Monday, April 30, 2007

A wonderful festival

Here are a few pictures from the CT Sheep and Wool Festival last Saturday. It was a very nice event, with a great group of vendors, sheep events such as shearing demos and ongoing demos about how to skirt a fleece, plus a sheep to shawl contest; the judges were the famous Roving Spinners, Richard Muto and David Lima! What stood out to me as the best part of the festival was the organization of the association. They had thought of everything to keep it flowing nicely. There was a fantastic Shepherd's Cafe that served lamb burgers and lamb stew plus many other items all day, at great prices. There was a large fleece sale with more than 100 fleeces offered and by noon there were less than 20 left! I heard the gates were closed about 11AM as there was no more parking!And the fairgounds were a nice size. The sun came out just after 9am after a dreary, foggy start and it was sunny all day UNTIL 4:30 when all of us vendors and members had to start packing our cars to go home, and then did it pour! My clothes were still wet when I got back to NH at 7:30PM!
Two thumbs up to Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association for a great festival!
Pictures top to bottom: Me!; happy fiber shoppers; Katharyn Crippen Shapiro of ; Leslie Smith Jackson and her daughter of ; and the booth for

Friday, April 27, 2007

You are going where?

To the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival, tomorrow, April 28th! I have a truck load of wool, fleeces, dyes and related items! And of course it is raining cats and dogs (so to speak!) so what could go in the back of the pickup will have to be stuffed inside instead. If you are in the vicinity of the Tolland Ag Center, Rt 30, Vernon, CT stop by and visit. I will be in the Gold Building, it's heated, yeah! Cheerio!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Button Button?

Button, button, who's got the button? Remember that simple game when we were kids?( I know, probably dating myself!) It was so simple...someone would have a button between their hands and would go around the group and pretend to pass it to each person...and one person would get it dropped into their hands. Then one person had to guess who had it. Of course as kids it was easy to spot the winner, they had smiles all over their faces!

Well, these buttons pictured are great fun also. They are made from Tagua nuts and are part of a successful rainforest preservation initiative in Equador which Earthues has been proud to support. Through a collective the nuts are gathered and fashioned into vegetable ivory buttons, the monies raised helping local villages in that region.

I have tinted the buttons with various Earthues extracts and they make a wonderful finish to your own projects! I will have them posted on the store in a few weeks or be sure to visit me at my booths this year where I will have them for sale.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

True devotion

Here, in the center of the picture, is Memphis with last year's lamb, Charlotte, each with their head on the other's back, just snoozing. What is as touching is Savannah, Memphis' lamb from '03 just behind and to the right watching over them both. Memphis is the only ewe we have who sleeps with her offspring this way, even after they are full grown.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Here comes the sun!

The sun! We have seen it so little lately it feels like the Pacific Northwest! Here is Sidney basking in it's warmth today. Also a few pictures of the fleeces I have to prepare; I am down to the wire now, with a number of them sold and needing to be shipped and the rest to get ready for the festivals, the first being the CT Sheep and Wool Festival, Vernon, CT 4/28 and then on to NH and VT. Check for upcoming fairs and shows this year with a few more added this month. All weekend I'll be wrist deep in the most gorgeous fleeces and with temps in the 60's and 70's what could be better. Our Phoebes returned this morning right to the spot they build every year, under one of our open sheds on a beam. They sing of spring, it has arrived, finally!

Monday, April 16, 2007


The Eastern seaboard and inland areas are getting hammered with a good old fashioned nor'easter. The conditions were ripe for the massive storm coming from Texas and then catching a system off the Atlantic and cruising up the coastline. NYC almost broke it's own record yesterday for rainfall totals, just shy of 8"!

We fared pretty well here on the farm, about 4" of heavy snow followed by torrential rain yesterday, and today lots of rain and high winds, which have died back quite a bit now. This is the view this morning from the house, just dreary and wet. I woke up at 5:30 like usual to hear the roar of the wind, looked out at all the massive maple trees surrounding our house and prayed "not today, dear Lord, not an uprooted tree". Then I thought maybe we should take a couple more of them down just behind the house, $1000 plus per tree, too then I was awake! And then the power went out and Sidney, who hates power outages and gets completely nerve-wracked, was on the bed before I could say Jack Sprat! But the power came back almost immediately, Sidney did not leave the bed. He never, ever does that unless it's an extreme emergency (in his mind)! What's a spoil once in awhile. The sheep are all keeping to the barn, high and dry.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Close calls

Do you ever have one of those times when all at once everything is off and one off thing leads to another? Well, this morning it happened to me. We had yet another snowstorm yesterday and got 4" more of heavy snow. Before I feed the dogs I always go out to feed the birds outside the kitchen window. While doing that I noticed the fencing around the yard was beaten down, one fence post broken. We use electronet fencing, not electrified (although I may change that!), just to keep the dogs from running out in the road. Upon a closer look, bear prints in the snow!
So I tracked him/her and it must have gotten hung up in the fence, unable to get our feeders and so backtracked around the back yard, over to the cottage, right between the two buildings, across the front yard, over a stone wall, down the bank and then down the road away from the farm. One picture shows Sidney inspecting the prints and the bear tracks going down over the bank. The sheep barn is just across the road from those tracks. We have low tensile 7 strand electric fencing all around them, hopefully that will be enough deterrent.
I stepped into the road to ponder the bear presence and there was a big whoosh! and all the snow slid off the metal roof of the garage which is right next to the sheep barn. It was loud! Of course all the sheep blew out of their barn and into the pasture, but it appeared they were alright, most in sight, so I went in to feed the dogs and eat breakfast. A half hour later I headed to the barn to do chores and when I arrived one sheep was on her back in the barn door, not moving. Sheep become completely immobile when on their backs and it will be deadly if they can't right themselves. Do you start to feel my "Oh God" feeling? I ran in and immediately turned her on to her side and helped her up, it was Ashley, our oldest (12) ewe. She stood up, I brushed her face off and rubbed her all over, she started shivering, which can be a good sign actually. I quickly cleaned up the main area and then put out the grain for everyone. Then I slipped Ashley in the barn and grained her separately, boy that did the trick. She must have gotten caught in the stampede when the snow came off the roof and got tipped over. Her sheep coat actually is wet on the back flank from laying down, not from the event. She is none the worse for wear but it was a close call as even another half hour unnoticed could have been her demise.
I stepped out of the barn to get some bedding and a neighbor came up the road on foot asking if we'd had a bear visit. He'd been tracking it all the way from his house about 2 miles away. Apparently it had travelled the road (smart!) and hit every feeder between his place and ours! So Jim took off down the road to continue the track. I'll have to call later and see what he learned. The paw print was 5" across and 6" long; big bear!
When I was all done chores, I took the dogs around the barnyard and saw blood in the snow, coming from Sidney...soooo, I checked his feet and he had torn one of his toenails away. Yikes! Nothing to do on that front, it will heal up. I am trusting the odd events are done for today!

Pictures, top to bottom: Bear prints, Sidney and the bear's path away, Ashley after her grain kicked in!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Signs of Spring

Allelulia! Easter Sunday. 30 degrees, a stiff North wind, snow covered landscape, a fire in the dining room. The sun is stronger now though and by mid-day the snow was mushy and dripping off the roof. The snowdrops are earning their name this week. No matter what, they continue to push their little blossoms up through the frozen snow, calling "hope, Spring, and warmth!" We cleaned out the sheep barn and lay fresh bedding, then Jack spread all the winter manure pile out on the far field; took about 5 trips and that will go a long way to enrichen that pasture. Sidney, the lab, made sure to lead the way each trip, with his stuffed monkey in mouth!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

April surprise!

Ah, New place like it! Saturday it was in the 50's, sunny, robins getting worms and today we have 6 inches of fresh snow and it is 30 degrees, I hear 20 degrees below normal for us all week. It is perfect snow for making a snowman...maybe later after work. Here are some views on my walk with the dogs this morning; poor Shelley, with her long hair the snow sticks instantly. She makes great snowballs! I lay her down and break them apart, then she jumps to all 4 and starts running and barking with glee!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Podcast and Contest

Just a couple of items to report...
I was interviewed by Caroline of The FiberCast podcast about my involvement with Earthues natural dyes and the dyeing process and she has aired the interview which you can listen to at Click on RSS Feed in the upper right corner and then click play interview. That was a new experience for me but it went off without a hitch! Caroline has an incredible amount of talent, energy and enthusiasm for all aspects of fiber arts and also farming. Check her links in my sidebar.

The second item I would like to share is the Jamaica Handspun Skein contest which happens in May and the winner is announced at the Jamaica Fiber Festival May 19th. You can visit for all the particulars and to see the great new website Margaret has created. This is a great spring fiber event for your calendar!