Friday, February 27, 2009

Sparkles - Rich

Sparkles looks like she is going to reach the potential I saw in her last year. First off, she probably has the prettiest face in our flock. That’s what people have told me anyway. I also love her fleece. It’s a very dense, intermediate style fleece. We haven’t micron tested her yet, so we don’t know how fine she is, but she feels soft. Her fleece is also very uniform. What do I like about Sparkles? I think she’s show quality, for starters. If I were to design my perfect shetland, it might be close to her. Granted, my tastes are different than other breeders’ but I like a longer fleece with luster, crimp, and fineness. Plus, I want an excellent conformation. She has all of that. She seems like she might have some good width in the backend as well, which is something we are trying to improve on in our flock. It may seem odd that we like Gold and Sparkles so much, given that they have very different fleeces, but there are some similarities if you look hard. We just took a fleece sample last weekend for micron testing, and it brought a smile to my face! It’s probably my favorite fleece right now!
Sparkles is bred to Cihat because I like her fleece better than his and I think she can have a very nice lamb out of him. I like his fleece a lot as well, but I picked this breeding on a hunch. You always have a vision of what you want each ewe to have, and how often does it happen? Really? As I said in an earlier post, Cihat got some of our best ewes this past fall, so he better produce! He doesn’t seem at all grateful, however. We took a bit of a different approach with our breeding groups this year and elected to match up ewes and rams more on the potential of the offspring rather than focusing on patterns or spots. As a result, we won’t have as many spotted lambs this year, but I still think it was the smart way to go. It also allowed us the opportunity to breed more with Clover. Last year, we never would’ve given him some of the ewes he got this year. Will we do that again this year? I don’t know. We’ll see how this year plays out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fantasia - Rich

Fantasia is one of our friendliest adult sheep. She’s also our most single coated ewe and probably has our most beautiful fleece (although technically, it’s her fleece, not ours). She also has a very nice conformation and shows her heavy UK bloodlines. I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that, but those of you who have heavy UK content probably knew that from the picture. She’s also a poll carrier as well. She also has some pretty nice markings. She’s certainly one of our best overall ewes. We decided to breed her to Cihat again this year, because we really liked what they produced last year in Silver Maple. We’ll see what happens. I also felt that it might not be a bad idea to breed her to a ram with a longer fleece than hers. We’ll do micron testing again this spring on her and see where she is. We liked her results as a lamb, but who can predict how things will turn out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A little friendly support, please - Jen

I bring you the story of the shawl of doom. I've been working on this shawl forever, and I'm not exaggerating. In fact, here's how long its been. I didn't even want a shawl when I started this, and now...I do. So since I started this, I've morphed into a shawl wearing fiber freakazoid. THAT's how long I've been working on this shawl.
At first it was just really hard to make. Then I got used to the charts, notebooks, counting, not being able to watch tv while working on it, the awkward passing over under and through.
Then - I ran out of yarn, and the ewe I used, Iris, was sold already to a farm in Salamanca. So, I waited for Kiraz's fleece last spring (similar coloring) .Once the yarn was spun, I really had to muster the strength to start up again on -
The Shawl of doom oom oom oom.

I got myself all geared up, sat down to start, and I realized I lost the pattern. After a couple months of stubborn fruitless searching, I finally broke down and contacted the woman I bought it from, who thank goodness was still in business and nice enough to resend the files. Then naturally I found the originals 2 days after that.
So then I had to relearn the stitches and everything. So, I just finished up the main part, and was all happy, like I'm almost done, right? Not so fast little grasshopper. The lace edging. Oh my gosh the lace edging. Its another 20 hours of work. And I am halfway done with the lace edging, and I am starting to feel anxiety. Because after the lace edging, I'm going to have to...wait for it...BLOCK IT! I hate blocking. In fact, I just threw up a little in my mouth from thinking about it.

So, if you don't mind, please send me good thoughts to help me get through the final stages of this beastly, Moby Dick of a project. thank you in advance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Primrose - Rich

Primrose is a very nice ewe lamb out of Sheltering Pines Kiraz and Windswept White Pine. We still own Kiraz and she always has really nice lambs!

White Pine was an exceptional ram that we don’t own anymore and we decided to keep a few of his ewes this year. Primrose looks a lot like Gold, but she’s a little smaller boned (although Gold is also very petite). It’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart, however. Gold is lighter in color, but their markings are very similar. I wouldn’t say they are carbon copies of each other, but they’re close. Primrose is still moorit, however, and I think she’ll stay that color. The top of her fleece makes her look mioget, however. It’s not. Having said that, it’s a really pretty shade of moorit.

We really like Primrose as a potential breeding ewe down the road. We haven’t done micron testing on her, so that will be interesting. Her fleece feels soft to the touch. We didn’t breed her this year because we felt she was a tad small. I think that was the right move. I don’t like to breed ewes under 50 pounds, and I especially don’t like to breed the finer boned ewe lambs. The other thing I like about Primrose is that she has one small eye patch and one larger. I don’t know why I like that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gold - Rich

Gold is a mioget yuglet sokket ewe lamb with a primitive fleece. It’s sometimes difficult to really explain to a new buyer what primitive means, but for the most part, I’ve used the length of the fleece as a guide along with the lock structure. Gold has a beautiful, lustrous fleece without much crimp. That’s pretty much a textbook definition of primitive. We decided to add Gold to our flock last year because she met most of our criteria. She had an excellent conformation, she was modified, and her markings were just stunning. Plus, she has a facial structure that Jen and I both like. We both picked her out at the same time and we weren’t looking to add another ewe. I suppose that’s how it works for everyone. Sometimes you just see something that fits with what you are doing. Gold won’t be super fine, but her fleece has a really nice handle, and it’s the type that seems to really spin up nicely. Mioget is so nice as yarn, and given Gold’s luster, I would expect her fleece to make really nice yarn. I’ve not run across many mioget yuglet sokket shetlands in my travels and I’m glad we have one this nice!

We decided to breed Gold at the last minute to Cihat. We weren’t going to breed her this year, but decided to do it a few weeks into the season, so she’ll probably lamb late (if at all). We could’ve put her with any of our rams really, but decided to go with Cihat this year. I’m trying to get a few really nice ewe lambs out of him, so he ended up getting some of our nicer ewes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Peony - Rich

Peony is not our friendliest or softest ewe, but she is very square. She is more primitive than most of our ewes, but she looks terrific even after shearing. We'll try and do some post shearing pictures once it warms up. Our shearing is scheduled for late March again this year. The ewes tend not to go outside as much after that unless it is warm. I'm sure many have a similar situation, but our weather is a very mixed bag that time of year. Peony is bred to Clover this year. Why would be breed a spotted ewe to a solid ram, you ask? I don't know. it seemed like the thing to do. Mioget happens to be my favorite shetland color and we felt this breeding would give us a good shot at mioget lambs (Peony is fawn). We bred Peony to Cihat last year and liked what she produced (Lavender), we we probably should've gone that way again, but...we didn't.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

From Lily, to me, to a friend of friend to my friend! - Jen

I attempted to paint a bunch of hand processed wool I got from Lily, and I hated it. So, I decided to spin it up hoping for a miraculous transformation.

And this was the result, which I thought was really cool, and I named it "Stepped on a Caterpillar". The longer name is "I stepped on a caterpillar and this is what came out."
So a friend of a friend bought the yarn and knit up this lovely scarf for the friend. Beautiful job, lovely pattern, and I am so pleased!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

4H fiber crafters class - Jen

Oh my gosh we had so much fun at the fiber class today. Well, I did anyways. I was so pleased with everyone's progress! Everyone came back from the first class, except one family, who we really missed, but they will be there for the next class where we are going to cover needlefelting!

This little spindler prefers plying over drafting. She really is a natural.
What a team! Definately easier as a two man operation. On the right is 2009 Father of the Year. And if he isn't, he should be. The spindler is the recipient of our "Win a free lamb essay contest". So she is trying to get ready for her first fleece by learning all she can about fiber.
We had a quick review of carding. Everyone got a nice sample of Zabrina's wool to take home from the drum carder.

This gal will probably be teaching the class next year, she is way better than I am at the drop spindle.
After only 1 hour of class, and 1 month of practice, the next two photos are her results. GORGEOUS!

This is my sample lazy kate that we used as the example.

Ok, this is going to be the most beautiful bulky yarn, I am so proud of this student, I could just cry.
The fiber she used came from Violet, dyed with cushing's orchid

Can't you just see the wonderful scarf this will make.

Next class we are going to needle felt, but we still have to make a niddy noddy, try out the wheel, skirt a fleece, play with dyes. Lots too do and only two classes left!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Joe's hat - Jen

I finally finished a hat for Joe, the shetland owner I stayed with during Rhinebeck. He just gave me a pile of fleeces to take home with me, so I wanted to give him something in return. Anyhew, here is the source fiber, spun yarn and hat. The hat is in the mail today. Hope he doesn't read this before it gets there. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the ewe, but his girls are v. pretty and sweet, I can assure you of that.

I have some of this batting in my etsy shop if you're interested for spinning or felting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Couple things - Jen

It can be a mixed blessing to get free fleeces. I was a little afraid pulling this one out of the bag, I was positive there was going to be a dead animal in it. It was pretty nasty, but I think there's some good stuff in here. Its a lincoln longwool, well half of one. Still have the other half to do. Hopefully its the good half. Skirted this and a grey shetland fleece I got from NYC guy. So that will be fun to play around with. I love that there is something to do in any weather with fiber. It's never too anything to do something.

I love these girls more than words can say. I just do.

Violet and Primrose:

Tiara is a little shy, but so striking:

Big old blob of sheep. Gold is in front, Fantasia is on right eating hay off of Gold, Violet is on left waiting her turn.

Can't wait for shearing. Look at those fleeces. Delectable:

Mother on right, Betulina, Daughter on left Morning Glory. Mom still thinks her girl's manure doesn't stink.

Fantasia (I affectionately call her "Effie") is a lap sheep. Look at how old my hands are.

Little Snapdragon is also very fond of attention:

Cour de Nuit, not real friendly, but how funny does she look in this picture? big head.

Betulina and Primrose. I love love love my little Primrose.

Betulina, aka BB. She has tons of character. If she were human she would be Hilary Clinton.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

About Me - Rich

I hate talking about myself, but since Stephen tagged me a short time ago (okay it was several months ago), I'll share enough to make him regret it.

Things on My Wish List

1. A Mazda RX-8 in midnight regatta blue. I've always loved that car. I don't know why.
2. A secret room behind a bookcase that opens when you pull back on a torch.
3. The ability to time travel. Oh the possibilities. Don't get me started.
4. The ability to retire
5. Weather where the wind never gets above 20 mph.
6. Photograph either Bigfoot or the Lochness Monster. Either one will do.
7. The flying machine that Barney invented on the Flintstones.
8. A 40 foot by 80 foot barn with a loft. I had a bigger one as a kid.

Things That Can Instantly Change My Mood

1. High Winds. They cause me great stress for some reason. I hate wind.
2. Homemade Shepherd's Pie. Mmmmm.
3. The smell of leather. Mmmmm.
4. The smell of fresh cut grass on a windless 70 degree day.
5. Putting together and revising shetland breeding plans. It's fun.
6. Watching an episode or two of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
7. I like hearing the heat kick on at night. It relaxes me.
8. Seeing old, well kept barns.
9. The sound of horse hooves on pavement.
10. Visiting Amish Country (now that I'm no longer being shunned).

Things That I Still Want To Do In Life

1. Go to Tuscany
2. Go to Scotland (where I will Photograph the Lochness Monster).
3. Raise a shetland that receives a score of 100 on our rating system.
4. Take one run down the Lake Placid Bobsled run.
5. Have something published where I receive actual money for doing so.
6. Kidnap the Groundhog the night before Groundhog's Day (I'll return him unharmed...unless he bites me).
7. Visit Abraham Lincoln (if I can develop the ability to time travel. See above).
8. Host my own talk show. It might suck, but I'd still like to do it.
9. Live off the fruits of my own labor rather than relying on employment.
10. See my kids through college one way or the other.

I'm a simple person with simple desires.

Favorite TV Shows of All Time (in no particular order)

1. Kolchak: The Night Stalker
2. Happy Days
3. Seinfeld
4. Cheers
5. How I Met Your Mother
6. Fall Guy
7. Friends
8. X-Files
9. Chuck
10. Police Squad
11. Ken Burns' "The Civil War"

Favorite Foods

1. Homemade Shepherd's Pie
2. Pasta and meatballs
3. That Enchilada casserole that Jen makes
4. Spanish rice
5. Goulash
6. Beer (I'm not sure that qualifies as food)
7. Baked haddock
8. Real mashed potatoes
9. Vegetable beef stew
10. Fresh clam chowder
11. Lobster claws
12. Amish meatballs that Jen makes

Things I Think I Can Do But Probably Can't

1. Perform successful ACL surgery
2. Go three rounds with the current heavyweight boxing champion and win on points
3. Be President of The United States
4. Split the seem in a two deep zone and hit an NFL receiver in stride against an NFL defense in an NFL stadium
5. Cover any NFL tight end one-on-one
6. Kick a 40 yard field goal
7. Write a novel
8. Invent something useful

Something Most People Don't Know About Me

I tried out for the traveling American Gladiators show back in the early 90's. I didn't make the cut.

My Perfect Day

I'm sitting on the porch on a Saturday evening sipping on a glass of wine after eating Amish meatballs. It's 70 degrees with puffy white clouds, a slight breeze, and the smell of fresh cut grass rises gently in the air. I look out back and lambs race playfully in the spring pasture. I can hear jazz music playing softly inside the house. An Amish buggy rolls by, then two more. I go inside and pull back the torch by the fireplace and the bookcase opens. I enter the secret room and play chess with Abraham Lincoln. I win. Not a bad evening.

There's nothing else to know about me of interest. Notice that I have more favorite foods than any other category and there's many more.