Black Sheep Gathering 2017

Black Sheep Gathering is my favorite West Coast Fiber Event. I just wish that it wasn’t so far away. It’s about an 8 hour drive if you just stop for gas and nothing more.

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This year it was important to leave early enough to avoid the heat in the Sacramento Valley. That meant I loaded sheep at 4 a.m. and was on the road by 4:45. I was passing the Sutter Buttes before the sun was up.

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First good view of Mt. Shasta, this year with plenty of snow.

Most of this post is just random shots in the barns and vendor hall.

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Our across-the-aisle neighbor, Teeswater. I can’t imagine dealing with that fleece.

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Other neighbors, Navajo-churro yearling rams, ready to be shown.

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Angora goat show.

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Wool Show judging. That is my ewe, Cindy’s, fleece. This is the first time in years I have entered a wool show. I had planned to keep this one, but I’m still spinning the other that I saved this year. This fleece sold within an hour of the sale opening.

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Meet and Greet with Peyton, the BFL ram who was coming home with me. (See Rusty’s Blog later for a post by Peyton.)

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This is Moo Shoe Pork, a crowd favorite in last year’s Fiber Arts show, created by Nancy (Peyton’s owner) and in the Liongate Farm booth, near Peyton.

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There were several spinning circles in the middle of the air conditioned vendor hall. These were very popular as the weekend wore on. People in Oregon get start to complain when the weather gets into the high 80s. And it did get hot, pushing the high 90s, but thankfully cooled off at night for us campers.

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Dyed mohair locks.

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M&M dispenser. I know, not fiber related, but maybe for keeping up strength while in a spinning competition?

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Our Farm Club friend, Gynna, demonstrating at the Clemes & Clemes booth. I carry this fabulous drum carder and other C&C products at the shop.

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Here is what she was doing. I haven’t tried dizzing off the drum carder before but certainly will now.

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I liked this display of fiber. The purpose was to show how the picker being sold in the booth prepared the fiber.

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I met up with Tina, Farm Club Emeritus, who now lives in Portland.

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She found a rug-hooking mini-workshop in the vendor hall.

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Two of us entered the Fiber Arts Show. This is Doris’ beautiful knitted shawl. She used Lori’s fleece and blended colors to create this gradient. Her masterful work was recognized with the award for Best Use of Natural Colored Wool!

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We had chosen Friday as the day that several of us could go out to dinner. Nine of us met in the sheep barn and it took awhile to figure out where to eat.

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Decision made, but then we needed to figure out who was going where after (motel, back to the fairgrounds, etc), which cars had room for extra people, and synchronize map apps.

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Seen on a car window and magnified about a million times from an iphone photo taken from a lane away.)

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After a good dinner we got a passerby to take a photo of all of us in front of the Eugene public art.

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Love the concept and the You Are Here part.

 

 

Meet the Sheep

Meet the Sheep is our annual spring open house event. That was last weekend. Rusty already shared his story but here is mine.

I rely heavily on Farm Club to make this event a success.

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First was getting pet-able sheep into pens. This is Jazz who is a big pet and has twins, one of whom I’m going to keep and is now named Jasmine.

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Amy, Mary, and Sumi ready for visitors.

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We had vendors. Colleen, with Fiber Confections.

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I offered space to Farm Club members this year. Gynna brought knit caps and other goods. Here is her website.

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Brenda has sheep-shaped soap and other items. Here is her Etsy store.

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Jackie with Sheep to Shop brought a new item–plant boxes made of felt!

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This is another felted piece using Jacob wool.

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Carol of 2NFrom  brought hats and these fabulous new pouches. After Farm Club members saw this there were only two of the sheep pouches left.

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Many visitors come just to look at sheep. But there are other things happening as well.

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Rigid heddle demo by Lisa.

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Blending Board demo by Roy (of Clemes & Clemes who makes the blending boards as well as carders, etc)

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Great Wheel demo by Deborah. By the way, this Great Wheel lives at my house and I have no room for it. It is for sale but I don’t have it listed on the website yet. Contact me if you’re interested.

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Laura demonstrated inkle weaving.

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Alison sketched sheep off and on — in between spinning — and left her finished product with me at the end of the day.

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Julie is the person who many people look forward to seeing year after year. She brought her dyeing demonstration, but also…

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…bunnies. Oh boy, were those bunnies a hit!

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Julie also brought a couple of Karakul lambs and an Angora kid. They all had plenty of attention.

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I can’t believe I got through the day with hardly any sheep photos (although I did spend most of the time in the shop and when I got out I tried to get photos of all the other things going on). That’s Jade who is our best pet sheep ever.

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And this is my bottle baby who found a new mom to take him home.

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This is most of the Farm Club crew who made this possible. Thanks, everyone!

Shearing Day Revisited

Shearing Day here was way back in early February. I wrote a post about shearing the rams, but never got to the rest of it.

As I went through my photos I realized that a lot of them are of people, not sheep. But that is what makes Shearing Day here so fun–my fabulous Farm Club. The Fiber members chose their fleeces this day, but other members were here too. Everyone has a job and it makes the day go so smoothly.

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The star of the show is our shearer, John.

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John’s shearing shoes.

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Stephany and Gynna…

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…and Brenda were sheep wranglers, never letting John run out of sheep.

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Deborah and Lorrian  pushed sheep to the shearing pen.

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Kathleen weighed fleeces.

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Amy worked the gate in where the sheep left after being shorn.

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Mike swept.

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…I could just lounge.

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Here is Hallie after shearing…

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…and this is the beautiful result.

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Trista: “Does this shearing job make my head look big?”

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Speaking of heads several of us wore our Baa-ble hats.

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Some people left before we took these last photos, but there was still quite a crew for this photo.

 

 

First Farm Day of 2017

We have a lot of new members in the Farm Club. This was the first official Farm Day of the year. The goal was to get the barn ready for Shearing Day next weekend and to get the sheep ready too. I never seem to get time to take photos during Farm Days so my iPhone got handed around and other people took most of these photos.

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Right now cleaning the barn involves the trek around or through the mud and muck to get to the manure pile. We spent about an hour and a half cleaning and organizing the barn.

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Then it was time to look at the sheep.

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We caught each sheep.

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We cleaned off ear tags so that the crew will be able to read them next week and won’t have to find me to identify a sheep.

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This is Onyx and Esmerelda, two of the BFL-Jacob crossbreds.

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We brought all the ewe lambs (born last March) in to replace their lamb ear tags with bigger, more legible ones.

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Two ewes had horns that needed trimming to prevent them growing into their faces. It takes one person to hold and one person to use the wire saw.

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Last we went to the ram pen. I was standing with the rams and looked up to see everyone looking in.

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The ram in front, Buster, had something on his mouth to look at more closely.

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I’ll call my vet about this on Monday because I don’t know what it is.

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A few people left before I rounded everyone up for a photo. This is the biggest group that we’ve had here. This is a great way to make the chores go quickly. Thanks, Farm Club.

Farm Club in the City Again

I have to look back at my blog posts to know how long it is that Farm Club members have been going to San Francisco for an annual one-night retreat. It seems that the first one was in 2011 so this is the seventh. As always we had a fabulous time.

Eight of us met at the NDGW home Friday afternoon (see this post for some views of this fabulous home) and then went to FC member Stephany’s  home in the Glen Park District of San Francisco.

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Stephany and Ian invited us to see the recent addition to their yard, half of which has been inaccessible since they have lived there except for going half way around the block and through the property behind them.

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This spiral staircase, which was lifted OVER their house by a crane a couple of months ago, gives them access to the upper level.

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From the top of the staircase you cross this bridge to get to solid ground.

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There is a spectacular view of the city and the bay and Stephany and Ian have a wonderful garden spot with a sunny exposure that is often above the fog line.

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After enjoying afternoon snacks with Stephany she led us on an urban hike. The first point of interest was this tiny garden.

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Only two blocks from Stephany’s home we saw the 78-acre Glen Canyon Park.

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I had no idea that something like this exists in the middle of San Francisco.

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Note the rock climbers on the smooth face of that rock.

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This is us on the other side of that same rock.

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We walked a loop trail and returned to Stephany’s for more scones and brownies. We had dinner at Green Chili Kitchen, only a block from the NDGW Home…

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…and spent the rest of the evening knitting and spinning in the parlor.

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Janis showed off her snazzy handspun/handknit socks modeled after the sheep-motif Baable Hat.

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Three of us are knitting the Fleece Flight KAL.  Mary is working on the third triangle. Stephany’s is in blue and mine is the small one in Jacob wool.

Our plan for Saturday was to have No Plan.

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Well, there was one plan. Every year we have lemon pie for breakfast. We have bought pies across the street but this year Janis offered to bake them. I think this is now our regular routine. Lemon meringue, blackberry, and apple. Way to go, Janis!!

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The serving line. We each had a piece of all three pies. Of course.

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And while not eating pie we chatted and worked on projects. Amy almost finished a sock…

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…and I made progress on my Fleece Flight shawl.

What an inspiring, fun 24 hours. We may expand this to a whole weekend next year.

Nine Days In

This is when lambing season starts to take it’s toll. Everything has been going OK, but there is starting to be some sleep deficit. Thank goodness that during the two days I was driving to the Bay Area to teach classes it was slow here.

Yesterday started just after midnight when Mable’s lambs were born. All OK. I think I didn’t go back out until just after 6 a.m. and Sophia had new twins.  They seemed fine although I had a little trouble making sure they nursed OK. The answer for that was to go back to the house to eat breakfast and then the “problem” lamb was ready to eat.

Mary came out to help and that help is so appreciated. We were completely backed up in the lambing jugs and the alleyway of the lambing area. (I think that’s like when you see on TV shows the gurneys with patients lined up in the hall of the hospital.) So the first thing to do was to  start moving sheep around in the cycle from lambing jug to group pen for a few days to mom and baby part of the barn and field which hadn’t been set up yet. We worked on that at the same time as watching Lana in labor.DSC_6236Lana had a very pretty lilac ewe lamb. Eventually, after it seemed things were taking a long time, I checked and found another lamb, pulled it, and spent about twenty minutes trying to make it live. I don’t know if it was doomed from the start or aspirated fluid during birth, but it could never get a good enough breath and it died.  DSC_6241In the meantime Raquel was in labor. I have been in touch with some students at the UC Davis vet school who are interested in coming out for some hands-on practice. It’s been difficult to coordinate their schedules with sheep lambing, but they were able to come out then for a couple of hours. Unfortunately Raquel didn’t lamb while they were here but they did do some ear tagging, tail banding…IMG_9395…and they listened to the normal and the not-as-healthy lungs of these twins, one of whom has been getting penicillin because he almost died from pneumonia following a difficult birth (in this post).DSC_6252We finally got the ewes with the first lambs out on the pasture. Can you tell where all the mom’s food is going now?DSC_6253After getting the ewe through the end of pregnancy and then lambing in good health, the next challenge is keeping an eye on the udder health. As the milk is coming in (the lesser amount of colostrum giving way to a greater quantity of milk) the udder may become engorged. If there is tenderness and the ewe doesn’t let the lambs nurse on one side it becomes a vicious cycle. Sore udder and teat…no nursing…more milk backing up…udder more full and sore. This can eventually lead to mastitis which, if not treated, can ultimately kill the ewe or at least ruin her udder.DSC_6257Walking back to the house I noticed Mae standing like this. “Lameness” in a ewe who in nursing lambs may have nothing to do with the feet at all, but be because her udder is full and painful.DSC_6261I went out to get her and bring her to the barn. I am amused by her response to me approaching.DSC_6262This is why. Her lambs are hidden in the grass.DSC_6268This is how Mae looked walking back to the barn.IMG_9404This is from the front.  I tied her to the fence and milked the one side, taking 7.5 ounces.IMG_9412Then it looked and felt balanced.  I milked her again this morning. There was another ewe in a similar situation and I had to milk her a couple of times. I have to remember to be watching for that over the next few weeks as these ewes lamb.IMG_9414We set up the creep for the lambs. They can get through the narrow slots on that panel. The ewes aren’t always happy that their babies can go somewhere that they can’t follow.IMG_9422These are BFL-X lambs born the night before.IMG_9420The last lambing of the day was Raquel. After the vet students had left and I had finished working outside I finally went to the house. I went back to the barn to check and these lambs had been born. It wasn’t until later at the last check around midnight that I realized that Raquel didn’t want one of them. But that is another story.

 

First 2016 Farm Day

Farm Club met yesterday with the main task of replacing all the missing ear tags so that the ewes are easily identifiable at Shearing Day coming up in two weeks. There were plenty of other tasks too, but I don’t have photos of much since I was too busy to get the camera out.

First there was the surprise lamb! See the link for that story.

DSC_9222Dona took this photo of all of us as we stopped for a group photo in the barn.DSC_4901This is Jade sporting her new eartag. The ewe lambs’ small tags were replaced with their grown-up tags. I decided to start color coding again. All the 2015 lambs have orange. There were also a lot of adult sheep whose ear tags were missing, so we replaced those.Farm Club 2016We got son, Chris to the barn to take a group shot so Dona could be in it too.IMG_8365We finished up at the ram pen. I took fleece samples to send in for micron testing.IMG_8360Time to relax in the shop…IMG_8367…and enjoy donuts that Mary brought to celebrate Dona’s birthday last week.