Sunday, August 25, 2019

Twins for Smokey, hay for winter, peafowl, and classes

Sure enough, Smokey had her twins while I was teaching up in Grand Marais. They are already a month old and still very black.

She delivered without any problems, thankfully. My son, Matt, did a great job getting them settled in. Thanks to my neighbor, Denise, who came over and made sure all the lambing protocols were followed: jug the family; clip (the cords), dip (the navels in iodine), and strip (the wax plus from the teats); and some Karo syrup water and good hay for the new mom.

We got 16 big rounds in the barn yesterday. It feels good.  We're hoping to get another ten. Then we will be good for a whole year.

We are looking into Silvopasture. We have woodlands, not pasture. So we need to convert our woods into pasture, which involves clearing and getting some grass to grow, but still leaving trees. Sid and I are signed up to take a workshop in mid-September. But in the meantime, we've started clearing a bit of land east of our barn.

We hatched a peachick in July, it was so cute.
But fox problems necessitated overcrowding in the chick pen and our precious little peachick died.  We were heartbroken. He was such and intrepid little bugger.  That's him in the foreground above with turkey poults and chicks.

We went out and bought four more, because we were bitten by the peafowl bug. They are shown above at about 4 weeks old. Shortly after we bought them, the friend who gave us the original egg we hatched, gave us 5 more eggs. Four of them are good and due to hatch over Labor Day weekend. So we could have lots of peafowl if all goes well. They are so pretty.

I taught a couple more felted fleeces classes. One at North House Folk School in July and one at the American Swedish Institute last weekend. So fun!

Because I was teaching, I wasn't able to take the Skinnfell class taught by Britt Solheim of Norway and her daughter at the Vesterheim Musem in Decorah, Iowa. However, I was able to take their Making Small Sheepskin Items class. It was great! We made lots of things over four days.

These are stitched and wood block printed on beautiful soft sheepskins tanned in Sweden. I bought two large Gotland skins to work on a large skinnfell at home. Sid and I invested in a desktop CNC machine so we can carve custom wood blocks.
What a nice town and what a great class!
Sid and I camped nearby at the Pulpit Rock Campground.  Such a beautiful setting.

Sid fished for trout while I was in class. They were delicious with some locally grown corn on the cob.
We stopped at Seed Savers on the way home. We definitely need to go back and spend more time there. 

I just found out that I've been accepted to the American Swedish Institute's Julmarknad again this year! I'll be sharing a booth with my potter friend, Sue Flanders. It's time get started on my felted Tomtes!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lambs on the Way! And chicks, poults and ducklings.

Well, we will have some lambs after all. And they're due right when I'll be out of town teaching up at North House.
It was a cold and blustery day at the end of February when I was busy preparing for my dad's funeral service, the boys' hay net was empty and frozen to the ground. I thought I could combine the boys with the ewes since it was almost March. I hoped the ewes weren't cycling anymore and I was pretty sure the boys weren't fertile since we had crimped the last of them in October. But after three days of them being together, it was clear that Smokey was cycling and the boys were VERY interested. Sid and I did the rodeo on March 1 getting the boys separated from the girls again and crossed our fingers hoping for the best. But it was pretty clear by mid-May that Smokey was starting to bag up.

Smokey and her 2018 Gotland-cross daughter, Blueberry, on July 7, 2019
I'll be down to 23 sheep tomorrow after bringing four wethers and two non-wethers to the processor. Slowly but surely I'm whittling down the flock to a more manageable size for our limited pasture. It looks like Smokey will have twins, so that is going in the wrong direction. But at least no one else is pregnant.
Llama felt pelt and chair pad.

I was given a llama fleece a couple weeks ago. And I decided to try a felt pelt with it since it was holding together pretty well. I have to say, it felted pretty fast, but there is some shedding of the long fibers. There was a lot of fiber that I skirted away due to VM, but I saved it to comb out. It's very soft llama fiber.

I taught a couple felted fleece classes in the last few weeks. One for Sherry Tenney in Winchester, Maryland and one here at my studio in Ogilvie. It's always fun playing with wool and sudsy water outside on sunny day!

I was able to get four yearling Lincoln Longwool fleeces from Robin of Pirate Sheep Co. I got one done so far. Those locks are so long and lustrous!
And we've had chicks, turkey poults and ducklings hatching like crazy lately. Lots of Crested Cream Legbar chicks which are fun because you can tell males from females at the hatch. And the turkey poults are just so sweet and fun to watch.
Broody Crested Cream Legbar with eggs and chicks.She has 14.

Incubator Cream Legbar chicks and a few turkey poults.
Not to be outdone, the Orpington hen went broody and has 12 barnyard mix chicks too.

The worst part is that we are having a fox problem (we lost 6 hens, four turkey poults, a nest of duck eggs with two broody ducks mauled, all in one day).  So now all the poultry have to be penned up 24/7. I'm trying to keep the two broodies and their babies in the barn during the day, but the Buff Orpington has a habit of flying over fences and going out in the sheep pen. Hopefully she'll stay close to the sheep and the fox won't get her.
Three Pekin ducklings and a Narragansett turkey poult are the latest to hatch.
There's only one egg left in the incubator now. It's a peafowl egg from our friend who raises them. He brought over 13 eggs that weren't being sat on. Seven started to develop, but only one has made it to the end. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will hatch. We'll put it with the littlest turkey poult, who did not like being with those messy ducklings.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Lots of New Felt Pelts!

Mugwort relaxes on a Gotland cross felt pelt that I was working on.
Since I sold out of felt pelts last December, I've been taking advantage of any warm days to get outside and make more. That and the fact that most of my fleeces were clean enough to make into felt pelts thanks to using hay nets to feed the sheep this past winter. I am so happy with the fleeces from my Gotland lambs from last spring!
Left to right: Shetland, Shetland, Gotland/Teeswater, Teeswater/Wensleydale felt pelts.

Sandy's fleece, he's a Gotland/Teeswater cross lamb
Gulliver's fleece, he's a Gotland/Teeswater/Shetland cross.
Arnie's fleece, he's a Gotland/Shetland cross

Wilbur's fleece, he's a Teeswater/Wensleydale cross

Wilbur's fabulous fleece

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Preparing for Classes, RIP RP, and Hay Nets

I've been working a small project for an introduction to felting class tomorrow in Minneapolis. I want to use wool from my own flock, so I picked this beautiful black shetland combed top. I don't have much left since I've sold all but two of my Shetlands -- and they aren't black. Anyway, this little tablet pouch only took 3/4 ounce of combed top.

I added some pieces of felt from a rug I cut up and some scraps of Margilan silk. I think this felt would make some beautiful scarves or even a jacket.

So today it's back to the drawing board, I think I will switch to Shetland Mule and Teeswater cross top. I want more stability for a felted tablet pouch or hot pad or coasters.

I'm teaching a new class at Shepherd's Harvest, knitting with longwool locks.
It's only a 3 hour class, no water or towels or plastic bags involved in making this wooly locks scarf, boa, cowl or cuffs. I will be washing up lots of  my Teeswater cross locks so I'll have plenty on hand. Registration starts April 1st.

I'm also teaching the felted fleece class in August in Minneapolis at the American Swedish Institute.  I'm hoping for good weather, we'll be working out in their beautiful courtyard for the wet portion of the class.
I'm pretty sure there are still openings in my classes in Hanover, PA in June and September too. Sherry Tenney is taking registrations on Etsy for those. Last year's class was so much fun and Sherry's selection of the raw fleeces was fabulous!
My felted fleece class at North House Folk School is full but they are taking names for the waiting list. I also teach occasional classes in my home studio by appointment, just shoot me an email and we can talk about it.

We said goodbye to  our dear Richard Parker last week. He lived a long life for a cat diagnosed with Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. He was the fearless defender of our realm.

Okay, now for a sheep photo,look at those sweet little Gotland faces.
I've skirted all 33 of my fleeces this year and even washed 4 or them already. I will be making lots of felt pelts from my own flock thanks to using HayChix hay nets this year. I have to feed hay year round because we are in the woods here, not much pasture. My fleeces were noticeably cleaner this year. I use the big round nets and the small nets for feeding small squares and flakes. Love them! 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Spring can't be far off

We have a broody hen...

the sheep are sheared...

and it's St. Patrick's Day! We're heading to our friends' winery to meet with other spinners and knitters. Then we're off to celebrate at another friend's house.
We've had lots of snow and cold, but the temps are rising and the snow is melting.

Time to start some tomatoes from the seeds we saved. I always plant Brandywines and some nice little round Roma tomatoes that we got from the Amish a few years ago.

I am loving the Gotland cross lambs' fleeces. I skirted all 18 of them over the last two days. Several lambs managed to felt themselves up around the shoulders, but there's still enough for me to make some small felt pelts.

My classes at North House Folk School went well. The Cobweb Felt class was fun, we had plenty of time to complete our projects and clean up.

The Skinfeller class I took with Karen Aakre turned out to be a godsend.
My ninety-year-old dad suddenly started going downhill fast the weeks before the class. He had a bit of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace, but we knew it was more than that. They sent him home where he lives alone with only a wood stove for heat (because he couldn't use the faulty furnace). It was very stressful for us kids trying to make sure he was okay. We got him admitted to Continuing care the day before I left for Grand Marais. Sid was going to come with me, but our furnace started acting up and my farm sitter's car broke down, so I ended up going alone. I had a beautiful hotel room overlooking Lake Superior.
I kept in touch with my family and the care facility over the weekend, but it was quite stressful. Anyway, Skinnfell is like Ukranian egg decorating in that the motifs are meant to tell a message, the symbols should represent the people who are receiving the skinnfell.
So for my project, I lucked out and got a very long-stapled. light brown, Norwegian Spael sheepskin.

I gave it a bridal edging and chose the woodblocks with symbols to represent my family.
The eight-pointed stars were my mom and dad, the eight hearts around the starts represent us eight kids, and the doves represent our grandparents.  I put my mom and dad's surnames on the edges with dots representing them and their siblings. I wanted to stick with a single color, brown. I was thrilled with it. I was able to stop by the care center on my way home and show my dad. It was the last time I was really able to communicate with him. I'm so glad I stopped! He liked it, the next day, he was so out of it to respond to much at all. He passed away in the early hours of Feb. 21. I am the executor of his estate so I have my work cut out for me for a while.

And now I am working on patterns for the new class I'll be teaching at Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival over Mother's Day weekend. It's a knitting with longwool locks class. Lord knows I have lots of longwool locks!

Twins for Smokey, hay for winter, peafowl, and classes

Sure enough, Smokey had her twins while I was teaching up in Grand Marais. They are already a month old and still very black. She deliv...