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Henry County Holiday Bazaar

Local crafter uses farm animals
in producing her goods

Holmes raises Icelandic
sheep, Angora goats

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(November 2010) – Mary Anne Holmes and her husband, Earl, have been raising Icelandic sheep and Angora goats since 2004 on their farm between Point Pleasant and Franklinton. Before that, she tried her hand at raising dairy goats. The herd has grown to 100, just enough to keep her extremely busy, while also working a full time job off of the farm.

Mary Anne Holmes

Photo provided

Mary Anne Holmes has been
raising Icelandic sheep and Angora
goats since 2004 to make goat milk
soap and sheep related crafts.

Originally from Bethlehem, Ky., Holmes always invites people “to come see the animals first hand and experience them in their natural habitat. You can look at the wool, but most people don’t know what goes into the process,” of creating a finished product, she said.
Holmes does wash the fleece and performs some of the shearing, picking and carding, but she sends the majority of the fleece off to be processed elsewhere in Kentucky and at Morning Star Fiber in Ohio. “There’s just too many animals to do it all myself,” said Holmes, 59.
After devoting many hours to the process, she has recently learned to spin the wool. Local spinner JoAnn Adams has guided her some in the process, but Holmes has also learned a lot on her own. Adams, who owns Home Sweet Spun in Pleasureville, will also participate in the Holiday Bazaar this year.
Holmes will have wool, goat milk soap and sheep related crafts on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the annual Henry County Extension Holiday Bazaar. This event is sponsored by the Henry County Extension Homemakers. Chili, bean soup, sandwiches and pie will be available from Senior Citizens from Tri-County Community Action.
Held at the Henry County 4-H Building at the Fairgrounds in New Castle on Hwy. 421, visitors will be able to browse more than 30 booths to shop for Christmas gifts close to home. A variety of gift-giving items for every budget will be for sale including customized farm toys, soy candles, painted ornaments, music boxes, painted gourds, wood turned items, hand crafted silver jewelry and Southwest Indian jewelry, photography, leather items, homemade jams and jellies, and a raffle by the Henry County Art & Craft Guild.
“We had a wonderful crowd last year and the vendors actually said they sold more last year than ever before, which is surprising in this tight economy,” said Henry County Extension Agent Maryellen Garrison, who helps organize this event.
Last year was the first year Holmes sold her wool products at the Holiday Bazaar, although she has participated in the bazaar many times in the past with other items she creates. Holmes prefers to sell her work at local craft fairs such as this one, because individuals can come and see first-hand what she makes and are able to custom-order items.
Holmes makes goat milk soap through a process she learned on her own through trial and error. “My mother used to make lye soap,” she said. She researched, came across recipes and tried different additives until she concocted a soap she really liked.
“I use six cups of milk per batch,” Holmes said of her oatmeal-based soap. She adds essential oils such as lavender, honeysuckle and vanilla, and said the gentle soap “is really good for your complexion.”
In addition to various artists and craftspeople, the Smithfield Garden Club will have a booth on display as well. As a fundraising effort, the club will be selling used paperback books and non-streak cleaning cloths. They will be raffling a quilt that was hand-made by a member’s daughter, said club treasurer Donna Ludwig.
The Smithfield Garden Club maintains the flowers around the town of Smithfield, mainly at the Smithfield Cemetery and the four-way stop. In the past, the club has purchased lettering for the arch leading into the cemetery, raised funds to send Henry County 4-H children to camp, and donates to the Teddy Bear Tree at Christmastime. “All of our money goes back into charities,” Ludwig said.
The club currently has ten to twelve members, including one original living member, Annabell Wilson. “She began the club along with others in the 1950s,” said Ludwig.
The Henry County Holiday Bazaar is a great way to experience the variety of crafts and artisans the county has to offer, while avoiding crowded malls during the holidays.

• For more information, contact the Henry County Extension Office at (502) 845-2811.

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