Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy weekend from the alpacas!

This is a terrible picture of our new alpacas but gives the happy sense of them! They are always waiting at the gate, when their llama buddies are there with them I swear, it looks like the old Petticoat Junction show--remember that one? Everyone looking over the fence--cept it was girls? Teehee--probably giving away my age or like for weird shows? Jim adopted the alpacas from our friend Jen--the alpacas came all the way from Tennessee for a good home--they spent a week or two with Jen, then here they are! They are adorable and you can find some of their fiber is already on our site--better pictures soon we promise--they are very good subjects and love a good visit with treats involved!!! Happy Sunday everyone--snowing here, great day for email and spinning yarn! Snowball fight? baaaahahahahaha! (you know that is the sheep's favorite--I catch them at it ALL the time! They always recommend the zig zag run when they catch me in the middle!) Toodles!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Update update! New Mill Spun Yarn!

Happy weekend everyone! The sheep have been B U S Y! They are exhausted now but did good work--they are out resting and planning a late party in the barn! :0) We are proud today to launch our new Jordan Valley Mill Spun yarn with this update!! Yey! This project has been in the works for a while now and it is a joint effort between our sheep and Jenny's alpacas and llamas. We will be adding more great yarn as they return home from the mill--Argyle Fiber Mill is doing a great job spinning the yarn for us--check out the mill spun page for more fun animal friendly info!!!!

More update fiber-- Tango Suri Alpaca! Beautiful colors and soft, longer locks. Yum! PLUS lots of new yarns--pictured is our famous movie star sheep Rita Merino's yarn--her soft Merino wool was blended with uuber soft Angora rabbit fiber--Oooh lala! She is one very famous sheep you know! But she still loves to sign autographs! :0)

The sheep were busy carding wool for Crazy Quilt batts too--such fun! This is Warrick's set, he is a natural black Border Leicester sheep who arrived here as a lamb--he is a sweet boy that likes treats and his best friend Frasier. His wool is to faint for at least!

Savanna is a sweet sheep (arent' they all??) and her roving just got back from Shari at Morro Fleece Works in CA. Thank you for wonderful roving wizardry Shari--you are the best!! Savanna has soem of her roving dyed up all pretty, and some is available natural--there is some softly barely dyed Cotswold blended in so you can see how easy it is to get great color by overdyeing her fleece.... And of course a good dose of karma for no extra charge!

This is a very big update so be sure to browse around--lots to see! And don't forget, we are happy to take special orders--not seeing colors you need/like? Let the sheep know and we will get you set up. Same for yarn- I love to handspin yarn created with your ideas and plans. I spin our fiber or yours--either way it is SUCH great fun to design your own colors and yarns--that nobody else will have except YOU!! Happy holiday weekend and hope you all have fun fiber plans! Cheers!

Day after too much fun!!

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving! We sure did--and I am SO grateful for our friend of the Homestead--Petra of Rockford IL! This sweet llama was dropped off at her farm this past week--not sure she actually caught the fellow but how desperate he must have been to find a home for this beauty? Someone surely loved the llama because he is sweet, healthy, tame and happy to be around people. Petra lost her appaloosa llama a bit ago to old age so how about karma?? wow!

And I hope you don't get sick of our baby pictures--Macie cracked a huge smile and my sister was there and caught her!! :0)

And this is how we spent our Thanksgiving--me, Macie and hubby Jim. Now you can't say you don't know what we look like right? Names to faces! ha! We were very naughty and held Macie LOTS. Everyone else DID get a turn though--really they did!

We are working on an update for later today--lots of batts, fiber, roving and yarn! Giddyup!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for all of you....

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We are blessed with a lot here--starting with the gift of all of you that help us create a safe place for our sheep to live out their lives--happy, (my shearer says fat) and sassy. You do not know how much you mean to us--with out you, all of this sheepy wonderful would not be possible-specially on the scale we have grown into over the years. Thank you--and many holiday hugs from your sheepy family--and us of course!! (although the sheep are much cuter than I am!). We have gotten to know so many wonderful, talented people through this business--learned much & have a circle of friends who are far flung across the US & the world--amazes me still how far this group of sheep can reach.... & also how well we seem to get to know each other without truly meeting face to face!

I cannot be thankful enough for the wonderful family who supports us through good & bad--we have had a lot of 'bad' the past few years but every day brings so much promise with it. Promise of a good future, good people and good times too. My husband--my thanks can never be enough--you are a saint! My son-never a better son! I could go on but suffice it to say, the Hiltons and Ryans are a wonderful bunch of people that we are lucky to call family. I love you all and am thankful every day to just know you are there.... (This is Miss Macie's latest picture--isn't she just a sly little pixie? Saving that smile for when the camera moves away????) And the second picture is of my sister Kristie--smooching up Macie the day she was born. Beauteous girls don't you think??

And we are also grateful that we can make a small difference in the lives of those less fortunate than we are. My mom Nancy and her best friend Barbara (we three are the 3 Chic Knits) spend their time knitting for the two groups we support by sending warm, styling items for winter. One group is west, an organization that collects items for the Elders on the Navajo Reservation. The second is closer to home in Madison- a group that helps mentally challenged adults remain independent in their own homes, with their own jobs--many have to walk to work and shopping so warm items are a happy occasion. We are all (sheep included) glad to have a way to pay things forward. Many people have helped us when we were desperately in need (our basement cave in-argh) of emotional support and financial. We owe this world a lot and hope we can leave it better in the process.

Thank you all again, I could go on but will do some personal emails to spare you all a novel! Please please be sure to hug your families & friends. Enjoy your day tomorrow where ever it finds you!

The sheep & the Ryans

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Late day update!!

First, a sneak peek of the yarn update for tomorrow--and we will also be launching our new Jordan Valley Mill Spun yarns!!! Wheeee! Something we have always wanted to offer and the wonderful girls at Argyle Fiber Mill are helping our dream come true! The sheep are SO excited! We will be offering blends of our wool and fiber from our Jen's alpaca/llama sanctuary--good karma all the way around!!

Marshall (pictured) said he is not sure what we are paying the sheep to model yarn--but it CAN"T be enough for that humiliation! Doesn't he look shocked?? No, I mean Marshall! I had to hire models because the actual sheep would not cooperate--imagine that! Marshall's wool is available on today's fiber update--it is gorgeous, soft and Merino-like even though he is a purebred Corriedale--scrumptious fleece--and sheep!!

Also washed Alpaca fiber--soft and silky barely silver/gray--from Jen's 'family'.....

AND the llamas took over the dyepots this week and raised some havoc with the alpaca fiber! Several selections of dyed alpaca fiber available to be sure to browse through! They are some beautiful colors and fibers....

And one more fun picture--drool--a matching 'set' of our Savanna's Lincoln/Romney cross fleece (carded into loose roving --thank you Shari!) and matching Cotswold locks--all dyed in the same dyepot! Sneaky sheep!! Much more to see for this update--and the yarn update will be done tomorrow so be sure to stop back!! Thanks for your patience and happy evening to you all!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My world for a camel? maybe!

Humphrey is my dream camel--first picture with a member of his lucky family! Smooch!! The second is of Humphrey and his buddy baby pony that he played with all summer--he loves his babies, babysitting is his favorite--running and playing and wishing that baby would have some manners probably? ha!

This is NOT Humphrey but a camel from somewhere (forwarded by a friend-thank you!) that maybe could be a long distance pen pal for Humphrey? Get a load of the look on the horse's face!!! What the HECK are you? ha! Anyhoo, someday my camel will show up right? :0) One can hope....

update tomorrow so keep an eye out--the sheep are working today--not by choice though--buggers!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Zippity Doo Baa.....

Noodle says sheep, what sheep? WHERE did they go? Anywhere that work was not involved--THAT is where they are! Stinkers are all relaxing out in the valley between our two hills in the big pasture-- and not planning to return home any time soon--it was almost dark before they came home to have hay salad. They just DID not want to work! :0)

SO, we will be udating the site, most likely on Wednesday so keep an eye out. Have lots of neat new colors, fiber and yarn--please be sure to stop back! Cheerio!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Miss Macie! (and her 'body guards") :0)

Oh SQUEEEE! What a great way to start my morning--the sheep are fighting me for the computer--there is quite the fray in here right now--new pictures of a beautiful family!!! Ouch, get off my FOOT you stinker sheep!

Gees, had to chase the mouse-the sheep are playing a nasty little game of keep away from mom---right back....

There! This first picture is my beautiful sister Jenny--and her baby Macie. Isn't she gorgeous? You would never know she just had that little girl--what a beautiful couple of girls!

Next is the proud, tired papa Kevin--doing the proper thing, sleeping all snuggled up with Macie--Doesn't she look TINY? And so comfy? I am SO jealous! Watch out on Thanksgiving Macie--I am going to give my best tackle to Grandpa and have my time with you!!!

And last but certainly NOT least, the next set of Macie's body guards--(R) Livi and (L) Mason, the best dogs in the world don't you think? :0) What a special peanut with a special family to surround her!

Jealous Auntie jealous auntie!!! The sheep are working toward a Sunday update so keep an eye out--I hear they have been washing and dyeing up an alpaca-palooza?? Toodles!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sanctuary vs rescue

We have been pondering the 'sanctuary vs rescue' this weekend as we work with our new sheep who came in through a recent rescue. We have decided we need to be sure and tell a lot more of our 'story' and the creatures who inhabit our family and farm. We often use the word rescue and we do truly have rescues come into this farm--some horrible to think or and others we will talk about later that fit more into the sanctuary realm.

Kelly is probably the oldest sheep in our flock, and she was definitely abused (to the point of broken bones that healed incorrectly many years ago in her hip. She came in with our OohMahNee sheep from PA and is a very shy, sweet girl who has grown to trust us as far as she can and her favorite place to live is in the 'nursery' with our bottle lambs as they come in. We have not seen many lately so she has a new room mate now with our latest true rescue. She loves her babies but thinks this newest one is very large and she doesn't really 'get it'--kind of looks at us like hey, what the heck??? She is a sweet sweet girl and they are good friends in only the two days they have spent together.

On that note, we have indeed seen cases of creatures in dire need of rescue and that need can range from outright neglect to a 'benign neglect' which as the economy changes we are seeing more and more. Benign neglect is generally a case where the owner very much cares for their animals and loves them, but circumstances like changes in the family or financial dynamics of their families makes a 'rescue' situation' (generally in large numbers) very necessary--many people in this situation try to keep a grasp on animals that have been in their family for years, often not agreeing to relinquish them and being forced to through other measures. I am in no WAY excusing neglect, but I want to be sure you know it is not always a mean, awful person behind that door.

This was the situation of the most recent rescue Jenny and John were involved in--that we helped gather up the llamas from. I won't go into specifics but the gentleman that relinquished the animals was devastated. His flock had gotten away from him and been breeding unsupervised or controlled so it started out with a low number of animals and blossomed over a very short period of time to a HUGE number of horses, goats, donkeys and llamas. It can happen so quickly when things change or people grow older. Again, not excusing, trying to explain the vast differences of what we deal with here. This would be one type of angle we work through.

On the other hand, what we also see more than anything is the need for people to find safe havens for their much loved creatures--who have often been part of their family or flock for a long time, that the owners want to place somewhere to live out the rest of their lives in peace. We also PURCHASE sheep that we adore--like Abigail( pictured) who is an older girl from the infamous McNair Romney flock. She tended to have twins and had issues that forced one to become a bottle lamb. The loved Abigail and wanted her to come here to retire--and she was pregnant so the outcome was THREE lovely sheep for our happy family when she had twins here with us.

Emma is another example of a need that is also part of the sanctuary aspect--she belonged to a person nearby who had a devastating medical diagnosis and was unable to care for her sheep. She sold her small flock to a freind but Emma was her favorite sheep so she asked if Emma could retire with us. It gave her peace of mind to know Emma would not be bred again (she was older and had lambing issues) and would be able to have a lifetime of peace and LOTS of grass to eat!

While we have our share of sad stories here, many of our critter family often just need a place to rest and have peace and fun the rest of their lives. We are lucky to have them, missing limbs and all. You can read much more about our sheep and how they arrived here on our meet the sheep pages on our site.

All this said (and I know, I am being wordy and writing a novella) I hope that if you know someone who has a life change involving their family of children OR critters, you will encourage them to ask for help--we truly understand that today's economy is a challenge in the worse sense of the word--how do you choose between feeding your family or your critters? I would NEVER want to make that choice and would be heartbroken to do so. Our vet and the humane officers think horses will be the most affected by this economy, mainly through benign neglect and a herd getting away from them through vet bills needed to keep them healthy. Please please keep places like ours in mind but remember too that we are a sanctuary on the fringes of rescue--helping where ever we are needed and giving our 'babies' a safe, happy place to live with us--spoiled and as our shearer keeps saying-- chubby.

This link will take you to a very fun, well written article about our Jenny--complete with some very fun pictures--be sure tovisit to get a take on 'rescue' and llamas from our Jenny!! Compassion for neglect is not what we want to encourage here, just some understanding of the varied issues involved in a rescue/sanctuary situation--they are all different just like each sheep is so different. Thank you for reading my rant--should be good for a while now!!! Any questions, please let us know--always happy to chat with you about our sheep!! Sandy Ryan

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Update--yey sheep!

The sheep were good little lambies and got their update done--well mostly anyway! Lots of yummy fiber from Jenny's llamas/alpacas; dyed wool, clouds, yarn and more! We have big news--the sheep and Jen's crew are launching Jordan Valley Mill Spun yarn! Wheee! It is a continuation of our farm's (and Jen's) philosophy of keeping the fiber animal friendly--and being spun locally by our favorite girls at Argyle Fiber Mill! Our first offering will kick off the line with sport weight sock yarn--all made up with Jen's alpaca/llama fiber. Too much fun, we also have DK weight and lots of variety at the mill so keep an eye on the new mill spun too! It will have a page of its own and hope to get it on the site by Wednesday (or sooner!). We hear there is a 'name the llama' contest that might be happening too! Skippity doo da day!!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Baby Mia (mine? I wish!!)

Ok, my sister and brother in law sent me pictures of Miss Macie Josephine!!! Oh my, she has grown SO much, how does that happen?? Here is her Halloween pumpkin outfit--she looks happy but like, hey, what are you two trying to DO to me? What about the image I have to portray???

She is getting unfolded--so tall, bet she will be tall, beautiful and wonderful. Lots to live up to--eek!

This is Kevin's dad--a proud grandpa who spent his visit singing to Macie and promising to come get her if mom and dad did not do everything she wanted them to--and I think he meant it--and she will remember too! Look out for Grandpa B!

More proud family--my mom and dad make great grandparents too! The pictures of them are when Miss Macie was only 4 hours old! Dad is already teaching Macie lots of 'fun', like raspberries and oh gees, who knows!

We are proud of our family--love them all and specially Miss Macie!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Update and vote vote vote!!!

Howdy do! This alpaca at Jenny's happy farm wants you to be sure to get out and vote today! This is such an historic election and every vote counts--EVERY SINGLE ONE!!

Next we have a fun update today so be sure to check it out! The sheep and everyone have already been out to vote (hee hee) and have been back to update the site--now they are off and running the far reaches of the pasture so I don't 'make' them work any more today! Nice sunny day with a nice breeze to keep them comfy. Yey!

Rescue update: The llamas are resting and EATING at Jenny's and our little sheep is doing the same. We are working on the areas on her that have items grown in, hoping to be able to remove them with the help of a nice sheepy vicodan! Hope by tomorrow. Please keep good thoughts for the rescue critters and appreciate all your good words! Cheers and thank you!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why DO we shear sheep???

A day in our life--been wondering where we have been?? Yesterday was off to 'save lives' at the llama farm with Jenny and a group of wonderful caring people. We started out at 10 am and had the 22 llamas out and settled in at Jenny's by 230. What a day --a rodeo. If you look at the llama picture, you can see Jen's llamas checking out the newbies and the one with burrs and ears back is one we brought home to Jenny's- he is not so sure he likes his new place--he will learn, he could not be in a better one.

When we pulled in, the first 'person' I saw was this sad little sheep--she was SO sad looking and it made me cry. The humane officer asked the guy surrendering the animals if I could take the sheep too. He agreed and we brought her home last night too. She is a Hampshire sheep, old and skin and bones--and looks like she might be pregnant. Argh.

She has arthritis or prior injuries that have her walking on her knees, has never been sheared--thus the upcoming statement about why sheep should be sheared and not left to fend for themselves. I don't rant often so don't read further if you disagree. Because she has never been sheared, she has crawly bugs (eeew) and just feels awful--parts of her fleece are so matted/felted that she can't move to walk properly. Her feet have also not been trimmed so are curled under and making her feet hurt. No hoof diseases as such but surely painful.

This is the poor girl only 1/3 sheared--with scissors and a good dose of sheepy vicodan too. Ross held her while I trimmed her. It was two hours to just get this far. Ugh. We used scissors instead of clippers so we could try to leave an inch or so of the under coat on her--too close to cold weather now for that.

And this is why we chose to use scissors. She has several 'items' grown into her skin that will need to be carefully removed. This 'item' is located on the very top of her back and measures about 6 inches long. We have to keep a balm on it to soften it up so we don't tear the skin when it is removed. Sad huh? There are several more 'items' we have found as we snipped--and after two hours, Ross and I let her sleep--put her to bed and gave her fresh hay, water and a little handful of grain.

She will have a rough time ahead, mainly of being patient while we get her trimmed up, treated for her problems and she will get to eat LOTS. We hope we are wrong and that she is not pregnant, if so, the mamas give all they have to their babies. Not good for either one in the long run. This is our little newby all tucked in (notice standing on her knees again) and ready for us 'kooks' to leave her alone. We checked on her every couple hours in the night and she did sleep comfortably and when we fed her this morning, she was up and stamping her foot at us, wanting us to leave her alone--very sassy and that is a good sign that we like to see.

Now for the soapbox. There are many organizations that will tell a person that sheep should be left to fend for themselves and NEVER be sheared--because it is 'cruel'??? Imagine never washing or cutting your own hair for the number of years this sheep (probably 8 years old) has not been sheared. You can see the issues and she is lucky that the flies did not do more damage to what she already had through the summers. Sheep have been domesticated and are not able to be turned loose and not have basic care. Feet, shearing and FEED are critically important. Shearing is NOT cruel, it is a short, painless process that protects the sheep from parasites and the heat in the summer.

I will agree with them that 'factory farming' is a horrid place for any animal, however, there are lots of people out there that take GOOD, well GREAT care of their sheep (and large animals) and would never think of the things found at factory farms (who give us all a bad image).

That said, I wish the groups would get on the boat that would not only bring forward the bad in farming, but also work and put those millions into programs that could improve the lives of animals too--and also publicize the people that DO good.

I am constantly amazed at the spirit of the animals on our farm, many who arrived in as poor shape as our latest, however badly they have been cared for, they still manage to carry hope and spirit--that just won't quit, almost never even as bad as things might be. How do they DO that? We hope that spirit will carry our new little sheep and let her heal--she will be able to be a pal to our oldest sheep Kelly as soon as we know her bug issues are cleared up. For now she will bunk in a stall in the llama barn. She is comfy, loved, cared for now and I hope she can put up with us! This is the ugly side of rescue work that people often are not aware of- but we love what we do here--it is our life and we adore the creatures we call family.

Thank you for listening--we will be updating the site today in between sheep clipping so keep an eye out.... off to visit the new girl and hug my other sheep.... they will help me get rid of the snarkies--promise!