Wednesday, October 01, 2014

WSWF, New Rams & Fabulous Fibre Month at Seasons on St. Croix Gallery

I am so glad I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival this year. I came home with two new rams and breeding plans for this fall.
Thanks to Deb Peterson for lending me the horse trailer I sold her a couple years ago.
I brought three Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs for the Stock Market Exchange. I still have the natural colored ram for sale.

Linda Brion brought me "Boston" this very sweet Teeswater ram lamb. What an interesting face he has!

I also leased a beautiful two year old moorit Shetland ram named "Elvis" from Kelly Bartels, of Okay Acres. Elvis was Reserve Champion ram last year in the MSSBA show at Jefferson. I needed a polled ram to breed the three gulmoget ewes that have returned to my flock this past summer.
Left to right: Minnie, Mystery, Eva
River Oaks Mystery and Minnie have never been bred, so I needed a Shetland ram for their first breeding. I'm sure they will do just fine with their first lambing at age four.
Eva also came back with Minnie & Mystery.  She's a 4 year old 3/4 BFL and 1/4 Shetland with a fabulous fleece. She's never been bred either. I will keep a good eye on her and I'm sure she'll do fine too. She's very friendly.
Earlier in August, Godiva (in the right in the photo above) came home, she was not a good fit in the home I sold her to last summer. She's a bit crafty at getting what she wants and she didn't follow the rotational grazing plan there. She wasn't home long before she figured out how to get loose here. In fact she did it three days in a row. I figured out her exit spot was the chain link fencing right near the windfall apples. It is now staked down good and tight. Godiva is so friendly and she seemed to remember everything here.  I am very happy to have all these Shetland ewes (and their fleeces) back in my flock.

Mystery's raw felted fleece was displayed at the Minnesota State Fair this year and got the attention of a New York Times reporter. A photo of it was included in the September 4th paper edition, here's a link to the online article, the fleece is photo #6 in the slide show:

So now I am busy making lots more raw felted fleeces, teaching and taking classes. Some of my art work will be on display at the Seasons on St. Croix Gallery in Hudson, WI from Oct. 3 through Nov. 2. I am honored to be included in the Fabulous Fibre Month exhibit along with felt artists Pamela MacGregor, Robbin Firth, Dawn Edwards, Jan Waller, and Elena Rosenberg.  Everyone is invited to attend the First Friday Celebration on Friday, Oct. 3 from 5-9 p.m.
In addition to the exhibit, Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks is hosting eight felting classes during October, including a raw felt locks pillow that I will be teaching on October 11. You can find all the details for the classes on her website:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bluefaced Leicester ram and ram lambs for sale

I have two purebred Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs born in April, 2014 (photos coming soon).
White twin ram lamb out of River Oaks Luna, $300
Nautural colored triplet ram lamb out of River Oaks Rita  $350
Both were sired by my beautiful Bluefaced Leicester ram, Red Oak Mason (shown below as a lamb). 
Mason is a triplet with lines going back to Anne Priest's flock. He is available and ready to go. $400

I will be at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival September 6-7 and at North Country Fiber Fair September 20-21. I can deliver sheep to those venues or anywhere along the way.
Red Oak Mason, fall 2013
Call or email for more information: Phone 320-679-4117 or email

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Morels, Raised Beds, Ducks, Goat milk Soap, and Felt Birdhouses at Shepherds Harvest

This is what my neighbor found on his side of the fence line in my front sheep paddock. Not a single one on my side. Sheep must like morels...

I usually try to get my garden in by June 1st. Last year is wasn't until June 15th.  This year I will have two raised beds!  I've always wanted raised beds. I've filled them with 3 yr old composted sheep bedding.  I've got celery, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers to plant. I'll try some old seeds for peas and green beans too. I also have lots of strawberries to plant and I'm starting some grape vines thanks to my friends Barb & Ray Dreyer. I would love to learn how to make wine someday.

I had a fox come through and thin my poultry flock the past few weeks. I now have to keep everything locked up tight day in and day out. I have 5 laying hens (one is a limping survivor of a fox attack), two young chicks, and one female Saxony duck with a single duckling. The good news is that there are more Saxony duck eggs incubating. The little duckling in the photo was hatched in my incubator and then I tucked him under the duck who is still setting on eggs. She adopted him and he's so cute sitting with her.

And I finally got back to making goat milk soap last night. This is a batch of Lavender Tea Tree soap. It smells so good in the house now. I want to make some straight Tea Tree soap next. It's fun playing around with various oils and tweaking the recipe. So thankful to get the goat milk from a friend.

I had a great time at Shepherd's Harvest. It was nice having it the weekend after Mother's Day, the weather was beautiful. I enjoyed being in the booth with the Anoka Fiber Works ladies and seeing lots of old friends and meeting new ones. The felt birdhouse class I taught on Friday went very well.  Thanks to my investment in a portable instant hot water heater, we had a steady supply of warm water -- a first for me at Shepherd's Harvest. All the birdhouses were successful and the students seemed to have a great time!  I will be teaching this class at North Country Fiber Fair in September. That should be fun too. Click on the link for more information.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shepherd's Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival!

I am super busy getting ready for Shepherd's Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN at the Washington County Fairgrounds this weekend.
Tomorrow I am teaching the felt birdhouse class, that's always a fun and useful project.
After that, you can find me in the Anoka Fiber Works booth in Bldg. B. I will have some skirted fleeces, birdhouse kits, combed top, and lots of samples of upcoming felt workshop projects including: raw felted fleeces, slippers, hats, scarves, and of course the birdhouses.
I also will be selling my beautiful registered Bluefaced Leicester yearling ram, Red Oak Mason (white carrying color) and three of his ram lambs (two white, one natural colored). The lambs are available at weaning. 
I hope to see lots of old friends this year. It will be nice to be in a booth with others so I can get around to check out all the vendors and displays. I am taking Carol Wagner's class on Spinning Novelty Yarns Sunday morning. Should be a fun weekend!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Coming soon -- Pam MacGregor Teapot Class!

The Felt Teapot Class is coming up in just a few weeks. The ladies at Anoka Fiber Works have decided to close the shop for the full three-days of the class which will allow room for a couple more students!
If you are interested in learning from Pam in a close-knit friendly atmosphere, contact me as soon as possible. This will be a fun class, we will have exclusive access to all the products in the store and plenty of time to explore our design options for a full size felt teapot.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Spring Lambs, Classes and Fleeces!

It's been a busy spring. There have been so many things going on that it's been hard to keep up with blog posts.
I'm happy and relieved to report that all my Bluefaced Leicester lambs have arrived safe and sound.  My three ewes (born in 2011 out of Beechtree and Ward lines) are excellent mothers and their fleeces are what makes it all worthwhile. I bred them to Red Oak Mason, who has very fine fleece and has proven his hardiness by making it through one of the worst winters in memory here in Minnesota. He did his job as soon as he got in the breeding pen.

To start things off, Luna had a nice set of twins around 10:30 a.m. on April 5th, a natural colored ewe and a white ram.

Then it was Rita's turn, she was an overachiever again this year, producing another set of triplets very late at night on April 6th. All the triplets are natural colored, two ewes and a ram lamb. I didn't think she looked very big and she maintained very good body condition with this pregnancy, so triplets were a surprise.
They were all good size newborns but the ram lamb is the biggest. He was the first to figure out the nursing thing so he's  really thriving.

Then Leta produced her first set of twins on April 7 around 5 p.m. She has always given me the growthiest single lambs and these two were especially vigorous and anxious to get up and nursing. They are both white, a ram and a ewe. I may have to keep that ewe lamb and name her Lena.

So out of the three 3-yr-old ewes, I've got seven beautiful lambs. No problems with lambing or with mothering. The two triplet ewes are a little slower at latching onto the teat unassisted, so I've supplemented them with a little milk replacer the first day and a half.

Next up is Camille, my Shetland ewe, who is due on April 20th.  And looking suspiciously round in the tummy, but lacking a bag, is little Wanda.  I only know that if Wanda is pregnant, her lamb would be due by April 28th at the latest. It would be a BFL/Wensleydale cross - ooh, just think of the fleece!
Camille on left and Wanda on right.
The shearer was here a week before lambing started.  It was too cold to shear earlier, we still have a lot of snow, but the temps have been mild and it's melting fast. I just hope I can get the sheep out on pasture in May this year. Last year spring was so late!

I took a 5-day felting class with Marjolien Dallinga at the Textile Center in Minneapolis the week prior to shearing. What fun! But I did get pretty stiff and sore from all the layout and the felting and driving 3 hours each day to commute. What a fun group of ladies and what a wonderful teacher! 

Don't ask me what I made, because I couldn't tell you - they're indescribable really.  (You can click on the photo for a larger image.)
My pieces from the workshop. They are works in progress.
Check out Marjolien's website and see her wonderful creations. I'm anxious to incorporate her techniques in my work.

So now I've got to get back down to work. Shepherd's Harvest Festival and the Felted Teapot class with Pam MacGregor  will be coming up all too soon.

I'm also very excited to be attending Fiddle Camp this June. I bought myself a fiddle in August of 2012 and have been working on learning to play it. I find it relaxing, but I'm not sure my dog and cats agree.  There is SO much to learn in playing a fiddle! I took at Bluegrass fiddle workshop with Brian Wicklund on April 5th (right after shearing) and got enough info to keep me busy for months.  I also got to see April Verch in concert the other night in St. Paul. She is an amazing fiddler and dancer!

Oh and I'm really looking forward to teaching Raw Felted Fleeces at the Midwest Felting Symposium in Madison, WI, this summer and Felted Birdhouses at North Country Fiber Fair in Watertwon, SD this September.  My good friend Heather of Woollove Functional Fiber Art will be coming to visit that week too. I'm going to try to schedule a felted bag class with her here in Minnesota that same week.

Lots to do, I'm afraid my day job is getting in the way of my wooly vocation!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dyed Braids, Slipper Class, and Raw Felted Fleeces

Yesterday I dyed 15  braids of my Bluefaced Leicester/Tencel blend roving. I love that blend, it's so soft and makes a very nice lustrous felt. The braids sell well at the Anoka Fiber Works shop too. I will bring all the braids down there tomorrow when I teach my felted slippers class. The class is full, I will post photos of the finished slippers as soon as I can. This should be an interesting class because several of the participants are bringing their own wool.  Should be lots of variety!

Sharrie asked for a photo of the piece I entered in the Textile Center member show.  Here it is - sorry it's not the best photo, took it quickly before sending it off with my son to be delivered to the Textile Center.  It's a shaela gulmoget lamb fleece from River Oaks Mystery.

I took a photo of a raw felted Bluefaced Leicester fleece I made almost three years ago. It's from Ward Harwell. He was a beautiful ram that I had to sell in 2011, but I kept his purebred Bluefaced Leicester daughters and they are the heart of my flock now. They are all excellent, attentive mothers.
I don't use this felted fleece as a rug, it's much too precious to walk on! It's actually a couch throw that I can snuggle up under when I get a bit chilly. I'm so glad to still have this fleece, Harwell was a beautiful ram.  I will be teaching a raw felted fleece class at the Midwest Felting Symposium this year. I'm pretty sure the dates will be Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 & 2. Students can bring their favorite sheep's fleece or purchase a fleece to felt. I hope some of my Shetland breeder friends will have some clean raw fleeces that the students could purchase. Shetland fleeces are great for this project because they are small enough to be manageable when wet and they come in such a wonderful variety of colors and patterns.
One last shot of the sunrise this morning - it was below zero when I did my chores. I'm so glad the sheep don't mind the cold a bit.