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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
Outside 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
That’s all the new product reveals for this week. We have a few more interesting new things to share at our booth, but if you want to see them, you’ll need to come in person to the Kid-N-Ewe Festival in Kerrville. Of course we will have all of the beautiful items found in our E-Store as well.
It is looking like we are going to have some fabulous weather for the festival, but even if the weather turns, remember that this festival is INSIDE!
Thank you to everyone for your help and support and we look forward to seeing you at the Festival! Our booth will be near the kitchen area.
When we first started out on our adventure into spinning wool, the drop spindle is what we used. It is a great little tool to help introduce you to the art of spinning, but beware, once you start you’ll be hooked. Even if you’ve progressed to spinning wool using a wheel, having a few drop spindles around the house can be helpful, especially if you have a small project and you don’t want to unload the wool already loaded onto your wheel.
So, why did we decide to make our own spindles? We’ve tried several over the years and while they certainly do the job, some of them tend to wobble more than we’d like and others, well, they just don’t spin very long. Could we improve on this on our own? That’s the question we asked.
We came up with a design (that includes a wheel that resembles our very own farm logo) and the very first trial was a resounding success. Our top whorl drop spindle started spinning and then kept going, and going, and going. It spun for so long that we had to stop it before it reached the floor! It was also very well balanced with just a hint of wobble.
We are so excited about this spindle that we wanted to share it with you. Everyone in the family (ok, except for the baby) has had a part in making each one of our spindles. Most of them have been stained in various color combinations, but we will also have a few unstained, natural spindles available at the Kid-N-Ewe Festival.
Our second new product unveiling are these cute little hand crocheted lambs. Cute as a button and comfortingly soft, one of these little lambs would be a perfect gift for someone you love, or even for yourself. If you knit or crochet, you can even dream up and create your own little accessories and outfits for you special critter.
The yarn used to make the outer part of the sheep is commercially purchased, but like the saying goes, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” At the heart of each of our little crochet lambs is a ball of our own wonderfully soft Debouillet wool.
Your very special little lamb will be waiting for you at our Kid-N-Ewe booth. If by chance there are any left after the festival, we will place it in our online store. If we run out and you just can’t wait for us to restock these huggable woolies, you can make your own using the pattern from WoolyWondersCrochet.
As mentioned previously, here is a 10% coupon good towards your entire purchase at our booth during the Kid-N-Ewe Festival.
We cannot explain nor contain our excitement for the Kid-N-Ewe Festival comin up at the end of this week. As I’ve stated previously, we’ve been very busy getting creative and having a lot of fun testing our skills, both old and new. Since there are only 4 days left before the festival, I thought we’d give you a sneak peak at some of the new items we are adding to our booth.
We’ve always wanted to try our hand and making soap and decided that this was a perfect time to do that. We had a fun time learning this cold soap process and will be bringing our first two soaps to the Kid-N-Ewe Festival. These are Rosemary-Mint and Spiced Orange.
We will add these items to our store after the festival.
We look forward to meeting our readers at the festival. We know it may seem a little out of the way for some so we are including a little incentive to help you make the decision to take the scenic country drive out to Kerrville this weekend:
We have now lived in the rural countryside for almost 4 years. One of the great things about living out here are our friendly neighbors. For the most part everyone we meet believes in watching out for each other and helping out where they can. Even so, some things still catch me by pleasant surprise. Today just such a thing occured.
We have an agreement with a local rancher to share with him our abundance of hay. He cuts and bails the hay from our field and split the harvest.
This year we fenced in much of our hay field to give our animals more pasture and in doing so considerably reduced the hay production.
He still came out twice this year and was able to collect a decent return. The third cutting would be our turn to store winter forage. But there was a problem.
We went almost four months without measurable rainfall so the grass grew very little. We were very happy when the rain finally returned . The grass greened up and started growing again.
Unfortunately the weather turned quite rapidly with little warning. Before October ended we saw the temperature dip below thirty degrees and then froze again the next night.
I pretty much wrote off harvesting hay and began trying to figure out how much hay was going to cost. As a point of frustration I contacted our rancher friend today to ask if he thought there was any chance of bailing what little grass we had left.
He responded that there was no need for concern because he had just bailed hay for us on another field of his.
It is a wonderful feeling to know there are still people out there who have your back and are thinking about far more than themselves.
Due to his thoughtfulness our animals will have what they need to make it through the winter and we don’t have to scurry about trying to find it myself. It may seem like it’s just grass to some people, but it is far more than that for us and our critters that depend on us.
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