It started around 1986 when I bought a
saddlepad kit, complete with a bag of wool roving, a latch-hook, and a semblance
of instructions from a vendor at the Calgary Stampede. By my second pad, I had
learned how to do it.
I found latch-hooking a peaceful and relaxing activity; a nice contrast to then being a Calgary policeman. I liked working with wool, and was soon able to provide hand made saddlepads on a custom order basis.
The more I worked with wool, the more I thought about raising sheep. Wasn't long before I bought my first few ewes, Clun Forest ewes, from a Cochrane, Alberta neighbor.
I thought of all the sheep I looked at, the Cluns were the best. Not only was the wool just about right for my needs, but the neighbor was close bye to provide all the advice I needed, he had a good, healthy flock, and the sheep were great mothers. Everything I required as a beginner.
By 1991 I was writing to textile producers around the world, looking for a machine I could adapt to making saddlepads. There wasn't such a thing. When I retired in 1992 and moved to our Habitat Farm, I got serious and invented one, with the help of a British Columbia Ministry of Employment and Investment Technology Assistance grant.
The prototype worked, and still works. I can make a saddlepad in four hours. Making one by hand takes several days. You'll learn this when you make one of your own. In 1996 I built the gallery atop the barn, and we were able to erect a nice display of the blankets (made for us by MacAusland's Woollen Mill, Bloomfield, Prince Edward Island), knit products (handmade locally), some woven products (whenever I have time to work the looms), and socks and comforters wholesaled to us by Custom Woollen Mill. Please don't hesitate to Email Me if you have any inquiries about our wool products.