Lately…

fall

The grass is all gone now, and there is an inch of snow on the ground. These ladies were fed hay in the valley to try to persuade them from eating the grass all the way to the ground. Much of it went dormant but they definitely prefer grass to hay.

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This is what the valley looks like now. Sorry about the dark picture…I used my iPhone after the sun was setting and it was just as cold as it looks. We went on a little hike on our property to find a Christmas tree for our home.

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It feels pretty special to not have to leave our property to get a tree. Since we moved from California to Colorado in 2010 we haven’t had to buy a tree. Even before then, we had a planted tree in a pot that we would bring into the house and decorate, then place it back outside when the holiday was over.

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My hubby was in Canada for work for 3 weeks before Thanksgiving so the kids and I roadtripped to Idaho to meet up with him and his family. It was pretty special. The drive was beautiful. This is in Monticello, Utah. It is right near Moab. I am not fond of the desert, I much prefer trees and water. But on a cloudy day when it is cool, I can see the beauty easily.

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We are back home now, and it has snowed and been really cold. We have spent this week with the kids back in school, getting ready for the long winter and making sure the water heaters for animals are working, they have shelter, cleaning barns before their poop freezes to the ground, and today we are getting ready to shear 4 lambs that will become meat tomorrow. I must say, this is the saddest day of the entire year for me. Many of these animals view me as their caretaker/mama and I feel disloyal with what has to be done. But we believe it is the right way to eat meat and we never have to worry about what was added to our food or how the animal was treated. They live happy lives with their mamas and nurse until their mom weans them. We also get beautiful lambs wool before they become organic nutrition for our family and others’. It is sad, but I feel lucky to be able to raise so much of our food, honey and fiber on our land in just the way we want it.

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September

We are into our second week of school and I am finding myself with more time and space to slow my busy and sometimes high-strung mind…it has looked a little like this…

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(please look past my dirty windows. who has time to clean windows that end up killing the little birds that fly into them? not me)

The oaks are just beginning to have a hint of my favorite color palette of the year…oh fall is so inspiring, especially here in Durango.

We sheared our two cross Shetland/BFL sheep last week. Below is my boy Rain before…

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Then Rain after…

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And then…the wool…

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I bought a new shearing stand so that we can stop paying the shearer to come out every spring. He did a pretty bad job on the shetlands so we thought we would do it from here on out. We are by no means pros at this, but the stand makes it so much easier because you don’t have to hold the sheep down the entire time. This is Abby below.

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Both Rain and Abby grow wool so fast. Their lock is about 4. inches long and we sheared them in March, so if we wait an entire 12 months it is longer than 6 inches, which the wool mills don’t like.

We are learning and have gotten our blades sharp for the next shearing, which is the end of November when some of our lambs will have to go to the locker…a very sad day for us…the saddest of the year. But it provides my family with organic nutrition and the lambs wool is of course, amazing and doesn’t get any softer.

Finally, this last weekend we snuck in a bit of camping past Lake Lemon. It was wonderful and grounding. We all needed a little of that. The kids took a picture of me knitting which I kind of love, especially with the tiny finger on the right side of the frame.

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Summer Days

Summer sure did fly by this year. We are usually very busy in the summer time with kids out of school, the garden and baby lambs…but this year we did things a bit different. My hubby had work in Canada and it is a place we have fallen in love with the past year. So, we delegated my work of cleaning condos for vacation rentals, took my computer so I could work remotely, found friends and neighbors to take care of the animals, and left the rest to chance. IMG_1788

We were able to spend 4 weeks on Vancouver Island and it was by far the most peaceful I have felt in a long time. The people we met were lovely and generous, the land and ocean spoke to us so deeply, and we got a lot of family quality time. It was a nice break from Durango, chores and it was wonderful to be in the pacific northwest…where my heart truly lives. IMG_1755IMG_1772IMG_1792

We came home to a wild land that we quickly mowed, weeded and cut back. All is back to normal, almost as if we didn’t leave…but I know that Bryson and I left something back there in Sooke and we are not done with that island. Did I mention all the wild blackberries were in season? IMG_5552

Since Bryson drove his truck with a bunch of tools, I was able to stick my spinning wheel and my black fiber I blogged about earlier and I did get some spinning done. It has continued since I got home. I switch back between my two knitting projects, and my spinning. It is such a meditative practice for me and I love the way the yarn is turning out. I will share that in another post soon.IMG_5362

I was able to get in quite a lot of knitting. There was a lot of coastal beach knitting and late night knitting this summer. Though I have been trying not to buy yarn anymore, especially from yarn stores, rather than farmers who I know treat their animals well, I went to The Beehive in Victoria and found this scrumptious rust-orange yarn which is quickly becoming a Pomme de pin Cardigan.IMG_5522

Home again and it has been lovely. Lots of food left for the sheep and the days are cooler than when we left in July. School has just started and we will be shifting our focus to preparing for winter now.IMG_5603

 

That was a whirlwind…

I am home again from our annual trip to the Estes Park Wool Festival. It was wonderful…as it was last year. It is becoming a tradition for my mom and I to travel to Estes Park with the lambs and leave my kids with my husband for the week. It is such a busy time and I am grateful for all the help she offers. I arrived Wednesday night, tucked the lambs into their pens, then took two days of spinning lessons with Maggie from Shoots, Spindles & Skeins. Maggie is lovely and did a great job helping everyone with all the different levels of spinning experience we had. I met some really wonderful people in the class that visited me over the weekend when the classes were over and I was busy with the sheep.

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Now, my time was very filled that week, and taking nice pictures was not something I focused on…so please bear with these few, far-from-fancy photos.

Saturday is when lots of people come through the Market place at the festival and the animal barns. Since I have lambs for sale, I have to show them in order to bring them to the festival. Since I have lambs in the barn, I am also allowed to sell items from our farm. I brought tons of roving, black, grey and white (all natural colors) and some yarn that I had naturally dyed…you can see the yarn in my previous post. Saturday was wonderfully busy and I met a lot of people, and sold a lot of wool. It was a great experience and it is fun to see people appreciate our product. Here is a picture of a few of my lambs and their fleece…

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I sold out of all my roving, except for a few ounces of my grey roving. I thought for sure I would have some of my black roving from Rain, but a special lady bought his entire bag of roving, and a bag of pure BFL white roving. I have the sheep, so I was thrilled to sell it, knowing I can have more in the future, but then I was on a hunt for a black fleece because I really want to make a black sweater for myself.*i am partial to the black fleece*  I am drawn to the cormo and cvm breeds of sheep and ended up buying a beautiful black cvm/corridale/wensleydale cross fleece grown by a sheep named Albert, a brown cvm cross fleece and a white bond/cormo cross fleece from a friend in the sheep barn. The day after I got home,  still with a suitcase full, I pulled this fleece out to wash it because I just cannot wait to get my hands spinning this.

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Isn’t it pretty!? I threw it in a tub to wash and had some little helpers with me.

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It have very little vm in it, but a good amount of dirt, as it should for sheep that live a happy life outside in the pasture. It is dry now and I have begun flicking it so that I can begin carding.

Wool is so wonderful, and so are many of the people that I was lucky enough to meet during this wool intense week in Estes Park. I came home and sold two ram lambs the next day to some other wonderful farmers in my area so we have enough now to cover all the hay we have to buy for the winter here in Durango. It has been a productive and plentiful season here with all this sweet flock.

 

 

hello

10 year anniversary trip to bc canada (18)

I suppose I should start with an introduction to our family. I am married to my favorite person on this earth, Bryson. He is the man that does it all, can fix it all and has created all of this. He found our property, built our home, installed every fence and planter…you get the idea. We have two children…our 8 year old son, River, who loves to garden, read and play Pokémon…and a just turned 5 year old daughter, Ila, who loves all animals and is always up to do anything! I love my family so dearly, and feel so lucky to have the relationships I do with these sweet people.

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This website is here to share some ups and downs of our farm, and to spread the idea that you can raise a small flock in a healthy way, with happy animals and people. That you can treat a little lamb with probiotics instead of antibiotics if they are sick, and that sometimes farm does mean as much death as it does life. We just do our best everyday to balance the work with smiles, and pausing for those special moments most days because we live a life where we can. Welcome.