Thursday, August 7, 2014

Color Us Busy

The weather has been keeping us from making hay but we'll be grateful that we've only had two rains in the last week that together added three inches to our waterlogged ground.  Within fifteen miles of us there have been rains of eight inches and seven inches falling in a span of less than eight hours.  You know it's bad when your phone sends a Severe Flash Flood alert.  Good grief, isn't 'flash flood' severe enough in its own right?

One ten acre field of alfalfa that we were planning to bale is a loss.  Due to not being able to cut it when it should have been cut, an infestation of burdock grew to enormous size in the three cool wet weeks in late July.  Literally over my head they covered about forty percent of the field and worst of all they had set burrs.  Even if we could somehow run them through the haybine and baler it would be terrible to try to feed it to sheep.  Besides getting in their fleece the burrs would cling to face wool and get in their eyes..... nothing for it but to do damage control and brush hog the whole field down to the ground.  Andy was gnashing his teeth doing that - brush hogging alfalfa!  But maybe it will grow back sufficiently that we could get a second cutting..... maybe.  We've got less than half the hay we'll need for the flock.  We even called the man who leases ground from us and asked if he still had the hay he had baled here in June.  He does, and thank goodness if worse comes to worst we can buy some back from him.  They are big square bales weighing about 750 lbs each and would be a logistical challenge to feed indoors but at least it's a workable Plan B if we need it.

In the meantime we've found plenty of jobs to do.  Andy's been working on taking loads of the silo leftovers away and dumping the debris on the edge of the woods.  The crap on top of the piles (literally - pigeon crap) sprouted all sorts of things once it was exposed to sun and rain.  The tops of the piles were starting to look like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon but not in a good way.  One thing we found growing was pokeweed, a toxic nasty that we have never seen growing around here.  Where the stupid birds brought it in from in anyone's guess. 

I've been working in the wool shed as much as possible.  People are still - still! - patiently waiting for their reserved fleeces and I've whittled the list down a good bit.  I've also been working toward having goods ready to go on the shelves at Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. A lot of fiber, yarn and wool products are parked in the Fiber and Art Emporium in Hammondsport and rather than take them out for the festival I'd prefer to just have more new and different things at the festival.

I've been washing and dyeing wool.........

The black on the far end is a natural color but the red and purple are dyed over gray fleece.  It gives a lot of shading variation.

This is mostly Cotswold so there's a lot of shine, too.
And curl........

I wanted a lighter orchid shade too so I did another pot and combined some fuchia (a kind word for neon pink) and sky blue.  Even though the powder had dissolved and blended in the dyebath it "broke" when I added the fiber and some blue went here and some pink went there.  It *should* blend together into a lilac when carded but the jury's out on this one till it actually comes back.  I can feel some natural-color-loving friends getting queasy right about now. ;-)  Yeah.

I did wash a big lot of white Cotswold too. And I skeined and dyed a good bit of fingering weight singles yarn.  I have yet to reskein it - that breaks up the blocks of color and gives a more finished look to the skein.  I can do that closer to the festival.  Getting fiber to the mill so it would have time to return before FLFF was more important.
I love how shiny the Cotswold is and how the colors melt together.

We've also taken a lot of pictures of sheep and lambs for people who are looking for breeding stock.  A group of four yearling Cotswold ewes went to their new home yesterday.  This photogenic lamb and a yearling are headed to a new home in Maryland later this month.
"Where's Merry-Lamb?  Sounds like a nice place to live!"
Fingers crossed that we can get back to making hay this weekend.  They are calling for four dry days.  Let's see if they're right.



  1. I sure feel for you with all your hay troubles. What a crazy year! All that wool is pretty, nice colors.

  2. I let poke weed grow in my yard because I cut the stems for large flower arrangements. I'd heard one could harvest the new leaves for salad but I didn't realize it was toxic! Fortunately my dog Addie won't be sampling it.
    On the upside, you can use those berries to dye wool!!!

  3. The colors are breathtaking! I haven't tried dying yet, just been using the colors God gave them. I would love to try it though. I know what you mean about the hay season. We have enough in the barn to get through but no extra. I like to have a couple hundred surplus, just in case. Still haven't heard about the job....waiting...not one of my strong points....

  4. Merry-Lamb. lol. Those reds and purples are my favorites. Spec.tac.u.lar!

  5. All of Robin's recently washed flber has been picked and is in the queue for carding. Honestly, the camera just doesn't do it justice!

  6. The pink (which came out a lovely, warm dark rose color) and the purple (which is totally stunning) are is up next.

  7. There should be a mad rush for Robin's booth at Finger Lakes Fiber Festival; the colors are just stunning this year! Honestly, ever since I started work on the red, I've been trying to figure out a project for it.