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.

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...