“I was just giving everybody some dinner!” Tabbethia Haubold-Magee chirps into the phone. It takes me a minute to realize that “everybody” means her llamas, alpacas, angora goats, sheep, rabbits, and pot bellied pig. Tabbethia is a professional shearer, along with a host of other skills, and the only person in Long Island that is breeding and raising llamas.
Long Island Livestock Company, which Tabbethia started in 1996, is a 17-acre farm in Yaphank. “Every day is different here,” Tabbethia says, “I wear a lot of different hats.” And that’s no joke. Tabbethia travels the East coast as a professional shearer, shearing over 1,000 animals a season. She has a group of kids who come to her farm once a week to practice their llama-handling skills and then travel to llama shows – similar to a horse or dog show – around the East coast. She and her llamas participate in animal assisted therapy programs at rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities and she does public shearing demonstrations. In her spare time, she runs a business.
Next to the laundry list of educational and professional activities, it’s easy to forget the yarn and skincare aspect of Long Island Livestock Company. But the handcrafted, local, artisanal fiber and skincare products are far from an afterthought. All of the company’s fibers are sheared by Tabbethia, and her products run the gamut from raw fleece to premade yarn. She has a line of her own products, like socks and blanket rugs, and is also a member of a fiber product co-op with other artisans. Tabbethia aims to “pull in people with other skills” into her own company, so as to make it a “cooperation of some kind.”
Long Island Livestock Company also has a line of handcrafted skincare products that use lanolin as the base. The use of lanolin “dates back to early farming days,” and Tabbethia says that people often exclaim, “my grandmother used to use that!” Of course she did, Tabbethia says, because it really works. Lanolin is a difficult resource to get your hands on, but she enjoys getting people “involved with a byproduct they don’t normally interact with.” All locally handcrafted, each ingredient of the skincare products is 100% natural and most are organic.
In a field dominated mostly by men, Tabbethia is a pioneer in fibered animal care. Her 17-acre farm in Yaphank is a hub of education, community, and grassroots focus. It’s clear that the animals are more that just her business – they are her passion.
This Sunday from 10-4 there will be a free open house “wool party” at the farm in Yaphank. To learn more about Long Island Livestock Company, visit their Facebook page. You can find them at some farmers’ markets or special events, or contact them directly by email or phone.