Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Autumn...

Fall weather has arrived this week. The air is clear and the temperatures are in the mid-60's. Leaves are falling. We have had 6 inches of rain above normal for September so the prediction for fall colors in our area is muted.The sheep have such fun gobbling up the leaves as they hit the ground. Here is Cara with her daughter, Camille. Below is Mary Goodnight enjoying the leaves that she has found.

I wonder who the wool belongs to on the thistle above? We have been seeing the "fall" spiders all around the barn. We watched an extra large one of these orange and brown spiders the other evening. Too bad I didn't have a camera. We watched him/her make a mummy out of 2 unfortunate bugs that hit it's web. The spider then cut it from the web and took it up to the very center. Amazing...we were only a couple of feet away and could actually see the silk coming from the spider as it wrapped the bug up tight.

Fall is definitely one of my favorite times of year! The sheep like it too. They seem to have a spring in their step as we feed each evening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Rainy Day At The Fair

Rain, Rain, Go Away!! We had a rainy weekend at the NC Mt. State Fair...nevertheless a good time was had by all.We brought 17 Shetlands to the fair this year - 5 ewe lambs, 5 yearlings, 4 aged ewes, and 3 ram lambs. Friday morning it rained when one group was loaded and then again in the late afternoon. Friday night is when we have a potluck supper in the sheep barn with old 4-H friends, the fair vets, and whoever else shows up. We catch up with one another as many are fitting their wool sheep. Thank goodness the Shetlands don't have to be fitted. It was around midnight when we got back home. We live about 20 minutes away.

Saturday morning starts out with the special populations sheep and goat show. Junior showman help out in this show. Next is the fleece show. There were 16 natural colored Shetland fleeces in the class. We took 1st with Shania, 2nd with Emily, 3rd with Sprinkles, 4th with Abby, 5th with Amelia and 9th with Charlotte!

Both Katie and Lauren have aged out of the junior show so we were done for the day. I sat spinning ringside for that show. A yearling ewe that we sold to our friends won Supreme Champion Ewe. It's nice to know that the judge appreciated our sheep.

Sunday morning around 10:30 the open show began. The Shetland classes were some of the largest. Go Shetlands!

Lauren and Joe are on the line for the ram lamb class. Katie's ram, James Bond, placed 3rd. Whisper placed 4th and Felix was 7th.

The natural colored Shetland ewe lamb class had 14 sheep. Here is Lauren with Vesper who placed 1st in that class. We also had a 3rd with Camille and 4th with Money Penny.

Lauren showed Jackie O. in the white Shetland yearling class and fleece class. She placed 3rd in the ewe class and 1st in the fleece class.Then it's the yearling class of natural colored Shetlands. Our best of 16 was 4th with Amelia, and 7th with Lucy.
The old girls get their turn too! Below is Katie with Shania on the left and Lauren shows Annie on the right. Annie placed 1st--not too bad for an 8-year-old ewe. We also had 3rd with Sprinkles, 7th with Shania, and 8th with Sarah.

The most exciting win of the day was when Lauren and Joe took Emily and Lucy into the Shetland pair class. They won first place and then went on to take Supreme Champion Pair! Katie had the 2nd place pair of Shetland ewes with Money Penny and Solitaire.

Katie was pleased with James Bond when he won the Shetland fleece class. We also had 3rd with Camille and 6th with Money Penny.
It was so nice to have the help of Joe and Jennifer (Lauren's friends) in the show ring. Now that the girls are older they can handle the showing and Rothey & I get to watch and take pictures. (The lighting wasn't great in the barn so we tried using the night setting.)
Sunday it rained and poured all day!! A complete washout for the fair. It was quite cold too! Strange to wear jackets at this fair.
We loaded everything up quickly after that show and headed out around 5:30. It was so much fun to unload in the rain ( :( ) when we returned home. The sheep sure were happy to be back to their barns!
We are looking forward to our next fiber fair and show at the end of October!! Then it will be breeding time and the cycle begins again!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yes, it's that time of year!

Down here in the southeast fair time has just begun. We are later in the year than most fairs. Our North Carolina Mountain State Fair began on September 11th and runs through September 20th.

We have been busy getting 8 of our spring fleeces ready to show on the 19th. Skirting and picking out hay as well as any 2nd cuts is always time consuming. My husband I found that in the morning under the shade of the Bradford pear trees works the best.

At our fair you only have to have your fleece in a clear bag. Nothing is to be washed, tied or tagged. Our judge this year likes to have the fleeces rolled as you see below. She usually mentions that she likes how we present them. Not everyone does it this way.

Susan McFarland will be judging all of the wool sheep shows this year.

This is Amelia Earhart's lamb's fleece. She is a fawn katmoget. (picture directly above and below) We store our fleeces in banana boxes until show time. This allows them to breathe.

We spent yesterday at the fair because when we are there this coming weekend there won't be a lot of time outside the barn. This year there will be more time as both Katie and Lauren have aged out of the junior show which means that we can only show in the open show on Sunday.
Katie is a park ranger at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site 2 1/2 days a week while she is in school. She was officially working at the dairy goat show Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Each summer children volunteer with the goats at the Carl Sandburg Home. A few then show the goat kids at the fair. Katie and Lauren were both volunteers for many summers and showed the goats. That is how Katie was able to get her job now that she is in college. It's amazing to remember her dressed in all white showing dairy goats and now dressed in the green and grey uniform of the national park service. Who would have ever imagined!?
Anyway...Rothey and I watched the steer show, some clogging, checked on the crafts we entered, watched some of the goat show (Nigerian dwarfs are my favorite--colored up like some of our Shetlands), ate Dippin' Dots, walked through the heritage craft building, checked out the market sheep (we remember those days), saw tractors ready for the tractor pull, saw lots of llamas, Brahman cattle, and more. We went home hot and tired!
Katie and I entered only a few things this year. We were reminiscing about ALL the stuff we entered when they were little--pumpkins, gourds, potatoes, decorated pumpkins, shoebox floats, pictures painted and taken, cookies, etc.
Katie placed 2nd with a black and white picture of 2 of the Carl Sandburg goat kids.
I entered 2 skeins of Shetland yarn and 1 of mixed fiber yarn. I also entered my shawl from an earlier post made from the wool of 3 of our bottle babies.

I was tickled with this first place for my Shetland yarn. I finished it the day before we turned them in. This was roving just sent back from Frankenmuth Woolen Mill. It was frosted roving using Annie and Maisie, a mother-daughter pair. We will have more of our roving "frosted" in the future.

This 2nd place yarn was from a mix I bought last year at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. It was called Razzle Dazzle and was made of Romney, Romendale Cross, viscose, Tussah silk and silk noil. This was fun to spin.

My shawl placed 3rd in the handwoven accessories category. This shawl contains lamb's fleece from Padgett, Sarah, and Almond Joy, 3 bottle lambs. It definitely reminds me of some wonderful times of raising bottle lambs--sleep deprived nights too!!
So, Friday, the 18th, we load up and head to the fair. We look forward to this time of getting together with the great friends we have made through 4-H. Most of our kids are grown or almost grown but we get to share these 3 days together again!