Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Pumpkin Treat!

After a bit of procrastination, the pumpkins finally made it in to the field. Several of them were starting to "melt down" with the freeze/thaw cycle, so they suffered the fate of most pumpkins at Wild Rose Farm ..... sheep treats! This wrought iron "pumpkin smasher" was discovered at Van Why's Antiques about a dozen years ago when they still had their shop open in Zelienople. As a collector of hand forged tools, I was intrigued and had to have this before I knew what it was. Pretty cool, huh? I mean, you could just STOMP them, but this is way more fun! It doesn't take the lambs long to jump in and start munching. They'll pick over these for several days until most of the seeds and flesh are gone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Tree Time

The trees planted here have gotten too tall to be the "table top" trees that my brother wants, so this year we topped a blue spruce. The fresh snow from yesterday dusted everything!
No trip into the pasture fields is complete without Claire closely following along. From a donkey's perspective, this adventure beats just about anything else that was going on out in pastures today. She was a bit startled & had to kick up her heels at the cry of "timber". Here she is circling back to check things out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Flying!

There's nothing like snow to put us in the Christmas spirit here at Wild Rose Farm. Most of the East Coast was getting socked by a foot or more of snow, but we probably got 4 inches.
Three of the lambs in their pasture were head butting 1st thing this morning. The older ewes - not just the yearlings - were jumping and frisking around this afternoon. The temps were in the high 20's. Perfect weather for wooly sheep. Look closely for their snow covered shapes in the picture. Even Claire was out and about with a snow cover on her fuzzy well insulated self this morning!
Our birdfeeder was loaded with birds. Cardinals were flying in and out of this burning bush in the front yard eating the berries. The glass cardinal watching the action was a Christmas gift from last year ......

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We Find Historic Sheep!

Wild Rose Farm (seated above) just returned from a long weekend trip to Virginia that included a surprise tour of Mount Vernon. "Surprise" because I didn't plan it ahead of time, and little did my family know that we would find a rare breed of sheep there! Of course, I knew about the Hog Island sheep that are kept at Mount Vernon along with the Red Devon cattle. "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong"! This group of sheep was enjoying the pleasant December day. Interestingly, the sheep in the foreground below appeared to be a Leicester Longwool, but no one available could confirm that. How about it, sheepy friends?

We waited in line about 10 minutes before our mansion tour started. In the summer, the line snakes around the front driveway and people wait for hours. As luck would have it, the 3rd floor is only open on the tour in December ..... the narrow turning staircase leads up to one of the rooms that Martha Washington used after George passed away. Finally, in one of the outbuildings we saw the Spinning Room. Just couldn't get a picture without the glare from the setting sun ......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Family Photo

Remember the picture of Wild Rose Farm #806? Well, this is her half sister, #327. They really don't look alike at all. In fact, #327 looks more like #806's dearly departed twin (#807 or "Alice Cooper" for her dark eyeliner!). 806 & 327 are from different rams, but are both out of one of our original foundation ewes, #166, aka "Lunkhead". Lunkhead was just that .... rather blocky, but she had a really unique fine, but heavily crimped fleece that sold well as raw fleece packaged in lock formation.

This ewe had twin ewe lambs this spring and we are keeping both of them!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Great Crowd at Old Economy Village!

Christmas At The Village was packed last night. The marketplace vendors were in the Granary and it got pretty crowded at times. This was the biggest crowd we've seen since we've been doing shows & demonstrating at OEV.
We forgot to take a camera, so unfortunately there are no pictures. Two of our featured skeins of varigated brown yarn were snapped up quickly as a Christmas gift --- the back story that they were from walnuts gathered at OEV sealed the deal! Thanks to all of our new customers, past customers (some still working on their projects ...), and friends who stopped by to chat. Some of the other vendors were:
Nutt Road Honey Farm - practically sold out this year - beautiful beeswax candles, gifts, honey, etc!
McConnell Forge blacksmithing - also had great handcrafted "broom corn" brooms
The Pine Knoll Shops - restored antique mantel clocks & cuckoo clocks + an extensive herbal products selection
JPW Pottery - hand thrown pottery - no lead based glazes

Uncle Pete's Wood Toys - what a selection of cars, trucks, tractors, helicopters, engines, etc!

Little Europe - European glass ornaments

Hall and Parlor - wood furniture & clocks

Thursday, December 3, 2009

See You There!

Wild Rose Farm will be set up with our naturally dyed yarn, Rambouillet combed top, quilt batts, and fleeces at Old Economy Village this Saturday. Christmas At The Village is a great chance to get some unique handmade gift items.
We will be introducing our new "Yarn Tales" 5 yard mini-skeins. They are perfect for when you need an accent color or are working on a punch needle or rug hooking project. Here they are "resting on a bed" of our fresh walnut dyed sport weight skeins.
Come out, enjoy the Christmas spirit, and help support Old Economy Village!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ram In Search Of .....

The ram pays a lot of attention to receptive ewes, courting them all day long ...... he'll put on a few miles following the ewes around. He's settled down since he was turned in on Saturday. This is Wild Rose Farm #330. Remember her? This Rambouillet ewe had twins this spring and was a triplet herself.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Big Weekend at Wild Rose Farm!

Notice anything different in this line-up? Yep, that's the new Rambouillet ram in with the ewes. Believe me, he only stopped chasing the ewes around long enough to get some grain. He's wearing his marking harness with a green crayon. We also spray the ewe's ear tag number on her hip. It's easier to read that number (versus her ear tag number) at dusk and it's near where the crayon mark will be anyway. The ram went in on the 28th and as of the 29th, he's marked 5 ewes. A couple of those may not be accurate since he gets a little carried away when he first goes in with the females!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wild Rose Farm Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving! Here are some wild turkeys in the early morning rain & drizzle. They scratch over the areas where the round bales of hay & the feeders have been set out for the sheep. The turkeys pick out dropped grain, seeds, and insects that they find under the hay and leaves. We never know what we'll see when we look out around here ..... last weekend an 8 point buck was sticking close to a doe in our front pasture. Both of them ignored the ram.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grandma of the flock ....

This humble face belongs to Wild Rose Farm #806, an 11 year old registered Rambouillet ewe. She had twins this year. No keepers, since both were ram lambs, but we do have her yearling daughter. Here she is on a sunny Sunday. Most of the time, she brings up the rear when the flock is being moved. Recently nicknamed "Twinkle Toes", she usually manages to be the last sheep "processed" when we're working them through the chute. We just started to notice this. Years of experience have taught her to slink around in the back of the group and then sprint out of reach. Yes, I said sprint! As sheep go, she's rather low slung and will duck her head to evade capture. We've been left empty handed more than once wondering how she dashed past us & into the clear again. I think she enjoys it .......

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kick Up Your Heels!

And that is exactly what Claire was up to today! After spending the night penned up in a paddock, she was galloping around & around as we did some pasture clean-up this morning. We've had some pretty mild weather here at Wild Rose Farm on these November weekends. Just a little brush hogging to trim up the front pasture. We'll be moving the lambs up here once we put the ram in with the ewes next weekend.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It Depends ......

It depends on whose ox is being gored ...... most of us in Pennsylvania were relieved that our budget issue was finally settled. Well, we're finding out now what will suffer as a result of our new budget. It turns out that Old Economy Village is losing a great deal of state funding, along with 5 or 6 other PH&MC sites across the state. The Friends of Old Economy Village voted to go on with the scheduled Christmas season programs at a special meeting last night. We expect to hear more, but based on the information we've received so far, Wild Rose Farm plans to be at the Christmas At The Village event on December 5th. We've sold yarn & wool there for quite a few years now and we do natural dyeing demos there in the summer. It's been a good place to meet new people and has led to speaking engagements and some events here on the farm. It looks like Old Economy Village will have to find ways to continue their educational mission in a framework of reduced hours and increased fund raising to become more self-sustaining.
Well, we're in ...... we'd just sent in our membership dues and small donation. Our "Friends of Old Economy Village" card is good from Oct '09 through Oct '10!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Walnuts Still Simmering ......

Things don't always go right on schedule at Wild Rose Farm ... I had expected to be using the walnut dyebath by now, but the pot just went back on the burner for the 3rd extraction. Other things came up and the weather this weekend was just too beautiful to spend inside. Hopefully, the final lawn mowing/leaf mulching is done. Today some spring bulbs made it into the ground .... daffodils, a few tulips, and a couple of groups of the old fashioned snowdrops. A struggling rhododendron was transplanted to a new site, and the kousa dogwoods were pruned a little. It seemed like everyone in the "neighborhood" was sighting in their deer rifles this afternoon .....
I took a few minutes to just sit & observe the sheep as they observed me! Any sudden move sends them scampering, but their curiousity gets the best of them and they cautiously tip toe closer & closer. Of course, I was sitting back against their hay feeder, so they were probably wondering what the heck was up (or whatever it is that sheep wonder)!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Local Natural Dyes

With a walnut dyebath in progress, we turned to gathering another batch of plant material for the dye pot. A clump of sumacs at the end of the farm driveway is easy to get to so we picked about a half bushel of them today. We'll add them to some sumac that we already picked this summer. The sumac berries make a mousy brown and they actually smell very pleasant while they're simmering.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunny & Brisk!

Veterans Day was clear and windy here at Wild Rose Farm. Nice and cool for the sheep!
I'm in the middle of creating a walnut dyebath and had to pour off some of the dye liquor. The wind was so strong that it blew some of the walnut dye back at the porch as it was poured out. Walnut makes a great stain or natural dye, so the concrete had to be rinsed off right away. I added more water & the walnuts went back on the stove to continue the extraction process ...... I expect to be dyeing by the weekend.
Telling people that "I'm dyeing" always gets a reaction the first time that they hear it!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

U - Hoo!

Time for an update on Wild Rose Farm "U" for all of her fans ...... several people have asked about her lately and here she is. She seems to be a very active grazer, but is it just that we notice her because of her color? Speaking of color, we have some new naturally-dyed skeins of yarn washed and ready to be labeled. The dark indigo and yellow/green are full skeins. The other colors in the middle are on shorter, "irregular" skeins. We offer these in "mini skeins" for accent colors (when you don't need/want another full skein) and also for punch needle & rug hooking projects. The yarn can also be "un-plyed" and used as a single strand. Here they are with the sheep that make them possible! It was very sunny & in the high 60's today .... the forecast is for 70 tomorrow. We did a little hoof trimming & deworming of a few lambs today. Also made note of a couple of ear tags that need to be replaced. Our 11 year old ewe, #802, was checked and she still has her teeth. Good for another year!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Save the Date

We just posted an upcoming event on Local Harvest. Our Wild Rose Farm naturally dyed yarns, fleece, & combed top will be available December 5th at the Christmas At The Village celebration at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, PA. Check their event calendar for details. This is a fun way to get some Christmas shopping done and tour this historical site decorated for the holidays. You'll have an opportunity to see handcrafting demos and buy unusual handmade gifts. <--- And folks, we're not talking crocheted toilet paper covers here!
Blog followers will recall that we've also demonstrated indigo natural dyeing at OEV in the summer ...... no demo in December since we'll be inside the historical buildings!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Special!

Here's a "haunting" sign ...... especially if you're a lamb! We spotted this Halloween "Gyro Special" while driving through Monaca, PA. Needless to say, we had to circle the block and come back for a picture. This is the Original Pita Parlor, a new business in Monaca, and it looks like a creative place ..... wonder if the pitas are good???
Happy Halloween from Wild Rose Farm!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Same View, Color Changing!

It's about the same background from all of the recent pictures, but you can see the color changing ..... a little more subdued and a lot of the tree trunks showing through. We had just moved a round bale of hay down to the sheep, so they're temporarily roaming around while the bale is put in place. What a beautiful day for outside work. We'll be on vacation later in the week and hopefully I'll find some time to sort through some Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet fleeces. Let's see how that goes! Painting, yardwork, & a field trip or two are also on the agenda.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Making Plans

For the record, there was a Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival committee meeting today. We met at Groovy's American Cafe --- during the festival last spring, we recommended this local restaurant to a group of vendors who were staying overnight in Waynesburg. Plans have been underway for the 2010 festival to be held again at the Greene County Fairgrounds. As craft/fiber vendor chairman, WRF will be reporting on our vendor survey from last year's festival. 2009 was our first year at the fairgrounds. Of course, there's always room to improve and we welcome any feedback and new volunteers. Stay tuned for updates here and for the WS&FF website to be updated for 2010.
Hurried home since we were expecting John to pick up the 4 Dorset ewes that he bought. It rained for the whole drive back on Rt 18. Too bad, because the leaf peeping would have been really nice. John, his father, and a friend arrived at Wild Rose Farm before dusk and we loaded the ewes plus an additional Dorset ewe lamb into the stock trailer. She was the first lamb born this year and is a very good sized lamb. Hopefully the sheep do well at their new farm. No pictures since it was dark & rainy! :~(

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Honk, Honk, Honk ......

Talk about perfect timing. I wanted to get a few pictures of the sheep with the maples in the background. Today was a gorgeous October day, temps in the 60's. Just as I was lining up my first shot, I heard the geese overhead ..... they were flying to the north, so it wasn't a migration, but I was able to just get them in the picture. Click on the picture for a closer view. They look good in the sky, but they're probably just those annoying resident geese that we all love to hate "pooping" in the parks!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sun Came Out Again!

After 3 rainy days, the sun came out on Sunday ..... a nice, crisp fall day at Wild Rose Farm. Here comes the flock just before dusk. We're in the process of setting up another area to feed round bales, so they're roaming around for a day or two, which rarely happens around here. With everyone milling around, I finally got a picture of #113, one of our 4 young Dorset ewes that is going to a new farm this weekend.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Walking The Line .....

The Wild Rose Farm young Rambouillet ram has been walking the fenceline on this rainy day. The ewes had been let out of the area where they've been feeding on round bales of hay. So now, the ewes aren't in sight on the opposite side of the fence from the ram. They're happily wandering around grazing ..... sooooo, he walks up and down along the fence looking for them. He was just moved to this paddock after we sold the older horned ram last week, so he's really getting some exercise. This is a warm-up for all of the walking he'll do when he's actually put in with the ewes. Rams can cover miles every day during breeding season. At times, they forego grazing and lose weight while they constantly follow their flock around courting the receptive ewes ...... it's important to make sure that they're in excellent condition prior to joining the ewes. Don't worry, he came in and ate his daily ration of grain before heading back to the fence.

Meanwhile, the rest of the flock is enjoying grass on this cold & rainy day. Here are some of them!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Custom Livestock Hauler

Here's an inventive adaptive reuse of a ditch witch trailer and a wire tote box. Click for a close-up. One can only imagine what came to the Eighty-Four Livestock Auction this morning (or what is going home) in this nifty little tag-along trailer! Love it .... it gives new meaning to "custom". Note the elements of down home creativity .... no project is complete without baling twine & bungee straps.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Activities: aka, the glamorous life!

I don't think that we've ever featured this glamorous aspect of Wild Rose Farm life before ...... yes ...... spreading manure! We don't keep the sheep in the barn that much, so it's not as big a deal here as on some farms. We can get the job done using this little spreader that we picked up "gently used" several years ago. With the chore of spreading several loads of manure complete, it's parked here waiting to be hosed out & greased before storage for the winter. It was a beautiful bright, sunny, cool fall day here ---- perfect for the lambs!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Where did everyone go?

Do you ever get that feeling that you're all alone out there? I was off in the distance & then I noticed that this Wild Rose Farm lamb was by itself. It finally stood up, looked around & saw that the rest of the flock had drifted away. A quick look at me and then off it ran! Whew, that was close!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wool on the Hoof Available!

We have several sheep available at Wild Rose Farm. Check out our ad in the Farm & Dairy. After using our horned Colorado registered Rambouillet ram for 2 years, we are offering him for sale. He is a twin & will be 4 years old in February. He has a really nice fleece - his test from Yocum-McColl Wool Testing Labs was 21.5 microns. Here he is after being turned in with the ewes last fall --- he is a proven ram offered very reasonably @ a hundred and a half. We'd love to see him go to a good flock! We also have one of his horned ram lambs available for sale. Either one of these rams would be a great way to get fine wool into your flock. This picture on the left is the only picture that we have of him at the moment. He can be registered & is offered at the same price as our more senior ram.

Since buying a new Rambouillet ram this summer, we are focusing on building up our Rambouillet ewes and are also offering 4 Dorset two year old ewes for sale. These ewes all had lambs this spring and are ready to breed now .... offered at a hundred each .... excellent to start a small flock or add to your flock. Micron test results are available on these 4 ewes. Here is one of the ewes that is for sale: The First Lamb is Here. The others are like her and all were born as twins.
Finally, we have 4 Dorset x Rambouillet crossbred twin ewe lambs for sale. Our crossbred ewes have very nice fleeces - they are popular with handspinners. These ewe lambs were born in early May and were sired by our registered performance tested Dorset ram (who was sold in late winter to a small flock in Butler County).
We'd be happy to answer any questions about these sheep!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Use for Wild Rose Farm Wool!

Gina came out to Wild Rose Farm for the PASA Summer Farm Tour in July to try and get some wool for her bobbin lace work. We ended up selecting about a pound of combed top which she was going to use to stuff/wrap in her bobbin lace bolster. Apparently, some of the synthetic materials (polyester?) can be slippery and the pins don't hold well enough. It sounds like it is working out really well for her. I see that the instructions to make a bolster also mention using felt as part of the wrapping ...... well, our combed top is also great for wet felting & needle felting, so it will probably tighten up or "felt" over the years with use.
Thanks for the pictures Gina!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Annual Canfield Fair Outing

It was off to the Canfield Fair on Saturday, our annual pilgrimage. We raise sheep, but I love to see the judging of the colored breed dairy cows ..... something different that the ubiquitous black & white Holsteins for a change. Is it me, or are the 2 Guernseys above bigger than I remember them in my Penn State "College of Ag" days? I showed a Holstein back then at the annual spring dairy show, but these Guernseys look just as big. My favorite class is the "Aged Cow" class ...... these "girls" are 6 years old and older. When they stay in the herd that long, they're good sound producers. The Jersey cow in the left center of the picture is 12 years old. If you doubt for a minute that she's well cared for, look at her owner holding her. Something tells me that she was the first 4-H heifer project that this young woman had 12 years ago ...... Which brings us to this sign from Ohio Farm Bureau. Yes, those of us with animals have to care about them and make sure that they're doing well.

And finally, we have one of the unsung heros of the dairy cattle show ring ..... the requirements for this job are a keen, watchful eye, a fleet foot, and the skill & knowledge to know how much is enough! Enough sawdust, that is, to firm up the consistency of the cow pie, but not so much as to be wasteful. Our man had to "flip" most patties, make a scoop, smooth over the divot with his boot, and scamper off to the wheelbarrow while balancing the cargo. All of this while staying out of the way and not startling our slowly circling bovine friends and their handlers.
It looks like it helps to have a sense of humor too! Love the t-shirt!