Monday, April 7, 2014

WONDERFUL WOOLLIES 2014

IT’S ALMOST HERE! Yes, friends! Our annual Fiber & Fleece sale, WONDERFUL WOOLLIES will be this coming Saturday, April 12, 2014, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. I hope you will be able to come. We have a great variety of fleeces & related products. Here is a complete list of participants: Dawn Deshmane’s CVM/Romeldale crosses - fiber Felicity Fibers, Karen Washington’s flock of alpacas - fiber Windy Hill Farm, Joanne Martinis’s Gotland crosses - fiber & spectacular pelts JNK Llamas, Niki Kuklenski’s llama fleeces & fiber (including blends) Ferndale Fibers, Kathy Green’s sheep fiber & roving Little Orchard Farm, Rocky Long’s CVM/Romeldale fleeces, roving & combed top Marietta Shetlands, John Park’s Shetlands, fleeces & roving Nancy’s Farm, Nancy Giordano’s crosses - fiber & batts River Ranch Angora goats - Rhonda Wreggelsworth’s mohair fiber Spindle Smith - Allen Berry’s hand-carved spindles, needles, hooks & other delights (Allen says he has some new specialties - I can hardly wait to see!) Tina’s Treasures - Tina Thomsen-Park’s hand made yarn Spinners Eden Farm - CVM/Romeldale fleeces, roving, yarn, & blended batts We are planning to have demonstrations on carding, combing & spinning, and please bring your questions about our wonderful fiber animals, washing/processing fleece, whatever! We will do our very best to help you with your fiber-related questions. And if you’re considering adding fleece beasties to your family, this is a wonderful place to connect and talk directly to yarn farmers. And for your viewing pleasure. . . LAMBS! We had nine ewes & two rams born this year. All are beautiful, healthy & full of personality. Here are DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Interstate 5, take exit #255 (Sunset/Mt Baker Hwy) and go east. Drive about a mile to the intersection at WOBURN/HANNEGAN. Turn NORTH (left) onto HANNEGAN. Continue a few miles, go past the Smith Rd. traffic light to the next intersection & turn EAST (right) onto AXTON Rd. Drive 1.1 mile & you’ll see Mertz Rd. Turn left onto MERTZ & we’re the first barn on the right. If you get to Shuksan Golf Course, you’ve gone about three blocks too far, so turn around & drive back. If you get lost, phone 360 770 6044 for directions. Looking forward to seeing you!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

For those of us who are shepherds, this is like Christmas. We are having lambs. After last summer, carefully choosing which seven of our precious ewes to breed, and to which rams (two champions), making sure all are happy together, then watching nutritional status throughout five months of gestation, the little ones are beginning to arrive. This is the most exhausting time of year, what with frequent barn checks and births occurring at all hours (frequently very early mornings). I really like to be present for the births. So this is the time of year that I’m most likely to put cat food in the coffee grinder instead of beans, or brush my teeth with hand cream. But with occasional naps, fueled by sufficient amounts of coffee or breakfast tea and Scottish oat cakes, we manage to get through it. And it’s a joy to see the new little ones & make sure they get off to a good start.
Bliss surprised us a little early with Jerome, a stunningly handsome CVM ram, white with caramel markings. Bliss is a wonderful, happy mother & I enjoyed watching her with her babies last time. She is mostly white. I call her my “fleece machine”. Year after year she produces large, dense, long, fine-to-medium wool. And all this in a truly sweet & friendly sheep. If Jerome has her wool quality and his father, Abraham’s body structure, he will be a good candidate for showing, and may serve as another “stud muffin” eventually.
Isabelle had twins - a black ram & white/brown ewe, and Thisbe delivered stunning triplets, all ewes - Ziva, Abby & Barrett. These are her first lambs, and although she was apprehensive at first, she’s doing a beautiful job of keeping them all warm & well-fed. They are in the lambing jug this morning, but should join the rest of the flock this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BLACK SHEEP GATHERING!

Yes, We'll be there! Please stop by the sheep barn to say hello! We'll be there with 12 of our little darlings to show. So if we're not by the pens with the sheep, we're probably in the show ring. Hope to see you there. :-)

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Day is Almost Here!

Tomorrow, April 13, we will host several farms for the Wonderful Woollies Fleece Sale! This is our third annual event & we are looking forward to seeing many of our old & new friends. We have some new farms participating, so here’s the complete list: Carol Boswell Camelot Ranch Alpacas; Dawn Deshmane CVM/Romeldale; Karen Washington Felicity Fibers/Alpaca; Joanne Martinis Windy Hill Farm Gotlands; Jeff & Niki Kuklenski JNK Llamas; Kathy Green Ferndale Fibers, various crosses & fiber; Rocky Long Little Orchard Farm CVM/Romeldale; John Park Marietta Shetlands; Nancy Giordano Nancy’s Farm, various crosses, fiber & fun batts; Patty Yager alpaca; Rhonda Wreggelsworth River Ranch Angora goats; Doug & Yvonne Madsen Spinners Eden Farm CVM/Romeldale; Allen Berry Spindle Smith carved spindles & tools; Brigget LeClair Wake Robin Farm, Icelandic. As you can see, we have a lot of variety this year - hopefully something to please everybody. I know I love to experiment with fleece from different breeds of sheep. Each has it’s unique place & best purpose in the fiber world. Here's one of our fleeces: As for our farm, we are happy that we got all our fiber back from the processors in time for the sale. A Great Big Thank You to both Creekside Fiber Mill in Lebanon OR, and Fantasy Fibers in Canby OR for their excellent work! We highly recommend both. We have roving from both mills, and some beautiful mill-spun yarn from Creekside available this year. And as a special treat, Spinners Eden collaborated with JNK llamas to create two gorgeous roving blends. One is a combination of our Athena, with JNK’s Sirmione - a great pairing. The other is a CVM/llama/silk blend that is to die for. I had some moorit yarn spun, and wondered how it would do in the dyepot, so I tried some bright primary colors. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, using Jacquard Acid Dyes in Brilliant Blue and Fire Red, and Dharma Trading’s Acid Dye in Brilliant Yellow. The thing I like about using acid dyes is that the only mordant needed is vinegar. That’s the acid. Not scary at all. :-) Using acid dyes does require some heat. I did the blue yarn in an old Goodwill crock pot that I use only for dyeing, & left it in for a couple of hours to cook, and a couple of hours to cool. (If I had wanted a more uniform color, I would have used a bigger pot with more room for the yarn to move around.) Back to the fiber sale, we will open at 10 a.m. Early birds pay double. Just kidding. Address is 5740 Mertz Rd., Bellingham WA. We are 1.1 mile east of Hannegan Road on Axton. It’s a straight shot east from downtown Ferndale, & if you get to Shuksan Golf Course, you’ve gone three blocks too far. :-) Hope to see you!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2013 - The Year of the Ram

We had three sets of triplets and two sets of twins this year (one stillborn). That’s ten rams & two ewes. Yes, it’s one of thooooose years again. The last time we had a year like this was 2007, the year Blossom was born. She was the *only* ewe out of that year’s crop of lambs. One of the rams is a runt - seriously. For our breed, a three pound lamb is tiny. Other flock members are double to quadruple his birth weight. Little “Tyrion’s” body temperature dropped severely (92.8) after birth so I brought him into the house & put him in a sink of warm water to bring it up. He had a few pretty significant ups & downs through his first few hours, but he made it through, and is now strong, healthy & back in the barn with his siblings. He still gets bottles of lamb milk replacer three times a day, but he is learning to be a sheep out with the flock. Although we miss having him in the house, charging around like a little version of the cartoon Roadrunner in his oversized diapers & onesie, I’m glad he’s able to be out there.
The two keys to getting these little ones off to a good start are colostrum (the “real” stuff from mommy), and keeping body temperature in a normal range (101.5 - 103). That meant going out to the barn & milking Tyrion’s mom, Contessa, and making sure he got that through his first few days. And of course, the colostrum doesn’t digest well if the body temperature is too low. So those are both critical ingredients to having a good outcome. We were especially lucky in that Tyrion had no other complicating factors - no infection or respiratory problems. He’s a little miracle, up to 7.5 lbs now at two+ weeks of age.
We have a lot of spectacular colors & patterns - spots of various shapes & configurations, grays, moorits, chocolates. . . I can hardly wait to see how their little fleeces grow out. And yes, we do plan to show at Black Sheep Gathering this June. By that time, we should be able to assess the quality of their fiber & body structure.
Right now, I’m busily sorting through washed fleeces & getting them off for processing. We should have some roving & yarn available (as well as raw fleeces), for the Wonderful Woollies sale in April. :-) And speaking of Wonderful Woollies, we have a few new farms participating! So there will be more diversity in sheep breeds represented, along with angora (mohair) goat & camelid. And our favorite spindle maker will be here, too! Allan Berry will be here with his hand-carved Turkish spindles & crochet hooks, each a work of art. Save the date - APRIL 13, 2013 (Saturday) 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Hope to see you here!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Waiting. . .

Lambs are due any day now. We’ve been saying that since just after Christmas. The barn is ready, with lambing jugs (stalls for the ewe & lambs’ first couple of days) in place, veterinary supplies updated (just in case assistance with birth is needed), a pile of clean towels to dry off newborn lambs, and warming lamps in place. The pregnant ewes have been sheared, immunizations updated, pedicures done, and the ones that want (particularly Helena) get back rubs whenever they want. They all look to be in good condition, well-nourished but not too heavy (which can cause difficulties with birth). So we’re looking forward to some healthy lambs very soon. At this point, the barn is very peaceful, with the girls up & around during the daytime, and tucked into ample amounts of fresh straw bedding at night. I’ll post photos as soon as something happens. Think pink!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Quick Hello

What a busy Summer and Fall this has been! I should start with a huge apology for not making it to Black Sheep Gathering in June. It was a disappointment for us, but we were very grateful that Doug had the time blocked off from work. Doug's Dad's health took a turn for the worse, and Doug needed to travel to Arizona to organize Dad's relocation to Bellingham. Dad is now getting the kind of care he needs, and is just a few minutes away from family. We did get to Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in September. What a great event! As one fellow shepherd commented, there is no place we'd all rather be at that time of year. . . the perfect end to Summer, in the company of our many fiber friends. We have set the date for Wonderful Woollies next year - April 13, 2013. More later. . .