So shearing is over for another year! The weather was absolutely perfect! I was working in a sleeveless T-shirt most of the day...and this, after the worst stretch of winter anyone can remember...it was an answer to prayer!
Our shearer is young, and small, and FAST. She does not take breaks. She does not chit chat. She shears, and shears, and...oh wait...she did stop once, when she saw HOOVES sticking out of a ewe! You can see the results above. I named her Kalyspo. I know that's not you you spell it, but we're on "K" this year, so I had to get creative. She half Icelandic because there was an Icelandic ram in the Rebel Horde [which is what I call the group of sheep that spends the whole summer outside the fence.] Since last year was so extremely dry, the electric fence was not working properly, and the Rebel Horde was bigger than usual. Anyway, the ram lamb grew up, and resulted in several half Icelandic lambs born way too early! We prefer to shear everyone before they lamb...but we are over halfway done now...
Between Josie in labour and delivering on the shearing floor, and Eweliette having a lamb as she waited to get shorn, and Fiona just starting labour after she got sheared, it was an interesting day!
And then of course, there was Frostbite. [See him below] I had to break my letter rule just for him. He was born on January 28. the day BEFORE we got stuck in the Polar Vortex. He was born outside, with no intervention. He had no jacket. No heat lamp. Nothing. He survived his second night when the ambient temperature was -40 C. Without factoring in the windchill! There were cold warnings everywhere. Being half Icelandic, and having all that fleece, really helped him. But we REALLY don't like lambing that early...maybe NEXT year we'll get it right!
I have decided that my soap needs to be stamped. Something to show who made it. Something to make it stand out... OK, let's face it...something to help it sell! So I watched a few YouTube videos, and went out and bought some fiberglass resin. Now, to carve a small bar of soap with my logo...
Maybe not! What about...
Maybe we're getting somewhere! I still have to clean it up, but I think I might actually make this one and see how it works. I don't know if I like the "TS" at the bottom, but I want Tall Spruce to be represented in some way...
I think I 'm going to try this one... wish me luck!
The resin is poured...now I just have to wait...some people might take this time to do some housework, but I would MUCH rather work on my blog!
Here is the "finished" stamp...the air quotes are because I still have a bit of work to do on this...we need to grind down the ridge around the outside edge, and I need to actually USE the stamp. But herein lies the problem - all my soap is SO hard that it cannot be stamped! I would need to do it right after I cut it, so I need to make another batch of soap, I guess!
Just FYI, the outline of the tree is raised, but it's hard to tell in the picture. I am planning to make another stamp, but with the whole tree raised...that will be for another blog.
I have just spent a lovely weekend at the Harvest Sun Music Festival...it's a very relaxed venue, with a small vendors market...I have had a table there for the past 5 years or so. This year, my combined sales from the 2 days did not even match my usual one day total. Why? My stuff is not worse. I have, if anything, even MORE variety.
I know that my table looks a bit chaotic - there are hats, and mittens, and skeins of handspun yarn, and dyed roving, and finger puppets, and tiny bookmarks, and those knitted covers for cast iron pan handles...and dryer balls, and soap made from all local, natural ingredients. And needle felted little creatures, and scarves...you get the idea. Everything is natural fibres; no acrylic can be found on my table. I dye it all myself, and spin the yarn, and knit the items...and I think I"m tired of it... I feel like I need to move toward online selling...so I plan, in the near future, to take photos of all my things, and have them available for purchase from here... and I find myself to be a bit sad, because change is always hard...but lugging my stuff around, and setting up my table, and taking it all down, is also hard. So if anyone has any advice about this, I'm open to suggestions!
I even have soap now! I use local lard that I render myself, and sheep tallow from our sheep, with natural colours and scents. This is NOT smelly soap; it's very plain, but it works so well! It's super gentle on skin. My son, with his sensitive skin, will use nothing else. I even made some felted soaps for this. They created a lot of interest, but generated no sales.
But I have a new project to work on! I was given some of the saponin that comes off quinoa when you clean it...it makes lots of bubbles when wet, so the theory is that I can add it to my non-lathering soap to get lather...I can hardly wait to see if it works!
Last week, I went out to check on my cherry thicket. [I can't say "tree" because there are too many of them...apparently they spread.] The young tree that produced well last, on the North side of the thicket, had a few cherries, but not many. I walked around to the East side, where I saw no cherries, and a bunch of dead branches on the original tree.
OK, so there were a FEW cherries. But you see what I mean, right? I was relieved, because we were headed into a heat wave, and I did NOT feel like picking cherries any time soon. But they are nice to have in the freezer, and they make great jam... hmm... Anyway, I wandered around to the south end of the bush...
A few cherries up high, but few enough that, if I let the birds have them, I would not have to feel too guilty. Right? I'm not sure what prompted me to go just a bit farther...but I did. And this is what I saw...
Millions of cherries! WAY too many to ignore...and then I suddenly was happy to have them. And it made me think about something very important. Perspective.
So many times in life, we think we know what's what.
We think we see the whole picture, just like I did right BEFORE I took those last few steps. [hey, this is getting even deeper than I planned...]
But we can't ever see the whole story. We only can ever see things from our perspective. We may go through scary times, or sad times, but we can't see what's around the corner. In my case this day, it was a whole BUNCH of red cherries that I was convinced were not there... [just FYI, earlier in the season, I did not see blossoms in that part of the bush, so I didn't expect cherries there. Obviously I missed something.]
I don't know about you, but I find this very encouraging. I am happy to believe that God has things under control, and I don't have to worry. I just get to pick the cherries.
This year we [OK, my husband!] fenced in a part of our land that is just weeds...we cant afford to spray it and fertilize and seed it properly, so we did nothing...thank goodness sheep love weeds! AND they produce free fertilizer! Well, after we had moved the sheep off of this new pasture earlier this month, onto the "real" pasture, [which is full of shady trees and lovely grass] there was a select group of rebels - actually, they are almost all my daughter's Icelandic sheep. VERY independent thinkers.
Here is what I realized yesterday... the rebel horde, as I call them, THINK they are totally independent. They're going where they want to go, doing what they want to do. [what they want to do is crazy - there is nothing to eat on the field that they insist on grazing! Like really, nothing...thistles and foxtail... it's bad. And the "real" pasture, where we want them to go, is lovely, and shady. The water trough is nearby. Things are much better for them on the other side of our property. But they won't go there...they are too stubborn. We always watch out for them, and make sure they are safe. We don't forget about them, even though they want nothing to do with us. It reminded me of how God must see us sometimes, thinking we are doing or own thing, and it's not nearly as good as the thing He wants to do for us. But we refuse to follow the Shepherd.
I live on a quarter section of kind of crappy, kind of good, land, a few miles outside of a tiny village nestled against Riding Mountain National Park. When I look out my west-facing windows, I see the Manitoba Escarpment. Which we call mountains. There are no mountains. When I first moved out here, I was excited to see them from the other side...guess what? There IS no other side! It's all rolling [beautiful] farmland until you see a panoramic vista open up before you, and you are going DOWN...and then you're back in farmland. But it's what is on that down slope that's so wonderful. The trees, and valleys, the wildlife...but I digress...
On our farm, we have about 70 ewes. I work part time, and my husband works full time...our kids are young adults now, so we're in that transition. Each of our kids owns their own sheep, so any work that needs to be done should, theoretically, be done by each of us...right? Well, that usually works.
I am a devoted Christian, and we attend a small church in our town. Some of my blog posts will relate to this. Some of them will be about my adventures in wool processing, spinning, knitting, dyeing. etc. And some will be about country life, a subject I am passionate about.
Just to whet your curiosity - the next post will be about the first and last of these...