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...
We have our pasture divided into eight paddocks, so that we can rotate the sheep, keeping the soil healthy and keeping new plants regenerating. Gene is the one who lets the flock into each paddock as we rotate, and they know it! Whenever he steps outside the house, they holler at him, hoping he is coming to open a gate.
The lambs haven't quite caught on to the routine.
It didn't take them long to figure it out, though.
A few days ago we opened up a section of pasture that is adjacent to the lambing shed. The plants in there had grown taller than usual.
Some of the sheep got swallowed up in the green. Here's Tehya and ?
Tucker and Twain, I think.
Look at the horn growth already on Tucker!!
This time of year it is wonderful to watch the sheep enjoy their natural activity: grazing.
Those of you who have been worried about Yahtzee, the ram who broke his foot on shearing day, will be relieved to know he is healing fine and getting some outside time now that the rain is gone. He was rather vocal about being shut in the lambing shed.
He loves being petted and scratched, so much so that we have to watch him every second we are out with him. He doesn't realize how powerful those horns are!
One more week and we can take off the splint, checking to see how the foot looks. Yahtzee only tentatively puts weight on it now. The vet thinks he might be somewhat crippled for life, so we may have to rethink where he will be. If he can't keep up with and defend himself from the other rams, we may need to create his own area, with a buddy. More sheep adventures!