Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rainy Days, Wet Sheep, and Random Thoughts

Lots of rain this week but today looks like it is going to be gorgeous. There's something just so pretty about blue flowers blooming in the springtime rain. I must have planted these bulbs sometime but this is the first time they are blooming here at the farm. Can anyone identify them for me? I'm thinking they are some kind of scilla. Nice to look at the colors against the gray sky.....

 

and then the green grass.......


Here's the reason wool keeps you warm when wet.... the sheep and lambs are out in all kinds of weather.....


I've been pretty amazed how the craft of spinning is making such a revival. I used to spin back in the late 1970's and early 80's but haven't done it in years. (Lent my beautiful Louet Wheel to a friend who has never returned it and I have lost track of her! Heidi Cadwell - are you out there??? Do you still have my wheel?) I think the return to spinning is part of the revival of the back to the land movement. Spinning, gardening, pickling, canning, knitting, butchering, baking bread, making. All the things people used to have to do are now cool again. Or is it all a result of the poor economy? No matter what, nice to see that these pursuits are making a huge revival. Do love the fact that the newbies are so excited about these things and think they are the first to discover them! Publishers like Storey and Lark are doing well off of the new back-to-the-landers..... Do wish they wouldn't forget us folks who maybe are a little older than thirty. We still have something to contribute!

We'll be shearing our sheep soon and I'll be lifting, sorting and bagging a lot of smelly wool. I may be wrong (and please let me know if I am) but I think most of the new spinners are buying processed top and washed wool. Are you a new spinner? What do you think about washing wool? I've done it a lot over the years and do not mind the dirt, the muck, the vegetable matter, the rinsing. Sometimes I think the new spinners forget about the real origin of their fleece. It's from these creatures that get dirty, wet, and smelly - even if they are darn cute! Sheep eat all kinds of things and especially love the leaves off of brambles and wild roses. Frequently the sheep have huge thorny branches trailing off their wool at this time of year from their foraging adventures. After a day or two the branches fall off them but I'm sure there are some thorns left in those fleeces. Nice looking Border Leicester cross yearling ewe with a gorgeous fleece with a rose branch attached.


Here are some photos of the growing lambs - all wet after the rain.

 



Look at the lamb on the right. What a muddy face. Her mom must have a very dirty udder.

 

 

Looking forward to Saturday where Julia and I will be selling our Leyden Glen Farm Lamb at the Annual Webs Fleece and Tent Sale. (No, we will not have any fleece for sale. Last year's clip went to a wool pool.) This is a first for us and I'm wondering how we are going to make it through the day -- our Farmers Markets are usually done in about 4 to 6 hours. I'll also be bringing my sheep notecards and postcards. Please stop by and say hi if you venture to Noho.

15 comments:

penny said...

I have these flowers in my front garden, compliments of the former owner who loved to garden (i prefer to grow food). I don't know exactly what they are either. I look forward to someone identifying them!

a wool pool sounds like fun! ;)

i know a few who are buying fleeces and doing it all themselves. so far i've just spun top others have cleaned and processed for me. I'm thinking of going in with a friend to get a fleece of our own.

Aimee said...

Being on the coast of Southeast Texas, I've never been able to browse through fleeces before making a purchase. I have been able to find a few wonderful shepherds & purchase wool from them.

I love the sheepiness of the package, but it makes me wonder what my mail carrier thinks of me during shearing season.

Wendelene said...

I'm not a new spinner, but I have purchased a couple fleeces (and some un-processed bison, talk about STINKY!) I've learned a lot, mostly that I'm not really very good at washing fleece! I do enjoy carding and combing, but will probably let the professionals do the washing from now on.

Caffeine Girl said...

I don't spin, but I do love sharing life on the farm.

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

Maybe it's because I raise them, but I love the smell of sheep wool and I don't mind the washing, picking and carding. (Of course, you have many, many more sheep than I have - washing that many fleeces would be a year-round job!) I do have some of my fleeces processed into roving, but I do all the prep work. I personally do not like spinning top. I find it doesn't feel as though it has any life left in it.

Wishing you dry weather for shearing day(s).

Bev said...

I'm an "old" spinner -- learned back in the 70's -- and I learned to spin "in the grease" the method I still prefer --- not long ago I went to my local fiber store and rented some drum carder time to prepare part of a fleece for spinning --- I like that earthy, sheepy smell --- my labrador is fascinated too --- she's still looking for the critter in that box!

Bev said...

to finish the thought about the spinning in the grease --- I find it a lot easier to wash the spun, plied yarn than the fleece --- I use Dawn dish washing liquid for the process

Anonymous said...

Kristin: You are English Bluebells or Scottish Harebells. I have them in my garden. They will spread, but not a pest. I have enough that when they are finished blooming, I can pull them up (not the bulbs) leaves and spent flowers. Usually with bulbs you leave the leaves to put energy back into the bulb, but I have them in a garden that gets rather too busy, so out they go, but now they are beautiful in my garden. Sometimes you will get them turning to a soft pink or a white. They are a bonus, I think. I can smell the wet wool now, but I have not been caught by the spinning bug yet. Peg

RMK said...

I'm heading out to the barn to skirt some fleeces for the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Fest this weekend. Folks love to buy combed top to just dive in and spin. BUT - it's a treat to watch the spinners who LOVE to process their own fleece come up and handle and sniff each fleece as they choose just the right one!
About the lamb - I've found that the dirty face/dirty head lambs are usually poaching milk from other ewes and sneak in from the back when the ewe stops to "relieve" herself. ;) That's real farm life for you!

LinDragon said...

The flowers are Spanish bluebells, Kristin. English bluebells are darker, have much narrower and longer throats to the flower,a much deeper curve to the stem, and flowers only on one side of the stem. Spanish bluebells spread reasonably quickly. The english ones are quite slow to spread.

I learnt to spin last autumn, having wanted to since the mid-1970's. I spin prepared fibre ( wool, silk, alpaca), for a quick result, but also bought a lovely fleece, from a fleece fair run by a local farmer who produces three types of fibre. I am enjoying preparing the fleece myself. The satisfaction at cleaning it, making rolags, and then spinning it is enormous.

Robin V said...

I do love your photos of sheep - in rain, snow, or sunshine, doesn't matter!

Abbie said...

I'm a fairly new spinner who had the privilege of being part of a very active fiber art guild when I lived in Minnesota. The spinning study group got together one day to learn how to wash fleece, and the enthusiasm of the older spinners for the raw fleece was infectious. I much prefer coming home with fleece to wash and prepare for spinning over the hand-dyed combed tops that all feel (and look) much the same. But I have since moved to Baltimore and my living quarters make it much more difficult to wash and dry fleece. Not to mention the change in climate, which means I came home from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with silk!

Elaine said...

Thank you, Kristen, for saying that us "older" fiber people still have a lot to contribute!! I still have my original Louet from the 70's but have added 2 more wheels for different types of spinning. I,too, thought the "purest" spinning, i.e., buy smelly fleece, wash, pick, card and finally spin was the thing to do. Not anymore!! I just recently purchased 2 lbs. of washed Shetland fleece which is close enough to enjoying the "process". Mostly I purchase prepared roving or top and maybe dye some myself. Just make sure to feel the processed wool if possible or ask for a sample if ordering on line. I truthfully think a lot of the wool offered on line is not as advertised and would rather pay more per pound from a shepherd at a fiber show. Bless those hard-working shepherds!!

Anonymous said...

Hello, those flowers look like english bluebells, we have woods just full of these in england, youd love it, beautiful photo opportunitu. Theyre really hardy and pop up all over the place.
Emma xx i love your blog x

Kathleen C. said...

(catching up with blogs post internet absence)
I am a relativley new spinner, but I felt that I should at least try all parts of the process... so I did learn to wash and card raw fleece.
It was messy and time consuming, but not really hard. I would possibly do it again, if it seemed like a worthwhile fleece, but I don't have the space where I live now. Nor the right water as my well water is red tinged (iron heavy).
I certainly don't forget where my wool comes from though!