Thursday, September 30, 2010

Closely supervised

This morning, while I was loading up the trailer for the Kentucky Wool Festival, I had some close supervision by my buddy, Frenchie. She was so curious, I think she might have actually gotten up in the trailer, if I had allowed it. Instead, she paced around, looking at everything that went in, talking to me the whole time. (One of my grandsons says that she is singing! I love that.)

The weatherman is predicting perfect fall weather this weekend. I'll be in the Wool Tent, with a bunch of my spinning, knitting,weaving, pottery making, sheep-loving friends. Come by for a visit!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Holly has been hyper-vigilant lately. We're hearing the coyotes moving around and howling a lot at night......maybe teaching pups to hunt? Not sure. In any case, Holly is on the job. A few days ago, I opened the gate to what we call the outfield, hoping the adult ewes would go over during the daytime and graze. Our fields have suffered from the drought and are looking pretty sad right now. The outfield has not had animals on it since back in the early summer, so there is a lot of grass there. Holly has been very uneasy about the sheep being in the newly accessible field. The first few days after I opened the gate, as soon as the ewes would wander over and start grazing, Holly would round them up and force them back into the other field. The outfield is bordered by woods and a creek and eventually turns into cliffs overlooking the Kentucky River. There's a lot of wildlife traffic on that land, so I know Holly is just doing her best to protect her sheep. (which is what I remind myself when she wakes me up barking at 3 am!)

(I love this image. The ewe has her head tucked right into Holly's chest. There's some comforting going on here, I'm sure of it.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Making my own

Okay, so if I can't have trees full of beautiful fall color, I'll just make my own. I've been in the dye pots, getting ready for the Kentucky Wool Festival (held in Falmouth, Kentucky, October 1-2-3). Fall is my favorite season and the colors of fall are my favorite colors. Actually, I love everything about fall.....the food, the clothes (you know----wool!!), the smells, the light, the weather. All of it. So, even though it's still in the 90's, I've decided to mentally put myself into fall by dyeing plenty of yarn and roving in fall colors.

Looking ahead to the festival, it looks as though the weather is finally going to be perfect for shopping for all things fibery! I hope you will come to Falmouth, stop by the Sheep Dreams/Tanglewood Farm booth and visit for a while. There are going to be some wonderful fiber folks there in the Wool Tent and I'm pretty sure one of us can satisfy any yarn, fiber or equipment need you might have. (We are all about making you happy!) There will be plenty of sheepy stuff, too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Misery loves company

It's still hot here and at this point, our pastures are crunchy. Where the heck is our beautiful autumn weather, is what I want to know? The thermometer outside the studio read 95 degrees at one point yesterday afternoon, though the weatherman said it was only 93 degrees! Same weatherman promises cooler weather on Saturday, but I'm not sure I believe him
The ewes have insisted on crowding up under this one little tree in the middle of the pasture for several hours each day. I don't know why they are doing this. There's a line of trees along the fence and they will go there finally, after bunching up out there in misery for a while. I would love to know what in the world they are thinking

Frenchie, on the other hand, prefers to spend her afternoons under the forsythia bushes in front of the barn or inside the blackberry vines on the garden fence. That is, unless she sees me out and about. Then she's all about keeping me company in whatever I'm doing, which as long as it is this hot, is mainly just moving from one air conditioned space to the next!! I'm just not sure what I should do about Frenchie. I've been putting her inside the big dog kennel at night for safety and letting her out each morning. As soon as I let the rest of the chickens out, she high-tails it out of the barn and hides in one of her safe places. It might be funny, if it weren't so sad. She lives her life in fear of the rest of the flock. I bought 5 Buff Orphington chicks last week and have vague plans to try bonding her with them, but it sure would be easier for me if I had one flock of chickens instead of two separate ones. Ah, the simple life on the farm!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Still going

I've felt a little like that ever-ready bunny lately. I'm still washing, sorting, remembering and trying to organize my handspun yarn and in between washing skeins of yarn, I've been dyeing some roving in preparation for the Kentucky Wool Festival in Falmouth, which is fast approaching. It seems just a few days ago, I was packing up stuff to take to the festival in May. It's been a miserably hot summer around here and I couldn't be happier that it's time for a fall festival (though it might be good to be a little better prepared).

After my last post, there were some questions about what I was planning to do with all that yarn and I've been thinking about that. The weights and yardages in the skeins is all over the place. Some are small amounts left over from previous knitting or weaving projects and some are larger amounts that were spun up because I loved the color or the particular animal the fleece came from and then just never made it onto the needles or the loom. I'm going through those skeins now, counting yardage, weighing and labeling and I'm going to put them in a big basket and sell it all by the pound. That way, someone can put together lots of small skeins for a fair isle hat or mittens made with all natural or hand-dyed colors or a truly individual vest or sweater or just pick up a few small skeins to use as an accent with a commercial yarn.

The thing is, I love to spin. I love the tactile-ness of every stage of the process. I get a thrill from looking at my animals fleeces while they are still wearing them, on shearing day when I'm skirting those fleeces, later still when I'm washing and spreading them out to dry and then sitting down at my spinning wheel and feeling those precious fibers slipping through my fingers and magically becoming yarn. So, Alice, just because you have a lot of skeins already, does not mean you stop or even slow down with the spinning!

Sorry, I got a little carried away with the pictures there! I'm into washing the handspun, hand-dyed skeins now and am loving the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) color shifts in these skeins.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sheep I have known...(and other thoughts)

As part of my on-going efforts to organize all of my yarn, before taking it into the new studio, I've been washing skeins of handspun that have been packed away for a while. Just so you know, there's lot of it. As in----I quit counting at 200 skeins and left the rest uncounted. All handspun, by me and nearly all are from sheep that I have owned and cared for in my life as a shepherd. Today while arranging some of the skeins on a drying rack on the back porch of the studio, I couldn't help but be amazed at all the different, but natural colors. Most of them are tinged with brown because I have always loved natural colored sheep and, until now, have not used coats to keep the tips of the fleeces from being sun-bleached. The variety of shades in those skeins is amazing to me.

I stood there for a long time, touching and looking at the skeins, and thinking about all those lambs I have raised. As a city girl, years ago, whose parents didn't allow pets in our home, I could not have dreamed in my wildest imaginations that I would end up living the life I have now. I know how fortunate I am and I try not to take a single day of this life for granted. Though I have been known to complain about the constant work (especially if it happens to be over 90 degrees!), I'm grateful to be where I am, doing what I do. One month from today, I will reach a milestone birthday. It's a sobering one, to be sure. I am no longer able to deny the fact that I have a lot less time ahead of me than I do behind me. I intend to use the occasion as a reminder to get on with my life and to enjoy all that life brings me.

So, that was not where I was headed when I began this post, but, as so often happens with me, I start out in one direction and end up somewhere completely different.

The weekend is before us and I hope it's a great one for all of you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boys will be...............

Um, let's start with #1-hard-headed and maybe add #2-single-minded. Thanks to new levels of testosterone around the place right now and some cooler weather at night, the rams have been taking a little longer to adjust than I was hoping. I thought the extreme heat we had been experiencing would keep the head-butting and posturing to a minimum, but Ollie and Henry had other ideas. Mr. Lucky and Buddy wanted no part of the butting matches, so they were excused from the fray. (As a side note: Buddy became a wether after breeding season several years ago, so he does not show any interest in proving he is a candidate for ram-of-the-year. Besides being a wonderful personality to have around, he serves as a babysitter for lambs, companion to anyone needing one and all around good guy.)

Ollie and Henry spent the better part of a week penned up closely in the barn. Every few days, I would let them out into the barnyard and watch their behavior. If the head-butting started....back into the pen they went. Finally, they smelled enough alike to be satisfied with shouldering each other around occasionally. I will say, for an old guy, Henry can hold his own with a much younger ram.

These last pictures were taken this morning (I'm sitting on top of the gate) and the boys are just one big happy group right now. Well, except for Ollie, who, when he is not with his buddies, is pacing the fence looking longingly at the ewe flock (see #2 above). I am not planning on any lambs being born before March, so he will just have to get over it for the time being .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Feeling the breeze

There's no cool breeze around here, only warm ones. We are being tormented by yet another blast of hot weather. But, at least if there was a cool breeze, the little girls would be able to enjoy it. The ewe lambs had their first trailer ride on Monday for a date with the shearer. A friend (the same one who sold me studly Henry) was having her very large lamb flock shorn and let me bring my ten little ones over to be relieved of their scroungy looking lamb fleeces. I've been wanting to shear off my lamb's fleeces for years and was finally been able to do it. (Most shearers don't want to make the trip here for a measly few lambs---and I understand that). By this time of year, the tips of the lamb's fleeces are often brittle, which means if I don't shear them until the adults are done next spring, I have wasted a whole year's worth of wool growing. The past several years I have thrown away most of my lamb fleeces because the tips tend to break off and that makes for bad spinning fleeces. Ideally, the lambs would have been shorn in late June, but I couldn't seem to make that happen.

I loved Miss Olive's reaction to this unexpected turn of events. She was surprisingly calm and sweet about it all, if not a little puzzled! And, oh, how energized they all were when they jumped off the trailer back home! They all ran right out into the hot sun and started grazing. Wish getting a haircut would energize me right now
.(yep-there's Frenchie-out grazing with her peeps)