Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Koigu Rainbow

There was a beautiful rainbow over the farm the other night as I went to bring in the flock. By the time I got my camera out of my pocket, and swatted a few mosquitoes, the clouds had begun to move in. Still, it was a beauty.

It inspired my to reprise my Koigu Rainbow Socks.

In the pic above I am just completing a heel in KPPPM mixed rainbow colour P822. The kind folks at Koigu made this colourway at my request, incorporating the specific dye colours in the colours I selected for my rainbow stripes.

The individual colours are: 
Red - P816
Orange - P 603
Yellow - P521
Green - P 819
Blue - P451
Purple - P809

Size Small, knit with the 54 needle cylinder and 27 slot ribber dial on the Legare 400. 1x1 Ribbed top and rest in stockinette. Heels and toes reinforced with Wooly Nylon.

There are no rainbows today - totally overcast and a cold raining drizzle. So its nice to at least be working with sunny colours.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Road Trip!

Jonah and I made a little road trip this morning.

The dog crate rode in the back of the truck, while Jonah rode in the back seat, as usual.

We picked up two passengers at a farm down country.

At home in their new pen at the farm.

These girls have been weaned for about two weeks, and weigh about 35 lbs each. (Their mama was pretty close to the size of my truck.)

Their job is to clean up the lambing barn.

At this age they will be on full feed, but as they get older and learn to root, they'll find much of their sustenance in the 18" bedding pack left at the end of lambing. There will be all kinds of treats for them in there - bit of spilled or undigested grain, seeds from the hay and straw.

When they are all done, the stable floor will be more than a foot lower, and what is left will be like peat moss and easy for me to shovel out.

This used to be a standard farm practice, back in the days of the small family farm. Now, not so much.

The girls don't have names yet. I'm thinking on it...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quill Shawl

Here's a beautiful Quill Shawl knit by friend V with my Shetland Sock Yarn in colour Fawn. (1 ply, 70/30 wool/nylon, ~400 yds/55 g.)

Isn't this just gorgeous!

See  more of this masterpiece on her Ravelry page, and be sure to check out the many (MANY) other projects that have flown off her needles.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


In all my years for raising sheep I've still never heard one say 'baa'.

What I hear them say is 'maa'.

Here's Wee Tiny Lamb, photo taken last evening when I brought the flock in from pasture for the night.

He's doing quite well, though I suspect he'll be old enough to drive by the time he gets to the size of the other lambs.

He doesn't say 'baa'.

He doesn't even say 'maa'.

Just 'aaa'.

Even his vocabulary is wee tiny...

Before and After

A few shots of ewe SHV 11 A.  (SHV =farm purebred letters; 11 = her tag number; A = born 2013.)  Now tagged as 560NT (new tag) since she lost her tag in the page wire fence.

This shot taken in her lambing pen this year, May 3.

About a week later on pasture:

 And June 16, a few days after shearing:

This amazing ewe is the one I called Perfect Mom in an earlier post (middle pic) because her lambs are always right with her. They still are, and look at the size of them just a little over a month later.

Both lambs are females and have a beautiful solid fleece colour (except the underbelly which is discarded as a matter of course during shearing).

I hope these daughters continue to thrive and join the flock as breeding ewes. So many valuable traits!

(If Bill is reading....the ewe is daughter of Bloomfield x Seasonal)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Done for another year...

Shearing is now over at the farm. Of course it had to be during the day, and the time of day, of the heaviest rainfall of the year. Thankfully the rain wasn't accompanied by heavy winds, so it fell straight down instead of blowing through the gaps between the siding planks on the barn. So the sheep were actually quite dry.

Here is Don tackling the first ewe:

You can see that this is back breaking work. Everything from a stooped position. It makes my back hurt just to watch!

And here is the first fleece after I scooped it up from the shear floor and thrown it on the skirting table. To properly throw a fleece you pick it up in a clump from the shear floor, in a certain way, and throw it so that it lands spread out as in the photo. Took a few years, but I'm getting pretty good at it. 

Note that this is the fleece shorn of the ewe in the first two pictures. See the difference in colour of the exterior of the fleece on the table with the colour of the sheeps back and the inside of the fleece as its being shorn off. The difference is sun bleaching.

After skirting, each fleece is folded over in thirds lengthwise, rolled up and put in a clear plastic temporary bag. Over the next while I will pull each of these fleeces out and sort them into colour groupings for spinning. Those groups of fleeces with then be re-bagged in burlap (breathable) sacks for shipping to the mills.

I have to say it was a fantastic day, rain and all.

On the other hand, I didn't get the strawberries picked...

That Time

It's that time of year.

The shearing floor is swept clean. The skirting table set up. Its shearing time!

Just to the right of the shovel in the above pic is a 'saloon' door that swings in/out. The shearer can with one or two steps reach into the catch pen to pull out each sheep in turn for their shearing.  When each is done and released they jump down to the floor at the left of the table and run out the door (where I stood to take pic) to join their friends in the yarn.

The skirting table is a simple wood frame with chicken wire stretched over it. Each fleece is laid out on the table as it comes of the sheep and skirted - bits of poop, vegetative matter pulled off, then the good portion of the fleece is rolled and bagged.

Its pouring rain but at least the forecast was accurate, so I brought everyone into the barn last evening just before the rain began. I put the winter storm windows back in place to keep as much of the rain out as possible.  

One year it rained so hard, and the wind was so strong, that the rain blew through the spaces between the barn boards and soaked the sheep. (Shearing had to be cancelled - can't shear wet sheep!)

Last night when I brought the flock into the barn I gave them a treat of some second cut alfalfa hay I saved for the occasion. That was the last meal until they are shorn. It is desirable for their comfort and for the quality of the fleece that they have fairly empty bellies going to the shear floor. This is more comfortable for them sitting on their bums, and also eliminates them peeing and pooping on the shear floor and into their fleece.

But that's a long time for the lambs to be off feed, so I have one section of the barn set up where they can continue eating.

A creep gate separates this area off from the mothers - the spaces between the boards in the gate are wide enough for the lambs to pass through,but not the mothers.

I checked the flock this morning and they are nice and dry even with the heavy rain overnight. Now fingers are crossed that they stay that way until the shearer arrives this afternoon.