New Barn Build – Wrap Up

The crew finished up on Saturday and Sunday. Roof got put on and wiring done inside for connection to our box so we’ll have lights and power in barn.

Just a couple more times to get flock over to other pasture. My husband was home to help so I finally got a shot of the flock in motion!

Leonard with flock

They really have gotten used to eating in that pasture. I hope they don’t think this is permanent!

Quentin:

Quentin: “We’re going to eat like this from now on, right Paridot?”

Speaking of Paridot, he really has gotten used to using the barn as a backdrop for his poses.

paridot in front of barn

All that’s left now is finishing electrical, painting and fencing. Then, we’ll be able to move the flock in. They should enjoy all the extra space!

from above

Published in: on August 18, 2015 at 5:20 am  Leave a Comment  

New Barn Build – Day 5

Hard to believe all this can happen in five days. Here is what the north and south ends of the barn look like now.

barn north end

barn south end

We will be constructing a barnyard on the north end to help us get the flock in at night, like we do now with the old barn. Here is where the gate will go.

where gate will go

Also, while doing all this, we are repairing a fence with our neighbor. She and I decided to move the gate so that hay deliveries would be smoother to our new hay room. Here is the new gate with a look at our neighbor’s beautiful horses.

driveway gate

At the end of the day, the flock makes their usual inspections. Eve decided that some interior close inspection was needed.

flock starts inspection

eve checks construction

Paridot is so now used to the new barn being there that he looks pretty bored.

paridot bored

Evangeline would like to be sure he is ok….

evangeline checks Pari

I'm fine - leave me alone!

Paridot “I’m fine – leave me alone!”

Inspections finished for the day, the flock heads out. Probably wondering what tomorrow will bring!

WInnie,

WInnie, “Come on guys, we’re out of here.”

Published in: on August 16, 2015 at 5:52 am  Comments (2)  

New Barn Build – Day 4

The big day has arrived – delivery of the barn pieces!

delivery truck

delivering pieces

There was a little glitch. Some of the pieces were too large to go in the gate near the new barn site as we had planned. So, we opened up the road gate to the pasture the sheep were in. With a little extra work on the part of Jim, the contractor, they were able to get everything in that way.

lifting pieces up

However, this meant we had the flock to deal with. We couldn’t have them escaping out that gate to the road. Luckily, a few friends stopped by and I put them to work.

lots of friends

We found if we carried big sticks we could keep the flock from getting too close to that open gate.

Mary and I may have been discussing strategy here…..

we might have been discussing strategy

I found that my friends were so good at keeping the flock in order, I could take a break.

i am sitting

Dona heads out with her stick to work with the flock.

dona heads out

Of course she couldn’t resist a great photo op! (Thanks, Dona, for helping get me some great photos!)

dona puts down stick to take photo

Winnie,

Winnie, “What do you think they’re doing?” Diamond, “Not a clue.”

Once they off-loaded all the pieces into the first pasture, we were able to close the gate.

everything in first pasture

All that driving back and forth churned up a lot of dirt. Llamas and alpacas know what that dirt is for!

dirt bath

pari's turn

Now all those pieces had to be moved into the pasture where the barn is being built.

going into 2nd pasture

After getting it all moved, the build crew quickly got to work. At first it looks pretty random.

looks pretty random

But very quickly it started looking like a building!

wood going in

close up

A peek into the new hay room.

looking into hay room

After the crew left, the sheep did their inspections.

sheep inspect day 4

Laura,

Laura, “I wonder which room is mine?”

Winnie,

Winnie, “Wish they’d get this equipment out of the way.” Quentin, “Yes, it makes it harder to graze!”

Inspections finished, the sheep head to the upper pasture, satisfied that their new barn will soon be ready! Thanks to Dona, Mary and Colleen for the herding help – and a fun day!

enough inspecting

Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 5:54 am  Leave a Comment  

New Barn Build – Day 3

Day 3 began, as far as Paridot was concerned, like Day 2.

“Here we go again…..”

This time I think we got them all. No problem.

looks like we'll get everyone this time

And I think they are beginning to enjoy their breakfast outdoors.

breakfast

I managed to sneak Pari a little extra alfalfa for all his good work.

alfalfa for pari

“And I deserve every mouthful!”

A lot of the success of these builds is everything happening on schedule. There was a little concern today when the building inspector was running behind that it would be too late to get the cement here and poured.

I was relieved to look down on the build at one point and see that the cement truck had arrived!

view from above

It took three trucks to bring enough to fill the forms. But it all worked!

cement truck

cement in

When the build team left, it was time to let the sheep back out. They spread out to  check on this day’s progress.

time to go back

Nellie,

Nellie, “Well, are you coming?”

time to see what's been happening

At the end of the day I got a nice surprise from Michele, the Operations Manager from Castlebrook Barns. She sent me photos of our barn, loaded up and on its way for delivery tomorrow! Here are a couple of them. Looks like a lot of excitement for tomorrow!

barn on way 1

barn on way 2

Published in: on August 14, 2015 at 4:40 am  Leave a Comment  

New Barn Build – Day 2

After giving it a little thought, I decided getting Paridot into his halter and then leading the whole group over to the other pasture was my best bet. He wasn’t impressed with this idea.

pari in halter

After chasing him around the barn a little – and a few llama cookies – he decided to cooperate. He is always good once the halter is on, just doesn’t like the idea of it. As I suspected, it was easy to lead the group where I wanted them to go.

following us

Getting some of them to want to stay there was another story. After distributing some hay to the group I headed back to the gate, only to find that Nellie had the same idea. I had to race her to the gate – and it was a close call. She is such a drama queen.

"Wait - what? You're leaving?!"

“Wait – what? You’re leaving?!”

"How do you unlock this thing?!"

“How do you unlock this thing?!”

"Get me out of here!!!"

“Get me out of here!!!”

Needless to say, she finally calmed down.

I discovered that I did not have the electrical permitted and that I had not ordered fill for the floor of the barn. Little details. I am not cut out to be a general contractor! This dump truck took care of the fill issue and the permitting will be handled tomorrow.

dump truck

Here’s what it looks like end of Day 2. The footings are in for the cement to be poured.

end of day 2 work

The flock was very happy to be let out of their “containment” pasture and stopped to admire the new work.

gate open

sheep inspect

This photo, taken late in day, is a little dark, but it gives you an idea of where the new barn is going relative to the old barn. I can’t wait to see what excitement tomorrow brings!

from above

Published in: on August 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm  Comments (3)  

New Barn Build – Day 1

We decided after the alpacas came that we probably needed a new barn. The old one has been great and has a lot of character so it’s not going anywhere soon but a leaking roof has been difficult to get repaired properly and it seems a little more crowded with 17 sheep, 2 alpacas and one llama who all want their own space (and sometimes the visiting chooks add to the congestion).

So plans began earlier this year for a new barn. We went with a company one of our neighbors had used and have been really happy with the process so far. Getting permits was challenging for me as I had never had to do this before. But, other than that, so far so good.

Here is the spot in the pasture where the barn will go.

build barn here

The first job for me on Day 1 was to get the flock out of the way. We weren’t so worried about them bothering the workers but gates getting opened and closed all day could result in an unplanned escape. After reviewing several options, we decided to put them in the far lower pasture. We did a dry run Sunday and it went well. Of course.

Monday morning, I followed the same plan and the sheep cooperated well. I rolled a small cart of hay to the new pasture and they willingly followed.

sheep in pasture

Can you see who is missing in the next photo?

sheep eating

That’s right – 2 alpacas and a llama. They did not get with the program. I tried luring with grain which they happily ate until we got close to the pasture and then changed their mind and headed back toward the old barn. I rushed to get the gate closed but three sheep – Quentin (who prefers to be near Paridot), Kate, and Laura – escaped before I could get the gate shut. So, I decided they could all just stay in the barnyard.

in barnyard

The rest of the flock was not happy and a lot of baa-ing went on for awhile.

“Let us out!”

Here’s the work from the first day.

ground work

The flock was happy to be reunited at the end of the day and enjoyed checking things out. Heddy decided that under the flat bed was a good place to hang out.

returning

sheep check out equipment

heddy under flat bed

I need a new plan for tomorrow to get everyone down to the same pasture. And I think it involves Paridot.

“Oh-oh. I don’t like the sound of that!”

Published in: on August 12, 2015 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

Another Day in Austria

We returned to Austria for more wool adventures. Our first stop was to pick up boiled wool from Scheiber Exclusiv by Landleben who make their own products but also prepare boiled wool for other groups, such as Nathalie’s, to make other products.

Here is what Nathalie picked up.

boiled wool for Nathalie

And, if I have this right, here are samples that Nathalie let me take home of Coburger Fuchsschaf (top) and Alpines Steinschaf boiled wool.

coburger fuchsschaf boiled woolalpines steinschaf boiled wool

Besides making the boiled wool, they also make beautiful sweaters from it. Here is some of the material ready to be made into sweaters and the workshop where it all happens.

fabric piecesworkshop

The finished products are lovely.

sweaters on shelfon manekin

In fact, I admired them so much that they helped me pick one out to take home! The sleeves of the sweater are knit and the body is boiled wool. It will be awhile before it is cold enough here to wear it but I am looking forward to it! It is a blend of the wool from Mountain Sheep plus silk and cotton.

my sweater

Before we left, Nathalie examines a potential pattern for the garments her group sells from their wool.

sweater edge

We move on to our next stop.

mountainmountain 2

area around shop

We had a little trouble finding this place, but not too much. Nathalie had  not been here before so it was an adventure for her, too! Here is where they make loden – another boiled wool but one that is woven first. The boiled wool from the last stop is knitted and then boiled.

loden sign

Everything about this place was charming – from the door to the carved steps, I felt like I had stepped back in time.

door

steps

Everything here was so clean. I loved seeing the carding equipment close up.

carder 2

crosswise roving strips

Here is what they make from the loden (material shown in cabinet): capes (I want one but I think I need to live someplace colder!), pants, and boot/shoe tops (Nathalie and I joked that these could be good rattlesnake protection here in Northern California!)

loden in cabinet

capes 2

wool pants

felt legsshoe tops on

Here is a sample of the loden that Nathalie gave me to take home.

loden

Leaving here, we headed back to Germany but went a different way – through (and maybe over and around?) the mountains of Arlberg.

mountains from highway leaving loden

Longest tunnels I have ever been in!

tunnel

winding roads

winding roads 2

Nathalie’s friend, Fritz (remember the pigs?!), had told her about a nice restaurant in Bregenz by an open air ampitheater on Lake Konstanz. This lake is surrounded and shared by three countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It was nice to relax before headed home – my last evening before my final sheep adventure in Germany.

open air ampitheater

detail

lake konstanz

Sorry there were no actual sheep in this post. However, here is a preview for the next post: my last one from inside Germany!

welcome from sheep and goats

Published in: on July 1, 2015 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pigs, Sheep, and Cows

We left Austria to head back to Germany, again traveling through some amazing scenery.

cabins on hill

waterfall

mountais and green

Once back in Germany, we visited Fritz, a friend of Nathalie’s who farms in Bavaria. Right near his home in the village he keeps his rare breed pigs – Buntes Bentheimer Schwein (Bentheim Black Pied Swine) which became nearly extinct in the 1950’s. He has two sows who recently had litters.

piglets alone

They are very friendly!

very friendly pigs

Dinner time!

feeding 2

Next we went to visit Fritz’s sheep, a short drive away. These are his Alpines Steinshaf. He has the largest flock of them in their group. I think these are such beautiful sheep. Just look at all the colors!

alpines steinschaf

beautiful alp stein

Fritz also has a rare breed of sheep called Valachian Sheep. They originate from Romania – in the same area where Dracula is said to have lived!

Valachian Sheep

As we get ready to leave, we are greeted by the sight of another group of animals on the move.

cows headed our way

They seemed really big as they got closer. I guess I am just used to sheep! Fritz said they are like our Brown Swiss.

big cows

As the cows head in for their evening milking, we head home, too. The next day – back to Austria!

herding cows toward barn

Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 1:34 am  Comments (2)  

First Time in Austria

We started out in the rain this morning, headed for Austria – a surprise for me since I only thought I was visiting Germany on this part of my trip!

heading out in rain

Even in the rain the long-ish drive of about 300 km (190 miles), the scenery was stunning.

castle

mtns 3

mtns with snow

Our first stop was to be at a scouring (washing) plant in Ötztal to deliver about 500 kilos (1100 pounds) of Mountain Sheep wool where it will be sorted and washed by color.

mtn wool in trailer

mtn sheep wool

regensburger sign

At this plant run by the family Regensburger, the wool starts the washing process by going in here.

wool goes in here

Gets weighed (to insure even amounts in each batch) and washed and rinsed several times (with the water being recycled) at temperatures ranging from 52-58 degrees C. (125-136 degrees F.)

lots of washing

Then dried and tumbled to remove any short pieces.

drying

Clean, dry wool is pressed into bales with this piece of equipment.

bale press

The bales are 200 kilos each (about 440 pounds).

bales of washed wool

Producers such as Nathalie and her group can then instruct the washing plant where to send the wool for the next stages of production (yarn, spinning wool, finished products). It is not common for the washing and the other production to be done in the same place – or even the same country!

Besides being a washing plant, Regensburger also has for sale items made from wool and has a shop next door to the washing plant. Here, you can see some of their felt and yarns and also carpets made from Tyrolean Alpine Sheep wool from the Ötztal Valley.

shop shelves

rugs

Outside as we prepare to leave there is a nice surprise for us – some beautiful goats! These are Walliser Schwarzhalsziegen – “black neck goats” from the Walliser area of Switzerland. I thought they were very interesting and beautiful – even if they aren’t sheep!

goats 2

goat close up

Good-bye to Austria for today as we head back to Germany and make a stop to see some more sheep – and pigs!

 

 

Published in: on June 9, 2015 at 11:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

The German Sheep

Leaving Garsdale by train for Leeds for a short overnight stay…

train station

to leeds

rock fences with sheep 2

I then took off the next day for Newcatle by train. I knew it wouldn’t affect me but I bet the locals were happy to see this sign!

train to newcastle

strike sign

From Newcastle I flew to Heathrow (London) and then on to Stuttgart where I was picked up by my friend Nathalie and her two daughters. Long day! Off to dinner at their house and then to my hotel. They live in the German state of Baden-Würtenberg.

I first met Nathalie last year at the 8th World Congress on Coloured Sheep in Paris. She is the coordinator of the wool project Kollection der Vielfalt – seltene heimische Schafrassen erhalten (Collection of Diversity – Preserving Rare Indigenous Breeds of Sheep). There are more than 22 different sheep breeds on the endangered list in Germany. They began this project specifically to market these sheep breeds and their wool, making the breed and the wool attractive to the breeder and the consumer.

I got to see several of the endangered breeds that Nathalie’s group works with. And it was a very full day – just at Nathalie’s! Nathalie and her family participate in a landscape management program with their sheep (and goats). They have their sheep in orchards and surrounding land to eat the grass and weeds. These orchards used to be taken care of by machines but as the equipment got larger it would no longer fit between and beneath the trees so they looked to another solution – sheep and goats! Nathalie spends a lot of time moving all her animals around to control the growth. To those of us in Northern California right now, this is looking pretty lush!

orchard

The first group we visited were the Alpines Steinschaf (Alpine Stone Sheep). They have retained their beautiful colors because when, about 100 years ago, the King of Bavaria wanted only white sheep, the farmers hid their colored sheep in the mountains to protect them. Today, as the most seriously endangered German Sheep breed, there are about 30 breeding groups in Germany with a total of about 600 sheep (when Nathalie’s group began with this breed in 2004 there were only 148 registered sheep in this breed!).

gray alpines steinschauf

Look at the range of colors. I will have two of these colors coming to me soon in the form of spinning batts (wool prepared for spinning).

alp stein group

alp stein 2

Now, from a different field, meet “Noah”. He is an Alpines Steinschaf ram, one year old. They are hoping that he will be a champion in a few years. He already looks like one to me!

who is this horned ram?

Another breed that Nathalie has is Coburger Fuchsschaf (fox sheep). It is a centuries old breed from the Middle East and Central Asia and, more recently, from the Coburg area of Austria. According to Verena Täuber’s article in the conference proceedings from last year, this sheep almost disappeared until local farmers told a cloth manufacturer about it when he was looking for a breed to improve the quality of his tweed. Fortunately, the numbers have increased significantly. The wool is excellent for spinning and felting. (Yes, I have some of this spinning wool coming home, too!). Like our own California Reds and the Solognote we saw last year in France, the lambs are born a beautiful dark russet color.

c f with lambs

c f ewe and lamb

I was lucky (again!) to get to feed a bottle baby from this breed and sneak in a little cuddling.

bottle baby

cuddling fat boy

Along with the Coburger Fuchsschaf in the next photo, you will see another breed Nathalie has, the Schwarzbraunes Bergschaf (Brown Swiss Mountain Sheep) which originated in Switzerland. They are the dark brown ones in the photo.

mtn sheep

mtn and c f

In another field we found a very cooperative group of sheep! These yearling Alpines Steinschaf ewes (on the left) and Coburger Fuchsschaf ewes (on the right) lined up perfectly for the photo! They will be sheared soon for the first time so their wool is classed as lambswool.

lined up

As we move from field to field (because she was taking time to show me everything, a walk of about two and a half hours), I think their young herding dog, Fay, wondered why Nathalie was so slow today!

fay wonders what is taking us so long

We also visited Nathalie’s goats. They are Thüringer Waldziege (a goat from the forest of Thüringen from the eastern part of Germany). They were a little reluctant to meet me so Nathalie went up to get them.

goats in grass 2

n brings goats down

goats behind fence

They’d had enough socializing and left – to go back to work.

goats leaving

The countryside here is beautiful but it would quickly become overgrown and not healthy without the work of people like Nathalie and her animals. Twice a day she has to make the trek to check on the health and safety of her animals and move them and fences as required to keep this landscape managed properly. It’s an incredible amount of work but with the help of her animals, she keeps it beautiful and, at the same time, works to preserve these rare breeds of sheep and goats.

village with fields

wildflowers 3

That was a lot of animals in one day. And now I hear we are off to Austria tomorrow!

Published in: on June 5, 2015 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers