Enough Hay For The Winter

The donkeys and sheep were very happy with the new hay that was delivered today.

We got it from a farmer who has been experimenting with growing hay without using fertilizers.  He does it by planting certain cover crops to keep the soil healthy.

The hay looks and smells fresher, and it’s heavier as if it were just harvested.

Fanny and Lulu, who have been content at their own feeder until today, chased the sheep away and pushed the chaf out of the feeder to get to the tasty parts of the plants, that fall to the bottom.

Tomorrow I’ll feed the animals their regular hay again.  I’ll save the new hay for the colder days when they can use the extra energy.

After stacking the hay in the barn, I took a step back and looked at it all.  I felt a great sense of relief, seeing the empty space filled, knowing we’ll have enough hay for the winter.

A Hay Shortage

Biddy is one the four Romeny’s that we rescued from a farmer who couldn’t care for them some years ago.

This time of year, I begin to notice how the wood and hay we stored up over the summer starts to dwindle.

The amount of wood we used so far seemed right to me, but the amount of hay made me nervous. It seemed like less than in the past this time of year.   When we got the hay we had less sheep, and I am guilty of sometimes giving the animals more than they need.

So I figured out how long a bale lasts and calculated that we had about 90 days of hay in the barn.  That would get us to the middle of April and grass usually doesn’t start coming up till sometime in May.

I’m not sure what happened, we’ve never been caught short of hay before.

Jon got right on the phone and called Sandy, who we get our hay from.  She always has extra, but not this year.  It rained so much in the spring the first cutting was later than usual and so they harvested less.  And she didn’t know anyone else who had hay either.

When Jon called around to some of the other hay and sheep farmers he knows, they all said the same.

No one had hay.

We knew if it was hard to find hay now it would be even more difficult and more expensive if we tried in the early spring.  So I put a message up on the Front Porch Forum, a local online email exchange where people can sell or give things away or ask for help finding what they need or inform others of a service they offer.

But Jon was quicker.

Getting on the phone, calling around, and getting information is something he’s a natural at.  I guess it goes back to his reporter day. Following a lead.

If it was me, I’d have been discouraged after the first call.  I’m not good with rejection.  But for Jon, it becomes a challenge.   He just keeps at it.

By the time I got back from feeding the animals, he got us 30 bales of hay to be delivered tomorrow.    As we expected it cost more than we usually pay, and that’s fine.

We’re just glad to have it.

Issachar’s Roving For Sale

Asher with his mouth full

I learned this fall that Asher and Issachar’s wool doesn’t grow as fast as the rest of my sheep’s wool.

When I had them shorn this fall their wool wasn’t long enough to make into yarn. I’m not sure if it’s because the time between the spring and fall shearing was only four months instead of six like usual, or if they just need a full year to grow their wool.

I do know I won’t be shearing them in this spring.  But in the fall their wool will be long enough to make into black yarn.

However,  since they were shorn in October I have two bags of black roving.

I’m selling Issachar’s roving, which is a little darker than Asher’s in 8oz bags.   Roving is used for hand-spinning, felting and weaving.  The twins wool is a mix of Romney, Cormo and Blueface Leicester.  It’s soft and springy.  Suzy, who used some in her Seahorse Shawl , said she loved working with it.

Each 8oz bag of roving is $28 + $5 shipping.  You can buy them in my Etsy Shop, just click here.  Or you can email me at [email protected]  I take checks and PayPal.

I’ve decided to use Asher’s roving to make dryer balls. I’ve never made them before, so I’m going to experiment with them over the weekend.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Issachar’s Roving.  8oz for $28 + $5 shipping.  You can buy it here.

 

Finding Our Flock Again

Constance

I sold my last skein of yarn this morning.  I had half as much as usual but it still went quickly.

Antionette left me a message saying that she’d been “following the progress of this wool from sheep to skein” on Jon’s blog as well as mine.  She said it “makes the wool feel more precious“.

This is just what I hope for when I write about my sheep and take pictures of them.  I am still enamored with the experience of caring for my sheep, watching their wool grow back after shearing, then being transformed into yarn.

It’s an ancient story this connection between humans and sheep.  They were one of the first animals domesticated by people over 10,000 years ago.

But what I also love about this story is that it doesn’t stop with me and my sheep.  All of you who buy the wool and make something from it are also a part of it.   I wouldn’t have my sheep without you all.

In this way, we all get to have a role in this ancient story.

And for some reason, even with all the conveniences of not having to raise sheep, shear them, turn their wool into yarn and yarn into clothing,  in order to survive, we still choose to. Maybe it’s a way of keeping us connected to nature.  Or maybe it’s genetic.  A tribe of sheepherders scattered in cities and towns around the world, finding their flock in whatever way we can.

My Bamboo Shrimp Takes a Ride

I think having is fish tank is like fireworks.  Even though there are so many ways for people to be entertained many of us are still enthralled when loud and colorful fireworks explode in the sky.  And enough of us still get pleasure from creating, caring for, and observing all kinds of animals that live under the water in our own homes.

I’m always expecting the unexpected when I sit down to watch the snails, fish and shrimp in our fish tank.  And sometimes I just happen to be walking by it at the right moment to catch a glimpse of something unusual.

Yesterday that’s just what happened.

And I got to watch my Bamboo Shrimp take a ride on the roots of the water lettuce as it was caught in the current created by the filter.

It was too much fun not to share.

Full Moon Fiber Art