The Other End

I posted recently about our flock’s tails. I realized when Diamond was getting in my face about needing her morning slice of bread that I had neglected the other end – our flock’s horns. Diamond is just turning 14 and her horns have seen a lot of years. She isn’t an aggressive sheep but I have seen her push others aside with them. But I think it is age rather than use that has dulled and broken hers. To us, because of her spirit, they are just as beautiful!


Jacob Sheep can have 2, 4 or even more horns. Diamond is a 4 horn. Nellie is a good example of a 2 horn. See how nice and rounded hers are? They still hurt if she accidentally runs into you. She is a little pushy about wanting through gates and doorways so it has happened.


However, it is when the horns end up sharp and pointy like Winnie’s that you really have to be careful, especially when leaning over her to give shots!


And the one you really don’t want to get in front of is Lily, whose horns decided to go forward. Lucky for her, her wool is very nice as she is a lilac Jacob so we put up with a lot!


In some sheep, ewes have no horns and rams do, as with our Shetlands. The ewes Carmen and Eve are hornless (although not afraid to use their heads to butt other sheep anyway when they want to!)


"Who needs horns? I have a very cute face!"

“Who needs horns? I have a very cute face!”

Earl, our Shetland wether, has beautiful, curled horns.


Some of our sheep breeds have no horns. An example would be our East Friesians, represented her by Dolly.


And sometimes a breed can have some with horns and some without. In our Navajo Churros, Ingrid does not have horns but Beatrix does – and hers are very lovely!



And, finally, our Karakul ewes are hornless but have little scurs – like a horn bud which you can just barely see on Kate.


But Quentin, our Karakul wether, has really beautiful horns that frame his face, giving him a very Pan-like (the Greek god of shepherds and flocks, by the way!)  look, I think.


But whether or not they have horns, it is hard to resist a face full of bread who just wants more!

"More, please?!"

“More, please?!”

Published in: on March 7, 2016 at 12:46 am  Comments (2)  


I think one of the things I love best about working with wool is watching it be transformed from one thing to the next. There is something magical about taking raw (unwashed) wool and ending up with a finished product. But there is magic as well in all the steps in between.

Of course, the sheep begin it all by producing wonderful wool which they seem happy to share with me once or even twice a year, depending on their breed.




Once the raw wool is acquired, there are various steps involved in how I prepare it. It may not look like there are big differences between the steps but each one is a small trans-formative step.

raw (unwashed) wool

raw (unwashed) wool

raw wool opened up by hand to better aid washing process in getting it clean

raw wool opened up by hand to better aid washing process in getting it clean


After washing, several steps get it to the point of being ready to card into batts or roving.

freshly washed and air-dryed

freshly washed and air-dryed

opened up by hand again - this time clean wool - which makes it pick better

opened up by hand again – this time clean wool – which makes it pick better

Now, completely opened up both by hand and machine picking, it is ready for the carder!

Now, completely opened up both by hand and machine picking, it is ready for the carder!

Well picked wool will give a better end product from the carder. Here, it goes into the carder.

wool going in carder

What comes out can be batts….


jacob batt

…which can be made, through another trans-formative process – needle felting , into lovely felt or felted rugs.

jacob felt

felt rug

Roving for spinning into yarn can also be made from the transformed wool.



My friend, Dona, gave me a photo of a sheep with the caption, “I turn grass into wool. What’s your super power?!”

I guess mine is the ability to turn their wool into other things. Thank you to my flock – and to other flocks in our fiber community – for giving me the opportunity to change your wool into beautiful products.






Published in: on March 1, 2016 at 11:22 pm  Comments (4)  

A Tale of…..Tails

Those of us with sheep often see them from the back. This can happen when they are busy investigating something or deciding they would just rather head away from us – especially if we don’t have something they want to eat.

regular tales

The sheep tails that we are most used to seeing around here are those that have been docked. This is usually done to help make lambing easier for the ewe and the shepherd and also to help prevent illness under certain circumstances.


Here’s Rocki, our Jacob x BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester). Pretty regular tail.

regular Rocki

Now, can you guess the rest (no cheating trying to see their faces!)? Answers at the end of the post!




E Friesian tails


Answers (in order of photos):

Shetland – Earl the wether. Shetlands have a “rat-tail” and are in the group of North Atlantic short tail sheep

Karakul – Kate or Kari – I can’t tell without see the face! Karakuls are known as “fat-tail” sheep. They are docked somewhat but still end up with a very unusual looking tail!

Herdwick – either Heddy or Hazel. Herdwicks are “fell” sheep from the Lake District in the UK. Traditionally, their tails are not docked.

East Friesians – the new girls. Another form of “rat-tail”,  just a lot longer than the Shetlands.

Llama – Paridot. OK, that was a trick!

Next time you meet a sheep – check the back end. It may be almost as interesting as the front!

Published in: on February 18, 2016 at 5:51 am  Comments (1)  

New Arrivals

I know it’s been awhile. Blogging takes more time than you’d think! I have recently been motivated by my friends in the Outer Hebrides who seem to manage it and are way busier than I am! So, here goes – a new resolution for 2016 to do a better job of posting. I know, it’s mid-February but I’ll try and catch up!

Two new arrival events here. The first – a long-awaited carder that is turning out to be even more fun than I expected. It arrived from Stonhedge Fiber Mill in Michigan and it took a very expert forklift operator to get it positioned right in the garage (aka wool shed).

getting off truck

All put together.


I wanted to try a tri-colored ombre batt to make felt. Of course, Jacob wool is perfect for that.

Weighed and on the belt.

weighed wool

on belt

Batts are made on a drum at the other end.

on drum

There is also a roving platform which works really well!

roving deck

I liked that tri-color Jacob batt so much I had to make a piece of felt out of it. Here’s the batt off the carder and the roll of felt it made.


felt in roll

The other new arrival will provide even more wool to work with! I was lucky enough to get two East Friesian ewes, Dolly and Frieda, from Barinaga Ranch. I was at their recent shearing and was able to get a couple photos before they came to our place.

Dolly and Frieda

Dolly and Frieda

All the sheep at Baringa are highly valued and Frieda gets a good-bye hug from Lisa.

Lisa says goodbye

Marcia delivered them to our expectant flock…

who's coming

…who checked them out and chased them around before ignoring them. Typical.

checked out by flockrodeo

The first night, they weren’t sure where to go at put-away time. But they figured it out with a little help.

at gate

going in

In the barn, they located food and water and are learning our routines.

by cart

by water

barn interior

Welcome Dolly and Frieda!

pretty grass

Published in: on February 12, 2016 at 11:50 pm  Comments (2)  

New Barn Update

All the major work is done – stained and sealed, dirt re-distributed around foundation and trash hauled away. Just waiting for electrical connection.

My fence people got more posts in…

fence posts in

…then finished stringing the wire and got the gates in. I thought maybe the sheep would be confused about how to get into another barnyard but it didn’t seem to bother them.

no trouble coming in

The interior needs straw and the feeders moved in.

needs straw

The sheep are figuring out where they want to hang out in the re-designed area. In their old spot under the trees…

sheep by trees

…or taking advantage of the shade the new barn provides.

sheep by barn

Nellie, as usual, is thinking deep thoughts.

"I know there is a way to get through this gate - I just need more time to figure it out."

“I know there is a way to get through this gate – I just need more time to figure it out.”

It sure adds a different look to the pasture!

whole barn

Published in: on September 2, 2015 at 3:34 am  Comments (2)  

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: “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  Comments (3)  

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, “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, “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, “I wonder which room is mine?”


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.


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, “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)  

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