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The Story of Ember Down

Sharon grew up on a dairy farm in the Heidelberg district where her grandmother, Granny Lloyd, kept some geese – as was the practise in those days on most farms: every animal had to earn their keep. The geese had down and feathers to give; they also had the final say on the approach speed of any human to the backdoor – except for Granny Lloyd: she had the final say on EVERYTHING.


 


 

Granny Lloyd made duvets and pillows from her geese, slowly gathering enough filling until she could make the next item. She was a tad eccentric with a wonderful sense of humour; above all she was meticulous. She made sandwiches and tea for the grandchildren, to be had at 11:00, EVERY day. she made biscuits with butter (how else?) and pretended to scold the children when they nearly scoffed them all as they came out of the oven- but she loved their appreciation. She went on holiday every year with the train, often taking Sharon with her – Granny Lloyd’s uncompromising insistence on courtesy and respect made for farewell’s, from the hotel staff at the end of the holiday, that rivalled a queen’s departure. Granny Lloyd worked very hard on the farm and Granny always appeared the lady that she was. Sharon inherited her love for geese from Granny Lloyd – we fully subscribe to Granny’s principles when we make your duvet or pillow.

 

Sharon started with Ember Down when we came to the farm; the interest in geese was the main instigator. Geese were duly gathered and I drove many miles, collecting these beautiful “old fashioned things” as Sharon very fondly calls them. Some from Colesberg, Bloemfontein, Theunissen, Henneman, Senekal and Bethlehem.

We researched manufacturing techniques and finally bought our equipment: Ember Down was born!

Sharon employs mostly women;  


 our area in the Free State is very poor with tremendous socio-economic problems. It is extremely gratifying to witness the positive progressive impact on people’s lives as their skill levels increase and the direct effect of that on their self-esteem. Walking through the factory on the farm, I am always struck by the happy atmosphere – we really strive for a happy work environment, believing that helps with product quality.

 

Early on, I realised that the jackals are a serious problem. We fenced many camps for the geese with jackal-proof fencing which solved that problem. Two legged jackals are still a serious issue and therefore the geese all come home at night and sleep in a special, large enclosure with two dams and wind-breaks. This is next to their breeding camp which is used once a year in breeding season: the best time of the year! Goslings start appearing around October and as a smile inducement, few things beat a yellow gosling



 The mothers are fiercely protective, using their elbows as the primary weapon. If you think it may be ineffective chat to the person who lost a front tooth to a goose upper-cut or the lady whose glasses was snapped in two, whilst on her face!

We opened our shop in Clarens, early in 2012 – it is just the best to discuss the virtues of an Ember Down duvet or pillow over a good cup of coffee and a scone from one of the many coffee shops in Clarens.