Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Meanwhile, Back To My Favorite Sheep...Of The Week

I started this post near the beginning of May in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  Their breed selection for this year was Jacobs, so I had picked Tessa to be our sheep of the week.

My favorite picture of Tessa is posted on IG somewhere, I'm thinking during Wovember or Fiberuary, but I haven't had time to scroll back through hundreds of pictures to find it.  That's my only real complaint about IG, that there's no good way to search my account.  The rest of that app I really enjoy and am so glad to have it.  It's such a fun diary of our daily life, especially when I can't seem to keep the blog current.

Tessa doesn't get much "press" around here, but none of the Jacobs do, really.  They prefer it that way.  In fact, other than Tabitha, who is happy to come up and jab you with one of her upright horns to make you give her whatever treats you are holding (but no touching!), they'd all prefer if no one noticed they were even here.  "Just toss us the cookies from a distance, please!"

Tessa (in the middle) is not super true to breed standard, fleece-wise, but she's always the one I choose for a fun spin.  Her color blend is gorgeous and her longer and while all good Jacob is easy to spin, her coarser wool practically spins itself.  I don't mind her extra texture at all.  While I might not put it right up next to my face, I wouldn't think twice about using it in any other application.

She's always been a bit, um, apple dumpling shaped and that also is not really breed standard...unless they are getting ready to have triplets ;-).  She's not a big treat eater and she would never stoop to walking up for a scratch, but if I have everyone penned up, she'll tolerate a little attention.

This is as close to a baby picture as I have.  If I stumble over the beautiful IG picture somewhere, I'll add it in.  And if not, I'll go take a new one in the fall.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

State Of The Fiber Farm Address

I've had some questions about whether we'll be setting up at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival this weekend and sadly, we are not.  Auntie Reg and I had talked about it, but the way this year has gone so far, I'm incredibly relieved we didn't sign up.  There have only been about two weeks all year that I felt like we could have pulled it off...and this one (even though it's only Tuesday) ain't one of them.

Between not having many any 2023 fleeces skirted yet and having done almost no spinning or other fiber work all year and the 7528 hours it took to knit a stupid simple sweater, I'm struggling to even feel like a real fiber farm/fiber artist right now. 

But...the sheep are happy and healthy. I did finally finish that dang sweater and got to wear it quite a bit before it got hot.  I wove a nice shawl during the Iknitarod.  I've taught a couple of new people how to spin.  We had good shearings here and at Tring Farm and I was able to help Annemarie sell a few of her fleeces.  

Our fleeces are safe and sound and will be ready to skirt, wash, process and spin whenever I'm able to get to them.  I've purchased several really fun looking project patterns including a tiny 7" tall fox who needs 29 pages to come to life.  Wait, what?  29 pages?!?  Yeah...I can't get out of my own way.

Wait, one other "win" is that our sweet little group of spinners, knitters, weavers, crocheters, sewers, hookers, felters, punchers, storytellers (and there have been some doozies :-), bakers, and their cats, dogs, sheep, chickens...from all over the country is still crafting right along via Zoom every Tuesday night.  They're getting stuff done :-D.

So, yes, the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington is this weekend and the Bluegrass Classic Stockdog Trial is going on just down the hill as well.  Both will be lots of fun!  I was talking to one of the local Crafters last week (oh, when I sheared her old sheep, so that probably counts too...if we're keeping score...which I need to stop doing) and we decided, in the spirit of the festival, to do an in person/on farm Crafter's meet up this Saturday.  

This super casual on farm event is open to all the farm friends, not just Crafters.  You do not need to be a fiber person.  If you would just enjoy sitting on the porch or bringing a picnic dinner out to the farm, come on! Everyone and their house cat is welcome...but please leave your dog at home ;-)

I'll be here from 3:00 on on Saturday and would be happy to teach spinning or fiber processing or sheep care...*  You can bring your own wool or spindle or wheel or borrow one of mine.  There are plenty of sheep to borrow who would be happy to teach you how to feed them cookies.

I doubt I'll pull off anything fancy in the way of food or beverages, but I'm sure Auntie Reg won't let us go hungry.  Feel free to bring snacks or a picnic with you or call in a pizza for pickup on the way.  You should probably toss in a chair.

   Update on food - we're going to set up an ice cream bar!  Throw on some nuts and a banana and you've got yourself a nutritious dinner.  Bang! :-D

* * * * *

*I'm also happy to teach fleece skirting, wool washing, barn cleaning, field mowing, flower planting, weed pulling, chicken wrangling, corgi 'wrasslin'... ;-D  

I say all that sort of joking, but if you are interested in buying a fleece, especially if you are new to raw wool, this could actually be a good thing!  I could help you pick one out, we could skirt it (and maybe a few others ;-) together and talk about how to go on from there!

I am also happy to bring out various colors and types of roving, some Lamb Camp Legacy yarn and there are six skeins of Lamb Camp Bottle Lamb yarn left, too, so just ask if there's something you'd like to see.

If you have any questions or need directions, please send me an email.  We are about 35 minutes from Lexington and about 20 minutes from the hotels in Georgetown. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Happy Mother's Day - Lamb Camp Style

Back in the early spring, when the warm sun still felt good and the lambs were small enough to pick up and snorgle, I got to play Lamb Camp at Morgandell Reds.  Why it took so long to share the pictures...I don't know.  

These are always some of my favorite lambs.  I just love California Reds.  Not only are they pretty and have lovely wool, but they are calm, friendly sheep and I could sit out in the field with them all day.

"Hey, this scarecrow has a bell we can ring!"

"See if he has any treats in his pocket!"

"Hey, what are you kids up to?"

"Nothing, mom!"

"You gots any treats in you pocket, lady?"

That warm spring sun.



Andrea will be set up at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington next weekend and she's going to be bringing some beautiful fleeces and processed roving, but she's also bringing some moms and babies!  She'll be set up in the livestock tent.  Stop in for some Lamb Camp snorgling and shopping :-D.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Legacy


May 2010 - May 10, 2023

Rocky was a product of a specialized breeding program at Nistock Farms in NY.  He was a lovely ram and produced quite a few high quality lambs there including our Hershey, Spud and Murphy before moving, along with Jared, to Tring Farm in 2016.  Two of Rocky's sons worked at Final Frontier Farm, making Biscuit, Muffin, Andy, Mini Moose and Ellie his grandsons and granddaughters.

Rocky and Jared were used at Tring Farm for a small crop of Christmas lambs and two spring lambing groups before retiring here in 2018.  Their own fleeces were award winning as were their son's and daughter's and now grandson's and granddaughter's and they helped offset expenses on all four farms.  Their wool, either in raw fleece, processed roving or finished yarn (Lamb Camp Legacy) has traveled all over the country.

Good family and good fiber are good legacies...and also some good stories.  My favorite is how they fought off that stray dog who came after the sheep a few years ago.

I'd forgotten about them not getting along with Hank, or Hank not getting along with them I guess, in their early days here.  And how Rocky didn't approve of Jared trying to make friends with Frankie. Actually, I had forgotten that in the early days, Rocky was the tough guy.

Rocky really was a tough guy.  For the last couple of years he's lived with a weird cud chewing and rumen issue that there wasn't anything we could do about, especially at his age.  He just toughed it out and never let it slow him down.  

He was still going out into the far fields with Jared to graze back in the summer, but stopped over the winter.  Actually, they both stopped going out.  I was very relieved to see Jared start venturing out again this spring, but Rocky continued to stay in the barn.  

I realized he was having vision issues and by the last couple of months, he was almost completely blind.  He could still find his way to the feed trough though and was happy hanging out in the safety of Del Boca Vista. 

For the last few days he's had trouble getting up and yesterday morning he didn't want to try.  I was able to hoist him up and once he was up, he seemed mostly okay, but he wasn't very interested in breakfast and seemed very tired.  I decided to make the call.

Our sheep stay here until they die and we've had a lot of sheep over the years.  Those calls are never easy.  Some are hard because they are my dearest friends.  Some are hard because they are someone else's dearest friend.  Rocky was Jared's oldest and dearest friend.  They were brothers.

Jared left the barn when the vet got here, but he stood at the entrance and watched.  I have never been so grateful for the quickest and easiest euthanasia ever.  Rocky calmly laid down and was gone in less than two minutes.  

Jared walked back in the barn, but hurried right past Rocky. Not too much later I saw him grazing out in the yard by himself looking happy and peaceful.  I was a bit surprised by that, but I hoped that Rocky was out there with him and everything was okay.  

Still...something seemed off.  First he laid down out in the sun.  He doesn't lay down outside and definitely not in the full sun on a hot day.  I kept watching him from the porch and realized he was watching me as well.  His friend Short Round was laying down just across from him in the shade, but  that was normal behavior for her.

He then got up, so Short Round got up.  They both moved further up under the tree by the Wool House and both laid down again, this time nearer each other.  I continued to keep an eye on him and he was chewing cud and seemed okay, but still... 

He never went back in the barn.  I stopped to sit with him a few times as I went about doing other jobs.  Tim came home to bury Rocky and Jared stayed outside.  We went to our neighbor's for a quick dinner and Jared stayed out.  I finally walked him into the barn as it got dark.

Some dinner cheered him up briefly, but once the food was gone he started walking around the barn, staring out the back gate, I am sure looking for Rocky. He seemed equal parts sad and scared.  In looking back through all the old posts I think that while Jared held the spotlight between the two of them, Rocky was always the calm, steady leader in the background.  

I grabbed a jacket and my barn chair, turned off the barn lights except for Rocky's nightlight and sat down in the stall.  Jared stood next to me for almost an hour before he finally laid down.  I could tell he was exhausted.  I sat with him until I felt him relax and start to doze off and then gathered up Bea, Possum and Archie and headed to the house.  I checked him one last time before I went to bed and he was sleeping.

This morning Jared walked out into the driveway and stood with me for a few minutes and then went back in.  He did eat breakfast though and looks a little less bug-eyed and I'm sure he'll be okay...eventually.  I've never had a sheep grieve so hard.  We should all be so lucky as to have a friend we miss that much.  

There's no better legacy than good friendship.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

My Favorite/Least Favorite Sheep Of The Week

MURphy (said like "Newman" from Seinfeld)

MUR-PHY!!! (yelled as he tries to open the gate at least four times Every Day to get into Easy Breezy to steal their food)

HeLLO, Murphy (said with appropriate eye roll)

Hi, Murphy, you big knucklehead.  Yes, I love you too.

There are times though...

Murphy can open just about any gate or door on this farm.  He can manipulate a double ended snap.  He can untie a casually tied hay string.  He can use his front legs to pull gates toward himself to open them. He can wedge his pointy head into almost any size crack in the heaviest door and then use his massive body/strength to force the door open.  About the only thing he can't do is jump his fat body over Pinto's gate.

He might not be able to go over a fence, but he can find a weak board and push his way under (see eye roll above).

I'm not sure of Murphy's status in the flock.  I know they will go out to graze without him if he's caught sleeping in, but probably 95% of the time he leads everyone out.  This happens in the morning and afternoon.  Is he actually the leader...or does he just assume that he's the leader?  

I'm going with he assumes he's the leader much like he has great confidence that everyone in the world loves him.  And we do.  Most of the time.  I try not to be crabby that of all those really nice Nistock boys who have lived here over the years, that I'm left with the only one of them that I've toyed with stuffing back into a box with some air holes and dropping off at the post office!

For all the trouble he causes (have I mentioned it's on a daily basis?), Murphy produces one of the nicest fleeces here.  His dad is Rocky and he gets his good looks from him for sure.  The devious brain must have come from his mother's side of the family ;-).

I started this post on Monday and here it is Thursday.  Murphy won't even know he's been cheated out of several days of being the SOTW because everyday is Murphy Day in his mind ;-).

My New Screen Saver

I set up the trail camera in the barn last night because I was curious as to what Baba was getting up to.  Remember, she's the oddball who likes to go out and graze by herself in the middle of the night. I knew she was doing something because the wooden gates I set up to keep Rocky tucked in are always pushed open by morning. 

She left the barn the first time at 10:30, just minutes after I turned off the lights.  Jared tried to go with her, but couldn't get up the nerve.  I actually think he might have just been looking for me.  She came back about ten minutes later, slept for a few hours and then got back up around 2:30 and headed out again.

Maisie doesn't miss a trick!

This time Maisie got up with her, but didn't make it past the ladder.  Most of the pictures are of her watching out the front door, chewing cud, but she must have noticed the quick flash of red light and looked over.  I would love to know what goes through her mind.  Maybe ;-).

Being the sheep/barn guardian, I wonder if she got up more to just watch out for Baba than thinking about going out to graze.  I think if she wanted something to eat, she'd have gone on out.  I'll put the camera back up tonight and see if this is their normal routine. 

In the meantime, I think this is going to be my new screen saver.  Both of us looking at each other saying "Go back to bed!" :-D


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