Noah and Hannah with Isaac
Our newest sheep arrived today. Isaac is a 2 – year old Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) ram and was owned by a friend in my spinning group. She and her husband are moving and had to find homes for their animals so we decided to take Isaac.
He’s had an interesting life so far. Apparently his birth wasn’t planned… his mother and father were siblings. Soon after he was born he developed an eye infection that had to be treated daily with ointment for about a month. He’s very gentle and has never produced any lambs even though he’s been housed with ewes his whole life. I wonder if that’s a result of the accidental inbreeding. Anyway, he will have a visit with our vet in September since we aren’t interested in breeding him (and he obviously isn’t interested in breeding either).
Saturday was very busy here…lots of mowing, weeding and moving sheep. We bought a New Holland tractor a couple weeks ago for mowing the fields since the lawn tractor that we had been using caught on fire while I was mowing. (Moral of that story – everyone should have at least 1 fire extinguisher and know how to use it!)
Anyway, Dave went up to the top field (the riding arena) to let the goats and Karloff out so he could mow it. The next thing I knew he was back by the barn yelling “Kim, you have to see this.” That usually doesn’t refer to something good. Along with Karloff and the goats in the field were our 3-month old chicks in their chicken tractor, but when I got to the gate I saw chickens running all around and 2 really big chickens in the tractor.
The goats and Karloff like to rub on the chicken tractor and the wire on one side had given way. Of course the goats couldn’t resist a buffet of chicken feed. Karloff was the only good one and was sleeping in the sheep/goat shelter (it’s on the left in the background).
We lifted up the back of the chicken tractor to let Rudy and Buster out, fixed the wire and caught all the chickens. Then Dave could finally mow the field!
2 weeks ago we sent our ram lamb, Desmond, and our yearling ram, Cameron, to their new homes in NJ! We know they will do well with their very own flocks.
Desmond went home with Karin Evans…
…and Cameron went home with Christine Egidio.
Thanks Karin and Christine! We wish you many beautiful, healthy lambs!
(ps – I kept Cameron’s lamb fleece. If anyone needs an awesome Tunis fleece I highly recommend his. The guys at the wool mill were so impressed with it! If you email me,I’ll put you in touch with Christine!)
Earlier this month I participated in the Robbinsville Elementary School’s Colonial Day and talked to the 3rd graders about spinning wool. I only had 2 weeks to prepare and it turned out a lot different than I imagined, but I still enjoyed it and I think the students did, too.
My Set-Up for the Demo
The wool spinning station was in the gym, which didn’t have good air conditioning….or didn’t have any. It was hard to tell. 🙂 There were about 45 students in each of 6 sessions, which were 30 minutes. I talked about the history of spinning and the tools used in spinning. Everyone then got some wool and a spindle to try spinning. After the first 2 groups, I took the cd’s off my homemade spindles and the rest of the students just used the hooked dowels. They were much easier to use!
2 students were allergic to wool, and I felt bad that I didn’t bring any other fibers “just in case”. I will definitely bring some next year.
I also have a list of other things I want to improve on for next year….at least I have a better idea of what I’m doing now!
Thursday was a beautiful sunny day in the 70s…perfect for picking strawberries and sunny enough to do some solar dyeing. I got my wool ready for the dye “bowl” before we left for the morning. I dyed 2 batches of the grey shetland that I bought in Ohio with Kool Aid…each was 2 ounces. For batch #1 I used 4 packs of Pink Lemonade and about 1/8 teaspoon of Grape. Batch #2 got 2 packs of Grape.
I love how the wool turned out! Because the sun warms the water slowly, the dyes aren’t absorbed into the wool uniformly and result in a naturally varigated yarn or, in this case, roving.
Grey Shetland Roving dyed with Pink Lemonade Kool Aid
Grey Shetland Roving dyed with Grape Kool-Aid
The other reason I love solar dyeing is – it’s so easy! Especially when you have a million other things to do and/or children who need your attention. #1 – soak fiber in warm water with a drop of detergent or Jet Dry. #2 – fill glass container with water, 1 cup vinegar and dye. #3 – squeeze excess water out of fiber and add to dye bath. #4 – put plastic wrap over top of bowl or container. #5 – place in sunny spot (I put some aluminum foil around it to reflect more sunlight onto the container). #6 – let it sit in the sun until water is clear (a few hours or all day). #7 – gently squeeze out water, rinse, set out to dry.
Wool set out for Solar Dyeing
After I put the wool on the deck we got ready to go strawberry picking. Hannah and Noah loved it….Noah may have enjoyed seeing all the big trucks and motorcycles drive by on the road more. Hannah ate a bunch of berries there. After almost every strawberry she picked, she looked at me and said “Mouth?” After trying to tell her she can’t eat the all and that we have to put them in the basket, I gave up. She had a berry juice stained face by the time we left. I wish I brought my camera with me.
When we got home I made 2 batches of jam….yum!!
I just had to post this photo of Hannah. Last week we visited our friends and Hannah’s friend, Naomi, wore her tutu while we were there. Later, when we took care of the animals after dinner, Hannah had to wear her tutu over her jeans and sneakers. It was an unseasonably cool day for early June so she also had on a fleece top. She was just adorable tromping around with the sheep and chickens in her tutu…and with her pigtails coming out because she kept trying to take them out.
I have been neglecting my blog because of all the “stuff” that’s been keeping me busy. Here are some highlights for now:
*went to Ohio for the Great Lakes Sheep and Fiber Show, and organized the Tunis Wool Show.
*did a spinning demo for 3rd graders’ Colonial Day at a NJ school.
*plant, weed, water & mow garden. (….repeat)
*moved Hannah into a toddler bed.
*help stain deck / help keep kids out of stain.
*looking at new tractors because lawn tractor caught on fire and is now dead.
*still spreading around the 3 truckloads of woodchips that I got from a tree service (for free).
Stay tuned for pictures and stories!