Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another chapter closes. RIP Ozzie


In the midst of all the joyous spring happenings (birthdays, lambing and shearing) my loyal 11 year-old Australian Shepherd, Ozzie became terribly ill. He began consistently vomiting and eventually he refused to eat. I took him to the vet on St. Patrick's Day. The diagnosis was pancreatitis. He was on sub-q fluids and penicillin for a week. There were points when he looked like he was going to make it. He would bark at visitors and come with me for chores, but he never regained his appetite. Yesterday he took a turn for the worse and he passed away during the night.

I'm sure going miss him, he was a big presence in this house since 2003. He was a great watch dog and very smart. You'll notice him somewhere in many of my sheep photos. He was a link to the life I used to have. Things change, life goes on and now there's one less link to that old life. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Raw Felted Fleece Classes

The weather here in Minnesota is unseasonably warm, the ewes are about ready to lamb, shearing is scheduled in two days, and I'm home washing and felting fleeces. It sure feels like heaven to me. :-)

I will be teaching some raw felted fleece classes this spring and summer.

The first class will be at Shepherd's Harvest in Lake Elmo May 15th. I will also have a booth there May 16-17, 2015.  Class registration begins March 15th, here's a link to the class description, there are lots of good classes lined up this year.

I will also be teaching it in Ogilvie, MN by appointment. The class is about 6 hours long. The cost  is $125, which  includes materials, handouts, a lunch of wood-fired pizza and refreshments. Bring your own 1 to 5 pound raw fleece. Come and see the sheep grazing and felt a fleece! Contact me to sign up or for more information. This is a messy project, so we will need to work outdoors.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Focaccia - yummm!

This past summer, my friend Sid and I sold focaccia, eggs, and goat milk soap at the Farmer's market in Isle, MN. It's a really great little farmer's market with a friendly atmosphere. I would bring my wheel and spin between customers. Spinning always garners interest from the crowd. We were usually sold out of focaccia way before the end of market hours. Sid is a great cook and comes up with some great combos for toppings (wild rice & cheddar, red onion & rosemary, garlic & mozzerella, to name a few). The best part is, focaccia goes with just about anything.

We will be selling handmade artisan focaccia again tomorrow, Nov. 22nd, at Barb Dreyer Studio's 15th Annual Open house, from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m. The address is 6916 Canary RD, Grasston, MN.
Barb will have her award winning pottery for sale along with other locally made beverages and edibles.  Stop by if you get a chance!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Back to Winter Already

We got about a foot of snow the other day, so it's back to plowing and shoveling and all the other jobs that come with winter weather. Blah!
I've got two pens of breeding sheep and a pen of bachelor boys to feed twice a day.  
Part of the Shetland breeding group.

Some of the Bluefaced Leicester/Teeswater breeding group.
Also 27 ducks and 16 chickens...
It's good to get outside and breathe the fresh air, I'm not complaining about animal care. I just really don't look forward to another bout of shoveling and hauling wood, seems like summer and fall went by way too fast.
The good part of this weather change is that now I have some indoor time to update my blog. I'm also changing my old River Oaks Sales blog into Rebecca Utecht Art. I love to share the news about my animals, but I also need a place to focus on my art work. I'm currently in the process of adding photos, etc. So please be patient as I get it all together.
I hope everyone is warm and all my friends' sheep flocks are busy making new little lambs for spring. Which is sure come again someday. :-)

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:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/garden/your-grandmas-maker-faire.html?ref=garden

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: http://heartfeltsilks.com/

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 becky@riveroakssheep.com

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.