Wed, 02/01/2023 - 9:51am admin
Sue Neitzel, featured writer
You never know where you will end up, but for Pietro and Maranda Weathermon and their family of seven, it was Brandsville, Missouri. When life in Salt Lake City, Utah got to be too expensive, they started to look elsewhere for a place where they could begin their dream of homesteading and returning to a simple way of living. The tiny hamlet of Brandsville won out over another small town in North Carolina.
Maranda wanted a safe place to raise her children where the family could plant deep roots in a community that would welcome them. Brandsville was just that place. Founded in 1883 by Michael Brand, Brandsville is only a spot on the map now but is still home to 200 people with a great sense of community.
Tucked away from the main highway, the Weathermons bought an old three-generation dairy farm, broke ground, and have been adding layers of homesteading elements since 2012. Today, they are known as the Oddball Homestead where each member of the family contributes their own projects that add to their chosen lifestyle.
Maranda, who was born to and taught by a fiber artist, inherited the love of textile arts and has become one of the few women who from start to finish has raised sheep, spun the yarn, dyed the yarn, and then creates useful goods. She is also teaching her daughters how to spin so that the next generation will hopefully engage in the craft.
But the process begins with the sheep. For these homesteaders, they choose two breeds for the dual purpose of docile meat and wool producers, so even the younger kids could handle them.
I was introduced to their Border Leicester sheep, a British breed, with long-polled wool, and the Bluefaced Leicesters, also a British breed mostly raised for meat, but their fleece has become popular for hand spinning as well.
Like most homesteads, it begins with chickens. I was greeted by the whole barnyard of animals with a flock of chickens leading the pack. The Weathermons also raise goats and cows, using all the by-products for the garden.
The maintenance of keeping sheep is serious, as I learned if they are not sheared, some could die. For this farm, it's a family affair. Pietro took shearing classes so he can teach the children how to shear, and he is a full-time dad.
When it's shearing time, everyone pitches in to get the job done. Shearing begins in late March or mid-April depending on the weather, with both hand shearing and electric shears used. It only takes about three minutes to shear each sheep. The wool is then separated from the animal and collected. This process is done annually. Each sheep that has been sheared only equals one good-sized sweater -- something to think about. The Weathermons’ sheep are also provide the family with meat and milk also.
For this modern-day homestead, it's all about learning and providing for their community. They have more dreams to chase. They are mobile shearers as well and will come to your herd upon request, and they plan to offer a farm stand in the future. You can catch Maranda at seasonal festivals with her spinning wheel, telling the stories she loves to tell.
The Ozarks is rich with young pioneers like the Weathermons, whose only quest is to bring back the skills of yesterday to make today better. As Maranda explains, “Like so much of the homestead movement, our family is in this craft of shearing and fiber arts so we may support ourselves in a way that can only help this country and hopefully shift her consciousness".