An Inspiring Weekend with Fibershed

I usually like to have photos to go with all that I want to say. This time I have no photos of the main event and some photos to go with my peripheral commentary.  I’ve been working hard to have a full complement of items for my table at the 7th annual Fibershed Wool Symposium, held in Pt. Reyes Station every year.DSC_4788I finished these ten ponchos just in time to take them with me. IMG_1049Driving over early Saturday morning, the brown, smoky skies and red sun are a reminder of the tragic fires still burning in California. (The sun looked red in real life.)IMG_1052Our area is impacted by the Camp fire in northern CA.IMG_1060Once at the venue I got my area set up. We are given one table so I bring some grids to put in back and expand my space. I fit a lot of weaving and yarn into one place.image1Friends stopped by and took photos.IMG_4181Some vendors are outside or in other rooms and have foot traffic throughout the day. I have always wanted to be in the main room where the speakers are presenting. That means the sales opportunities are clustered into a few breaks and the long lunch time.

In most years I have gone home following the Symposium. Now that we have formed the Northern CA Fibershed Ag Coop and I am a Board member I stayed in the area Saturday night to be at a Board meeting on Sunday. A couple of us “camped” at the Olema Campground. In this case it was really a matter of finding the campground after dark and then crawling into the back of the truck to sleep. About 15 minutes after leaving home Saturday morning I realized that I had left my sheepskin behind–the one I sleep on when we camp. I didn’t have time to go back for it. Instead I slept in my sleeping bag with a 1/4″ thick yoga mat on our plywood platform in the truck. Surprisingly I was almost warm enough most of the night if I didn’t put any body parts out of the sleeping bag or move very much, but I must say that there was something lacking in the comfort department. IMG_0313Photo from the inside of the camper shell shows that it was a lot colder than it’s been at home. IMG_1065Fellow camper and Board member, Carol (sleeping in a van next to my truck), went with me as soon as we emerged from our vehicles to go find warmth at a coffee shop while we waited for time to go to our meeting. We were both still dressed in everything we wore to bed.

Saturday’s Symposium was amazing as always. It is exciting when you go somewhere and you think you already know about the topic and then you find out all the stuff that you didn’t know that you don’t know. This year’s speakers and panels discussed the importance of prescribed fire and grazing in restoring ecological systems. The topic of fire was chosen following last year’s devastating fires that occurred right before the 2017 Symposium. It is ironic that the most destructive fire in California began only last Thursday and is still burning. I wouldn’t do the Symposium justice if I tried to summarize all that the speakers spoke about with great passion and the thought and hard work that Rebecca Burgess put into the composition of the speaker line-up. The Symposium was live-streamed on the Fibershed website and soon (I think) you’ll be able to see the video of all these presentations there.

Sunday’s meeting was for the board of the newly formed Northern CA Fibershed Ag Coop, an entity that is separate from Fibershed (non-profit) but working closely with the non-profit. There is a lot of work ahead for the Coop and lots of exciting opportunities but for now we are focusing on getting more members and bringing more goods to the newly launched Fibershed Marketplace where consumers who want to support locally farmers and artisans can buy our goods.

When I go somewhere away from home I often home a newspaper for Dan. He seems to be happy about that. Today I picked up the Sunday edition of the SF Chronicle.IMG_1066This is one of the articles inside. Although they don’t talk about sourcing our clothes from locally grown fibers, they do address the issue of the incredible waste in the textile industry and consumerism. Seems appropriate to end the weekend.


The New Girls

These are the ewe lambs that are still here after selling everyone (almost) that I intend to. (And there were 81 lambs this year.) I’m very pleased with this group and proud that my breeding program has led to this selection.18001-JanieMeridian Janie (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Jane)18021-Maybelle-headMeridian Maybelle (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Mae) This ewe was going to be on my sale list but she had an unexpected tryst with Cayenne and may be pregnant.18041-RuthieMeridian Ruthie (Meridian Cayenne x Meridian Ruth), who just broke her horn and is somewhat bloody on one side. This is another ewe who may be pregnant after the aforementioned incident.18054-Zora-headMeridian Zora (Meridian Cayenne x Meridian Betty)18054-ZoraZora is a pretty little lilac ewe who was chosen from Day 1 for her cute markings, although “cuteness” isn’t listed under the JSBA Breed Standard selection criteria.18056-QuartzMeridian Quartz (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Jade). Quartz was chosen because, besides being a nice looking ewe, her mom is everyone’s favorite pet sheep and…18056-Quartz-hd …I want to see how her 6 horns grow out.18080-2Meridian ??? I haven’t named this lamb yet but she certainly deserved a good one. (Meridian Serrano x Unzicker Shenandoah)18454-Marion-headbide a wee Marion (Ruby Peak Cinnamon x Meridian Maven), who didn’t go home to Oregon after the AGM we hosted in August.18078 JannaMeridian Janna (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Janis). Janna is a big tall ewe lamb and is out with the breeding group, possibly to be bred by Meridian Axle.18002 SopranoMeridian Soprano (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Sonata) has definitely been bred by Axle.

It looks as though I am missing photos of one ewe and that is Meridian Haldana, who is one of the lambs that went to the state fair. Everyone else is accounted for here.

Hug a Sheep Day

Hug a Sheep Day was last Saturday. We had beautiful weather for it and I did brisk sales in the shop. I was so busy that even though I took my wheel and fiber outside I never had a chance to sit at it. I also didn’t get many photos. We always like to do a group photo but I didn’t even do that until almost everyone had left. This is it for photos!DSC_4527Jade is our most in-your-face (but in a good way) sheep.IMG_0541Trista is next.DSC_4542We had a lot of people earlier in the day but these are the hard-core sheep huggers who was left at the end.

Shortest Breeding Season

The last post was about breeding season that started for us on October 3. A week ago, only 24 days later, I called it quits (almost). I had five breeding groups and one non-breeding group. I get tired of feeding hay to all these different groups especially when there is still green feed in the pasture. But mostly I get tired of the rams tearing up the fences. Also, Hug a Sheep Day was the next day and two groups would cause trouble with that. The young ram, Clark was in the most accessible (to visitors) pen and I don’t trust him if someone stands right at the fence. In addition I thought that we might need to park behind the barn and that’s where Buster’s group was. Time to be done with all these groups.

I decided that Axle would get to remain with the ewes in case someone had not been bred and Peyton could keep his ewes for another few days. But that meant that Buster, Cayenne, Clark, and Spark (who had not been given ewes) would be back together. IMG_0510I brought the groups in one at a time and separated the rams. That’s Buster in the pen. His nose is already bloody because he was ramming the panel to try to get to Axle, the young 2-horn ram in the middle of the photo.IMG_0523Most of the ewe flock was back together now and that was Clark’s lucky day! That’s him in the background with his head turned away.IMG_0524Meanwhile the other four rams went into their “buddy-up” pen. The point of this is that they are confined enough that they can’t do much damage. That doesn’t mean that they don’t hit each other but at least they can’t back up 10 feet and come charging.17025 Cayenne-6After a few days of learning to be buddies again they went back to the ram pen with minimal fuss. They all had figured out the pecking order. Cayenne (above) is #2.17025 Cayenne-4Cayenne. I love a nice two horn head.18062 SparkThis is Spark, Cayenne’s full brother, born this year. There is the difference a year makes. Cayenne was born last year.Spark-CayenneBrothers.Buster-3Bide a wee Buster is #1 in the ram pen.Buster-ClarkBuster is 3 years old and Clark is his son from this year. Buster-Clark-3Bookends?18030-AxleHere’s the lucky ram who gets to stay out with the ewes for another few weeks. This is Axle, also a 2018 ram. He is wearing a blue marker…18002 Soprano…and I finally saw some real color. This is ewe lamb, Soprano.Pope Valley ewesToday I moved most of Peyton’s ewes back to the flock. Three of them were the Pope Valley sheep that came this summer, and they immediately found their two friends. That’s the five or them in the front. Large Triangle, 4-Horn, Small Triangle, White Ear, and Crooked Blaze in the back. (They do have names but I remember them better by what I called them at first.)

Start of Breeding Season

I’m behind on posts. The start of breeding season was October 3, the day after I got back from Texas. I have found that when I wait until October all the ewes are cycling and ready to breed. That tightens up lambing season in March.

Farm Club members came to help move sheep and we split them into four breeding groups and a non-breeding group of lambs.DSC_4211This is part of Peyton’s group. He got 11 ewes. DSC_4215Peyton is a BFL and these will be crossbred lambs.

DSC_4224Next was Buster. He was given 16 ewes.DSC_4229All the rams had yellow markers.

It may be hard to tell here but Buster had his tongue out in all these photos.DSC_4247Clark is next. He is Buster’s son from this year. It’s hard to pick him out in this photos because the ewes are all bigger than he is.DSC_4246Clark was given 11 ewes.DSC_4257Last we have Cayenne with 10 ewes. DSC_4264


DSC_4274Last, there is the group of ewe lambs that I chose not to breed this year.

There were also two more ram lambs to keep away from the others and, at that time, still a few butcher lambs. This means a lot of juggling of fences and trying to keep free space in between these group.

Stay tuned.

Texas – All About the Grandkids

Less than a week and a half from the end of our road trip to Washington I flew to Texas for a short visit with the grandkids. I had to fit that in before Lambtown and the start of breeding season.

I got there on Thursday. The flight was in time for Katie to meet me in Austin and then pick up Kirby at school (pre-K now) and take her to her dance class.IMG_9958I had to hide behind another window because Kirby kept looking through the door.IMG_9960In the middle they changed from tap shoes to ballet shoes. The teachers helped each kid get the shoes on the right feet. They stuffed the bows in the toes of the shoes. Kirby didn’t like that and twice she pulled the ends of the bows out and I saw her twisting them around each other in an attempt to tie them. Eventually the teacher tied them and left them out–I think she tied a double knot. I meant to try and teach Kirby to tie a bow while I was there but actually I think she is too young. Next time…unless she already knows by then.IMG_9966

IMG_9973On Friday Kirby went to school and Mom and Dad were at work. Kasen usually goes to day care but he stayed with me all day.IMG_9975He is very self-reliant for a toddler and can entertain himself well.IMG_9976I enjoy taking the kids outside for at least part of the time. The weather this day was very pleasant.IMG_9979We walked to the end of the smaller road where it meets the main road. Kasen loves trucks and tractors and anything with wheels. So we started watching and listening for trucks.IMG_9981I moved him to the bank on the road where we could watch both directions (By the way, look at all those flowers–it’s been raining in Hill Country.) I’d hear a vehicle and ask if it was a truck or a car? “Car.” We waved. Some of the trucker’s blew their horns. This entertained Kasen for at last half an hour.
IMG_9983The road home.IMG_9989Back home with a favorite book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?”.IMG_9991Outside again.IMG_9995Katie and Kurtis have set up a play area for the kids–easier to keep track of them at this age than having them running through the dry grass and having to watch out for snakes and fire ants and scorpions.IMG_9998They love the trampoline and I love the trampoline because the kids are contained. (I thought I had better photos but now that I see these iphone photos on my computer I realize that none are sharp.)IMG_0020The sandbox (built by Papa Dan) is also a big attraction.IMG_0024Back inside with puzzles.IMG_0027You can hear when someone comes in the driveway. “Mama” or “Dada”!IMG_0029Time to go see who it is.IMG_0037It was Mama with Kirby. Time for the trampoline (champerline according to Kirby) before dinner.IMG_0044Kirby orchestrates the play time. “I’ll be the princess and Kasen is the prince and you be the dragon (or alligator or monster) and you try to get me.” Or “You be the alligator and you are sleeping and I’ll be the princess and I’m going to get you.”IMG_0073All I really wanted to do was to lie on the trampoline and look up at this amazing oak tree.IMG_0080Sunset view.IMG_0081I found this creature on the wall of the mud room. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about here.IMG_0082Friday night was movie night. Ice cream and popcorn and getting to sleep in the living room. Kirby chose a Starwars movie but really only wants to see “the princess” and Darth Vader. IMG_0088Pumpkin Day. We went to a local nursery to find pumpkins.IMG_0090After pumpkin selection we went to the chicken yard to select a couple of new chickens to replace some that had been killed.IMG_0092Does someone have an attitude? The look on Kirby’s face reminds me of one of me at that age when I was looking at my little brother.

This was a short trip. I hope to see these kids again in January.

Road Trip to Washington – Day 7

The previous day was the last real day of sightseeing. This was Tuesday and we needed to get home.IMG_9872Our campsite the previous night was at Beachside State Recreation Site south of Waldport, Oregon. The campsite wasn’t much since we backed up right to Hwy. 101.DSC_3876However, in the morning we walked along the beach for awhile and were amazed at the mild weather and beautiful beach. Growing up in Sonoma County, CA (me) and Oregon (Dan) we both have the impression of the northern CA coast and Oregon coast as being wild, windy, and cold.  This beach on this day was gorgeous and I could imagine sitting in the sun and enjoying a book…no time for that today.DSC_3875 We explored the beach for awhile…DSC_3872…but had to get on the road.DSC_3885We drove down the coast to Reedsport where we turned east along the Umpqua River. On the map I saw Elk Viewing Area. Sure enough, there were elk.DSC_3886

DSC_3893Crossing the Umqua River. By the way, all the rest of these photos are “drive-by”. IMG_9879Dan likes to drive and that is fine with me. I amuse myself with photos, most of which will be deleted as soon as I see them. I wish I had a barn like this.IMG_9880Or this.DSC_3895Sign of California.  I usually stop at the Mt. Shasta overlook when I’m driving south but this was through the window, the driver’s side window at that. The sky wasn’t actually that blue but I enhanced the photo so you could sort of see the mountain.DSC_3896We had an amusing time making up stories about what all those Ford vans were doing.DSC_3897There were about a dozen and all the same.DSC_3899We passed them. They passed us. Finally they exited the freeway near Yreka.DSC_3900One of the landmarks when driving on I-5 northbound. I finally got a photo.DSC_3902Approaching the mountains north of Redding. Remember the fire photos from Day 1?DSC_3907 Crews are still at work removing trees.DSC_3909It’s a sad sight.DSC_3919

DSC_3910And it was still burning.IMG_9885Almost home. When driving south on I-5, we take 505, the cut-off towards the Bay Area instead of taking I-5 as it curves east towards Sacramento. I always love these hills.

That’s it! We made it home. The dogs were glad to see us. So was my daughter-in-law who wouldn’t have to do chores again!

IMG_9955One more thing. I was reading a murder mystery  the next week (while on my next adventure) that happened to be set in the Olympic Peninsula. I had to photograph this passage to text to Dan.