Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stuff I Made 2 - Jen

Here is a skein of yarn I spun from the roving I squirted with various colors at “Dye Day”. I ended up with 175 yards, so will try to squeak out a little chapeau, or perhaps a jazzy scarf.

Guys! Do you mind? No, its not a toy or a new animal, now scram. honestly.
Honest Abe is modeling a witch hat I needle felted from a form I bought at Hemlock Fiber festival. Wool came from Marigold, our first black ewe that now lives with my cousin Gwen. I wore it for trick or treating through the village of Middleport on Halloween eve, and I was nice and toasty warm.

This hat comes from Buttercup’s lamb fleece. She has only a little white on her neck, but it really makes an impact when randomly mixed with her nice dark moorit. This hat was made from dp needles. I’ve been reworking this pattern to accommodate my homespun yarn, and after 5 hats with various needles and dimensions, this is the pattern I will use from now on, which is: Cast on 90 sts on size 6 dp needles. K1P1 for 5 inches. Switch to size 4’s, k for another 5 inches. Knit two together every 4th, then knit 4 rows. Knit two together every 3rd, then knit 4 rows. Knit two together every 2nd, then knit 4 rows. Knit together every 2, then gather up remaining stitches on tapestry needle and knot. And the best part – NO SEWING!!! (I hate sewing).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Clover's Breeding Pen - Rich

Clover is our mioget gulmoget ram that we brought in this summer. He has an excellent conformation and a beautiful fleece! He’s certainly one of the top rams we’ve had here on the farm. I won’t hold the fact that he’s not spotted against him!
Tiara is a mioget ewe that we brought in to give us some modified genetics. She has a gorgeous fleece and an excellent conformation. She is also spotted, but we’re breeding her for modified genetics this spring, so we’ll have to for go the spots with her offspring this time. She is just a really nice ewe; one of our best!

Chiffon is another new ewe. She is a beautiful emsket gulmoget.

Another view of Chiffon. She’s not a spot carrier (that I know of), but she has just about everything else. We’re looking for a modified gulmoget out of her this spring, and my guess is that it will be very nice – given the genetics.

Cihat's Breeding Pen - Rich

Cihat is very relaxed with his girls. We’re throwing a lot at Cihat this fall in hopes of getting some interesting spotted colors and patterns. Yes, that’s a gulmoget in the far background, and we’re hoping for a spotted gulmoget out of her.

Our white ewe lilly is playing hard to get. This is a good picture of Cihat’s extremely straight top line. Lilly still has ratty looking wool from her March Sheering. Many of our ewes do. The developed a rise right before sheering, which caused some erratic results. We’ve not had much luck with our shearing. If anyone knows of shearers that travels to WNY in the spring, let us know. I would sooner remove my own spleen before attempting shearing.

Cihat seems quite taken with Fantasia, a yuglet sokket katmoget ewe we brought in this summer. To his left is Southern Belle, a fawn yuglet sokket ewe and Peony, a mioget smirslet sokket ewe. I didn’t know she was modified until we got her home! She might very well be the nicest all around ewe we have out there!

Sheltering Pines Cihat is a ram that we’ve had for two breeding seasons now. Others may disagree, but he is probably the nicest all around Shetland ram that I have seen! His conformation is as good as it gets, he has spectacular horns and soft silky fleece with nice length. His legs are straight as an arrow! He’s also a yuglet flecket to boot! I hope to get some offspring with all of his qualities, plus katmoget and gulmoget patterns. He just has a great pedigree and displays all of the things we could want in a ram.

Another look at his group. To his immediate right is Seraphim, a yuglet sokket musket ewe. Next to her is another gulmoget ewe that we like a lot. We’re closing in on the 17th day of breeding, so everyone should have been bred. We’ll see.

Friday, November 16, 2007

White Pine's Breeding Pen - Rich

Here is the little prince right now. What incredible markings he has! His fleece is a light to medium grey under there. I need a ewe like him. He doesn’t seem very active in the pen, but he did take a run at Zabrina on Friday, so we’ll have to keep watching.
Here we see two of White Pines ewes. On the left is Sheltering Pines Kiraz and on the right is Zabrina. We’re hoping for at least one spotted katmoget from these two (hopefully two as Zabrina at least carries spots). Zabrina is our largest ewe and has a very nice conformation. She’s put together very nicely. Kiraz has the HST markings that I like and has very dainty features. I have to confess that her color has always intrigued me, but I don’t know what it is. I suspect she’s and iset moorit, but she may be fawn. She has a lot of white mixed in, so it’s tough to tell. She’s not quite a yuglet, but nearly so.
Here’s a complete shot of White Pine’s entourage. Violet is in the middle right in front of him. She is a katmoget with some genetics that I like. She might carry the modifier and might also carry spots. We’ll see. She has very striking markings – very well defined. Buttercup is the farthest on the left. She just has an outstanding conformation and heavy fleece. I’m hoping for a spotted kat out of her as well. I’ll be happy if I get three spotted kats out of this breeding group. I would say that I’m very interested in what Buttercup throws because she has almost everything except a really soft fleece and yuglet markings. Fortunately, White Pine has those things in addition to his outstanding conformation and HST markings.

Little Buttercup looking at me and wondering what in the world have we done to her. This is her first breeding season. Her father was a solid yuglet socket with some UK breeding.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dye day - Jen

Sherry hosted a "Dye Day" a few weeks ago. Internet is cooperating today so I am posting some photos. Above is her front porch/yard, all neat and cozy. Full of soaking wool, propane heaters, stainless steel pots...and a bunch of kitties.
Here she is tying up roving in preparation for the process I would describe as "Squirting", but that's not what it is called really, but I can't remember the name for it.
Stella had some gorgeous mittens and yarn percolating in a most covetable enamel bowl complete with a built in electric heat source.
These mason jars are holding prepared dyes, or stock I think I heard Nancy say. These were what we were squirting onto the roving.
Sprinkling dye directly onto soaked yarn and mittens...
then they were transferred to a larger pan and cooked on the stovetop.

As the dye gets absorbed into the fiber, the water gets lighter and lighter (makes sense, but never thought about it b4.)

Here is Stella, cooking up a delicious batch of mittens!

Last is Nancy, gave up on squirting, and is now just dousing roving with color.

Monday, November 5, 2007

2007 Breeding Rams - Rich

This striking young ram is Windswept White Pine. He’s a yuglet sokket katmoget who has every quality that we look for in a ram. He has an excellent conformation, quiet disposition (although he’s climbing the walls right now), and beautiful, wide horns. We paid a lot for him, but we’re hoping for big things. His markings are quite stunning! He also represents our first venture into spotted katmogets. We’re not sure where this will lead us. I think he will get four ewes this year (and hopefully will produce a couple sets of twins). He is the ram on the left in the photo directly below, posing with his companion wether.

UndertheSon Clover is a mioget gulmoget, in the two photos below. What a beautiful color! We brought this ram lamb to the farm this summer from Indiana because we were looking for a gulmoget ram with a nice conformation and modified color. He has everything except spots! It looks like he’ll get a couple of ewes this year (I’d like to give him two more if I could, but there are only so many to go around). I should probably throw a spotted ewe at him, but I don’t have one to surrender.

This is the second season we’ve used Sheltering Pines Cihat, in photo below. Last year, we ended up with four lambs out of him and all were extremely nice. Unfortunately, I sold them all like a bleeding idiot!

He’s a white yuglet flecket ram with very soft fleece. His lambs were all improvements on their mothers and all had nice fleeces to boot! I also discovered that he carries moorit, which I didn’t realize. Our goal this year is to get a spotted gulmoget and katmoget out of him, while maintaining his excellent conformation. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll be happy if we repeat what we did last year (with a few more yuglets, perhaps?). I’d like to end up with a yuglet gulmoget or katmoget son to replace him some day. We’re excited about the possibilities with some of the excellent ewes that we brought in this year. It looks like he’ll get eight ewes this year (which he apparently doesn’t realize because he’s awfully mellow compared to the youngsters).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Egads! They're thespians! - Jen

Saturday Andrew and Will performed in a modified version of Robinson Crusoe at the Kenan Center in Lockport. For the last week they have been working with the two leaders from the Missoula Theater group from 4-8 every day. Excellent program and talented children made for a really colorful and inspiring program. Bonus - I enjoyed getting to know friends of Andrew and Will's a little better (Kate and Eric).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Truce - Jen

I can't believe it. After weeks of squabbling, sparring, and scratching - they have finally realized that its much nicer (and warmer) to just get along...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dye happy - Jen

Oooh hoo hoo, how exciting is this? Potential for great things here, my first set of dyes ever. Burgundy, Navy, Aqualon Wine and Purple. The packaging of the dyes reminds me vaguely of stuff in my Grandma Flading’s basement that came from her unsold inventory when she ran a General Store. The old bottles of ink, nasty cough drops, and weird bottles of stuff I don’t remember what they were.

I can’t even organize my thoughts I have so many ideas for projects. Where to start? A sweater (maybe this one I will wear?), a funky pair of fair isle socks, a beret, finger flap mittens so I can knit at soccer games? Christmas ornaments? HOW CAN PEOPLE NOT KNIT? What must life be like as a non knitter? What do non knitters think about before they fall asleep? You know how you feel like passing out when you try to imagine infinity, or never having been born? That’s how I feel when I think about the world without knitting…

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ghosts and Goblins - Rich

I haven't posted in a while because I've been toiling away at a number of outside projects in a futile attempt at getting ready for breeding season. Back in June or so, I set a goal of getting a halloween train layout completed by...you know...Halloween. So here it is.

The ghouls, the cackling witches, the freaks, the undead, the wretches of the underworld. Okay, enough about my last trip to Walmart, here is the completed (or nearly so) train layout.

The first image shows most of the layout. The Haunted Mansion in the top left (that my wife Jen made out of paper), the haunted graveyard below it, and the witches brew pub in the bottom left corner.

The next picture shows a different angle, capturing the two farms in the middle. Yes, the horse farm has a few sheep in the pasture. You can also see a ghostly looking grey sheep by the covered bridge. Wait a minute, how'd he get there?...William!

This picture provides greater detail of the Haunted Mansion and nearby graveyard.

Finally, the last image shows the two amishmen hauling a load of hay down the dirt road. Little do they know that they are being chased by a ghostly posse (of course, they wouldn't believe in it anyway, so I think they are safe...as of this writing). Lots of stuff happening in this creepy little village. Too much to mention...hooahhhhaha!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stuff I Made and lookit how cute our dog is - Jen

Here is Cody, our whippet, posing in front of an afghan I just finished crocheting. The yarn came from a variety of white sheep we’ve had on the farm over the years that I finally spun up. At one time we had quite a few whites, now we only have our Lily. And of course, I am now at the point where I am ready to start playing with dyes, and I only have 1 and a half white fleeces left. Go figure. I suppose I can always dye some of our lighter greys. Anyways, mom said she wanted me to make her an afghan to replace the tattered one she made 20 years ago from acrylic (blech) yarn, so naturally, I had no choice, and now it's done. Except for the fringe, which I'm not going to add because I just see it as a waste of perfectly good wool yarn. Yep, I'm a true Yankee. As Deb always said, " Want not, want not".

FYI, afghans take up a heck of a lot of yarn. I would estimate I used about 2000 yards, or appx. 4 fleeces.
Isn’t Cody funny looking? He always tries to make himself look smaller than he is, all curled up like a kitty…

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tidbits - Jen

I was a vendor at the Knox Farm Fiber Festival on September 20th. My first time selling my yarn and fleeces to people. http://www.knoxfarmfiber.com/. It was a beautiful day, pastoral setting, the drive down was picturesque, saw tons of friends. Only damper on the whole day was - I hated selling my stuff! Everytime someone walked off with a skein of my yarn or a bag of my fiber, I felt a little piece of my heart chip off. But the money was cool, and I spent almost all of it on a table top loom which I have no idea how to use.

Trixie our new kitten is thriving and is very scratchy/bitey right now. I was getting ready for the fiber festival Friday, bagging up and labeling yarn. She found a nice cozy spot for a nap.

Karen was there with her two ankle biters, who are starting to be my favorites. They are so cute and say such funny things. Plus that, they have an eensy beensy hint of bad in them (especially the one, she knows who she is...), which I love. Here they are in front of the angora bunny pen.

We are doubling the floor space in our barn to accommodate our growing flock. Here it is mid process. Can’t wait for it to be done so I can not have to talk to people all the time again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Has it been a week already? - Jen

Ok, quick entry cause a lot is going on and I want to get outside and plant stuff. Went to Hemlock Fiber Festival with Gwen on Saturday. Very inspired by projects, saw this huge sock project (photo) and here is the blog about it- big-sock.blogspot.com. Haven’t had chance to look at it cause too busy, but feel free to go and look and tell me about it. Thought Lisa might be interested. Also saw many new and old friends. Going with Gwen was fun cause she is just getting started and is trying to decide what she wants to get into. I think needle felting is going to win out.

Kitty is doing fine, named her Trixie. She bites and scratches too much, but v. cute and playful. And healthy, thank God.

Soccer game last night vs. Akron, they killed us, but Andrew scored a goal which made me feel great for some reason. You know when you wake up in the morning and feel happy but can’t remember why then all of a sudden it hits you? That happened this morning with the goal. I’m pathetic.

Last thing, we are adding on to the barn, another 20 x 24, so yesterday I had the task of running around to lumber places to source materials. It was a gorgeous day. Saved for the end the task of sourcing siding to match our original barn, built by Ivan Yoder and his boys. We cleverly deduced he bought it from one of our local Amish sawmills. So that was pretty fun, driving around our Amish community trying to find the sawmills. I envied the gardens, laughed at the chickens, and got the wits scared out of my by the elephantine horse that quietly sauntered up to the fence I was standing next to where two seconds ago there was nothing. Those horses are surprisingly stealthy.

Gotta go, have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Whadda you lookin at? - Jen

Kids are at school, Rich has been in Minnesota since Sunday for work and I just finished morning chores. I am so happy today that I remembered to bring the camera out with me. And that there is an empty card in it. And it has batteries. This never happens to me.
It is a beautiful day - sun's out, air's cool and the grass is wet.
Here from left to right are Lily, Black Eyed Susan, Seraphim and Chiffon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kitty - Jen

Meet our new addition, Trix. I think we are settled on her name. Now if she would just poop. Got her Saturday from a neighbor, finally got her eating fake kitty milk from a syringe yesterday and now just waiting for the movement. She is really sweet and cute, of course. I mean, have you ever seen a kitten that wasn't cute? Cody our dog is very interested, the first day he kept licking his chops when he was around her. Now he just sniffs her and pushes her with his nose. I hope to keep her in the barn to keep the mice population under control, but for now she is nice and cozy in a box in the kitchen.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First day of school - Jen

A universal experience. We all have memories of our first day or our children's first day. That smell, the feeling, the distinctive buzzing sound of the autumn bugs, the staleness of the air. And for me, the nauseated feeling in the pit of my stomach. Well, it happened on Tuesday. And, no, I didn't get them their haircuts or sneakers for the first day. We did that when they got off the bus on Tuesday. I really missed them. Only got one photo of them on the first day because the battery died on the camera. I have pictures of them from every first day of school, so thankfully I got at least one. The boys were very pleased about the dead battery because all of a sudden they hate getting their pictures taken. I think its more like they hate doing anything I want them to do, but whatever. They are in the double digits now, so they like to be a little contrary now and then.
Gigi and Riley also started their first day of Kindergarten, so here is a shout out to them, hope it went well.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Personalities - Jen

I just came in from working with 6 of the lambs that Rich brought in from the midwest, or as I like to call them, "The Heartland Girls". I love halter training after about the third day. Those first few days are very character building...

Anyways, one of the best things about a daily routine of working with your lambs is you really get to know their personalities. Here are my observations about the six I am working with now:

Seraphim - total athlete. I am planning to enter her in the sheep olympics for the "Hop, Skip and Jump" event. She is really energetic and seems to really like the walks, since she always jumps in the direction she is being led.
Chiffon - Absolutely indignant about the whole thing. She is telling me the entire time, "I don't have to put up with this. Do you know who I am? I am Underhill Chiffon, a beautiful Shaela Gulmoget. See that you treat me with more respect". Of course, when the halter comes off, she is very nice and friendly with me. She the one that always comes right up to the camera when you are trying to take sheep pictures, and you have to shove her away to get a good shot (she is the one in the photo, chewing on my knee.)

Betulina - She is mature beyond her years (months?). She is obedient, calm, kind and gentle. Kind of reminds me of Meg from Little Women. She was halter trained the second day. I always save her for last.
Tiara - Tiara will walk on the halter provided you let her go first. If I go ahead of her, she will pull like a donkey. Its her way or the highway.
Fantasia - She is very unpredictable, likes to keep me guessing, perhaps even a little moody. One day she walks great, the next day she is just not up to it. Some days we make it all the way around the pond, and others just to the driveway.
Tinkerbelle - She is just so cute I don't even care. She is actually really good on the halter, but even if I had to pick her up every two feet, it wouldn't matter. She is like the youngest child in a family of 10, everyone loves her, she knows it and is unspoiled and sweet as the little fairy that she is.

Sheep commentary - Rich

Photo at left is V Creek Fantasia, a yuglet sokket grey katmoget. She represents our first foray into spotted katmogets, and the start of our journey along the trail of producing the perfect yuglet sokket. Fantasia has a different look compared to most of our shetlands. Notice the soft lines. She is very correct with a very nice light grey fleece. My goal to cross her with Cihat(above) and get an offspring with the best features from each of them (although Cihat has very few weaknesses). We are really looking forward to her lamb next spring.
Then there is Twin Springs Dahlia, a spotted gulmoget ewe we just brought in last weekend. She will be bred to Cihat as well. My goal is to get sons and daughters out of Cihat with a variety of colors and patterns. A spotted gulmoget is one of those patterns I covet. Cihat is nearly perfect as a ram, but I would like to get offspring with more color and “wild spots” (as my friend Stephen calls them). Cihat has a very nice flecket fleece, but he has a lot of white. Although, there’s nothing wrong with that (and it’s quite soft), I like splashy colors and spots. In my opinion, spots look so much flashier with a good solid base of color. Cihat is great at producing loud spots out of spotted ewes with small amounts of white. That’s my objective with this ewe. She doesn’t have the flashy spots that I like, so I’m very interested in the outcome of this breeding.

The next ewe is Under the Son Betulina. Betty is a very pretty moorit gulmoget. I like her a lot, for some reason. She has deer-like features with a very delicate frame. Man, you have to love the genetic diversity in shetlands!

Next is Twin Springs Rose, a yuglet ewe that we just brought in. She has a very nice conformation and is just striking to look at out there. Although she is Ag, I can’t comprehend the color. She appears to be musket on the surface, but underneath, she’s very grey. I think she’ll be bred to Cihat this year, but we’ll have to see how she grows. This could end up being another flashy breeding for us.

You’re probably getting the impression that we like Cihat a great deal, which is in fact the case. Although it seems like we’re breeding everything to him this fall, that’s really not the case. We had four lambs out of him this spring and foolishly sold all of them. All developed so nicely that we started kicking ourselves in June and continue to do so. I won’t show you the bruises. There’s so much potential there! Once we saw what he could produce, that really triggered our mission of bringing in all of our new ewes. Not only are we introducing new genetics into our flock, but we’re also gaining new colors and patterns as well. Each year, our lambs have gotten better, and we are really looking forward to this spring. Growing up on a horse farm, I have a soft spot for excellent conformation and that is my secondary goal in our breeding program. Our primary goal is good health! Fortunately, if you keep the farm conditions up to speed, shetlands seem to be a healthy lot of animals, so that makes the first goal pretty easy, thus allowing us to place most of our emphasis on conformation. Hopefully, we’ll end up with some nice fleeces in all colors, markings, and patterns (including white, black, and brown).

The last ewe I’ll introduce today is Underhill Chiffon. She is a gorgeous, very correct shaela gulmoget ewe. I’m tempted to breed her to Cihat as well, but we also have a gorgeous mioget gulmoget ram, Under the Son Clover that I want to use quite a bit this fall, so I think he wins the dating game on this one. Neither sheep carries spots, but we should end up with a nice modified lamb (probably emsket or shaela). Of course, I still have a lot of time to change my mind.

Hopefully, all of this works out well, but I do know that it will be interesting next spring!