I feel bad about not posting more,but it's been so crazy around here! Yard clean up is nearing it's end,which means we can start on the barn. We have had lots of scouting activities to either participate or bring Zach to. I have been busy reading up on things,designing labels,and yesterday I made some laundry soap-one batch for us,and I did make another so I can begin to sell it. I did have a nice overnight trip with my Dear Friend Michelle to Sharon Springs NY for their Garden Party and to visit the Beekman 1802 store and chat with Josh and Brent and get autographs (more about that on my next post).
A few weeks ago,the NH Farm Museum held a shearing demonstration,so I went. Rick and Zach were at the Boy Scout Spring Camporee that weekend,so I was by myself. Tim and Lisa,who own Heart Stone Farm over Milton,were giving the demonstration ( Tim sheared,Lisa discussed the fleece). Come to find out,their farm is only about 5 minutes from us. I was able to chat with Tim and Lisa after he sheared one of the Museum's sheep,ask a few questions,and glean some insight into the world of shearing one's own sheep. I told Tim about how we came about becoming farmers,Rick's disability,etc,and he mentioned that his wife was a veteran as well. Both he and Lisa suggested that we have our sheep professionally done first,then take shearing classes because it looks easier than it is.
After liking each other on Facebook,I received a message from Tim saying that he and his wife had been talking and because Rick was a veteran,he was offering his shearing services for free. He mentioned that many times,shearers don't like to shear small flocks,and won't go to a house with only three,but he like to help us out. Well,that was so kind of him,and we were a bit nervous about attempting it ourselves,so we happily accepted his offer.
One thing we have noticed is that the sheep owners circle around here is not very big. In fact,I originally wanted Babydoll Southdowns because they are small and I felt that would be better for our size of land,but I couldn't find any on line and knew no one who would have a clue as to what a Babydoll Southdown was,let alone point me in the right direction. Come to find out,Tim and Lisa have Babydoll Southdowns! Right now I am happy with my Romneys,but getting one or two Babydolls at some point may not be out of the question.
Because the circle is not very big,everyone who has been in this circle that we have come in contact with are more than willing to help in anyway possible,because they remember what it was like for them starting out and having no local resources whatsoever. Lisa offered to show me how to skirt fleece at their place,and Tim told Rick he would show him how to give the sheep shots when the time comes. He even trimmed their hooves for us,and showed Rick how to do that.Morning,noon,or night,if we had an issue with the sheep,we can call them. If sheep get sick,they tend to go down hill very fast. Now we have two great contacts-Priscilla,who sold us the Romneys,and Tim and Lisa.
Tim did tell Rick that our sheep are in excellent health,and that they have beautiful fleece. He can tell that we care for our animals.
It's amazing how small the sheep look once they are shorn:
This is Starlight's fleece. She has some lovely reddish color in it:
This is Violet's. She is all white/beige:
This is Woolsey's. Woolsey has darker wool with some tan and reddish color in it.
You can see the lovely crimping that each has in their wool.
My next step is skirting,which cutting the nasty areas off and taking out the big pieces of vegetation,etc. Then,the fleece gets cleaned,Once it's dried,it gets "filcked" which means the smaller pieces of foreign matter get cleaned out,then it gets carded so all the fibers go in the same direction,then the fleece gets spun into yarn. I am not going to dye these,I am going to leave them their natural colors.
Today it's raining,but it gives me a good chance to putter around inside and get caught up on some housework before I have to bring Zach to the Dr's for his camp physical once he gets out of school.
I will leave you with this lovely sunrise we had yesterday!