Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lambs Just Hanging Around ...

Wild Rose Farm Weaned Lambs
We've been preoccupied lately with the garage/studio construction project going on here, so blog posts have slowed down …
Most of the lambs were weaned and they're in the middle of the barn just hanging out. They have the advantage of shade in there except when we throw the doors open and they get the glare of sunlight like in the picture.
Interesting note in the pic above. The lambs with the drooping ears are the registered Rambouillets - it's a breed characteristic for many of them.

Friday, July 6, 2018

To The Wool Pool!

2018 Wool Pool 
Washington County Sheep & Wool Growers Association
Stomping Fleeces Into A Wool Sack!
We packed up all of our uncommitted wool fleeces and took them to the wool pool at the Washington County Fairgrounds last week. Generally speaking, "wool pools" are the farmers' outlet for their wool. Wool pools solicit bids on their anticipated wool "clip". The winning bidder is chosen as the one whose overall prices and terms are most favorable to the association. Bids are based on current domestic & global demand for the various grades of wool, as well as what the bidder expects to get from each pool based on the recent history of the pool.  Fleeces sold through the wool pools are considered a commodity product.
This wool is dropped into breathable plastic wool sacks and stomped down to pack it tightly! As the shearing is being done, once the wool gets high enough, usually a kid or young adult steps in and stomps the wool. Pack, stomp, repeat until full, and sew or tie the bag shut!
Unloading Wool Sacks & Adding Producers' Lot Number For Tracking
Each wool sack is logged in and a lot number is assigned on each producers' receipt. The wool sacks (or 3 mil plastic contractor trash bags for those with fewer fleeces) are then loaded onto the waiting semi truck …
Skid Steer Loads 2 Sacks At A Time …
Mid-States Wool Growers Co-op Manager Oversees Loading Semi-Trailer
The wool will be weighed and graded at the buyers' facility. The producers will be paid by checks based on the quoted $/pound by grade agreed to on the bid.  Many pools have gone to selling their clips "ungraded" because of the difficulty in finding wool classers or wool graders to man the pools on drop off days.
Keep in mind that the prices for commodity wool are much different from those that specialty wool growers get for our "curated" fleeces! In fact, most of the long luster wools, double coated wools, and natural colored wools are severely docked in price at the wool pool. Jacketing sheep and selling pristine heavily skirted spinning fleeces is an entirely different market!
Examples from the 2018 Bid: 
Fine Staple wool, aka Merino, Rambouillet, Columbia bid price $1.70/pound
Medium or 3/8 & 1/4 Staple wool, aka Dorset, Suffolk, Cheviot, Texel bid price $.46/pound
Fine & 1/2 Clothing wool, aka fine wool sheep crossbreds bid price $.80/pound
Natural Colored wool, aka anything but white bid price $.02/pound (yes, 2 cents per pound!)
Heavy Vegetable Matter bid price $.12/pound.
That's your sheep wool economics lesson for the year … whew.
Keep in mind that not every fleece is a show fleece or a high quality hand spinner fleece … many specialty wool producers process their wool into yarn, top, roving, batts, etc. to maximize our wool marketing!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Off To The Races ...

Wild Rose Farm Ewes & Lambs Coming In!
It looks like "off to the races" alright … a stream of ewes and lambs lined out & coming back to the barn after grazing!  They're going past the garden that we've had to protect from them with electric net fencing. Hopefully the fencing will also deter any pesky groundhogs or rabbits.
We weaned most of the lambs and they are separated & housed in the center of the barn.  It was really noisy for about 24 hours, but things have settled down now.  The weather cooled off from the 90's down to the high 70's for a few days … much better for all now!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Moving Pastures

Wild Rose Farm Horned Ewe #134 & Twins
We're in the process of moving the sheep from the pasture nearest the barn over to the pasture connected to the Loafing Shed. We lamb close to the barn, but we've now rotated through all of the grazing in sections. We'll probably wean about half of the lambs later this week after the temperatures drop a little. We're having 2 or 3 days in the 90's and there's no sense in causing additional stress in that kind of heat. You can see by the picture above that the lambs are getting pretty big now!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Hay Season Returns!

Cool Overcast Day to Haul Hay
It's that time of year again when the fields are cut, raked, & baled into hay.  We've had some good weather between days with thunderstorms or days when thunderstorms threatened.  Local temperatures have already hit a high of 89 degrees & we've had the window air conditioners running ... then a day came along like is pictured above. We're wearing our sweatshirts and it's overcast and windy!
Wary Heifers & Steers ...
We were watched by a small group of young Holstein & dairy cross heifers & steers. They are pastured in the field surrounding the barn where the round bales are stored.
Here they are below on day two, out in the sunshine & cautiously approaching the truck, lol.
Looks Scary - Don't Get Too Close!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Busy With Farm Projects!

Wild Rose Farm Sheep Grazing & Garage Project Excavation
After 27 years, we've finally gotten a garage project underway. The picture above was taken from the kitchen window. With the big pile of excavated soil, it felt like we had a view of the Rocky Mountains! The footer is being formed up today, the temps are going up to around 90 degrees, and it is humid.  The good news is that the room above the garage will be a space for fiber & yarn, plus the floor loom will reside there too!  Fiber is fluffy by nature and it now fills the better part of one bedroom with show set-up stuff & tents squirreled away elsewhere. It will be great to have it all in one spot with easy access and no staircase to negotiate - yay!
Yes - those are the ewes and lambs grazing in the background. They'll probably head for shade in the barn as it gets closer to noon ...
Snow White Enjoys Some Down Time In The Shade!
Here's a look at Snow White watching me skirt Dorset fleeces over the weekend on Saturday. She was relaxing in the barn away from the meddlesome lambs (!). She was the only one who chose to come in at the time. The Dorset fleeces went to a fiber festival in Wooster, Ohio on Sunday to be delivered to Zeilinger's Wool ... they will be custom processed into wool quilt batts.
We're down to only 1 queen & 1 full size quilt batt available for sale right now - yikes!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lambs Checking Things Out ...

Wild Rose Farm Lambs on Garden Site!
The funny thing about the picture above is that the ewes are all grazing, but the lambs seem to be captivated by the soil in the garden site. They are exploring everything and had just finished racing around when this picture was taken. Once the ground dries up a little, we'll get some seeds planted.
Everything falls behind when lambing starts and festival season is underway ...