Spend some time driving the township roads and you are bound to find one of the treasures that make this township a wonderful place to live. One of these treasures is the 20-acre Foxcross Farm on Yard Road.
If you are looking for the “Best in New Jersey” wool fleece you don’t have to go any farther.A wall of Blue Ribbons in the wool shop not only displays Best in N.J. fleece, Best Natural Color fleece, Best in Show fleece, and Best White fleece but there are also plenty of ribbons for the show lambs and adult sheep.
The flock’s devoted shepherds, husband and wife team Anthony Cordasco and Julie Gerow, divide their time between their professional lives and the farm. As township residents for sixteen years they have enjoyed bringing their pre-revolutionary war home back to a working status with their show sheep and small roadside stand featuring organically grown heirloom tomatoes, garlic, and flowers.
Foxcross Farm’s Romney sheep are bred for show, pets and their luxurious wool. From the youngest member of the flock, Fred, who won Champion Jr. Ram lamb at the National Romney Show in Springfield Mass to the oldest, Teasel, who was Champion Romney Ewe at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, the select natural color and white flock of registered Romney’s are all winners.
The Romney is a handsome animal. It traces its roots to the marshy area of Kent in England and thrives in our humid NJ climate. It is a dual purpose breed, that is, it can provide both meat and very high quality fleece for spinning into yarn. At maturity, Romney males weigh about 225 – 275 pounds and ewes weigh 150 – 200 pounds. Anthony and Julie have focused on raising their sheep for wool and outdoor pets. The Romney’s fleece is lustrous; it hangs in separate locks, with minimal cross fibers between the locks.It is also high yielding and easily spun. There is a range in natural color from a brilliant pearl-white through the silvers, oatmeals, and browns to black. Romney’s fleece is also known as “the hand spinner’s favorite.”
The coated fleeces are sometimes sold as raw fleece right off the sheep after shearing and the buyers process the wool. Because the sheep wear a coat over their fleece, the quality and color of the wool are not adversely affected by the sun and weather. In some instances the fleeces are washed, dyed, carded (straightened) into spinnable batts, and then sold to spinners. And finally, Julie may spin the wool herself and sell the resulting yarn to knitters and weavers. Because of the high quality of Julie and Anthony’s champion fleeces, spinners, weavers and knitters may reserve specific fleeces years ahead.
Hand raised, black or white lambs for show, pets and spinner’s flocks are for sale in the spring. Repeat buyers can attest that the gentle, friendly and pretty lambs make good outdoor pets for people with even a few acres of pasture. The cost of raising sheep is nominal. The sheep feed most of the year on pasture, but in the winter they are fed hay. Romneys are a hardy, vigorous breed and they do best outdoors year round. Julie said, “A sheep farmer once told me, never spend more for your equipment than for your sheep.” She said a three sided shelter is sufficient so the sheep have protection from bad weather.
Originally from Westfield, Anthony and Julie searched the Delaware Township area for a number of years before they found the perfect property. The rambling stone house with welcoming porch, pastures, woods, and the Third Neshanic River running through it was a dream come true for them – and they have worked hard to preserve the house as well as the property.
Foxcross Farm Fiber and Craft Studio reveals the facets of their handiwork and both are members of the Covered Bridge Artisans, a local group of artists who open their studios each year in November.
Besides Julie’s profession as computer analyst for a leading pharmaceutical company, she is a teacher of hand spinning and dyeing with year round classes for those who enjoy the fiber arts. The studio is filled with spinning wheels, drum carders and fibers of all kinds. Baskets filled with mohair, llama, silk and wool abound in vibrant jewel colors. Julie selects from this rich palette to fashion her hand spun yarn which she sells to knitters and weavers.
Anthony, who teaches woodworking and computer science at a Somerset County school is also a metal smith who works in forged iron, silver hollowware and gold jewelry as well as a woodworker making custom carvings and pieces of furniture. Anthony’s work has been shown in the National Metals Museum in Memphis Tennessee, N.J. Savvy Magazine, PC Magazine, as well as in shows locally and across the country. His bronze and stainless steel sundial stands in front of the Hunterdon County Court House and his latest sundial will be placed in the new Memorial Park behind Main Street in Flemington in June.
Anthony and Julie also believe in volunteering their time in the community. They often take part in Delaware Township’s Thanksgiving in the Country, and they partake in the annual Christmas re-enactment of General Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. Anthony is a mediator for Hunterdon and Somerset counties and he was an EMT for the Westfield Rescue Squad, a Lt. Commander in the Watchung Power Squadron, and a Trustee for the Garden State Sheep Breeders Association.
Anthony and Julie believe Delaware Township is a tranquil community hidden among the hustle and bustle of suburban New Jersey. Anthony loves the township’s narrow roads and its rural character. Although it is very quiet on Foxcross Farm, Anthony believes the sound of neighboring traffic is becoming louder. When asked how the township could make farming better for him, Anthony said, “Lower the speed limits on the township roads”.
Visitors are welcome to the farm, especially at lambing time. Stop by Foxcross Farm and hug a lamb!