Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall Fun

We had a little fun with the garden produce tonight. Of course, I have to weigh any of the zucchini that hide until they are bigger than my child was at birth.
And Howard had to photograph the event, so I added garden veggies for a still life!
Orient Express and Fairy Tale eggplant, cocozelle zuchini, a tomato. . . The old scale indadvertantly acquired at an auction really works, and reads 7.25 lbs.

The other day, I took a few pictures of Little Red Oak Maple, my best ewe, Highland Hollow Bluebell,'s '08 daughter. Here are the two lovelies. I was thinking I'd sell Maple, because she doesn't like me, and you know, more room in the barn this winter, more hay for everyone else. . .
but she is so very pretty, I couldn't do it. She looks like Bluebell did as a lamb, with that super-pouf coat of wool. She is musket, but her brown base is really a modified one-- it was obvious at birth. So she can throw some more lovely lambs, maybe solid mioget. Now, if I can only get her to be less afraid of us. Bluebell's not!

We sold 3 more ewes last weekend to a farm-neighbor who was missing having sheep. He used to raise suffolk/hamps. This should be different for him! We sold him some very good brown and spotted ewes as unregistered-- we're getting down to only my favorite or best stock, now-- there are 13 shetland ewes remaining, and two finn girls. I still think springtime lambing will be wild with their thirty lambs coming! And right now, they all fit in the horse's shed in a rainstorm!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September, ushering in Fall

Cool nights, sunny days. . . and school is in session again.
We finished summer with a trip to the Minnesota State Fair. Emily had a 4H exhibit and earned a blue ribbon; I put weaving and spinning entries in (for the first time!)and we all enjoyed our day walking the miles of fairgrounds, taking in the exhibits, sights and sounds.
Here am I in front of the fiber art case:

And here are Emily and Howard in the big butterfly building exhibit:

We had so much fun.
The next morning, I piled out of bed, assembled materials and drove up-country to Pam Davis', another Shetland shepherd near Cokato, MN. She was hosting a natural dyeing workshop taught by Karen Rohnsvoog. The participants had spent Friday gathering pots of dye materials, and when I arrived Saturday, I just had to make little skeins of white wool and try the different dye pots. Oh, and also help everyone mix up a vat of indigo I'd brought from my vegetable garden. The colors were amazing-- see here some results:

The dyes were: left: a combination of lead plant, goldenrod and indigo. I'd dipped a ball of yarn in the three pots in succession. Next, indigo, near the end of the day, so lighter blue; the gray is from purple basil; canary yellow is from apple bark; bright orange-yellow is wood sunflower; light sage green is Black Raspberry (leaves?); dark indigo blue from an early dip in the vat; goldenrod; and logwood.

Amazing. Beautiful, naturally obtained colors. I want to weave a plaid scarf from the colors just to remember that day and how much fun it was.

I'm meeting spinners on Thursday for another fiber outing-- the Northern Lights Handspinners' group-- and I regret that I WON'T be going to the big Shetland Sheep show and Fiber weekend in Jefferson, WI this weekend. A family reunion, and finally, the necessity of bringing the last of our hay into the barn on Friday clinched that decision for me.

I'll spend the coming weeks processing garden produce-- selling some, giving some to the middle school teachers, librarians, anyone!-- and canning and freezing more.

Today I worried about hay for the winter-- the last cutting is laying on the fields, drying after a drenching rain on Tuesday, sigh. And there isn't much baled from this whole summer. This summer and last, a younger guy with haying equipment did all the work of haying our 8 acres of hayfields and gave us a third of the take. Last year there was enough for 23 sheep and two horses.
The horses are gone now (Yes! KC found a good home!) but this year there won't be enough for 25 sheep, even.
So I worried. And made an appointment with a country butcher to process 10 lambs in a month or so. Ram lambs. Nature makes too many of them, I'm afraid.
Anyway, Fall begins. It's a beautiful time of year.