Monday, April 30, 2012

I Live On A Farm!

So it's true - little lambs really do eat ivy!
So it all started a while back after I got into knitting.  The whole process of knitting is so fascinating to me and the more I knit the more I wanted to knit and the more I wanted to learn about knitting.  I started reading blogs about knitting and listening to podcasts about knitting and I realized that many knitters were also spinners.  I recall as a little girl loving the story of Sleeping Beauty.  There is a part in the story where Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on the spindle while spinning.  That never made sense to me because as far as I know there are no needles or pins involved in spinning!  Anyway, I digress.  My point is that I have had a life-long fascination with spinning but in all honesty I didn't know that you could even still do it.  I mean, I didn't realize they even still made spinning wheels.  But podcasts such as the Knitmore Girls and The Knit Wits made me realize that not only can you still get a spinning wheel but it is an art that is becoming more and more popular. 

I also loved learning about different fibers and what makes some fiber better than others to knit with.  An idea began formulating in my head.  Wouldn't it be amazing to raise a sheep, shear it, process the wool, spin it, and finally knit it into a sweater?  At first I dismissed the idea as something that would be impossible to achieve.  My life is busy enough thank you very much.  But like all good and fun ideas, it just would not go away.  I began researching what kind of sheep would produce the desirable fiber I wanted, just in case my dream ever got legs.

This brings me to last week.  I mentioned my idea to my husband and to my surprise he said "Do it"!  I guess I don't know why his response surprised me.  He loves raising animals and he has always been 100% supportive of my love of knitting.  But I wasn't prepared for his enthusiasm.  He went to a farm auction the next day to look for a sheep.

He came home with a steer.

My daughter with Little Bill
He texted me a picture of a sweet 2 week old, bottle-fed,  little Jersey steer and I was hopelessly in love.  That is how we became the surrogate parents of the sweetest little Jersey calf you can imagine.  His big doe-like eyes can melt butter.  He loves to be petted and played with.  He is absolutely adorable.

My husband also informed me that apparently Friday at the sale is for cattle but sheep would be selling on Saturday.  So we went back to the farm auction.  It turned out to be a bit frustrating for me because while I knew the name of the sheep breed I was looking for, I couldn't recognize one when I saw it.  And the auctioneers don't mention the breed as they are being sold.  I quickly realized that buyers were looking for meat sheep, not fiber sheep and none of them had ever heard of the breed I was interested in.  We went home to our little steer empty handed.

That same afternoon a neighbor came by to help my husband put some trim up on the barn and we got to talking about our experience.  He listened intently and said, "I know someone you need to talk to".  He pulled out his cell phone, dialed a number and handed me the phone.  A nice woman answered and I explained to her what I wanted to do.  She was very friendly but again, she didn't know about the breed I was looking for.  However, she did know where to point me.  She told me I needed to go to a place called The Sheep Shed.  Apparently, about 30 miles aways from me was a sheep farm that specialized in fiber sheep.  Wow!  I immediately called and connected with a most amazing woman who instantly knew exactly what I wanted and why.  She invited me to come over and told me she had two sets of lambs she just knew I would love.  Both sets had been born as a set of quads and a mother ewe can only nurse two babies well so they had pulled the other two and they have been bottle fed.  My husband and I jumped in the pick-up and quickly drove to The Sheep Shed.

I have lived here in this area for many, many years and I truly don't know how I didn't know about his place!  It is a family owned business that raises sheep for meat and fiber.  Not only do they do that, but Cleo, the matriarch of the family, teaches how to process wool and spin it.  It is a one-stop shop to learn everything I want to do!  I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

They showed us the lambs and I immediately chose the one month old brother and sister Rambouillet/Border Leicester Cross.  One is black and the other is white.  Cleo showed me what their fiber would spin up like.    After learning how to bottle feed them and care for them we loaded them up and brought them home to take up residence with Little Bill the calf.

They are so much fun!  Bottle feeding animal might get old if you have to do it forever but I can't imagine ever getting tired of it!  There is just something so natural, so earthy, so satisfying about taking care of such sweet and gentle creatures.

So now our little farm has horses, lambs, and a calf.  Next time I will tell you about....................

...............the chickens!

Monday, April 23, 2012

April Potpourri

Longer days, warmer temperatures, green grass, and blooming spring flowers make for one happy lady at the Nest! Our winter was mild, as far as winters go, but oh my, how I love summer!

The spring cleaning bug bit me mildly and I decided to paint my living room.  I did the kitchen/dining room last year.  I chose to carry the brown from the dining room into the living room and selected a darker brown to do an accent wall and the plant shelf area.  I really, really loved the results.  Choosing paint colors is so intimidating to me and I finally decided to just pick something, anything and get going.  When it was all done I wanted something fresh and new to hang on my quilt rack.  My sofas are a spring green color and so I wanted something to tie the browns and greens with a small red accent.  I found the perfect thing in my sewing room.  It was from a quilt kit that I have had for several years.  How exciting to get a new wall hanging and not spend a dime!
I didn't measure it for my rack and it ended up being just a bit to wide.  I had to fold in the side borders.

It is so wonderful to be able to be outside with the kids.  Here they are reading the Bible together.  Tyler was reading to Ava Claire about Adam and Eve.  I'm not sure where his version of the story came from, but it was quite entertaining!

I finished knitting a shawl I have been working on for several months.  Right after Kate Middleton married Prince William, she was spotted at a grocery store with a green shawl tossed casually over her shoulders.  Knitting designers everywhere went crazy trying to design a replica.  I chose this pattern called the Duchess of Cambridge Shawl.  I went with a wool/silk blend yarn in a colorway called Moss Tonal from Black Sheep DyeWorks.  I absolutely love the color - it has lots of variations of greens in it.  I had a bit of trouble with the pattern but the designer was good to answer my emails and I finally finished it last week.  I will be blocking it soon and then I will try to post a picture of it.  It is really lovely.  I am a bit nervous that I am more of a shawl-knitter than a shawl-wearer.  This would not be a good thing as I just ordered some more yarn to make yet another shawl.  I truly enjoy knitting the lacy patterns -they are challenging enough that I don't get bored and small enough that there is some instant gratification.

We lost a dear family member recently who had fought a long and hard battle with cancer.  He was my brother-in-law and was only 47 years old.  We flew back to Oklahoma City where my husband did the funeral and then we brought him back here to Idaho and buried him in the cemetary in the little mountain town my husband's family is from and that he loved so dearly.  My, he will be missed.  My favorite thing said about him at his service was that he WON his battle with cancer, for he is alive today and the stupid cancer is DEAD!  YES!!  He ran a very hard race but he finished so strong.  He and his family have been Godly examples to everyone on how to die with grace and dignity.

My sweet daughter Jessica will be graduating from college in TWO WEEKS!  I can't believe it!  It just seems like the other day I wrote this post, describing her difficulty in leaving home and starting college.  Now she is graduating with an elementary education degree and moving into her own rented home in the big city down the interstate.  I am so proud of my girl!  She has excelled in every area and worked so hard.  She student taught the third grade this year and absolutely loved it.  She hopes to get her very own third grade class this fall.

It seems that I am going to inherit some chickens in a few weeks!  Now this is something I never imagined myself doing.  There was a sweet lady in our church that talked her husband into getting her some chickens for eggs.  She died just a couple weeks later.  Her husband just doesn't want the chickens and offered them to us.  We thought about it for awhile and have agreed to give "chicken farming" a try.  I don't know the first thing about it but I have been surfing the internet and have found some great websites and blogs with lots of information.  My sweet Ava Claire wants her very own "chickadee" and I think it will be fun to get her one that she can enjoy.  She doesn't want just any chicken however.  She wants a white fluffy one -called a silkie I believe.  I am probably getting in over my head, but we are in the midst of figuring out what kind of chicken coop to built now!  Ha!  Life certainly never is boring around here!

And oh my.  Pinterest!  I have found more things to make and do and try than I ever could do in my lifetime.  And the list just grows and grows and grows.

There are just a few of my April happenings.  See you soon!