Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some FACTS.......

HOT NEWS!!!!!!
For anyone that wants some facts, please follow this link that takes you on a trip with Lori Stephenson through the Shetland Island area............ She has pictures of sheep, fleece, etc.  There are some educational tools for anyone that would like to follow the posts from her trip.
Can't wait for the videos she's promised us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More fall ewe shots...

Solace, Abby, Maggie, in back is Velma, Miranda and Morgan
OK Acres Alanna 2009 ewe (for sale)
Pearls Maggie (not for sale) her twins, OK Acres Miranda and Morgan 2010  ewes for sale
Wintertime Garnet 
Lil Country Velma (2009 ewe)

Here is a few of my current ewes, some I'm retaining and some are for sale.  Just got some decent light for a change and thought I'd throw a few shots on my blog.
Alanna, Mikala, Ceylon in back, Ozzie and Harriet watching their charges
For the most part, none of them really wanted to cooperate, but I got a couple decent pictures of some of my girls.
Ozzie & Harriet: They THINK they are sheep!!!

Fall ewe picture

Wintertime Solace and Garnet in the background (not for sale)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I have been following Lori Stephenson's trip through the Shetland Islands on her blog.  Through her posts and pictures I've come to understand a little bit more about the sheep of the Shetland Islands.
I would encourage anyone wanting accurate, historical information concerning Shetland sheep to follow her blog during her trip.  Lori has some of the finest shetlands I've seen in my neck of the woods, not to say there aren't other breeders in my area with quality animals, because there are several and I love sinking my hands in to the fleeces of everyone of them.
I am an avid knitter, just starting to learn the hand spinning process, so I decided I wanted to ask some of my colleagues that have been spinning for years about staple length and how it relates to hand spinning.  So, last night, as our weekly knitting session with the gals, I asked a lot of questions.  And since our knitters meet at the local fiber mill, I got a chance to inquire about how staple length affects hand spinning AND machine spinning.
What a treat to hear back from so many experienced hand spinners, several of which have been spinning for 30 yrs or more.  When asked if spinning is made more difficult by a shorter staple length, ei 3 to 4", everyone said that as long as there is proper crimp and elasticity it has no bearing on the difficulty when they hand spin.  So, I posed the same question to the lady that runs the mill and she said that short fiber, unless it's 2" or less, seems to be the preference for the machines.  She also added, without me even asking, that long staple length can cause a bunching up of fibers in the spinning machine, whereas, the shorter staple lengths don't do that.  She also said that the double coats spin ok, but have some issues with bunching as well, so a lot of time she makes single ply Lopi style yarn from this wool.  She also indicated that all yarn dictates the way in which it will be spun, whether it be long, short, coarse, fine, etc.  Some fiber from older animals can break causing build up on the rollers of the spinning machine, it's likes to shed tiny scales and particles and this sticks to the rollers.
The hand spinners chimed in to say that they prefer the crimpier fibers to the flat ones, as this creates more elasticity in the finished product.  But, all of them said that there is a place for all types of fiber and yarn, the yarn can tell you it's purpose.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that we can find an outlet for our product, it doesn't really matter if you have long wool, short wool, single coats, double coats, it all serves a purpose.  I take exception to anyone that totes their methods, fiber or process as THE only way to go.  The only thing that continues to be a constant in all of this is softness.  Everyone I spoke to about this insisted that the softness was the #1 priority when it came to fiber they chose to spin.  None of the women I asked about any of this raise Shetlands, so they are  far removed from the difference of opinions amongst some of the Shetland breeders.  I never even mentioned why I wanted to know any of this information, they simply concluded that I wanted to be educated.
I read, with a sinking heart, a blog or two that continues to bad mouth anyone that doesn't agree with their views.  A phrase that my mother used to recite to me years ago comes to mind  as I'm reading, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."  This is not meant to be harsh, as I have done it more than once in my lifetime and wish I could take my words back!
I don't claim to know everything, but do I believe that constant education and keeping an open mind are two of the most valuable tools at anyone's disposal.  That's why I am going to continue to listen to the breeders that have years and years of work and research invested in these wonderful little creatures that we all love so much.  And, I am going to continue to hope that we find a way to compromise or work together instead of further name calling and criticism of other breeders and their flocks.
In a perfect world, we would all be brought together simply by our love of the Shetlands, but if everyone has to be right, then nobody wins.....and I have to ask, is it that important to win?  So important that we lose so much?  I'd like to think that we can find some common ground.
TaTa for now.....please know that I mean nobody any disrespect with this post, it's simply an appeal of sorts.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Browsing the SSS site......

Found this page on the SSS site and saw some spectacular examples of Shetland sheep on the Champion of Champion portion of the page.
Just thought I'd throw it out there for some discussion.  Any thoughts on the "type" of Shetland they are deeming champions?    Fleece styles seem to be all very consistant and similar to me, any thoughts?
Just looking for a thoughtful, friendly exchange of information, so this is not a dig or jab in any form.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Green County Cheese Days!!!!

Cheese Days Logo

Dipping cheese from kettle using a weighted T.
                                                   The Weighted T

The cheesemaker seen here is dipping cheese from the kettle using weighted T. This supported him from falling into the tub. When manipulating the net to extract the cheese curd from the tub, both hands had to be used (besides using one's teeth to help hold the bottom of the netting). It is said that if a cheesemaker didn't have a T, an apprentice would hold the cheesemaker to prevent falling into the tub. Sometimes the apprentice slipped, resulting in a slightly more than unhappy cheesemaker!

Green County has more cheese factories of any county!!!  So, logic would follow that we would have a special weekend devoted to cheese.  If you love cheese, take the drive to Monroe, WI this weekend and experience what we already know, that Wisconsin makes and sells the best cheese in North America.  

Hope to see you this weekend, and if you get a a chance, stop by Bartels and Co. Tap for a drink, I'll be working Friday night and Saturday until 7 pm.  My brother and sister in law own the Tap and they are especially good at making you feel welcome.  I'd say it's as close to Cheers as you can get without having television cameras there.  :D

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More WSWF 2010

More show shots..this is a ewe class, but not sure which one.
Can you spot the washed and combed one?

Hand spun shetland skein competition 
Ewe class (lambs)
In this photo, Maureen, Kim, Rayna, Adam

Therea Gygi won Grand Champion for her hand spun shetland skein.
It was so soft that is just made you go, awwwww.

I was a bit confused by the method of judging this year.  There was a tremendous emphasis on the size of the fleece, which is a consideration in the commercial venue, but doesn't usually have any bearing on wool judging at a show.  If this is how we are to judge a good shetland, then I'm in big trouble here.  :D   
A Shetland ram is supposed to be in the 100-125 lb. range, and I saw rams that won and exceeded that size easily.  I'm not a complainer by any means, but this seemed to be a huge mistake....or at least I'm hoping it was simply due to lack of education regarding our breed standard.

All in all, I had a wonderful time, sheep people are some of the nicest folks I know, and I was not disappointed in the least.   I learned a lot from some very knowledgeable  folks and, as usual, I learned some new things and was made a bit better for the education I received. Thanks to everyone that took time and volunteered so that folks like me could enjoy, and educate ourselves.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New faces to put with the names

Becky Utecht (on the right) after judging the hand spun shetland skein competition.

One of the ram classes at the Shetland show.

Garrett's little ewe lamb hated her halter and just laid right down she was so frustrated by not being able to get away from it.  We got a lot of laughs out of that little moment.

Kim, Theresa and Maureen taking a teensy break after a couple busy days at the festival.  Thanks for all your hard work ladies, it IS appreciated!
Where would we be without people that are generous enough to donate their time to making sure all this stuff happens every year?  My hat is off to you.

Lori Stephenson doing a lambing demo with her "ewe simulator", what an educational and fun seminar.  The lady in the teal shirt is pulling out a breach "lamb" aka panda bear.

Corinne Rasso and her lovely single coated fawn ewe....I just loved this little girl.  You can see it from this picture, but she has wonderful crimp and luster.  And the color....... gorgeous.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wi Sheep and Wool Festival

Off to the WSWF for 2 days and can't wait to see the Shetland Show this year.  The fleece judging (open show)  over laps the Shetland show, but I think I can dart back and forth and take in most of what I want to see.
Taking my newly felted bag and it's huge, so there will be lots of room for more goodies.
Have a great weekend and hope to see some of you at the festival.
TaTa for now.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Newest project in the works

I decided that I had to have a new project bag.  Why, you ask? It couldn't possibly be because I have too many projects....perish the thought.
I rustled around in the back room, now officially named, "The Fiber Room", and I found some wonderful yarn that I had done this last fall.  OK Acres Abby, my very first Shetland lamb gave me oodles of lovely musket yarn and when using it to knit a project, it feels like butter in my hands.  The bag I chose was a pattern by Two Old Bags and you have 3 sizes that you can chose.  I generally go with the, go big or go home concept, so I got started on the big tote right away.  As I am knitting, I get the great idea of doing a couple stripes, so back to the Fiber Room and I decide on some black from our resident pain in the butt, Steve the wether.  Steve does't have the nicest fleece, actually, it's just this side of yuck, but his personality keeps him alive and well in our pasture.  After all, I'd only be using enough black for a few rounds.  Then the inspiration for the white stripe hit me and back to looking for more fiber.
This is approximately 1/2 done now, I will felt it when done and now I can hardly wait until it's done. A little more length and some handles, and it will be ready for felting.
Abby is in the upper left corner.  Her wool is showcased in this project bag.
And here is Steve!!!  Can't pet anybody until he's gotten his loving.
Steve contributed 2 black stripes to my project bag.
Gearing up for the Labor Day weekend and trying to decide what to do for 3 whole days....
TaTa for now all

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September??? When did that happen?

Here it is, September, and I still haven't gotten most of my July projects wrapped up.  I will, however, admit I had a lot of fun stuff happening in August, and the "work" sort of got pushed to the side.
We had a fun-filled weekend in Lena, IL for a long awaited trail riding weekend/camping trip.  I was asked what I'd like for my birthday, and that was my choice of activities.
Dallas, my 4 yr old and I taking a break.

Tyler, my son, and I at supper that evening. 
My son, Tyler decided to drive over from Whitewater and surprise us at the campground by spending the weekend with us.   I was very touched and surprised, he's such a great kid, well, if you can call 23 a kid.
Everyone bought me a little something, which was also a pleasant surprise, but having my good friends around me was enough!  Terry and Rod came all the way from Princeton to have supper with us as well.  And, we had a stow away for the weekend when Terri M. decided to come along and ride my extra horse.  
This was in the top 5 of my best birthdays ever.  
I don't usually post pictures of myself, but since this post involved a birthday theme for me, I decided to make an exception.  So, here I am, Happy Birthday to me.  *grin*  psssst.  As I age, I'm just glad I'm still having birthdays!  It's only a number......right?  :D
As usual, my husband made sure I had the best day he could manage, call me spoiled, because it's true. 
That's all I've got for 
TaTa for now.

Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....