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Morehouse Farm Merinos: A Pioneering Yarn Farm

The quest for a weekend getaway led two city-dwellers to an ambitious goal: to produce the finest wool in the United States.

Sandi Rosner Jan 2, 2024 - 6 min read

Morehouse Farm Merinos: A Pioneering Yarn Farm Primary Image

Merino sheep at Morehouse Farm, a mainstay of fine wool and knitting yarns in New York’s Hudson Valley. All photos courtesy of Morehouse Farm

In 1977, Margrit Lohrer and Albrecht Pilcher bought a 33-acre farm near the village of Milan, New York, about 10 minutes northeast of Rhinebeck. The Manhattan couple (she a graphic designer, he an architect) wanted a weekend getaway. They imagined they might someday retire to the farm and raise some animals.

As they considered what sort of animals they would raise, they quickly settled on Merino sheep. Margrit was a lifelong knitter, having been taught by her mother as a small child in Switzerland. They loved the idea of turning grass into knitting yarn. And research told them Merinos grew the finest, most valuable wool.

The Search for Fine Merinos

Finding Merino sheep proved more difficult than they anticipated. In the early 1980s, Merino sheep were not common in the Eastern United States. Wool prices were low. Merinos are relatively small and slow to mature, so they aren’t the first choice of farmers focused on raising sheep for meat.

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