Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter 2009 ~ The Farm

We never have enough time to really visit with all the animals on our farm but twice a day I spend 1/2 hour to 1 hour feeding. I always try to add winter treats like cracked corn, warmed beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, carrots, apples, cabbages, winter squash . I rake and scoop poop from the horse barn every other day. We only use straw for bedding so it decomposes nicely for the compost pile or garden beds. I feed 15 sheep,1 horse,4 angora rabbits, 1 goose, 15 assorted laying hens and 3 roosters !

The chores set the tone for the day. They set a certain sort of rhythm for the day.... sounds crazy but they all have their own personalities and they make the farm come alive. By the time I am done I have warmed up, gotten my early morning workout and I am now ready for the day.
They are the focal point of the property, viewed by all visitors. They continue to be an enjoyment to my family as well as visitors. The animals ask for nothing but kindness, food and shelter and I can fortunately give that to them.

The female Arab horse, Jay-Lee was a rescue 16 years ago and she has been never been denied food or shelter since coming to us. Jay-Lee is spoiled and well cared for. She loves her sheep and never kicks or bites them. They all live together in the same barn with three separate areas to settled down in for the night.

The goose's name is Kathy named after our favorite manager of our local farm store. Kathy is really a male goose ( we did not know she was really a male until she was a year old )!!!
The horned white sheep is a Merino wethered ram named after Jerry Garcia.......born on Jerry's birthday !

The brown sheep is an Icelandic ~ Columbia ~Finn wethered ram .His name is Robusto and was born on a snowy stormy night about 10 years ago.

The rooster is a Silver penciled Wynadot. Very striking and friendly.

I love to take pictures of these fiber friends of mine .......I hope you enjoy too.

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Sunshine Daydream

It is snowing again in western Maine. I think it has snowed almost every day since this month began .I believe we have over 160"s of snow on the ground and it is the longest and snowiest winter that most of us can remember. This has been the winter of finding great books, spinning all the odds and ends from the leftover rovings, skiing and shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.

I look up at my horse's nose when I feed her, watch my sheep hop over the fence to get whatever treats they know I am carrying. My fence lines are non-existent! We have learned to be very creative this winter with keeping our sneaky Merino ram away from our lovely ewes who do not need to get pregnant. We have 15 mostly Merino sheep, corriedales , columbia-finn, and one romney -finn. All of our sheep are raised for fiber only ........we do not eat our sheep. I also keep angora rabbits who have beautiful fiber to mix in with my Merino wool.
We have a sheep shearer that comes to our farm once a year in April to shear our sheep. I use Matilda sheep coats on our best wool sheep. At shearing time the coats come off, go in the washer and get put away for next fall. After each sheep is shorn the wool is placed on a mess-wire wood framed table. The wool is 'skirted' or all the manure and debris is removed. It is then stuffed into a clean plastic bag , placed in the studio out of the sun and waits to be delivered to our local small fiber processing mill. Some of my wool I clean in an old fashioned, still working wringer washing machine. But with 15 or more fleeces it is too much wool scouring to do and so I leave that to the experts and I spend more time dyeing the wool. I sell all my natural dyed wool at several festivals throughout the season.
I love to use native plants that are plentiful and easy to gather. Spring plants consist of apple bark (light red), spring green ferns, St. John's~wort (yellows) and lichens that have been soaking all winter (purples-reds). Most spring colors are light yellows but it is fun to get a new fleece washed and colored before summer. My favorite natural dye book is ~A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan.
Summer may never come until July this year but today while it is snowing out, with no sunshine in the forecast, we will dream about those spring flowers and those beautiful natural colors from the plants in our landscape.

'Knot'-Romney /Finn gift from fiber friend Diane Knowlen

'Knot'-Romney /Finn gift from fiber friend Diane Knowlen
The Winter of 2008

Winter of 2008

Winter of 2008
Where is the fence???