Today was the 15th annual sheep shearing day and herb sale at historic Greenbank Mills and Phillips Farm in Wilmington, Delaware. I had not been to the Mill in many years, and was anxious to meet the sheep and the people who volunteer to staff the complex.
The first mill at Greenbank was reportedly called the Swede’s Mill dating from 1677. Not much is known of this mill except a vague description and undeciphered archaeological remains. In the 1760’s, the present gristmill was built as a merchant mill to export flour. According to local legend, George Washington posted a guard at the mill when American troops took up positions along the Red Clay Creek after the Battle of Cooches Bridge..
Surviving the centuries, the mill suffered a devastating fire in 1969, then Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc in 1999, followed by a 2003 freak storm bringing 12 feet of water down the Red Clay Creek in 2 hours time. Since 1987, a non-profit group, Greenbank Mill Associates has owned the property, acquiring the adjacent Phillips House in 1997.
There is a young couple living in the house now as resident curators. I spoke to the young woman, Christina, who, with her family members with plumbing and contracting experience, has been gradually repairing damage left by many years of neglect.
And then there are the Leicester Longwoods and Delaine Merino Sheep, which were getting their Spring shearing today. Craftspeople were carding and dying wool, and even making colorful roping from the wool, which was strong enough for some youngsters to use for a game of tug of war!
A bonus was that I got a nice little lavender plant to remind me of the day!