Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Well, the weather here has been extreme. The snow amounts have been approaching record levels again. Then the temperature soared up into the high 40's and most of it melted. Then last night, the temperature dropped and the standing melt water has all turned into ice. Fortunately, most of the driveway is bumpy, so it isn't slick ice. As we were getting loads and loads of snow before Christmas, I thought about taking some pictures, but as pretty as it was, I was getting tired of trudging to the barn through the knee-high plus drifts (I know, I know - I'm short, so knee-high may not seem significant, but really, it is). Nicholas has had two snow days already and two late starts. I certainly hope this does not carry over into January. I MUST find my snowshoes - that would guarantee us no more snow, right?

Christmas was lovely. Nicholas and I spent Christmas Eve with Mom and Dad (Larry had to work). The picture below was taken here at our house Christmas Eve, after we got home. I was taking my yearly pictures of the tree and the packages, when Nicholas had the very good idea of getting in one of the pictures and he assured me he wanted to be on the blog!

Christmas morning, we open packages here, just the three of us. Larry made breakfast before napping for a few hours, after working all the night before. The rest of the day is very laid back. Nicholas and I played Rock Band and/or Guitar Hero for much of the afternoon. Those drums that come with Rock Band are really quite fun to play! (Rock Band was his big gift). One of my favorite gifts is pictured here:

One of those neat "cup-at-a-time" coffee makers (it also makes hot chocolate and tea, which makes it triple-y nice - triple-y, is that a word?) I haven't figured out quite how to justify the negative impact on the environment of all those little individual serving cups, but the resulting coffee tastes FANTASTIC! (That's my American Livestock Breeds Conservancy coffee mug on the coffee maker - get yours here and support endangered breeds of livestock - it's not just the spotted owl that needs saving!)
Well, the Packers finished on a positive note today (beating the Lions, who didn't win a game all season). Here's looking to next season!
Dave, if you read this, I am still working on your socks. Christmas kind of took over my life for awhile there, but I am again working on finishing them up. We're almost there - I'm working on the toe of the second sock, so it will be done any time now!
As I am not a frequent poster, I will wish you all a Happy New Year now and see you in 2009!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Turning Japanese

This is basically the scene in our living room every waking, non-school hour of the day -

As you can see, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care - and the tree is up and decorated. The young rock star in the picture is Nicholas, our now teenage son! Can you believe we are the parents of a teenager? My how the time flies!

We celebrated his birthday with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese with his best friend, Aaron. We gave them a hundred tokens or so and left them to play video games while Larry, my mom and dad and I sat and endured the noise. Noisy places with lots of young children are not really my idea of a night of fun, but Aaron and Nicholas seemed to think it sounded like a good idea. Afterwards, the two boys came home to play Nicholas' Guitar Hero and other assorted video games. Aaron fell asleep before midnight, but I found Nicholas still awake at 4:30 am, still strumming away. The good thing about Guitar Hero is that many of the songs are rock "oldies", so I actually recognize the music! But I am actually starting to get tired of Turning Japanese, as Nicholas has decided that is his new favorite song.

So, the birthday is behind us and we are now on track for Christmas. I have most of my shopping done, but haven't even started on the cookies or the cards yet. But the holiday concert was last night and the junior high basketball team is done for the season, so now we can concentrate on Xmas.

No new knitting news and I haven't done any spinning lately. I am not knitting any gifts (I'm much too smart to get too ambitious with homemade gifts, as I would never finish them in time!!) I have just under two weeks to bake all the cookies, write the Xmas letter and get the cards in the mail, do some housecleaning, wrap the presents - I just may get it done!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Wonderland

This is the scene that greeted us this morning down our driveway.

And off of our deck, looking to the west -

To the north -

And to the east -

Very pretty, but I wanted to get some pictures before the sun started shining later today, as the temperatures are supposed to get above freezing and I am hoping it will all melt later today. We haven't gotten our winter water hauling system set up yet and right now, if the hoses are frozen, I fill buckets and cart them out to the sheep in the garden cart. Water for just over 100 sheep, in six distinct pasture/pen areas. So let's just say it is not my favorite chore. And if the snow gets deep, the garden cart will not move easily through the snow.
So, to take a break from the water hauling, yesterday Mom and I did this:

We drove into Milwaukee to see the Florentine Opera's production of Madama Butterfly. They don't let you take pictures in the theatre, so you will have to settle for a picture of the program. While I am not an opera buff, I do like some of the music (Puccini being one of my favorites) and yesterday I even recognized some of the songs! It was a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon (we went to the Sunday matinee) and it didn't snow, so I managed to navigate the new Marquette Interchange without any major mishaps.

In Sheepy News, we put Eddie (who can be seen on the November 5 blog entry) in with his girls this past week. He immediately began courting them, but was delayed as Florence, our Jacob ewe (who can be seen on the October 17 blog entry), tried to kill him. Really. She got in a few head-on attacks, got him down and then went in for the kill. Fortunately, we were right there, so could rescue him. Florence has been moved in with group two of the "big, whites" where she is not the biggest (although maybe the meanest). She complains every time I am within earshot (and maybe when I am not), but she has to play nice with the other sheep, or her time here on the farm will be limited.
And my parting shot today, the kittens on the front porch are almost adult cat size now and two of them actually sat still long enough this morning for me to get a shot of them. They are very friendly (when this picture was taken, kitten number three, a tiger, was rubbing my ankles) and if I didn't already have three house cats, I would scoop them all up and bring them in with me. But I don't want to become one of those crazy cat ladies whose house has been taken over by the felines!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Down, One to Go!

Although the Packers couldn't get it done yesterday, I did. Finish the first of the Packer socks, that is. Toe Jamz sock yarn in the "Go Pac" color. I hope to cast on the second sock later today. And get them finished fairly soon, as they are a gift.

I apologize for my lack of photographic skills, but I did get to Spin-In two weekends ago and my purchases are pictured below. Mom and I make a day of it, browsing the vendors, having lunch, stopping on the way home for ice cream. Although Spin-In seems to be shrinking since I first started going quite a few years ago, it is a nice day out for the two of us. I do think if they didn't have Spin-In shortly after the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, they might get a better turnout. As part of a belated birthday gift to me, Mom bought me two pounds of Coopworth roving from Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill (hi, Carol and Paul!) in their Tapestry color. I already have a bit of this and really liked the way it spun up, so wanted to buy enough for maybe a sweater or a vest. But don't hold your breath for the finished product. I think the color shows up OK. It's primarily a deep red, with gold and navy highlights. I know, I know, with a flock of about 20 Coopworth in my back pasture, I really didn't need to BUY Coopworth roving, but this is so pretty and the sheep don't really come in this color. And anyway, I sold most of my Coopworth fleece this year, so had to buy my supply elsewhere! The other is a merino/tencel blend from Frabjous Fibers. I think you can see the colors from this picture, but the shiny white bits (I think that might be the tencel) reflected the flash terribly. While it is a "flashy" roving, it's not quite as bright as the picture leads one to believe! It's labelled as sock roving and I have four ounces there, plenty for socks for me and my small feet. Maybe after I get that second Packer sock done, I can spin this up - it's so pretty, I don't think it will sit in the stash too long! (Of course, that is what I said about the fiber I got last year and some of that IS still in the stash!)

That is really not a very good picture. I'll try harder next time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall on the Farm

Fall on the farm means the weather gets cooler (of course, the past few days have been in the 70's and it has been gorgeous!), the bugs go away - and we start feeding hay. This year we are feeding the large, wrapped bales that you can see in this picture.

I should have stood Nicholas next to the bales - or had him climb on top of them, which he likes to do, to give you a reference point regarding size. I guess you can see the barn behind the bales, so you can get some idea. In any case, they are big and one needs a tractor to move them around. Which we started doing two weekends ago, just before dividing our 80 "big, white" ewes into their breeding groups (also a sign of fall on the farm). After placing several bales in each pasture area, we sorted the ewes into three breeding groups. Here is group one, about half Coopworths and half "other assorted". As you can see, they are thoroughly enjoying their first bale of hay of the season. There are always a few sheep who must eat their hay from the top of the bale.

Group two contains most of this past spring's lambs and other assorted Polypays and crossbreeds. This picture was actually taken a couple of days after sorting. As you can see, they have pretty much eaten down their bale of hay. Shortly after this picture was taken, I opened another bale for them.

Group three is a smaller group, and here are a few representatives for them. They are some of our better lambers and they will be lambing on pasture in May, with minimal shelter and assistance from the shepherd (hopefully).

And here are the boys. Not a great shot of them, but left to right is Heinz (he will go in with group two at the end of the month); Val, our Coopworth ram, who is actually already in with group one (we gave him his harem this past Sunday); and Sammy, who will go in with the smaller group three, also in about a month. Val weighed just under 200 pounds when we purchased him, so, although we haven't weighed any of these guys lately, we think Sammy probably goes well over 200 pounds. So when he got a bit pushy on Sunday, I fled from the pen and left Larry to catch Val by himself. Well, what do you expect me to do? Sammy outweighs me by quite a bit and I really didn't want to wait and see which one of us would win in a pushing contest!

Now, at the other end of the "scale", we have our Shetland sire for this year. This is Eddie, who we brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in September. He was raised by Laura Matthews at Psalm 23 Farm in Kiel, Wisconsin. He is just a lamb, so probably only weighs about 40 or 50 pounds right now. Much smaller than our "big, white sheep". I am hoping he is fertile, as he will go in with his girls in about 2 weeks. His fleece is a bit finer than our girls' fleeces, so I can't wait to see his lambs in the spring!

And finally, a parting shot. After the leaves fell off the trees in the pasture behind the house, I noticed this hornets' nest up in one of the trees. We joked about donating it to the science class, but were afraid that if the hornets were dormant, they would wake up in the warmth of the school and terrorize the kids!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finished Socks

First of all, finished socks! This is the second complete pair I have knit (I am currently working on the first socks of two other pair). The feet belong to our son, Nicholas, who is also the owner of the socks. I think he likes the socks, but is not too fond of Mom interrupting video game time (thus the cords draped across the floor under the feet) by insisting that I take a picture of his feet. They are Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Liberty colorway.

The weather here has been mostly gorgeous, although it is now a bit cooler. Nighttime temperatures now getting down at or near freezing. A good time of the year to spend time out with the sheep - it's not hot and sticky, no mosquitoes, no flies. And the sheep are much happier in the cooler weather. They are, after all, wearing wool coats! Here is our one Jacob ewe, Florence, modelling her wool coat for you.

And a final, parting shot of fall here on the farm. The sumac trees are a nuisance - no matter how often you hack away at them, try to kill them, they just keep spreading. But they are pretty in the fall. This is what we see when we visit our Shetland ewes in the front pasture.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Better Late Than Never?!?!

I know, I know - it has been almost a MONTH since my last post. If any of you are still actually reading this, thank you for your patience! I do actually have some sort of an excuse. The week after the festival, I decided to take it easy - relax a bit after the weekend, get used to the new junior high schedule - good excuses for being totally lazy. The following Monday, I went over to the hospital for some routine tests, came home and was having a cup of coffee with Larry, when I started feeling ill. After about four hours of really not feeling good, we decided to go off to the emergency room (two visits to the same hospital in one day is WAY too many for me). I knew from experience what it was before we got there - a kidney stone - but this way I got the official word from the ER doc - only one - and they gave me some nice pain killers. But, by the time we got home, it was 11:00 pm or so. The next couple of days I laid about in agony. And to top it all off, by the time I had recovered from that, I got the cold that Larry and Nicholas had been suffering from, so I basically lost a week. Then Mom and Dad had family visiting from out west, so time was spent socializing with them - well, hopefully the stone has passed (I don't have any physical evidence of that), my cold is gone and the family has returned to Washington. Now I can concentrate on farm stuff again and maybe blog more often (but don't hold your breath between posts!). So, here we go ---

Well, even though Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival was about a month ago, I still have these nice pictures to share with you (and no new pictures), so that's what you're going to get. First off, the basket of roving and yarn that we included in our farm display, which you all saw on the last post. This is some of the roving we offer for sale, in addition to some of the yarn I spun from various fleeces.

Next, the basket that we donated to the silent auction, a "Coopworth Sock Kit", which contained two ounces of medium brown Coopworth roving, two ounces of dark brown Coopworth roving and some knitting needles. Thank you to all of you who bid on this. I was afraid no one would want it and I would have to have my mom bid on it, just to avoid being embarrassed if it was still sitting there after the auction was over!

Next, a picture of my purchases for the weekend. I wanted much more, but tried to limit my spending. I got my annual apparel - this year one of the green t-shirts (the other choice was brown and I just do not look all that good in brown). Also, a sheep calender for 2009, a garden flag (I have been looking for a garden flag with a sheep on it for years - I've got one with a rooster - now I have a sheep!), some extra bobbins for my Babe Production wheel and some gorgeous sock yarn - Toe Jamz - I don't think they have a web site. The t-shirt, flag and calender are from Ewesful Gifts - I'm a regular customer.

A closer shot of the sock yarn - I got two skeins of the Packer colors - glad I bought those on Friday - when I went past their booth later in the weekend, they were sold out! The blue/green mix will become socks for me, most likely. The Packer socks will be gifts.

Well, it was a fun, fun weekend - as always. Only 11 months to wait now until next year. Again, it will be the weekend after Labor Day, so mark your calenders!
I will leave you with a final shot of the last monarch butterfly that I hatched on the kitchen counter. This pic was also taken a while ago, but I took it with the idea of posting it on the blog, so here you go - - -

The last one for this year, as fall is upon us. They are talking about patchy frost this weekend. Time to start thinking about which herbs to harvest and dry and which to try to bring into the house and make houseplants of them. I think the pot of mint I may put into the barn over the winter - it is a perennial and hardy, but since it is in a pot, the barn may offer it a bit more protection. The basil I will dry, as I just used up the last of last year's dried basil in the spaghetti sauce last night. Soon the lambs will go to market and the fall breeding groups will be put together. Yep, fall on the farm!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool - Part 1

First of all, I apologize for not blogging for over two weeks. We have been busy. School started again the day after Labor Day. I can't believe that Nicholas is in Junior High already. It seems just yesterday that he was learning the ropes in elementary school. Now he has to remember his lock combination, must go from room to room for his different classes - has to keep track of his homework, without so much help from the teachers! I am kind of glad he decided NOT to go out for Junior High Football - especially since the first game was held the day that we were experiencing the all day rain that was the remnants of Gustav here.

Of course, the start of the school year also means Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival for us. Always the weekend after Labor Day. We again took three breeds of sheep to exhibit - Polypay, Coopworth and Shetland. This year we added a table display to the sheep display. In addition to the general breed information, we took a Shetland pelt, some yarn and roving samples in a basket, farm brochures, breed organization brochures and newsletters - the "Sheep X-ing" sign was purchased from one of the vendors after we set up the display to balance it out!

The three sheep pens looked very similar to last year. Same three breeds, same sign. Different sheep. This year we didn't have any available for sale, so we took all six home with us. In fact, we took seven home, as we added a Shetland ram that we purchased from Psalm 23 Farm in Kiel, WI. I don't have a picture of him - right now he is in the tall weeds with some of our ram lambs - if I can see him over the greenery, I'll try to get a picture of him at a later date!

Here are our two Shetland girls that were at the festival. The picture is a bit washed out by the sun, but the sheep in front is the famous Sparx. Behind her, with her head in the feeder, is one of our lambs from this year - what some of the Shetland breeders would call an HST - her Head, Socks and Tail are white, while the rest of her is black. Hard to see on this pic - I apologize - my photo skills are lacking!

The two Coopworths we exhibited. I guess I should take pictures after they are done eating, so you would get to see more than just their rear ends! One colored and one white.

And now a couple of pictures of other people's sheep. This is the famous Chuck - a Dorper owned by Trophy Acres (Troy and Phyllis Antoniewicz). Troy organizes the Hall of Breeds and he and his wife, Phyllis are fun, friendly people. We enjoy seeing them each year at the festival. The Dorper is a hair sheep, so for those shepherds who don't want the hassle of shearing, they go with one of the hair breeds. The Dorper does get a coat of hair for the cold months and then sheds in the spring. This is Chuck's second year at the festival and he is very friendly and personable. Very stocky and nice looking, but wouldn't do me much good, since part of the reason we have sheep is for the wool.

This is one of the Lincoln Longwools that was across from our girls. I'm not sure who the owner is, but I just think the Lincolns are pretty.

And finally, a shot of me standing in front of the Fairgrounds map. Larry thought I should put a picture of me on the blog. Also good advertising for Briggs and Stratton, I guess!

Again, an absolutely wonderful weekend - the weather was fabulous - the rain held off, the temperatures were great - not hot, like some years. As you can see in the pic above, I had a long-sleeved shirt on, which in my opinion, is perfect weather - high 60's, low 70's! We talked to a lot of people, made some new contacts for wool sales, talked with friends we only see at sheep events. We take the sheep over on Friday afternoon and load them back up late Sunday afternoon. But we are spoiled - the fairgrounds is only about 10 minutes from here, so by 5:30 Sunday evening, we were all unpacked and the sheep were happily grazing back at home. I will try to get a few more pictures posted tomorrow - some fibery stuff for those of you who are more interested in that end of the festival. But all in all, a fantastic weekend - can't wait until next year!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Butterflies Are Free to Fly"

I have always been fascinated by the whole caterpillar to butterfly process and have been casually eyeing the milkweed plants for monarch caterpillars. Several weeks ago, I found three of these:

I fed them fresh milkweed leaves as needed, until they became:

So far, two of them have hatched. I let them go out back. Here is one of the beautiful monarchs that emerged from their chrysalis:

I actually still have one caterpillar who is about done growing. I brought him in unintentionally. I must have had an egg on some of the milkweed that I brought in. They start out very tiny and grow very quickly. It amazes me that they can go from fat, stripey worm to a coccoon that is about half of their original size to beautiful orange, white and black "flying flower". And you can't really tell from my less than stellar photographs, but on the coccoon, there are several areas (the ridge in the top half of the chrysalis is one spot) that look like they are gilded with gold. It actually shines and looks metallic. I suppose if I read my butterfly book, it might tell me what it really is, but to me it looks like an insect version of a Faberge egg, all gold and glittery.
One week left of summer vacation, than back to school for Nicholas. Soon I will be posting pictures of the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, fall colors, sheep in full fleece. Although the daytime temperatures are still hot and two nights ago the nighttime temperatures were still too hot and sticky to sleep very comfortably in, we are starting to feel that cool down most nights, it's not quite so humid most days and it is starting to smell like fall. While I hate to see the long days go, and like the laid back schedule of "no school", I am not a fan of hot and humid, so much prefer the temperatures that are coming. Hope everyone is enjoying these last warm weeks before football weather is upon us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Harvest

Today's harvest - this is our first pepper, at least the first one that survived to "adulthood". We have already had several zucchini and summer squash and lots of little tomatoes. These are the first of the bigger ones. I can't find the seed packets, or I would tell you what they all were. There are standard grape tomatoes, but then we have yellow pear shaped tomatoes, not much bigger than the grapes. Also some smallish yellow tomatoes, some medium reds and the huge reds - maybe those are the Brandywines? I'm not much of a gardener - ask me about sheep - I can sound much more intelligent!

It is lovely being able to go out to our very own garden and pick things. Of course, if we didn't have chickens, there would be much more to pick! They seem to thrive on tomatoes! And I did notice a pretty big spider web out there yesterday. If the enormous garden spiders have moved into our tomatoes, this may be the last of the tomatoes that I harvest! I'll fight the chickens for the crop, but the spiders will win hands down!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sorting Sheep

Yesterday we sorted sheep. The "big, white sheep". The Shetlands run on their own schedule! It was the day that we pulled all of the ram lambs away from their moms and put them in their own pasture. Some of them were a bit old, but I only like to do this once in the heat of summer and the youngest are only about 3 months old. I really don't like to wean them much before then. We have some lambs who will still nurse, if their moms let them, and they are almost as big as mom!

Larry and Nicholas moving some of the sheep toward the chutes:

Larry muscles the sheep into the scale, if they don't go willingly, and this time, held onto them while I administered wormer (I pulled some muscles in my back a few days ago and have a hard time bending over, hanging on to a struggling sheep, while forcing medicine down their throats. No, no - it's not as awful as it seems. It's a small amount of liquid wormer - but they, like small children, do not always cooperate fully, so there is a bit of wrestling that goes on. But if we don't worm them, they die. And we only worm the animals that need it.) Nicholas helps with getting them into the chutes, lets them out into their appropriate group after weighing and worming and helps wherever else he is needed. I open and close the scale doors, record weights, determine who to worm and administer the meds.

More moving of sheep:

We were probably at it for about 4 hours, with one break in the middle - it gets very hot and buggy - and in the end, we only actually relocated about 30 sheep, but we had to sort through all of them (almost 100). And now the lambs have been wormed once more (and any of the skinnier ewes). Hopefully, we won't have to do much with them now until we take the lambs to market and put the breeding groups together this fall.
In fiber related news, I have once again signed up for the Mystery Stole. I signed up last year, but did not knit it. I was a bit hesitant, being new to knitting and never having knit any lace. But I followed everyone's posts and delighted in looking at everyone else's stole pictures. This year, I have several yarns to choose from and have purchased some beads. I am still swatching, so have not decided on the yarn or beads yet, but hope to actually knit it this year. I have done a small amount of lace knitting, although not with lace weight yarn - and I have never done beads before, so that should be interesting. It will probably take me years to finish it, so don't hold your breath, but I would like to attempt this this time around. Wish me luck!
Off to swatch some more and catch some of the Olympics - I am leaving politics out of it and cheering the American athletes on to victory!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gardens and Yarn Stores

The herbs are going nuts in the garden - basil, cinnamon basil, two varieties of thyme, the cilantro is going to seed and we will soon have coriander.

The tomato patch looks like a jungle and the various squash and pumpkins are threatening to take over the tomato's territory.

I attribute the record growth to the beautiful raised beds that Larry built this spring and the abundant rabbit manure that he added to the bags of topsoil!
For yarn related content, I purchased the yarn below at Knit and Caboodle in St Charles, MO, when we were spending a long weekend in St Louis. The dark blue variegated is Trekking's Hand Art and the white with the blue spots is Claudia Hand Painted Yarn in the colorway Tea Cup. A very nice yarn store in the middle of the historic shopping district of St Charles - a beautiful shopping street full of brick buildings and lush gardens. We, unfortunately, did not get to spend much time there, as we were meeting family back in St Louis. But I fed my yarn fix for the weekend.
Back here in Wisconsin, I have just watched the Brewers lose to the Braves and the mosquitoes have not moved to the neighbors. But, on the up side, the 90 degree weather they were predicting a few days ago has not materialized, although it is a bit humid. I'm torn between wanting an early frost this fall to rid us of the mosquitoes and a late frost, so the hundreds of tomatoes that appear to be growing on our plants can be harvested. I can only eat so many green tomatoes!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Red Jersey

I have decided to award myself the red jersey in the Tour de Fleece. My goal was to spin every day (or almost every day) and, while I did spin more than I normally would in the heat of the summer, I did not spin as often as I had hoped. So, red jersey.

I did do a bit of knitting while we were out of town last weekend - but I am not a good "car knitter" - I have a tendency to want to watch the scenery go by or take a nap, but I did get a bit knit up on my son's red, white and blue socks. They are pictured here along with some of the oriental lilies that I plucked from my overgrown garden this morning. I am not a gardener to begin with, and this year the mosquitoes are about the size of my sheep, so I try to spend as little time outside as possible. Thankfully, my husband and son planted some tomatoes, peas, beets and squash early in the spring and I got a bunch of herbs in - before the mosquito crop hatched and before the weeds took over. Maybe some garden pics at a later date. Today the lilies and part of a sock will have to suffice!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's a Little Blurry...

but I just wanted to show you that I finally completed the spinning and plying on the turquoise batt that I mentioned in my first post. I ended up with almost 1000 yards, but with the mohair and glitz, it is a bit scratchy, so still not sure what it will become. But the colors sure are pretty!

This will probably be my last "official" Tour de Fleece post as I am going out of town for a few days. Tomorrow night I will be in St. Louis cheering loudly for the Milwaukee Brewers to win against the hometown Cardinals. Hopefully they don't run me out of town on a rail. The Brewers won the first two of the four game series, are leading tonight's game in the bottom of the 8th. Wouldn't a sweep be nice?!?!

But before I can take off for a weekend of relaxation and visiting with family - let's see, the sheep all have fresh pasture, the mineral feeders have been filled, the new float valve is on the water trough, the dog-sitter is ready, the cats and hamster have been taken care of, fresh litter in the litter boxes, the farm sitters are briefed. It's only for a couple of days, but there are so many details. At least this time should be easier on the farm sitters (my parents) than a few years ago when I took off on an emergency trip across the country, telling my mom (who is not a shepherd, although is learning constantly) "Oh, by the way, Mom, two of my ewes are due to lamb any day now!" She went out to the barn the morning we left to find twins on the ground!

I am hoping that in addition to a Brewer win this trip, I can locate a nice yarn store and some good food. If nothing else, any building with air conditioning will do, as it is hotter in St. Louis than here in Southeastern Wisconsin. My knitting is packed (the socks from the last post), hopefully I have packed clothes that actually go together - at least they are clean - the tickets for the game are already in my purse. Now off to bed so I can be up early in the morning.

"See" you when I get back!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Still Spinning and Starting Some Socks

Well, I was afraid of this. I'm not a very active blogger. It's already been a week since my first post, and if there is anyone out there who is actually reading this, you have probably already given up on me and moved on. Can I blame it on the heat and humidity? I really don't do well in the summer swelter.
I am slowly progressing with the Tour de Fleece. Still working on the turquoise batt pictured below. I have been spinning most nights, although not for very long periods of time. I did take the wheel to our local "Busy Fingers" group this week and spun for about an hour and a half. That is our version of a knitters get-together. I live in a very small rural community and to only allow knitters - well the group would be even smaller than it is now. This month we had two knitters, one crocheter and one quilter. I'm one of the knitters and I brought my spinning wheel. I am the only spinner in the group, at least so far.
Since the spinning progress has been slow, I thought I would show you my latest knitting project. My son decided he would like red, white and blue socks, so I purchased some Lorna's Laces in the Liberty colorway from the Loopy Ewe and knit up the swatch last night. I will knit a very basic sock, haven't decided on an actual pattern yet. Probably the Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe. I thought it would be a good project for a weekend getaway we have coming up - about a six hour drive each way. We are going to St. Louis, where it should be even hotter than it is here in Wisconsin. Oh, joy!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My First Post!

OK, I am finally giving in and becoming a "blogger". Not that I think there is anything wrong with blogging. In fact, I read several others' blogs and thoroughly enjoy it. But I have been putting this day off for fear that I will not be disciplined enough to post regularly. And if anyone should actually read my blog, I would not want them to walk away disappointed when they find nothing new to read.

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Lael and, along with my husband, Larry, and our wonderful son, Nicholas, live on the family farm in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. The farm has been in the family since the 1950's. We raise sheep - Shetlands, Polypays, Coopworths and assorted other breeds and crossbreeds. We have some chickens and rabbits. And a black lab mix, Kipper and three cats, Watson, Fuzzball and Boo. We have over 100 sheep, which we raise for both meat and fiber and it is my job to stay home and take care of them on a day-to-day basis. You can see more of our farm at our website,

Part of the reason that I have begun blogging now, is I have been participating in the Tour de Fleece. My goal for this year is to reduce my stash. And to try to spin a little bit every day (well, almost every day. Katherine, the organizer, assures me that we are allowed rest days, just as the cyclists are!). I started with this:

This is the result of a roving that I received in a fiber exchange, a soft blend of Cormo, silk, bamboo and mohair. My photography skills are limited, but it is a blend of purples, blues and greens and reminds me of Monet's "Waterlilies". I'm thinking it may grow up to be a scarf. I have ended up with about 330 yards of yarn, about 14-16 WPI.

My second stash-busting effort is a cloud of a mostly turquoise blend from Quail Hill Carding in "Caribbean Blue" which I picked up at last fall's Spin-In. I'm more than half way through it, but haven't decided yet what it might become.

Now I will try to post this. If it works, I will be back to blog another day. (I had some problems with the pictures - getting them to sit in the correct spots on this post - we'll see what it looks like after posting - please bear with me as I work out the kinks!) Hopefully, I will entertain you and inform you about life here on the farm, my spinning and knitting adventures and life in general. Thank you for reading!