Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting a lot of attention!

Now that I've gotten this fun link from 3 friends, (none of whom know each other ...... what does that say about me???), it's time to share this amusing sheepy video with my wonderful Wild Rose Farm peeps. That's it ....... enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Indigo + Yarn = Wonderful Colors!

As promised, here are the results of the "Dyeing to Knit" indigo dyeing demo that we did on Thursday at the Beaver Area Memorial Library. The blue skein was made by dipping a natural colored white skein in the dyebath one time. The gorgeous green skein has a longer history. It was originally mordanted with tin and then dyed in a strong goldenrod flower dyebath last fall. We then overdyed the skein by dipping it once in the indigo dyebath. Many shades of green & teal can be acheived by overdyeing different shades and strengths of yellow & gold with indigo.
The brochure behind the yarn is the Wild Rose Farm 2008 Spring Newsletter. Several folks signed up for a copy of our 2009 SNL after the demo ..... get in touch or send a comment here if you'd like a copy of the newsletter this spring. It usually goes out in early May.

This next picture shows the indigo dyebath in the jar ready for use again. Note that the bath has returned to a yellow shade and that the blue "flower" is floating on top of the bath where it comes in contact with the air. After the "flower" is skimmed off, we're ready to enter another skein into the dyebath. The submerged skein of yarn will be yellow until it is carefully lifted out of the dyebath and the air hits the yarn. The dyebath is "rested" after the skeins are removed ...... this process of dipping continues until the dyebath is exhausted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dyeing to Knit!

"Dyeing to Knit" ....... was the name of the program tonight at the Beaver Area Memorial Library. Wild Rose Farm presented an indigo dyeing demonstration to a group of 21 members of the BAML Knitting Club, "Chicks with STIX", and other friends of the library. Thanks to everyone for coming!

We started off with a talk about our Rambouillet & Dorset sheep and the wool products that we produce from their fleeces. After discussing the 3 types of natural dyes; substantive, adjective, and vat dyes, we demonstrated indigo dyeing. The indigo vat dye makes a dramatic presentation! The white yarn goes into a greenish yellow dyebath ..... it emerges from the dyebath as a yellow color ..... and as the air (oxygen) hits it, the yarn turns blue right before your eyes. Tonight we got a nice deep blue from the the dyebath. We also put in a skein of gold yarn that had been dyed last fall with goldenrod after a tin pre-mordant preparation. The result was a fantastic olive green! I'll have to post pictures after the yarn is neutralized with a vinegar bath and washed.
Now that it's warming up, the natural dyeing will start again in earnest. We've got to get ready for the Waynesburg Sheep and Fiber Festival and the Wild Rose Farm Annual Spring Open House --- both are coming up in May!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Ahead ......

OK, we did that "spring ahead" thing already. Now for that other spring activity, frost seeding. Frost seeding is when seeds (usually legumes --> usually clovers) are broadcast seeded onto "honeycombed" soils. Honeycombed soil is actually the frozen soil surface that we get in late winter/very early spring. As the ground surface goes through the freeze/thaw cycle, the seeds are pulled into the soil where they germinate. To frost seed at this time of year, you get out on the fields in the morning as soon as you can see where you're walking. The seed is loaded into the sack of a broadcast seeder. The white label on the bottom of the seeder is a listing of the settings for the seed opening for each type of seed that is used. By walking and turning the handle, the seed is broadcast over a wide area ..... we do our overseeding on thin spots in the pastures and areas where the sheep wintered on hay bales. This year, we're adding red clover and a "horse pasture mix" to different areas of our fields. Red clover grows quickly, provides plenty of forage, but as a biennial, it will disappear out of the stand in a few years. We also don't want red clover where we are grazing our ewes prior to breeding, but that's a story for another time. Walking around with a spin seeder is an excellent way to get in touch with the details of your pasture! You can see by the bright morning sunlight that the Wild Rose Farm ewes were wondering what the heck was going on out there so early ...... the pastures are just starting to green up in the background.
And another thing .... don't forget to clean out your bluebird boxes! We've already seen one bluebird around on a scouting mission. This box near the water tank always seems to attract a pair of bluebirds.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Looking for "Aussie" Dorsets?

For those of you looking for some new blood in Polled Dorsets, here is a source for "Down Under" genetics at Maple Hollow Farm in Bedford County, PA. Melanie & I are currently working with PA WAgN to help put together a field day program about sheep, lamb, & fiber at the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival.
I've been waiting to see the results of the AI program on the Dorsets and it looks pretty good!
Hey ---- is that a Tunis in front of the Dorset ewes????