Friday, February 7, 2014
For those of us who are shepherds, this is like Christmas. We are having lambs. After last summer, carefully choosing which seven of our precious ewes to breed, and to which rams (two champions), making sure all are happy together, then watching nutritional status throughout five months of gestation, the little ones are beginning to arrive. This is the most exhausting time of year, what with frequent barn checks and births occurring at all hours (frequently very early mornings). I really like to be present for the births. So this is the time of year that I’m most likely to put cat food in the coffee grinder instead of beans, or brush my teeth with hand cream. But with occasional naps, fueled by sufficient amounts of coffee or breakfast tea and Scottish oat cakes, we manage to get through it. And it’s a joy to see the new little ones & make sure they get off to a good start.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
Tomorrow, April 13, we will host several farms for the Wonderful Woollies Fleece Sale! This is our third annual event & we are looking forward to seeing many of our old & new friends. We have some new farms participating, so here’s the complete list: Carol Boswell Camelot Ranch Alpacas; Dawn Deshmane CVM/Romeldale; Karen Washington Felicity Fibers/Alpaca; Joanne Martinis Windy Hill Farm Gotlands; Jeff & Niki Kuklenski JNK Llamas; Kathy Green Ferndale Fibers, various crosses & fiber; Rocky Long Little Orchard Farm CVM/Romeldale; John Park Marietta Shetlands; Nancy Giordano Nancy’s Farm, various crosses, fiber & fun batts; Patty Yager alpaca; Rhonda Wreggelsworth River Ranch Angora goats; Doug & Yvonne Madsen Spinners Eden Farm CVM/Romeldale; Allen Berry Spindle Smith carved spindles & tools; Brigget LeClair Wake Robin Farm, Icelandic. As you can see, we have a lot of variety this year - hopefully something to please everybody. I know I love to experiment with fleece from different breeds of sheep. Each has it’s unique place & best purpose in the fiber world. Here's one of our fleeces: As for our farm, we are happy that we got all our fiber back from the processors in time for the sale. A Great Big Thank You to both Creekside Fiber Mill in Lebanon OR, and Fantasy Fibers in Canby OR for their excellent work! We highly recommend both. We have roving from both mills, and some beautiful mill-spun yarn from Creekside available this year. And as a special treat, Spinners Eden collaborated with JNK llamas to create two gorgeous roving blends. One is a combination of our Athena, with JNK’s Sirmione - a great pairing. The other is a CVM/llama/silk blend that is to die for. I had some moorit yarn spun, and wondered how it would do in the dyepot, so I tried some bright primary colors. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, using Jacquard Acid Dyes in Brilliant Blue and Fire Red, and Dharma Trading’s Acid Dye in Brilliant Yellow. The thing I like about using acid dyes is that the only mordant needed is vinegar. That’s the acid. Not scary at all. :-) Using acid dyes does require some heat. I did the blue yarn in an old Goodwill crock pot that I use only for dyeing, & left it in for a couple of hours to cook, and a couple of hours to cool. (If I had wanted a more uniform color, I would have used a bigger pot with more room for the yarn to move around.) Back to the fiber sale, we will open at 10 a.m. Early birds pay double. Just kidding. Address is 5740 Mertz Rd., Bellingham WA. We are 1.1 mile east of Hannegan Road on Axton. It’s a straight shot east from downtown Ferndale, & if you get to Shuksan Golf Course, you’ve gone three blocks too far. :-) Hope to see you!
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
We had three sets of triplets and two sets of twins this year (one stillborn). That’s ten rams & two ewes. Yes, it’s one of thooooose years again. The last time we had a year like this was 2007, the year Blossom was born. She was the *only* ewe out of that year’s crop of lambs. One of the rams is a runt - seriously. For our breed, a three pound lamb is tiny. Other flock members are double to quadruple his birth weight. Little “Tyrion’s” body temperature dropped severely (92.8) after birth so I brought him into the house & put him in a sink of warm water to bring it up. He had a few pretty significant ups & downs through his first few hours, but he made it through, and is now strong, healthy & back in the barn with his siblings. He still gets bottles of lamb milk replacer three times a day, but he is learning to be a sheep out with the flock. Although we miss having him in the house, charging around like a little version of the cartoon Roadrunner in his oversized diapers & onesie, I’m glad he’s able to be out there.We have a lot of spectacular colors & patterns - spots of various shapes & configurations, grays, moorits, chocolates. . . I can hardly wait to see how their little fleeces grow out. And yes, we do plan to show at Black Sheep Gathering this June. By that time, we should be able to assess the quality of their fiber & body structure.
Right now, I’m busily sorting through washed fleeces & getting them off for processing. We should have some roving & yarn available (as well as raw fleeces), for the Wonderful Woollies sale in April. :-) And speaking of Wonderful Woollies, we have a few new farms participating! So there will be more diversity in sheep breeds represented, along with angora (mohair) goat & camelid. And our favorite spindle maker will be here, too! Allan Berry will be here with his hand-carved Turkish spindles & crochet hooks, each a work of art. Save the date - APRIL 13, 2013 (Saturday) 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Hope to see you here!
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Lambs are due any day now. We’ve been saying that since just after Christmas. The barn is ready, with lambing jugs (stalls for the ewe & lambs’ first couple of days) in place, veterinary supplies updated (just in case assistance with birth is needed), a pile of clean towels to dry off newborn lambs, and warming lamps in place. The pregnant ewes have been sheared, immunizations updated, pedicures done, and the ones that want (particularly Helena) get back rubs whenever they want. They all look to be in good condition, well-nourished but not too heavy (which can cause difficulties with birth). So we’re looking forward to some healthy lambs very soon. At this point, the barn is very peaceful, with the girls up & around during the daytime, and tucked into ample amounts of fresh straw bedding at night. I’ll post photos as soon as something happens. Think pink!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
What a busy Summer and Fall this has been! I should start with a huge apology for not making it to Black Sheep Gathering in June. It was a disappointment for us, but we were very grateful that Doug had the time blocked off from work. Doug's Dad's health took a turn for the worse, and Doug needed to travel to Arizona to organize Dad's relocation to Bellingham. Dad is now getting the kind of care he needs, and is just a few minutes away from family. We did get to Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in September. What a great event! As one fellow shepherd commented, there is no place we'd all rather be at that time of year. . . the perfect end to Summer, in the company of our many fiber friends. We have set the date for Wonderful Woollies next year - April 13, 2013. More later. . .
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
to everybody who participated in or attended our annual Wonderful Woolies sale! I hope you had a fun day.