Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Timber!" At Wild Rose Farm

Wild Rose Farm - Logging Started Day One
After doing some research this fall, we found that a portion of our wooded acreage was ready for a selective timber harvest. Over the years, Mr. WRF had seen some nice timber harvest work done on land where he frequently hunts. We got in touch with Tom Anundson, their consulting forester, and had him do a survey of our timber and put a select area out for competitive bids. The winning bidder has 15 months to take the timber off and they also follow best practices which don't allow work in the late winter/spring mud season.  They got started last week and put down 2 tri-axle dump loads of heavy stone for the short access road and log landing.
Trees To Harvest Marked With Blue Paint
A sustainable harvest overseen by a forester ensures that trees remain for future harvest in 10-15 years and on.  If you enlarge the picture above, you can see that the left, center, & right trees are not marked. They will put on healthy growth once the canopy around them is opened up. If you sell timber and the logger marks all trees greater than "x" diameter, it's called "high grading" and that may not be what you want for your woods.  I'm amazed at the size of many of the trees left behind for a future harvest.
First Log Trucks Leaving Wild Rose Farm
We looked around the log landing and then walked along an old timber road that isn't being used this time. As we walked, we spotted some cattle hoof prints where there shouldn't be cattle hoof prints! What was this?  We found out early this week that a group of cattle had escaped from a farm several miles away and had been roaming around in the woods. Apparently, during the night last week, one of them was hit on US Route 30 in front of our place near where you see the trucks above! Somehow we missed the excitement - can't believe the hounds weren't barking up a storm - and the police had to put down the steer.
View From Old Logging Road
We Saw Hoof Prints On Old Logging Road! 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wild Rose Farm Sneak Preview At Old Economy Village - 2015 Christmas At The Village!

Old Economy Village - Feast Hall Decorated For Christmas At The Village
Wild Rose Farm will be at the 2015 Christmas At The Village this weekend at Old Economy Village along with a great diverse group of vendors. The hours are Saturday 2PM to 9PM and Sunday 2PM to 9PM. Here is a sneak preview (cell phone pics!) of a couple of vendors who were in setting up Friday afternoon.
Wild Rose Farm - Naturally Dyed Yarn, Wool Quilt Batts, Combed Top, Santa Beards
One of the vendors has a great selection of paintings, small ornaments, & primitive painted wooden cut outs. I love this reindeer scene!
Christmas At The Village - Reindeer Painting & Ornaments!
Here's an unusual booth - Clean Creek Products. They are marketing products that use metals recovered in the acid mine drainage stream clean-up process. Proceeds go back to fund additional restoration efforts and to maintain existing treatment systems. Click on the image to check out the cool pottery wildlife & fish replicas!
Christmas At The Village - Clean Creek Products - Wildlife Replicas, Pottery, & Jewelry
Who else/what else did we see setting up? Some really nice, up-to-date crocheted hats, scarfs, finger-less gloves, & whimsical figures set up in the Feast Hall hallway. Patty of Pine Knoll Herb Shop was setting up in the Rapp House, and by extension, it follows that husband Dorrin, the resident Horologist of Pine Knoll Clock Shop, will be there (!) with clocks of his own design and perhaps some restored antique clocks. Miss Kitty was setting up her packed table of jellies, jams, & spreads. Kim will be there on Saturday with her detailed punch needle art. Birgitta of All Strings Considered will be set up next to Wild Rose Farm with her hand woven rugs & place mats. Those are just the folks close to the WRF set up in the Feast Hall & Museum Building ... there were vendor tags on tables for fused glass, jewelry, baked goods, & hand made wreath bows ...

Friday, December 4, 2015

Natural Dyeing Binge!

Wild Rose Farm - Camomile, Black Walnut, & Cochineal
Finally, some pictures of the Wild Rose Farm natural dyeing extravaganza! We last left off on the raiding rodent and the black walnut dyebath. The walnut does not require a mordant to bond to the yarn, so the dark brown skeins above are out of black walnut on a superwash yarn. After the natural dyeing workshop a year ago at The Mannings, I decided to try some superwash merino yarn and add to the color range. They take up the dye differently and the results are wonderful. The lighter khaki colored skeins are chamomile and they did require a mordant, so I transitioned to the other natural dyes - adjective dyes, they're called - for those keeping score!  :~0  The saturated magenta, raspberry, & pink from cochineal turned out great. Plus, I finally remembered to mordant & dye the collection of felted hearts I had languishing in a bag. They were part of a needle felting demo using our combed top ... next step, embellishment?
Wild Rose Farm - Logwood Colors
We moved on to a logwood dyebath and then did some over-dyeing in the cochineal "exhaust" dye bath and got some lovely purple & lavender on the superwash yarn. The single violet skein is a homegrown WRF Rambouillet wool worsted weight skein. Different wools, different tricks & formulas, so the variety is endless! 
Wild Rose Farm - Walnut Dyed Curly Locks!
Meanwhile, we soaked more black walnuts to make another dyebath to dye our wool locks for crafting & beards. We'll keep some of the walnut & logwood concentrate for "painting" yarns this winter.
Next up - Wild Rose Farm will be set up at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, PA on Saturday 12/12 & Sunday 12/13 for 2015 Christmas At The Village along with other unique vendors. See you there?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday At Wild Rose Farm?

Wild Rose Farm Ewes Waiting To Be Processed!
We didn't celebrate Black Friday at the farm, we celebrated "Bum Friday" ... yes, this is the day that we put the ram in to kick off breeding season. This means that we process the ewes first by trimming hooves and cleaning up back ends (bums!) as needed.  We check for any missing ear tags and also do a little clean up of any burrs that we might find in their fleeces.
Wild Rose Farm Dorset Yearling Ewe #117 - Daughter of "U"
 Most of the ewes are very clean and in good shape. Check. We note that #99 needs a new ear tag. Check. We needed to trim hooves on about 10 in the flock of 38. Check. As we handle each ewe, we spray paint her ear tag number on her right hip. Check. Oops, I painted 135 on ewe #134! Not a big deal ... #134 is a horned ewe and we recognize her by sight. Whew ... that worked out. See how complicated this is?  :~0
It's much easier to tell who has been bred by reading a large number, rather than trying to get close enough to read the ear tag, especially at dusk!
WRF Rambouillet Ewe #410 - Wonderful Fleece
& Our Largest Ewe
We had perfect weather in the 50's today for this chore. We ran the ewes and the ram into the hospital pen to settle down overnight ... the ram races around for a couple of hours checking everyone before he finds a ewe that is interested!  You can spot the ram in the picture below ... click to enlarge & you can see his breeding harness.
Ewes With Ram In Hospital Pen
 Meanwhile, back in the barn, we've put Snow White in with the ewe lambs. They haven't seen her since July, so they are curious, but jumpy as she walks around in the pen. The feeling is mutual ... Snow White is humming every so often.  That means that she is a bit stressed after being separated from her flock of ewes and put in a pen with these strange little lambs again. It's not easy being a llama or a lamb! :)
OMG!  What's That Big Thing?!?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Warm If You've Got Wool!

Enjoying The Shade At Wild Rose Farm!
If you're wearing wool, it's still warm out there! Here we are in the low-50's, but the flock at Wild Rose Farm has settled down in the "shade" to chew their cuds. Shade is a relative term now that the leaves are gone ... sort of like a "too warm" spring day when there's no good shade to be found.
Snow White & The Dwarfs At Wild Rose Farm ...
Cooler days are ahead with the temps dropping below freezing for a couple of nights!  :~)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Red Squirrel Caught In The Act!

Wild Rose Farm Evening Feeding
I had just taken the photo above from the house when a flash of movement near the bird feeders caught my eye.  There he was, the busy red squirrel stashing away walnuts at sunset ...
Red Squirrel Nibbling On A Black Walnut!
He ran across the rail fence and stopped to chew off the walnut hull.  Then he scampered to the ground and busied himself digging a hole and burying the nut.
Digging To Bury The Walnut ...
Wonder what a boiled walnut tastes like?  He was picking up the spent boiled nuts that had been used for a dye bath. We dump them onto the mulch under the spruce trees when I'm done with them.
Yes, he's a quick little fellow ... I thought that I lost him in the glare, but it's just that my focus was a fraction of a second too late.  I never noticed the mourning dove, but that's him in a blur on the bottom left! :~0
Uhhh ... Which Way Did He Go?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

That Raiding Rodent!

Sunrise Surprise - Who's Stealing My Walnuts?!?
My stash of black walnuts was being pilfered by a busy little red squirrel! When I let the dog out first thing in the morning, I saw the remains of a walnut - the nut was gone, but the hull was in a neat little pile.  Huh? We didn't spot the culprit until later after the morning chores were done. He/she was a busy little rascal as evidenced by the picture below ...
The Walnut Raid Continued!
The walnuts were being carried from the bucket on the porch over to the stone wall, leaving a trail of evidence along the way. Easy enough to fix ... I just put a pot over the bucket and ended the fun. The rest of the walnuts are now soaking and the first batch of yarn has come out of the dye pot.
Fresh Out Of The Dye Pot
The yarn is really a nice deep color. The second batch of yarn is soaking in rinse water now & it's time to put in another batch ... perhaps a lighter shade from the exhaust dye bath?  Love the way this looks.  See the little piece of walnut hull next to the yarn?
Wild Rose Farm - Black Walnut Naturally Dyed Yarn

Friday, November 6, 2015

Warm & Breezy November!

Wild Rose Farm Dorset Ewe Prancing In The Breeze!
We had a lovely Indian Summer here this week.  The flock is enjoying their fall grazing and with the temps in the 70's we had a nice breeze to keep them cool. The only color in the woods now comes from the oak and hickory trees.
Here's a fine point of farming, but if you look at the picture below, you can see that the rear section of the pasture is a darker green.  There is a distinct line.  The back section is where we spread composted manure in August.  
Snow White & The Grazing Flock!
We've had a couple of soaking rains since then and you can see the result. That area had been grazed too, it's just much greener.
Close-up Of Compost At Work ... Whoo-hoo! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Week In Review ...

Dr. Larry Goelz of Pipestone Veterinary Services
2015 PA Shepherd's Symposium
Last weekend found us at the Pennsylvania Sheep & Wool Grower's Association Annual Meeting & Shepherd's Symposium with sheep owners from all around the state. Over 50 folks of all ages were in the group.  Great presentations & demos by Dr. Larry Goelz of Pipestone Veterinary Services, Pipestone, MN ...
Dr. Goelz Demonstrates Splinting A "Broken Leg"
We had good food - lamb of course - and the association hosted the 2016 PA Lamb & Wool Queen Contest.  We followed with a silent auction & an annual meeting, but keep in mind this broken leg demo. You guessed it!  On Monday afternoon, I got called out to the barn at feeding time. One of the ram lambs in their group pen had a broken rear leg. We haven't had a broken leg FOR YEARS, so what were the chances?!?  :(
Needless to say, with the demo fresh in my mind, we cut a piece of PVC pipe and fashioned a splint. The Pipestone site also has a great video of the process if you need it.
Wild Rose Farm Flock Moves To The Back 40!
Mid-week, the ewes were moved to the Back 40 for some fresh grazing.  We even got Snow White along with them on the first try. She occasionally manages to scoot around or lope off in another direction. Yours truly is bringing up the rear & hazing the crowd ...
Wild Rose Farm - Munching Fresh Grass! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Weaving Boot Camp!

First Weaving Project - Tabby & Twill!
Well, I've returned from a class that others have termed a "weaving boot camp"! Five days of beginning weaving at The Mannings in East Berlin, PA taught by Thomas Knisely - it's a big deal! :) The cotton dish cloth(s) above represents my very first attempt at weaving - lots of room for improvement, but we all came out with a bunch of towels to be finished at home. I have been wanting to take this class because I have a 1946 Sears & Roebuck 6 harness folding floor loom here at Wild Rose Farm collecting dust in a spare bedroom. It was last used by my Mother-In-Law in the late '70's to produce rag rugs. So ... I signed up & off I went last week!
Classmate Amy At The Warping Board For Her Scarf 
 There were 5 of us in the class and by the middle of the week, we each had projects in process on 3 different looms. Yep - 15 looms in use at one time.  We did a sampler and also a scarf of our own design.
The Mannings - My Beginning Weaving Class Sampler In Process!
We all felt that we learned quite a bit and Tom was an excellent & patient instructor. We had all kinds of "learning opportunities" ... broken warp threads, crossed heddles, treadle tie-up cord breaking, etc. ... you get the picture. "OK, everyone come down here and look at this" was the phrase of the week!
Tom Knisely Teaching Our Warping Lesson
Wool Scarf Project On Warping Board
My personal experiment was to work with a commercial warp to see if it was suitable for use with WRF fine wool yarns or if I should have our own warp thread made.
Tom Knisely Demos Direct Tie On With Wool Warp
Scarf Project On The Loom
My classmate Amy was very artistic and inspired me to flick bits of blue yarn into the scarf to break up the solid green on blue heather ... very subtle, but of course still regimented for those that know me! LOL
Weaving & Using The Warping Mills
What's next? I found the original manual for the 1946 loom and now we need to set it up and hope nothing is missing ...  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Getting Ready

Black Walnuts Gathered & Soaking For Dye
We are having visitors tomorrow at Wild Rose Farm & it happens to tie in with gathering black walnuts to soak out for a natural black walnut dye.
The squirrels already got to the ones on the left and removed the nut meat from both sides of the shell. I need to gather more walnuts (say a 5 gallon bucket full) to make enough for a nice strong dye bath ... then let them soak & ferment for a week or two!  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Apples, Grapes, & Sheep!

Wild Rose Farm Ewes Coming For Apples!
We've been having really sunny & dry weather this week, but it looks like a T-storm is on it's way tonight. Excuse the glare, but you can see that it's perfect fall painting weather and that's where I was when the sheep came trailing along. I had picked up a bucket of fallen apples & pears to throw over the fence.
OK, So Dump The Bucket!  We're Waiting!
These pics were taken with my cell phone, but you get the idea.  Once again, the wise old ewes came right up and waited.  Later today after it got a bit overcast, we noticed an apple that I had missed and got a chuckle out of it lodged in the tree.  :~0
Apple Resting Comfortably In Tree ...
Mr. WRF was out spreading our composted sheep manure & signaled me to come look at something along the fence line. This has been a great year for blackberries, cherries, apples, and now the acorns & walnuts are falling.  Take a look at this huge crop of wild grapes that he spotted in a wild cherry tree!
Lots Of Grapes For The Winter Wildlife! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cow Pies, Sheep, & A Goat Competition!

Canfield Fair Dairy Exhibit
Yes, we endured the heat for our annual visit to the Canfield Fair last weekend.  The trick is to go early in the day and be on the way out after lunch.  Passing through the dairy barns on the way in, we came across this sign & it couldn't have been more nicely framed! 
Use Caution On Ye Olde Cow Path - Watch Thy Step!
We chatted with some Tunis sheep who were waiting for their part of the sheep show to start ...
Canfield Fair - Tunis Sheep Ready To Show!
We'll end the post today with a contest that we stumbled upon back behind the 4-H area and next to the llama & alpaca tent.  It was a Pack Goat Obstacle Course!  The first competitor was a white goat who had done well up to this point, but was not happy with the water hazard ...
Ain't No Way I'm Go'in In There!
The next competitor was a little black goat that knocked off both hurdles (was he a tad too short legged for the course?), but was happy as a clam to do everything else!
Happy Goat Pole Bending - Note Fallen Hurdle In Background!
Next they walk the elevated plank ... the judge in the purple outfit is scoring each component of the course as they go along.
"Spotting" The Goat As It Walks The Plank!

Up & Over The Ramp With No Trouble
They were through next station and only the water hazard remained.  It was over so quickly that I almost missed the shot!  She scampered right through, popped over the end, and headed for the home stretch ...
The Audience Was On Their Feet Cheering! 
It turns out that we saw the class winner dominating the course.  Whoo-hoo! Now if you want to try this at home, here is a llama packing class schematic for those of you with intermediate & advanced skill sets.  ;)   Remember, it's all about having fun at the fair! 
Canfield Fair 4-H Llama Pack Courses