Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

Fiber CSA Send Off…YAY!!

In the last week, the studio has been taken over by boxes of fiber arriving from the mill.  I’m not complaining — anything fiber is a good thing!  It’s been fun weighing the roving and packing it into bags for our shareholders.  The yarn shares took far less time to label and pack  but were equally as fun to do.  All I can say is YUM!  I’m so excited to be sending off our first CSA shares and am so very grateful to all who took the plunge in our first year!  Here’s a peek…

Don't want to spoil the surprise but...

yarn and roving for CSA shareholdrers

 

This corner of the studio became the packing area.
This corner of the studio became the packing area.

   

Waiting…

In any “normal” shepherding year, we’re very done waiting by now.  I mean, the waiting for lambs to arrive.  There’s that anticipation — that butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of excitement — associated with lambing…until the flood of lambs begins.  I kind of feel that way now as I wait for the flood of boxes filled with fiber to arrive from the mill.  I know it’ll be wonderful and in my mind, I can see the lustre of the natural colors as I open the boxes.  I know what went into the boxes that went to the mill…it’s all good!  Can’t wait to send off the CSA shares!

Soaking the yarn for awhile assures good color saturation. Of course, this means waiting, too!

Soaking the yarn for awhile assures good color saturation. Of course, this means waiting, too!

Is it obvious that I’m about to jump out of my skin with anticipation — or maybe I’m just impatient?!   I have to DO something…bring out the dyes!  No bubbling dyepots.  I need mind & hands-on work so painting is a good choice.  There’s thought involved but  it’s almost instantly gratifying.  And just about every batch I paint sends me to another color place…fun!

These are the many bottles and jars of dye stock solutions I can play with. From these I can mix new colors, adjust depth of shade or just use the color as is.  The possibilities seem endless!

These are the many bottles and jars of dye stock solutions I can play with. From these I can mix new colors, adjust depth of shade or just use the color as is. The possibilities seem endless!

A little color here and there...pretty skeins!

A little color here and there...pretty skeins!

Winning Fleeces!

Galen's fleece -- great crimp, lustre & hand...and the pewter blue color is amazing!

Galen's fleece -- great crimp, lustre & hand...and the pewter blue color is amazing!

Once again…photos have held this up.  I’m so sorry but I’m having a heck of a time with this photo thing…it shouldn’t be difficult but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.   BUT here they are — shots of the winning fleeces from Maryland S&W Festival.  I’m SO excited!

Bandita coloring is "English Blue" so her fleece is darkers greys around the edges and she has a saddle blanket of pale silver blue.

Bandita's coloring is "English Blue" so her fleece is darkers greys around the edges and she has a saddle blanket of pale silver blue.

Fleeces!

So the past couple of days haven’t been the best weather-wise… grey, drizzily, raw and just generally pretty miserable.  I think this qualifies as one of those 2 steps forward, 1 step back moments.  While I’ve had to abandon the idea of playing outside, I’ve been a busy bee in the barn.  I’ve been working on batching fleeces to go to the mill and I’m so-o-o-o excited!!  Our CSA members are going to have some be-e-ea-u-tiful fiber to play with!  The fleeces are even better than I’d originally thought now that I’m seeing them for a second time and really getting my hands into them! 

In preparation for the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, I’m on the prowl for a few fleeces with “the right stuff”…the ones I’ll take to the Fleece Show.  I try to take a couple every year.  We don’t show our sheep (prefer to keep them on the home turf…because of the quarentine thing I’ve talked about in previous post) so showing fleeces at least gets the fiber out into the fiber public’s eye.  Because many of our fleeces are destined to go into roving and yarn for the CSA, I’ll be bringing the show fleeces back home with me. Keeping fingers (& toes!) crossed and I’ll post the results when I get back.

Island Holiday

I’ve been to an island!  OK — not the warm, tropical kind.  North Haven is just an hour and a bit out by ferry, and Becky & Bill live there year round. Of course its population grows by leaps and bounds in the summer but at this time of year it’s fairly quiet.  Becky met me and as we drove from the ferry to the house, I drooled over the wide expanses of open land. North Haven used to be an agricultural island and sheep were kept in great numbers. At one time, North Haven lamb was prized in the markets in Boston. Today, there are only a handful of people keeping sheep and there’s a feral flock of mouflon that’s sighted from time to time. Sadly, most of the pasture land is privately owned by people who aren’t full time residents and it’s just mowed annually to keep it from closing in…aka keeping the views open. It’d be beneficial in so many ways to put that land into production…just dreaming. 

I’d heard from Becky that the day before I arrived, three sets of twins had been born to her Coopworth ewes so I was very excited to see them and their Moms. She and Bill started their flock with Coopworths from us and then a year later they bought our Border Leicester ewe, Imogene, too.

The view from Cider Hill Farm on North Haven Island.

The view from Cider Hill Farm on North Haven Island.

 I think the girls may have remembered me just a little…at least they weren’t too concerned with me hanging around in the lambing shed and handling their babies.  Imogene let me scratch her forehead and rub her back a bit…she always liked that.  And the lambs — very sweet. The three sets of twins were made up of one natural colored & one white.  I’m not sure whether that’s significant but it’s certainly interesting and very cute.  Becky offered that it is in honor of our new administration. 

When we weren’t playing with the sheep, we picked away at fleeces.  All were beautiful and really very clean considering they’d not been covered for a good part of the year. She was a little worried about their condition but I’d be very happy to have any of the ones I saw!  Last year she had some yarn made from her fleeces and sold it at a shop on the island. It disappeared…knitters know exceptionally nice yarn when they see it!!  It sounds like this year there may be some roving available, too.

This ancient apple tree couldn't be identified by the experts during a recent census.  It produces apples that weight about a pound each!  Becky & Bill have been asked to name it.

This ancient apple tree couldn't be identified by the experts during a recent census. It produces apples that weigh about a pound each! Becky & Bill have been asked to name it.

Becky's white Coopworth wether, Oatie, and his replacement ewe friends.

Becky's white Coopworth wether, Oatie, and his replacement ewe friends.

Its always takes a few minutes for everyone to adjust on their first day out!

Its always takes a few minutes for everyone to adjust on their first day out!

Marion's lambs sticking by her while she picks at every little green thing she can find.

Marion's lambs sticking by her while she picks at every little green thing she can find.

This little one has found a warm spot to wait while mom snacks on hay.

This little one has found a warm spot to wait while mom snacks on hay.

Back to reality and my own fleeces to sort through for the CSA. We have just a few roving shares left but there are still a number of yarn shares available.