary opportunities between our classes to build an emotional connection between fashion and agriculture,” Sparks said. “I mean, fashion comes from agriculture. It’s a resource. The sheep fleece at King was being discarded or donated and yet, in the fashion program, we were purchasing it.”

A total of 14 sheep were shorn by Don Metherall, a Canadian champion shearer formerly ranked top 20 in the world.

sheep shearing
Students watch a demonstration of a sheep hammock, used to trim the animal’s hooves or perform exams without holding it.
sheep shearing
The collaboration between Veterinary Technician and Fashion Arts programs saw more than 100 students pass through the barns at King Campus recently.
david agnew with lamb
Seneca President David Agnew holds a baby lamb while learning more about the sheep shearing project from Professor Kirsti Clarida.

Wool processing: fleece to fabric

During the sheep shearing project, students learned about how fabric is made from fleece. A member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed, the Fashion Arts class took some raw wool back to their textile lab and studied the process of cleaning, carding, felting/spinning. The fibre will be processed by Wool 4 Ewe, and the yarn will be used in the program’s knitwear and textile classes as well as felting and weaving projects.

Wool is a sustainable fibre that is biodegradable, breathable and highly versatile. It is also unique in its ability to felt. This is when wool fibre is subject to a mixture of moisture, heat, soap and friction. The moisture heat and soap open up the scales on the fibre surface and friction causes the fibres to latch onto one another, almost like Velcro.

raw wool
Raw or grease wool: wool taken from the sheep that has not yet been cleaned or processed.
yarn
Yarn: roving that has been stretched and twisted or spun.
roving
Roving: wool that has been cleaned and carded or combed, usually used to spin woollen yarn.
cloth
Cloth: yarns that have been woven, organized at 90 degrees to one another.

Sheep shearing with a champion

Sheep at Seneca’s King Campus are shorn once a year, typically during the spring. As part of the sheep shearing project, a total of 14 sheep were in good hands with Don Metherall, a Canadian champion shearer formerly ranked top 20 in the world. He has been shearing for almost two decades, shearing about 28,000 sheep each year.

don metherall
Don Metherall is a Canadian champion shearer. Each sheep is sheared in a matter of seconds, with each fleece being removed from the sheep in one piece.
shehep shearing
Professor Kirsti Clarida and Professor Philip Sparks sort through a freshly shorn fleece before putting it into a bag.
don metherall
Don Metherall talks to Professor Philip Sparks about shearing a black sheep.
sheep shearing
A young lamb kneels to drink milk from the mother sheep after she was shorn by Don Metherall at King Campus.