August 1, 2019
I am so blessed to live this life- and to have a husband that enjoys this crazy farm life too! A friend offered me the chance to adopt her beautiful E. Fresian/Finn cross lamb. She is from the same flock as our Sweets and Millie. We are looking for a name for the lamb but in the mean time she will hang around with me in the house. Almost like having a new puppy! ha! She was injured early in her little life and is now 2 months old. Her back legs have a hitch to their get-along. Her youth is working in her favor and she’s hopping through the house just making my day every time she comes around. We’ll get to work on her bio but in the meantime, here is Freya!
For all the years I’ve been involved with sheep and fiber art, I swore I would NEVER have wool combs. Just did not have time or inclination. Well. Never say never! Coco Bean’s fleece had some issues that meant working with it before I could spin or sell any of it. Birthday rolled around and the sheep bought me some wool combs? They are good shoppers and knew just what I needed. Stinkers!
Turns out? I love them! Been experimenting with fleeces I thought were unable to be saved. Wa-la! Saved! Adventures never end!
Two pretty sheep have joined our flock! Life circumstances are forcing their owner to downsize her flock. Sweets is blind and Millie has a crooked front leg. They are very dedicated to each other and we will post more as they get settled in. Keep good thoughts for their owner ok? She is very heartbroken having to place her sheep. Smooches! More info soon- in the meantime, I started a bio for them. Read more…
You read right. Goodness! It was an accident but a shawl that should not have been washed or dried in a machine- was. SO. I am setting out to rescue the shawl and turn it into something fun. More memories right? Here’s the start- so far. This story shall continue!!
(I am no seamstress so I am relying on my great grandma Lamp to look over my shoulder! She’s my crazy quilt inspiration- this will be an all in the family kind of treasure now!)
Our sheep would love to know! We have several beauteous Wensleydale sheep here in our flock. They are sweet sheep with such gorgeous, curly locks. The wool is easy to wash, locks average 6 to 10 inches long and give a pretty sheen to yarn. It really is quite comparable to Mohair (Angora Goat) fiber. This is Sheldon- read more about him…
Washing wool is great fun and this is easy wool to wash- read our washing routine…
Once the wool is dry I use most of the locks to handspin into our Lash Yarn. It is one of my favorite yarns to spin!
I also spin the wool into other traditional yarn. I spun this yarn from Sheldon’s roving. It is soft and what I would call lace weight. I like to let the wool ‘tell me’ what it wants to be. This batch wanted to be tiny yarn!
I’ll be listing this yarn here soon- you’ll
There will also be lash yarn but I have not started Sheldon Lashes yet. We do have wool from Jerome on both the unwashed wool and washed wool pages if you like to go start to finish. Also several selections of roving from our Wensleydales! Look forward to hearing from you if you have questions!
This pretty little alpaca retired into our flock a few weeks ago. My friend needed a place for him after his lifelong alpaca friend passed away. Alpacas cannot live alone- they are meant to be part of a herd/flock. At least in pairs so he came here. He is living with our Suri Alpaca girls and Oliver and Maxwell in the small pasture. Several of the suris retired here too so he has good company and familiar faces.
Big Guy is not so sure about his new friend Maxwell though. Maxwell is one of our bottle lambs- he and Oliver just moved outside into that pasture. Maxwell is so excited to be back in a flock he stays very close to the alpacas. Giddy little lamb! Big Guy is not so sure he wants Maxwell so close but he’s getting used to his little tag along buddy.
He is a beauteous auburn colored Huacaya alpaca with pretty white markings. He is 24 years old so I am glad we had friends here for him. He has already decided the grain we feed tastes good, yummy enough to abandon his original grain. He likes his alfalfa hay- and is great about sharing with his friends.
We’ll add more pictures soon- he is such a sweet fellow and we are lucky to retire him here!
I usually have two styles of yarn ready to spin. Lash yarn (above) is my favorite to spin. I always have a basket of locks ready to spin. I love seeing the yarn on the bobbin almost as much as I do seeing the skeins drying in the fiber palace! The picture above is Lash Yarn from our Jerome’s fleece. The yarn is available for sale on our Lash Yarn page…
Right now I am spinning a 2 ply, fine weight yarn. The photo above is one ply so far. The wool is from our sheep Mayhem. He is a Blue Face Leicester cross sheep. His yarn will be available for sale on the website soon- in the meantime be sure to stop by and have a browse of our Crazy Quilt Handspun Yarn! See you there!
Everyone had crazy weather- ours was specially cold during January and February. Winds 50 below zero had my friend scrambling to keep all her surprise lambs warm and dry. Her papa sheep apparently jumped the fence with the ladies, then jumped back out. Without anyone being the wiser until the babies started to arrive.
I rarely, well never, would say no to bottle lambs. We do not breed our own sheep so the only lambs here are orphans. We don’t see too many any more either. Many of my friends have gotten out of the sheep business in the past five years due to life changes in families, kids growing up or wanting to travel.
Tami posted a picture of the lambs on Instagram and things went from there! Buttercup is pictured above. She was a twin, born in the bitter cold. The mom could not get her dry fast enough and she ended up with frost bite on her little ears and back hoofs. We did not know how good her chances were but both wanted to give her a chance to decide on her own. She arrived with her ‘brother’ Oliver (Cotswold sheep)- a twin whose mom could not feed two lambs. Ta-da- two lambs- perfect number.
For the first week things went well. The lambs moved into my office and stayed warm, grew and just cracked me up. It was a long hard winter and I was getting tired out. Oliver and Buttercup saved me. Lambs have such glee in their souls.
As she grew and her hoofs and ears healed, Buttercup started having pain issues. We controlled them with pain medication and she was comfy and happy. Then her hoofs looked more and more like the tissue in both was too damaged to remain viable. Our vet thought maybe she would be ok, as long as she was comfy, to continue on.
We kept Buttercup’s little feet wrapped with pretty bandages and got some really good ideas from fans of our sheep. Manuka honey helped heal her ears but her pain got more and more out of control. She was unable to walk comfortably. It also looked as if her front feet had frostbite too. Sigh. I do not allow animals to suffer so the vet and I made the decision to send Buttercup back to heaven. As she grew, her feet would only have gotten worse as she got heavier. I’ve never had to put a little lamb like her to sleep. I promise them I’ll be there for them no matter how long I get to love them. But they tell me when it is ‘time.’
Afterwards, Oliver was devastated. She was the only other sheep he had ever known. Even after such a short time his grief was profound. He laid down in the last place he saw her and would not get up. It breaks my heart to see animals grieve. Not much consoles them. SO. Tami offered me a little lamb who was a triplet and not getting enough food from his mom.
Enter Maxwell!! A little scamp who is a Cotswold cross. He was half the size of Oliver even though they were born just days apart.
Oliver, Jim and I set off for Tami’s. It was icy and cold so we met at the top of her long, hilly driveway to pick Maxwell up. He is perfect and Oliver loved him right away. Maxwell was not sure about living in the house but Oliver showed him how awesome it is. Tromping around, galloping like little horses all around. Then flopping down in a heap on a pile of blankets OR their favorite bed my Mom sent them.
Oliver was pretty stingy with that bed. It got to the point they ran for it and first one in got piled on top of by the second. Pretty hilarious!
Watch for more stories about these two- there are so many more to tell!!
Might not feel like Spring yet but Ryan the wonder shearer was here to give our sheep their summer haircuts the first week of April. Giddyup!
Shearing day is always a fantastic adventure. It’s the day I get to be sure the sheep have gone through the winter ok. I keep a close eye on them every day but we have a few sheep who are not tame enough to get my hands on as often as the others. If anyone looks too thin, they are sent over into the special needs group to have a little grain with their alfalfa hay until we turn them out on the big pasture.
Did you know after shearing the sheep have trouble recognizing their friends again? It can take a few days of calling and fussing before they find each other again. Poor peeps.
THAT said, my what glorious fleeces they gave us again! I love seeing the fleece colors as the sheep are sheared. Many of them change color shades each year. Some are very subtle changes and some are quite striking.
We’ll start adding new fleeces to the sheep’s website next week so keep an eye out!
With one straw- she won’t have to share and she can ‘chill out.’
The record setting cold means a big scramble to plan care for our animals. We started feeding them alfalfa hay and extra grain a few weeks ago. They have bedding in the barn up to their little knees; tank heaters in the water and buttoning up the barn to keep cold air out.
The big group of sheep has big round grass hay bales outside their door. They like to run in and out of the barn when the sun is shining. We don’t lock them inside, they are amazingly wise about getting through this weather. They each have their favorite place to stay warm. Many times they are in groups of three or four all sleeping by each other. Jammie party!! (They do tell me I worry too much. I don’t agree!)
This weather is specially hard on older animals. We lost our Cosmo and Theo sheep to pneumonia. I’m so sad about them. They tried but they were 17 years old. It was time for them to head to warmer pastures in the sky. Sigh. So far no more casualties. A majority of our flock is over the age of 8 so I guess we have quite an elderly flock again. And we only have 35 sheep? THAT feels weird too. But that’s a story for another day.
Jim and I keep a close watch on everyone outside. We take turns checking on them. We would be no use to ANYone if we managed to get frostbite. The coldest it got here included -50 degrees with the wind chill factored in. Today (1/31) we have a heat wave going on! It is currently only -9. The weather guessers say it will be 30-ish by Sunday. Accompanied by freezing rain. Argh.
The sheep will love it though. Between thawing of snow and freezing rain, this farm will be a right proper ice rink. I know they have their little skates hanging up in the barn for just such an occasion!
Stay safe and warm everyone!
There is a lot of buzz around a new campaign against shearing sheep. It claims “sheep should never be sheared because it is cruel and inhumane.” It is actually inhumane NOT to shear a sheep each year. And here’s why:
Wool grows much like our own human hair. If you do NOT shear a sheep, it continues to grow and grow and grow and grow. Turning into matts/felting that tangles so much a sheep may not be able to walk properly. This opens up opportunities for predators to move in since the sheep cannot run fast enough. Flies also take advantage of an unshorn sheep. They lay their eggs in the wool and when they hatch very painful things happen to the sheep. Believe me, it’s ugly and awful. If wool is not trimmed around a sheep’s eyes they can go ‘wool blind.’
Remember Shrek the sheep? Who evaded shearing day for 6 years or so? He was a wonderful fellow who went on to be a service sheep. You can read more about him here, with lots of reasons to shear sheep and what it is like for the sheep. The photos are amazing!
There is also a lot of great information about wool here:
You can read up on our thoughts about shearing here at the Homestead here…
Smooches from the sheep!
Are you all in the holiday spirit yet?? Don’t faint but I might set up a tree this year INSIDE. The sheep always have a tree with lots of lights outside.
Small Business Saturday will find us at my friend Jenny’s Old Stage Alpaca Farm! She invited us to bring the sheep’s yarn over to sell. I’ll be there all day. It will be so fun to spend a day with Jenny and her critters. I hope some of you can get there too. Here are the details:
Woolen Arts and Holiday Store!
Open Small Business Saturday
November 24 from 10 to 4
Old Stage Alpacas
60 Washington Road, Edgerton, WI 53534
Yarns, rovings, fleeces from our alpacas, llamas, guanacos and angora goats.
Socks, mittens, scarves too!
My sheep have been busy adding new items to the website. If you can’t join us at Jenny’s, you can always find us on the sheep’s site!
Happy Thanksgiving from the sheep, hope you have lots of time with family and friends. Safe travels and safe home!
Sandy & Jim Ryan
PS- this is one of my favorite pictures of our Bobbi and Andrew Pyrs from years past. They were NEVER sure they were in the holiday spirit, specially when we made them pose with silly hats on their heads!
Oh such silly questions you ask! Every year we promise each other to have the sheep and barns set for cold weather. BEFORE it arrives. Nope, not this year either. It was 50 degrees one day and today 21. No wonder people get so sick in the winter!
Anyhoo, Jim and I spent today putting tarps, plastic and plywood up on the barns. Both groups of sheep will be in the dairy barn for winter. The horses and llamas have the back barn to themselves now. The goats are so silly but quite happy in their cabin/courtyard.
Tomorrow there is more fence to walk so the Pyrs can have a larger area to patrol than the back yard. We got a dusting of snow two nights ago. My wish is that all our sheep winter well AND we have a traditional WI winter. SNOW not ice like we’ve had the 10 years or so.
I love having the sheep all cozy and warm. Makes for nice midnight visits to the barn!
(The horses were very helpful. Snort. They were too busy napping. Notice the little kitten photo bomber?)
Last fall a few sheep from Michigan joined our flock! We’ve never had CVM/Romedale here- they are a very rare breed. They are sweet sweet girls and you can read more about them here…
I have not touched a CVM/Romedale sheep, much less had the opportunity to spin wool from one. Consider me smitten!
It is just as soft as Merino wool but easier to wash because the CVM/R has less lanolin. It also reminds me of Corriedale because there is a little bounce to it. Our girl’s fleeces average 4 inch long locks and a variety of shades of white, silver, gray and black. Ooh la la!
The sheep are from Michigan and their family owns a grocery store. A nice group of people near us donated produce. It took me a minute to think up why the CVM/Romedale girls were so gleeful about produce? Egads Sandy!
The sheep thought this article was applicable to some of our own business. We work hard to find new uses for things we come across and believe in using everything we can in our yarn, from our fleeces and for our sheep. This also talks about the cost of such ideas and beliefs. It doesn’t cover EVERY part of our personal business. However, worth a read to see how other people are working hard to be good caretakers of our world!
(And of course, some more pictures of the sheeps!)
I swear I do vacuum our screen windows- specially in the kitchen. I named this spider Charlotte. She’s been very busy- it’s a beautiful web. I’m not big on spiders so if I see words in her web, it will freak me OUT! She is outside though!
Hide and seek fail! It’s an epidemic here it seems?
I will post more as I come across them- what a hoot! In the mean time, our friend Linda sent this poem to us- written by Dorothy Keely
I'm hiding, I'm hiding
And no one knows where;
For all they can see is my
Toes and my hair
And I just heard my father
Say to my mother -
"But, darling, he must be
Somewhere or other;
Have you looked in the inkwell?"
And Mother said, "Where?"
"In the INKWELL?"said Father. But
I was not there.
Then "Wait!" cried my mother —
"I think that I see
Him under the carpet." But
It was not me.
"Inside the mirror's
A pretty good place."
Said Father and looked, but saw
Only his face.
"We've hunted," sighed Mother,
"As hard as we could
And I am so afraid that we've
Lost him for good."
Then I laughed out aloud
And I wiggled my toes
And Father said —"Look, dear,
I wonder if those
Toes could be Benny's?
There are ten of them, see?"
And they WERE so surprised to find
Out it was me!