Happy New Year!

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All 50 of us (including sheep, hens, Blue the dog and Eowyn the cat) at Morning Star Meadows Farm wish you and your families a very happy, healthy and blessed 2012!  And yes, that’s Aussie sparkling wine…only the best from Oz!

Boys will be boys, unfortunately

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It’s that time of year.  Breeding season is over.  Hopefully all 5 ewes are bred now.  It’s time to separate the boys and give the girls some space until after all of the lambs have arrived.

 

This all sounds easier than it is, though. 

 

The rams have been content up until now in their breeding groups, but reintroducing them is truly that.  They have forgotten that they once got along, happily grazing all together on that nice late summer pasture.  They all smell differently to one another and look a bit different.  They smell like other ewes, too, which is most confusing.

 

So the rams are now squeezed into a small area for a day or so where they can smell each other and re-establish dominance and submissiveness, whichever the case may be.  The confinement has a purpose.  They are in too small an area to get a running start at each other, so their butting of one another carries a bit less force.  This day of reuniting always makes me a bit nervous and makes me wish we could wrap them all in bubble wrap, but like so many other unpleasantries of nature, this all must go on (hopefully not to the point of anyone drawing blood!)  In a day or so they’ll be like old mates, sidling up to the hay feeder.  Until then, we’ll be keeping a close eye on them and keeping them distracted with all-they-can eat hay!

Looks like I’m addicted!

Yesterday we had a wonderful Christmas celebration with the Steinhagen family.  I introducted them to you a few posts back when they came to take home Shirley’s fleece for Janice’s birthday present.  Their whole family is so talented!  They bake, make and sell redware pottery, spin fleece, knit,  weave, forge iron, write books, and go to Revolutionary War reenactments.  Phew!  Needless to say they are happily busy people!

But we were so blessed to have them visit yesterday…particularly me, whom Janice was kind enough to sit with for a bit while I tried my best to spin some pencil roving we got earlier this month.

 

What a wonderful teacher she is!  She quietly observed my technique and offered me tips and tricks that eventually resulted in my spinning this!  It’s a bit thick, but it is WAY more uniform that anything I’ve spun so far!  I have to say that the fact that it was pencil roving, which didn’t need much drafting (pulling it and stretching it out before it is spun), so all I had to concentrate on was treddling and feeding the roving into the wheel.

 

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Here’s a close up.  Yarn is so naturally beautiful!

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I can hardly keep away from the wheel now!  I’ll practice on this last bit of grey pencil roving that we have, and then I’ll have to graduate to trying to spin from Matilda’s rolags that I’ve been making all summer!  THAT feat might require another wonderful visit from the Steinhagens, but I won’t be complaining!

 

Thanks again, Janice, for all of your help!  You are an excellent teacher, and I give all of the credit of this yarn to you!

 

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Sheep Whisperer

So Roy claims that I pamper the sheep a bit – but what can I do when they keep insisting?  

 

I spent some time with the lambs on Christmas day and Shirley was making it clear that she was enjoying the attention to the point of demanding it!  I never thought sheep could be so people oriented!  

 

The Other Woman….. A word from the other half….

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As a part-time farmer and husband of a very devoted shepherdess, I am quite used to being relegated to taking a back seat to a flock of needy sheep! But recently this has reached a new low when “Queen Millie” recently developed a malady which required attention on a regular basis. As I understood it from the Hollywood tabloids, it was the guy who was supposed to be neglecting home duties because of an interloping female.  So how was it that I was the one eating solitary breakfasts watching Millie from the porch get hand fed a variety of succulent (from the ovine perspective) morsels? 

The whole sorry affair (haha) started like this.  Oldest son and Robin (shepherdess extrordinaire) went down to catch her one day, when she seemed to be limping, and check her feet, assuming she had bruised a hoof or something, but when they found nothing they were perplexed.  But upon further examination there it was…

Somehow she had developed a nasty skin infection on the abdomen that needed twice daily treatment.  In addition, she had lost a lot of weight since she had been able to hide this from us for some time. Now Milly is getting on in years, and as one of our best genetic stock who is hopefully incubating some very well-bred off-spring, Robin was determined to nurse her back to health and build her back up to assist her in facing the rigors of upcoming motherhood (for the 6th or 7th time!) this spring.

So as I sit and ponder my situation, I wonder if I should consider developing an ailment of some sort.  Not life-threatening or anything like that, but perhaps enough to warrant breakfast in bed, or at least a beer in the easy chair. After all, I produced a few nice off-spring myself, so I think I deserve it.  But in all fairness I suppose Robin also helped a little with that so my argument may not fly. Whattya think? 

Shirley’s fleece finds a home!

Wow!  As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many interesting and talented artists through our fleece sales!

 

Just before Thanksgiving I was contacted by a local person who wanted to purchase a fleece to surprise his wife for her birthday.  He stopped over on the weekend, and part of the surprise was on me!  I found out that his wife graduated 6 years before I did from the same college in PA – Seton Hill!  Her husband had attended St. Vincent College where I took several course over the years as well! The Steinhagens have also been shepherds in the past! Small world!  

 

He took home samples of each of the fleeces to wrap up for her, and this week they stopped over for her to make her final pick.  Shirley was the lucky ewe!

 

The Steinhagens are incredibly talented people!  They run Steinhagen Pottery out of their home, and they are historical reenactors to boot!  Janice is a spinner and weaver and does artwork on the redware that her husband, Erich, creates.   You HAVE to check out the gallery on their website to see their work!  Just in time for Christmas presents…just sayin’!

 

Janice is also an author and was previously editor of our diocesan Catholic newspaper.  I used to read her columns all the time, so I’ve “known” her for years!  

 

She was kind enough to gift us with a copy of her book, and signed it when she arrived.  Erich brought us an adorable miniature redware jug for our Christmas tree.  It’s actually hollow and whistles when you blow across it just the right way!

 

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