Wool for Sale

I have recently updated my Etsy shop and have quite a few options of our organic wool roving for sale. Some are pure Blue Faced Leicester (BFL)  and some roving is from our sheep that are a cross of BFL & Shetland.

I have also just received roving and yarn from my shearing in March of this year. I am putting together the listings soon and will update it here when they are posted.

Lately…

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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.

Prepping for Winter

The nights are getting cooler every week here which means many different things to us. I love fall…it is by far my favorite season in the Rocky Mountains with all the leaves changing colors. I feel like I get to live in a rainbow for a good month.

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It also means that we have some big chores to get on such as splitting and stacking firewood, cleaning out wood burning stove (which we use 24 hours a day from about November until early March), cutting weeds, buying, transporting and stacking hay for the winter, and separating our ram. We managed to get about 2 cords of aspen wood stacked and have about 3 more to go.

We have been trying to tackle some of the mullein and thistle that grow so fast here in our environment. We spent a day this last week cutting them down, then tossing them onto a fire to kill the seeds and prevent their spreading. This is typically how we control weeds at our home since we don’t use any chemicals. The sheep do a pretty good job as well. Though they won’t touch the mullein, I have seen them eat the purple thistle flower, which I appreciate deeply.

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There are always lots of worms and ladybugs as we manage our earth here, which I love.

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We haven’t gotten to stacking hay yet, though we do have about 30 bales at this time. We estimate that we use about 12 bales per winter, per sheep. We try to sell lambs and get down to our core flock of about 9 to 10 sheep every winter. Last year we went through about 120 bales, and my sheep are always well fed. I prefer to err on the side of fat sheep rather than skinny sheep. It gets pretty cold in the winter, and with pregnant ewes, they need a lot of food. I think this is part of the reason that we have never lost a lamb, and always have super healthy babies born every spring.

As for Bruno, my ram, he has gotten very ram-y the last two weeks. The BFLs and Shelands wait until the nights cool off to begin going into heat, at least up here in Durango. I am worried that I waited a few days too long and he may have bred my girl Blue yesterday. The ewes kind of present themselves and want to hang out with the ram when they are in heat and that is what was happening. Bruno is a big boy, at about 300 pounds and he is really intimidating this time of year. He behaves more like Ferdinand the Bull during the spring and summer, but once his hormones start raging he can be really aggressive. I missed a near ramming two days ago just for bending down and petting one of the lambs.
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So he has to be separated right now until November when I let him breed my ewes. I find that it is more difficult (on me) to have babies during the colder months, and it is definitely more expensive to have heat lamps, purchasing of straw, etc. I aim for March lambs, right when it begins to melt snow here. I can also shear the mamas before they lamb, which is the only way to go as far as my experience has shown me, to save their beautiful wool from getting too much vm in it.

 

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.

 

 

Lamb Update

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All of our beautiful ewe lambs have been sold to a really great farm here in Durango, CO. I am super grateful for their future with Eric at Koru Healing. I am keeping a ewe lamb for myself, and am taking the boys with me to Estes Park Wool Festival this week. I have been busy preparing wool roving, labeling some yarn that I am having a hard time parting with…

yarn3…and knitting this shawl from Caterpillargreen Yarn for our favorite preschool teacher that loves rainbows.

Here are a few photos of the homegrown, organic wool that I will be selling at Estes Park Wool Festival. All the yarn here are from our little flock. All the roving is as well. Some of the roving and yarn I hand dyed with natural dyes such as madder, cochineal and indigo. We even used rainwater for the dyeing and mordanting with alum because we have a little rainwater catchment set up and I thought it would be great to use a neutral ph for the water.

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The white, off-white and black/grey colors are undyed and just natural from the sheep. I also have quite a lot of roving that is available as well for sale, just not in the picture.

It feels so good to be a (very) small part of a product that is safe for the earth, safe for your skin, and safe for the happy animals growing it.

Bluefaced Leicester Lambs for Sale

I have 5 ram lambs and 3 ewe lambs for sale. All are fully registered, Bluefaced Leicester lambs born on our property at the end of March and beginning of April. They are all happy and healthy with their tails docked and weaned just this week from their mamas. They all really have beautiful fleece, especially the ram lambs this year. I am asking for $225 per lamb, and $400 for the black ram lamb…he is exceptional, both in body, fleece and attitude. Please email me if you are interested. I will also be at Estes Park Wool festival next week with some of these babies too!