Friday, December 31, 2010
Bad, isn't it? Well, frankly dear Scarlett, I was tired of it and I did give a d**m! So, since it is the new year, and since hubby and his muscles were home, I made plans and tackled it. How long could it take? I put on a pot of beans and ham and started at 9:00 Thursday morning, went to bed exhausted and sore that night, and by noon Friday it was done. First, EVERYTHING got hauled out of the room. Where did all this stuff come from? The room isn't that big, but it had all been crammed in there somewhere. The rest of the house now looked horrible! Boxes and piles everywhere, the kitchen table was covered, and I was filling up trash bags in rapid succession. I knew it was bad when the 10 year old walked through the living room and said "Mom, I sure am glad the house doesn't look like this all the time!" It was almost overwhelming, but thank goodness for a husband that is patient. He stuck right by me and helped all he could. We did some re-arranging, threw a bunch of stuff away, and brought in the big work table from the storage building. Here is the progression:
And here is the final result, I have room to work and a space that I am proud of!
Now, with my neat, accessible work room, maybe I can get more accomplished! It sure was worth it. Maybe I should call it a "studio" instead of a work room!
Christmas break has been very busy. I worked like a crazy woman trying to finish knitted gifts. Stan has built a new shelter for the ram pasture. We also took new pictures of all the sheep in their full wool, and I hope to have them up on the Fiber Herd page attached to this blog up in the top, left corner.
Oh, and I almost forgot, I GOT A NEW SPINNING WHEEL!!! WHEEEEEEE!!!! I will post pictures and talk about how totally awesome and wonderful and amazing, and, and, and,....... well, you get the idea.
Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year's celebration. Make resolutions you can actually keep!
Friday, December 17, 2010
I hope after the holidays to begin spinning some more yarn. We sold many skeins of our handspun at the Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza, and a couple of personal friends purchased some treasures for their loved ones this week, so our yarn stock is running low. I am also planning to try my hand at dyeing sock yarn. I have seen some beautiful yarn on Etsy, and my ravenous desire to conquer all things crafts has begun tickling around in my head. I also plan not only to wash and process into roving, but to spin some of our own sheep fleeces this spring.
Since next week will be very busy, I doubt I will have time to post anything new. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and you are with the ones you love. Please remember to pray for our military personnel and their families, many of which are separated by half a world.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I would post a pic or two of the fiber fest, but the camera got left on the cabinet at home. I will share that my favorite part of the weekend was seeing all of the neat items people had made. I recognized several patterns that I have been looking at to make (in all my spare time), and got some great new ideas. I also wound up with a simply gorgeous curly brown Wensleydale fleece from Lowder Farms to play, AHEM, I mean, work, with after the first of the year. Thanks Mom! Also got to see all of the fiber-y friends I have made since beginning this adventure, and made a few more!
I borrowed Kate's picture - isn't it pretty?
Well, Big Mama, the world's fattest sheep, is honing her David Copperfield skills once again. Yesterday I found her in the calf pasture, remember, it is net wire fenced. So I pondered, then fussed at her, and wrastled (that is a southern word) her back in through the gate. I checked closely, but all I could find was some wool stuck in the bottom of the fence which goes all the way to the ground AND has barbed wire running along under it. Surely not! After work this morning, I took off to feed, and she was back in the calf pasture! I think I figured it out, though. She is using all that mass to her advantage. The gate looked a little strange, and I think she shoved against it until the gate hangers swiveled which allowed her to squeeze out between the gate and the post. Well, I fixed her! Gate hangers are firmly back in place, and the chain latch is shortened.
Well, everyone, even the dog, is snoring. Early to bed, early to rise - so off I go!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
We are gearing up for the Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza next weekend! You can check out the info on the fiber show at :
The retreat is being held at Mount Magazine State Park in their beautiful lodge this year. There are lots of classes to take and people to meet. And don't forget to come see me in my booth if you attend! Registration starts at 4:00 on Friday, with vendors opening from 5-8. The fun begins again at 8:00 Saturday morning and lasts until 6:00 in the evening. Lots of folks come out of curiosity, and others to share time with people who have the same interests.
Here are just some of the things we have been hard at work on:
(I didn't work hard on this, Sweet Pea, the sheep did, though!)
Kate has also been working hard to create several skeins of handspun lace weight yarn, and she will have tiny lace spindles, as well as our gorgeous hand made batts. I am really excited to set up the booth and see it all out instead of stored away in boxes.
I am also hoping for a few Boer goat babies early this spring, too. Rosie, our older nanny, looks like she could explode at any minute, but it is because she is part pig, not necessarily because she is expecting. I don't think we will have any Dorper sheep babies, as we did not have the Dorper ram very long before he escaped into the wool sheep pasture, and we found him a new home quickly. Hair sheep/wool sheep cross would be weird and hard to get rid of.
Speaking of escaping, the world's fattest sheep, named Big Mama for a reason, got out of a net wire fence twice last weekend. We could not figure it out! She is too heavy to jump, too fat to crawl under, so we sat on the front porch and watched after we put her up the second time. Low and behold she pulled what I thought was a David Copperfield and melt through the net wire! I thought we were going to be rich with our newly discovered "Magic Sheep", but when we got down to the spot, it turned out that we hadn't fastened the cross fence that creates their pasture to the longer pasture fence. She had learned she could lean against the long fence and squeeze between the two. Smart sheep, not so smart people. Oh well.
Hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
And this is Princess. She is a full blood Shetland. Like every other Shetland I have ever met, she is wild as can be. She seems to think that the nice lady that has brought her food, water, and hay every night for the last several months is still plotting to catch her and eat her! You can't tell it from the picture, but her fleece is laced with brown and black hairs, which makes for the most beautiful natural colored yarn when you spin it.
A crew from the natural gas company is in the area and they came through this morning clearing the gas line that runs the length of our property. As I sat here and typed, I could see the man with the can of bright yellow paint as he walked out the line and painted fence posts that crossed the it. When he got into the goat pasture, of course Oscar, our wethered Boer, had to come check out what was going on and see if he could be of any help. This big, gruff looking man stood and scratched Oscar under the chin for the longest. What is it about friendly animals that bring out the best in people? Oscar stuck to him like glue all the way up the fence line, and watched him as he left. That man will never know it, but he probably made a friend for life. Knowing Oscar, he will have a lasting reminder of his visit before the day is over. New yellow paint is too good to leave alone!
Friday, November 5, 2010
We got all of the sheep situated last weekend, which would have been much easier if we hadn't had so many different breeds! Miss Oliva, who is a Border Leicester/Shetland cross will likely be the first to lamb this spring. (insert a shocked face here!) Don't ask me how I know - ladies are not supposed to discuss such things! Here is a picture of her after she was sheared this last spring. Her fleece is sooooo very thick! It is like digging your fingers into brand new, really expensive carpet.
And here are a couple of pictures of the newest sheep. I couldn't get very good pics because they are still skittish and wouldn't stand still very long, so I will have to post the other two later. This one is Joseph, the registered Shetland ram. His wool is soft, soft, soft, and white when you part it. For some reason, though, he is a magnet for everything that could possibly get stuck in wool. Yesterday he showed up with what looked like a bundle of 18 inch long sticks wrapped all in the top of his neck. Turned out they were sticker bush limbs. I have the holes in my fingers to prove it! I don't know where he found those.
Here is Rose. She is gorgeous, and I am surprised I was able to get a picture of her. She is wildest one of the bunch. And, boy, can she move lightning fast. I thought we were never going to get her in the lot the first night so we could lock them up. Problem with sheep is, when one runs, the rest decide they should follow. So we would get all of them in, only to have her run out and the rest of the gang with her. Shetlands gets spooked so easy. We finally got them all in, and she is getting better.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
First, an update on Winston, the Wensleydale wether. He is filling out nicely. Winston is still a bit skittish of us, and will only let you touch him when he is eating. I really think the bath he got when we first brought him home scarred him and he is afraid to let us catch him now. His curls are fantastic!
And speaking of curls - Meet Sampson! He is a registered Cotswold Ram from Linda Blair in Oklahoma. He has beautiful curly locks that beg to be touched. I can't hardly wait for shearing time this spring. Hannah, the Cotswold cross will be his mate this year.
This is Liza, one of two registered Border Leicesters from Nancy Barnett's farm, Barakel Farm in Alton, Missouri. I love her sheep, and most of our farm is populated with ewes from her farm.
And this Jasmine. When we went to pick up the two Border Leicester girls, I saw her and fell in love with her fleece. I was going to ask about buying her fleece this spring, but Stan beat me to the punch, and bought me the whole sheep! She is a registered Shetland from Nancy Barnett.
And here is Big Mama! If you could see her compared to the rest of our sheep, you would know why she has her name. She LOVES to eat! She is also from Nancy's farm and is a Shetland/Border Leicester cross, like many of our others.
Here is baby Beau! I love this sweet little ram, and his ears just endear him more! He is a registered Border Leicester ram, again from Barakel Farms. He will grow up to be quite the looker. He won't be ready to use for breeding until next year.
This is the other Border Leicester ewe. Her name is Ava. She is a little darker than the other one, but equally as pretty!
We are off to Nancy's, again, this Friday to pick up some registered Shetlands. Did I mention that I just LOVE her sheep?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I can't hardly believe it has been 2 1/2 months since my last post! Being a stay at home mom certainly doesn't translate into being a lady of leisure. Now, more than ever, I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy. Downsizing our income has meant that some things require more time and labor, like hanging clothes on the line instead of throwing them in the dryer and cooking most everything from scratch. But, I sure am enjoying it! I get to come home in the morning after taking the kids to school and running my bus route and go out in the pastures with the livestock for a little while before I get the day's chores started. I also get to do laundry at 10 in the morning instead of 10 at night! And all those errands that would add up and take up the entire Saturday? Well, Saturdays get to be spent right here on the farm.
I also experimented with the spice, tumeric and got this deep yellow roving.
Mom picked some Hibiscus blossoms and I have some lichens in stewing right now creating more dyes. They take a while to develop the dye, so when I get done I will post some pictures.
I am also finishing up the processing of all the raw fleece that I ordered last year and from my own flock. It is very time consuming, but well worth the effort. I end up with the softest fiber that almost spins itself. There is Cotswold cross and Coopworth in the Etsy shop right now, with more here in my stash waiting to be worked up. We are also getting ready for the Arkansas Fiber Extravaganza at Mount Magazine State Park the first weekend in December.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Say "Hello" to our newest member of the farm. His name is Winston, and he is a Wensleydale wether. We purchased him from a friend who raises this breed, and my, does he have lovely fleece! He was just sheared (yes, she twisted my arm and I bought his lamb fleece, too!) and he is curly already:
We are very excited to have him come live with us. He has quickly become great friends with Smokey and the Bandit. Speaking of Smokey, he did a "no-no" and got into the chicken coop and ate all the chicken feed the other day. He ended up with quite the tummy ache and gave us a real scare. He is fine now, expecting his kisses as always.
Yeah, I know, you aren't supposed to be so friendly with rams, but how can I resist when he is soooo sweet? I can't wait until he and Naomi have little lambs this spring. She would come live in the house with me if Stan would let her! I will probably have to keep them if they are half as precious as their mom and dad!
Well, the kids are gearing up for school which starts next week. Permit me to gloat a little: Singing "I don't have to go-o!" I am so excited I can hardly stand it! God has blessed us so much by providing for me to stay home again. I have been busy already re-stocking the etsy shop since Fiber Christmas. I have been washing, combing and carding fleece, making rovings and batts, and running the kids to all the practices that are starting. It is nice to be able to do all those things that I used to do when I stayed home before. One of them is baking bread. In my opinion, nothing makes a house smell like home like fresh baked bread. (Except maybe chex mix at Christmas time!)
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 3/4 cup flour - more or less (white, or white and wheat mixed)
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp sugar
1 package yeast
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the water. Mix the shortening, sugar salt and the rest of the water. Start adding flour. Knead the dough until smooth. Cover and leave in a draft free location until it doubles in size. Punch it down and form it into a loaf and put it in your loaf pan, cover and let it rise until double. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes until it sounds hollow when it is tapped. Brush the top with butter to make a softer crust.
That's it! It costs about 27 cents a loaf in ingredients to make (I buy yeast in bulk). And it has WONDERFUL texture! I make it in the bread machine. I put the water and shortening in the bottom, then flour, sugar, salt and yeast and turn it on. I have added cinnamon, used half wheat flour, added garlic and Italian seasoning - it is such a versitile basic recipe!
Be watching for the big sweepstakes in the shop starting next week! I have been thinking hard on this one and am really excited about it! There are lots of new things in the shop, and mom has been working hard on the beaded plying thread.
It is used when you ply your yarn after spinning to make beaded yarn.
She is working on lots of colors and it will come in 100 yard lengths! Come see us!
Friday, August 6, 2010
Came home with lots of new stuff! Most importantly - I got a loom! It is a Kromski "Fiddle" and is 16" wide. I was pretty intimidated, but I am getting the hang of it now and will post pictures of my first project soon. Also bought some raw cashmere that I am going to dive into soon.
Speaking of projects, here is a little free advice for anyone dyeing fiber. I use acid dyes that are only SUPPOSED to react to protein when I dye fiber. That means that wool, silk, etc, will take the dye, but plant fibers such as bamboo and cotton will not. Says so right on the bottle. Well, I have now learned that unless the bottle specifically says it will not dye your favorite, irreplaceable, turquoise t-shirt from the Grand Canyon National Park, don't wear that particular shirt when you are dyeing fiber red. Or at least wear an apron. You can probably guess what happened, but just in case, here's the story, minus the howling that went along with it. As I rinsed the gorgeous deep red fiber I had just dyed, I looked down and saw a lovely splatter pattern that would have made any CSI agent's day, all across the front of my shirt. Fiber got dropped immediately, off came the shirt, and after an hour of scrubbing with every imaginable soap in the house and a two hour soak in borax laced water, I am proud to say that the shirt is back to normal. Whew.
Here are a couple of new batts that are now in the shop. We bought a Wensleydale whether while at Fiber Christmas, so be watching for locks from him soon. (No, he didn't travel home in the bathtub of the 5th wheel. We are going after him with the truck and trailer tonight!)
Leotards and Tutus:
As soon as I get the shop stocked back up, be watching for a big sweepstakes in the etsy shop!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
And the winner of the coffee cup cozy is:
So, Sarita, if you will pm me your address, I will get it out to you! Congratulations!
Been staying busy here on the farm. My husband and I are taking our wares to Fiber Christmas in July in Kelleyville, Oklahoma this weekend. I will get to see several of my fiber friends in person again! If you aren't doing anything and happen to be close, come see us!
Remember, watch for a big store sweepstakes coming next week. I will also be having more giveaways here and on our Facebook fan page soon!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Well, there it is. The thermometer on the back porch at noon yesterday. Folks, it has looked like that every day for over a week now! Remember when it looked like this:
Sure did seem like a long time ago!
Things are staying very busy here on the farm. With the weather so brutal, we are keeping a closer watch on the animals. The wool sheep are miserable - can you imagine wearing a wool coat in this weather? The cows are spending most of their time in the pond, jockeying for who gets the coolest spot under the dock. One huge benefit of this heat is that clothes dry oh so fast out on the line!
Do you ever want to start a project, but just can't figure out what to do? Maybe it is what color to paint a room, or what to bake, or what to knit. Well, I am there. The problem is that I already have so many projects started, that I almost feel guilty about beginning another. Almost being the key word there. I have two skeins of lace weight silk, so soft and shiny, that are just begging to be knit.
I am spending so much time thinking about it that they have moved from the yarn bin in the sewing room to the basket beside my chair in the living room. I have perused my knitter's encyclopedia several times imagining how the different stitch patterns would look in the two different colorways. I know, I know, lace weight yarn, it will take ump-teen rows to even create an inch of scarf, but it is SO PRETTY!!!
Speaking of pretty, I have a giveaway! This is a coffee cup cuff (like the cardboard ones from the coffee shop) that is made from yarn that I handspun. It is knitted in ribs, so it will stretch to fit pretty much any cup. The pic shows it on a meduim sized cup.
All you have to do to qualify is leave a comment for me! Also, I let my friend, Jan, of Little Paula Designs, talk me into a facebook fan page for the shop - the button is above. If you join that page, I will be having giveaway and contest announcements there, also. Be watching for a BIG giveaway in the shop during the month of August!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Then Molly got out. Goats can get out of any fence. They laugh at fences. They laugh harder at electric fences. Avery chased his goat down and man-handled (as much as a 10 year old boy can) her back in. At feeding time, Olivia, the new Shetland/BL lamb was out. I got a chance to put my shepherdess skills to the test. Open two gates and call, and here she came, easy as punch. Well, God has a funny way of dealing with the proud. We headed indoors and heard a bull "growling" as only a bull can. Sure enough, Stan's big black Angus bull was in the neighbor's pasture. Apparently he thought he needed to show their bull how things should be taken care of! Off through the waist high pasture Stan went to fetch him back. He is pretty gentle, but still, he IS a bull, so I was not real comfortable when Stan disappeared from sight behind a thicket of trees. Soon enough, here they came down the fence line.
"Lori, go get a bucket of feed and put out so he will come through the gate!" Now, I am not afraid of most animals, but friendly or not, he IS a bull. Feed in hand, I mustered up and threw some out in the feed lot. He just stood and looked at me from the other side. "Bring the bucket down here and let him sniff it!" Yeah, right. Stan has always been soooo careful of us around the bulls, that I figured I could trust him. Besides, he stood behind him with a pretty large tree limb that would have distracted the bull if he got frisky. Once the smell of feed reached him, through the fence gap he came, I trotted backwards towards the barn, and all is well. Stan and Avery are fixing fence as I type.
It is hot. So very hot. The Lord has blessed us with rain off and on for the last couple of days, but when it stops it just gets more humid. Fleece is taking forever to dry in this humidity!
On a blessed note...I will be a mostly stay at home mom again this fall!!! As wonderful as it was to be a teacher, I will get to concentrate on being a wife and mother again. I will still work a few hours a week at a part time job. It has been long time coming. The Lord had to work many miracles for this to happen, and He amazed us over and over! Look out, no telling what I will do with all my new spare time!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
We brought home our new ram from Missouri Saturday. He is a registereed Border Leicester and a pretty smokey color. Our other ram is a cotswold ram named Bandit.......anybody figuring out the music clue? Yep, that's right, we now have Smokey and the Bandit in our ram pasture!
Yeah, I know, corny, but it works for us. But wait, it gets even worse......we will probably be bringing home a white Border Leicester ram in the fall. His name will be Snowman............
The chickens have finally started laying! Nothing like farm fresh eggs (except maybe an ice cold Dr. Pepper from Sonic. Can you tell I am in caffine withdrawls?)
One of our baby chicks grew up to be a beautiful rooster. His name is Jet because of his color, such a classy guy, and he has finally figured out how to crow. He just doesn't have his timing right. He crows in the morning, and then all day long. Maybe it's a maturity thing.
The puppies are growing leaps and bounds. They have to be the dirtiest white dogs I have ever seen. Instead of Scarlett and Ginger, two very elegant ladies, they should have been named Thing One and Thing Two. Both can't drink water without putting at least their front feet in the water, and Scarlett usually gets all the way in and sits down to take a drink, then she goes for a roll in any available dirt. She is also an escape artist and NEVER stays in the sheep pasture like her sister. So much for being a sheep dog. She is asleep on the back porch right now as I type.
But with a face like this, can you imagine getting mad at her?
Been busy with fiber, too. I have been working on our own fleece, washing and carding. The cotswold is beautiful and strong and will make gorgeous socks, the shetland cross is soft, soft, soft. I can't wait to get some of it spun up. Here is some cotswold washed, carded and dyed. I love it!
We are praying for rain. After dumping on us all spring, it has turned off hot and dry. Did I say hot? How 'bout humid. You feel sticky just stepping outside. It is thundering right now.......please Lord, let it rain down.........
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
When it came out of the dyepot I couldn't believe the color saturation!
It has been a little cooler here in Arkansas the past couple of days. Cooler is a relative term. It was only 89 degrees yesterday, but it stayed cloudy which helped quite a bit. Better than the 100 degree heat we have seen for a large portion of June. Folks, it has been hot.
My favorite dorper sheep, Rachel, scared me yesterday morning. I looked out the front window into the pasture and she was laying flat out on the ground, away from the rest of the herd. She wasn't moving. I slipped on my shoes and took off down the front yard calling her name. Isabella the donkey started braying, and Rachel still didn't move. It had rained most of the night before, so I am wondering if she was out in it, got struck by a falling limb, who knows what? About the time I got to the fence, she raised her head up and lazily looked around - she had been napping! When she saw me she came to the fence and wanted to be loved on. Rachel was a rescue sheep from a lady that loved her animals, but had too many but not enough space for them. The reason she came home with us is because when I waded out among the herd, she came up to me and leaned on me and looked up at me with her big brown eyes. Who could resist such a plea? When we went back with the trailer the next day, she did the same thing, and has lived happily here at Sarah's Sheep Farm ever since. She loves saltine crackers and kisses on her nose. She closes her eyes when you scratch her under the chin. Any doubt as to why she is my favorite?
This was Rachel last year with one of her twin lambs.