Fitted Face Mask with Wool Filter

The mask thing wasn’t something I was eager to participate in. We are, after all quite isolated as it is. What use would we have for such a thing? But my grandparents asked if we could find them a few on Amazon and order them as they aren’t all that savvy when it comes to internet shopping. I looked on Amazon to see what they had…and wasn’t impressed. So I looked for an easy pattern to follow to make them some masks myself. We have a pretty slow internet connection, and not very much data, so we subscribe to YouTube to download videos in the early morning hours when we have a more generous streaming allowance. I found a pretty simple instructional that got me a basic mask but then I decided to add a pleat at the nose and the chin for more protection and better fit and I thought , why not use some wool? So I did! The result is a pretty stout little mask with a measure of air filtration sewn in. It is NOT hot by the way. One common misconception about wool is that it is hot, but truly some of the virtues of wool are that it is a great insulator to keep you warm when it is cold and it breathes very well to also keep you cool, other wise our sheep would die of heat stroke in the hot Texas sun.and the generation of mankind that only had clothes made from wool and had NO air conditioner would not have been able to wear it. It is also antimicrobial, antibacterial and naturally flame and moisture resistant. <https://skeinyarn.com/blogs/blog/34415044-10-wondrous-properties-of-wool&gt; So if you haven’t explored wool, there is no better time than now. And of course if you need some wool send me a message and I’ll let you know what I have in stock. Also if you’d like to order a mask from me, made as shown in the tutorial, I’ll try to make you one. I’m charging $12 for these but I have limited materials, thread and fabric choices and fabric stores are a bit slower and lower in inventory than normal. Send me a message and I’ll make as many as I can! Here is a link to my tutorial. This is my first attempt at making an instructional video with text and music. There is a little bit at the end where you can heal my 7yo doing school work 😉 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXaCHi38FZQ&gt;

Our First Calf

In these crazy times of ours there are still moments of beauty and amazement. I will try to catch up on all the fun and wonderful times we’ve been having on the farm even in the midst of this terrible pandemic. For now though, I wanted to make a special post announcing the arrival of our first calf this morning.

We now have a few years of lambing under our belt, but the prospect of bringing a new calf into our lives has been something that has brought us some uncertainty. The sheep have been so easy and we’ve never had to intervene. We have heard many stories of difficulties cows can have during birth.

Due to this we have been keeping a very close watch on Ada, the cow. We were pretty sure yesterday that calf day was very close. I checked on her several times and tried, without success, to keep the guardian dogs out of her pasture.

This morning we checked on her first thing, but no calf. We got the boys up, dressed, and began making breakfast. Before we ate I ran out for one more check. There, standing next to Ada, was her brand new baby boy! It was such an exciting moment we left the start of breakfast on the counter and everyone rushed out to see the new addituon to our farm.

He’s a big, strong British White calf whi, for now, is just as frindly and sweet as his momma.

 

Sybil delivered her first lamb!

Thursday morning when we got to the barn to let the sheep out for the day, to our delight we found that Sybil was beginning to deliver her first lamb. *graphic alert* Read More

2020 Lambing season is here

2020 First lamb
We’ve been watching the ewes carefully for the past two weeks as it became apparent the ladies were getting close to having their babies.
This morning we went to the barn to let them out to pasture. Hiding behind one of the ewes was a brand new baby lamb.
Momma and lamb
Upon closer inspection we discovered it was a girl and is Sparkle’s very first baby.
Sparkle is the oldest girl born on our farm, born on Christmas day, 2017. She is a very pretty lady with a beautiful long fleece.
This is also the first baby for the daddy, Ansel.
Now that lambing has officially begun, we’re expecting an exciting week to come.
If you’d like to help us name this little darling, please comment below (This year’s names will start with the letter “B”.
2020 First Lamb

Busted! I know what you were doing last night

Guardian Dogs

As we approached you two this morning we knew something was up. You both sat quietly at the gate with those “I’m sorry mommy” eyes. It didn’t take too much longer before we realized how you spent your evening.

Aside from your super innocent stares, everything looked normal around the barn. But as we got closer our noses betrayed you. I almost feel sorry for the skunk that you decided to play with last night, but these are not tears of sorrow. You STINK!!

If ever there was a case of chemical warfare on the farm it had to involve the pungent spray from a skunk. It’s not even possible to try to give you a dousing to remove the smell because our lungs try to shut down the closer we get to you.

It may take a day or two before we can even think of getting close to you, much less try to bathe that smell out of your thick fur. Until then, you can eat your dinner around the side of the barn.

 

Are We About to Add a Calf to the Farm?

When we first purchased our beautiful British White heifer we have been wondering if she was going to have a calf. The rancher we bought her from said that she had been exposed to a bull, but did not do any tests for pregnancy. He did say if she was indeed pregnant that she would probably give birth close to March.

We are almost to march and we’ve been watching her close. She has been an energetic lady since coming to the farm but for the last couple of weeks she has been a little less active and prone to finding a quite place to lay down. But even though she’s laid down, she has always jumped up when we approached looking for a treat.

Today we saw her lying down, but when we approached she didn’t get up. She just kind of looked at us with that look of determination that something is going on and she’s ready to take it on. She was so docile that she ven let our new little puppy play around and jump on her.

We’ve had plenty of lambs drop on the farm, but this will be a first calving experience. We hope she’s as good a momma as our ewes have been, but we’ll be here for her if she needs us. So the next two questions are:

  1. When will it be delivered
  2. Will it be a boy or a girl

January 2020 Update

I was going to title this entry “Winter Update” but as winter has yet to visit us for more than a day or two this past season, I simply decided to call it the January update.

There hasn’t been a lot of farm action going on the last couple of months outside of the normal, daily chores. Our big projects so far this Winter have been mostly home-front related. Our son loves the tree-house we built him, even though it still lacks a roof.

Our current farm project involves getting the barn ready for Spring lambs. It’s hard to say exactly how many of the ewes are pregnant this year because due to the mild weather there has been a pretty steady supply of grass. A few of them look exceptionally round though so we do expect a certain number of lambs. The wood floor has worked so well for our sheep that we’ve decided to finish the other side of the barn the same way except for the addition of separate lambing pens.

I was somewhat concerned that we would not have enough time to get the floor and pens in while also designing a way to keep the pens warm, but so far this winter that doesn’t seem to be a problem we need to solve right away.

Our British White cow may be expecting, but again, this is a first experience for us. We were told when we purchased her that she had been exposed to a bull and that it was likely she was pregnant. She does seem a bit rounder in the belly than when we bought her, but again, there has been plenty to eat and we have nothing in our experience to tell us what a pregnant cow should look like at this stage. We’re not all that concerned, but we are making sure she gets plenty of food, water and minerals just in case.

In fact, the other day I was walking around the farm and for a split second I thought there was a calf standing next to her. In reality, what was standing next to her was our #2 livestock guarding dog. He is getting incredibly huge and his feet still seem bigger than his body so I have a feeling he is not yet done growing!

Other than that, right now there isn’t a lot to report on the farm. We do have some seedlings growing in the garage for our Spring garden, so look for our garden updates pretty soon!

Saying goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020

We want to thank all of you for a wonderful 2019 and wish you a very happy New Year!

There were so many firsts for us in 2019 and we have learned much from each one of them. The festivals we attended for our very first time introduced us to a wonderful culture of friendly, talented folks. We didn’t meet our financial goals with the festivals, but we believe the advice, encouragement, and insight we truly believe we’ll have better experiences next year.

One thing that I believe I forgot to mention though is that we did SELL OUT of all of our wool inventory this year. Although our festival  sales were lower than we anticipated, an online customer purchased one of our last fleeces. She was so impressed with it that she contacted us to buy all of our remaining inventory!

We hope to have our next batch of wool from the mill in time to start off our first 2020 festival strong. In the mean time, we do still have many hand-spinning drop spindles as well as a few jewelry sets and crochet sheep remaining.

We look forward to sharing our 2020 experiences as well as reading about yours.

 

Our Farm Fall Colors of 2019

Fall Trees

Yes, we’re almost into the throws of Winter, but for the past month it’s been difficult to tell from the beautiful weather we’ve been having. It’s been a little on the cold side (for us) the last couple of days, but for the last couple of weeks we’ve really had a wonderful fall. I wasn’t quite sure that would be the case after our very cold snap at the end of October and into November. I thought for sure we were in for a long, cold winter, but it has actually been very beautiful.

Perhaps it was that early cold spell we had, but we experienced some really pretty colors in the trees during the month of November. Now the colors here are nothing that even come close to the Northeast, but for around here it was a welcome change. It is more typical for our trees here to go from green to brown to bare in just a matter of a week or two so the colors really invited us to take a walk in our woods.

It was the end of November before we got a chance to stroll under the canopy and I do believe it was the first time we’ve been out there together as a family since last Spring. The woods aren’t a great place to venture into once the poison ivy and snakes come out so we always look forward to the winter months when we can better enjoy the other half of our little piece of heaven.

One thing was certainly different about our first Fall visit to the woods though. In years past we typically received quite a bit of rain and the creek would run making the sight even more breathtaking. Unfortunately we are still suffering drought and our creek had little more than a few puddles here and there. No rushing waterfalls or gurgling stream this year.

Even so, the woods are still a pretty magical place to visit. We do have a couple of paths that we cleared out a couple of years ago, but without regular maintenance nature tries to take over pretty quickly. I do hope some day to have the time (and equipment) needed to make really nice walking paths. When we do get the typical heavy Fall rains, a large portion of our woods does flood and those floods bring plenty of fallen trees and trash from upstream which can add more work to keeping a clear trail year-round.

The lack of rain aside, our walk in the woods was rewarding and reinvigorating after so many months spent working feverishly to get ready for the Kid-N-Ewe festival. When I was living in the city, I really didn’t like Fall and Winter all that much because the sparse landscaped trees just looked sad and lonely. Now that we have our own forest to explore during the cooler months, I have grown a new appreciation for the beauty of the season.

There really is quite a bit of life going on in the forest this time of year and most of it goes unnoticed during the Spring and Summer when the leaves mask and hide everything around them, including the sun and sky. During this time of year you can see where all the birds had been nesting and the plants on the forest floor reach for the light that has been shuddered the rest of the year. We don’t see a lot of wildlife in our woods, mostly I believe due to our big, loud dogs that  probably scare most things worth seeing away. But in the damp soil many more footprints and tracks are visible with the aid of extra sunlight. It’s fun to see the tracks of raccoons and deer (and of course coyote and wild hogs). This lets us know that are woods are not void of wildlife as it may seem sometimes.

I’ll now share a few pictures from around our farm and woods so you too can experience, in part, what we’ve enjoyed so much this Fall.

Our 2019 Kid N Ewe Experience

2019 Kid N Ewe Booth

A week has flown by since we attended our first Kid-N-Ewe event as a vendor. We definitely learned quite a bit from our experience, but most of all we really enjoyed our weekend at the Kerrville Festival. The location was inside a wonderful event center which we were very grateful for this since Central Texas had just received a cold blast of winter weather. Had this been an outdoor festival I am certain our experience would not have been so pleasant.

Cabin ViewOutside the festival, we chose as our accommodations, the Kerr-Schreiner Park. It is a beautiful park located along the Guadalupe River, just across from the festival site. We had originally planned for a tent site, but the week before the event the weather took a sudden turn for the worse. Thankfully the park still had a couple of their small cabins available for rent. The price was a little higher than we had planned for and it did end up cutting into our profits, but we could not have been able to make it through the weekend in a tent. The cabin was cozy and came equipped with bunk beds and a heater which was much needed. We were able to enjoy the beautiful Fall colors just outside our cabin during the cool, sunny mornings. Once we ate our breakfast it was a quick ten minute drive to the festival.

We arrived at the event late Friday morning, a few hours later than we had planned. Most of the vendors were already set up so it was pretty easy for us to find our spot. We made quick work of getting everything set up and were putting the finishing touches on it just as customers began to arrive at the show. The display shelves we built turned out beautiful and really helped set the mood we were shooting for.

Classes

Not only did we spend the weekend meeting and talking to a great number of wonderful customers and fellow vendors, but we also took a couple of classes to improve our own skills. Our 7 year old took a soap felting class and learned how to felt wool around a bar of soap. I think he really enjoyed that and he may very well begin adding a new product to our selection. I took a Navajo Tapestry weaving class and learned the basic fundamentals of weaving. Weaving has been something I’ve been interested in for quite some time and I was thankful to be able to learn the basics in this class. There’s not a lot of time in my busy schedule, but I had so much fun with the process that I hope to make it a regular evening activity. For some reason I didn’t take a picture of either of these items, but I will try to do so and update this article with them soon.

Competition

Crochet VestThe Kid-N-Ewe Festival put on a competitive event for the vendors to enter clothing and accessory items they have made this year. My wonderfully talented wife entered the gorgeous vest she made. The wool is all from  our very own sheep and she meticulously hand-spun every bit of it to crochet this beautiful vest. Apparently the judges agreed with our own assessment and her entry won first place for the crochet category! All of the other entries were wonderful works of love and each one of them received public recognition for their dedication to quality clothing. I am so very proud of my wife, not just for having won the competition, but for her determination to make this vest completely from scratch.

Conclusion

When the festival came to a close, we packed up our goods and headed home. When we did our final accounting, we unfortunately didn’t reach our financial goals and barely broke even from our expenses. Even so, the event was a wonderful experience and the people we met and things we learned were well worth the effort. We were asked if we would return to the event as vendors again next year, and we haven’t quite decided yet. There are some other great events coming up in 2020 and we definitely plan to attend those. We’ll just have to see if we can keep up our production enough to support the number of shows we want to attend.

I do know that all of the vendors at this year’s Kid-N-Ewe were top notch and we definitely have to step up parts of our game to set ourselves apart. We have faith in our wonderful wool and feel it is just a matter of time before we are able to cross the line into profitability at these festivals.

I want also to take a final moment to thank each and every person that stopped by our booth. Not everyone purchased a Whirl’d Works Farm item, but each and every one of them helped to make us feel welcome in the wool marketplace and shared their time and some wonderful stories with us. This is not something that you can put a price tag on and we were very thankful to be a part of the 2019 Kid-N-Ewe Fiber Festival.

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