Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Work!

April 25, 2014

Yes, finally, after many applications and way too few interviews I have a job again! I am currently in training to be a monitor for a security company. One of my friends works there and recommended me to them. Eventually I will be transitioning to the midnight to 8 am shift, which will work much better for this night owl. Getting up at 6 to be to work by 8 am is very hard for me. I feel chronically exhausted even though I am actually getting more sleep than normal. Funny how our internal clocks run differently. It hasn’t helped that I am also coming down with something (all those wonderful new germs I’m being exposed to). I am very glad that the weekend is here, and hope to sleep my sickness away before Monday morning.

The biggest change when I move to the graveyard shift will be that I will change the time I feed the beasties from the late afternoon to the morning when I get home, after I milk. I will lock the babies away from their mom’s before I go to work (now I do it before I go to bed). It will be nice to have some income again, even if right now I feel like my head may implode from all the new information.

The animals are all doing well. I think I have finally blocked the crossbred ducks from escaping. Not only had I been worrying about their safety, but almost a week went by with the 2 brown females successfully hiding their eggs from me. The blue female apparently hadn’t been watching when they were getting out, because she was always in the pen. After I locked the pen down I found a nest under my lilac bush with 6 eggs in it. The next morning, one of the browns was very vocal while I was milking, and as soon as I went in the pen to collect eggs she dashed out the open gate. I let her go while I collected the 2 eggs from her pen and checked the chickens (who consider 7 am too early to be getting down to business). But when I looked under the lilac, the nest there was empty. It took me a while to figure out where she had disappeared to (across the alley way, under an aspen tree). As soon as I spotted her, she ran back to the pen, leaving behind a nest with 7 eggs! Mystery of the missing eggs solved! The weather has been cool enough that I was not worried about using the eggs (but it has been too cold at night for the eggs to be viable).

Unfortunately, I have not been nearly as successful at containing the goat kids. They are all still little enough to squeeze easily through the fence, and short of applying a layer of finer mesh fencing all the way around the pen my only hope is for them to grow quickly. They are enjoying the access to fresh grass that is denied their mothers (though I do let the does graze for a while after milking while I do other chores). They are cute little buggers, to be sure, and I am a source of great amusement when I sit on the ground in their pen. And they are learning to head to the barn when I go out after dark to put them to bed. They have half the barn to use now instead of just the crate, with some fresh hay that they don’t have to share with the big girls (who are all convinced that this is totally unfair).

I have been playing with all the milk, making more cajeta, yogurt and pudding. I am also putting the finishing touches on not one but two cheese presses, so hopefully I will feel better by Sunday so that I can make a couple of wheels of cheddar. They will not be huge, but that will actually work better for what I want. Definitely an improvement on my improvised set up the first time around. I’m down to the last little nub of that effort, and it has aged wonderfully so I am looking forward to making more. I know that the cheese will be a bit different since I will be using my own milk rather than cow’s milk, but I am hopefully that I can be successful with my efforts.

I’m going to leave you with this poster I found somewhere online (I’d provide the link but my brain is too full of new info to remember where I found this). It seems to me lately that the disconnect from the realities of what we use is becoming more prominent in our society. It’s not just about people not understanding where their food comes from, though that is huge (I think we’ve all seen the letter to the editor about how hunters should stop hunting and get their meat at the grocery store, where no animals were hurt). Personally, I’m glad that so much of a slaughtered animal gets used. Better than throwing things away!no such thing as a vegan

Su-su-summer-Time

July 23, 2013

Anyone else remember that song? Sorry if I planted it in your ear…

Summer so far has been dry and hot, prime conditions for fires especially when we get thunderstorms. The local firefighters are getting more of a workout than I’d like, but are doing a great job.

I finished up the Tour de Fleece in good shape. I accomplished most of the goals I set, and my final counts were over 2 pounds and 1.7 miles of yarn created. I’m still working on the final 2 goals that didn’t get done (spinning the silk cap on the Golding spindle and the moorit Romeldale/alpaca/camel down/silk blend, which has been much slower coming together than I had hoped). The blend is turning out very pretty; the different shades of brown really add a lot of depth to the overall color.   And since I added in spinning up one of the braids that I dyed before Fiber Market Day, I would definitely put this year’s Tour in the Win column. Here’s the final picture I posted on Ravelry, summing up my Tour. Day 23 collage

Last week, Mom finally made the decision to let her old Bull Terrier Ruth cross the Rainbow Bridge. She had been going downhill for a while, but it is always a tough decision to make. Since 1978, Mom has owned 4 Bullies. Ruth was the oldest at 14 years, 7 months. She was born the day after my Dad passed away, and was the last remaining dog from her breeder. This is an older picture of her, but this is how I will always see her. She was a great dog and her passing will leave a big hole. Ruth

Our County Fair starts in a week. I have entered 2 of the yearling ewes, 2 of the ewe lambs and 2 of the ram lambs. I am also hoping to get a mozzarella finished up later this week to take in on Saturday. I hate that we have to do things like that so far in advance (fair doesn’t start until Wednesday).  It means a special trip, and things aren’t as fresh during fair as they possibly could be. Not as big a deal for art work and things like cheese, but flowers and baked goods suffer. Oh well, at least we finally managed to get a separate class for the Romeldales. I decided not to enter the goat girls, which turned out to be a very good decision since the goat barn was filled to capacity about 2 weeks before entries closed. If they have nice udders after they freshen next year I will consider showing them again, but there didn’t seem to be much point this time around. Myrtle unfortunately can’t be shown, since I can’t register her even as a grade goat (she is half Nigerian Dwarf, and grade goats have to be from only standard breeds).

I made the decision not to enter the other local fair this year. I just can’t justify the added expense on my very limited budget this year. I will go and visit a time or 2. It was a hard decision to make. I enjoy the fairs, and I like showing at them.

My biggest news this summer is that I was contacted about judging Angora goats at the State Fair. Of course I said yes! I mailed back the contract this morning. Angoras haven’t been shown at the State Fair before, so they will be showing for ribbons only (no premium money this year). Mom has never been to the State Fair before, so I’m trying to talk her into going with me. My judging gig doesn’t start until 5 pm, so we could make a day of it. I think everyone should visit their State Fair at least once!

Going on Tour

June 30, 2013

Once again, I’m taking part in Ravelry’s Tour de Fleece. For those of you that don’t know about it, the Tour de Fleece is an opportunity for spinners to concentrate on their craft while the Tour de France is going on. You set your own goals, hopefully set yourself some challenges along the way (on the days the riders are mountain climbing), share pictures of your accomplishments, and have a chance at winning some lovely prizes. This year, I have offered up a prize from my Etsy shop.

My goals are pretty ambitious this year.

  1. I want to spin enough lace weight yarn from Merlin’s fleece for a spectacular lace shawl (pattern to still be determined). Merlin Day 1
  2. Blend the rest of his fleece with camel, alpaca, and silk (all shades of brown) and spin it up for a sweater. I still need to figure out the percentages, but I figure I will have at least 1 1/2 pounds of this.
  3. I am blending another fleece with the last of my own kid mohair and angora from a friend (69.4% CVM/14.4% mohair/16.2% angora). I’ve made the first pass through the carder with this, and plan on at least 2 more passes to blend the colors and fibers as completely as possible. There is a pound of this. It is amazing how much room it takes up at this stage. Here you can see the fibers filling the tote (wool at the bottom, kid mohair top left, bunny top right. Once I get the batts finished, I will twist them as I normally do and they will fill a single plastic shopping bag, as will the finished yarn. Air takes up a lot of space! romeldale bunny goat kid fluff
  4. I am finishing up a blue & purple roving I dyed a while back on my Golding spindle. Half is already spun up. Golding Day 1
  5. The other spindle project is a pink and purple silk cap, also dyed quite some time ago. It has been hanging around in my vendor booth for too long.
  6. For my challenge days, I want to create and spin a couple of art batts. I don’t get the appeal of art yarns, but I figure this will be a chance to stretch my boundaries and infuse a little more color into my Tour, which is pretty focused on natural colors.
  7. I am also hoping to make some head way on the gossamer merino/silk which has languished on the elec-spinner for way too long. It requires a lot of concentration to maintain the grist of this yarn, since a few extra fibers make such a huge difference when you’re only using about 20.

If I get done with all of those, I also have 7 alpaca fleeces that I am spinning on commission. There isn’t a huge rush on those, but they will be paying for my firewood this fall, so that is good incentive to get them finished! I’m still not positive how this woman found me (she was given my e-mail address by a yarn shop a few hundred miles away, in a city I’ve never visited), but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I enjoy commission spinning, once I can help my customer figure out exactly what they want in the way of yarn. Many knitters have no real understanding of the yarns that they work with, and it can be challenging to help them understand the possibilities when you are starting with raw fiber. Alpaca is a lovely fiber, but it has little to no memory, which can make knitting with it problematic. I will be trading out some of her fiber for wool, to give the yarn some recall, and we have discussed adding a bit of silk too. I would love to be able to make a living just spinning.

What else is happening, you ask? Well, Kid the Younger is now a college graduate! I am so incredibly proud of his accomplishment. He will be going on to graduate school, but this is a major step. His fiancée has been a huge support for him, and gifted him with a dozen bacon roses and a jar full of “life advice” from several friends and family members, which he read aloud at his graduation party. Many were funny and heart-felt, and he choked up when he got to the one I included from his big sister, “Dance Like No One is Watching”.

Black Sheep Gathering was the following weekend, and despite being slower than normal coming out of my annual depressive state (which has ended about the first of June normally, but has drug on a lot longer this year) I managed to attend. If I hadn’t been the contact person for the Spinner’s Lead I might have bailed on the whole idea, but not showing up wasn’t really an option. Over all, I’m glad I went. I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of friends that are also going through things this spring, and I think that helped all of us to feel better. The Spinner’s Lead was a rousing success, and I need to write up an article about it for the next issue of the Black Sheep Newsletter this week. A couple of us will be revising the rules slightly for the future, to try to encourage more people to take part.

I need to get to work figuring out my entries for Fairs this summer. I’m still not entirely out of my funk, which makes planning for the summer a bit of a challenge, but I know that I will enjoy it when it happens. Sometimes getting out of my own way is the biggest challenge of all!

Dealing With Death

April 24, 2013

Not the cheeriest of titles, I know. But this time of year, that is where my mind goes. Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of my beautiful Daughter’s passing, and in less than a month it will be the 4th anniversary of Sweetie’s passing also. For most folks, spring marks the beginning of things. For me, it marks ends. The passage of time has not made it easier, and I am a mess a lot of the time though I do a decent job of hiding it from most folks.

It is also an unfortunate fact that, as a farmer, I have to deal with death more often than most people do. It is simply a part of the life that I have chosen. I know that some people don’t want to think about the more unpleasant parts of my life style, and it won’t hurt my feelings if you choose not to read this post. I promise to get back to happier subjects next time.

Some years are worse than others. A few years ago, I grew to dread going out to feed, as it seemed that more often than not there would be a dead animal to deal with. Lambs dropped like flies, it seemed, and ewes too.

Inesh after Malcolm napping in a sunbeam  at KelliesThe first picture is Inesh just after I sheared him before breeding season a couple of  years ago. He is the father of all of last year’s lambs. Next is Malcolm as a lamb, then Merlin.

Since November, I have lost him and my other big ram, Kirk. They had been fussing with each other for a while, and I can only surmise that they caused each other some internal damage since they died within a week of each other. This month, I lost both Merlin (last year’s bottle lamb) and his twin Malcolm. Fine in the morning, dead when I went to feed in the afternoon. In reviewing my books, I have had problems with all of their mother’s lambs.

So, what does one do with a dead animal? I have always chosen to treat them with respect. Used to be, they would go into the ground here, with a pile of rocks on top to keep them from being too attractive to the neighborhood dogs. We have quite the graveyard in the back, including Kid the Younger’s horse (thanks to a good-hearted acquaintance with a backhoe).  My back, however, no longer makes it easy for me to dig that big a hole. So now I take a drive out to federal land and lay them to rest there. It is a solemn undertaking. No radio, my thoughts centered on the animal in the back of the van, words said in thanks to all they have given me. Their body goes back to nature, and I am always amazed at how quickly that happens. Within a month or less, there is little left but bones and fiber.

Most areas do not have an easy, inexpensive way to deal with animals that have passed. There used to be a rendering plant locally, but it closed due to new neighbors complaining about the smells (which were there before they built their fancy houses). The landfill does not knowingly take livestock. Some friends compost or burn dead animals, some donate them to zoos or places that keep large cats or wolves. It is a fact that all of us have to face, that none living survive forever. I am glad that I am able to honor my animals contributions to my life respectfully. I just hope that I don’t have to do it again soon.

On to happier subjects. Fiber Market Day went well and several of the bar code towels went to new homes. Last week, I did a new-to-me show, sharing a booth with Laura at the Small Farm Journal Fair. It is interesting how different things sell at different shows. I sold several of the silk scarves I’d dyed a few years ago, as well as some batts and finished items. We did a lot of demo-ing, and I took Myrtle and Naveed as pr animals. It was a fun show, but being on for 4 days straight was almost more than my poor introvert brain could handle. In addition, on the last day of the show I spent the morning at another venue teaching beginning drop spinning. Sunday I spent recuperating, so exhausted I could barely follow the tv show I was trying to watch.

I took advantage of the fact that I would be gone for most of the day during the show to wean the lambs (that way I miss most of the drama and noise). Naveed was the last to get weaned since he was at the show with me. When we got home, Myrtle joined the other 2 goats in with the wethers, while Naveed went back in the main pen with Ashe and the other lambs. Starting Sunday morning, I have been transitioning Myrtle to a milk goat. It is so nice to have fresh milk for my morning coffee! It has been slow going making the switch, but she gave me 8 ounces yesterday morning and 6 in the evening (as compared to 4 ounces each time the day before). I’ve got a jar of milk in the fridge that I am letting sit for a while to see if I can separate the cream off and make a little butter. Wish me luck! Making cheese will probably have to wait for next year, when I will hopefully be milking all 3 of the goats. All in all, I am very happy with my progress so far. Myrtle has a nice little udder for a first timer, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for Clara and Cloe.

Ashe is doing well, working really hard at getting up. I opened up the barn now that it’s just her and the lambs, and she gets herself outside to enjoy the sun. She still can’t straighten her front legs all the way, so she looks strange, but she can get herself a drink of water on her own and her spirit is unbelievable. She is putting on weight and eating like a horse. Even if she never recovers completely she is an inspiration, and she will be auntie to the lambs as long as she chooses to stick around.

Next up on my to-do list is getting all the stuff I didn’t sell listed on Etsy, so keep checking back there if you are interested in any of the bar code towels, batts or hand-dyed top & yarn.

Real Progress

October 8, 2012

Late last night I finally bit the bullet and put 4 of my patterns up on Ravelry. Look for Majora Acres if you’re interested. It was very exciting that not 10 minutes later I had my first “fave”. No sales yet, but I’m excited none the less. Hopefully this will give me the push I need to get the shawl patterns completed and up too. I’ve had lots of requests for a couple of them when I’ve worn the shawls at fiber shows. I’m naming all my patterns after mountains and waterways here in Oregon. There are 2 cowl patterns (Tumalo Creek and Crooked River), the Siskyous scarf and Paulina mittens. I’ve sold copies of the patterns at shows, but this is my first foray into online sales of patterns.

I also got a very nice note from someone who has a local tie, and she is encouraging me with my plan to put my sheep up for “adoption”. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. Being a farmer is hard work, and not cheap either. I think that, since I do have a very endangered breed and a lot of folks out there love the idea of having sheep but can’t at this point in their lives, we can help each other out. I need to take some really good pictures of each of the sheep separately and iron out a few details, but then I will be putting my sheep out there for the world to love.

The little girls spent a couple of days cleaning up where the hay pile goes and are now penned out behind the pasture in an area that has never been grazed (and hasn’t been mowed in about 3 years). They all got a little more practice being haltered and led. Maggie is a pro now, walking right next to me. The others are not quite so impressed with my plans, especially Milly. She pulled back as I was slipping the others back into the pen this morning and was LOOSE! It didn’t last long; I managed to get behind her and encourage her to join her sisters in the pen. When I caught the end of the lead rope, you would have thought I was the big bad wolf! She did her best to escape, but I sat down in the grass and held on while she tried jumping over and into me. I tried scratching her, looking for her sweet spot, but she wasn’t having any of that nonsense. It did give me a chance to really feel her fleece though, and I do have to say I am really impressed. It is incredibly soft, and I am looking forward to shearing all these babies as soon as possible.

The little boys are not real happy with me. In order to stay here, they all needed wethered. For those of you that don’t know, that means castrated. Wethers make better fiber, since they don’t have the seasonal hormonal surges that the ewes and rams do. Also, they tend to be less temperamental (those hormonal surges again). I still have to do Manny. He apparently took the judge’s comments to heart and he is too big to do with my bander. I am borrowing a larger one later this week when I return the borrowed ram and bring the goat girls home from their honeymoon. Hopefully at least one of them is pregnant. I could see if I can find someone to ultrasound them in a month or so, but I’m not sure it’s worth the money. Either they are or they aren’t, and if they aren’t there really won’t be anything I can do about it until next fall. It will be nice to have them home again.

As a reward for finishing the Monster Socks, I started a sweater for myself. The yarn is from 2 of my ewes, Eartha and her twin Etta. I had it spun up several years ago by a friend who had started her own mill (BelTine Farm). I worked up a sample, working up several different stitch patterns but finally settled on simple stockinette. I’m about half way through the body already. It will be a light weight sweater, which is exactly what I want. I’m kicking around an idea for something a bit heavier when this one is done.

 

 

Oh, and I planted a bunch of strawberry plants I got from my mom yesterday. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so that they can get well rooted before it gets nasty. Guess I have been a bit busy after all.

Getting Ready for OFFF

September 18, 2012

For all my good intentions, I just can’t seem to post on anything like a regular basis. I mean to, and then life happens, and soon it’s been weeks. I admire those of you out there who find something new to say on a regular timetable, and can’t really imagine having something new to tell the world every day. Oh well, it is what it is.

I am busy trying to get ready for Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) this weekend. If you happen to be in the Portland, Oregon area, head on over to the Canby fairgrounds. I’ll be in the sheep barn, sharing a booth with Laura. Next to us will be the booth for the American Romeldale/CVM Association. It’s a fun show, with lots of great vendors and animals too. I still want to spend a day at the carder, since I’ve got some black Romeldale and black alpaca just begging to be blended with some gold angelina. I’ve also spent several days working on a pair of new farm signs. I will hang them back to back at OFFF, so I’ll be visible from across the barn. I made 2 so that I can put them up in the sheep and goat barns at next years fairs.  Due to privacy issues, I have blurred out my e-mail and phone number, both of which are on the signs. This is a large version of my business card. I designed the celtic knot ram, and I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. Here’s hoping they hold up for many years use!

I’ve also managed to finish 2 more patterns to print out and take to OFFF, one for a scarf and one for a pair of mittens. After I get back from Canby, I’ll work on getting all my patterns up on Ravelry for sale. I’ve knit these both up as demos, and this is my mom modeling for me.  I couldn’t convince her to put on a long sleeved shirt, since it’s almost 90 degrees today.

The goat girls have gone off to visit with a husband. I’ll get them back in a month or so, hopefully pregnant. I am very excited about the prospect of having fresh goat milk to make cheese with as well as to drink. I’m using a boar buck, since I’m not interested in registered babies at this time. The breeder I got the girls from normally waits until her does are yearlings to breed them, but I’ve done my research & I’m comfortable with the idea of breeding them now. They are both a good size, and this way they will kid as yearlings. If I show them at fair again next summer, they will show as freshened yearlings instead of dry, and I won’t have to wait a whole year to get milk.

The ewe lambs are still in the movable pen, mowing the front yard for me. They are doing a much better job than the adult ewes did, and (knock wood), haven’t escaped from the pen. Depending on the lushness of the patch I put them over, they get moved in 4 – 24 hours. It’s a lot of work, but they are growing well. It always strikes me as funny how they will be belly deep in goodies to eat, but everyone’s head is through the fence and they are eating stuff outside the pen. Silly girls.

These are the results of Laura and my ice-dyeing a few weeks ago. We are both very happy with how these all turned out. Some will be used in the raffle drawings we have at OFFF, and the rest will be for sale. I may have to get some supplies to make a bunch of t-shirts for myself.

    

Catching Up Again

September 2, 2012

Well, I survived the 2nd county fair. Did ok there too, but nothing special. We had the same judge for the goats as at the first fair, but she saw most of the classes completely differently. Oh well, it was fun. This fair is much more like an old-fashioned county fair, so much more relaxed than the first. A little prize money added to the budget, which is never a bad thing.

The turkeys have been growing by leaps and bounds. I’m done to 7, which is the minimum I need to have any left for me. Today they got moved out to their new pen. They made the move fine, but Kid the Elder and I both ended up with huge scratches on our arms, and DIL ended up with a small bloody nose. Kid and I spent most of 2 days hanging netting over and around what used to be one of my goat pens. The little shelter in it unfortunately was partially burned by my idiot neighbor when he was burning weeds along the property line. I’ve jerry-rigged it for now. At some future date I will dig out the corner post of the shelter and replace it.

 There are plenty of weeds to keep them busy, they will have shelter from the worst of the weather, and they have 2 perches (one under the tarp, and one in the corner of the pen. They ate well after they were released in here, and when I went out to feed, they were hunkered down in the shade of the tarp:  You may have to click on the picture to see it bigger to pick them out. Amazing how they can disappear, as big as they already are.

Yesterday, I drove out to Laura’s. She had agreed to dye t-shirts for ARCA (our sheep breed association), and a large box with shirts, ball caps, tote bags and coffee mugs had been delivered. Since I had just finished test knitting a hat she wrote a pattern for, I drove over to give her my notes and to help with the dyeing. Laura has been playing with ice dyeing, and so we soaked all the cloth items in soda ash while we ate lunch, then scrunched them up on some filbert drying screens she had. Then we spread 30 pounds of ice across everything, and she started at one end with blues and purples,

 and I started at the other end with fuchsia, orange and yellow. We met in the middle, adding in green as we went  We spread plastic wrap over the top of everything and weighted down the edges with rocks, and then we tipped her skirting table over the top of everything to keep the wind from blowing things away. She’s going to rinse things off tonite or tomorrow morning and wash them to set the dyes. I’m really excited to see how everything turns out. We do a couple of raffle baskets at Oregon Flock and Fiber (OFFF), and this year will be using the tote bags to hold the donated items.

OFFF is coming up soon, and I need to get working on a few things for my inventory. Laura and I will be sharing a booth in the animal barn (which we also did last year). I still need to finish my farm sign too, but I did manage to pick up a couple of things at Michael’s the other day, which will look good on the tables filled with goodies. Plus, they are obviously sent by my daughter, since they both have her motto on them (Dance Like Nobody’s Watching)

Experimental Spinning

May 19, 2012

I am working on a commission job, a pair of historically accurate pair of handspun, handknit socks for a gentleman who does mountain man rendezvous. I started with about 9 ounces of washed locks from a Romney cross fleece. It was a pretty gross fleece, not at all skirted and full of veg matter, but it makes good sock yarn. I’ve been sitting and picking it by hand for a while, then ran it through the Patrick Green carder in 2-ounce batches.

Recently, I saw a Youtube video on pulling roving off the PG, so I decided to give that a try. As long as I was playing, why not see how the different preps spun off compared to each other, right? I prepped 6 ounces, and did one as a batt, one as roving drawn off the carder, and one as a roving pulled into roving by hand from the batt.

     I know, boring pictures. I spun them all on my electric spinner. Not as fun as the wheel, but the bobbin is much larger, so it’s no problem spinning and plying a single large skein.

 This is the single, and this is the yarn plied 

My observations are pretty straightforward – I couldn’t see any differences in the finished yarn. Most of that is probably that I’ve been spinning for a long time, and fine yarns are a specialty of mine. I did notice a few things though.

I started with the batt first. I spin from batts a lot. I rarely bother pulling strips off the batt, just manage how the fibers enter my hand. In a very colorful batt that may require paying a lot of attention, depending on how I want the colors to blend (or not). Color was not an issue with this trial, of course. Veg matter was easily flicked out with a tap of my finger as I spun. This took the longest to spin, but there was no prep time after the carding.

Second up was the roving I pulled off the carder. Granted that this was my first time doing this, but I was not impressed. There were a couple of things that I didn’t like. First, I don’t clean the drums on my carder every time, so there is always a bit of stuff left over from previous batches. Not a problem when I’m taking off batts. I may get a fiber or 2 that lift off with the batt, but they are easily removed later on. When I was pulling off the roving, I noticed that a lot of the those base fibers were coming off in the roving, and they were pretty firmly imbedded in it. The second problem was how long it took me to pull the roving off. It wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if I could have done it sitting down, but I had to stand, which really made my back unhappy. Thirdly, I could not get a consistent size roving, and it broke in 3 places. This may just be a matter of experience, but given all the other problems I don’t know that I’ll work on getting better. The last problem showed up as I was spinning – the veg matter was firmly imbedded in the roving. I would have to stop and pull it out.

Years ago, I learned how to pull a batt into roving, and this was my favorite of the three preps to spin. I can pull a consistently sized roving fairly quickly, seated in my comfy chair in front of the tv. Because I pulled it off the carder as a batt there were only 2 fibers that didn’t belong (both angelina), and the veg matter flicks out easily. It was the fastest to spin, but if you figure in the time spent pulling it out I don’t know that it saved any time over just spinning the batt.

Now on to the knitting. These are going to be big, boring socks – size 13 and calf high! But I’m getting a ton of hay out of the deal, delivered, so it’s worth the work.

This morning when I took grain out to the creep I tried getting fleece pictures from the lambs, but they weren’t having any of that. This is the best picture of the lot, and you can see how fuzzy it is. The babies were not at all cooperative!

 I’ll try again when I halter break them all after weaning.

But I did get some decent shots of lambs. At one point all the lambs were in the creep. I am no longer the big, bad boogeyman their mothers told them. They don’t all come up for cuddles, but I can scratch everyone from behind at least.

 It’s hard to get a good picture of Merlin, since he is sure I’ve got a bottle hidden somewhere. He’s down to one bottle a day, but he is an optimist every time I come out.

 When I first poured out the grain, Malcolm had the farthest bowl to himself, while 7 lambs were trying to fit around the nearer bowl. Silly children!

 Then they all shifted, and the 4 blacks lambs had this bowl to themselves.

 Mary is the last one to one to get the hang of the creep, at least in my presence. Not that she really needs the grain; she is the biggest lamb of all.

 Manny is the biggest boy (also the oldest). Pretty sure he will be going to fairs for showing this summer. Love when they naturally set their feet nicely. Still haven’t decided who the 2nd ram will be to show, but there’s time for that later.

Keeping out of Trouble

May 15, 2012

Last week was uber-busy. By Sunday I was beyond exhausted, and I am just now recuperating.

So what had me so busy, you might ask. Well, my friend Kellie is a baker. Actually, her husband does the baking, and Kellie does the decorating. I have offered to help for years, and she has continually turned me down. Finally, last weekend she asked me to come over and get things prepped so her husband could catch up on baking after he got home from work. When I showed up, she asked me to bake a few things. My baking based muster that evening with her husband, so I ended up spending part of 4 days baking, splitting cakes, filling the layers, and simple frosting. Kellie and another friend also just moved into a new shop, and Mother’s Day weekend was the Grand Opening. I made the banner for that too. Rip stop nylon and great iron-on interfacing, so I’ll be working on a new farm sign before fairs. Saturday morning I also helped set up one of the 3 wedding cakes due that day. Working in the bakery is hard on my back because of the cement floor, but it means a little money coming in so that’s good.

 This is before the flowers were added. Pretty, isn’t it? And the nicest thing is that it tastes as good as it looks. She does amazing work.

Another of my discount amaryllis bloomed for Mother’s Day. Love the colors on this one! A third is getting ready to bloom also, but it’s probably a couple of weeks out. Definitely getting my money worth on these.  I may have to look at getting some more after next Christmas. They do brighten the room. 

The County had gotten a complaint from one of my neighbors about the dead cars in the yard. Now, they have been there for years (one of them was the first car Daughter had bought for herself in high school, which died within a few months. So it has been there at least 9 years). I have dragged my heels about dealing with them (mostly since the last time I had scrapped one, it cost me money). A couple of weeks ago, a guy showed up looking for scrap. Today the last 2 dead cars went away. My yard is emptier, my wallet is a bit heavier. Good on all fronts.

I’ve got two weddings coming up, friends of the Daughter. I was worried about one of them, since I thought I would have to drive by the accident site in Eastern Washington, but it turns out that it’s a little farther up the road. Kid the Younger is probably going to come with me, and we may decide to go visit it, but at least we have the option. That makes the idea of going much easier. The other one is in Montana, and we’ll hit the corner of Yellowstone on the way home. Lots of driving on the agenda early this summer. Hope gas prices don’t go up too high.

My biggest news of the week was an e-mail I got from one of the organizers of Black Sheep Gathering, asking if I would be one of the judges for the Spinner’s Lead. I am extremely excited about the prospect. I’ve entered it a couple of time, and the wedding shawl I made last spring won last year. The prizes have gotten much better recently, so if you’re in the area think about entering. You get more points for leading in an animal, but a lot of the exhibitors are willing to lend one out for the parade.

Finally, today the big sheep all got treated with pour-on meds for external parasites, and the lambies all got wormed and got shots. No one is happy with me, but I managed to get everyone treated and can mark that off my to-do list. Next up is a call to my shearer to get a few of the ewes shorn. I’d like to be able to show a couple of fleeces at fairs, and having her do it is the only way that can happen. My shearing is good enough to get a fleece off the animal, but it isn’t show worthy when I’m done. I had fun looking at all the fibery goodness that the coats have been hiding, and I’m really looking forward to getting them up on the skirting table. I’ll be weaning the lambs before Memorial Day weekend, so it’s going to get noisy around here.

Warm Weather Wishes

February 29, 2012

Last Friday was a gorgeous day. 60+ degrees, sunny (but a bit breezy). I got some long put off chores done. Not as much as I would have liked, but as much as the back would allow. Even made a dump run. I don’t see the point in paying for weekly trash pickup, which runs about $30/month, when I can go to the dump myself. After much experimentation I have found that the mini van will hold about 300 pounds of bagged trash, which only costs me $11. Only have to do it once or twice a year normally, so it’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. I think it used to be a lot more fun when we were actually tossing things over the lip of the pit. Something really satisfying about sending that bag flying. A couple of years ago, our landfill built a huge building that you now drive into and put things on the concrete floor (throwing is discouraged). Not nearly as much fun, but more stuff gets recycled, since there are folks there going through things as soon as you pull away. Kid the Younger cleaned his bedroom majorly when he was home for christmas, so there was quite a bit more than usual, plus in thinking back I don’t think I made a dump run at all last year. Only got about half of the pile dealt with, but I figured I could finish up on Saturday.

I should have known better. Saturday, I woke to this: 4 inches of snow on the ground, more falling, wind blowing hard enough that the snow was moving sideways through the air. Didn’t look like it was going to end anytime soon.

I went to fix a pot of coffee, and returned to my chair by the window 5 minutes later. Clouds broken up, sunny, no wind.

Our weather is nothing but fickle, but if given a choice I’d rather have the sunny warm days back. At least until the ewes have lambed and the babies are ready to deal with a bit of cold. This batch of snow mostly melted on Sunday, then we got about 5 inches more on Monday, and we’re supposed to get up to 6 more inches of snow tonite.

I really shouldn’t complain. I know we need the moisture, and the weather has been pretty darn nice most of this winter. The constant wind is what gets to me most. There isn’t much to stop or divert the wind where I am, and when the local weatherman says that we’re getting gusts up to 25 mph, I’m getting 40+. And I live in an old mobile home with minimal insulation. The windows are all single pane, and it’s interesting to watch the glass flex in the wind.  Our first storm in this house my sweetie kept waking me up all night long, asking if the sounds were normal (he’d never lived in a mobile before). It was kind of funny, but I don’t think he ever really got used to it.

The ewes are getting bigger by the minute. A couple of them tend to get friendlier as they get closer to lambing, so I’d say I’ve got a week to 10 days to go. Eartha is one of those. As a lamb, she loved having me scratch her chest, to the point that she would melt in a heap in my lap if I scratched long enough. As an adult, she wants very little to do with me (unless I have a treat, of course). Except when she is nearly done cooking her lambs. then, she’s willing to stand for scratches all day long, if I were so inclined. Friday evening when I as feeding I was feeling udders (a good way to assess how soon lambs may be arriving). Most of the ewes move away when I reach between their back legs. Eartha just stood there, arching her back a little bit (like she would for a lamb). Funny girl! She’s not terrible happy in this picture, hence the down ears(she was really hoping for some grain, but I was very mean. She’s sulking a bit at this point). The second picture gives a hint at her big belly (that’s her in the front, and Marge in the back. . The ewe in the middle is Ashe, one of the ones I’m still not sure about. If she’s pregnant she isn’t due for a while. Inesh was in with the ewes for a couple of months, so he could have caught her and Bridget at a much later date. Or they may have missed this year. 

These are the 3 youngest ewes that will be lambing this year. The CVM ewe is Kay, and this will be her first time lambing. Irene (on the far right) has lambed once before but lost the lambs, and Ida Lynn (the only sheep who has ever insisted on a middle name) has lambed a couple of times and is an excellent mommy. Ida Lynn and Kay are half sisters (same mom), and Ida Lynn and Irene are half sisters (same dad). Before I got the program that I use to keep track of the sheep pedigrees I used my family tree program, and it used to confuse the heck out of it. All the relationships were way closer than it was comfortable with, plus it was always questioning me on the ages of the parents (are you SURE she had a baby when she was only 2?? Used to make me laugh every time). I’m hoping for some color out of all these girls. Kay’s dad was a spotted reverse badger, and Ida Lynn and Irene both come from colored backgrounds. No way to predict, so I’ll just have to be patient. Hate being patient! There aren’t any bad colors, but I’m a sucker for spots. One of Irene’s lambs was spotted, so the potential is there. The imagining is fun, but nothing ‘s better than snuggling actual lambs. Can’t wait!!

Meanwhile, I try to keep myself busy with other projects. I’ve been working to get ready for Fiber Market Day, and ideas are flowing freely. Now if I can make them all happen before the end of March…