Spring Approaches…

Although freezing temps are still in the forecast, the signs of spring approach.

One of the (few) advantages to forgetting where you planted things is the fun of being surprised when a crocus suddenly appears.

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The wake-robin is the first trillium to show up in the spring

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The violets cover the banks this time of year

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It looks like the lady slipper I planted last year survived!! It’s not much now, but just wait.

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I know they are weeds, but I love the yellow dandelions

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And it wouldn’t be spring without lambs. Welcome to Patchwork Chadwick, blue eyed four horn lilac ram (Patchwork Finbar x Cold Valley Loretta)

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Sheepish/Like a Sheep

I’m going through some old blog drafts that I never got around to publishing. This one was from 2016. The lambs aren’t lambs anymore and most have lambs of their own now. But the sentiment still holds.

Sheepish – resembling a sheep in meekness, stupidity, or timidity

Like a Sheep – If a group of people are (like) sheep, they all behave in the same way or all behave as they are told, and cannot or will not act independently.

There are days when I sorely wish my Jacob Sheep would all behave as they are told or even that they would all act in the same way.  Or even show some meekness.

Lamb personalities show up quickly.

Brio is standoffish.

Domino is one that comes up to chew on my jeans.

Scooter is calm. His twin is goofy.

Bellamy and Marloe aren’t twins, but you’d think they were as they are always together. Marloe’s dam, Badger, doesn’t like any other ewes around her lambs, but she tolerates Bellamy’s dam. I had to move Pip and her lamb out of the baby lamb paddock. Dolan would go to play with Bellamy and Marloe. Badger thought that was fine, but she refused to let Pip get near the lambs.

Cleo has a “look at me” attitude!

Minute is independent. Her dam is a nervous Mom – always screaming “where are you?” Minute says “I’ll be there in a minute”.

My sheep just don’t seem to be very “sheepish”

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Stuff

I don’t think of myself as a “stuff” person or a shopping person. We have a small house and used to live on an even smaller boat. I don’t really like to shop.

I do like fiber stuff. My newest fiber acquisition is a Canadian Production Wheel. It’s an A.E. Vezina wheel made somewhere between mid 1880s to early 1990s. After losing out on a couple of CPWs, I happened across this one just 25 miles from home. A little polishing and cleaning and I’m doing a happy dance. I like stuff like this! This is definitely a production wheel for finer yarns – smooth and fast. It’s helping to replenish my stash of hand spun sock yarns.

And I like books. I got some cool books for Christmas. This is my favorite. 111″ of rain in 2018 made it a great year to get interested in mushrooms. We’ve got mud, mold, and mushrooms in abundance in 2018.

And I like beautifully handcrafted works like this silk eco printed scarf created and gifted to me by the very talented Debbie Carnes of Tuckasegee, NC (and Cove Fields Jacob Sheep),

And I like this oddly mesmerizing, strange, and weird painting which I couldn’t resist for $2. Okay, I do like thrift store shopping. You never know when a treasure like this may turn up.

And while I find it surprising that a vacuum cleaner makes it to a list of stuff I like, my Ryobi 18V shop vac makes the list. It makes clean up in my tiny fiber studio so much easier without the cord. And when the studio is clean, I can find more room for “stuff”.

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Those pesky horns

Trimming horns is a question that comes up with talking about Jacob Sheep. Often the question focuses on ewe laterals which can spend a few months going any which way. Should I trim? How should I trim? Where should I trim?

Luna was kind enough to donate a large top horn for educational purposes. This is the second top horn she has lost. To be honest, I didn’t much care for the growth pattern of her top horns and I didn’t shed any tears over the breaks. While not growing in a pattern I liked, they were definitely very strong horns and the breaks were accompanied by copious amounts of blood (not pictured). While these were breaks and not trims, the horn I saved serves well to illustrate what lies beneath the surface.

Luna – one broken – one to go

In this picture, she is a few months past the break of her right top horn and a month or so before the left horn break. You can see the strong regrowth of the first horn. Note the folded look to the left top.

The broken
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She was 8 months old when she lost this second top.

The other side of the horn

Note the folded area. This is not a fused horn. This is normal folding of the keratin before the core comes in. The folds are on one side only. There is no core or blood supply under the folds.

The core area measures 1 1/4″. You could safely cut to that point without hitting blood.

So now we wait for those pesky horns to regrow! Raising horned sheep requires much wait and see and much patience.

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That Was The Year That Was

with a nod to Tom Lehrer and his album of the same name.

The 2017 fall breeding season found us dealing with some follow up surgery for Dave, so we opted for a reduced breeding season. As we catch up with neglected farm chores, we decided on another reduced breeding for 2018.
But I had to have some lambs!

Patchwork Jazz started the year in 2018 with twin ewes by Wiggle Hill Jericho. Moonbeam is standing tall at just a few hours old.

2018 sent Rabun County a lot of rain (110″ at the station near our place) so “mud, mold, and mushrooms” was a theme for the year. Our shearer, Al Potter and his wife, Deb, sent us this award 10″ too soon!

It was a good year to get interested in mushrooms because we sure had alot! It’s fun learning the different mushrooms – some for eating (with firm id!), some for dyeing, and some just because Elsa and I enjoy our mushroom walks.

See ya’ later, alligator

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@#!!%

As things slowly settle back to normal, I was looking forward to a return to blogging.  Ideas abounded! Enthusiasm raged! I was ready to write.

Except…I forgot my password during my almost a year off.  I have two WordPress accounts – this one and the shop. Every computer search for the password turned up the other password (which I have). Attempts to reset my password failed. My enthusiasm for a newsy blog entry began to be replaced by a frantic hair pulling search for my password. My good humor waned.

At last! Success! and I’m back to the world of blogging. If I can just remember my password tomorrow.

Elsa says hi. See you soon!
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Watch out for the teeth!

While it’s true that sometimes an overly enthusiastic (make that greedy) ewe will clamp onto my finger while grabbing treats, sheep teeth are nothing in comparison to hackle teeth.

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These things are sharp! Despite the danger, the hackle that Dave built me is today’s favorite fiber tool. This is a one row blending hackle. Its usual use is to blend prepared fiber.  But I’m not working with prepared fiber this week. I’m attacking a basket of “leftover” fiber – fiber that needs work before going through the drum carder and I’m too lazy to do the work. This is fiber with cotted tips or more VM that will come out with easy picking or hand teasing.

Going against convention, the fiber was lashed onto the hackle by grabbing a handful of fiber and lashing on willy-nilly rather than carefully laying in locks.  By lashing on just a few fibers at a time, the fiber is straightened, the tips are opened, and most of the VM falls out.

After lashing on, the fiber is removed with a diz. This diz came with my Patrick Green Supercard and is called a “roving guide”. It’s really just a diz, but it’s a nice diz.

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Because the fiber wasn’t perfectly prepared, the roving has some bumps and lumps.

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I like the yarn pretty well for salvage yarn.

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Time Flies

It seems like just yesterday I put the breeding groups together, but it’s time to start thinking about lambing already! Lambing will begin in April.

We bred 14 ewes this year to 3 rams.

Patchwork Finbar had six ewes – Patchwork Tempo, Patchwork Flair, Moose Mtn. Reina, Patchwork Marabelle, St. Jude’s Duchess, and Patchwork Sashay.

Wiggle Hill Jericho had five ewes – Unzicker Emily, Cold Valley Loretta, Hillside Holly, Canoe Lake Jewel, and Patchwork Jazz

Hillside Tristan had three ewes – Southwind Indigo, Patchwork Lisha, and St. Jude’s Callie.

It can be hard to pick breeding crosses when you are trying to balance all the diverse traits that make Jacob Sheep unique. I don’t want to lose the diversity of the breed in my flock by focusing on one trait.

So – let’s play “why that cross?”  Completely from my point of view and not intended as a guideline for anyone else.  I breed for what will fit in my flock the best. I have a small flock and I don’t breed to market.

Wiggle Hill Jericho x Hillside Holly

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This is one of my most anticipated fleece crosses of the year. Both have long, demi-luster crimped fleeces, with clean colors.  Aside from fleece – both have the feet and leg markings I like, but neither have freckled fleeces. Both exhibit correct Jacob structure. Holly is a lilac and Jericho is a lilac carrier.  While I don’t breed specifically for lilacs,  it’s fun when they show up. Bloodlines played a big part in this cross. A ram lamb from this cross with this diverse mix of bloodlines would be an outcross for almost every ewe in my flock. And a Holly daughter would also be welcome as Holly turns ten this year. Maybe one of each?

Patchwork Finbar x Patchwork Marabelle

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This cross is an emphasis on bloodlines. In contrast to the Jericho/Holly cross, which combines unrelated lines, this cross combines related lines. Marabelle and Finbar share a common granddam, my flock matriarch Craft’s Ruby’s Belle.  RubyBelle contributed much to our flock in her 15 years with us. In addition to bloodlines, Finbar’s softer, crimpier fleece should work well on Marabelle’s long, more lustrous, less crimped fleece.  Both exhibit desirable horns and both have backgrounds (on both sides) of strong ewe horns. Both are the finer more primitive type that I prefer.  Finbar is a lilac and Marabelle is a lilac carrier.

Time flies – so time to go! Back soon (as time allows).

 

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Just some random photos

I really do plan to catch up on blogging. The ewes and rams are together and lambs will be arriving in April. I’ll post some breeding groups photos soon.

For now – just a few photos from blog post drafts

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Patchwork Badger is not only a great producer, she’s my pet ewe.  A true “in your face” girl.

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Jubal and Finbar “lock horns” as lambs.

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Weaving rugs can be therapeutic. They don’t call it a beater for nothing!

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I was finally adventurous enough to trust my mushroom id judgement and fry up some wild mushrooms. So good!!

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Today, Dave is looking like his old self again.  We are looking forward to 2018.

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Back to Normal (ish)

As some of you know, our life hit a major bump in September when Dave was diagnosed with throat cancer.  It was a long haul with chemo, radiation, a time in the hospital, and a second surgery in July.  We dealt with problems and stresses we’d rather forget, but also found strengths we didn’t know we had and gained a new appreciation for the meaning of friendship.  We feel grateful to have such wonderful friends and family. We’re not quite back to normal, but things are looking up.

On May 10, I lost my 12 year old Great Dane, Maggie, to old age.  It wasn’t the time to think about a new puppy. Our life was still in flux and I was still missing Maggie.

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Finally, it was time! Welcome to Great Dane number 6 (over 40 years), Elsa, a 3 month old pup. Life is better when you have a new puppy to play with 🙂 It’s good to be able to focus on the frivolous and the fun again.  Life seems normal (ish) again.  Hello to Baby Elsa #2.

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Baby Elsa #1 is 12 years old and still here, although she’s grown a bit.

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