Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween!

So far the Rambouillet ram hasn't knocked any of the pumpkins off of the fence posts. Both rams are getting fiesty now. Cool weather and breeding season have them stepping lively. Last week our Dorset ram broke out a board in his pen behind the barn. I'm sure that he was banging his head right in the middle of the board and it was flexing and pushing back on him until he broke it. We've had to box in the downspouts around the barn to keep the rams from smashing them. Notice the boards around the bottom of the downspout in the picture. Just part of the routine maintenance at Wild Rose Farm, or any farm for that matter ...........

Sunday, October 26, 2008

PA Shepherd's Symposium = Roadtrip!

Off to the Pennsylvania Shepherd's Symposium on Saturday at the Livestock Evaluation Center in State College ..... The Pennsylvania Sheep & Wool Growers Association put on a good program and a great dinner. Dinner featured BBQ lamb and was it ever good! From 10 o'clock on, we were sitting in programs and attending the annual meeting. By 2 or 3pm, you could smell the aroma of BBQ lamb all over the complex and we couldn't wait for dinner. We had an update from an American Lamb Board Producer Representative about how our check-off dollars are being utilized to promote lamb. I can certainly say that I've seen more recipes than ever featuring lamb in magazines that I've picked up over the last year or so. Here are some recipe ideas:

I mention the lamb because now is the time of year that our lambs at Wild Rose Farm are getting ready for market. We have several customers for freezer lamb scheduled for December delivery and roasting lambs are popular now.
We also have some ewe lambs that are going to other flocks ..... here's what things looked like this afternoon when I got home from State College. The lambs & a couple of our yearling ewe lambs had just gotten a new bale of hay and they were just browsing around. They look very fluffy this time of year and are quite comfortable in the cooler temperatures.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

OK, we're bored .....

Ever wonder what they think? Probably not much, other than "FOOD" and "ENOUGH OF THIS".

At least that's what the Wild Rose Farm lambs are demonstrating in this picture .......

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Seasonal Colors!

I've finally gotten around to taking pictures of the yarn that we dyed for the September 21st "Seasonal Colors" natural dyeing demonstration here at Wild Rose Farm.
On the 9/20 post we were getting ready for the demonstration and had prepared onion skin, sumac, osage orange, and goldenrod dyebaths. On Sunday the 21st, the Western Pennsylvania Unit of the Herb Society of America descended on the farm.
What an organization! The Hospitality Committee arrived and in no time, chairs and tables were set up on the lawn and the wrap-around porch. Tablecloths, a coffee pot, coolers, and covered dishes appeared. I didn't do a head count, but there were around 25 people in attendance during the business meeting. After the meeting, the program began. We talked about the farm in general and then had a discussion & demonstration of natural dyeing techniques with locally available "vegetable dyes". With such a diverse group, we managed to have some knitters, a hand spinner, and a few folks who had also experimented with natural dyeing joining in on the discussion. After the program ended we had a great potluck meal and everyone was free to wander around while we finished the onion skin dyebath over a fire. I really had a great time with the group. Amazingly, the clean-up was so efficient that once they all departed, you wouldn't have known that they were here at all! Thanks to all who attended. The long distance travel distinction for an in state member was from Clarion County and the long distance travel distinction from out of state was Kentucky!

Looking at the picture of 6 skeins from left to right, the dye materials/mordants used for each are:
Onion skins/tin pre-mordant, goldenrod/alum pre-mordant, onion skins/alum pre-mordant, fermented sumac berries/alum pre-mordant, sassafras bark/alum pre-mordant, & osaage orange/alum pre-mordant in copper pot. Click on the picture to enlarge!
A note on the sumac berries .... I had forgotten that I left them to soak in a stainless steel pot in May. In the rush to get ready for my May shows, this dyepot was never finished. Well ...... when I opened the pot there was a nice slime on top of the dye liquor that I had boiled in May. I drained off the dye liquor and dumped out the fermented berries. The result was a brown that some would mistake as coming from black walnuts, but it's not as "sharp" as a walnut brown, it's more of a mousy brown. Bottom line is that red sumac berries don't make red dye .....
Oh yes, the red dye-bath in the 9/20 post was from poke berries. We pointed out that although most people think that they would make a good dye, they are considered a "fugitive" dye. Simply put, they make a nice stain on your shirt, but they aren't truly colorfast.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Roadtrip & Alpacas

While visiting my sister & brother-in-law last weekend in Virgina, we had a chance to visit a large alpaca farm. The farm was one of the stops on the Wild Western Prince William County Farm Tour ......... Little did I know that we were going to see one of the largest alpaca farms on the East Coast. Double "O" Good Alpacas has around 350 huacaya alpacas. We were treated to a barn tour including the large group of recently born crias. The children on the tour were thrilled to see the the "girls" and their babies. For a look at what this farm has to offer -->
I've been interested in possibly blending alpaca fiber with our Rambouillet fine wool to make a nice soft yarn ...... although I think that I'd like suri alpaca fiber ....... I'd like to find a Pennsylvania source.