Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ram lambs

CJ, above and below, is the oldest of the ram lambs and a very gentle gentleman. Because he was born before the other lambs, he is more attached to humans. He has 2 beautiful wide swept strong horns and his mother's long, soft fleece.

These are the rest of the ram lambs who need to find new homes. I've had several people ask me why we are selling them so cheap.

There are several reasons-
1. None of these little guys are ones that I would choose for
breeding rams, though they are all good, solid, healthy sheep.

2. They are still rams. I like to wait until
after fly season is over to wether them.
I recommend wethering all these boys.

3. They are younger than I like to wean them. We bred late
this year because we moved from Colorado to Arkansas
and I did not want to move the sheep while they were
heavily pregnant. So, these boys are already
starting to think boy thoughts, even though they are
only four-months-old. They need to be away from their
mamas and sisters. They are eating well, but will need
a little extra care because they are young.

4. We live way out of the way for most people and I
know what gas will cost to come pick them up!

5. I would like them to go to fiber wether/pet homes.
Kinda silly, but I get attached.

Two other questions I've had - why don't we wether when they are younger?
It is hard to tell who will be ram quality when they are a few days old.
We have found it to work better for us to wether a month or two after weaning.
That is usually in the month of October.

Why don't we dock tails?
Jacob sheep have a light, open wool. They also have medium length tails.
Their tails are a large part of how they express themselves and they seem
to play a part in their balance. In 4 years of leaving tails on, we have not
had any problems with fly strike or bad dung tags. It works for us and I
believe it is healthier for our sheep. I have had judges ask about it in the
show ring, and have had them place our sheep as champions after I give them this
So, that explained - here are the rest of the boys. Their information is below their photo.Cowslip's son is a big, strong 2-horned lamb and looks like he will have her open, extra long fleece. Her fleece has won at shows and makes wonderful yarn.

Poppy's light colored boy may be polled. He is Homer's son and so is half-jacob and half-CVM. His fleece should be wonderful. He is a big lamb with Poppy's gentle curiosity.

Every year we have one "Spot-nosed Boy". This year it is Marj's two-horned son. He is a compact, muscular little guy with nice markings.

Poppy's dark boy is the other CVM X Jacob with the tight, fine fleece. He may also be polled and is a big boy.
Breke's boy is little and cute like his mum. He is a three-horn. Breke is a yearling, so he is small. She had one of the three top fleeces we sheared this year.

If you have any questions about these boys, please send an email or leave a comment.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ram lambs

Every year about half our lambs are boys. We usually keep a herdsire 2 or 3 years and we usually bring in herdsires from outside bloodlines to improve the flock. So, every year we have ram lambs for sale.
These are some of the little boys we have for sale this year. We are hoping to find fiber wether/pet homes for them. Contact me if you are interested.
I have pictures of a few of them here, and will list more tomorrow. They are just about weaning age right now and with a little extra care could go to their new homes in the next week or two. Beetlejuice is the dad of all these boys.

Above and below - Thyme's littlest boy. He has a nice fleece and is a cute little guy. He has a white nose.


Above and below: Thyme's bigger boy is a more typey Jacob and a bigger, stronger lamb. Both her boys have her outstanding fleece. The picture below shows his horn set. I think his horns will be nice, though maybe not as big as some other rams.

Above: Marjoram's 4-horned boy broke one of his top horns. He is a very structurally correct boy and he is line bred Marjoram. I love her fleece and Beetle's sire, Dogwood, is Marj's son. He should have a stunning fleece.

Above: Pennyroyal's little boy is a 2-horned with very correct markings. His black is quite black. He is one of triplets. Penny has triplets every year, even in years when she wasn't supposed to be bred - like this one!

I'll get pictures of the rest that are for sale and post them tomorrow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bogged down

Its been raining here the last two weeks - a blessed cooling rain that soaks down into the parched earth. The flowers have popped up out of no where and the grass is standing tall again.

The little creek is very little, but it has water flowing in it again. Two weeks ago, even the bog was getting a little crispy.

I like the bog on Foxbriar. It is down in a valley between two creeks. The vegetation is different there and it is always a bit cooler. It stays a little dark in the bog, even in the winter. That is where we want to put the shitake mushroom logs this winter and grow blueberries on the edge. bogs in nature are beautiful and fascinating.

Bogs in your emotional and physical life are not so much fun. I realized today that I have gotten bogged down. I have some tough deadlines looming, a massive pile of paper work (literally - the stack is about 6' by 4' by 2' next to my desk) to plow through, a huge order of Spirit Bells, at least 7 baskets of yarn sitting to be turned into shawls that I know will sell, the shop really needs a good cleaning again and there are some very important projects to get done on the farm before winter.

And I can't seem to get my feet out of the mud to work on any of them. Not that I'm not working. I am getting the ebay store stocked and ready for the Christmas season. I am putting together some marketing that looks like it is working well already to boost sales. And I am fixing the Ashford listings to reflect the price increase that goes into effect tomorrow. It's easy to avoid the things you have to do, when you can console yourself that you are really working.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I think life is all about learning and lessons. For every situation I find myself in, I ask, "What am I supposed to learn here?"

I don't think of myself as an "experience junkie," but I do try to push my boundaries. That was a physical thing when I was younger - I went rock climbing even though I have a gut-wrenching fear of heights. I galloped race horses for a living for a while, even though speed terrifies me. And I took a meats class in college, even though I respect all life and find it physically painful to kill an animal.

I learned many things about myself and the world from those parts of my life. I'm sure I'll share them when I am older and have more time to reflect. Now I tend to spend more time pushing mental boundaries and trying to make myself learn things that I am resistant to. Anybody have suggestions for making book keeping easier?

Sometimes the lessons are simple.

In my new position as a craft interpreter I am demonstrating old-fashioned soap making, cooking on a wood stove and driving a mule. I spend the day explaining what I am doing as I do it, why it was important to the hill people of the Ozarks in the 1890's and listening to people's memories.

I've had to learn to adapt many of my usual techniques to doing it the old fashioned way.
Now I am a big (almost 6-foot), strong woman. I make soap at home in stainless steel 5-gallon pots and only recently realized they might be heavy (about 60 pounds when full of soap). I cook with an 18-inch cast iron frypan and pick it up to scoop eggs on to our breakfast plates.

So, when I made my first batch of old-fashioned soap in the giant cast iron cauldron over the open fire, I tried to figure out how to pick up the kettle to pour the soap into the mold.
Now, the cauldron weighs about 70 lbs and it had 8 lbs of soap in it.

Not only that, it was steaming over an open fire. Bit of a reality gap there.

But the soap needed to go into the wood mold over on the table... Matie Bell came to my rescue with her handy ladle and scooped the soap into the mold. I don't think she even realized I was confuzzled.

The next day, I was heating water in a big cast iron pot on the wood stove to wash dishes. How to get the water to the sink? I knew how heavy the pot was - I had put it on top of the stove. And now it was steaming.

Gabby lifted the ladle from its hook on the side of the cast iron stove and began scooping water into the dish pan. Oh!

But it still didn't sink in until last night. I was trying to figure out how to pour the whey off of the new batch of cheese that I had just made in our giant family-sized rectangular electric skillet (cravings are the mother of adaptation!) and I was having a heck of a time lifting the skillet in such a way that the contents would pour into the mold that I had put in the sink.

Suddenly - ok, no, Finally! - the lesson hit home. I set the fry pan down on the counter, laughed loudly and heartily at myself and got the ladle out of the drawer.

The cheese scooped happily out of the whey in the pan and plopped soundly into the mold. I laughed the whole time.

What if my whole purpose in working at the Folk Center was to teach me to use a ladle!?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Bridging the generations

I just spent the week working as a craft interpreter in an 1890's village. It's a much closer era than what I usually portray, so there were many people with memories of grandma and grandpa and how they lived. The 1890's are only 120 years distant, so people in their 80's right now still touch that era in their memories of their elders.

And I heard the most wonderful stories - expansions and elaborations of the published facts that I had to rely on from my study of the area and era. As I began to fit more into my role as an interpreter I realized that it was my job to act as a bridge. I needed to collect these stories and elaborations of life before electricity, motor cars and telephones - and bring that knowledge forward to the people of this age where water comes from pipes at the turn of a faucet and information floods our lives.

Much of what I heard filled in the gaps in the written knowledge and made what I knew seem workable. I knew that hogs were a very important staple of life here in the Ozarks and that butchering is done in the Fall, after it cools down. I knew that hogs ran loose and everybody had their own special ear notch to mark their hogs.
But this week I listened as a man reached back in his memory . He told me of being a child and going with the other young people to round up hogs. Everybody from the surrounding area would gather at one farm, he explained, and the kids would go out and beat the bushes and drive the wild hogs toward the farm yard. "There weren't many pigs that could escape us kids," he glowed with pride, even after all these decades.
They would pick about 6 hogs from that farm to butcher, turn the rest back out and everybody would go to work, killing, butchering, cutting meat, rendering lard, making cracklins and packaging it all up. The kids hauled wood and water and were kept busy wrapping meat and doing what ever chores the adults sent them on. He explained they would divide up the meat and after a few days of working and visiting, everyone would head home, with their share of the pork, sausage patties, lard, cracklins for cornbread and what ever else people brought to share.
He said that would last everybody a while. Then, when they started to run out of meat, word would go out and everybody would head to the next farm for another hog round-up.

Another gentleman told me about his grandparent's neighbors, who were too poor to have a summer kitchen outside, so during the summer, they just hauled their wood stove out into the front yard and cooked in the open. I wondered that they were rich enough to have a wood cook stove, but were seen as poor because they didn't build a summer kitchen.

I heard from one woman of her grandparent's challenges moving from the farm into the city of Memphis in the 1960's. One of the first things they did when they moved in was to go out back and dig and build an outhouse. "Grandpa said you eat in the house," she explained, "You don't --- in the house."

There were many other stories. I am going to try to write them all down. Perhaps they will only be quaint bits of history. But those little memories may bridge the knowledge gaps between self-sufficient yesterday and the unknowns of tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gores, ruffles and crocheted evening gowns

I start helping in the craft village at the Ozark Folk Center tomorrow. I'm excited and want to get it all right. So I started researching costuming. It has been fascinating, but I still haven't answered my basic questions -
  1. What type of blouse did the Ozark pioneer women wear?
  2. What material were their buttons made out of?
  3. What colors were available in fabrics?
  4. What fibers were the fabrics made from?
  5. Were the skirts made with gores, straight A-line or ruffles?
  6. How long did they wear their skirts?
  7. What sort of head coverings were worn?
  8. What undergarments were worn under the skirts?
  9. Were embellishments, such as crochet lace collars ever worn?
  10. What were the differences between Sunday best and work clothes?

I have found many wonderful web sites on the Ozarks that I wish had more pictures.

I've taken side visits to other clothing sites. I went off on one tangent and looked at beautiful Irish crocheted laces. Crochet Lace.pdf

But I still can't find my answers. If any of you have ideas, please make a comment, or send me an e-mail... right now, I'm about researched out.
Maybe I'll find out the answers tomorrow, now its off to bed!