24/7 A Working Dog’s Day

I’ve always loved working dogs – bird dogs, coon dogs, herding dogs, tracking dogs.. it’s so amazing to see a dog doing a job he loves and was born to do. It’s exciting.

A livestock guardian dog is a working dog of a different sort. Most days aren’t very exciting. The best days are spent just hanging out with the flock. IMG_9673

Visiting with friends




Making sure that stray dogs and coyotes know that protection is 24/7


A livestock guardian dog works 24/7 for too short a time..


Goodbye Sam,  my friend and a true working dog.
Sometime in 2002 – May 23, 2014

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Snippet – and what color is lilac, anyway?

“a small piece of information or news, a small part of something”
Snippet – the word of the day and the theme of this post. Because sometimes ….that’s the way it is.

What color is lilac? Well, it’s not the color of my pretty new spiderwort plant (a present from me to me).. more like the color of a Snickers candy bar (another present from me to me. Snickers bars are my one candy craving.)


Since I blogged last, we are deep into spring with summer fast approaching.


I love this rose! A $5 unmarked variety I found in a sale bin years ago.


“Lambing is over” really deserves more than a snippet.  And there will be a post soon introducing the 23 new additions to the Patchwork flock.  Fancy is enjoying the green grass of spring!


And shearing is over! Alicia’s fleece is the first one to hit the wash tub and the carder. One down, 27 fleeces to go.


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Just The Facts

Sometimes finding the time or the creative impulse to sit down and write an interesting blog is not only difficult, it’s impossible.

So prepare to be presented with just the facts…

Since the last blog, we’ve had 9 more lambs – 6 rams and 3 ewes, bringing the count to 8 rams and 3 ewes . It’s been a heavy ram year. It made Badger’s twin ewes especially welcome. Hello ladies!


Nine more ewes left to lamb. Updated pictures are frequently posted at: http://patchworkfibers.com/newlambs.html



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If Wishes Were Horses…

I’d need alot more land and alot more money for all those horses..


Sometimes wishes are just wishes. I wished the first lambs would hold off until after last week’s sleet, rain, and freezing temperatures. I didn’t get any horses, but we started lambing on a beautiful day.

Most years I see the the rams breed and have a pretty good idea of when the ewes are due. I have inked rams some years, but my rams seem to continue to mount a cycle or two after conception. Or I forget to change the colors. Last fall I didn’t see many breed and I didn’t ink. This year I’m guessing for most. Lambs could have started anytime in the last 10 days. Polite Patchwork Harper picked yesterday – the nicest day this year – sunshine and 65 degrees.


Some years I do naming themes and some years I wing it. Yesterday was so warm and sunny that it was the first day of the year when we decided to sit outside in the sunshine and drink a beer at the end of our workday. Ahh.. springtime! Harper decided that was also a good time to deliver her Unzicker Abbott lambs ….

Welcome Patchwork Pilsner – 4 horn ram


And Patchwork Porter – 4 horned ram


Porter is missing eye patches on both sides and he has less color on the side not pictured. He’s a little bitty boy – half the size of his twin.
He’s vigorous and bouncy and
His momma loves him…


and he inherited his dam’s fleece.

I wish for many things when thinking about each year’s lamb crop. Perfect horns, markings, fleece, a ram from one cross, a ewe from another cross.

It all starts with healthy lambs and easy births and I get my wish every time a newborn lamb jumps up ready to face the world .

Thanks, Harper…


Harper as a lamb with her dam,  Broken O Melodie

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Not Yet…

But soon….


We don’t yet have 2014 lambs to watch grow. But I’m enjoying watching the 2013 lambs become yearlings.


Moose Mtn Reina and Patchwork Madeleine will be exciting additions to our lilac breeding ewes this fall.


Southwind PopSecret (Pip) is maturing well.


Southwind Sweeney is nicknamed Sweetie because she is!


Patchwork Tempo – another great daughter from Melodie will join two sisters in the breeding flock this fall


Patchwork Jazz. I’m still jazzed when I look at her 🙂

Looking back is fun. Looking forward is more fun! Stay tuned for lambing updates as the 2014 crop arrives.

The papas are ready.


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August Goes To Town..

No, we haven’t started our 2014 lambing. And I don’t really have any new news to report. So I’m going back and bringing up some old news from posts I started and never finished.  This episode took place in April of 2013, April 9th to be precise – the day that August went to town.

Blue Ewe Alicia was a polite and considerate mother. Her handsome boy, August, was cleaned and fed when I did my first morning check. Although I still enjoy seeing the miracle of birth, finding cleaned, fed, and bouncy lambs suits me just fine.


I sprayed his navel and left them alone. A few hours later I checked them again. August was sleeping. All looked fine – until he stood up.


These Jacob lambs are so darn tough. Despite the fact that he was bleeding like crazy, he went over and had some breakfast.

I recognized a hernia, but just was not experienced enough to know how much (or what) of his insides were on the outside.  He was quickly wrapped tightly to slow the bleeding and made a trip to town. I guess I didn’t wrap him tightly enough as we both arrived at the vet looking like we’d barely escaped a crazed chain saw wielder.  My vet is great and I was able to stay and assist the surgery.  The surgery went well. The protrusion was the fatty lining of the abdominal wall, not intestines. The biggest concern was actually how well a new born lamb would handle the anesthesia.


I’d say  he handled it pretty well!

This is something that I probably could have just tied off and all would have been well. This was a promising ram lamb and I was a bit out of my comfort zone attempting to deal with something I hadn’t seen before. As it turned out his horns didn’t develop as hoped and his sale price just covered his vet bill.

It was still a good experience. August grew into a healthy robust lamb.  I really learned a lot by being there at the surgery.  I really learned to appreciate Alicia’s strong mothering instinct. She didn’t forget him while he was away for 3 hours and then comatose for another two hours after returning home.

Lambing is full of surprises. Sometimes surprises we aren’t happy to see and sometimes surprises that completely delight us.

Lambing will begin in 2014 sometime around mid March. I’m ready!

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Cold and Rainy Ramblings

It’s cold and rainy. I need to get registration pictures for my three ewe lambs, but it’s cold and rainy.  I had to replace the water tub for the ewes and that was enough extra time outside. I don’t like to be cold and wet (I’m not sure that anyone does!). My camera got no workout today. But it has worked hard in the past. My hard drive is overloaded with photos. I was looking for a specific photo today and thought I’d share a few photos from the past (because it’s cold and rainy and there are no pictures from today)

This handspun handwoven afghan was spun from Chicory Lane fiber for Katrina LeFever. The afghan headed to PA.


And Chicory Lane Chancellor headed to Georgia..

A happy trade.

Unzicker Jedd and Patchwork Belvedere
Who knows what they were discussing. Maybe commenting on the just ended breeding season? Maybe just being teenaged boys?

Our driveway in the fall – before half of it washed away last week!


Dorothy The Cat (and yes, she spells it with capitol letters – she is, after all, a cat) back when she was small enough to fit in a hat. She hardly fits on my lap these days.


My dog, Maggie

Patchwork Dandy as a yearling. Dandy moved from Patchwork to Chicory Lane – and so my rambling post goes full circle.


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It is a good day to dye!

It is a good day to dye (not die)!

Although I spin my own Jacob Sheep fleeces into yarn for most of my yarn needs, I admit to getting just a bit carried away accumulating practice yarn for my antique CSM (circular sock machine) when I purchased it a few years ago.


The beast has a huge learning curve and I didn’t want to learn using my handspun. Well, I learned before I used up my stash of practice yarns and went on to using my handspun. That is not really surprising as I got a little carried away snatching up beautiful yarn at good prices. I have some commercial yarn left. Much yarn. Lots of yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. Natural fibers (a collection of wool, silk, and cashmere), undyed, ready for the dye pot. Ready for many dye pots. Did I mention I got carried away?

It’s winter. My feet are cold. I like color. My fiber room is overrun. It’s time to use up some of that stash.
It is a good day to dye. Strong hearts, brave hearts to the front!Let’s get creative.

My favorite way to dye skeins is to dip dye, also called space dyeing.  The yarn is first skeined. The size of the skein effects the dye pattern. I generally skein in two yarn bouts as that is the most convenient for me.


I often start with three dips, but this skein started with two dips – one Jade Green and one Turkey Red.  The yarn is partially submerged in a pot of dye and simmered for 30 minutes and left to cool.


Each color addition requires another dip.  Here’s the yarn with the third dip – Brilliant Blue. This adds three new colors – Brilliant Blue plus two overlaps.


And another dip  – Sun Yellow – adds three more colors…



My feet are toasty and four ounces of my stash has moved from my fiber room to my sock drawer.


Many more ounces left..


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Why is the sky blue? How did the baby get in there?  Are we there yet? Why did you put that ram with those ewes?

Today I’m just going to address one of those questions. The rest are up to you (or your parents).

Why did you put that ram with those ewes?  As time permits, I may address other pairings, but for today I’m going to talk about Patchwork Gideon


and his two ewes, Sweetgrass Gavotte


and Hillside Holly


A consideration in these crossings was certainly fleece. Gideon got his soft and buttery, but shorter and denser than my personal preference, fleece from his mama’s side. Both Gavotte and Holly have soft, long, and open fleeces. Both have good color intensity at ages 2 and 5. It’s early to say that Gideon has good color retention, but he has excellent intensity as a lamb,  especially for a lilac.


Gideon is a four horned from a dam that has produced excellent sweep in her two horned lambs. I don’t breed for two horned and I don’t have many two horned sheep, but I love the look of nice wide two horns.

Sweetgrass Gavotte

Hillside Holly

In fact, Gavotte and Holly are my only two horned sheep. They have earned a place in my flock for their fleeces, their diverse bloodlines, their nicely swept horns.

Holly’s loud and frequent voice gives her a special position as our early morning alarm – and our noon alarm – and our 2 pm alarm – well, you get the picture.

I sell sheep, but I don’t breed to sell. I breed for what I like and hope others will share my tastes when necessity dictates that some sheep be sold (can’t really keep them all). Gideon’s lines are well represented in my flock. His sire and dam are both strong flock members as well as his twin sister and half sister.  Bloodline-wise, he has limited use in my flock. Since both Holly and Gavotte are largely unrelated to the rest of my flock, a ram from either of these pairings would cut the inbreeding coefficient almost in half if used on other Badger or Casanova descendents.

All three of these sheep sport correct structure, hardiness, and are from good mothering lines. These crosses were selected to compliment rather than “fix”.

Not all my sheep have 100% desirable traits and some crosses are made in the hopes of correcting/balancing these traits.

Sometimes a ewe develops a dislike for a particular ram and a cross is made because I just can’t change her mind.

Sometimes a ewe runs through the sorting pen with the wrong group. If I’ve had a hard time deciding on her ram, I may just leave her be.

Most times it’s alot of numbers, pouring over pedigrees, looking at ancestors, evaluating individuals, and every so often it’s a ewe that ran through the sorting gate she picked! It’s always a bit of crossing my fingers and holding my breath.

And … it’s always fun!


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SAFF 2013

Judging by the state of my van, I just got home from SAFF. But it was really almost two weeks ago! Today I am almost finished unloading and cleaning the van. Almost.

We had a great turnout of Jacob breeders at SAFF with breeders from NY, PA, MI, WV, FL, GA, SC, NC. I think I remembered all the states. Our traditional Saturday night get together over dinner was around 30 people.

The show was fun and well attended. We did get serious when it was time to show, but things were abit relaxed on deck.
L-R Joe Bohr, Peg Bostwick, Karen Worley, Lillian Royal, Larkin Royal, Linda Bjarkman, Jenny Bennett, Amanda Spirakis, Ted Spirakis


SAFF 2013 or “Conservation via Transportation”
Once again I was overwhelmed with the generosity and dedication to the breed found within the Jacob Sheep community. When I got my first “Jacob” (so called) it was nearly impossible to find registered Jacobs within 200 miles.  In 1995, Patrice (Danielson) Young purchased 7 ewes from Craft’s in Iowa delivered by Bob Norton on one of his coast to coast delivery trips. My foundation ewe, Craft’s Ruby’s Belle was in that delivery, along with some other great ewes – Craft’s Praline (bred to Puddleduck Sir James), Craft’s Lorilei (bred to Spahr Farm Gallagher), Craft’s Salvia, Craft’s Alice, Craft’s Jana (bred to Hardy Hill Leo), and Craft’s Molly. One delivery and the gene pool in Georgia exploded!

Over the years the Patchwork flock has benefited greatly from the Jacob “railroad”. There is something about someone saying “I’m getting some sheep from a far away state, do you want me to bring you something” that I find hard to resist.

I brought home four new sheep from SAFF..
photo-2 Fine Fettle Lance came home to join the Patchwork rams.
Left to right  – Fine Fettle Lance with Royal Unzicker, me with Hunter’s Glen Rudolph and Ronnie Carnes with Armstrong’s Floyd Anderson.
Lance started his trip south at Fine Fettle Farm in Vermont. He traveled to J&M Farm in Vermont, where he caught a ride to the Garden State Sheep Festival. From there, he traveled to Ivy Brook Meadow in Pennsylvania, where he remained until he traveled to SAFF with Royal. From SAFF, he caught a ride to Tiger, Georgia with Ronnie and Debbie Carnes of The Cove Fields.  Lance is a little too big to fit in my mini van with 3 ewes and my SAFF vendor displays 🙂


Moose Mtn Reina (second from the right – shown by honorary sheep person, Jenny Bennett) traveled from Moose Mtn.Ranch in Colorado to the JSBA AGM in Missouri. From Missouri, she traveled to Michigan with Peg and Joe from Sweetgrass Farm and then to SAFF.

My new Southwind ewes made a direct and speedy trip  from Southwind Farm in New York to SAFF.

Southwind PopSecret. Her secret is her lovely marbled eyes and her delightfully sweet personality.

Southwind Sweeney is loaded with flash!

The willingness of Jacob Sheep breeders to help other breeders arrange transport for sheep, often helping to promote sheep from other breeders over their own sheep, has been a major factor both in preserving lines and in preserving genetic diversity.

Thank you!
and thank you to those that sent me pictures!

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