Slush and rain. A little snow. Horrible roads. School canceled. So today got off to an auspicious start (!), but my eye problem re-surfaced and I couldn’t see anything for hours this morning (when I opened my eyes this morning my eye felt like I had just been hit again). I couldn’t get an appointment with the eye doctor, so I sat with my hand over my eye, while I dabbed at the massive tearing. I just love infirmity!
And of course, what I really wanted to be doing was sorting the fleeces that are in the living room, definitely in the way. And I don’t want to move them. I want them to be an inconvenience so that I will deal with them soon! My eye has dried up during the day, but it hurts and I am glad that I will be seeing the doctor tomorrow. Maybe I can get the fleeces boxed up and out to be processed into lovely fleece and yarn. (When the fleece comes off the sheep and it is skirted – nasty bits removed – we roll it and tie it up in a clean sheet. That way it doesn’t get felty like it would if we put it into plastic).
Yesterday was a clear, cold and beautiful day. After being shorn last Sunday, the sheep have been alternately locked into their greenhouse to sit out the bad weather, and at least one or two days last week we let them out to have their hay in the paddock. Friday’s 8″ snow was so crazy that we left them inside. So yesterday morning this is what I saw as I went up to feed our girls.
They were an excited bunch! When they are locked in the greenhouse it makes my job much easier to get them their feed outside… no muggings. Sheep (and ewes in particular) are very feed-motivated :*) With my arthritis sometimes I am slow to move and I get sheep-mugged on my way to the feeder (21 4-leggeds against one 57 year old arthritic woman, not good odds). These girls mean business! So putting feed in the bunkers while they are locked up is quite an easy chore morning. As they waited at the gate, I forced them to pose for a photo.
The only trick to this feeding is to get the 8′ panel whisked out of the way so they don’t push their pregnant bellies through and injure their lambs. Zorro the llama helps by running interference.
Later in the morning I met with a good friend in town and we toodled down to Freeport to meet up with another friend from southern Maine. Our friend Pam has been down with a bad flu so unfortunately she couldn’t join us. The whole “Spa” concept is such a lovely one: take over one or two hotels, take your spinning wheel or your knitting (or both) and spin and knit everywhere in the lobbies and the halls. It’s a wonderful, relaxing way to spend a weekend. As an added draw, there are vendors in one of the conference rooms so you can browse and spend! If I had more unattached funds and no farm chores, I would love to spend the weekend there. There’s even a pool at the Hilton. We never made it over to the Harraseeket Inn, so we didn’t get a look at how many folks were over there, but the Hilton was full to overflowing with fiber and wheels and needles everywhere! It was wonderful. Our friend Chris from Brunswick helped out with the welcome/registration table and we were able to say hello for a few minutes, but after making a few rounds of the vendors, the three of us headed down the street to the chinese restaurant and spent a few happy hours flapping our gums. I originally thought we were going back to the hotel, but we had such a nice time at the restaurant, we gave up on that idea. And I was a very bad blogger: I had my camera right there in my purse and I never thought to take it out! Ah well, next time :*)
Vacation week can almost be considered over. After a fantastic start with a wonderful day of shearing and good company this past Sunday, I have spent the rest of the week at home with a head cold on top of an upper respiratory I already had. Nice to be able to hang out and recuperate, but all the same, I look forward to vacations to get caught up with some things, and do some enjoyable things as well. Bag that one, this week!
But on the other hand I have done a little knitting and a little spinning. My cough is finally letting up a little and today, the last weekday of the break, I am finally feeling a wee bit better. As the heavy, wet snow comes down I am hoping to feel well enough to get to part of a day at the NETA Spa Spin and Knit weekend tomorrow in Freeport. I hope that they have an enthusiastic day today. Many fiber folk go for the whole weekend and stay at one of the two hotels and enjoy for the whole 3 days. Once there, they won’t have to worry about this snow…
In the meantime, I finished using up the last of an absolutely gorgeous skein of merino/silk DK weight yarn. I had gotten it last summer at the Portland Weaver’s Studio where it was dyed a nice variegated colorway (gosh that feels like a world away right now!). I used most of the very large skein to knit up a baby sack for a good friend of ours who was expecting in November. I don’t know how many yards I had left, but I thought that I would just knit it up as a small neck-warmer using the Yarn Harlot’s one-row repeat pattern. I began by casting on 26 sts. and when I had a few inches done I realized that it was not likely to even fit all the way around my neck by a lot, so I ripped back and went to 22 stitches. Got that one almost done and that wasn’t going to make it either! I was tempted to just put it aside, but since I wasn’t feeling well and it’s a lovely reversible don’t-have-to-think-too-hard-about-it pattern, I cast on one more time with just 18 stitches, and it fits. Just. But hey, I really couldn’t think of anything else to do with it: I don’t often use store-bought yarn and hardly ever use a merino blend, so why not? The colors are just too beautiful not to be looking at, somehow.
As usual, I meant to have this post out on Monday. Sunday was a wonderful and very successful shearing day. As our friend Pam calls it, the harvest. It is half of the reason we keep sheep… all the fibery goodness comes to us before lambing, and then our second batch of raw materials are offered up to us. We are very grateful for the help that we had from a lot of good friends (as well as from our beautiful ewes). It was a great day! Afterward we had a marvelous feast and sat around feeling very used up, but pleased. I know that I did. I can’t even imagine how Emily our shearer does it. Well, she’s young :*)
Even the messier fleeces look good. I never got sheep coats on the ewe lambs and with feeding out the hay in the bunkers, the taller girls eat over the backs of the shorter ones, and they get a lot of hay on their backs. Our Coopworth and Border Leicester cross girls have such open fleece structures that most of the veggie matter shakes out, and the rest comes out in the picker. So hopefully we will be getting back some gorgeous roving and yarn from the processor soon.
The weather has gotten screamingly cold and we are keeping our newly naked girls in the greenhouse for now. I do need to get some coats on them sometime this week while I have the opportunity to work with them in the daylight. I am on my school winter break, and of course I am sick. I just can’t win!
It’s geting to be that time of year again. The longer hours of daylight are a delight, and when the temperatures hit the 30s it feels like a heat wave. This time of winter gets to be pretty messy out there, however. The snow has started to melt and re-freeze, so the driveway is all ice and the paddocks are poopy and muddy. We get one of our blue gates out of the ice and usable only to find that a few days later the run-off has frozen it in again. Frustrating. YakTrax are a necessity at this point, but at least it lets us get the job done.
This is also the time of year when the promise of spring and new life is becoming more evident in the flock and the herd. The goats are looking quite pregnant, but the sheep are so fuzzy and fleecy that we can’t tell just yet if everyone “took.” We shall get a gander during shearing, no doubt. That’s just a week away now, so I am very hopeful that the weather will be moderate and we won’t have any more snowstorms. Probably a pipedream, but that’s what I am longing for at this moment! SnowPea’s babies were doing a dance this afternoon as I was trying to trim her hooves. She is the first one due, and also the most aggressive and hungry girl out there right now. Don’t get in her way, she will mow you down! I can hardly wait for the lambs and kids!
It’s been insane around here this past week and it has definitely kept me from getting a blog post up. Last Sunday I got hit in the eye and ended up sitting in the dark for 3 days while that abrasion healed… there is nothing like an eye injury to make you appreciate how much daylight gets to you even on a very cloudy day! (Also how bright a laptop screen really is). And then of course there was the inevitable snow event midweek, which actually did me a favor in giving me an extra day home to do some more healing. Keeping the paddock gates open and usable, as well as trying to get the snow off the greenhouses has also been a major undertaking. There is just no place to put the snow anymore. We have got to take down and re-place the greenhouses and the gates so that we can get in with the tractor to clear the mess. I just looked out the door to find out why our lab wouldn’t go out…the back stairs have totally disappeared!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!