Shearing and skirting done in 1 day!

Rainbow while we were sorting fleeces.

Whenever our shearers come I usually just focus on getting shearing done. But this year, there were people coming. People who wanted to watch and people who wanted help so..I updated the wool sorting table and made a second one.

I wanted them to fold up for easy storage and be big enough for for the whole fleece. So I took apart the existing wool sorting table that we had made several years ago and cut each piece of wood in half, length wise to make two tables and put hinges on them so they can fold together.

Table folded up.
Some view of folded wool sorting table.

And then I made another one.

Wool sorting table after assembling legs, upside down.
Kelsey at the wool sorting table.

They worked beautifully and with the help of our Fiber To Spin Exchange contact Kelsey we got all of the fleeces weighed skirted and bagged. What a blessing to have that all done in one day! And the sheep are white and clean and cool and lean for the summer.

We Have a Shearing Date!

We Have a Shearing Date!

Ah the time has come for sheep to get thier annual haircut.. they have grown beautiful fleeces for us and they are ready to give them up.

Its a win win transaction, they get relief from the heat and weight of thier fleeces and we get gorgeous light, silky, soft, springy wool to make yarn with.

For those who are waiting for fleeces and those that have expressed interest in coming to watch the shearing process; we have our shearing date. May 21st! Mark you calendars.

If the weather changes and if our shearers get behind schedule, this could change. But our shearing team (Right Choice Shearing) is pretty good about sticking to thier schedule.

If you’d like to come or you’d like a fleece please send us a message.

A gentle rooster

No it’s not an oxymoron. There are gentle roosters. Roosters that don’t attack you every time you enter thier space. We have two True Greens that are great. But unfortunately the free Lavender Orpington rooster we adopted got really aggressive once we put him with his hens. Someone suggested that it was because he was the only rooster in that coop but I’m not convinced. He is so aggressive that every single time we go in to fill the water or the food he tries to attack us. We have to use a stick to keep him back.

Lavendar Orpingtons, one Buff and one Australorp- mean rooster in front

Since we got the Lavender Orpingtons to raise and sell as multi purpose birds, we do need a rooster.

So we started looking for another rooster.

Through Craigslist we found a place called Forked Farms in Rogers that has English Orpingtons and they had a Lavender Orpington rooster we could buy.

We met the owner at her gate a handled the rooster a bit and he seemed fine.

-What we should have done though was inspect the roots of the feathers. But we didn’t.-

We noticed that evening that he had mites crawling on him and put some diatomaceous earth in a big bowl for him to bathe in. (Chickens like to take a dust bath in ashes which helps keep mites away)

Unfortunately a few days later we found him falling over and almost dead. Good thing we had him isolated. It’s always a good idea to keep new animals isolated at least 2 weeks before introducing them to your other animals.

We inspected him carefully and and found mites, fleas and some other bug crawling all over him. The mite eggs on his feather stems were so encrusted that some of them were two inches across!

So we mixed up some permetherin and sprayed him down really well.

We hand fed him meal worms and molasses water with a dropper as well as b12, every few hours.

After two days he was looking a little better but he had this gross mucus in his beak. So we started him on penicillin g injections to treat the infection.

He is still a bit light on his feet but he is standing and pecking and eating and drinking on his own. I’m not thrilled with the price I paid for such a sick rooster. But if he makes it, hopefully it will all be worth it! Would I recommend Forked Farms…I would say yes (she did communicate with me some) but inspect your birds very carefully *first*, all the way down to the roots of the feathers. I would NOT recommend using diatomaceous earth to treat an infestation. It didn’t work for us, that’s for sure.

Smokey the English Orpington from Forked Farms

Spring business on the farm

It has been an incredibly busy spring on the farm. We have had 5 of our ewes lamb. Giving us THREE sets of twins and a total of 8 little lambs and of those 8 only two were ram lambs. They have all done great accept that one of our older ewes, that’s never had twins before, rejected one of her twins. Thankfully there was a lovely woman that came driving from 3 hours away to rescue and bottle feed our little guy just before the winter storm hit. I was very thankful not to have a bottle baby to feed.

Our next spring venture was finishing the garden beds in our food garden. We had fenced in a 30′ x 50′ area several years ago and never finished all of the garden beds. So we worked daily with the help of everyone in the family and even a nephew, to get it done. We then planned out where to plant everything using companion planting reccomendations, recorded where everything was planted and began watering every day. It looks like most everything has come up. We are hopeful that insects and gophers won’t devour it lol.

Panoramic of the garden 4-2021

Another exciting thing that happened this spring was that we had a Veterinary Student come help us out for a week. It really was such a blessing to have the help and really fun to share our farm with someone who loves animals as much as we do. She also helped us figure out a solution for one of our over enthusiastic dogs. She suggested a training collar. It has a vibrate and beep setting and although it has a electric shock option we didn’t install that feature. It has been working very well to keep our Aussie from nipping and biting our sheep. I highly recommend!

And finally we acquired some rex rabbits and bred them. Now we have these tiny little bunny wabbits that we just adore!

2 wk old bunnies from Betty bunny 4-2021

Now we are getting ready for the Texas Yarn Festival at Blue Mule Winery in Fayetteville TX on April 24th. We won’t have new fleeces yet but we’ll have some roving and some handspun yarn, crocheted items and other goodies. We hope to see you there!

Heart quilt

I bought the pink colored fabrics for this quilt probably about …12 years ago.

At the time, I had planned to make a few potholders to give away or maybe a small quilt. I cut out squares and hearts and sewed….one… heart onto a square using the blind stitch and put it down…for… 12 years!

In December I built (with help) a chicken coop and crocheted almost non stop. And on top of hoisting (square) bales of hay and lifting, diapering and dressing a two year old, I ended up with tendinitis in my right thumb AND my left elbow…soo I had to find a project that I could do, without further straining those.

I started looking at an applique quilt pattern that I bought last year to make a farm themed quilt. Since Valentines Day was coming up I decided to make some heart quilts, using the applique method described in the pattern, to get some practice in, before doing the big farm quilt project.

First I made one for my living room that suits my current decor and it turned out really nice!

So..I went ahead and finally finished what I had started 12 years ago. I think the applique method is much easier and much less painful on the fingers than hand stitching and it turned our beautiful.

I bought the red and white floral and the white fabric to go with the fabric I already had cut, and designed, put together, and quilted the whole thing on my very plain, no bells or whistles, Singer sewing machine.

I did have to redo some of the quilting a few times and it is still not perfect, but I’m very happy with it and I think it will make a great baby quilt or wall hanging.

I am offering it for sale on our Whirld Works Wares page. I only wish I had made it 4 years ago when my baby girl cousin was born in February! It will make some baby very happy!

Farm Chores in the cold

I just finished up doing the farm chores in this uncharacteristicly cold central Texas weather and I did manage to keep *most* of my body from freezing. I found it interesting, however…the animals aren’t cold …at…all.

God gave them everything they need, to stay warm, growing right on their backs; feathers, fur and wool. And I am thankful that they share it with me. I guess since humans are given higher intelligence, we have to use it, to find ways to stay warm, to forage, or work for our needs, otherwise we’d use our ‘higher intelligence’ to make war and otherwise get into trouble (oh wait we do that anyway don’t we?). But He still gives US everything we need too, we just have to use what we’ve been given, to aquire it.. I mean animals have it good in some ways, we might even say, they have better.

But God said that He made US in his image and from what I understand, that means we get to experience things that animals do not; like intimacy, engineering, planning, and opportunities to grow,… our character and our souls..

Stay warm! And thank an animal if you are using something they grew, on thier backs, to keep you warm. And take every chance you get to grow… your… soul. ❄

Plumbing the Fields

When we first brought sheep to our farm we had fenced in a part of the hay field to create a safe and limited pasture for them. As our flock grew we fenced in more of the hay field so that we could move the flock occasionally giving each field a time of rest. As happens on a farm like ours, our flock continued to grow and we also added a cow and two donkeys to the fold. Ultimately we fenced in about 75% of our hay field to create 4 individual pastures to rotate our animals through.

Beyond good grass, there is one important item every animal needs and that is fresh, clean water. We have two rain collection tanks at the barn to provide the water to our animals. When there was only one field there wasn’t much of an issue as we could use a small hose to fill their trough. It became a little more challenging when we expanded to two fields and further still by the time we had four fields. Each field has a trough that must be filled each day.

For the past couple of years we have run about 300 feet of hose with diversion valves in order to get the water to each field. This worked pretty well the first year, but the relentless Texas sun dries them out over time and we began spending quite a bit of money on replacing hoses as they failed. Anyone who has priced a hose these days will agree that the price for a good 100 foot hose has risen considerably. We decided it was time to do something different.

The past two weekends we tackled the project of replacing those hoses with buried PVC pipes. The long run from the barn to the furthest point was about 250 feet. We planned this project for November because the temperature is typically cooler and the ground softer after Fall rains. Unfortunately we have been experiencing an incredibly dry Fall this year and the ground was the consistency of dried out play-dough. That is once we broke through the hard crust on the surface.

We don’t have trenching equipment and none could be found for rent anywhere nearby so we had to break through the surface crust with a pick-axe the entire 250 feet. To their credit, our oldest son and 8 year old both took their turns breaking the top crust along the fence line. I’m pretty sure it would have been a three weekend project had it not been for their tremendous effort.

I followed that long furrow with my cultivator to dig down a shallow trench about 4-5 inches deep. Once the trench was completed we glued and laid the pipe in the ground and installed the risers and valves that would bring the water to each trough.

When the glue dried it was time to test the system and thankfully within a few seconds of turning on the tank valve water flowed from each riser!

The Pumpkin Patch

This year we did not plant pumpkins at all. We planted tomatoes, butternut and acorn squash, black eyed peas, brussel sprouts, kale, celery, jalapeno and bell peppers, basil and cucumbers (which the gophers really, really liked). We also enjoyed some wild plums and dewberries, wild grapes, which we made into jelly and even wine, and some blueberries and blackberries that are still growing in the garden.

But we did not plant pumpkins.

Some of the best things in life are not planned, or even wanted at first, and yet if we let them, just let them be and help them, help them along, they can become the most treasured.

I often feed the chickens spoiled things and the melon and squash seeds, it must have been from that, that this pumpkin plant began, all on it’s own, just outside the chicken run that wraps around our vegetable garden. It began pretty late , sometime in July if I remember correctly, and so we didn’t expect it to produce many, if any pumpkins, before it got too hot in the summer. But I was watering the vegetable garden with a sprinkler that sprayed a wide area in the garden and some outside of the garden and the pumpkin plant thrived. All-summer-long and even into the fall too. We canned a-lot of pumpkin back in late summer when we thought we were nearing the end of our pumpkin harvest and there was no room in the kitchen for anything else. (note: pumpkin/squash must be canned with a pressure canner)

We found a delicious honey pumpkin pie recipe, that you can find <here>, that is a-maz-ingly delicious, to use up some of our pumpkin. We also have an old favorite pumpkin soup recipe that we are looking forward to having again. Today I am making a Pumpkin Bundt Cake which we have not tried yet, for my Oldest sons birthday. He absolutely loves pumpkin anything, as do I, so we are looking forward to tasting this new recipe that we found <here>.

Since it is my oldest sons birthday today and pumpkin is his favorite vegetable, and since I noticed today that there were an abundance of pumpkins still growing on the vine. I decided to ask Liam to pick the rest of the pumpkins that were on the vine, and had a little orange on them. I told him I’d give him a “coin” for each pumpkin he picked.

He found enough for Joey to have one for each year he has been alive (29) and one to spare!

From one pumpkin plant!

We probably canned close to that many a few months ago, from the same plant!

Pumpkins can be left on the vine to ripen further, but once they begin to turn orange, they don’t get any larger and, if picked, can be saved from gophers, bugs and the elements, and they will complete the ripening process on their own. You see the nutrients that it has stored up in its stem continue to feed it for the remainder of the ripening process. The nutrients from the main tap root that were delivered to the pumpkin stem by the vine. This got me to thinking about how, like pumpkins, we are effected and changed, by our experiences, our friends, the shows we watch and the books we read, even the pictures we look at and the voices that we listen to, long after we have severed ties, turned off the movie, or closed the book.

It really matters what we give our attention to, it effects our attitudes, our perception of others, and ourselves, the way we treat others and so much more. I want to be careful who and what I tap into and give my attention to. I want to be careful and intentional about what I absorb, to be sure it will effect me in ways that help me become the person I want to be, and nothing else.

It also got me thinking about how grateful that I am for the people who have plugged into me, who have invested in me, cared about me and just been my friend. People who effect me in ways that help me become a better person, the kind of person I want to be.

It also got me to thinking how thankful that I am for Joey. You see Joey was unexpected too an unexpected surprise, when I was only 15. I am so thankful for the friends that encouraged me, plugged into me and helped me to carry him and give him life. I am thankful for all of the friends that helped me to be a better mother to him and all of the those that followed. I am thankful for Joey, he is a true treasure to me. I am thankful for his wisdom, his tender spirit and how he was taught me to be more considerate and understanding. I am thankful for all of the help that Joey is to me, with his younger brothers and all of the things on the farm right now, while he is living with us.

And I am thankful for abundant and overflowing pumpkins! Especially on his birthday!

The Unspoken Code

“Wherever you are at this time in your life, do your best, give it your all, do it with your whole heart, be brave, courageous, strong, and be at peace. And if you find yourself discontent ask yourself why. You may, like me, be surprised to see how shallow the reason for your discontent is,… or maybe not. And then press on, in the direction that is best for this time, and in this season of life.”

If I told you that I believed that a married woman should stay home and take care of her family, and her family’s affairs, see to the children (if she as any) and manage the home; you might call me antiquated, old fashioned or maybe even sexist, or bigoted.

I believe nothing of the sort. However, I do believe there are great benefits, to a woman and her family, who lives this way under the right circumstances.

If I told you that I believe that women should work and have fulfilling careers. Because they owe it to the women who fought for equality and the right to vote and the right to an education, to be there in the work place, to show what women can do. That a woman should never depend on a man to take care of her and that staying home and not working is an offense to all women everywhere. You might call me progressive, modern, sexist, power hungry, selfish or strong, and courageous.

I don’t believe this. However, I do believe that there are great benefits to women, their families, the work place and society as a whole, under the right circumstances, to having women in the work place.

But did you know there is an unspoken, or maybe loudly spoken of at times, code? I realized this morning as I was considering our pastors’ sermon on ‘What is Your Cross?’ He asked “What do you hold high and lifted up?”, and “is it your career?” he said, among other things. (I wrote this one a Sunday afternoon).

As I considered this, I realized that I am still struggling with this, and that underneath this struggle is a desire to be seen as a career woman. To be seen as a woman who knows things and contributes, a woman who is honoring the suffragettes of the past by doing her duty in the work place. A woman with her own money, and all the conveniences and comforts it can provide and a woman of status, an important woman. I miss that identity.

You see, if you have followed our journey to the farm for a good while, you know that a big part of the plan, and even a big part of the reason for the farm, was for me (momma) to be home. When I was at work I enjoyed my work, and all of the ‘adulting’ and especially the money.

But I was always longing to be home. Home with just my home, so that I could clean it and put things away in it, and garden and cook in it and not be in a hurry

ALL-THE-TIME.

I wanted to be home with our son and teach him and watch every minute of his childhood and not let any of it pass me by. I wanted to have another child too.

We worked hard to pay off the debts and built a house that we hoped we could afford to maintain on just one income. During this time we tried for another child and lost him, tried again and then gave up.  And then it was time. It was time to leave the work place. It was time to finally be home. But I just went to part time for a while to see how that worked and so we did that for, I think maybe a year. It was nice, more relaxed but still pretty busy and since we were already living in our new home, out in a rural area, it was a pretty long commute, for all of us.

So I did it. I quit, “retired” if you will and stayed home, full time. I was excited and apprehensive. I struggled to trust him to provide for everything we needed. I struggled to adjust what we “needed” and I struggled to not put all of my relational needs ‘adulting needs’ on him. My husband and I had driven to work together since we got married, for 8 plus years. It was a big change! Would we have enough time together to keep the flame burning?

Our relationship has had it’s ups and downs, as it did before I left the work place. But over all I think we are closer and I think that is due in part to my being able to have more mental energy to focus on caring and kindness and working out my ‘rough edges’. And the flame is still burning, warmer than ever,… most days I think. And well, we did have another child too, eventually, after we had given up trying;)

There have been times since I left the workplace that I have struggled deeply with returning to work, for want of money, for want of more adult time and out of concern that maybe the children would be better off with less of me, honestly.

But each time we talked and prayed about it, we came to the same conclusion; that we would all be happier and better off, if I continued to stay home.

But I still have struggled with this longing, or maybe nagging desire to return to my career and lately I have been asking myself why.

Today I think I realized why. I believe the bottom line reason why; is because there is at this time and place in our world an unspoken code. A code that says that women who stay home aren’t smart, aren’t courageous or driven, they aren’t hard working and respectable, they aren’t valuable, progressive or powerful. I want to be all of those things!

But at the same time I realized; I am all of those things, right here at home. I am! And it doesn’t matter if my career driven comrades in gender, feel that way about me. I am! I don’t need to drive 3 hours (or more) a day, pack (or buy) lunches and struggle to make healthy meals while working and creating and making money and making my mark in the work place, to be those things. I am those things, right here at home. And (as I realized a few months ago) my value is not tied to how clean and tidy the house or children are either.

And yes, you can be all of those things and manage your career too and there is nothing wrong with that. That is needed and valuable and wonderful too.

But right here, on my little 23 acre farm, where I am making just barely enough money, off of my farming ventures (see our Whirldworks Wares), to pay for said farming ventures (for the first time this year).  I am powerful, strong, brave courageous, valuable and worthy of respect, whether you or anyone else thinks so, or not. And so are you.

And this, staying home and tending the animals, people and home, is the right thing, under these circumstances, at this time, for me.

Wherever you are at this time in your life, do your best, give it your all, do it with your whole heart, be brave, courageous, strong, and be at peace. And if you find yourself discontent ask yourself why. You may, like me, be surprised to see how shallow the reason for your discontent is,… or maybe not. And then press on, in the direction that is best for this time, and in this season of life.

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1Cor 10:31

 

 

About dying wool

My first exploration of dying wool was with RIT Dyes on Debouillet roving. While the temperature that I dyed at did not exceed 140 degrees because I was afraid of felting the wool, the results were still pretty nice. I had found that mixing colors together would give me interesting color combinations with streaks of different colors throughout the braid. I hadn’t quite understood why though until I set out to dye the Debouillet wool that I had spun into yarn at the mill. I found an article that said that presoaking the wool in vinegar would actually create that marbled color effect! So now I know what caused it, and how to prevent it when I don’t want it.

On this yarn I had decided I wanted a deep wine red color and I wanted it to be pretty consistent throughout.  I had some Jaquard dyes in primary colors and mixed 3 tsp red 618, with 1/8 tsp of sun yellow 601 and 1/4 tsp of turquoise 624, in 28 cups of tap water in a blue enamel pot, to get my dark red.

This time I presoaked the skeins of yarn in water alone and placed them in the dye pot when it was 150 degrees. I maintained a temperature between 150 degrees F and 185 degrees F. When I removed the yarn because the color saturation was as dark as I wanted it to be, I placed them immediately into another pot of water about the same temperature that had 1-1/2 Tbsp of citric acid mixed into the water. and let it soak for 10 min. After the acid soak I placed the hot wet skeins into the tap water in the sink and let them set until cooled, this last step may have been repeated a few times until the water ran clean.Then I pressed the water out with pressure no wringing and took them to the clothes line on the back porch to dry in the sun.

I had quite a bit of dye left in the pot. So I added another 8 skeins of yarn to the dye pot and removed it when it was a pretty raspberry pink color.  and repeated the steps mentioned above, with this batch. There was still dye left on the pot at this point, but not too much, so I found 5 oz of roving and put it in the pot until all of the dye was soaked up. The roving came out a really pretty dusty pink rose color.I wrapped some netting around it to dry out side because the bugs really like to get nestled into the roving when I leave it out to dry.

I placed the roving in the dye pot loose and unbraided to get color throughout and color was very consistent. The skeins of yarn, however were tied in three places and when I went to use them I could see that, where it had been tied, was left a slightly less saturated with color than the rest of the skein. But this adds an interesting color variation and I am still very happy with the results.

It was an amazing experience to use wool off the sheep that I care for every day to make slippers and a blanket and other things. I look forward to making many more beautiful things with it (once my sprained finger is healed! It’s been 5 weeks and its healing soooo slowly) not being able to crochet is making me grouchy;p Check out out Whildworks Wares pages to see all of our lovely wool creations. Here the beautiful pair of Slippers and ear warmer headband set that I made with some of the raspberry colored yarn. And here is the gorgeous baby blanket and headband set that I made with all of the red. There is still raspberry pink yarn and dusty rose roving in stock for your to make your own beautiful things! Let us know what you think!

O Lord, open my lips...

Thoughts from a pastor

Blest the House

a Lutheran homeschooling blog

plumdirt

Putting in a little

Recipe For A Yarn

Yorkshirelass, home at last.

gunmarietextiles.com

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Hermits' Rest

Peace, quiet, and beauty in the middle of Texas

Seaford Spinners and Weavers

Textile arts and crafts. Spinning. Weaving. Felting. Sustainability

Ruit Farm Web Journal

Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!

Wool n' Spinning

the place where fibre becomes yarn.

%d bloggers like this: