Saturday, January 31, 2009

The UARC board is working on a project to offer a wool co-op to members who would like to have roving made with their angora. This is a sample of our first test run - I got an ounce to try, and spun it into a 58 yard skein. It took me 1.25 hours spin and ply it. Its 85% angora, and 15% finewool blended. With that much angora in the blend, its hard to tell the difference in touch from my 100% skeins. The skein will be on display at the PA state convention - hopefully the roving will be available to purchase, too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy 90th, Dad, 83rd Mom, and 65th Anniversary

This is my Dad and Mom, at Green Hills, celebrating their lives together. Dad has trouble communicating, and Mom has trouble remembering, but they sure remember each other.

What I've been doing lately

More eliminating stashing going on here. I had a baggy of about 5 oz of locks from the BFL-Cheviot mules we used to breed. They were dyed a rose color. After about 5 years in my stash, they were feeling kinda stiff from a bit of lanolin leftover in the wool. While looking for something else, I came across a tiny baggie of blueish purple glitz - it was labeled 1/2 oz, and cost me 80 cents. I decided to flick card the locks, and then lay a thin layer of the glitz on them and spin it into the yarn.
I've been working on this on and off for a week - mostly off, thanks to a bunch of books I got for Christmas!

I finished the yarn last night, and washed it to get the stiffness out and relax the twist. Its not light enough to get a good picture by daylight, so its hard to show the sparkles. There are tiny glints of blue throughout the yarn.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Farm - 360 degrees

This is looking east from our backporch. Its time for me to head to work, and the sun is just about ready to pop over the eastern horizon. The little building is a former chicken coop, pressed into service as a place to shelter and shade the Katahdins when they are in the area. We use this pasture to lamb in, and we can also tuck a mother with a weak newborn lamb in there too if need be. You can see a few of the Katahdins lounging near the gate, waiting for Chuck to finish breakfast and go out to fork some hay to them off the round bale that is stashed just to the left of the gate, out of the picture. It was very dry this fall, and we're running out of stockpiled grass, so they are eating hay now. If I could tippy toe over to that building, I bet there are a BUNCH of Kat ewes in there. These subzero mornings, it sometimes reminds me of a clown car, watching all those ewes pop out of the building. :^) How many Katahdins can you get in a phonebooth?

This is looking east/southeast off the front porch. Down the road, just out of sight in the picture is another hayfield. Its mostly bromegrass - very good, finetextured hay the sheep adore, but not known for its ability to produce more than one cutting in a season. We use this field to breed on in the fall, since the regrowth can be harvested by the sheep, and its easy to get water and grain to them while we are flushing for breeding.

This is the view straight south off our front porch. The front yard slopes down quickly to the gravel county road. Then it gradually drops away to the creek, and up a slope, then levels off to what we call "the bench". This hill rises straight up from the bench, so steep that its difficult to climb to the top! All this area is the domain of the BFL flock, and they are rotated from place to place all summer and most the winter, grazing off an area, then moving on to clean paddocks, allowing the grasses and forbs to regrow. This keeps them on fresh, actively growing, high protein pasture all spring, summer, and fall, and allows us to stockpile the fall regrowth for winter grazing. When weather and management stategies align, the only time we need to feed hay is when it gets too cold, too snowy, or during an ice storm. This helps to keep the sheep clean, healthy, and in good physical condition from the exercise. I personally think its best for their mental health as well, as they seem most content when they are grazing and not relying on us for food and water.

This is taken from the front porch, looking southwest. This is the main barn, where the BFLs are headquartered. Beyond the barn is a machinery shed/corncrib which shelters the flock at this time. We make hay off the field west of the barn that lays along the road, and then grow out the BFL ewe lambs there during the fall. This gives them a relatively parasite free pasture with high quality grasses. In the distance, you can see the wooded hillsides of AEP coal ground. They own thousands of acres in this area - most of it either wooded like this, or open, reclaimed stripmined ground dotted with ponds.

This is facing west. The building in the center is refered to as the sheep barn. It has a big hayloft, and there is a long slot on either side of the second story floor where loose hay could be dropped from the mow into feed bunks along each wall.

The barn in the foreground on the left is called the wool barn. It must have been used to pack and store the wool after it was sheared, as there is a hole cut in the floor of its second story where the wool could be dropped and packed into large burlap bags.

This is facing north off the back of the house. We have a short section of lawn, sloping up to the driveway, and then there is a fence. The lane from the barn runs up this hill to the top of the first pasture. We have a corral with a handling facility up there. From there, the lane goes though the upper hayfield, skirts the rim of a "bowl" where the original farmhouse and log barn were located, and heads up the ridge to the top of the farm. From that high ridgetop overlooking Horse Creek with a view of Belle Valley, there is a 300 ft change in elevation to the creek that runs through our own little valley.
Note the huge, spreading beech in the upper left of the photo.

And last, facing northeast off the back of the house. These are a small grove of nut trees on the hill behind the house - 3 walnuts and a shagbark hickory. One of our birdfeeders is in the foreground to the right. It holds 17# of bird seed. The building behind it is the old smokehouse. It now houses a few lawn items, and I stash bags of fleeces in there while I'm skirting and sorting wool in the spring.

Monday, January 19, 2009

HELP!!! Someone is stealing my building!
NO, actually, this is Chuck, tearing down the old coal shed at the edge of our lawn. Its full of termites and serves no real purpose here. We plan to use the space where it sits to place a metal quonset type building that will shelter the rams when they are in this small paddock. The shed is near the outdoor wood furnace, and in its next life, will provide some heat to keep us warm this winter. Not much on it worth recycling - even the roof is rusted nearly through.

Happiness is......a freezer of fresh lamb! We had a couple of lambs done - one BFL ram lamb that was born in June, and a Katahdin ram lamb. Boneless legs, leg steaks, rib chops, shanks, stew meat, ground lamb, and kabobs. Yum!

Friday, January 16, 2009

COLD COLD COLD COLD COLD!!!! This morning, the thermometer read -11. Outside.
Inside, the kitchen was 47 degrees. We dug out a little electric heater to take the nip out of the air during breakfast. Its +8 now, which will be the high for the day. At least the sun is shining.
The forecast does not show a high above freezing for the next 10 days. I wonder what happened to our January thaw?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AH - finally! All the lambs we are not keeping have left the farm. Last week, the extra Katahdin ewe lambs and a few BFLs went to the sale barn. The BFLs all brought very good prices - the small ewe lamb we'd nursed back to health brought $1.70 per pound, topping the sale!

Last night, we took the 8 ram lambs we'd been feeding out to the butcher. That is an hour trip one way, and it was snowing, so the freeway was slick in places. It was BITTER cold already just an hour west of here, and the sky had cleared by then. I was glad to get the lambs unloaded (in the dark) and settled into a pen in the holding building. Thankfully, there were no hogs in there, just another couple lambs of the Dorset looking variety (one was black) and 3 big black steers. Our lambs were interested in looking at the steers, but the huge beasts seemed frightened by the sheep. :^) I always feel slightly uneasy leaving the lambs penned up next to hogs - who knows what those big, smelly, beady eyed, snorting omnivores would do in the middle of the night? We grabbed dinner on the way home, and got back just as the thick cloudbank that had been dropping snow all day moved off, leaving the sky clear and star-filled in its wake. Now the temperature will be dropping here. It was 6 degrees last night, and the temp won't rise above freezing again until next week. Yet another reason not to have extra groups of animals to feed and water!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Somerhill Lockerbie AI

And this is a better picture of Somerhill Lockerbie AI (Kirby) who is a son of Barlaes Titus E+, out of Somerhill Cadence, a Jamie bred ewe from my Belle line. Like his dam, he is big framed. He bred several ewes this past fall, and I look forward to their lambs in April.

Somerhill Larkhall AI

I finally got a good picture of Somerhill Larkhall AI, a Carryhouse R1 E+ son out of Somerhill Pegasus, our last domestic bred ewe, and one of the most productive ewes we've bred. Her daughters; Caliope, Clio, Collette, China, are some of my best. We used Lark on 10 ewes this past fall. I think he is developing into a fine looking ram. I look forward to removing that heavy fleece to see what kind of body is under there.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

No, I wasn't a complete slug today - I did get about 4# of mohair washed and set out to dry.

It snowed halfheartedly all afternoon, dusting the ground with a light, airy snow. When I went out to the barn tonight, the Katahdin ewe lambs were leaping and chasing each other all over the paddock. Here they are after they stopped to watch me for a few minutes. Deciding I did not have any of that yummy grain, they soon went back to their games.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter in Ohio has slid into a familiar pattern. Every 5-7 days, we get a clipper through here, wringing moisture out of the air and giving a clear, bitter cold day afterwards. Soon, warmer air comes up the Ohio valley, bringing with it clouds, rain, sleet or ice and dreary conditions. Right now we have a dusting of snow, and its cold enough to firm up the mud for a few days. There is the threat of 6" of snow for the weekend, but I'm hopeful it will slide to the north of us.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bluefaced Leicester ewe lambs

Well, I'm still working on how to post pictures. :^)
The picture on the top is Wynne, with China and Jillian in the background. China is a daughter of Carryhouse R1 E+ UK, and my oldest ewe, Pegasus. Jillian is a blend of Jamie and Ebony Boy lines. The photo on the bottom is a picture of Wynne. She is a triplet daughter of Barlaes Titus E+ UK, out of Somerhill Lyric, of Jamie/Ebony Boy/Laird breeding.

Sweet Babies

These are Shiraz and Fletch's babies. They are chocolate agouti Satin Angoras - about a month old. The big pouty-faced buck on the left likes to come touch noses with me when I feed them.
I think I will name him Timbuktu. The little girl in the center is Tanzania, and I'll decide on a name for the one on the left as soon as he(she) decides what sex to be.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Here is a picture of D'oro, one of my F2 Wildhares. He is a junior buck, with good clear red coloring, and so far, very good wool. He also has a good body, and got very promising comments from his first show this week.

Friday, January 2, 2009

This is my first post on the new blog. I spent yesterday looking for something marvelous to photograph for my first picture in my first post of the New Year on my New Blog............ no dice.

So here I sit, staring at the screen, waiting for inspiration. Wearing my new Satin Angora wrist warmers, I might add. Sorry, nothing is coming to mind......... oh look, a butterfly.........................

I do have a couple accomplishments of note: the BFL ad for the MS&W festival catalog is finished, proofed, and emailed to the catalog chair. Check's in the mail, as they say. And I'm over halfway done with the monthly listing of fiber festivals held all over the US for the UARC website and newsletter. My next project for UARC will be to email all the fiber processors I have on a master list information about advertizing opportunities with the UARC membership.

So stay tuned............I will eventually come up with something interesting to say. :^)

Oh great - some new hosta eaters have arrived

The new fawns are starting to arrive.    We have a love/hate relationship going.  The deer love to eat our flowers, and we hate it.  L...