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!


Dawn said...

So how did I miss the last post, only a week ago?? Well, you are becoming a farm lady indeed. We have friends here in our church who decided to grow yaks - they also have a couple of calves. They are raising the yaks for meat and for the wool. She is just now doing her first project with their wool after a couple of years. Really pretty yarn. I'll be anxious to see how things turn out for you!

Superchick said...

I told Jeremiah to ask you when are the chickens coming. Jeff raised a Jersey, only cow I like, those eyes are so precious! Thanks for taking care of the boys.