Sunday, June 25, 2006

Oh where oh where has my little goat gone???

Here is our newest little tag along from our trip to a sweet flock's home yesterday (pictured on right)! She is Miette, which is French for 'sweet little thing' and is our newest Angora goatie to join our flock! She was a no brainer on my part, as soon as I saw her looking so like 'cousin it' on the Adams Family TV show?! Her locks are lovely and she has a very thick forelock of locks that spiral down her entire face, leaving only her little pink nose for anyone to see--just beyond cute when she peeks out at you through that lash of locks! She is a little sad that she is no longer with her mama but I am working on gaining her trust so she can have--you guessed it-- her first every hair cut this week when she is more settled in! She is 6 months old and just a sweet teeny girl who we could not resist. We also brought home two little Wensleydale lambs - a true treasure to add to our spinners flock--more about them to follow.

The picture on the left is from our friends Carl & Becky's flock at Cold Valley Jacobs--not far from our farm. The picture is of Spot and she is just one example of the beautiful sheep we are offering fleeces from. The Jacobs at Cold Valley are happy little poopsies roaming on acres and acres of pasture and watched over by our friends--who have worked very hard to put together bloodlines that provide spinners with beautiful, beyond CLEAN, very soft Jacob wool. We are happy to be offering their fiber again this spring and you can find them on our unwashed wool page on the website... We were lucky enough to purchase our little Jonte Jacob from Carl and Becky and he is such a sweet sweet boy--don't miss out on the family of fleeces from CVJ this year--they don't stay around very long!

We have been busy sorting fleeces so watch for more updates as I get things 'caught up'--a constant goal I seem to always be reaching for--ha!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Oh to be a chick at the Ryans!

Well, as you can see, our life has been beyond hectic and I have been a bit lax about posting! Sorry about that! I spent today sorting through about 20 fleeces for our website as I am behind on getting some wonderful wool out there for all of you! Thanks to the supervision of Bucket Head, our 10 year old + cat who strayed onto our Albany farm, near starving to death-- obviously not the case any more! ha! He got his name because when he was struggling to gain weight, he had the typical big blocky tom cat head and his poor scrawny body--looked like a bucket head? Just kinda stuck. So, with him sleeping on the shelf on the front porch 'supervising' my work, we spent the best part of today outside in the breeze, watching the sheep romp around and sorted wool. Actually Bucket slept most of the time--but he thinks it was with one eye on the wool sorter? ha!

Another favorite part of working out there is our little band of misfit chickens--both hens and roosters--who roam our farm every day from dawn to dusk. They keep our yard free of bugs, do clean up duty under the wild bird feeders (unless they can manage to knock one over for a buffet!) and just generally enjoy life. They like to hide out in the bushes next to the porch in the hotter part of the day and I am always amazed at how the roosters take care of their chicks. They always 'tell' them when there is a special treat to eat (bread and fruit loops) and actually step back to let the girls eat first. When they are napping, those 'fierce' roosters sing to the girls, it is such a peaceful song meant to soothe and I love to be able to hear them so content. Does the soul good! When I go out to tuck in the sheep at night for the last time, I always take a trip near the chicken house so I can hear the roosters singing. I am very easily amused but this is part of our life that makes it so special--I always am so grateful to be able to do what we do here--and have the time to enjoy the little bits of special!

Have a couple new sheep in the mix this week--pictures as soon as they settle in and get less shy of us. We are also purchasing two Wensleydale lambs tomorrow so watch for more updates about our 'sheepy spree'!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

La Quill Spinner!

This is my latest antique 'toy'! It is a quill spinner from Europe--brought here in a load of antiques by a friend's hubby a few years ago. It is very similar to a drop spindle, hand made and supported horizontally by the wood turnings. I am not sure exactly how old this is, but learning to spin 'off the point' was quite an adventure--and a skill I am continuing to attempt to master! The first skein of this yarn will be available this week on our website, it is a bunch of really neat looking, soft wools that I just added as I found them--in our signature 'crazy quilt' style!

Lots going on today at the farm, we have sheep to check feet on to see if they need trimming (any of our sheep with healed injuries, arthritis, etc need constant attention to their feet because they walk differently than uninjured sheep), 200 bales of hay to stack in the barn and lots of other odd jobs to mark off my to-do list. Also spinning more lash yarn to add to the site while I wait for the guys to get back home..... Hope you are all spinning lots of wool and creating with fiber this weekend!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My very first spinning wheel from way back when!

When our Woolamina gave me a beautiful first ever fleece, I was determined to do something beautiful with it--she was a gift to me for my birthday and my first ever sheep. She was beautiful (we just had to let her go because of her arthritis at the age of 9) and such a sweet floppy eared Suffolk girl who was my constant companion--and the beginning of my sheep/fiber madness. I then met a friend who gave spinning lessons, she sold me this wonderful antique flax wheel her husband had imported from Russia. I still use it often to spin up very fine wool, right now I am spinning a merino wool/silk blend that a wonderful friend sent me for my birthday this year! The wheel is most likely pushing 100 years and still has all its original parts, except it is missing its distaff, which would have held the flax while someone spun from it. It is a double drive wheel and there is so much evidence of use--there are a few grooves in the wood of the flyer showing how many miles of yarn/thread have been spun through!

My little wheel travels to shows with me and recently I had to take it in for a 're-glue' by my Dad--who is the most talented carpenter/woodworker I ever have known! He took apart the wheel, re-glued a few spots, fixed a few places that needed reinforcement and wa-la, my little wheel is back working like a top! It is even more speical to me now that my Dad worked his magic on it--and I think of him even more when I am spinning away on this fun little wheel. He is a peach! (the pretty pink in the spinning wheel picture is the peony bush blooming at the end of our driveway--today's wind decided I didn't need details like that in my picture???)

I have a small collection of spinning wheels and use all of them, each is suited to a different type of yarn and has a character all its own that often translates right into the yarn itself...

We are working on fencing to break our largest pasture up a bit--there is no real shade in the far end of the 15 acre pasture which keeps the sheep from spending much time down there in the summer--the best time for grazing! We have visions of a few shade shelters under the giant three oak trees in the little valley half way down, and lots more room to move the groups of sheep from pasture to pasture to keep the grass nice and the sheep well fed! Our goats are enjoying their move into the smaller pasture that includes a natural jungle gym--a low growing Maple tree with spreading branches perfect for goats to climb- and give their owner heart attacks watching them jump out from way too close to the top! Eek! Pictures of the goats in the tree to follow soon! Starting to drop off to 'sheep' so more tomorrow!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Dressy Challenge!

Well, back to 'work' today, and here is what I am pondering at the moment! An innocent sequined and beaded dress I happened across at a local thrift store...... I am planning to incorporate this dress into a yarn believe it or not and spent an entire evening cutting the pretty designs (from only HALF the dress) into manageable (?) sections first. The flowers did not allow for strips to be cut from the dress so each part of the design is going to be a seperate piece. Hmmmmm. Not sure how this will shake out but should be great fun no matter what! I had the fun of some humid weather over Memorial Day weekend that allowed an entire three days of spinning yarn--including some new techniques--in between runs to the barn to keep the sheep cool and plenty of fresh water in front of them. The crazy quilt yarn on the left is just one of the new yarns on the site so be sure to go take a peek! More pictures soon! We have had a major run on fiber this week so don't be discouraged by the sold signs--we are dying wool like crazy people and as soon as it is dry, it will be available on the site--some will be posted today and probably every day this week! Happy sheep to all!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Almost the weekend already!

Well, as you can see, I missed a few night's posts due to my crazy life! Sorry about that! This is our Frasier lamb (pictured right side), his mama died when he was about 4 weeks old so we were lucky enough to adopt him from our friends Graham and Margaret. He is a British Suffolk cross and weighed in at about 5 pounds when we got him--he was/is the size of our mini poodle! He has finally decided to drink bottles (what a struggle that was!) and seems to be growing now. It is hard for me to tell because I see him every day..... He is best friends with our Warrick (pictured on left)--a black Border Leicester lamb my friend Laurie gave me for my birthday! What a wonderful gift, specially given my tendency to lean towards the Border Leicester breed AND the British sheep! Warrick is a BIG boy and his name in old English means Strong Leader--he is certainly living up to it! Frasier is an old English name that means Strawberry, which describes his color to a 't'. They are quite the odd couple, Warrick was born April 23 and is about 45 pounds already, Frasier is so much faster that he just runs right underneath Warrick to get to the bottles first! I LOVE those babies and can't imagine what I would do with out them-they are precious!

We are watching the new hayfield grow, just the right amount of WARM weather and rain so far--aren't we easily amused?? ha! Tomorrow I plan to post the 'before' pictures of a dress that will become some really fun yarn-- all sparkly, beaded, sequined and unique!

Today was a day of gathering painting supplies--I am giving my friend a housewarming present--I am painting her dining room tomorrow. She has left it to me to 'surprise her', which could be a mistake! I love color but will stick to a mural/faux finish for now. She likes the stones I painted on the wall behind our corn burning stove (that we heat our little cottagey farm house with) so will do something along that line around her windows and then since we are painting panelling, I plan to pull off some faux wall paper too! Then Sunday, plan to stay motivated and do some much needed painting here too..... will try to remember to do before and after pictures--maybe we need a log cabin wall painted on the stairway going up to the upstairs bedroom in her dining room???? Hmmmmm. I promise to leave my favorite New England Red paint at home :o)

Off to play flash light with our Libby, she lives for the game at night so musn't disappoint the wonderful Border Collie! More tomorrow, have good nights!