Hand Spun

Hand Spun
Campfire Hat

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Lambs Have Arrived

Already I've been educated about sheep. First, they are curious but spook easily. They wanted to know what a chicken was. So they chased mine. One of my hens was injured in the chase and I'm keeping a close eye on her. Her leg doesn't appear to be broken but she's not putting weight on it. She can get in and out of her nest box and she's close to food and water so I'm giving her a couple of days before I panic. The weather is supposed to be cool and wet here so she won't overheat in the coop.
Sheep also chase cats. Kitty came out to visit me while I was on guard duty. I had to sit and make sure the sheep didn't cross the invisible line into the chicken area until Jeff got back from Home Depot and made the invisible line visible by putting up some fencing. Clover, the black lamb, saw Kitty and was curious to know what she was. So she and the other 3 lambs ambled over and gave Kitty a good sniff. Kitty didn't know WHAT to do so she ran and they followed. I've never seen a cat scale a chain link fence gate as fast as Kitty did today. Jeff brought back fencing and now the sheep are in the sheep area and the chickens are in the chicken area and never the twain shall meet again... we hope. Bet I don't get eggs for a few days. They're pretty traumatized!
 Once I had the grain, I put it in the "grain bucket" and started teaching them that the grain bucket means grain and when I clink the handle on the bucket they will eventually come to associate that with their treat. After a few hours of sitting with them and talking to them and taking pictures of them and finally bringing them grain, I got to pet them. They're all bottle fed babies except Clover, the dark ewe. Finley is a wether and the rest are ewes. Finley already let me pet him earlier today but the rest hung back until this video. It felt so nice to pet these little lambs and imagine my surprise at Clover being so happy to be touched! Without further ado, here is my little flock.
They make me think of one of my mom's favorite Bible verses.
"Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another rainy Sunday

It was a gloomy, rainy Sunday here...again. While Jeff was busy outside getting ready for Operation Sheep Delivery which is taking place in two short days, I stayed inside with the birds and spun and knitted. Not a very fair trade I'll admit. While Jeff slaved away I got to play. My project for the day is a merino/silk blend called "MacKenzie" and I finished one bobbin and started another. It's going to make a lovely prayer shawl for someone!
I'm spinning it on Suzannah and the more I spin on her the more I love her. She's such a great little workhorse of a wheel!  She's the perfect height for my body and I can comfortably spin on her no matter where I sit. So I got a lot of spinning done and tonight I worked more on my latest prayer shawl. I'm knitting it from "Peacock 2" yarn I spun from Corriedale top. When it's done I'll post pics. For now, it's a secret surprise. My coworker keeps hinting that she'd like a shawl and I think this one will be for her. :) It gives me secret delight to be able to do something like this and I find myself smiling a lot more when I have this kind of fun secret.
Today was pretty gloomy for most of the day but there was a moment just before 7pm when Mr. Sunshine came out to play. He made a pretty picture.
But you can see the next storm coming and come it did. We're back to gloom again. But the rumor from the weatherman is that tomorrow will be better and Tuesday even better than that. I'm really excited for Tuesday because our sheep will arrive then. I've never owned livestock before. I've had horses but somehow they just aren't in the same class as sheep or cows to me. If the little black sheep turns out to be a wether, I'm naming him Caleb I think instead of Clover. We'll see. His/her name is the only one still undecided I think. Finley, Fiona, and Maddie are all named.
The birds were all very good today. When it was quiet in the house (the Quakers were napping) Daisy sang to me under her breath in just the quietest, sweetest voice and I just enjoyed spinning while she sang for me. She was making up her own words and tune and I reveled in it. I have a niece who used to sing like that when she was a tiny tot and Daisy singing to me reminded me of that. God gave parrots such wonderful intelligence! I'm so blessed to have them in my life. We don't have human children but our animals depend on us just the same for their needs and love and attention. AND, I'll never have to worry about any of them borrowing the car, staying out too late or getting boyfriends I don't like. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Daisy sings

Daisy, with a little coaching from yours truly, is learning to sing "You Are My Sunshine". And she really IS my sunshine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Quaker Parrots

These are my Quaker parrots, Buttons and Poppy of whom I'm extremely fond and proud. Poppy turned two in April and Buttons will be 6 at the end of July. They're both DNA tested females and for my birthday this year, Buttons laid an egg for me. I was not pleased about that. I always worry one of them will get egg bound. Jeff came home on my birthday to find Buttons at the bottom of her cage, tired and eggnant. He called me, I rushed home from work as soon as I was off and by the time I got home she had passed the egg. I gave her some calcium anyway in case she had her mind set on laying more eggs and immediately changed the layout of both birds' cages to make it unfamiliar. According to my vet, making the cage less "nest friendly" makes them less likely to become eggnant and start laying eggs. Since then we haven't had any more eggs and both girls have been much less cage aggressive.
Quaker parrots were the bird I absolutely did NOT want to have when I was deciding on what my first parrot would be. I got a cockatiel (Cooper) and decided I wanted another bird. Quakers were noisy and boringly colored according to my first impressions. It was divine intervention that put me together with Buttons over 4 years ago. Since then, my love of these birds and their HUGE personalities in such tiny bodies has only grown. I actually have 3 Quakers in my house. Jade, who is not in this video, is a bit feral. A previous owner neglected to take Jade to the vet when her leg was broken and she has a permanently twisted left leg/foot that I think gives her pain and arthritis from time to time. She has a fear of human hands which leads her to be excessively aggressive. She came to live with us when my Nanday conure was destroying her feathers and my friends who owned Jade and I jokingly started talking about bird swapping. When we actually went through with it, it turned out to be a blessing to all birds and humans alike. Marley the Nanday is happy and in beautiful feather with Carlos and Carrie and Jade is flourishing and happy and coming out of her shell with other Quakers to be around. She does not like to be filmed however. So I spared her the stress. Poppy and Buttons on the other hand are regular hams. They will perform for me but usually clam up when a phone or camera appear. I was excited to get this video. My voice is high pitched on the video but I don't normally talk like that. My girls love it when I talk like this to them and it gets them all going. Quaker parrots are illegal in some states in the U.S. and there are actually non native wild colonies of Quakers in New York and  Florida as well as a few other states. They tend to become pests because they built communal nests and the weight of these nests on tall light poles can become a problem in cities.
Anyway, I love these guys and they love me back. I hope you enjoy the video.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Merino Lambs

Well, as my dad predicted earlier this year, I will be getting sheep before the month is out! Crazy right? Dad was teasing me about it when I bought the baby angoras earlier this year saying that it wouldn't be long before I had sheep too. I laughed because I thought that sheep were at least another year down the road. Then to my surprise, things sort of just came together as they sometimes do, and I'll be taking a delivery of 4 lambs on May 31st. I'll have one wether and 3 ewes. 3 of the lambs will be merino and one will be a merino/border leichester cross so that lamb's wool will be a medium grade wool as compared to the very fine full merino fleeces of the other lambs. The problem right now is going to be finding alfalfa hay for the little beasties. Starting Monday I will be scouring the countryside, asking friends where they get their hay and checking with local livestock and feed stores to try and find at least a half ton of last year's hay until I can start buying hay this year.
So I thought' I'd update my blog and mention this momentous event. I'm sure I'll post pictures galore once they've arrived. All the lambs except the cross breed have been bottle fed so they're more like pets than regular sheep. The wether is a sweet boy who loves his head rubbed and let me give him kisses on his nose when I met him. Cleo and Duane at the Sheep Shed in Nampa,ID raised these little ones and they did a great job! My husband Jeff has planned out the shelter he's going to build and how he's going to move the fence to create a sheep pen enclosure that will keep the lambs safe from predation. We have a few coyotes out here and there are domesticated dogs as well though we see little of either type of predator around here other than our own dogs. They will be kept safely away from the lambs because I don't think our dogs would be able to resist the idea of chasing the babies.
My cockatiel Colby is sitting on the back of my chair reminding me what a pretty bird he is and that I need to change his water and put him safely away for the night's sleep. Tomorrow I'm attending a fiber fair and I'm very excited about it. Meanwhile, we have a storm rolling in and the weather has cooled down again. It was almost a very nice day all day today. What a weird year for weather it's been!!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Meet the new Soap

I am so totally excited about how my latest soap turned out. Here is Huckleberry Swirl.

Huckleberry Swirl soap
I am in love with swirling soap colors! My Plumberry Spice soap isn't color swirled because the fragrance oil caused the batter to trace REALLY FAST. I was lucky to just get it in the mold. But it smells great and still looks pretty.

Plumberry Spice soap
These are my most recent soaps and I can't wait to make more already! Maybe tonight after the birds are all in bed.... :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Navajo ply

Last night I sat down at Suzannah, my Kromski Sonata spinning wheel and attempted a Navajo ply for the first time. I had spun an unknown number of yards of wool single onto my jumbo bobbin and it was full and ready for plying. I started at 6pm. Jeff watered the birds and swept the floor at 7pm because while the video I watched to learn to N-ply taught me the process, it never discussed how to set your work aside without messing it up. lol! Here's the video I learned from. This is the best example of N-ply available on YouTube.


FOUR HOURS later, I finished with sore fingers and a little thread burn. I'd learned several valuable lessons:
1. Use a tensioned Lazy Kate for your bobbin of single
2. Don't set the tension too high on the Kate or you will snap your single... repeatedly.
3. If I ply off a jumbo bobbin, I should probably save the project for the weekend rather than a weeknight when I have to work the next morning.
4. N-ply is AMAZING for controlling the color of your variegated yarn and I believe this is something I will do again and again and get better every time I do it.
Without further ado, here is my final product. I had just washed it in this picture and it's drying as I type. :)

Sorry the pics a little grainy. I had trouble with the lighting and of course, it's not in a skein because it's still wet in this picture.  The colorway is "African Violets". It's a roving I got from www.thefiberaddict.com and I really enjoyed this project. I've already started my next project on Suzanna. Rowenna is still tied up with my Mojave silk/merino blend that I haven't finished yet. Hopefully that will be done by this weekend.
On another high note, I received new soap scents and two new dyes in the mail today. All told, I have several new ideas to try out and my mentor Carol sent me peppermint and spearmint to add to my collection. I have plans for some new and fun soaps. More to come on that as the situation develops. :)