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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daisy's Lamb

Daisy, our 1/2 Cormo and 1/2 Shetland ewe, had her lamb this morning. She is a sweet black ewe lamb with some splashes of white on her head.

She is 25% Cormo and 75% Shetland and she should have a fabulous fleece if her parents are any indication! I was thinking she might end up white, but a black lamb helps figure out her mothers genetics and you can't have too much black wool.

Mother Daughter portrait. I'm thinking she should have a flower name, like her mother. Prim(-ula), Violet, Lily? I need to research black flowers..... Two ewes left to go....

 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Still waiting on lambs.....I strongly suspect Gaia could go today based on her behavior. It is rather drizzly and grey out today.

Lila made these sweet roll creations at her friends house yesterday. The egg is baked right along with the pastry and it was quite good. We had them for breakfast this morning.

These are the eggs we colored yesterday. They always turn out a little "off color" because we use the eggs from our flock of which very few are white; these were cream, pale brown and blue-green.

I'm hoping the rain will stop soon...need to clean out some bunny cages and it is much more fun in the sunshine! Today Will is also boiling down sap and adding rainwater to the mix takes it a little longer! Someday we will have a roof over the evaporator. :)

 

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maya's Lamb

Today Maya gave birth to a strapping ram lamb with big horn buds. He looks to be a black gulmoget. He is very cute but I'm not sure he has quite got the hang of nursing yet....every time he lays down his mother tries to get him up and push him to her udder, but he doesn't look skinny at all so maybe she is just anxious!

Fortunately it isn't snowing and it isn't too cold.

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lamb Watch!

This is the week.....Maya is due tomorrow (based on an observed breeding), and Elle, Gaia and Daisy were put in with Mull at a back date which puts them due anytime from this week forward.  Gaia looks ready to pop and her udder grows noticeably bigger by the day.  Who will go first?  Maya or Gaia (They rhyme.). They are all definitely pregnant....we tipped Daisy to trim her toes and around her udder (she is half Cormo and REALLY wooly, hence the need for a trim) and she is bagging up too!  Oh dear...I have meetings away the next two days so I'm hoping they can hold off until Friday.  Not to mention we are back in the single digits tonight, with even more snow due Thursday.  This feels like the longest winter ever...but lambing presses on.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Spring" Project

From April through the end of September, the Erickson Center for the Arts in Curtis is running an exhibit called "Americana Medley" which features metal working, basket weaving, quilting, spinning, metal and textile weaving. I offered to house my Harrisville floor loom there for the exhibit and to weave on it throughout the summer.

This means I needed to come up with a project. I was originally thinking lace woven table runners but when push came to shove I hadn't ordered the materials in time to get the loom up and going. I remembered I had 3.25 pounds of Polwarth wool and silk sport weight yarn so decided to weave a couple of shawls.

But what colors? When in doubt, choose your favorites! I hand dyed seven skeins of yarn- five in varying shades of green and two in shades of blue and purple. My original idea was to use the green as the warp and then weave one shawl with green also as the weft and one shawl using the blue and purple as the weft. The day I dyed was a sunny, albeit cold, day so the first drying leg was on the deck.

Since I am a beginning weaver (though I've owned this loom for about five years!), I still need help in the mysterious ritual of warping. My friend Jane, who is a remarkable woman on many fronts, came over to help wind the warp and to dress the loom. We managed to wind the warp on and only break three ends! We took turns threading the heddles (and fixing a buggered up patch of mis-threading which meant adding 14 temporary heddles-thank the gods you can cheat!) and the warp is all wound on.

I'm excited about the greens....it looks like fine strands of kelp when looking at it in the right light. I'm not so sure about using the purple and blue yarn as weft though....it sounded good at first with all the jewel tones but I can't imagine what it will really look like so I will weave a sample. If I don't like it I just need to dye one more skein of the green in order to weave two shawls in the "solid" green shade.

The pattern is going to be a Bronson Lace, so it will be a light open weave. I'm excited to get going on it!

Yesterday I had breakfast at the Sweetwater Cafe in Marquette after an overnight meeting. This was the first time I'd eaten there and I arrived a half an hour earlier than the rest of the party. I'm normally not someone who is comfortable sitting alone in a restaurant but I had my knitting, needed caffeine, and I hate hotel rooms so I headed over. I was DELIGHTED I had done this because I was able to savor the decor without distraction for a whole half hour sipping tea. The cafe features a revolving weaving exhibit every six months from the local Marquette Yarnwinders Fiber Guild. I love the peace flags and it would be a great project using weaving samples.

 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lamb and Weather updates

Well things are beginning to look up for us in the EUP.  We've had a couple of days that have hit fifty and the snow is rotting.  The ducks are having the time of their lives in all the puddles and mud!  The downside is you can't walk anywhere in the yard without snowshoes, and the aged and senile Waters has had to be rescued a couple of times when he has walked off the trodden path.


Kim and her sweet brother are doing very well!  They are bouncing around and giving their mother fits.

 As you can see, Kim is growing quite well.  The sock sweater used to fit all the way down to her rump, and the leg holes had to be enlarged.  This was the last day she wore her sweater; I felt with the nasty storm we were getting she would benefit by wearing it but she doesn't need it anymore.

This guy is a serious sweetheart.  He bounds over for pats, while Kim needs to be coaxed over.

 Bouncing and pats take a lot out of a lamb so there must be recharge time.

This is Soay; she was one of Deja's twin lambs from last year (not the bottle fed one).  
She was always very shy but you could tell she wanted to be patted really.  This past weekend she finally, finally let me scratch her brisket and chin....and then she couldn't get enough!  Both she and her sister Eigg are miniature versions of their Shaela dam.  I almost sold Soay last year, but something told me to hang on to her and I'm glad I did because she has a fabulous fleece!  And a winning smile too.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A day out on the Big Town

We thought perhaps we should spend one day away from home during the kids spring break, and at their request, after doing our farm chores and the neighbors farm chores (which were made more complicated by the escaping of three cows into the barn interior where they processed to cover every surface with cow shit and eat all the grain) headed out to the children's museum in Marquette where they spent a couple of hours running around like banshees. The second kid treat of the day was the movie "Peabody and Sherman" which was pretty decent, though wouldn't have me running out to watch it a second time.

My favorite part of the day was lunch! We ate at "the Wild Rover", an Irish styled pub. I had a plate of Scotch eggs (which I shared with my family and in thought with John Gray), Poutine with fried cheese curds, and a pint of Guinness. Eight hours later and I'm still stuffed. Home again just as the last bit of light was leaving the sky. Kids are in bed and Will and I may settle down with a glass of Elderberry/plum wine a neighbor traded us for eggs. It is rather puckery but tasty!

Tomorrow onward to the Erickson Center for the Arts where I am helping set up a display of American Folk Art- my Harrisford four shaft loom is there and Jane and I have been dressing her in readiness for some shawl weaving I will be doing here and there throughout the summer. I will post some photos of the warp we put on the loom....it is polwath & silk and I hand painted it in shades of green.

 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Getting bigger (and deeper)

It snowed another eight inches the past couple of days; heavy wet heart breaking snow. We lost power just before going to bed last night and so I relearned how to play cribbage with Will over a bottle of wine, after Will filled every large vessel with snow to melt because we didn't think to fill up the myriad of water jugs we have. The power came back on sometime in the night and just when I got out of bed at five-ish in the morning, flickered off again. The kids had breakfast by candle light and around 9:00 the lights came back on. I was able to head out to the office after Will snow blowed the driveway and it did melt a bit during the day, though not all of the new stuff went away.

Poor Kim and her big brother still are locked away with their mum, but they should be able to be out in the sun and snow this weekend.

Kim is going to outgrow that sweater in a few days! She is nibbling on hay and nursing well.

She loves laying her head on her big brothers neck. He is adorable and they both have magnificent fleeces. I think Karen will be pleased to have them in her flock (I'll take Kim if she isn't!). Kashmir will stay here with us.

Muckle Mull, the escapee ram, went to the vets Thursday to be relieved of his "purse". I meant to take a picture of him lying in the back of the van but he was so meek and sad looking I forgot. Everyone at the vets office thought he was adorable (he was scared!) He is back in with his girls until he heals up and everyone will be rejoined after lambing at shearing time. He isn't talking to me just this moment for some reason.

 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Early Lambs

Doing chores I was surprised and dismayed to see that Kashmir had given birth this morning to two beautiful black lambs. Surprised because her due date is April 2nd, and dismayed because it was cold and snowing and windy. The smallest lamb I feared was dead, but when I picked her up she stirred a bit. I hastily tucked her under my shirt and Will, who is home from a nine day trip to NH, finished chores and blocked Kashmir and her larger ram lamb in the lambing jug.

I first gave the lamb to Duncan to hold while I readied a heating pad and they sat together for 20 minutes with just a faint stirring from the wee ewe lamb. I checked her mouth; ice cold and her flanks were still cold. Decided to run a sinkful of warm water and immerse her in it. I held her head out of the water and she soaked for a good 20 minutes until she started trying to get her legs under her. I hauled her out of the sink and into a towel and finally she started bleating. Ten minutes with a warm blow dryer she was looking for food! I mixed up a wee bit of colostrum powder with warm water and she took and ounce of that but was busy butting my chest looking for something better. Outside then to her mum who welcomed her with those sweet nickering noises ewes make for their lambs.

I will monitor her progress every couple of hours to make sure all is well, but she is up and nursing now so hopefully she will make it on her own.

Granny Aching would be proud of me. (If by some bizarre oversight you don't know who Granny Aching is, pick yourself up a copy of Terry Pratchett's "The Wee Free Men")

It must be spring.....lambs are arriving!

 

 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Beast Balm

I've been playing around in the kitchen again with natural oils, beeswax and herbs. My favorite moisturizing bar by far is the combination of coconut oil, shea butter, pure beeswax, and essential oils. I've dubbed these "luxury lotion bars", and these are available at my Etsy shop.

I had been given a salve of sorts that I decided I wanted to try and replicate, that was made only from olive oil and beeswax. I infused some pumice olive oil with calendula flowers to make a beautiful orange tinged oil with the properties of calendula flowers which are many: having all-around healing properties useful for a wide variety of skin irritations and conditions including wounds, insect bites, rashes, scrapes, abrasions, cuts, inflammations, and much more. Suitable for sensitive skin and babies. I then added pure beeswax to this oil to come up with a balm/salve that has the consistency of petroleum jelly, but without the nasty hydrocarbons!

This balm is suitable for both man and beast! It heals cracked paws, teats, hands and feet. Regular use helps heal and prevent chapping of skin exposed to sun, wind, water and dirt. My favorite thing about the salve is its moisturizing ability plus the beeswax helps keep the salve on your skin if your hands are in (non-soapy) water.

Calendula Beast Balm is available in my Etsy shop and is $5.50 for a two ounce double walled plastic jar that is safe to keep in the barn, your project bag, or diaper bag.

I will be using this on sheep udders this spring! April seems so far off right now.....