Calming the sorrow of loss by looking at pictures. Noah, our first breeding ram, a magnificent Jacob, a beautiful sheep soul, died yesterday afternoon.
He came to us 8 years ago from Oregon, Rolling Hills Noah. So completely new to breeding and raising sheep then, we were fortunate he chose our farm to start his life as a breeding ram and to mentor us about handling rams. Such a calm, yet powerful ram.
Always well-behaved for the shearer, each year he gave a gorgeous fleece.
Always gentle and kind with his ladies, letting them eat first.
A legacy of beautiful sheep born of him.
Noah's first offspring, ewes Ayita and Ayasha, first of our Four Winds flock.
His first ram offspring, Chinook and Typhoon.
Oona, Nara and Noah's daughter from last spring.
And we await Noah lambs from two ewes this spring, so his wonderful genetics will live on.
And, he will live on always in our hearts. He taught us so much about how to be shepherds and to love our sheep deeply.
May your sweet sheep soul rest peacefully, Noah.
As 2014 comes to a close, I have two clean fleeces from this year's shearing left to card.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and think I'm crazy to do this all by hand, rather than send fleeces out to a mill to be scoured and carded, as I can barely keep up, and often have fleeces still waiting when it's time for the next shearing day. That being in May, and with only two fleeces left, perhaps I'll get caught up in 2015. But there's still the matter of those raw fleeces in the closet. Not many. Really. I find myself feeling at year's end that I am behind and not accomplishing all that I could be doing. There's also all those mushrooms I've recently harvested from our forest...
Perhaps I should focus on the now and what is happening. I started this scarf on my table loom today. The weft is yarn from Tehya, dyed with coreopsis flowers. The colors don't show well in the photo: it's very bright.
And here's Ratha enjoying her bed in the sun (it's 12 degrees outside), letting me work at the loom. Her youthful, mischievous ways have kept me from keeping on any kind of fiber project schedule since coming into our lives in August. I don't mind, though; her energy makes us laugh and stay active.
A hat I've recently designed. Keeps the ears warm! Since I have found challenges to find spinning time, I knit some of my first handspun yarn, made from California Red sheep. Uneven yarn I now refer to as "designer yarn." The texture works well in this hat.
And here are some recent photos of the incredible place I have chosen to live. Gratitude and inspiration daily.
Taking time to savor the beauty that surrounds me is perhaps the most important task for maintaining creativity and inspiration. I need to remind myself I am keeping my natural pace and doing what I'm passionate to do. There is no imposed deadline for my fleeces. I have myriad plans for using them: felting projects floating in my head, awaiting the warm sun of spring. Perhaps I'll keep up better with using my fleeces with felting, in addition to spinning, and perhaps not. It's okay. Now, back to the picker to finish those two fleeces.
Oh wait. The cat just woke up again.
Today was one of those days where only the purity of nature could rescue my mood. When my mind dwells on dark thoughts, going for a hike forces me to be aware and alert to beauty and peace. How grateful I am to be able to walk out my door and follow a path into the woods of my own backyard!
This stump beckoned me to just sit and listen awhile.
Then I got out my High Spirits pocket flute and let my experience of place direct my fingers to a melody.
Taking some deep breaths, I looked back on the trail I had come up,
then ahead to where I might find mushrooms for dyeing. It rained some days ago and fall is a good time to find fungi.
Still enchanting colors and shapes, in this "dead" season.
And nourishing moisture awaiting some small, forest creature.
Towards the top of the hill, the forest gets denser and wetter. Perhaps this is where I should really start paying attention for mushrooms...
My fingers freezing and my backpack full, I stopped gathering 'shrooms and continued the hike to a sacred place just off our property we think of as The Manzanita Grove.
Marveled at the beauty, did a little meditation, played a flute song, and headed back home.
View to the southwest.
The hike back down brought interesting finds, too.
Ended my hike with a smile: This scene brought to mind, " You have to be this tall to be a Christmas tree."
And now I have eight different mushrooms to experiment with!
After the rain, it is such a treat to hike our property in search of stunning views and forest bounty. Colors and dyestuffs!
Mushrooms! Mycopigments! ~dyeing to use them :-}
Good thing I brought my collecting bag along.
Fuzzy, bluish-grey ones. Haven't found these before. Wonder what color I will get...
What are you doing up here? Sherpa is surprised to see me anywhere but where I throw hay for him, down the hill, near the house.
A last view before I go back inside to get warm by the woodstove and sort through my bag of treasures.
Spectacular colors this time of year! Just a little rain has brought our pasture new life.
The sheep have taken notice...
Gene has learned to get out of the way quickly!
Doesn't look like much, but satisfied the sheep's urge to graze--vigorous ruckus of "rip, rip, rip"- a welcome change from the hay feeders.
Thank you, Gene!!!
While Ratha lazed around yesterday, recovering in her stylish garb, I drove down the Feather River Canyon towards Chico for
The hour-and-a-half drive is about the limit of what I can handle, and it was the perfect fiber outing for me: not too many vendors to tempt my wallet, and lots of fascinating fiber animals and fiber folk.
This is the "Earth Loom" at the entrance. I love this idea and want to build one here at the farm.
The Chico Cloth folks, who are working on growing their own flax and processing it into linen, had a wonderful, interactive display.
Speaking of displays, I got some inspiration for tweaking my booth from some of the vendors there. I like the felted banner and the large, printed displays.
Some of the vendors brought a few animals. I enjoyed talking with the California Red sheep and the Shetlands. Oh, and their owners.
My favorite fiber animal was the young yak. I brought home some of her undercoat fiber to spin!
Favorite spinner/fiber animal combination!
Favorite animal I came home to after a fun fiber adventure.
Ratha is off at the vet clinic, getting spayed. You'd think I could get some fiber projects done while she's not here getting into everything, but I'm finding myself distracted, worrying about her and missing her. Isn't it amazing how our animals become family?
I could easily get my feet on the treadle right now...
Or hang some skeins to dry...
Can't seem to get in the right mood. Maybe I'll just take a nap.
and so the rain begins, mirroring my tears, washing Rowdy's remains into the earth, cleansing my grief, reminding me of the cycle of life, the balance of Nature. The magnitude of horrific events all over the world surround me, serving not to diminish my tragedy, but helping me accept it, to absorb it, allowing me to consider making something beautiful with Rowdy's fleece, which awaits me in my studio...