Monday, September 26, 2011

Sammy Finds A New Home

Sammy went to live at another farm - in Luray, VA. He went to a farm of a friend of a friend. I feel really good about it though it was SAD to see him go. We are at the beginning of breeding season and Sammy was getting of age so it was time for him to go out on his own.

I am sure the others miss Sammy but they don't show it. Beau seems to be O.K. with the situation. I wonder if he counts sheep or just looks out for who ever is around. It is alot off my mind not to worry about unwanted pregnancies. Now, if I can just find good homes for the other three.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Felting at the Festival

We did it! Yesterday, we made some large pieces of felt to cover a small yurt type structure at Boxerwood. The pieces were not as big as I had hoped because the weather changed from summer to fall and festival participants were not in shorts and bare feet for the most part.

I decided that it would work better to make the fleece on a 6' by 4' picnic table than on the ground tarp. We covered the whole table so our finished felt was almost 6X4. It was great fun watching people of all ages work together and really get into it. Some people came back several times.

This little guy touched the fleece and made a "yucky" face but his mom kept at it.

Many of the kids got into the carding too.

This picture does not really show the finished product that well. I will take more pictures.

Suds flying

We made 2 large pieces and 2 smaller so we have a few more to go but there was too much to be enjoyed at the festival and the timing was a factor. We will finish at another time.

Festival goers were impressed with the knowledge of how to make felt and proud to be a part of it. In addition I made some new great contacts.

The felting process:

Card raw fleece into batts (using a type of fleece that felts well). We used Navajo Churo , Alpaca, and Finn.
Lay the first layer of batts with fiber going in one direction.
Lay a second layer of batts with fibers running 90 degrees from the first (if the first layer runs north and south, the second layer will run east and west)
The third layer will run as the first.
Squeeze a little liquid soap over all ( you can use bar soap but liquid is easier)
Pour just enough really hot water on top to be able to press the fibers down without them sticking to your hands.
Press gently until all shrinks down and starts to mesh. Then press progressively harder until you can tell it is holding together.
When it holds together as cloth, flip it, pound it, roll it up in something it won't stick to and jump on it, what ever you like. The real felters drag it behind horses.
Continue pouring hot water (or alternating hot and cold) over all from time to time.
Rinse and wring in cold water and lay out to dry.

All were amazed how easy it is. On to the next project.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sounds of an Autumn Day

All Summer I have been trying to figure out where the honey bees live that collect pollen on the farm. Yesterday, I decided they must live in the buzzing tree.

One of the huge Walnut trees on the farm was buzzing. It has what I thought were large fungus but when I heard the buzzing I decided to explore further. Check this out.

I will have to ask James how to make it so one can zoom in on a picture. How cool is this. I saw a film where some natives climbed a cliff and had a long handled saw and cut away most of the hive and the bees rebuilt onto the remains of the old. I want to get some better binoculars so I can see close up. The sound was amazing. And then I heard a Canadian Goose fly over and then a WOOSH of a flock of migrant birds. I love the sounds of autumn but the sheep and Beau continued browsing and grazing without looking up.

I am so blessed to come home from a long day of work and be able to wander and listen to the sounds of the season and let go of all the day's stress.

John's favorite sounds on the farm also come from above. He loves the fighter jets that go over sometimes. Occasionally, they go right overhead and I have to put my hands over my ears. That catches the animals attention.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Too Much Time Away

Lots to do in so little time. Make a note-- Can't work full time, early, five days. Not time to do anything else much. Only get the most critical done and I am not sure about that.

One good thing I did this week was make some felt out of some mediocre fleece I have had for a long time. This Saturday is the Fall Family Festival (or something like that) and I am going to make some large sheets of felt with kids and their families to put over a small yurt that is being constructed for the play trail at Boxerwood. It will be the largest sheets I have attempted. We are going to do it on a big tarp. It should be fun. The small samples are working out great.

I will take pictures! Something I have not seemed to accomplish lately. Oh well, I am not going to beat myself up over what hasn't gotten done. Sunday, my one day home, I toured the farm appreciating what has been accomplished. Quite a bit overall I would say.

Today, at work as a guidance counselor, I did an activity in three classes (2nd, 3rd, and 4th). The theme was "building our character". It was to recognize our character traits; checking in on what positive traits we have and see what we want to improve on. I would say I should try to improve on my organization. I think I do pretty good on what I call the biggies (compassion, respect etc.). I really am enjoying the job but it takes toooo much of my time, especially since I am not so organized. The animals think so too.

The thing I hate the most, is driving out in the morning as they all look my way and sometimes they start to come down when I open the chicken coop. I just want to stay with them and play with them. I keep telling them it is only a couple of more week. I can't wait.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Way Sheep and Goats Are Different

Karen and I are going to another worm workshop tomorrow so we are collecting fecal samples. While I am out staring at sheep butts for an hour she is probably watching soaps and eating bon bons. If you want a goat sample, she tells me, she walks out and they deposit all she wants at her feet. Well at least I guess this means it takes me less time to clean the barnyard.

There is a popular event called cow pie bingo. You basically just draw out a bingo card in a pasture type area and participants guess where the first cow pie will land. I think they always use cattle but maybe it would be more suspenseful if they used sheep. If you used goats the whole thing would be over in a minute and no one would know who the winner was.

I am back from a great vacation and all the animals are glad to see me. Sometimes they ignore me for a day but not this time. It was hard getting up early this morning and leaving them to go to work. I am glad for the work and a little money but I need more time with the animals and not when I am tired. I think I need an afternoon job. And now tomorrow, a Saturday, I have to get up early again and leave them for several hours. I am doing it all for them but I don't think they know that. (Well,, partly for them.) Tomorrow is definitely for them.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting Ready for Vacation

What's easier than young kids but harder that dogs? Leaving behind sheep, chickens, and a llama while we go on vacation.

With a dog, it's "here's the leach, this is how much food for dinner, and not too many treats." You know when they need to go out. With young kids it can get very complicated. With sheep, chickens, and a llama it's, " here is the different foods, this is how much, here are the water buckets- and you fill them from these rain barrels, here are the minerals in the closet which is also where the hens are laying for the most part lately, Mira's foot seems better, Jumpin Jack seems fine, here is the vet's number, neighbor's numbers, and my cell number, collect the eggs, open the coop in the morning when you get up and close it at dusk after the chickens go in for the night, open half the gate in the morning and clip the other half and close the full gate at night. And, if the wind blows, make sure no leaves from the wild cherries fall in the pasture and wilt.

And then after the loud squawk, "oh yeah, the chickens are completely free range". That part actually came first when I was showing my animal sitting friend the rounds. Her dog is familiar with farm animals but decided to chase Brown One or was it Brown Two. Anyway, she wasn't harmed but she lost a lot of feathers and looks funny. She doesn't even seem traumatized. She was out and about with the sheep and Beau this evening before dark.

Sounds like a lot but much of the instructions is precautionary and she doesn't have to milk anyone. The good news for me is--- I only had to give instructions once. I am SO thankful my friend has volunteered to stay over!!

After all the instructions were given and my friend went home, I ate my dinner and then went down and hung out with the sheep. The evenings are cooler now and they were frolicking in the pasture and making me laugh. I love having sheep, a llama, and chickens.

And I love vacations.