Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Archive for the tag “sheep breeding”

Ewe haul

The girls are home!  I went and picked them up on Tuesday and we enjoyed an uneventful (that’s code for pee-free) ride home.  I put down the rubber mat, as usual, and a net full of hay as well as some goodies (grain and treats) and hit the road.  Getting them from the barn to the car was the tough part, as I thought it might be, but once they got in the car they seemed to settle down, even lying down, in Cinnamon’s case.  This is major progress!  Not that I need to have them learn or progress in their car riding habits, but it had to be more relaxing for them, too.  I think they recognized me (well, they had to know me, but giving me any sign that they cared a whit for my reappearance in their life wasn’t going to happen).  Little Pebbles munched on hay pretty much the whole way home (Cinnamon had a few nibbles as well) and there wasn’t even a poop from either of them.  I don’t mind the poop so much – it’s not carnivore poo, after all, so not very smelly and super easy to clean up (dry little raisnets, like deer poo) compared to the pee.  That being said, my car still smells like ripe sheep.  The girls had spent the last month with a ram, after all, and while the stink isn’t the funk of a buck goat (billy), they definitely had a little Eau d’Ram going on.  Hopefully that means they spent “quality” time with the ram, Jocko, and all the right, ahem, connections were made.  From the looks of the “wear” to their fleece, I’m thinking I can mark the calendar in 5 months’ time.  I’m hoping I’ll have some sign before they drop their lambs, and I’ll be watching like a hawk…er, make that an expectant shepherdess, for sometime between April 20 and May 27.  I’m hoping I’ll get a couple of ewe lambs, and I would love to get some more greys, like Pebbles.  I think her fleece is lovely and of course she’s the tiniest of all, so it would be great to have more of it to work with.

Speaking of working with fleece (and the fact that I haven’t yet), I took a great felting class at The Weaving Works in Seattle last month.  It was taught by Faith Hagenhofer, and we bonded immediately over sheep; as the class participants went around and introduced themselves we each had a chance to share why we were interested in felting.  I explained that I raised the natural product and needed a way to use the five bats of processed wool in my loft (last year’s shearing) that would be easy and fun.  It turns out Faith raises her own sheep as well and has a moorit Shetland that looks a lot like my Cinnamon (and sounds just as feral).  I really enjoyed the class.  Besides being an inspiring artist and enthusiastic feltmaker, Faith is a also great teacher and we were each able to create a scarf using different techniques (felting onto silk, needle felting, etc.).  I’m ready to sign up for the next class (Big Felt).  Squeezing the class time in during the busy month of January might be a trick – I have something going on every weekend this month, and several weeknights (and doG knows I like my down time) but since I won’t have time to work with my own wool until sometime in February (almost shearing time again!), I may as well learn a bit more technique before I get out the bubble wrap and liquid soap.* 

I neglected to take any pictures during the class – there were some wonderful creations by my classmates, and the process is a fun, active pastime.  The clerks downstairs said they had several customers ask if there was an aerobics studio upstairs, when we were ‘throwing’* our wet felting wool onto the tables.  My own creation is humble, though I have to say that my “lima” green was popular with my classmates – nearly every one of them came to borrow some of it (we each shopped for the one ounce of roving from a rainbow of colors downstairs).  It was such a lovely match with the natural color of the base wool, and I was happy to share.  And I grabbed a few bits of the berry and grape color, as well as a wisp or two of orange, from others.  So, don’t laugh, here’s my finished product – a sampler really. 

*These two YouTube video links are unrelated to the class I took but show same general process.


All hail King Kale

So, today I ate the last of this year’s kale – sob.  I have to say I’m going to miss it, although maybe not for a couple of weeks.  I’ve eaten mountains of the stuff this year, and prior to February I’d never eaten kale before!  Once I started harvesting my own I know I probably ate a few kale bugs too. I was always rescuing spiders after I harvested leaves – the little ones set up house in the folds of the kale – and I’m sure I missed a few.  And all the green caterpillar worms.  When they got big enough to see, I’d of course pluck them off (and gave them to the chickens), but when they were small…well, I have a feeling I probably ate a few.  And aphids too.  A little protein here and there.

My favorite recipe, hands down, was the massaged kale with Gorgonzola salad.  It was easily the tastiest, and pretty easy to make, kept fairly well (24 – 48 hours) and best of all used up a few quarts of kale leaves.  Like, two large bunches.  When things were in full swing, I could make this salad a couple times a week and not make a dent in the kale supply.  I finally pulled up the remaining plants last week, though.  They had survived all the bugs and slugs dining on them, and several wickedly hard frosts, but in the end were getting thrashed by the dogs, since Daisy and Pal discovered that a mostly fallow garden is a great place to play – something about all that soft soil to chase each other in, and of course kale and rutabaga leaves to chomp on (Daisy and Farley, and the sheep, love the rutabaga leaves).  For now the rutabagas are all that’s out there, aside from my herbs, a few stray beets, and way too much Swiss chard.  I am so sick of chard that I’m just picking it now to give to the chickens.  The three monster rutabagas left look reminiscent of the mandrake babies in Harry Potter (only bigger) – I’m almost afraid to pull them up.

It’s been a busy month since my last post, with lots of yard work, as always.  The leaves have all fallen and I’ve been slowly working on raking the pasture, sending out bushels and bushels of leaves in the yard waste recycling.  It was nice last weekend, as I raked I could see a large flock of trumpeter swans in the fields across the street, and hear them honking greetings to newcomers flying in as I raked.  There are still masses of leaves out there, and a few bushels will go into the garden, along with the manure and hay mix from the sheep shed (plus their direct deposits, when they’re out gleaning), now composting nicely under a tarp (partly to keep the dogs out of it, partly to keep from getting too wet), and manure/straw mix from the chicken coop.

The bees seem to be doing okay so far.  There has been some die-off, with dead bees outside the hive and on the screen at the bottom of the hive.  If we get a halfway warm day and the sun manages to shine on the hive, a few of the girls might fly out, but mostly it’s been quiet.  I did find a number of dead varroa mites on the bottom board last month (removed it so there would be better ventilation).  And the wax moth larvae too.  Of course I never did any varroa mite control, so now I’m worried I may have blown it by resisting the preventative treatments most conventional beeks do in the late summer.  It’s too cold and wet to open up to check on them, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they’re okay in there.

I took Pebbles and Cinnamon on a little road trip a few weeks ago to honeymoon with a handsome ram named Jocko.  They’re spending the month with him, while he wines and dines them and hopefully becomes the father of their lambs.  If all goes well, I’ll have lambs in late April.  I’m going back to pick up the girls the week after Christmas – right about the time the odor from the trip up there has finally dissipated from my car.  I put a large mat down in the back of the car, but they managed to pee on the area that wasn’t covered by it.  It’s been too cold and/or wet to get the shop-vac out there to shampoo the carpet, but I’ll have to bite the bullet and do it after they come home.  I miss the two of them, especially little Pebbles, though I’m sure Conan, Curly and Bo could care less (“more for us”).

The holidays have come swooping in, as they always seem to, somehow catching me off guard.  I think it’s because I try to resist the onslaught of commercialization (Christmas decorations up before Halloween is over) until after Thanksgiving (one holiday at a time, thank you very much), then all of a sudden it’s only 12 days away and I haven’t done any shopping…  Ah, well.  I put up some lights over the weekend, but still have the bulk of my decorating to do, too.  I am happy that I finished my Christmas cards tonight, squeezing them in around a large editing job I got in last week.  I have another large one due to arrive on Friday, so will be juggling the two over the weekend – who has time to shop?

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