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!

Spring and Summer Classes 2024

  Well, it's April and the sheep have been sheared.  The chicks have arrived in the mail and Easter is behind us already.  Time to start...