How does the Fibershed Marketplace get all those great photos? It takes a lot of work from everyone who is involved in the photoshoot but the photos are a credit to the skill of our wonderful photographer, Paige Green. I hosted the spring photoshoot and my friend, Jackie, organized everything. Here are some of my photos from the day.We arranged items that were to be photographed. These are my Jacob shawls and scarves. Jackie‘s hot pads and bangles.Katharine Jolda‘s felted jacketWe turned one of my stalls into a dressing room. Shelby is a Farm Club member who consented to be one of our models. First photos of the day were Sally Fox’s sheepskins. There is a lot going on behind the scenes to create these photos. Alisa is Jackie’s daughter and she became one of the models. Her boyfriend, Mark, was indispensable in assisting Paige with her equipment all day.
This is Brooklyn, our youngest model. She wore a hooded jacket and wool socks. Meryl is being fitted by Marlie. Paige used a variety of settings during the day. In this scene Allie modes her rabbit-skin vest.
Rusty was involved in the activity all day. He will write his own blog post about his involvement. We used the sheep in the photos of my handwoven pieces. Meryl and Shelby modeled four shawls. Give us a few weeks and you’ll see all of these items and more available on the Fibershed Marketplace website.
Another great day at the farm and another day that I’m so thankful to Farm Club and my other friends! Meet the Sheep is our annual spring Open House event. It is a big undertaking, but with the help of Farm Club and my family (and some luck with the weather) it went very well. Mary, Joy, and Gynna are three of the crew that arrived early to help with set up. Notice the threatening weather. Just before visitors were due to arrive I brought the sheep in from the pasture… …and moved them to the pasture near the shop so that they would be ready to Meet the People. Jackie set up a booth… …as did Colleen. I resurrected some displays from my Shear Delight days.Shelby and Dona tried out the new photo station that was created by Dona and Rick.The scheduled demonstrations were very popular. Alison demonstrated spinning. Colleen taught Solar Dyeing with Kool-aid……and how to felt a bowl using a balloon. Julie brought baby chicks and bunnies and showed people how to handle the bunnies. I think she won in the Cuteness Category today… …although Mary’s triplets were popular as were the three bottle babies and the six newest lambs. Julie also talked about dyeing fiber.Janis made this cool poster using wool from a fleece she bought in November.
I found a new Season. Field Trip Season. I’ve had 4 field trips here in the last couple of weeks. I don’t get very good photos during field trips because I’m the one who is leading the field trip, but I’ll use a few. Today I’ll share yesterday’s field trip because I got to be a participant (as opposed to leader) of part of it.Fibershed sponsored a field trip for representatives of Smartwool, Northface, Lucy (and maybe others) to learn about our end of textile production. Many (most?) people who purchase and use fabric, individually or commercially, don’t necessarily have a sense of where it comes from. The goal of this trip was to expand the awareness of fiber production–the animals, the farmers, the soil and plants–and the importance of supporting sustainable local farms, and the idea that there is plenty of wool grown in N. CA but not the infrastructure to turn it into cloth. That is a primary goal of Fibershed–to set in motion the creation of that infrastructure and to create thriving businesses that support farmers, designers, fiber processers, and consumers. Whew! Pretty lofty goals? I am always amazed at what Rebecca (creator of Fibershed) has coming up next. I really hope that you’ll spend some time on the Fibershed website because I think it’s one of the most important non-profit groups you’ll find.
On to the field trip. I expected 5-6 people. There was a busload! First stop for us was the pasture. The sheep performed admirably. I had waited to move the fence for the day’s grazing until the field trip was here. The sheep rushed to the fresh pasture just like they always do. This is the group in the pasture. We spent a lot of time discussing pasture management, irrigation, choice of breed, wool types, etc. Friend, Dona, brought this board over, getting ready for Meet the Sheep on Saturday. Some of the braver visitors tried it out.
The second part of the tour was a trip to Mary Pettis-Sarley’s ranch in the hills west of Napa. Mary has a variety of sheep, cattle, and alpacas who live in a beautiful setting. She creates Twirl yarn using unique blends of the fibers she grows. The yarns are all natural colored or dyed with natural dyes from plants that grow on the ranch. The “I” in these labels indicates that the dyeplants are invasive species. A major challenge of raising livestock in the hills is the predator problem. Mary has 17 dogs, most of whom are various breeds of livestock guardian dogs (LGD). They can be intimidating when you drive onto the property, but aren’t so scary once they know you’re on the approved list (or maybe that you’re not a 4-legged hungry visitor). Mary let out the bottle babies… …and I think her part of the field trip won the Cuteness Factor award. We were accompanied by two of the pets on the way to Mary’s wool washing station.Now I’m jealous, not only of the property, but of this. Maybe I’d wash more of my own fleeces if I could figure out a set-up like this. Here is where the fleeces are dried. Mary had several fleeces spread out so that the visitors could handle them and feel the characteristics that we’d been talking about all day. A couple of scarves knit with Mary’s yarn. As I drove way I saw some of Mary’s cows. As it happens, these cows are the daughters and granddaughters of Jennie, a Brown Swiss cow that Mary got from us when we left our dairy life in 1998. Talk about happy CA cows. These truly have a happy life.Look at their view of the Napa Valley if they choose to look up from all that grass. (Alpacas in this photo–they were right next to the cows.)
Here are some of the things that have filled this week: These are 8-9 pound triplets. The third was already up and nursing. I pulled these. This is the lamb list so far. Purple for ewes, blue for rams. I have a lot of new things for the shop, but haven’t had time to play with them or get them on the website. Electric carder, blending boards, and batt rollers (and other spinning gadgets) by Clemes and Clemes. I also have new DVD’s, books, felting kits, and gadgets.
I had a big weaving deadline that coincided with the first week of lambing (which also coincided with my tax appointment). This is just a preview of an item that will be in an upcoming issue of Handwoven magazine. And a new dog added to the workload. You can read Rusty’s blog to learn more about Maggie. There are still more ewes to lamb. I’m on my way to the barn now for the last check tonight.
Eight lambs today brought us to 22 lambs in five days since lambing began. It was hectic today. I had a Lambtown Fiber Committee meeting scheduled here from 1 to 3. One ewe (Delilah) lambed with twins and I put another ewe (Belinda) in a lambing pen just before the meeting started. One of the participants in the meeting brought her kids and the kids needed something to do. They were charged with the task of telling us if Belinda started having a lamb. About half way through the meeting the kids told us that a different ewe had just had a lamb. That was Terraza and I brought her into the barn. By the time the meeting was over there were 5 more lambs (2 for Terraza, 2 for Belinda, and 1 more for Delilah, giving her triplets). The morning began with finding Summer’s lambs. Unfortunately one was dead. (This is not a very good photo but it is of the live lamb.)The third of Delilah’s triplets. Look at those horns.This is Belinda. It’s no wonder that lambs and ewes get mixed up when lambing in a confined area. Belinda was desperate to have a lamb, any lamb.Delilah and her triplets.Terraza and twins. Dona came for the meeting and she took some photos. I like to weigh the lambs so I have an answer when people ask me “how much do they weigh when they are born?”Here are the official Lamb Watchers of the day. This is one of Eliza’s lambs, born a couple of days ago. Hot Lips and one of her lambs.The Lambing Board.
Lambs were due on Thursday, 148 days after the first breeding date. I’ve started watching for early arrivals. Last night I went out at about 12:30 a.m. (after finishing bookkeeping for the night) and found two ewes with four lambs. I brought them into the lambing pen area and tried to sort out moms and babies. I finally assigned two lambs to each ewe and they all seemed happy. In the light of day I realize that the sets of twins are split up. But that’s OK as long as each lamb has a happy mom. This is a beautifully marked ram lamb. Meridian Celeste x Kenleigh’s Matrix. The two parents are both lilac (the color of this lamb) and they should have lilac offspring. This is his adopted twin, but he is black so I think belongs to the other mom. (Meridian Zoey x Meridian Fogerty) Here is a lilac ewe lamb (although in the photo she looks black) so this is the twin to the first one. Meridian Loretta lambed with twins in the middle of the day. I put Loretta in a pen and came back an hour later. No muss, no fuss. Twins clean and nursing. This is a ewe lamb. Meridian Loretta x Kenleigh’s Matrix. Here is that first lamb again. I usually just number the lambs and let buyers give them names. This lamb is tempting me to name all my lambs. I don’t have his name yet, but I’ll think of one. Lambing season has started.
Phyllis is a lilac ewe who was born in 2005. She was sold as a lamb to someone who eventually got rid of her flock. Phyllis came home the first time in 2010 as the owner was on the way to the auction with her sheep. It was a surprise when she lambed in January, 2011 with two black lambs. It seems that she was bred during that last trailer ride.
Look at the size of those lambs at about 5 months old. This is what made me think about getting a ram to raise crossbred lambs for market. That’s how Faulkner’s story here began. In 2011 Phyllis went to a nearby farm as a companion to Diamond, an elderly sheep (a Pensioner in Jackie’s story about this event). Due to the owner’s ill health the sheep needed to go, so Jackie and I picked them up yesterday. Diamond is living at Jackie’s and Phyllis came back here. Phyllis and Diamond in the back of Jackie’s van. Diamond at Jackie’s place.She’s in the front of the group here and that’s Marley going to greet her. Here we are back at my place. Phyllis has a very nice fleece. She is right in the middle there–the one with more fleece.
During the winter the sheep are mostly in the barn and corral area. The pasture doesn’t drain well and I don’t want it to be a trampled mess. I’m also waiting for there to be more growth there. It’s been dry enough the last few weeks that I opened the gate to the small paddocks near the barn. The sheep were thrilled to get out to that grass.
This is Summer (the sheep, not the season). This is Spring (also, not the season). Here is Eliza. They are all looking a little heavy, but that is because they are due to lamb in about a month. Stephanie, the old goat, is so stiff in the cold weather we’ve been having. I walked her out here to enjoy the grass. Most of the sheep kept their heads down eating. But Kyra just wanted to play. Happy sheep! I still have the new lens on the camera. It is a 40 mm lens and I wasn’t that close to the action. I’m surprised that I was able to crop the photos to this degree and still have them relatively sharp.
Remember the cloud photos? The next photo challenge is Round. This was my first choice that I found when I hunted through my photos. Then I went to the barn with my camera and the new lens.