We've all heard of U-Pick farms. What about a "ewe-shear" farm?
My son, Tyler, told me of this recent craigslisting in Missoula:
free wool, You cut off my 3 sheep
i got 3 big fluffy sheep that need the wool cut off of them, i can even throw in some type of produce from my garden.
Its thick and was not trimmed last year, free you cut.
It's a thought; it would save me time sorting through all these bags of wool...
It's about time I got started washing the fleeces I'm going to keep. I started with Rowdy, who is an unusually-marked Jacob, almost albino. His fleece is so white, crimpy and clean.
Here's his bag-o-fleece, one of the MANY decorating the floors of our house.
A closer look:
Next, it's filling up the washing machine with really hot water and pouring a few rounds of Dawn in the water.
I sorted Rowdy's fleece into whites and greys, then put the fleece into mesh bags (so the fibers don't float all over and get tangled) and push the bags into the hot water. Ow!
After a half-hour soak, I put the machine on spin cycle to release the dirty water (this doesn't felt the wool, but you can't let the machine go on agitate cycle!). I lift the bags out and fill the tub again for a rinse. Usually one or two rinses gets all the dirt out. Then it's on to dry outside. I use an old screen door to dry the wool on.
Rowdy's dried wool back is back in the house in a net basket, ready to be picked and carded for spinning. This is just the first half of the fleece, from the left side of the above picture.
It's probably best that this next picture came out blurry, as this picker, my "torture device" as Gene calls it, is a pretty scary tool.
I'll leave these next steps for another day. Time to go choose my next fleece to wash...
Each day there is cause to celebrate. Gandhi said, "It's always the simple things that catch your breath." Witnessing a unique moment is a celebration.
The changing of the seasons seems to stir in us extraordinary cause for celebration, and a whole day can be magical.
The magic of the Summer Solstice today is a special celebration for me: Gene's and my 30th wedding anniversary!
Still crazy (in love) after all these years...
Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!
The most valuable and reliable (the squirrels and deer don't seem to care for it) plant I have growing in my dye garden is madder. I started five years ago with four, small plants and look how it has spread!
The impressive leaves are not the dye material, though. The root is harvested and has a orangish-red color.
I cut the root into smaller pieces and let them dry.
A handful of dried roots produces this lovely salmon color in the dyebath. Supposedly, each year the roots get darker. I wonder if I'll get a deeper red from this year's harvest...