Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Same Sheep, Different Color



Some leftover Petunia '09 on the top. Petunia '10 on the bottom. Interestingly camouflaged with the wool house porch ;-). It's not really graying, just a much lighter brown. Hmmm. Of course, between the color and as soft as it is, I couldn't wait to spin a little.



I have all my wheels set up with WooLee Winders. Instead of having multiple hooks that I have to remember to manually move the yarn along to evenly wind the bobbin, the WooLee Winder is gear driven and does it for me. Once I tried it, I was hooked. Or unhooked. They're a bit spendy, but worth every penny.

I love to change colors and watch it start winding on. That's some white Punkin underneath the cinnamon oatmeal Petunia. You can see how even it winds and, at least for me, I think that makes my spinning more consistant. Almost cheating maybe, but cheating in the same way a nice fleece helps spin nice yarn. Petunia practically spins herself.



I tried several thicknesses and this is what I liked the best. I think I may use a couple ounces of her fleece to spin some yarn for the skein contest at the new fiber festival. Except I just wrote that I was concerned I was cheating and said Petunia practically spins herself... ;-)

You will also note my wrinkled finger tips. Hazards of the job. I have nine of our fleeces washed already and Buddy and Woolliam are up for today. Have to psych myself up for those dirty boys! Some highlights so far are Henrietta, Beanie Baby, Rebecca Boone, Keebler and, obviously, Petunia. I'll post some pictures later.



Another highlight - if you look closely, you'll see Crazy Esther actually eating some grass up along the fence. I don't know if Keebs is babysitting or if it's just a coincidence he's there...like because the grass is longer ;-). You'll also notice that Hank has stolen yet another feed scoop from me. He stole a coffee cup the other day. Kids.

With no front teeth, Esther has not been able to graze much this spring. This has really worried me and we've been hand feeding her extra and if you can get her separated out, she can eat hay. However, she much prefers staying with her buds, so that isn't what she really wants. Hopefully if we leave some tall places... She's not crazy about Hank, but other than that she's a happy little old lady.

Petunia, on the other hand, is a happy young lady. She got on a tear this morning and bounced around like a lamb. The same athleticism that makes her hard to handle for shearing gives her the hops to leap at least three feet in the air. Repeatedly. She's one of my favorite sheep.

Boing boing boing.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Would Think...



...that as handsome as I am, with the coolest hair and all...



...that I'd get something better than a stupid old door for a pillow. Dumb ol' Keebler probably has a pillow.

Not since he was a little bitty baby, Woolliam.

Yeah, well he's still a baby!

Boy, I hope the sun comes back out again tomorrow. Yeesh!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sunday Stills - A Day In The Life

This could be the biggest challenge yet so here are the rules. Pick a day in the upcoming week and take your camera with you, no archives. Take and post no more than 4 pics during the day that show how you spend the day. For some this will be a breeze and for others you may have to go out and do something. Just remember no more than 4 pics and no archives.

Well, I didn't catch the only take four pictures part until just now. I was thinking that we were just to only post four. Sorry Ed.



Wednesday. I skirted 25 fleeces. It's a messy job and I just decided to plow through it so I could move on to washing. I take each sheep's freshly shorn fleece and open it up on the special screened skirting table on the porch of the wool house. I then pull off all the coarse, dirty wool from around the legs, any hay or straw and shake out the second cuts.

The wind had caught some wool from a few weeks ago and you can see some stray bits still hanging on the forsythia bush. The birds are happy to come grab it for their nests and had picked the bush so clean I had to add some more. I love to see our wool in their nests.



After each fleece is skirted, I place it in a large paper bag and carry it into the barn for storage. Past the cashed out sheep, flaunting their lives of leisure. This is Popcorn PeePee Pants and Emily in the background. Most of our sheep don't sleep flat out like this, but I frequently see PP laid out. Frequently being the key word here. Actually, 'frequently laid out' fits most of the animals here throughout the day.



As I unwrap each fleece, I pull their tag and make notes as to quality, size, color... The stack at the end of the day.

I took several other pictures of the day, but none were of any real photographic interest. I could have posted more pictures of sleeping sheep, cats, dogs, chickens... I could have posted the barn shelves full of bags of wool. I could have posted Graham Lamb's fleece being washed...

In the end, I decided to post a funny picture I took that evening while I was tooling down the river with Saint Tim, because that was what I thought was the most important. Sorry about the drool ;-).



‘Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.’ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, March 26, 2010

Still Life With Sheep



I put a big vase in the house, too. They've been blooming for almost a week! Just starting to bloom outside.



A little spring rearranging in the wash room (or how you can tell I watched a bunch of de-clutter your house shows while I was home sick ;-). That's Petunia's fleece - well part of it. The rest is drying on the porch. It's bee-u-tee-ful!



"Why would you pick Petunia over me???"

I don't know, Keebs. I don't know... Here, have a cookie.



Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow.

I miss winter already.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Dog Days Of...

...yeah, pretty much every day.

I skirted (removed britch or leg wool, dirty wool, excess hay and straw) all 25 of our freshly shorn fleeces yesterday. All those fleeces tied up in old sheets are now sorted, bagged and stacked on the two new excellent shelves Saint Tim built in the barn for me. Obviously it would be nice if I posted some pictures, but I'm saving them for my "Day in the Life" Sunday Stills assignment this week.



Of course the best part of working your butt off all day is watching everyone else sprawl out in the soft green grass and sleep. All day.



If you want to see a picture of some tired "dogs", I should have taken a picture of my own feet.



I have to give little Weaslie credit. I don't care how late I stay out at the wool house, she's always waiting just outside (she's declared open season on Frog Pond "swimming" and smells too bad to come inside) the door waiting for me.

There were some nice fleece surprises this year. I even have one saved back to enter in the fleece competition at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in May. And that mud slick that probably made national news? Graham's fleece being washed ;-).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nekkid vs. Naked

"‘Naked’ means you got no clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you got no clothes and you’re up to somethin'.’” Iris' aunt Debbie.

Keebler? Naked. Graham Lamb? Nekkid.

I've been so sick that I've not been up to anything for several days. The shearer was here Sunday. I took no pictures. No incriminating videos. I even had some Sunday Stills pictures taken earlier in the week and didn't post them. That's pretty sick, eh? Hopefully I'm on the mend. The weather's beautiful and I have too much to do.



Ewen McTeagle and Petunia. Look at how much lighter she is this year. Her fleece looks like oatmeal with a hint of cinnamon.



No, Henrietta isn't pregnant. This is short, cute, fat Henri from the clock ;-).



Crazy Esther, surrounded by her buds Peabody, Clover Belly, Boudreaux, Popcorn PeePee Pants and Rebecca Boone.



I noticed some "pinking" starting to show (yes, sheep will sunburn!), so I made everyone go back inside. Those are some not so happy faces staring out onto the rapidly greening grass.



Twenty-five bags of wool. I decided I'd shear Miss Ewenice myself so she didn't have to be turned over. Maybe this weekend.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to help!!! Martin, John and Reg, Pat, Stella and Saint Tim. And, of course, the sheep. Everyone appreciates you as well, nekkid or naked.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pollinators

Stella and I opened our hives yesterday to add pollen patties that would give our bees a spring boost. Her late gathered swarm that I had worried about all winter looks great! My mean hive looks good too. My oldest hive (hanging my head in shame) lost it's entrance reducer sometime (that I never noticed?!?) over the winter and mice moved in. They did a right smart amount of damage - eating honey and comb and in general stinking up the place - and my bees were angry. They had every right.



We noticed quite a few bees loaded with pollen flying into all three hives. Other than some croci, neither of us had noticed anything else blooming yet. The pollen was bright orange, so we agreed the source had to be the orange centered crocus.

I took my camera out this afternoon to try for some pictures and guess what? The bees in the crocus flowers had mustard colored pollen stuffed in their pollen baskets, not orange. So, either the crocus pollen is not orange as we thought or something else is blooming that they visited on the way. Regardless, there are apparently at least two sources for pollen available right now.



We had listened to a very interesting lecture on the waggle dance at bee school last weekend and I was tempted to pull out a frame of bees and see what I could 'cipher'. My choices were my mad hive or my mean hive though and I decided to let it go for another day. There's no telling what my bees would say to me, but I was pretty sure it was not going to be directions to the pollen source ;-).



Along with the honey bees, I notice at least two other bee looking insects checking things out. A common fly as well. I hadn't thought about flies being pollinators, but I suppose they are.



The pussy willows are turning.



And hosting yet another pollinator.

Please be kind to wasps. They (mostly) mean no harm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Do You Get...

...when you cross a



with a



Yep, another one. It's looking like a good year!

.
.
.
.

The cluck o'the Irish.



You can direct your groans to Alice ;-).

Don't forget to wear your green!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's Quarter Past Boudreaux O'Clock

I needed a clock for the wool house and after looking at sheep clocks online, I decided to try to make my own. I obviously have plenty of sheep willing to replace the numbers and using Hank and Iris for the minute and hour hands seemed like a no brainer.



It looked right in my head (shut up!).



Maybe a subconscious attempt to turn back time? That's Ford and Buddy, by the way.



And short, fat (but cute) Henrietta.



Crazy Esther...of course.



Miss Ewenice and Ewen McTeagle. And - uh oh - I cut off part of Keebler. Wonder what that's gonna cost me. Maybe he won't notice.

So, besides repainting Hank and Iris so they are chasing the clock in the correct direction, I also need a longer clock stem and some sort of spacer between the two hands. Surely there are clock parts out there that will accommodate that...

What do you think about the size of the sheep? Too many? Should I go with four and make them bigger? The design seems a little bland, but I don't know how to fix it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Macro Monday









Definitely click to biggify.

It may not feel like it, but spring is here.

For more Macro Mondays...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Stills - Sunrise, Sunset

This ended up being a tough challenge due to the weather. A good challenge though because it forced me to learn a little more about my camera. Thanks Ed!



The fog on Monday gave us our only notable sunrise. Well, I guess any day the sun rises is notable, but you know what I mean ;-).



The horses add a little interest.



While clouds can really make a sunset, heavy clouds don't really help much at all. A couple evenings the sun was at least visible, but the sunsets weren't much to write home about. I played around with the white balance a little and was happy with the results.



Not a great sunset...until you notice Hank in the foreground. You'll have to biggify to see him. Every sheepie sunset needs a trusty guard dog ;-). This was the evening I took the Goofy Graham pictures.



One of the old pine trees in the side paddock. One night last summer I was sitting out there with Keebler and Graham Lamb and an owl swooped right over our heads. It was awesome. And a little scary - we actually felt the air move. Too bad our buddy wasn't sitting in the tree this evening.



Some (more) ominous clouds creeping over Equinox Farm and the wool house. This was taken from the upper paddock where I feed the horses...in the first picture.

For more Sunday Stills from sunnier spots around the world...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just In Time...

...for Saint Patrick's Day!



The first four leaf clover find of the year. There are two. Do you see them?



I love to find tiny clovers. I built this "fairy ring" to mark them so I could come find them again after I got done feeding this morning. That's a sheep pellet in the first picture, by the way ;-).

Soon this little hint of green will be blooming and feeding our bees. I like heading to bee school with good news. I'm leaving Saint Tim in charge while Stella and I head to Kentucky State. If you see a "farm dispersal - everything must go" sign pop up in the front yard, you'll know Graham Lamb, Weaslie, T-Bone or the Adventure Chickens have pushed him over the edge.

It could happen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursdays Are For...

There's a new wheel in the wool house. One of Keebler's moms sent her cute-as-can-be Kromski Mazurka wheel over for folks to use if they would like to try spinning when they visit. She didn't feel it was getting the use it should at her farm. I quickly fixed that :-).



She also sent along some raw wool and a couple bags of roving from some of her beautiful sheep. Pearl was an extra special "pet" so I picked her.

I always start out spinning my "comfort" yarn. Pearl's fiber was so - well, I'm not sure what the correct word is - sproingy, fuzzy, soft, full of texture (click to biggify and tell me what you'd call it) - that I decided to play around and let her and her wheel show me what they could do.



We had a great time. Pearl's pearly white fleece was a joy. I plied some back on itself and plied the novelty singles with a sewing thread. I love to watch it corkscrew.



The Mazurka is not only beautiful, but very easy to use. Both are welcome new friends.



Speaking of friends, for the last few Thursday afternoons I've opened the wool house to a couple rug hookers, knitters and spinners. It's been fun and I've enjoyed the "structure". It's nice to be forced to sit down and spin or knit or weave or pick fleeces or try new wheels...

If anyone is ever in the area and would like to join us, just drop me an email. I can't promise that if you go to the house you won't think we've been burglarized, but the barn and the wool house are usually presentable ;-). I'm happy to provide a peaceful (usually) place to work. Bring a current project or your wheel or borrow one of mine.



This is most likely the last fuzzy picture of the year spring. Martin Bayer is coming to shear on Sunday morning. I don't think my fleeces are going to be outstanding this year - between the stress of being forced to live with a "wolf" and sloppy eating without coats - but we'll see. If you are interested in anyone particular, let me know.

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