Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What's Up for 2017

Well, it's been quite a while since my last post! Things are busy as usual with the sheep, chickens, ducks, quail, cats, and the never-ending task of remodeling the house.

We're making progress on the spiral staircase, flooring, and the kitchen.

I made some Roman shades for the living room and for my studio.
Last week I finally sewed up some cushions for the rattan set I bought at a garage sale in the fall of 2011.
Next, I want to felt and eco-print a covering for another rattan chair and make some Roman shades for our upstairs bedroom solarium windows. That will be a challenge! If anyone has ideas for solarium window shades, please let me know.

My schedule for 2017 is shaping up with felting workshops I am taking and classes I'll be teaching.

I am teaching a new class at Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival on May, 14th and at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival on September 10th. It's a Cobweb Felt Floor Lamp class.

I love these floor lamps! They warm up the atmosphere of any room and they emphasize the beautiful lock structure of long wool fibers. I use my Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester ewe's roving for these lamp coverings. We will be making them in white, but they can be dyed or eco-printed or embellished for more texture and color.

I'm teaching the Raw Felted Fleece class again this year at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN July 8-9th. North House is a beautiful location, right on Lake Superior in an artsy town with lots of fine dining, camping, shopping and fishing opportunities. Sid loves to fish for trout while I'm teaching, so it's a win-win for both of us. The weekend I teach is also the weekend of the Grand Marais Art Colony Art Show, so there will be lots of people in town for that too.

I also teach the Raw Felted Fleece class here in Ogilvie, MN in my outdoor studio. I've got people coming in from various states this spring and summer. If you're interested in this class, drop me an email. I can do individual sessions or groups of 2-6. Four is a good number to have adequate space and time for everyone. There are lakeside cabins available to rent just down the road from our house. They are very affordable if you schedule a session during the week. If you fly into Minneapolis or Duluth, there is a shuttle bus from the airport to Hinckley, MN where I can pick you up. Sid loves to cook, so we have snacks and a nice lunch for students as well as plenty of after class homemade wine or mead to share.

I decided not to breed my ewes last fall because I am taking a trip to Shetland, UK in May this spring. I am studying felting with Fiona Duthie in a 9-day retreat. I am super excited! Ever since I started raising Shetland sheep in 2001, I've wanted to visit Shetland.

Sid will be taking care of the sheep while I'm away. This is the first time in 15 years I haven't had lambing looming over my head in the spring. I feel like I'm playing hooky from school. It's so liberating not to worry about procuring good hay, vaccinating and shearing prior to lambing, keeping watch as the ewes lamb, docking tails and vaccinating the lambs, weaning lambs, and marketing sheep. Whew, there are a lot of things that come with lambing! Also, it's nice to just have one pen of sheep to care for rather than a ram pen, a ewe pen, lambing jugs, etc. So happy I can just relax and enjoy my flock and their wonderful wool!

We had a bit of a scare when I put the wethered ram lambs back in with the ewes. The shearer had used the burdizzo on Wilbur in mid-September, so I waited until January to make sure he was no longer fertile before letting him in with the ewes.

I wasn't too worried about Wilbur's keen interest in the ewes until I noticed they were standing for him. That's when I decided to check his testicles and to my horror, instead of two small shrunken ones, I could only feel one and it was the size of a lemon!

My thoughts were that the crimping hadn't fully crushed the cord and I could have 17 ewes to lamb out in June. Yikes!!! Fortunately, my vet can do ultrasounds on the ewes. So I scheduled a farm visit for 45-60 days after exposure (which was just a few days ago). Thankfully, the sampling of ewes that were ultrasounded appear to be open (not bred). The vet also did an ultrasound of Wilbur's testicle and it appears there is enough scarring to prevent him from being fertile. Yeah!!! 

We can't be 100% sure until June, but if anyone needs a good teaser ram, I will probably have one available. He's a Teeswater, Wensleydale and Bluefaced Leicester with excellent long lustrous locks and a nice personality. And his name is Wilbur.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall and the Midwest Farm and Fiber Festival

The class at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival went well. The fleeces look beautiful!
Sorry I didn't get all the class participants in this photo, some had to leave before it was taken, but I love all the colors and textures represented. Thanks so much to all the ladies for helping out with the tables and clean up.

We had a great space in the milking parlor for the class this year. It was complete with plenty of hot water and floor drains.

Sid and I brought a trailer full of sheep with us to Jefferson.
It was sad to see my Bluefaced Leicester ewes River Oaks Leta and Ruby go, but I'm glad they will be in a breeding flock. I'm also happy that Mystery's little Teeswater/Shetland ram lamb found a good home, he's such a sweetheart. I love the fiber of the Teeswater/Shetland crosses. It's not the long Teeswater-type locks, but it's very soft and I'm finding it spins into a beautiful, springy lustrous yarn.
Speaking of yarn, I was happy to get first place on this 8 oz. skein of natural colored Bluefaced Leicester 2 ply that I spun over the summer at the Isle Farmer's Market. I entered it at the last minute, but so glad I did!

There's always so much to do at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival. I took a Batik Silk scarf class on Saturday morning. I hadn't had time to come up with a design before class, so I winged it with this turtle motif inspired by the baby turtle we found in our driveway the day before we left for Jefferson. I'm excited to keep going with the wax resist technique on silk!

Now it's time to get ready for my booth at the Midwest Farm and Fiber Festival coming up on October 22 at the Isanti County Fairgrounds in Cambridge, MN.

I've been going through all my fiber and shipped out 33 pounds of washed fiber for felting batts, combed top, and roving. I still have a bit more to ship out, but I felt pretty good about having the studio almost devoid of fleeces. Then I had 13 of my Teeswater cross sheep sheared the other day.

Fall fleeces are cleaner than spring fleeces and I have several nice lamb fleeces in the group. I still need to skirt them and decide which ones will be for sale. The heaviest ones are the Teeswater/BFL/Wensleydales and the Teeswater/Bluefaced Leicester/Finns. The Teeswater/BFL/Finns are my favorite, they're so long, soft and lustrous.

Yesterday we said goodbye to Jester, my Teeswater ram, Lucky and Gulliver. Kind of an emotional day. But I'm glad to get my numbers down with several shorn ram lambs scheduled to move on after I grain feed them for a few weeks. Two ewes will be heading out early next month.

I have reaffirmed my decision not to breed any ewes this fall after being rammed pretty hard by Jester. It took two weeks to get over that hit and I'm not getting any younger. That hit and my trip Shetland next spring just seemed to say it's time to skip breeding. I'm looking forward to having more time to work with my fleeces and fiber art rather than lambing, weaning, vaccinating, etc. But I will miss having lambs, it will be the first spring since 2001 without any lambs.
On a brighter note, I found this iris blooming the other day. It was quite a surprise, but I see another one is budding too. I'm going to mark them and see if they flower twice next year. I didn't know there are types of iris that are double bloomers.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival 2016

Teeswater/BFL raw felted fleece.
We're getting ready to head over to Jefferson, WI for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend. I'm teaching a raw felted fleece class there on Sunday, Sept. 11. I bought some new equipment so we shouldn't have any issues with lack of hot water and the ability to spin dry the fleeces after they are fulled.
New 10L portable hot water heater - connects to a hose for instant hot water.
I also got a new Mega Spinner from Laundry Alternative. It holds a lot more than the one I've used for several years now.

If anyone is interested in my old Laundry Alternative spin dryer, it works just fine, but the plastic disk that you place on top of the wet items is broken. I'm asking $45 for it and I can deliver it to WSWF this weekend. These units are really great for spinning out felt artwork, yarn, roving, fleece, locks, and yes, even laundry. :-)
Jester the Teeswater ram was the first one checked and his temp was perfectly normal.
I had the vet out yesterday afternoon for health papers on the sheep I am planning to bring to WSWF.  Unfortunately, it was so hot and humid almost all the sheep were running high temps. Their temperatures just got hotter as the afternoon wore on. So the vet will return tomorrow to recheck their temps in the morning. Yikes, these are going to be some expensive health papers!

I am planning to bring 10 sheep -- if they all fit in the horse trailer. As for ewes, I will bring two registered BFLs  (already spoken for), two beautiful Teeswater cross yearling ewes, and a 2016 Teeswater cross ewe lamb. 
Ewe pen. #158 in upper left.
Ruby's ewe lamb, #158. She's 50% BFL and 47% Teeswater
#158's fleece
For rams, I'm planning to bring Jester and four of his 2016 ram lambs.
 The fleeces on all the Teeswater crosses are fabulous! If you're a spinner or felter and looking to add to your fiber flock, be sure to stop by my pens in the Stock Exchange at the festival this weekend.
Close up of Teeswater/BFL locks on a raw felted fleece
Sid is getting the horse trailer roadworthy today and I'm dyeing cotton gauze for the fleece class. Busy, busy, busy!

I hope to see lots of old and new friends at Jefferson this weekend!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another Felted Fleece class and exciting news!

I've got openings for 3 or 4 people  for a felted fleece class on Wednesday, August 10th in my outdoor studio in Ogilvie, MN. This was going to be a private session, but we decided to open it up. Contact me if you're interested.

I did this Karakul fleece yesterday, it's 6 feet long. It still needs some trimming done around the edges, but I love those beautiful long locks!  Karakul fleece is great for a rug or wall hanging, felts very fast. A big thanks to my shearer for passing this beautiful fleece on to me.

I had a great time in Grand Marais teaching the raw felted fleece class at North House Folk School. We were blessed with beautiful weather and not too much wind. The students did a great job on their fleeces. The fleeces left to right in the photo above are: a Cotswold, Karakul cross, Shetland/BFL cross, Jacob and a Border Leicester/Bluefaced Leicester cross.

And most exciting news! 

I am going to Shetland for a felting retreat with Fiona Duthie next May! Ever since I got into raising and breeding Shetland sheep 15 years ago, I've wanted to go to Shetland to see the sheep and the landscape. When Fiona announced she was having this retreat in 2017 I didn't hesitate to sign up. So now I'm resolved to sell some sheep and wool and felt art to finance my trip. Oh and I'll need a passport -- so excited! :-)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Flock Reduction

I've decided to cut back my flock and try to quit breeding (my shepherd friends will understand) so that I can focus more on fiber and my art.
I've listed all of my sheep on the sale page, except for a few that will retire here, but even they could be placed in the right home.  I'm sorry I don't have many photos yet, I'll get some up asap.
I can haul up to 10 sheep to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in September, but my preference is to move them out sooner if possible. I don't have any pasture here, but they have been clearing away the forest floor as fast as I can put up the electronet.
Click on the Sheep for Sale page to see a listing of what I have available. So many beautiful fleeces in this group and they're pretty friendly too!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Felted Pelt Class this Saturday!

There are still two openings in this weekend's raw felted fleece class here in Ogilvie.
Call me if you would like to register. I do have a couple fleeces available for purchase if you don't have one of your own. The one in the photo is a moorit Shetland fleece that weighed about 2.5 lbs raw.

Thanks to everyone who came to my booth at Shepherd's Harvest this year. It's always nice to reconnect with all friends and make new ones. I sold out of felt pelts! It's a good thing I have several more fleeces on hand and the weather is perfect for felting outdoors.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Classes coming up!

It's been a while since I last posted. Lambing is over for the year and I have lots of 47% Teeswater ram lambs to sell.
I will post current photos and prices in the coming weeks. They area all growing so fast! They will be available after weaning at the end of May. Such beautiful fleeces on these crosses.
Shepherd's Harvest was held in Lake Elmo, MN this past weekend. It was so nice to see many old friends and make some new ones. I want to thank everyone who bought fiber, pelts, and soap. It really was a good weekend despite the cool, windy weather. I wish I had more time to stop in my friends' booths, so much to do and so little time!

Sid and I are hosting a couple classes in our outdoor classroom over the next two weekends.

Coming up this Sunday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon is "Herbal First Aid" taught by Rachel and Patrick Nudd of Willheal Farm in Cedar, MN.  The cost is $20 and there will be wood-fired pizza after class. Click on the link above for more information or to sign up.

The following Saturday, May 28th I will be teaching a raw felted fleece class. I've got room for two more students. The cost is $125 which includes all materials (except the fleece), refreshments, and lunch. Contact me to sign up or for more details.  If you can't make it to this one, I will be teaching it at North House Folk School in Grand Marias, MN on July 9-10 and at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival September 11, 2016.
Here are some photos from last year's classes here at our place.