Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fleece Samples

I just sent off fleece samples for micron testing.  And I will post again when that data comes back.  But for now, here are the fleeces that I will have available for sale this year.
All fleeces were coated, and come from purebred, Shetland ewes.  Last year's micron data on all but the lambs can be found on the "Fleece for Sale" page.  Prices will be posted after shearing and weighing the fleeces.
Black, lamb.

Moorit, lamb.

Black Katmoget (appears white), 2 year old.

Black, lamb.
Black Katmoget (silver), 4 year old.

White, 3 year old.
Moorit, 6 year old.
Black Gulmoget (frosty black), 4 year old.
Black, lamb.  (why this one photo is sideways is beyond me!)
White, 2 year old.

White, 4 year old.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dakota Carding & Wool

A sweet surprise came in the mail this week...
Kelly Knispel, owner of
sent me two sample bags from her mill.  She bought Sian and Hannah's fleeces from me last year.  She mixed Sian's black wool with black alpaca from Iowa and black kid mohair from her own farm to produce a lovely soft blend.  Hannah's fleece was carded with tussah silk and this turned out beautifully as well.  I feel so honored to see what these two fleeces became.
Thank you so much, Kelly!
Dakota Carding & Wool produces clouds, which I was unfamiliar with.  But the two large samples that I received are gorgeous and I have found them easy to spin on my spindle.  Easier for me than roving, actually.  Both samples were exceptionally clean as well. 
I'm so impressed with these blends, I recommend that you check out Kelly's link above and consider her mill for your next fleece processing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Familiar Sight

For anyone living on an old farmstead, barbed wire 'growing' out of tree trunks can be a familiar site. 
Or barbed wire randomly sticking up out of the ground where there is no memory of a fence.
Or barbed wire 'wreaths' hanging off decrepit, mossy fence posts that are rotting into the ground.

I find it interesting to envision the way this farm might have looked 70-some years ago when my Great Uncle was growing up here.  Back when all that barbed wire was functioning with purpose, and it was a matter of pride to have these acres fenced with it.  Gives me something to think about when I run across a new tangle of the spiky stuff.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Moving On With Spring

I always think of the first day that I let the sheep out of their winter paddock as the "first day of Spring."  The lake ice was gone on Monday...very early this year.  I finally got my lilacs, walnut & apple trees, rhubarb and garden spaces fenced in with electronet.  Leaving the girls with the entire run of the farm.

And run they did.  They spent the first 30 minutes of their freedom bouncing, skipping, and running from one end of the yard to the other.  Shachah even joined in the silliness.  But the minute the sheep got too close to his precious porch where his food dish resides he showed his fangs and growled.  No harm done...the younger sheep have to learn not to mess with him anyway.

It has been exactly one week since Pooja died, and I miss her.  While Shachah is an excellent guardian by himself, he and Pooja worked so well together.  It was Pooja that made sure the sheep didn't wander out of the yard and I was counting on her for just this moment in time when I let the flock roam without electronet.  Shachah stays with the sheep, but he doesn't mind if they wander down the driveway or powerline.  So I have to keep an eye out and call them back if they go too far. 

We have noticed how Shachah has picked up the slack this past week.  He used to sleep most of the day in his favorite spot by the sheep pen while Pooja kept watch.  They would switch roles at dusk.  But now Shachah is alert 'round the clock.  Yes, he naps, but not as soundly...and not in his cozy spot anymore.  So we are definitely looking for another LGD...for Shachah's sake as much as ours.  He deserves a good partner.  Please spread the word that we are interested in another LGD.

Megan was pretty excited when the sheep were released today, too.  Since I wouldn't let her round them up, she found her tennis ball and begged a few minutes of fetch.  She'll get her chance to herd this evening when the flock goes back into their pen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Lost Our Pooja

I will attempt to find words...because I don't want to face the task of trying to write about it tomorrow.  I need tomorrow to be a fresh day.

Since the early days Pooja has never once missed greeting us at the front door first thing in the morning.  In general, she considered the front porch the throne from which she surveyed her domain.  On warm sunny days she and Shachah would rest in the cool sand on the north side of the house.  Always she was in sight of her sheep and our family.

But this morning Pooja was nowhere to be found. 
Clancy and I both sensed something was very wrong.  She had been on the porch at bedtime the night before...and we knew she was not a dog to be distracted from her routine.

We could only imagine three scenarios:
1.  She fell through the rotten lake ice.
2.  She got caught in a trap, because there is a man that traps beaver in our immediate area.
3.  She got injured in a confrontation with a predator.

I was obligated to be in Bemidji most of the day.  I searched a bit in the morning and Clancy promised to search over his lunch hour.  I called a few neighbors just in case she had run off.

Clancy called me on my cell in the early afternoon to tell me he had found Pooja's body floating several yards off shore just north of our garden.  We don't know how or why, but sometime during the night she had fallen through the ice and was not able to escape.  We do know that Pooja never played in the water...and she had chased wolves across the lake earlier this we assume she charged some "threat" and met her end defending her precious yard.

I feel so devastated.  Aside from being just a pure sweetheart of a dog, Pooja was so valiant.  We got to see her 'in action' several times this winter.  She was truly a gentle and fearless warrior.  It does not seem fair that she should die in the prime of her life...and in such an awful way.  I know I have to make peace with this situation.  But at the moment, I am heartbroken.
12/1/06  -  3/22/12

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Early Spring

I can't remember such early warm weather.  In the 70's today.

There is only a little snow left on the ground...
in places it was piled up or in deep shady spots.

Pooja rolled in dead leaves before I took her picture.  Look at those monster-size paws of hers. 
She and Shachah chased a wolf out of the yard just a few weeks ago.  Love these guardians!

There is still ice on the lake, of course.  But probably not for long.  It froze so late this year.  And now it's already melting again.  Clancy will be cutting a couple of the huge birch trees by the shore in a few days.  They are completely dead on top and starting to drop dangerously large limbs.  Hopefully the saplings that spring up will one day replace their beautiful parents.

Megan has been spending more time outdoors now that it is warmer.  Unfortunately, the deer ticks are already out.  Time to start up the tick prevention ointment again.

While on my walk with Pooja & Meg, I noticed this Red-Tailed Hawk flying over the big hayfield.  Not the best photo... but so gorgeous in real life.

And finally... the ewes.  No lambing this spring.  But that just means that last year's lambs get to act like babies for another year.  Spoiled, selfish babies!  I started bringing out animal crackers in an effort to tame down Penelope (Lana's lamb).  She now gets close enough to sniff the cracker in my outstretched hand.  But about the time she is ready to nibble the other three ewe lambs are on top of her, each other, and the cracker!... playing "first piggy to the trough."  They are absolutely greedy over those crackers.  The photo above shows them fixated on the cookie jar through the fence.  I'm not sure if I'm taming Penelope or just training the other lambs to jump up on me.