vermont historical society link HISTORY PROJECT LINK INFORMATION LINK

orleans PROJECt
William Jarvis and Merino Sheep
Timothy Hinman
the Valley House and the railroad
A Day in a Life of a Student at Brownington Academy
Alexander Twilight

William Jarvis and Merino Sheep

sheep photo

We are the farming group. Our entry is about William Jarvis and the Merino Sheep in the 1850's in Brownington, VT. We were studying Brownington in the 1850's, and we found that the majority of the people were farmers, so we decided to study farming in the 1850's. We discovered that sheep farming was a hard life. When we were doing our research we found it on the internet, in farming books, and from interviews. We found that we had two valuable sources. They were our interviews and our farming books. Our topic changed because first we were just going to do the project on Merino Sheep, but now we are going to combine Merino Sheep with William Jarvis. The choices we made to include the information we have were not hard because we had unlimited sources. We put our entry together by splitting up and doing different tasks. Adam and David put the board together. Andrew and Chris typed up the captions and pictures. Some problems we overcame were the pictures and not working together at first. At first, when the pictures were downloaded on the computer, they were all blurry, and we didn't think there was any way to fix them. But then, we learned that there was a way to make the pictures less blurry.Then we worked together. Our topic is related to rights and responsibilities in history because farmers were important. Some of the responsibilities were having to get up every morning, having to do chores, and also having to take care of the sheep. The farmers also had to sell the wool so people could keep warm and have the milk to drink and make cheese. It is important to study this because back in the 1850's sheep farming was a big industry. You had to keep up with the industries or people might starve or be cold. Wool was a big industry back then. People had to rely on it or they might freeze, but now it is a bit less important because of heating fuel and different kind of materials that they make blankets out of. Some conclusions we have drawn are that sheep farming was a hard life, and the farmers had to worry about animals attacking the sheep, sheep getting diseases,and food or money shortages. This has been a good learning experience because we learned what it was like to be a sheep farmer in the 1850's. We also learned William Jarvis was the first person to bring Merino sheep to Vermont, and that Merino sheep were the first in Vermont.

William Jarvis

William Jarvis is the man who brought Merino sheep to Vermont from Spain. Merino sheep are thought to have originated in Africa. When Jarvis brought the Merinos to Vermont he brought them to his farm in Weathersfield, Vermont. He convinced his neighbors that the thick wool would be a worthy investment. Merino sheep have very thick wool which they are known for. Jarvis brought 3500 Merinos to Vermont in 1811. The Merino's he brought were the first Merino's ever in the whole U.S.A. In 1840 there was enough sheep in vermont for every person in vermont to have three.

This is the process of making wool into a sweater.

These are the things you will need.

MATERIALS: shears cards sheep

1)You need to get the tools you would need to shear the sheep.

2) You will need to find a sheep.

3)When you find a sheep you will need to find a level surface so when you are shearing you will not lose your balance.

4)Then you will need to start shearing the sheep. There are two different kinds of shears that most people use, either electric shears or hand shears. Most people start at the heads. If you are scared because you might cut them, well don't be because the oil in their wool and skin will make it heal very fast.

5)Once you are done shearing the sheep, you can trim the hooves if you want.

6)You need to take the wool to a dry and warm place. Then you need to separate the wool. Throw away the matted wool because it cannot be used.

7) After you separate the wool you need to card it and make sure it is not curly and twisted together. If it is a little curly it is alright. Carding the wool is when you put it in the card and separate it. It is like brushing two combs together with wool in the middle.

8) After you are done carding you need to spin the wool together. To spin the wool you need a spinning wheel.

9)After you are done spinning, it should look like yarn. Then you are ready to knit it into a sweater,shirt,or socks.

CONCLUSION: When we were at Spencer Phillip's farm learning how to shear sheep it was a wonderful experience for all of us.


Agriculture in Vermont. Saint Michaels College. 14 Jan. 2003
On this web site we got pictures on Merino sheep.

Calderwood, Louise. Personal interview. 17 Feb. 2003.
We used her to learn about the history of sheep agriculture.

Carmer, Carl. Green Mountain Treasure. New York City: Harper and Brothers,1961.
We used this book to get the different kind of sheep breeds in the 1850's.

Carnahan, Paul.Vermont Historical Society. Vermont Historical Society. 16 Dec. 2002
We used it to get infomation on William Jarvis.

Ford, Kevin. Shearing Day. Charlemont MA: Feet on the Ground P, 1999.
We used it to get the steps on how to shear a sheep.

Gunby, Lise.Early Farm Life. New York City: Crabtree Company, 1992.
We used this book to get the different kind of shears.

Old Stone House Museum. (United States): N.P., N.D.
We used this source to get pictures of old sheep tools.

Phillips, Spencer. Personal interview. 10 Oct. 2002.
We used him to learn how to shear a sheep, to learn how to card the wool,
and to learn how to spin the wool.

Urie, Neil. Personal interview. 12 Feb. 2003.
We used him to get information on present day sheep farming and sheep breeds.
We also learned how to shear sheep.

Vermont Historical Society Library. Vermont Historical Society. 14 Jan. 2003
We used it to find how William Jarvis brought his Merino sheep
from Spain to Weathersfield, Vermont.

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