Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mischief Managed

We managed to get one large job finished this week.  It took a few sessions but we finally got the ewe flock coated.  It's a big job that takes more time than you'd think it would.  We've gotten quite good at estimating which size coat will fit a ewe but when it's actually on them, before you lift hind legs to slip into the straps..... sometimes you see it's going to be too long or too short and you pull it off and reach for the next size.  Lots of bending over.  It's really nice to see them all jacketed and know their fleeces are safe from the dreaded VM.

They will pick up some chaff from the floor on the area we call "the butt poof" and some on the back of the neck.  Our feeders are really good but there's no way to protect that area other than put a show hood over their heads and that's unnecessarily extreme.  Only the locks on the back of their necks suffer some - what's under their throat is often clean and lovely.

Now that everyone is safe from contamination we started feeding out in the 'picnic area' again - that's the hay feeder Andy constructed in the old feed bunk.  Some of the young, athletic ewes jump up from the backside and eat out of the manger.

This eases any congestion in the barn proper and no one is crowded - unless they want to be.

Some of the geriatric girls and the rams are still without coats.  The ewes I had to order a few more of certain sizes for.  The rams are still enjoying going outside for a morning apple party followed by grazing so I don't want to coat them until they are solely "barned up" and on hay.

Another item ticked off the list is the Oxford rug punching kit I learned on when I went to the school earlier this month. I finished it and am think it's a decent first effort.

I'm pleased with how it came out. Despite how simple it looks the pattern teaches you borders, shapes, curves, filling in areas, the stitch gauge you should try to attain in various areas, how to make dots..... and how to stray off the instructions.  I didn't care for the navy and white marbled yarn they included for the sheep so I substituted some of my gray handspun which was languishing without purpose in a bin.  I also wasn't jazzed with the random squiggles all over the sheep so I reduced it to just a few along the back.  If anyone is inclined to try an Oxford kit you will get the foundation fabric with pattern drawn on (they have hundreds), yarn in very generous quantities, and a boxed punch tool with a stitch gauge and small (20+ pages) instruction book.  The bigger book on the left I purchased on Ebay and it's really super.  You can easily get by with the small pamphlet that comes with the punch needle but the bigger book is so pretty and full of pictures and information that you should get a copy if you can.

The next project that needs attention is a guild spin-and-knit along.  For this one, those members who want to participate brought in 4 ounces of ready to spin wool - roving or batts were OK as long as the fiber was clean and carded in some manner.  The fiber was sorted by the project organizers and put into piles and then randomly creatively reassembled into 4 ounce lots of mixed colors.  All included one neutral (mine's white) and the rest is colored.

Alrighty, then.  We are to spin yarn by combining these rovings in any way we choose and then knit something using That Nice Stitch.  Hmmm.  Put opposites against each other so they all pop?  Try to blend those in the same color family?  If my goal is to keep the colors unadulterated I should chain ply.... which I don't usually like the feel of.....but if I spin and ply the yarn back on itself I will totally randomize the colors which might not be too bad although I don't usually like striped yarns.  I do like all the colors.... by themselves.   This will take some thought.  The project is due in May so I can't dither too long.

Holly says,

"When the sun comes out in late November you should stop, drop and enjoy it.  You can think about stuff later."

What a smart dog!


  1. WOW! The Spin and Knit along should be fun and challenging! I’ve tried mixing colors like you have and found myself agitated because the fiber is beautiful before it’s spun but mixing it with other colors can muddy the vibrancy that was once there. Plying it only added to my discomfort. I hope you have fun with the project and remember that it’s only Wool. There’s more from whence it came and you may discover something new about yourself in the process.
    I love the coats on your sheep. They look so ready for winter!!!

  2. Loved your post. Missed last Guild meeting and now can’t wait to get my project fiber to start on. Holly had the right idea too. Enjoy the sunny day.

  3. Coating sheep is a lot of work. We handspinners who buy fleece from you appreciate it. In this season of thanks, please accept this spinster’s thanks again.

  4. Nice! And everyone looks so tidy! And Holly looks so happy in the sunshine :-D.

  5. Good morning, Robin, I second sophy0075's comment about coating and our thanks for doing it. No wonder your fleeces are so beautiful. I love that row of sheep. Your flock always looks so contented and clean and well-bedded. It must take an enormous amount of work to do all that. Also making some notes toward spring when you let us know fleeces will be available. I enjoyed your post on punch-needle rug hooking very much and forwarded the link to many friends. We might make a little group class after the New Year. I've done rug hooking, but with a regular rug hook and fabric strips. Off to see what's new on the website. After all, it is Cyber Monday....

    1. The 2018 fleece reservation email will go out in late winter - sometime before April and it will appear on the farm Facebook page too. The rug punching is big fun and eats up yarn. You should do a road trip! The school has lodging there you can use or you can stay at the Inn in Middlebury where I stayed, or there are others. Big fun!

  6. Wonderful photos and commentary, Robin! Boy, if I was a sheep, I would beg to move in with you! I started spinning our Guild exchange after deciding to put little balls of each roving in a bag and then just blindly drawing each out to spin. Trying to get the colors to coordinate was getting very frustrating so surprising myself seemed more fun. I like it so far but we shall see.

  7. Well I for one so appreciate you putting their coats on. I worked on whiskey,s fleece today and it washed up beautiful. It is so beautiful. I can hardly wait for it to dry. I will work on macaroon tomorrow. Can hardly wait. Thanks again for what you do.

  8. Loved your post.Coating sheep is a lot of work.