By Carolyn Shapiro
Located in Salem, New York, Blind Buck Farm is home to a variety of fiber-bearing animals, whose fleece is hand-collected, made into yarn and roving at local mills, and returned to the farm to be dyed with metal-free, nontoxic dyes. “By keeping our own flocks, we can guarantee that all of our fiber is natural,” says owner Lubna Dabbagh.
A favorite yarn produced at Blind Buck is their Signature Blend which combines Merino mohair and Leicester longwool. Dabbagh notes that the fun part of yarn production is choosing a variety of colorways for the finished product. Inspiration comes from the abiding colors on the farm as well as from nature itself, including flowers, exotic fish and birds. The result is a delightful combination of tones from earthy to bright.
The farm is home to 25 purebred Angora goats, 30 Merino sheep, and seven Angora rabbits, all of which produce rare and exceptional fibers. In 2014, Blind Buck also acquired a flock of four Leicester Longwood sheep, an acutely endangered species. According to Dabbagh, contributing to the propagation of a rare and endangered species is one of the farm’s proudest accomplishments. All of the animals on the farm are naturally raised, spending the summer months in pastures. During the winter, they are fed a diet of organic hay and grain.
In addition to fiber products, Blind Buck Farm cultivates many uncommon vegetable varieties. Among these are chocolate bell peppers, chocolate tomatoes, Delmonico squash, and watermelon turnips, all grown from organic and heirloom seeds, and never treated with chemical pesticides. Dabbagh also raises turkeys and chickens which are housed in pastures and fed organic grain. Eggs produced by the hens are a colorful array of blue, brown, and white, which customers call “the Easter egg collection.”
Back to the land is the sustaining principle of Blind Buck Farm. Conscious of the impact of high quality goods on the sustainability of community and environment, Dabbagh advocates the purchase and use of local products to nurture and support local economies. As Dabbagh says, “I always point out that during this last economic downturn if communities had been more self sufficient, with more exchange of local goods and services, many families would have suffered less than they did.”
Open all year, Blind Buck Farm has a store on the farm which carries their full line of yarn products and produce. Dabbagh encourages visitors to tour the farm, sample produce, and taste the fresh farm eggs. A special delight of a visit to the farm is letting children gather their own eggs from the chicken coop . In addition to the farm store, Blind Buck’s products can be found at the Saratoga, Bolton Landing, and Warrensburg farmers’ markets where Dabbagh also offers free knitting instruction.
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market at High Rock Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.