In 1995 while trying to come up with a name for her new farm in West Barnstable, Toni Malouf decided she had “not a thought” about it. The name stuck and Knot-a-Thot Farm was born with a primary focus on sheep and an original sheep population of about 40.
Toni, a native CapeCodder, and her husband LeRoy, who hails from Texas, spent 25 years in NewHampshire tending a 140-acre farm that supported 150 sheep, 35 goats and 25 to30 llamas before settling down to a smaller operation in West Barnstable. Knot-a-Thot sits on 15 acres at the far end of Willow Street down a long dirt drive. The 5 acres in use are currently home to 16 Corriedale & Rambouillet ewes and two rams, 11 Angora goats and 18 llamas and alpacas. Toni reckons that about half of the Angora goats found on the Cape today originated with her herd.
Knot-a-Thot is wordplay referring to wool. Even though Toni is slowly decreasing her live stock numbers, the breeds she has are chosen for their wool. The animals all produce beautiful fiber, including the llamas, whose personalities captivate Toni completely. Fiber is the farm’s main product and Toni’s passion. While Toni spins some of her own wool, the rest is sent to the Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, Vermont. There, a ‘green spinning’ process, chemical and wash-free, is employed. The shop at Knot-a-Thot offers all natural yarns and mohair. Some of the wool is dyed lovely colors and some is left natural. Toni supplies fleeces to the Cape’s large community of local spinnersand also sells her own hand knitted pieces.
Toni and her husband are very committed to the preservation of and education about an agricultural life. To that end, they host numerous school programs so young children canlearn about shearing, lambing, wool preparation, spinning, weaving, felting and caring for livestock. According to Toni, leading the lambs and llamas topasture is a favorite activity among children as well as adults.
Knot-a-Thot, which is patrolled by four good-natured Border Collies, does sell lamb meat, but almost as an afterthought. The sales help support the wool and Toni has recently seen an increase in purchases of freezer lamb. She says people are more interested in knowing what they are eating and are increasingly looking for local sources of meat. For $3.50 a pound you can reserve a whole or half naturally raised (i.e., no antibiotics or hormones) lamb, custom cut to order.
Knot-a-Thot farm is located at 625 Willow Street, West Barnstable.