Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Found Outside of the Fenceline

Looks like we have a couple of weeks to go yet, but the wild blackberry crop may be good this year. If this plant was inside of the fence, the sheep would have striped off every leaf that they could reach. A little more rain would help and it's in the forecast for tomorrow. The ground is still dry and the spring water tanks are running very slowly.

Here's a look at Wild Rose Farm #802, one of our 11 year old Rambouillet ewes with her polled ram lamb.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yearlings & Yarn

I promised to share a picture of yarn made with Wild Rose Farm combed top in my next post and here it is. Tiana hand spun the combed top and then dyed it ...... she brought it out to the PASA Summer Farm Tour last weekend. We love to see what everyone makes with our wool & yarn!

We also got a call last week from Andrew, the breeder of our Rambouillet ram. He was checking up on the lambing season & how our yearlings were coming along. These pictures were taken this evening of our 2 Rambouillet yearlings, #328 & #329. They are out of our aged ewes who are both 11 this year.

In trying to work around them and avoid looking into the sun, they're both running downhill in the picture .... oh well. Also below is WRF ewe #315 with her twin lambs and one of the yearlings behind her.

We'll be weaning the lambs in the next week or so ....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

And the WINNER is ......

After the 2009 PASA Western PA Summer Farm Tour, we have 2 gift card winners from the folks who visited Wild Rose Farm on Saturday! We've all been to an event where one of the door prize winners is the person who traveled the longest distance, right? Since this program is all about supporting local agriculture, we decided to give one of the prizes to the person who traveled the SHORTEST DISTANCE to our farm. The winner of the "Most Local Visitor" Bocktown Bucks gift card is Regina H. from across the river in Industry, PA. It turns out that Regina is already a fan of Bocktown Beer & Grill, one of PASA's Buy Fresh/Buy Local Restaurant Partners.

Our 2nd winner is Liz D from Pittsburgh. Liz (above) wins her gift card for being the first person to show up with something "Made From Wild Rose Farm Wool". Liz visited last fall with the Herb Society of America - Western PA Unit and needed more yarn to complete her project. Liz brought along a friend whose little granddaughter had a great time visiting with Stripe, one of our barn cats. She didn't seem to be too interested in the lambs .... couldn't pet them!

We demonstrated indigo natural dyeing throughout the day. As the group gathers around to watch the demo, it's always fascinating to see the white yarn go into the dyebath and change from yellow to blue when it is pulled out and the air hits the yarm. We spent a lot of time talking & answering questions about the ewes & lambs. Everyone was able to handle a fleece that was laid out in the barn to be skirted for a wool show. We even went out and looked at one of the water tanks that we have in the field from a spring development conservation project. The partly sunny/overcast weather was great for the ewes & lambs who were brought up to the paddock next to the barn, although some of us were wearing light jackets on a cool July day.

We're looking forward to hearing about & seeing what everyone makes from the yarn, fleeces, & combed top that they got on Saturday! If you were here and bought something, send pictures when your project is done. We'll share a picture of the handspun yarn that Tiana made from WRF combed top in our next post.

P.S. - We'll be mailing out the gift cards this week .......

P.P.S. - Thanks to our WRF Event Staff who helped make all of this possible. You know who you are!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Going or Staying?

Three of these skeins of Wild Rose Farm naturally dyed yarn will be going to a new home soon, destined to become a childs' sweater. The peach toned yarn is from madder roots. The berry colors are from cochineal. We're just waiting on a decision!
The other six will be available at the PASA 2009 Summer Farm Tour on Saturday.
Here's another look at the farms hosting visitors on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tour Brochure

Here's a link to the brochure & map for the PASA 2009 "Behind the Barn" Farm Tour" on Saturday the 18th. It looks like there's something for everyone in Western PA .......

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Tour is Coming, the Tour is Coming!

We're starting to get things ready for the PASA Western Region "Buy Fresh/Buy Local Farm Tour 2009" this coming Saturday July 18th. We're planning to have an indigo dye bath going to demonstrate natural dyeing. Visitors will be able to see several natural dye sources growing here on the on the farm. Some may surprise you. We will also be "skirting" fleeces from the spring shearing to get them ready for show. We'll be able to see the difference between what a good handspinning fleece should look like for show, and why some fleeces are sorted to make our Rambouillet fine wool yarn.
Our Wild Rose Farm naturally dyed yarn, combed top, fleeces, and quilt batts will be available for purchase. The ewes and lambs will be nearby for everyone to see. This will be great time to look at the lambs that we will have for sale. We have 6 Dorset x Rambouillet crossbred ewe lambs for sale - all twins - and several registered Rambouillet ram lambs for sale - twins & singles, horned & polled.
If you're coming, here are couple of other attractions in the area:
You'll pass Raccoon Creek State Park on your way here from Pittsburgh if you take US Route 30. Are you a daylily enthusiast/junkie? About 7 miles west of here minutes off of US Route 30 is Patty's Daylilies. Into one-of-a-kind wacky roadside points of interest? Well, just off of US Route 30 at the Chester, WV exit is "The World's Largest Teapot"! And finally for the history buffs, we're not far from The Point of Beginning of the United States Public Land Survey which opened the Northwest Territory for settlement .....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Grass ......

Ever heard of the book called "More Sheep, More Grass, More Money"? The title alone should tell you that it's a classic, right?!? Well, here's a look at more sheep & how we're making more grass ...... The ewes & lambs are grazing the green grass and moving each day to a fresh section. They are kept inbounds by the electric net fencing. In the foreground is a section of the pasture that has been allowed to go to seed. This area is a little thin & we'd like to thicken the stand of grass on this gentle slope.

Here are 2 common types of "cool season" hayfield & pasture grasses ..... the fluffy brownish heads are orchardgrass (aka cocksfoot grass). The greener cat tail like seedhead is timothy. Both are going to seed. When this area is mowed down, the seeds will be knocked to the ground and will be available to germinate in the fall or next spring. We won't run the sheep through this area before mowing. The tall stems with seed heads would be too close to the sheep's eyes and we want to avoid scratching their eyes and risking pinkeye or other problems.

Look at all of the seed that comes out of a few stems!
On another note, this is why you're not supposed to throw hay over the sheep's back when you feed them. Imagine all of those seeds falling out into the wool. That makes for a dirty fleece.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More lambs .....

It's hard to get decent pictures of the lambs since they're always moving. Here are some of the Wild Rose Farm Rambouillet lambs. We're planning to keep most of the ewe lambs. We have 6 and they're all twins this year. The first picture is ewe #327 with one of her twins ewe lambs .... the other ewe lamb is in the next picture.

Below is ewe # 330 (herself a triplet), with her twin ewe (left), & ram lambs. The ram will be polled.FOOTNOTE: Went & checked on Saturday .... the bluebirds are gone ..... flew the nest!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Get Back In There!

Looks like the power went out and the sheep had a little excursion today! Believe me, sheep are always "testing" the electricity in the fence. You can usually count on them to break out if the juice is off for more than a few hours. Anyway, here they are being escorted back to their grazing paddock du jour ...... your blogster was assigned wingman duties to haze the flanks of the phalanx (!) in case anyone straggles, hence the opportunity to get the above pic. And what a great section of grazing & browsing tonight ...... look at the ewes & lambs just munching on this brushy little strip of hillside. It will only be grazed once each year since it's a hillside. Whoops! We thought we were free and now we're back behind the fence. Actually what you're seeing is a group of sheep exploring the boundaries of the area that they were just fenced into ...... part of "testing" the fence and looking for openings even though they have an abundance to eat. Just sheep being sheep ......
And now for a complete change of topic. Just as we were about to go out and gather the wayward sheep, the phone rang ..... Alaska calling! Seems that 3 skeins of Wild Rose Farm sport weight yarn naturally dyed with onion skins were given as a gift to our caller. She was checking to see if, by any chance, we had more of the dye lot left. It turns out that we have one of the original 8 skeins remaining in inventory. Here it is shown with 4 skeins of a similar color also obtained from an onion skin dyebath. Posting a couple of pictures here is one way to get the photos out. Both pictures were taken outside in natural light.

P.S. - It must be a long distance day. I got a $1 bill today with the Where's George? stamp on it. When I logged it in, I found that it originated in Washington state in 2003. This was only the 3rd time that it was tracked since then. Last stop tracked was Cleveland in 2008.