Whirl’d Works Farm Debouillet Sheep Wool
We found this wool to be very soft and it has a great crimp. 2017 was our first shearing season and we learned allot from it. We hired a wonderful shearer for our first fleeces, but learned a valuable lesson in the process. Our shearer made the sheep look show-ready, but unfortunately the result was lesser quality fleece. Because of the shearing process in 2017, we ended up with a lot of second cuts in this season’s wool and the staple length was rather short, due to the way it was sheared. No fault of the shearer, we just didn’t know what we were expecting (or needing for that matter).
We also learned that washing the wool ourselves, by hand, was incredibly labor intensive and left the wool somewhat felted.
In order to put this wool to use we had to open the fibers up again before putting them through the carder, or use a hand carder. We believe a tool called a picker would be helpful in opening up the fibers to make them easier to card.
After having manually opened some of the locks (and wads) of felted fiber we were able to card about 5 “rollogs” weighing about 1oz each. This spins into a very bumpy yarn with allot of “slubs” or lint.
It is nonetheless very exciting to be spinning wool from our very own sheep.
It looks like it would make great place mats or other item where allot of texture is desirable.
The price for this wool is set at only $12 per lb because of the inferior shearing method, and overhandling during the washing phase. It is still a very spin-able wool for a somewhat seasoned spinner and makes a great yarn for certain applications.
Since we began raising our sheep, most of our lambs have been born in January. Such was the case in 2018 as well and some of them came during a horribly cold period for our area. We were seeing temperatures in the teens and keeping those babies warm was a challenge. So much so that we decided to delay our breeding season this year to allow the lambs to be born in February or March.
Wanda had other plans! I went out to the barn for our morning routine to let the sheep out to pasture and just beyond the sound of the excited sheep baaas came a tiny, precious sound. The ewes all moved toward the gate as I approached except for Wanda. And there, hiding behind her was a brand new baby boy we have named Ansel. Despit having delayed the breeding in 2018, Wanda had her baby on essentially the same exact day as last year, during a cold front. Thankfully this cold front isn’t nearly as bad as it was this time last year.
So, please join us in welcoming baby Ansel to the Whirldworks Farm family!
The cold and rainy weather of late gave way this weekend and we were blessed with three days of beautiful, warm sunshine. We spent Saturday catching up on many of the chores that needed done, but today we spent some time in the woods.
One of my favorite things to do while on our walks is to look for new and interesting fungi. I would have never thought this to be a “thing” for me, but in our woods we have found fungi to be a vastly interesting subject. Our search was rewarded today as we discovered some typical growths on a tree, but also something we have never seen before. We discovered a variety of fungus that has the appearance of a flower and it was so fun to just sit and look at it for a little while.
The winter rains have certainly left behind a wet and muddy floor upon which to venture, but our treks have been enjoyable with the sun shining through leafless trees and the creek has been running full much longer than we are used to seeing.
We also need to briefly catch you up on the many ado’s about our homestead over the last year. It was a very busy and challenging year for us and I made the decision not to work on our blog as it was an expense in both time and resources which were woefully short in number during 2018.
The two most challenging aspects of our year included a job change for me as well as a very unhelpful weather pattern that persisted all year.
The job change was due to my desire to work closer to home rather than the 1 1/2 hour commute (each way) I had been doing since moving to our farm. Unfortunately that new job which was 3 miles down the road didn’t work out and I ultimately ended up at another employer 6 months later. I’m very thankful for my new position, but the hours are quite long leaving very little time for family/farm life balance. We’re getting into a routine now, but it has certainly taken some getting used to.
As for the weather we’ve experienced in the past year, I can surely say that trying to make a living off the land is no small feat when nature throws curve ball after curve ball. Our 2018 started much colder than usual and that cold “spell” lasted longer than usual. It ended with a torrential rain system and then a sudden and quick warming trend.
The rain stopped and the temperature was so high for so long that our hay fields never really grew to their full potential. The result was that our first and second cuttings were half the size we have become accustomed to. Then came the end of summer and it hasn’t really stopped raining long enough to dry our fields so that equipment can get the remaining hay. So now what is in our fields is quite unusable. I did what I could to cut some of it by hand and store it, but one man cutting hay with a scythe when he has but an hour or two per day just doesn’t produce enough to keep our flock fed.
The unrelenting weather also made it quite difficult for us and many others from having productive food gardens this year. Those that eeked out better harvests typically spent much more time on their plots than the rest of us could.
But enough about the doom and gloom. There have been some wonderful happenings on our farm as well. In the midst of the early year cold our ewes gave us several more lambs. We’ve been happy to welcome them to our little farm and look forward to what increase we receive in 2019.
The sheep weren’t our only growth sector this year though. In September we welcomed a new baby boy into our family and he has been a true blessed addition to our hearts and home.
This is just a short welcome to 2019 and recap, as promised. I hope to be much more active on our blog this year so please stick around and see the exciting things happening at Whirldworks Farm this year.
We are proud and excited to announce that we have opened our Etsy shop and are stocking the “shelves” with wonderful, hand-crafted items for your enjoyment. Please visit our shop and while we GREATLY appreciate your patronage, we would also appreciate you adding our shop to your favorites.
It is certainly true that operating a farm, even a small hobby farm like ours is a full-time occupation. Thete isn’t a single day that we could just lay around the house and ignore the things that need done.
It feels pretty hectic at times during the week when we have so many other things vying for our time. There aren’t many big projects scheduled between Monday and Friday.
When the rooster crows on Saturday mornings, it usually marks the beginning of two very busy days.
For example, this past Saturday we began the monumental task of clearing trees and brush away from the fence line running along the back of the pastures. Falling trees and heavy vines play havoc on the existing fence. The thick overgrowth also provides an ample hiding place for predators. There is about 800 feet of this overgrowth and the first half of Saturday we progressed only about 30 feet. We knew this was going to be a long, challenging project, but it needs doing.
During the second half of Saturday we continued the task of reclaiming our garden from the jungle of grass that overtook it while I recovered from my toe injury. That too was no small feat. The Bahia grass that comingles with our Coastal Bermuda is a worthy opponent. It grows deep and has a huge rhyzome that is very difficult to dig up. This rhyzome is so stout that it will sustain itself very well through drought and neglect. Completely removing it from the garden will take years of constant battle. But for now we have prevailed and were even able to get it to the point where we can start planting our winter crops.
These and other projects take considerable planning, time, and hours of hard work. The thing is, being outside, on our own land, is a wonderful thing. Hearing the birds and squirrels playing in the trees that sway in the breeze is so much more rewarding than the hours we used to waste watching television in the city.