Localized Affiliate Marketing with WordPress

Only recently, I found out that you can actually make money with visitors to your website. For us, Marthas Vine Yard has been nothing but a simple and fun project. We never thought much of it, except a handy way to stay in touch and to spread interesting information for anyone interested. The upstream of what we could now call “success”, has been very slow and gradual. As a matter in fact, we hardly even noticed that anything like that happened. Just one morning I happened to install the Piwik web statistic program to see how many visitors are visiting the site.

And I have been astonished, with hundreds of daily visitors on a best day. All of them interested in Fiber Farms? Possibly yes! I mentioned this to a good friend of mine who is far from anything that would be related to words like farming, natural, agriculture etc. His more of a city guy who keeps me updated on the things us country side folk should know about. It has been a fruitful relationship over the years, but what I learned about affiliate marketing simply struct me as something that would be hard to believe.

You see, running WordPress was a huge change for us already. I just knew, that if someone like me could run a website and blog in a few simple steps.. there was some nerdy magic going on! Heh, heh. Either way, turns out that I can just sign up with affiliate programs and recommend them to the readers of my blog. Something that is a lot of responsibility, but gives huge possibilities at the same time! He recommended to me a popular method, to localize affiliate links with WordPress, because I have visitors from all over the world. One person from the United States would purchase a particular product from the US Amazon store for example. But if that person happens to be from Canada, it’s again a different story and a different affiliate program I need to not only sign up for, but to link to as well.

All this doesn’t sound very difficult to me. But seems like something you need to constantly learn about, develop, optimize and localize of course. It’s kind of like having local food, and products to have less of a negative impact on nature. So in a similar way, I could be actually doing a good thing. Just need to be faithful to my believes and only recommend products that I truly believe that are well made, and can help the planet. In one way or another of course.

It’s going to be an interesting road down the farm, let’s see where it develops!

Susan Shepherd

Fiber Farm Trip to Chaoyang Acrobatics Show in Beijing!

It’s been a great year and Summer is here to stay. With not too much work in our hands and a travel-mind set for the whole farm, as well as the kids especially.. I can only say that our adventurous trip to the capital of Beijing has been more than rewarding. With so much to see and do, it is difficult to choose the right thing for the kids. Most of the time, we used our developed sheep shearing skills to direct our noses to somewhere, safe! With a boasting modern society ahead, it was easy to pick the cleaner and polished side of the city. And don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with some good old mud and smells, like the one that our farm is loaded with. Just in a city environment, it’s better to pass for the sake of your health.

Now not just an ordinary memory, but a long lasting memory in our stimulated minds. One of the most worth wile experiences on our trip to Beijing was definitely the one in Chaoyang Theater, which is indeed the best acrobatics show ever! These super trained, and wild acrobatic performers looked like sheep in the organized way. And before you think that we have gone totally crazy, do hear us out!

Beijing Acrobatic Show

These were some of the most fantastic acrobatic feats we witnessed throughout the wonderful show of the Chaoyang Acrobats!

Dancing Lions

Surely everyone has seen in the movies, how the Chinese imitate animals inside interesting costumes, perhaps in festivals. Chinese acrobatics take this on a totally new level, by performing stunts inside these animals. While you might not spot a sheep, surely lions were exiting enough which made thrilling jumps and cool movements.

Stacked Chairs & Handstands

While you would think that stacking dozen or so chairs on top of each other would be hard enough, these acrobats always beat the performance by doing handstands on top of these huge piles. It’s just a pure delight to see how simple furniture can become a stage prop filled with such care and elegance. Some say that this act resembles a peacock because of spreading ones body in such a proud and flashy manner.

Plate Spinning

This is surely the classic of the classics and it just hits you every time. Our visit to Chaoyang Theater gave us the possibility to see this very favorite of feats up and close. Turns out that there is simply a loss of words when imagining how on earth they manage to rotate hundreds of plates with long, and thin sticks. Of course, this one is always performed by stunning, beautiful girls which makes it even better!

Diabolo Play

While it sound like some bad video game, this is in fact a hugely classic and fun trick. Best of all, kids can practice it at home. Lucky for us, Chaoyang Theater did carry a diabolo for purchase which made the perfect souvenir! For those not familiar with this twirling trick that makes your head spin, try it out!

Hoop Jumping

Jumping through hoops might sound like fun, but this is something much more. With a combination of a few somersaults and back flips, while diving through small spaces is simply thrilling. They say it’s all about the timing, which for sure these acrobats have perfected to the ultimate. I did not see one single flaw in this, or any other feats during the whole theater perforamance.

Chaoyang Theater

Over all, the above tricks were very well done and gave us more insight to the wonders of China. We consider Chaoyang Theater as a sort of a must when looking for things to do in Beijing. It was not that high on our list when we got there, but having went there and witnessed the whole show from start to end in person. Now we finally understand, how important Chinese acrobatics is both culturally and in terms of tremendous entertainment value! This and the other experiences we had in China were valuable for understanding our red colored neighbor. Now, the Vineyard Fiber Farm of Martha can proudly say that we know something about what is Chinese and how it effects our American style of living. Just like in Chaoyang, or anywhere else in the world, we must be compassionate towards to each other. To learn each others way, so as not to discriminate anyone. This is the only path that humans, animals and nature can live peacefully together. Shearing our sheep as we go, the acrobatics of China has taught us exactly that!

God bless everyone and have a great day. See you next time for a new blog about, who knows what from the farmers themselves! Love and greets, Martha & Susan.

Little Story About Shearing Sheep

At Sheep Farm

The Mackie farm is a small place, tucked just on the edge of farm. It runs ten acres large and houses seven people, all of which help to work the land and tend the animals. It’s been in the family for years to come and will be in the family for years.

Mostly, the property is devoted to farming. They do tomatoes and squash in the summer and switch to corn in the fall. There’s always a good supply of pumpkins come October and even a nice garden during the winter, where Mother Mackie grows her spinach and enough potatoes to last the family through the coming year.

There is, however, an old chicken coop. It’s made of wood and wire, and home to but a single hen who quit laying eggs long ago. Beside this coop is a small barn, just as worn but quite steady, with a pen hooked up to the rear entrance.

This is where the Mackie’s keep their sheep.

Benny, Gildo, and Orville are the oldest. Molly has only just now reached her second spring. This is the first time that she will be sheared – and, oh, she’s excited!

The young lamb keeps prancing about Tommy Mackie’s feet, bumping her head against his hands. She loves attention and the young boy is quite happy to give it to her, pausing in whatever task he’s involved in to give her a quick scratch or a few pets.

It’s not just a first for Molly, however. No, this is the first time that Tommy will be shearing the sheep on his own. He isn’t excited – he’s nervous! Shearing the sheep is a very important job, you see, and not just because the wool is useful.

No, this is one of the only times that you can really see a sheep’s body. With their thick wool out of the way, it gives Tommy a chance to look each sheep over, better than they have been in months. He runs his hands over their bodies, slick with lanolin, and makes sure that there are no issues kept hidden.

Benny is a little skinny but he’s getting old and Tommy isn’t too worried. He makes a note on the board that hangs on one of the barn walls to up his feed.

By Molly’s name, Tommy leaves a note saying that the ewe doesn’t like the noise of the clippers. She’s hard to get trimmed up but, somehow, the boy manages – even if it isn’t the prettiest job.

Spring is a time of new starts. As wool scatters the ground of the old barn, Tommy knows that this is the truth. And this start…for himself and Molly…is a very good one.

Fiber Farm Visiting China, Connecting America & Show Life Shanghai

Chinese Farm Landscape

Good day to everyone! We sincerely hope that everyone is having a great spring or summer. Which is a fruitful day as the earths plants and animals spring into life. We are loving it so far, and decided to hit you with another insightful article about our lives. Now, in the global manner as it is taking trend!

It seems that the adventures in China just never end. With so many things to do, and see. From the beautiful nature, animals and other natural wonders to an exiting world of theatre, nightlife shows. Best of all, a large part of it is very much compatible with children, those who we want to educate into a global mind about farming, and understanding people all around them. That’s at least what has best motivated us, and in combination with the performing arts, what could be better and more exiting for both us and the kids!

We chose to visit Beijing for the reason that it is the very main nerve, and center of the whole issue. In other words, it’s the best place to start with by far. To our surprise there are fiber farms in the surrounding mountains, which go on with their traditional lives in respect with Chinese customs of producing ecologic fibers. What surprised us in such a huge way, was the most beautiful and fun people that we had met. I believe that this was one of the biggest highlights for kids during our trip in China. Not forgetting all the cute animals we got to meet. For some reasons we saw more goats than sheep. To which we had no idea what could have contributed to the fact. Either way the countryside in the surrounding neighbourhood was surprisingly refreshing, even though we had been warned about the bad weather at times.

We got to meet some interesting people by total luck, and one was the wonderful folk at Show China, which is a popular company with different branches in Chinese cities. They are dedicated to introducing exiting nightlife and are responsible for introducing the incredible, furry panda show in Beijing. That we fell in love with instantly of course as you can see from our previous blog post. Either way, Show China has been a great partner for our little adventure, which introduced to us anything from the imperial dynasty in China to the art of Peking Opera. Some of which we will go more into depth once the time will come. Balancing this blog with both factual stuff about farming stuff as well as articles about our personal lives and experience seems to be going really well and balancing out the blog. We want to show that China is a fantastic place indeed. Of course, just like anywhere they do have their problems. But sometimes it’s good to have them in clear sight so that it’s easier to confront them, and most importantly do something about them. This has become a kind of an international mission for us, with the ultimate goal of not just world wide benefit but also a far reached wellbeing within our home in the United States.

For those who are not just interested in reading about it in our blog, but also want to visit the wonderful country. Another good recommendation that would be a great starter for you all, is the Show Beijing channel on YouTube. They have been nice enough to put together show trailers of all the theatre spectacles around the city. I didn’t see one for Show Shanghai, but either way it is a simple fact that if you travel to China there is one thing that you cannot miss. That is Beijing of course. Our idea was to do a well balanced trip with nature, but navigation within the city is just much easier. One must think about convenience when traveling alone, because we don’t want to use a tour guide for the whole trip as it does come a little expensive. To no surprise, China is just not as cheap as it used to be.

So, what does Martha’s Vineyard do in China is still open to the biggest question of all. Which is, how can we connect all the wonderful things that we learned to America. While we don’t have the answer to the question at right this moment, it is for sure that we will dedicate a good portion of this blog to tackling this issue. Our feeling is simply, that good information about Asian countries and their methods of agriculture, and fiber production is way too little. Can we be the expert channel for this information. We hope so! But future will tell if we can really pull these concepts together or not. Wish us good luck and see you in the next edition of the fiber farm family.

Best regards, Martha & Susan.

Sheep Shearing Basics: How to Guide

Shearing Sheep

Shearing sheep is a process that’s been used for many years to harvest fleece, cool sheep, and prepare for lambing season. Shearing is most commonly done in early spring, but you may find that some sheep with long fleeces are shorn twice a year. While PETA may want you to think that sheep shearing is a gruesome and painful process, a good shearer won’t leave a single nick on the animal. Even if the clippers happen to snag the skin and leave a mark, it’s no different from shaving your beard and sticking a piece of tissue on the cut. Lanolin, a wax secreted by the sheep, helps heal cuts and keep the sheep skin and in good condition.

There are two general types of tools that can be used to shear a sheep. Hand shears were originally used and still may be in some places, but electric shears have become commonplace for modern shearing due to their speed and safety. While electric shears can be quick and safer, it’s also important remember that they have different care and may get hot. Keeping the blades clean and lubricated can ensure the best and quickest clipping experience as well as a long life for the clippers.

To begin shearing, you sit your dry sheep between your legs and make sure she is comfortable and balanced. Begin shearing down in long strokes from the breastbone. The teats can get cut by shears snagging them in the wrong way, so it’s best to cover the teat with your non-shear hand and clip around it. Clip the legs when the belly is done, and then turn the sheep so unclipped areas are accessible. Shear the rest of the legs, head, tail and neck. Take special care around the neck and ears because they’re sensitive areas that can be easily cut. Shift the sheep’s position so that she’s on her side, and continue to navigate her body so that you can shear long, parallel strokes to finish taking off the rest of the wool. Remember that thinner animals may be more difficult to clip due to the angles, and cut wrinkled skin can be avoided by pulling the skin taut. If a sheep has been shorn well, the fleece will be in a large sheet and there will be no “second cuts”. Going back to cut more fleece off after the original shear will leave short pieces of wool which aren’t economically ideal. Trying to spin these second cuts can make a weak yarn that won’t have the quality of a yarn from a whole fleece made entirely from the first cut. If you’re selling fleece, a bad cut can cost you money!

Crutching is a form of partial-shearing a sheep. This cut isn’t for making money off of fleece, but rather making lambing and suckling easier. Shearing for lambing season involves clipping around the vulva to make the birthing process cleaner, and then taking wool away from the nipple area so that lambs can find nipples with ease.

If you want to put your shearing skills to the test you can enter yourself in a shearing competition. Yes- that’s right, they compete for who can shear a sheep best! These competitions aren’t only judged based on the fleece that was sheared. A shearer is docked points for a sheep that is cut, and any abuse or poor handling of the sheep is not acceptable.

Shear your sheep with confidence and compassion and you’ll hopefully have an un-nicked sheep with no second-cuts on the fleece. Frustration has no place in the shearing world, and your patience and care to make the sheep comfortable will make for a faster and less-stressful shear. Whether you’re getting ready for lambing season, harvesting fleece, or preparing for a show, a good shearing will help your cause and set you ahead. Perfecting the shearing process may take time, but it will be worth the practice!

Getting to Know Pandas & Fiber Production in China

Shichahai Theatre Panda Show in Beijing

Since we have been stuck in this farm for so many years, happily that is.. we decided to extend our world knowledge on things like fiber production, nature and animals.. or just anything related to farms in China on a general level. What made us start this courageous voyage, was the need to find the truth behind the badly painted nation of China. Also we are doing this for the sake of our children, who deserve to live in truthful awareness of what is happening to this planet. Nowadays, with media and news all over the world.. not just China or America. Is guilty of not telling the exact truth on news, or more over for not giving out the information that we need to make our own choices.

As a farmer on our vine yard fiber farm, there are many important decisions to make. Depending on the way you grace animals, or grow vegetables one has a huge impact on our nature. Right now, and most importantly it all accumulates to the health of our planet in the future. You could say, that we got sick of American news channels telling us that the forces on the other side of the border are evil. Thus, focusing the attention on a totally irrelevant subject, when the first thing we should look at is how we do things ourselves. As well as what example are we setting out for the rest of the world. It’s a shamefull thing in fact, what the United States are doing to this world in a suttle way that just kills us slowly but surely. With increasing cancer rates and other illnesses, we are bathing in an ever increasing GPD, which had nothing to do with the well being of our nation.

So for the destination of our planned trip, was an obvious choice. The big nation of The People’s Republic of China. It was going to give us a view from the other side, from a country that is so important to the America.. especially when it comes to the farming industry. We are taking our kids with us too, and will be landing to Beijing with them. Planning is still going forward, but we need to find a way for our children to connect with China.. and to become friends with the culture and their people. So we found this amazing looking, fun show known as “Kung fu Panda Show Beijing“. It looks to be just what the kids need.. Something very traditional Chinese such as Kung Fu performance, combined with nature and animals,, the well known and loved Panda element. Sure, we want to go to the Panda zoo too, even though we were kind of against it at first. Because obviously in the zoo, they are captive and not in such good conditions and we want to see more positive stuff too. That’s why this popular Beijing show is going to give that right boost to get our children, as well as the adults hooked on China. Do you think it will work? Time will tell. Rest of the planning is going full steam. For example, we are looking for fibre manufacture factories as well as smaller farms to visit.

Organising such a trip doesn’t seem to be too easy, but should be fine as long as we can find the right tour guide for the job. All suggestions are extremely welcome, so please leave a comment with us if you have any experience from Beijing or rest of the China. Also if you have seen kung fu or the panda show at Shichahai Theatre, or know about the theatre stuff there, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Here is the trailer & we would love to know what you think. About the future plans, we will keep you in touch!


Martha Gibbs

Quality Farm Products

Quality Wool

We have always believed in sustainability and we will continue to support who share the same believes with us. Collecting wool and other methods of creating fabrics for clothes for example is a responsable work. It is easy to have a negative impact on the nature and the animals that provide rich resources for us. In fact, it is as easy as following the steps and guidance of big corporations that want to take this world to a more productive and less caring world. There are aso many chemical products and electricity consuming machinery available that it’s easy to be loored in by the great promises of wealth in large number production. We never bought into that, because we are fourth generation farmers that know better.

And the question is not always is it ecologic or not, often enough we are talking about more simple down to earth things. Like enjoying our work, making a more durable and quality product in the process of traditional production, and such things. It’s all part of the huge picture and it seems that wherever we look people to choose to concentrate on one part of that concept of farming. We think that this in it’s essense is what is hurting the farming industry. We want to correct that, and bring awareness.. in fact, we want to bring back not just quality farming products but fun and enjoynment in life. When you truly have that in the essense of tradition and beauty, you can really make this world a better place.

A one that we can confidently leve for our children. Future generations are probably the most precious resource we have. Let’s make good yarns for them and their children.

Martha Gibbs

Keeping the Flock Warm


It’s winter and the best time for our wool to flourish in this world, when people most need it. We made anything from premium yarns, roving to fleeces in our very own island. In our past, business has been tremendously successful and our products very popular. But what for us made them special, was the longetivity of use which will continue from generation to generation. It is because we put so much love into our products that 100% originated from our farm. We are a flock of warm hearted people. And that is not a title that we invented for ourselves, it’s what people have been saying about us for years!

It’s because we know the value of keeping our bodies warm and want to share that same experience with others. There is just nothing better, or at least not that we can imagine it.. than having a beautifully crafted wool shirt to keep you warm over the winter. The very same products that we sold over the years, are the very same that we have been wearing ourselves. It’s really a beautiful cycle of life that starts from the farm.

In these days, our flock of sheep and other animals that have provided the wool of us has become less. And our lives have become more meditative, while still respecting the nature and continuing with tradition. We never went into the business, because of a financial motive. And that is perhaps one reason that made us so successfull. We heard the most rediculous things, such as that long lasting products could not make a profit. For us this was not the case, and we are enjoying the effects with out simple lives.

Let’s keep warm! <3 Martha Gibbs, Vineyard Fiber Flock

A Vineyard Fiber Welcome

Beautiful Farm

A warm and big handed welcome from the fun and loving Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm team! We must admit, that out lifestyle got the better of us, which concluded is huuuge downtime for our website. But just like mom always use to say, if you cant hear from them, it’s probably because they are having too much fun. And this is exactly the case, we have been busy making yarn, farming, studying and planning the future. The years have passed fast, and they have been very exiting too. And even if we have some extra time to spare, probably we use it for knitting sweaters and so on.

So why have we come back, well the answer is pretty simple. We have a new member on our farm, who has It skills. Yes, we are very thankful for the amazing Danny, who has been more than helpful to fix our website and put it back online. Thank you Danny!! Now all we have to do is write, and ask Danny to put some nice pictures in for us. He is doing photography too, so expect a lot of beautiful pictures of the farm as well!

As for the writing team, we are now the two of us that have promised to be more or less engaged with the operatings. Susan Shepherd & the one who’s writing at the moment, Martha Gibbs. Well, agriculture is seeing interesting times so we have a lot to say too. We want to preserve our culture and have our voice heard. So please, throw away your preconceptions and read on!

Martha Gibbs