Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stocking Up

With the fiber festival only 21 days away (Gads!) I've been working to get as much material as possible done to have on the shelves.  Diane just finished this roving for me from the wool I sent her way a few weeks ago.   Yay!  The white is straight Cotswold.  The dyed shades are from Cotswolds and Border Leicesters mixed.

Back row - Wine Country and Snowcone
Front row - three unnamed shades of orchid, red and black
The orchid color is more complex than the picture shows being both plum and rose with gray shading of both.
The red is a deeper red than this - not so orange - also done over gray wool.

The black is a blend of wool and alpaca.  It's not quite jet black since there are a few occasional strands of lighter gray but it will be very dark.   In real life it's much blacker than this.  The sun kind of washed it out.

I can't blame the camera now since I'm sure it *could* accurately show these colors but I still haven't learned how to do too much off the 'auto' setting and I didn't have light shade available.  Bright sun or deep shade today, no middle ground.  (Which I'm not complaining about since we're getting some more hay baled.  Woot!)
I also sent back three more bags of dyed wool with Diane when she handed this over - a pale yellow, a light lavender and a pink.  No guarantees she can get them done for the festival but they'll be something new and different whenever they do return.
Back to work.  I need to make the next three weeks count!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here and There, This and That

We've had a very busy few days.  Friday morning I hit the road with Julie for a quick overnight trip to Maryland to deliver some Cotswolds.  Four rode in the back of the pickup in our fitted sheep container.  These two girls - a yealing and a lamb - are staying in Maryland.  We also took along two rams lambs - one will be going to Virginia and one to Pennsylvania.  The boys were too shy lazy to come to the open tailgate for snacks and pictures.  It was a pretty hot trip.

Once unloaded at the first farm into overnight accomodations they all perked up and dove into some nice hay.  The gray ram lamb near the back and the white ram lamb in front both were picked up the next morning by their new owners.

Besides talking sheep we got to pet this little charmer - a two month old cria from the resident herd.  Love his blue eye!

Part of the reason for the trip was to retrieve the yearling ram that I was getting in trade for the yearling ewe.  He's  a colored Cotswold and I'm looking forward to putting him with my colored ewes.  His registered name is Titan.
We have him in the livestock trailer for a while to serve as quarantine.  Since he was vetted before he left Maryland I don't have any reason to think he'd become ill but it's always a good idea to make sure some sickness doesn't pop up from the stress of travel.

He has a nice head with a blocky, square muzzle.
And good curls.  His fleece is nice and soft for a Cotswold which is important here.
We returned home Saturday evening and Sunday morning I washed a batch of lamb wool in preparation for dyeing then went to the last committee meeting prior to our Fiber Festival next month.  Everything is on track.  We still have some openings in the classes which we expect will fill soon.  Right after evening chores I went back up to the wool shed and dyed the lamb wool.  That was a long day.
Monday was my annual day to demo handspinning at the NY state fair.  It's two hours each way so Julie and I got an early start.  The route takes us right by the front door of our vet clinic so I stopped to have two prescriptions refilled - prednisone for Holly's seasonal allergies and hyperthyroid pills for Ivan.  Then on to the fair! 
The wool superintendant is very dedicated and makes the building a great educational display.  The skeins and all the hanging hats and mittens are also for sale.

All the bags of fiber on the shelves were prepared by the superintendant and her helpers and was available to all spinners to use for demonstrating.  It was replenished daily as needed.  It was a very busy building and just while I was there for four hours there were three spinners, five knitters, a fellow turning out spindle whorls and nostepinnes on a lathe, one person using the drum carder and the great wheel, a weaver, a needle felter and two people dyeing.

After spinning we took a walk around the fair to get some great fair food and check out a few favorite exhibits.  I always make a beeline (OK, the line wandered past the Bloomin' Onion booth) for the art and crafts exhibit which is huge.  I'm amazed every year at the collected display of talent.
A town full of knitted mice.

Painted birds.

Rug hooking whimsy.

We ducked into the DEC's building and admired the big display aquariums full of native fish.  These big tanks must have a heckuva filtration system because the water was crystal clear despite being densely populated.  The other fish were real active, darting around but that big catfish occupied the center of the tank the whole time, just hanging there like he was being entertained by watching the people on the other side of the glass.

And of course we had to go through the sheep barn.

"Why yes, I do have great hair.  Thanks for noticing."

I don't know if these two were siblings or just good friends.


This one is just so comfy.  It was that kind of heat - just makes you keel over and fall asleep.
Holly says.........

"If someone doesn't put something in my kong......"
".... I might keel over too!"
And we can't have that!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Super Special

When I trekked to KY earlier this summer with some new friends for Baaxter I also had the great fun of seeing Burrnie the rescue sheep living the high life at Equinox Farm.  He's having a marvelous life with sheepy friends and people friends and plenty of food and a big roomy barn and everything.  Seeing him happy there was gift enough but Thecrazysheeplady had a surprise in the wings - she had salvaged enough of his poor fleece to make me a HAT!  A wonderful thank you from Burrnie!

Isn't it marvelous??  She is so talented.  The goldenglow are bending down to inspect the pompom and are now feeling inadequate.  ;-)

I will love it and wear it faithfully this winter and NOT put it in a drawer because it's "too good" for everyday.  Friendship IS every day!
Thank you Crazysheeplady.  And Burrnie.  Sweet, happy dreams!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

All Together Now

It worked well to keep the non-breeding group separated from the ewes with lambs for most of the summer.  We were able to utilize some pasture to better advantage and it was just easier to eyeball two smaller groups daily instead of one giant enormous big flock.  Both pastures reached their limit at the same time so we combined the two groups and sent them to the farthest pasture which they haven't had access to all year. 

They were pretty happy to go since the previous pastures weren't yummy anymore.  Plus the trek doesn't seem so far since it's downhill ;-)  They spend most of the morning ranging to the farthest corners and then work their way back.  I can see that the hillside is looking alarmingly like early fall.  Yikes!  :-0

When they do get back up the hill to the barn they get a drink from the water tub and then hang out under the locust trees.  It's been so freakishly cool this summer that the sheep are comfortable almost anywhere but the little bugs are less annoying in the shade.

Salsa, Madeline, Nora, Nancy and Snubby
Drambui, Fuzz and Madeline
Ashes, Madeline and Nancy
Pretty..... who has been rubbing her head on the red snow fence.  Sigh.

"I know I'm Pretty - my ear tag says so.  Plus I have a beauty mark on my muzzle like that famous human woman Cynthia Crawdad or whatever her name is."
A cute Cotwold ewe lamb
"Mom?  Are you coming?  Everybody's going!"
"Yes, we're coming.  You wait for me!  Don't go by yourself."
And she went with her mom and sister back down the hill.

Ivan was enjoying the fair weather too.  He came out the side barn door with me and was poking around in the grass.  He's on the thin side but feeling well and has a happy attitude.
"You know, I think I should go sit in the sun today."

"Oh yes, much better! "
Earlier this week the sun was out for two whole days in a row and I was able to give our stone sheep a new coat of paint.
Remember that super moon we had a few nights ago?  I wasn't able to get a good picture of it at night but the next morning it was still showing just above the trees to the west.  I sure wish I could remember what setting I used :-/

Natasha says.....

"I love a full moon!  All the better to see them mouses by!"

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.