NORTH FORK — Local resident Kim Bethel is a very busy person these days with the new business she started this year, Down Home Hand Spun Fibers.
Kim has a Belfast mini fiber mill housed in a converted carport and she processes animal fleece into ‘roving’, a cleaned, carded and wound natural product that can then be spun into yarn and even dyed. She also raises Angora and Pygora goats that provide fleece for the mill.Located between Auberry and North Fork near the San Joaquin River, Kim and her husband “Brother Boy” Bethel, or “Bro,” have been creating a ‘Circle of Love’ on 40 acres of fertile bottom land not far from the Smalley Cove area of the river. ‘Circle of Love’ is what Kim means when she says that ‘it all works together’ about their life and their business.
When one walks into their welcoming dining room surrounded by French doors that face the creek and the expansive screened-in porch, a sense is felt that Kim and Bro value the land they are on and the bounty that can be had with some hard work. The shelves are lined with their canned goods including glistening jars of golden pears and rich red roasted tomatoes with hunks of roasted garlic. On the table are three kinds of goat cheese that she encourages visitors to spread on halved black mission figs while she serves manzanita cider.
A visit out back to the huge garden is breathtaking as one discovers the four foot wide rows of purple basil, marigolds, calendulas, zinnias, lavender, black eyed Susans and other plants she uses for natural dyes for her yarn.
Bro has built her an outdoor dye kitchen with wooden floor, propane stove, cement sink and old canning kettles hanging overhead ready for use to turn the creamy white or tan yarn beautiful colors. It takes four gallons of flower heads or leaves to dye four lbs. or skeins of yarn. The other side of the garden has a large strawberry patch, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra and other vegetables for the kitchen table.
The ‘circle’ starts when she feeds her goats leftover vegetable scraps and dye plants. They in turn provide rich manure that she puts on her garden. The garden is very healthy with the biggest and greenest plants ever seen. The fleece she gets from her goats, provide her a living. She has many grateful customers that purchase the roving and spin it and then create hand made sweaters, hats, shawls, socks, rugs, etc.
The business also takes in fleece from customers to clean and make into roving. Her well organized workshop tracks a customer’s fleece from washing through the different components of the mill, whatever is needed by the order, and then back to the customer. Her website, Downhomehandspunfibers.com has all the information, photos of the operation, the story of their homestead and order forms you would need to get started.
Kim and Bro have found where they need to be and what they were meant to do. They feel lucky to have been so fortunate. The land they are on used to belong to Bro’s uncle, then it was sold to some local folks who lived there for many years, and now it belongs to Kim and Bro.
Kim said she remembers an old timer told her once, “Back in the old days, we didn’t have a lot, but what we had was good.”
Kim says that’s how she feels about their life and that she loves everything about it. She loves the gardening, the goats, the spinning and most of all she loves the process of taking something from the beginning and working with it all the way to the end product. That love shows in the yarn she sells, it is soft, glowing with color and lovely.
Kim will have a booth at the Twentieth Annual Harvest Arts & Peace Festival to be held at Intermountain Nursery on Oct. 13th & 14th. For more information, please contact the nursery at 855-3113 or visit the website at www.Intermountainnursery.com.