Shearing Weekend

The first weekend of 2015 was Shearing Weekend. OK,  this isn’t an official holiday but maybe it should be! I was able to attend one shearing on Saturday and a second one on Sunday.

Saturday was the shearing at Meridian Jacobs. I am part of Farm Club there and a lot of us help out on shearing day to keep things running smoothly. Some people round up the sheep and get them in a holding area. Moving sheep smoothly from pre to post shearing really helps the shearer and we always like to keep the shearer happy!

penned for shearing 2

Many of these sheep have been through this often and have learned to wait calmly when penned.

"What - I have a choice?!"

“What – I have a choice?!”

See how clean the plywood is here? Keeping the shearing area clean is another job Farm Club takes on. This ensures that fleeces don’t get contaminated with vegetable matter and odd pieces of sheared fleece between sheep. One person scoops up the fleece, another holds a bag and makes sure we know which fleece it is by inserting a card with the sheep’s name on it into the bag, and a third person lets the sheep out of the shearing area.

being sheared

The sheep really look different after shearing. With Jacob sheep you can really see their color pattern!

"I don't know what they're looking at - I think we look great!"

“I don’t know what they’re looking at – I think we look great!”

Sunday was shearing at Joshua Farm Shetlands. They have a different way of helping things run smoothly – 4H kids and other adult helpers keep things moving.

Sheep are gathered up.

waiting for shearing

Each sheep gets its fleece blown out before getting sheared. That takes care of a lot of the dust and loose vegetable matter. These sheep are handled a lot so this doesn’t seem to bother them.

blowing out

This is Cassie, a sheep we used to own who moved back into the breeding program here.

cassie being sheared

She looks good – with or without her fleece!

cassie sheared

The fleeces go right to the skirting table.

cassie on skirting table

Great day – and, of course, I brought home a few fleeces. I don’t think these were all mine….

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One of the fleeces I got was Cassie’s. She washed up beautifully!

Two shearings in one weekend was a little tiring but worth it!

cassie washed

Published in: on January 31, 2015 at 3:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Celebrating the End of Another Year on the Farm

My blog posts have been sparse lately – the end of a very busy year has arrived so I thought it was time for a little reflection. I’d like to celebrate the end of this year on our farm by….

 

…appreciating the young and very young members of the flock

Earl and Heddy share a moment playing "big sheep"

Earl and Heddy share a moment playing “big sheep”

…and appreciating our oldest member.

Diamond at 12 and a half

Diamond at 12 and a half

…by being amazed at how quickly our seasonal creek filled up with the recent rains

creek

creek - long view

…while dealing with the challenges that mud brings

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but also marveling at the wonderful effect the moisture has on the sheep’s fleeces.

Diamond's fleece. Look how beautiful it is!

Diamond’s fleece. Look how beautiful it is!

…by enjoying many conversations with Nellie

She is almost always up for a good chat

She is almost always up for a good chat

and admiring the ingenuity of our flock

Eve found a way to keep her hooves dry - at least temporarily!

Eve found a way to keep her hooves dry – at least temporarily!

 

Paridot does not let walls get in his way of getting a snack

Paridot does not let walls get in his way of getting a snack

I celebrate by looking ahead to new adventures in 2015….

You'll have to wait to see how this adventure develops!

You’ll have to wait to see how this adventure develops!

and by appreciating our flock, their ability to entertain, amaze and sustain our joy in them for the past 12 months. We and they want to wish you a happy holiday season and a very good start to the New Year!

flock

 

 

Published in: on December 23, 2014 at 11:22 pm  Comments (2)  

A Lot of Felting!

I was asked awhile back to create the prizes for the upcoming Northern California Shetland Sheep Dog Herding Club Trial. I met with their representative and we planned out what she thought they would like.

Here’s what we came up with (I think we could be humming “…and a partridge in a pear tree”!)

Four bowls/glass cozies:

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Four purses/organizers (thanks, Dona, for the beautiful linings!):

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Four beverage cup sleeves:

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Four sets of dryer balls:

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Six Merino-Silk scarves (thanks for all the dyeing, Collen!)

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Seven hot pads and mug rugs:

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And twenty (!) gift card holders.

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The trial is this weekend. Nellie, and all the sheep providing the wool would like to wish all the dogs good luck!

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Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 1:47 am  Comments (5)  

How Does a Llama Stay Cool?

I think it is starting to cool off a little, at least at night. But during the day, still pretty warm so a llama has to do what a llama has to do.

How does this one llama stay cool?

Enjoys a good dust bath….

rolling in dust - newer

Tries a mud bath….

paridot in mud

Relaxes in the shade….

paridot in shade

Hangs out in the barn with friends…..

Paridot in barn

 

Cools off those hot hooves in his own personal pool….

in pool

Hang in there, Paridot. It will be fall soon…

"Ahhhhh.....!"

“Ahhhhh…..!”

 

 

 

Published in: on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 am  Comments (1)  

My Occasional Visit to the Michigan Fiber Festival

On a recent visit to see family in Michigan I was also able to include a couple stops at the Michigan Fiber Festival, always a fun place to visit.

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Because I was organizing a fleece pick up (more on that later) I didn’t spend a lot of time visiting vendor booths. Of course, I had to stop at the T-shirt booth….

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And visit my friends in the Jacob Sheep Breeders booth….

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And find a little color to show spinning friends back home….

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But then it was on to….

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This festival is not as big as Black Sheep Gathering or some others I have visited but still has a really nice selection of sheep breeds.

Of course, the very familiar Jacobs.

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And who could mistakes our big-eared friend for anything but a BFL?

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Look at this crimp from a BFL!

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Some very pretty little Shetlands…..

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These Icelandic Sheep couldn’t be bothered to stop eating for me to get photos of their faces. It’s ok guys, we all have our priorities!

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And who could resist these elegant Karakul Sheep faces? (i may be prejudiced since I think my Karakul wether, Quentin, has one of the prettiest faces I’ve ever seen).

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But, the short visit was over. I needed to pack up the rental car to get six fleeces from my friend Rose’s flock (OK, it was going to be 5 but one little Jacob fleece from Fat Toaster Jacobs and some beautiful Jacob roving from Sweetgrass Farm managed to jump into the car!) and some handmade wooden drawers from my folks’ old house over to UPS for shipping back home. I often have friends riding with me to fiber festivals. Luckily not this time!

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One more fleece to drop off at Zeillinger’s Wool Mill who are here at the festival (Convenient, huh?!) to get processed into roving and I can be on my way. This is Coco Chanel, a gorgeous CVM x Australian Bond from my friend, Rose, of Promised Land Sheep and Beef in Northern Michigan. I have had this fleece before and it makes the most beautiful rusty brown hand spun yarn.

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I like this small-ish, friendly fiber festival and I am sure I will be back sometime.

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Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm  Comments (3)  

New Sheep

This blog post is WAY overdue. But I want to state up-front that it is NOT my fault. This is Carmen, the sheep’s blogger (well, and the llama’s blogger, if you count him. Some do. Some don’t)

I wanted to write this awhile back but Jackie kept saying “No, I’m too tired from all the travel” (what does her being tired have to do with ME writing the blog? The lady makes little sense sometimes). But I finally convinced her that people would give up waiting for her blog and switch to reading ones on goats….or rabbits….or cats – whatever people do when they don’t have blogs about sheep to read.

I have to rely on Jackie for part of this story. I think she told you awhile back that she picked up some new sheep in Oregon. She went there with her friend, Dona. I like Dona. She makes me look really good in her photos of me. So, these new sheep got to ride in the back of the van.

riding home in back

I guess they were so comfortable back there, they could even eat while they rode!
Heddy and Hazel eating in van

 

They seem to be learning the routines – like coming into the barn with the rest of us.

h & h come in with flock

I had to show them where to get water.

"Drink here."

“Drink here.”

Sometimes I have Diamond lamb-sit them.

Diamond oversees

Turns out, Diamond is good at baby-sitting because she is a Grandmother. We found this out when her granddaughter, Laura, came to live with us after the Herdwicks arrived.

 

"Yes, Laura, lambs are a lot of work. We need to keep an eye on them".

“Yes, Laura, lambs are a lot of work. We need to keep an eye on them”.

Apparently, they thought Laura might have some milk for them. She had lambs this year at her old place but she said she is done with that now so – no more milk, lambs.

hazel thinks Laura might have milk

Well, I guess Laura can stay. Even though she is a Jacob. I worked hard to increase the number of Shetlands here (I traded my friend, Cassie, for Eve and Earl – two for one!) but apparently I have failed. The Jacobs now outnumber us more than 2 to 1 (I am a smart sheep and can do higher math).

And, I guess the Herdwicks can stay. They are pretty darn cute (for not being Shetlands).

You’ll hear from me again whenever I can get Jackie to let me get a word in.

Carmen the Beautiful

cute faces

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on August 11, 2014 at 4:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Where Are We Going?!

After wrapping up another wonderful Black Sheep Gathering experience, it’s time to hit the road.

Empty the van…

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Let friends check out our fleeces….

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REALLY empty out van…

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Specially equip van…

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Hit the road…

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Arrive at Oregon coast….

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Over bridges….

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Quick stop at a very nice yarn shop….

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Down a very long dirt road….

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And we’re here!

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Meet Hazel and Heddy, the Herdwicks, who are going home with us!

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“Yay ! We’re off to California” “Where’s that?” “No idea, let’s just hope they have hay there!”

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Published in: on June 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm  Comments (2)  

A Little Bit of Black Sheep Gathering

We made our annual trek to Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon. It seems like I just got home from France but colored sheep were calling again!

First, we had to load up the van with about 135 pounds of fleece headed for processing at Creekside Mill up here. And, no, it wasn’t all mine! I am having batts made of mine for making felt. Others were having yarn or roving made.

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It is always good to be back here: familiar signs welcome us.

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There are creative booth displays and fabulous entries in the fiber art show. The needle felted dogs are created by our friend, Shannon, of Kenleigh Acres who won Reserve Champion with this year’s entry.

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There is plenty of time to see those special sheep faces.

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Sheep start the day eating – and figuring out how to keep their ears out the way!

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They get ready for their big moment in the show ring.

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Some with more enthusiasm than others!

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And they wait their turn to go into the ring.

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Some get a little tired waiting and need to rest on a nearby friend.

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Of course, all those sheep produce a lot of wool. So, if it is in the form of processed wool ready to spin or felt…

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…or in the form of fleeces to be purchased to process, wool needs to be acquired. Watching the wool show is one way to learn about fleeces you may want to purchase.

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The fleeces are so popular here that many people stand in line to get a chance to purchase them (ok, so I was one of them this year for the first time!)

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One more day here to wrap up attending a few more demos, check out those vendors I missed, and get a few last looks at beautiful sheep, before heading out for the next adventure which also involves sheep. Stay tuned!

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Published in: on June 22, 2014 at 6:01 am  Comments (2)  

Good to Be Home

The trip to the 8th World Congress of Coloured Sheep in France was very special and a great education into other sheep breeds and how people are re-claiming the value of wool in their cultures.

 

However, it is good to be home and back to my own wool pursuits:

 

Washing fleeces….

"Moon" a Jacob from Meridian Jacobs

“Moon” a Jacob from Meridian Jacobs

 

Drying fleeces….

"Quentin" one of our very own special Karakuls

“Quentin” one of our very own special Karakuls

 

Planning projects with wool from the trip….

with Noire du Velay batt, still in France

with Noire du Velay batt, still in France

Customs made me open this bag!

Customs made me open this bag!

It made it! Soon to be felt and yarn.

It made it! Soon to be felt and yarn.

Dark brown Soay yarn from the UK brought to the Congress and my hand spun Herdwick. A shawl is being planned!

Dark brown Soay yarn from the UK brought to the Congress and my hand spun Herdwick. A shawl is being planned!

Spinning and washing yarn…

Some beautiful wool from Coco Chanel, a CVM X Australian Bond from Michigan

Some beautiful wool from Coco Chanel, a CVM X Australian Bond from Michigan

Herdwick and CVM (dyed by American friend, Colleen)

Herdwick and CVM (dyed by American friend, Colleen)

 

And, of course, being welcomed home by the producers of all that lovely fiber!

"And, where WERE you all that time?!"

“And, where WERE you all that time?!”

It’s good to be back!

grazing

 

 

 

Published in: on June 6, 2014 at 4:33 am  Leave a Comment  

The (Sheep) Faces of France – Adieu

It is time to say farewell to another wonderful wool sheep adventure. We learned so much about French and other sheep breeds during the 8th World Congress on Coloured Sheep and the post-Congress tour.

I feel the best way to wrap this up is to share the faces of these sheep. After all, that’s what it’s all been about: learning about programs to save endangered or rare breeds, getting a better understanding of sheep color genetics, meeting people who are working so hard to increase the value of the wool of these sheep, learning how sheep can truly benefit the local environment and economy.

We saw sheep resting….

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Eating….

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Communicating….

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Working….

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And just being the truly amazing creatures they are.

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Adieu mouton.

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Published in: on May 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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