Monday, October 31, 2016

Is It Really Over?

The next morning.


"Is Hug a Sheep Day really over?  I didn't get any cookies!"

Bullwinkle.  Everyone offered you cookies and you wouldn't eat them.  Even Aaron, who can do anything with wool and even got Burrnie to eat cookies a couple years ago, couldn't get you to do anything more than take a cookie...and then spit it on the ground.  I will give you lots of credit for being friendly though.  You boys did a good job.

"But we could still have some cookies today, though, right?  'Cause every day is a good day to give a sheep a cookie, right?"

"I  think we are just going to have to eat boring ole straw, Bullwinkle."

Kate's sure there might be some crumbs left.  And Baaxter knows she won't share.

"Did somebody say Burrnie?  Am I going to get some cookies, too?"

"I  think she's just taking pictures."

We've had some crazy Hug a Sheep Parties in the past, but this one really took the cake.  For almost the whole week leading up to the party, Tim was completely taken down by a kidney stone.  I realize that's probably TMI, but if I just said "Tim was at the ER three times over the last five days", it would have sounded much worse.  It was bad enough as it was.

Normal preparations that would have gone off seamlessly just couldn't happen.  The hopes that the nightmare was finally over late Friday night were dashed the next morning when it was obvious he needed to go back to Lexington once again.  There was no way to not do that.  There was no way to cancel the party.  Phone calls were made and within minutes help was on the way.

Friends and neighbors rallied together and the theme for the day was "We've got this!"  Tim was dispatched to the big city, animals were cared for, the barn tidied up, road signs put out, hugging pen assembled and filled, tables and chairs set out, cider iced down (it was 80 degrees!), questions answered, drop spindle and wheel spinning lessons given, cookies (but not too many :-) were fed and lots of pictures were taken...but none by me :-/.

I've seen a few pictures posted on the Ravelry page and Instagram.  I haven't had a chance to check Facebook yet.  If anyone else has posted them anywhere and would like to leave a comment with a link for others to see or if you'd be willing to email them to me to share...I would be so grateful.  In the meantime, here are just a few verbal highlights:

1.  Obviously, pulling the whole thing off was the biggest highlight.  A huge thank you to everyone!!!

2.  We pretty much picked who was going to be in the hugging pen by which sheep were near the gate at the time.  Somehow Woody and Murphy got left in the main flock.  This actually worked great as they both worked on everyone who came into the barn so many of the other sheep got cookies just like the party sheep.  Even Jester and Ford got cookies :-).

3.  Bullwinkle seemed to like visiting with everyone even if he didn't want to eat "contaminated" cookies.  When it got too hot to leave the sheep out front and we moved them over to the shade on the side of the barn, Bullwinkle stayed out in the driveway for a couple minutes to work the crowd hang out with his mom.  Just to be silly, I made a show of me feeding him cookies just to prove he did indeed like cookies :-D. 

4.  When we moved the sheep over to the shade, the entire flock became the hugging pen.  Daniel came up to someone and gave them a sheep hug.  He is just. so. sweet.  The link back to the "sheep hug" post is fun.  Wow, look at how young those sheep were.  How did everyone get so old :-/.

5.  Annabelly's yarn.  I love how someone (especially a new spinner) buys a fleece, processes it themselves, spins the yarn (especially well), brings it back to show me, comes to the farm and by the end of the day is a new old friend.  

Annabelly is the only Jacob we have that I thought I could probably catch out in the field for a hug and yarn picture.  Annabelly has become one of my favorite sheep over the years.  She's kind of a silly sheep and not the fanciest Jacob in the world (read, probably least fancy Jacob in the world ;-) and I've always thought she's kind of felt that she wasn't one of the cool kids.  

For someone to show up and say "Oh, she's beautiful!" and pose for a picture with her and really, really pretty yarn spun from her fleece...  Sheep are not dumb.  As I tricked her into letting me catch her, she tried hard to get away.  I told her why she was being singled out.  That she was special.  That this was a Big Deal.  She stopped and it was clear she understood.  Every mom wants their kid to be successful.  Thank you for making Annabelly feel really special :-).

6.  SO...when we moved the sheep to the shade and they all became the hugging pen...oh you know it.  Maisie.  I went out with everyone who wanted to go in and hug some sheep.  I did my best to keep an eye on the little darling, but even though she wasn't looking for trouble, there is something about her that draws everyone in.  One of the neighbors who knows quite well to "stay away from the sheep with the tail" would discreetly refocus my attention and I'd go intervene ;-). 

7.  We had a great group of spinners and knitters.  I kept trying to get over there to join in and kept getting drawn other directions.  When I finally brought my wheel out, it was almost "closing time".  A few folks stayed on so I could at least sit down and visit for awhile.  It had been a long week and that was a much needed treat.

8.  This post is probably getting too long.  As always, I got to visit with so many fun and interesting people.  And as usual, I missed visiting with too many folks as well.  I hate that :-/.  If you had questions or comments or missed getting a picture with your favorite sheep...please feel welcome to correspond with me or make an appointment to come back out.  

Remember - every day is a good day to hug a sheep!

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Here are a few pics and there is a link to follow in the comments below.  

Keep the pictures coming!

Murphy, Bullwinkle, Woody, Lila

B. Willard

Maisie Auntie Reg lived through getting her picture taken with Crazy Maisie :-D.

When you run out of cookies, the hugging is over ;-).

Okay - left to right.  How many can you name?

Renny, Clover Belly (mostly hidden) Andy, Billy Belly, Beanie Baby, Annabelly Burrnie, Heidi, Blossom, Baby Belly, PPPP, B. Willard in back, Levi, Maisie, Rebecca Boone, Keebs, Spud, Daniel, Allie, Buddy, Woolliam (nose) and I'm not sure who's in the very back by the gate, maybe Liddy?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hug A Sheep Or Kiss A Dog Day

"For crying out loud, Hershey, it's Hug A Sheep Day, not Kiss A Dog Day."

Aw, Hank, every day is a good day to hug sheep and kiss dogs :-).  Wish everyone could teleport here this afternoon.  Wouldn't that be fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Field?

I'm sure there's a clever and funny answer to this, but I am not good at making up jokes.  Maybe I'll send it to The Chicken Chick for the Ellen deHeneres Yolk of the Day.  I'm a sucker for silly jokes :-).

I love this quick (just before B and L raced up for breakfast) snap of Buddy and the last of The Amazing Jumping Chickens of Harrison County.  I've loved those two Welsomer hens.  We lost one back in the spring and I thought we'd lost this old (at least 10) girl during one of the super hot spells of this past summer, but she's still going strong.  

I looked back through a few pages of The Adventure Chicken label, but can't find the video that I'm sure I posted of them jumping up for cookies.  Does anyone else remember that?  She can still jump, but not as high.  I don't ask her to do it anymore, but sometimes when I'm handing out treats, if I'm not fast enough for her, she'll still pop up and pinch my fingers :-D.

Speaking of looking back through old posts, the winner of the final calendar drawing is Karen B. :-). And speaking of calendars, I will get the official calendar ordering post up the first part of next week after the Hug a Sheep Party this Saturday.

Ready for a couple silly jokes?

Via The Chicken Chick - one of the bright spots on Facebook :-).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


As soon as a gate is opened, any gate, but preferably one out to a field the flock hasn't been in for awhile, everyone comes running.  Even sheep who really can't run anymore.  This is Big Excitement in sheepland!  

Yesterday was Integration Day for the two "boys".  We need to use their paddock to park cars Saturday and they were ready anyway.  Both had started sleeping outside the barn next to the two gates into the main barn at night.


Chocula has the jump and run down pat, but somehow Clover Belly got out ahead of him this time. That's Levi making a quick getaway in the foreground. 

Baby Belly, Daniel and Buddy.  The group charge is always cheered on by Buddy yelling at the top of his lungs.  This is also how I know if an Unscheduled Charge is taking place.  Buddy is always the very most excited...much to escapees chagrin ;-).

Lila and Renny

Now Boudreaux and Woolliam

Allie and PPPP, under the shade cloth.  Buddy, out front, didn't get very far before he started chowing down.

Maisie and Hershey, bringing up the rear.  Usually Maisie is out front.  She must have gotten stuck in a traffic jam ;-).

No  one got very far.  And they were far too interested in all that green grass to even think about the two boys.  I always like to integrate the main flock into the new sheep's area.  Not only does the main group have more interest in the fresh grass, but the new sheep know the 'lay of the land' and are more confident in familiar surroundings.

And interestingly, Bullwinkle had lived with the main flock for at least a month or two before Levi got here, right?  I know I have pictures of him with B. Willard and Petunia.  See, this is why I shouldn't have slacked off on the blog over the summer.  Bad records.  Anyway, Levi marched right over to the big group, but Bullwinkle stayed back out of the fray for quite a while.  When did Mr. Bossy get so bashful?

And to answer the earlier question about Kate...I was sitting on the Wool House porch knitting. Knitting!  Cooking I can understand.  Anything involving sharp knives or possibly burning the house down, sure!  Spinning I sort of get, too.   Your tail could get squished under a treadle or your pointy nose bumped in the turning wheels.  Knitting?  You're going to go sit under a tree, not able to bear watching me knit???

Sadly, she's probably pretty smart.  I was sitting there happily knitting away on the re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-start of the Renny sweater, thinking all was well.  I was knitting both sleeves at the same time and they were the same tension and same size.  I had over-dyed some of the pink yarn to a more fall color that I really liked.  I was plotting my next Yarn Along post sharing my great successes......

I still think the gauge is not good.  On the size 6 needles I think it's just too tight dense inelastic wrong.  I didn't really like the gauge on the size 7 needles any better though.  What am I going to do? I haven't wet blocked a size 7 sample.  I guess that should probably be my first step.  Although at this point I think I might join Kate under the tree :-/.

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The winner of the second giveaway is Renee :-D.  Send me your mailing information and which calendar you'd like!  I'll post the final winner tomorrow.  I'm thoroughly enjoying reading about everyone's favorite blog posts!  Blogging is a ton of work and it's so nice to know it's appreciated :-).

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pumpkin With A P Party

There are three highlight of fall around here (besides just stupid summer being over ;-).  The first is the Kentucky Wool Festival the first full weekend of October.  The second is the neighborhood Pumpkin Party that falls on the Saturday about a week before Halloween.  This year was the 10th year!

I wish everyone lived in a neighborhood like ours.  I can't help but think that the world would be a kinder place.  I realize part of this is due to living in a farming community, but I do know farmers in other places that might know who's driving that truck, but not how old their kids are or that their mother has been sick or that the chili supper starts at 6:00 so the pumpkin carving will be in full swing by 7:00 :-).

I took my camera so that I could take pictures of the over 100 people that gathered to say grace, eat awesome chili (and everything that goes with it) and carve pumpkins.  My design (that I'd worked on in my head, but not on paper...again) ended up taking so long that by the time I finished, pretty much everyone else was finished, too.  I think Auntie Reg got some pictures though.

I once again carved a design on the outside without cutting any holes and scraped the inside as much as I could so the light would shine through.  I'd planned on carving Bullwinkle, but it turned out looking more like Liddy.  That's okay.  She'll always be my special girl...and she's sort of shaped like a pumpkin anyway ;-).

Get it?

A play on Charlotte's case you didn't get it ;-).

The third highlight of fall is the Punkin (without the extra P) Party to celebrate National Hug a Sheep Day.  This will be our 7th annual farm party!  I don't really remember now how Hug a Sheep Day got started, but the first year was fun so we've kept it going and it's been fun watching everyone join in, not just here, but around the world :-).  International Hug a Sheep Day!

The farm party here is this Saturday, the 29th, from 1:00 to 4:00.  Everyone is welcome to come out and enjoy the farm, the hopefully beautiful fall weather, the sheep (and cats and dogs and horses and chickens), and the great company.  We will also have some leftover pumpkins (with a P) if you'd like to carve a sheep pumpkin for yourself!

You may bring treats (vanilla wafers, saltines, corn chips, Cheerios) for the sheep if you'd like, but once again we will all need to do our very best to monitor how many treats everyone (especially the C.O.R.G.I.) is getting so no one ends up with a tummy ache or in a sugar coma.

We will have some of the most huggable sheep set up in front of the barn and you can meet and greet with most of your favorite sheep.  Most meaning Not Maisie.  Oh, I might set her up somewhere in a Hannibal Lecter cage, but as always when visiting the farm, stay away from the sheep with the tail haha.  She hates cookies anyway ;-).

Bullwinkle and Levi have been practicing for Trick or Treat, but on an interesting note, Bullwinkle may not be in the hugging pen this year.  We'll have to see how he does.  We've had several groups of visitors lately and he is, I guess, shy.  

He won't eat treats (that he dearly loves) from anyone but me and would rather go hide around the corner.  Levi, on the other hand, who I was sure was never going to tame down enough to approach strangers, has zero problem yelling "Tricks or Treats" and will be happy to mug you for cookies :-).

I'm hoping to actually join the group of spinners this year, so bring your wheel/spindle/current projects/show and tell...  Want to learn to spin or knit?  This is the perfect place to get started! Have questions about keeping sheep?  Bring 'em! Have questions about Livestock Guardian Dogs? Bring 'em.  Border collies?  Bring 'em.  Corgis?  The answer is always food.  Remember - Don't Feed The Corgi ;-).

If you have any questions or need directions, shoot me an email.  If you have the address and your GPS wants to send you off the interstate via US 32, don't fall for it!  I'm serious.  

We hope to see you Saturday!

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P.S. This has turned into an epistle, so I'm going to post the next winner (and answer the question) of the calendar giveaway in the post I'm planning for tomorrow.  This give everyone an extra day to enter both drawings!   Today is Integration Day for the two boys and the weather is gorgeous, so surely there will be some good pictures!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Faux Fall - And The Final (For Now) Freebie

Every stinking time I think "Okay.  Whew.  All I have to do is make it three more days and it's going to rain and cool off and summer will finally be over." It teases me with a cool down and then right back into the 80s it goes.  We hit 86 the other the FOURTH WEEK OF OCTOBER!  

It  sure looks like fall...

Even sort of like a pretty fall...

But this is Baaxter hogging the fan like he does all 7:30 in the morning...on October 20th. Hershey looked so miserable the night before (how on earth could it be that humid when it's so dry and crispy?!?) that I finally had to do the ole cookie test to make sure he was okay enough that I could go to bed.  If you don't perk up when the cookie box comes out, we call the vet.  Highly scientific...but actually very accurate ;-).

These pictures were taken yesterday morning.  It's cold and raining today.  We'll see if it lasts or if it's just a fake cold down for the big neighborhood Pumpkin (Pumpkin with a P) Party this weekend.   The 10 day forecast is encouraging...but I've seen that before.  

The Punkin's (no extra P) Patch Hug a Sheep/Open Farm Day is next weekend!  I thought about trying to take a new "promo" picture this year, but how on earth can you beat last year?

Actually, that whole post is pretty cute.  I love to go back and revisit the good times.  Even some of the bad times.  The link to the Ewenice and Renny tree had me crying this morning, but it was such a beautiful gift.

You know what - leave a comment telling us one/some of your favorite old posts and that will be the third calendar drawing.  Petunia can draw for that one Monday or Tuesday.  And for anyone wanting a calendar but didn't win one, I promise I'll get the Farm Shop updated this weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What's Going On In This Picture? Another Giveaway!

I'm going to let this stand for about 24 hours and then I'll add some clues because I'm pretty sure there is no way anyone (except Auntie Reg...maybe!) is going to guess correctly the first time.  SO, make your first guess in the comments today and then come back tomorrow and make a second, more informed guess and you can have two chances to win a 2017 calendar!

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Hints And Clues

1.  The first thing you need to know is that Kate does pretty much everything with me.  Right with me.  The only reason she doesn't go to the bathroom with me is I shut the door.

2.  There are a few things though that Kate just can't abide.  Cooking is my favorite.  I don't yell and scream, throw pots and pans around and I have never even set the fire alarm off in front of her, but as soon as I turn the stove/oven on, she goes and sits in the dark pantry until the coast is clear.  Order carry out pizza though and she's right there ;-D.

3.  Kate is sitting under the Ewenice and Renny tree between the Wool House and the slightly less wooly house.  I am on the Wool House porch.  Revisit number 1.

4.  I am not spinning although that IS one of the things she can't abide.  At least that one sort of makes sense - a fast whirling wheel you could get your nose or tail stuck in or something.

What am I doing?  Leave your guess in the comments and I'll have Kate draw for a second calendar winner this weekend.

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Windswept Farm won the drawing for the first one.  Send me an email with your address and which calendar you'd like :-). 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Yarn Along: I Like My Wool Wild And...Well...Woolly

Way back in the summer (that I'm beginning to think is never going to actually end :-o) I won a Ravelry prize of some Zwartbles fiber from the awesome Meridian Jacobs group that I encourage everyone to check out because they are all super nice, very encouraging and so inspiring...and they give out great prizes ;-D.  

A sample of some Zwartbles roving was especially exciting to me because one of my all time favorite Twitter follows is Zwartbles Ireland and I am now obsessed with Zwartbles sheep and wish we could have them over here.  Maybe someday!  In the meantime I'll snuggle down under my Zwartbles blanket and enjoy knitting some fingerless mitts from my new Zwartbles yarn :-).

First, we have to spin the yarn.  I knew as soon as I opened the package that I was going to enjoy spinning Zwarbles.  Anyone who's been around me for any time at all knows I'm a Coarse Wool Girl. Unless I have to (for what bizarre reason?), you are never going to find me spinning Merino.  I wouldn't call Zwartbles coarse by any means, but it definitely wasn't "dryer lint".  Perfect.  Still, I could also tell when I opened the bag that it wasn't completely ready for a fun Sara Spin.  

I'm not sure if I'd call it "top" or "roving".  It wasn't way over processed and super straight and un-wool-like the way commercially combed top feels to me, but it wasn't loose and airy and all scattered about like fresh roving feels either.  All it needed was a little bit of steam.  Sort of like how when you go to a lot of trouble to straighten your hair and then walk outside on a humid afternoon ;-).

I divided the roving/top into two equal pieces.  I set my tea kettle on and when came to a rolling boil I carefully passed the first piece through the cloud of steam.  Right before your eyes you can watch the wool crimp come back to life.  See how compressed and straight the chunk on the left looks and how much puffier the chunk on the right?

Before and after.   

This also can help if you are having trouble spinning those really pretty, colorful braids of Merino that you just can't resist at fiber festivals, but then don't enjoy as much as you hoped when you get home ;-).

Not only did it puff out, but when the straightened fibers regained their curl and bounce, the roving shortened significantly.  It didn't shrink.  It just got curly again.  I steamed the second piece and thoroughly enjoyed spinning a small skein of yarn that felt very much like the sheep it came from. 

I spun the two separate singles one day, but didn't have time to ply them until a day or so later. After sitting tightly wound on the two bobbins for that bit, the singles had what is called "dead" twist, much like if you put your frizzy hair in curlers to tame it down.  You need to take that into consideration when you go to ply.  

Putting "live" ply twist into "dead" singles could be a whole 'nuther blog post, so I'm not going to say too much about it other than than to point out how the freshly plied yarn from the not freshly spun singles looks like a mess (above), all curled up and unbalanced and twisted back on itself. Guess what you can do to wake up the dead twist in the singles after plying.  Yep, steam :-).

I don't overthink sampling for ply twist...  If, after steaming, the skein is still unbalanced, I go back and fix it then (run it back through and either add more ply twist or take some out) before I wash the yarn. This skein was right on.   While it was in for a soak I pulled out something else I'd been wanting to sample - Murphy.

Murphy has one of our fanciest fleeces.  It's a gorgeous color, very soft for a "long wool", just the right amount of sheen, definitely an "ooh ahh" fleece.  The straight Cotswolds here get shorn twice a year.  As true "long wools" they grow...long wool.  If I let them go a full year, it's too long for most carding machines.  Murphy is a Cotswold cross, so I gambled that his fleece wouldn't get too long...and lost.  

As it started to try to come off the big carding machine, my heart sunk.  I watched as our nicest fleece struggled to survive the carding process.  Hindsight being what it is, I should have had them stop the machine and pull back out as much as we could.  What we ended up's not horrible, but Murphy got sheared a second time this year.  He'll head into 2017 shearing with only 10 months growth.

So what did we end up with?  Well, it's still a lovely color.  It still has a nice soft handle with a perfect amount of luster.  It is very easy to spin and being long (mostly) it takes very little twist to keep it together.  Yarn is just some sort of fiber (wool is best ;-) with some added twist.  A softly (less twist) spun yarn feels softer and fluffier and even warmer.  Something you might like wrapped around your face on a cold day (that is probably never going to happen around here ever again :-o).

Those lumps and bumps?  Well, as I tell beginning spinners, "Those are design elements!"  Art yarn I actually like for more than just looking at.  Here is the freshly spun ball of single ply yarn.  I then took the front and back ends (from the inside of the ball and the outside) and plied them together to make a two ply yarn.

Notice how the freshly spun singles plied into a calm, orderly, well balanced yarn?

Here are both after washing.  Washing, especially on a softly spun yarn, lets the yarn "bloom". Can you see the difference in the fluffy skein of Murphy versus the tighter spun Zwartbles?  I mentioned Murphy would make a nice scarf or cowl.  For something that's going to take some abuse, like mittens or gloves, you would want a yarn with a tighter/stronger twist.

And this is what I've picked.  I think these are really pretty and I was maybe a bit swayed by the designer being Irish Girlie Knits.  Plus, her blog name We Do Not Have A Knitting Problem is too good to pass up.  I'm a bit short on yardage for these, but I am either going to shorten them a bit (they seem longer than I'd want anyway) or else start them with they'd look like a Zwartbles sheep :-D.

And I'm actually reading a paper book this week, too!  I finally picked up a copy of Knitlandia by Clara Parkes and it's just as good as you'd expect.

Joining in with Ginny...


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