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!