Lessons from Across the Fence…

… or {more accurately} through the fence.

We brought Camille and her 2-week old ram lamb home in May 2009.  After weaning, we sold Camille’s lamb “Cameron” to Christine E. in NJ to be the herdsire for her flock.  He produced beautiful offspring, but in 2012 Christine decided not to breed her sheep.  It turns out Cameron had other ideas…

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Here’s Christine’s story:

We had Cameron and 13 ewes.  We decided not to breed, so in May 2012 we separated Cameron from the ewes in a connecting pasture separated by 4×4 mesh sheep fence.  On January 16, 2013, I noticed that one of the two-year old ewes was bagging up.  We were not set-up for lambing (had disassembled lambing pens), so we put her in my horse trailer.  Within 48 hours, she delivered 2 lambs.
After that, I got down on my knees to study all of the ewes as they walked around in the pasture.  The ewes were of course very woolly, so it was difficult to tell for sure as they all looked fat and the only way to really get an idea if they were pregnant was to see if they were bagging up.  As they are on 5 acres, it was impossible to catch each one to get a hands-on check of them.
I noticed another ewe bagged up, brought her to the horse trailer, and she had a lamb.
christine lamb 1
I thought that was it.  2 days later, I went out to the pasture to feed, and I noticed all of the sheep were laying outside of the shelter even though it was windy.  It made me suspicious, so instead of just throwing hay over the fence, I went inside and walked to the shelter.  There was a ewe and a lamb.  All of the sheep stayed outside (I’m guessing) to make sure they didn’t step on the lamb.  My horse trailer was not safe for any more ewes, so we put her in my old chicken coop.
I then noticed that my 11-year-old ewe was bagging up and even though she was fat around her stomach, I could feel her spine and ribs.  I brought her up to the coop so I could grain her.  About two weeks later, she had twins.
Another ewe was bagging up.  I had to put her in the horse trailer because we were running out of room in the coop.  We set up an outside pen so the sheep could go in and out of the trailer.  That ewe had a lamb but it was weak and I was afraid to leave it in with so many sheep (afraid it would get trampled), so we made it a bottle baby.
christine lamb 2
It was snowing one morning, and I went out to the sheep pasture, and found a lamb laying in the snow with mama nowhere to be found.  My second bottle baby.
In total, we had 8 lambs born to 6 ewes.  One of the first set of twins died because the mother rejected him.  I kept him in with the mother, holding her and forcing her to let him nurse and supplementing him with a bottle.  One morning, I found him dead.  It looked like his neck was broken.  Either his mother or the other ewe must have stepped on him or shoved him against the wall when he tried to nurse.  He was almost 2 weeks old, so it was very sad.
The first lambs were born on January 18 and the last on February 11.
christine lamb 3
Besides losing the one lamb, my only regret is that I didn’t get to see Cameron breeding the ewes through the fence!
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I’ve heard of rams breeding ewes through a fence… but this is the first time I heard of one breeding 6 ewes through a fence!  Now I know why some breeders have “Abstinence Alleys” (space between fences so sheep cannot have direct contact)!  I am so thankful to Christine for letting me share her story.  I hope she doesn’t mind how long it’s taken me to post it!

Felting Soap – A Tutorial

Felted soaps are easy and fun to make, plus they can be wonderful gifts!  The felted wool (or other fiber) acts to exfoliate and gently scrub your skin as you wash.  As the soap gets smaller the fiber will continue to felt and also shrink.

I’ve detailed the steps for wrapping the fiber around the soap below.  I’ve also included a video at the bottom showing how to felt the fiber onto the soap.

Below are the supplies you will need to make your felted soap: wool (or other fiber suitable for felting), soap, knee-high nylons.

Felting Supplies

Step 1 – Gently press the edges of the soap so they are rounded (if necessary).

Rounding Edges

Step 2 – Draft out some fiber so you can wrap it around the thin edges of the soap.

Drafting fiber

Step 3 – Wrap fiber around thin edges of soap.

Fiber Wrapped Around This Edges

Step 4 – Prepare fiber to wrap around the wide sides of the soap by drafting it to be wide but sheer.  Felting is easier when you work with several thin layers of fiber instead of a couple thick layers.

Fiber for Wide Sides

Step 5 – Wrap soap with fiber, alternating directions so that the fibers criss-cross.

Wrap 1 way

And the Other

Continue until you cannot see the soap through the fiber.

Ready for Decorations

Step 6 – Decorate with other color(s) or create a pattern/image if desired.

Ready to Felt

Step 7 – Put nylon knee-high over your hand.  Place fiber-covered soap in your nylon hand and turn the nylon inside-out over the soap.

Wrapping Nylon around Soap

Soap Wrapped in Nylon

Step 8 – Fill sinks (or containers) with hot AND cold water.  If you are felting scented soap and are using containers, use glass or metal because plastic one may absorb the soap’s fragrance.

Hot and Cold Water for Fetlting

Now your soap is wrapped in fiber ready to be felted.  Please watch the video below for the felting instruction.

 

Your soap will take a day or 2 to dry… then enjoy!