Monday, May 16, 2011


I really shouldn't complain. Seriously, other parts of the country are completely under water. But up here in the Pacific Northwest, we have had one day of joyous springy sunshine followed by a week of gray, cold, dismal drizzle, outright downpours, and everything in between. Repeatedly. We had snow in April, for Pete's sake. I never knew the definition of “graupel” before. I thought that was Rubeus Hagrid's brother, in the Harry Potter books. But we've had that, too, and FYI, it's soft hail.

Our pasture is extremely soggy, which is holding up start of our new perimeter fence. And my tomato plants? Well, I just hope they don't just freeze their little pieces off. My stepdad used to say that we needed to wait until we had 55 degrees before putting out tomato plants. I went ahead, and now, in addition to the weather concerns, I am wondering if chickens like to eat tomato plants. We could be doomed.

The chickens have begun laying eggs again. We have a few different breeds. The Auracanas give us blue/green eggs. The Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, Barred Rock & Gold-laced Wyandotte give us various browns. The little one? No clue who that came from. If it had been white, I'd have suspected pigeon. We still have four homing pigeons. Hard to get rid of those little buggers.

On a happier note, all our precious little lambs are weaned. They went to a pasture within view of their mommies, and all spent the first day calling to each other. (My apologies to all our neighbors for a rather noisy Easter.) Things settled down quickly after that first day. The lambs were under the tender loving care of their Uncles Raoul & Little Guy, both wethers. They have been apart from mommies long enough now for milk to dry up, and now, the little ewe lambs have moved back to the ewes' barn. The ram lambs are now with their daddies & the wethers in Barn #2. The boys all got acquainted without mishap. It's always a concern with rams, but in this breed of sheep, even the rams are pretty mellow.

A Great Big Thank You!

To everybody who participated in or came to shop at our First Ever Annual Wonderful Woolies Fiber Sale! We are grateful to all the other farms that participated:
Allegre Alpacas Alpaca
Ferndale Fibers Romney X, Border Leicester X
Humble Home Goat Farm Angora goat (Mohair)
Thistle Dew Studio Alpaca
Marietta Shetlands Shetland
JNK Llamas Llama, including Suri llama
Nancy's Farm Blue Face Leicester X, Shetland
Little Orchard Farm CVM/Romeldale
Wake Robin Farm Icelandic

It's fun for spinners to be able to work with a variety of fibers, and together we were able to offer a nice variety of raw & washed fleeces, processed wool & handspun yarn. We were happy to have a day without rain, & although the weather was pretty chilly, the atmosphere was warm & friendly. Thank you, everybody that put on warm mittens, hats, & wool socks, to venture out to the farm!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wonderful Woolies Fleece Sale 2011, or Nearly Naked Sheep

The sheep have all been sheared now, and are sporting their new spring coats. It's always a nice feeling for them to get all that wool off. Most are very patient with the process, and even though it puts them in some awkward positions for short periods of time, it's even more challenging for the shearer, who shears several sheep over several hours. Thank God for ibuprofen & Therma-Care Heat Wraps!

Also, Great Big Thanks to Dori and Lea for their most excellent help on shearing day! You both helped make the day run smoothly and efficiently. :-) We are all very grateful.

People often ask why we coat our sheep. I submit this photo of our yearling, Glenda, and it should answer your questions. All our sheep are very enthusiastic about the organic hay that we get from Sumas (near the Canadian border), but she seems to find particular joy in adorning herself with hay garlands. Soon the grass will begin growing, though, and the flock will enjoy the fresh pasture even more. As fleeces become longer and longer, the sheep will need larger coats. I think we go through about four or five coat sizes on the adults, in the course of a year. In the long run, though, coating makes for easier fiber processing and less fleece waste because of VM. Below Glenda's picture is one of her fleece, which is on its way to Florida.

We will be hosting the Wonderful Woolies Fleece & Fiber Sale on Saturday, April 16, 2011, 10 a.m. til 4 p.m. We are particularly pleased that several other farms have agreed to participate, too. We will have several breeds represented besides our CVM/Romeldale, including Romney X, Shetland, Icelandic, Angora goat (mohair), alpaca & llama, both Huacaya & Suri. We will have raw and processed fleeces. Of course, the sheep will be here to visit our guests as well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Early Mornings & Late Nights

The icy January & February middle-of-the-night labor checks are over. The early morning scramble for warm, ragged lambing towels from the dryer are done. All our lambs are on the ground and doing very well. We have 14 little ones romping around, eight ewes & six little rams. Helena outdid herself with quadruplets this year – all black, two boys & two girls. All together, that's 10 lambs in three years for her. It's no wonder her fleece is turning gray, poor dear. She is such a trouper. I am doing my best to keep poking food into her. She's making a lot of milk for those babies.

There's nothing quite like the exuberance of these little guys. Why stand still, when one can jump straight up in the air? (I don't recall putting Mexican jumping beans in their feed.) Why lie down on the ground when it's much warmer on top of mommy? What does grass taste like? Who is that lady that keeps bringing hay? If I run really fast can I get to the far end of the field before my siblings? Where's my mommy? Their curiosity is unending. Some are more friendly than others, and I'm finding that their dispositions are often a reflection of their mommies'.

We have lots more color variation this year, clearly the result of choosing a different ram for the girls. Last year, we had Brutus from Colorado, a stunning black stud muffin, who gave us stunning black sheep. Lots of them. This year, Elmer (our champion moorit - brown) and Eugene from Oregon, a black & white badger-faced CVM, did their work and produced a great variety of colors. And the markings – OMG. Such cuteness!

Two of the little lambs are bottle babies – one of Helena's, and one of Amity's. Sometimes a third will join in. That means mixing jugs of lamb milk replacer & taking warm bottles out to feed several times a day. Those frosty early morning & late night feedings are most wonderful beginnings & ends to the day. I can't imagine a more peaceful place to be. Late at night when most everybody is sleeping, the little ones determinedly climb up to the hay feeder for their bottles, which are emptied within a few minutes. Then they tuck back in with their flock. I top off the hay feeders, just in case somebody needs a midnight snack, and head back to the house & a warm bed. What a perfect place to be!