Friday, December 18, 2009

Home For The Holidays

Snow before Christmas in Hendersonville, NC? Highly unlikely!! It has been a very wet summer and now maybe a wet winter?

My Christmas break began a day early from teaching middle schoolers. Snow began this morning at 6:00 AM with the possibility of 6 to 12 inches throughout the day. School was cancelled which means that we will have our Christmas concert and class parties in January.
We have about 8 inches tonight and as I blog it is sleeting. The forecast says that it will taper off soon leaving us with a cold, white, icy landscape.

Evening chores were very interesting!! Some of the sheep are dry and others look as though they haven't come in out of the snow.
My husband trudges through the white stuff with me lagging behind with the camera. A snow event is quite unusual for these parts. Well, for the past few years anyway.

Peppermint Patty and Charlotte Bronte (moorit smirslet) anticipate supper. Patty was to leave for her new home today along with Emily Bronte but that was postponed.
Charlotte is a yearling in one of our two breeding groups. We still aren't sure if she bred or not.
Breeding was really late this year for some reason. Looks like some lambs will come late April.

Tundra peers around the barn trying to decide whether to visit me or not. We planned on separating our breeding groups this weekend. Plans have changed!!

Here's the 2nd breeding group of Annie, Sprinkles and Gina. They have all been settled and are waiting to be moved here to our house for lambing. Gina (black yuglet) will be the first to lamb during the first week of April (maybe).

Do we really have to come out today? What about supper in the barn?
Yes, it's nice to be home for the holidays! I have been writing out my Christmas cards. Yes, I'm late. I'm also knitting a scarf to go with my dress coat. It's Annie and Maisie, a mother/daughter pair. What a beautiful day to be at home with the Christmas lights on, candles burning, and snow!
Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall in WNC

Katie found some beautiful leaves to photograph this fall as well as our surrounding mountains.
Cory, our 4-year-old fawn katmoget ram, has 3 ladies in his breeding group. Annie, an 8-year-old ewe, (grey on the far left) will be bred for the last time. She has never been with Cory before so we are excited to see what they will produce. Sprinkles (behind Cory) will be with Cory for the 2nd time. Gina, a black yuglet, wasn't bred last year and is with Cory for the 3rd time.

Peeking around the post is our new ram, Sycamore Farms Tundra. He is a black smirslet out of Bluff Country Sandman and Hidaway Farms Bridgett. We sold Bridgett as a lamb to the Orr's and since we wanted some HST's we decided to bring back some of our original lines with some new ones. Charlotte is next to Tundra, then Abby, Emily, Patty, and Shania. Emily and Patty will be bred and then sent to their new home. Not pictured is Amelia and Lucy. Charlotte and Emily are yearling twins out of Shania and Abby is Shania's first ewe. Spots are in Amelia's background as well. So, that is a total of 8 ewes being bred for us here at Hidaway Farms.
I'm on fall break for two days and loving it....spinning and weaving a shawl....visiting with the sheep....enjoying beautiful weather as my hubby puts up hay for winter!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair--A Weekend of Fun!

What a weekend!! SAFF is an event that we so look forward to each year. Located near the Asheville Airport and only 20 minutes from our house makes this event a real treat. We loaded up 16 Shetlands Thursday evening due to rain in the forecast.

Friday was a rainy day. This is the day we like to shop around by looking at all the wonderful fiber related goodies that the vendors bring from all over. Our sheep always ham it up for all the visitors. Faces poked through the pens saying, "Here, pet me!" Friday is also a great day for meeting new people and previous customers of ours. We had a wether and a ram lamb to sell this year. The ram lamb was the most important sale of the weekend. Felix went home to a nice flock of ladies. His shepherdess had another ram from us in the past that she had purchased from someone else. Whisper went to Tennessee with a sweet lady that has purchased Shetlands from us over the past several years.

Saturday was the Junior Sheep Show where both of our girls have aged out. We watched the show and talked to visitors and did some shopping. It was pretty warm in the barn until late in the afternoon when the temperature dropped about 9 degrees in an hour. While I was spinning, Katie was teaching an impromptu class on making hairpin lace scarfs with fancy fibers and wool.

My purchases over the weekend included a sweatshirt that says, "Wool- a renewable resource" with sheep on it, a long sleeve t-shirt with Proverbs 31:13 embroidered on it, 4 oz. of hand painted merino to play with, a shawl pin, a tiny pin for my collar with a black and white sheep and a heart in between them, and a pair of alpaca socks and gloves. Katie also bought me a wonderful print called "Teacher's Pet" by a very talented artist that returned to SAFF for the second year. Guess what the pet is...a sheep, of course!

Sunday morning dawned very cold indeed. The Open Show began at 9 with the ram lamb classes. The Shetland class had only 2 which consisted of James Bond shown below by Katie and Tundra from Sycamore Farms. (At the end of SAFF our two farms planned to switch ram lambs for breeding.) Katie placed first with James. She hated to see him go--gorgeous, soft, long fleece and a wonderful temperament.
He just stood waiting his turn to enter the show ring with no one holding him.
The picture above is the Shetland ewe lamb class. Our farm had five entries- Money Penny, Electra, Solitaire,Vesper, and Camille. There were a total of 10 entries. Vesper was 1st, Camille was 2nd, Electra was 4th with Money Penny and Solitaire 5th and 6th respectively.

Below is Lauren with Amelia in the yearling ewe class. There were 11 entries. We placed 1st with Amelia, 3rd with Lucy, 5th with Clara, and 7th with Jackie. Our judge really liked the brown based sheep today.

The 4th picture is the aged ewe class. We are fortunate that here in the south they recognize this age group in the show ring. We had 3 out of the 5 entries. Shania placed 1st, followed by Annie in 3rd and Sprinkles in 4th place.

The champion Shetland ewe class was made up of our 3 ewes-- 2 belonging to Lauren and one to Katie. Odds were in Lauren's favor but the judge really liked Katie's Shania.

The picture above is Katie in the show ring with Shania for the Supreme Champion Ewe of all breeds which included Border Leicester, Costwold, Romney, Shetland, Fine Wool, Long Wool, and Jacob ewes.

Below you can see who the proud winner of that class was. This was a first ever for Katie and boy, was she thrilled. She works hard with the sheep and loves them very much. This was a nice reward for her hard work.

We also did well in the Shetland fleece class with 1st (Amelia), 2nd (James Bond), 4th (Vesper), and 5th (Camille). In the all breeds pairs class there were 22 entries and our little ewe lamb pair placed 4th. Yes, it was a great weekend.

We came home with 14 sheep including a new ram lamb. We made new contacts, talked sheep and fiber all weekend, spoke with past satisfied customers, and had FUN!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Evening Sun Rays

Winter seems to be getting an early start here in the mountains of western North Carolina. Today was a very blustery 45 degrees. We have had so much rain that the fall colors aren't as bright as usual and the trees are losing their leaves in this cold wind.
I wanted to attempt some fall pictures of the sheep but most were more interested in the hay that was put out for them. Shania is hoping that the shepherd will pull down some privett for her to snack on.

She did get a little bit of a treat! Shania's ram lamb (James Bond- moorit smirslet- caped flecket) is going to be traded next week for another ram lamb that is a black HST (Tundra). Shania and 4 other ewes will be bred to him. We are excited about this match. Two of Shania's daughters will also be put with him--Abigail (moorit-crimpy fleece) and Charlotte (moorit/smirslet-wavy fleece).

Camille is more interested in the hay. She is a "ghost" kat. Her fleece is long and super soft. We will be keeping her. Her mother, Cara, has produced 3 "ghost" kats in 3 breedings. Since we are breeding only 7 this fall, Cara will have a year off.

This coming weekend is SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair)--23rd-25th in Asheville. We have a great sheep show and meet great people and get to be tempted by other fiber! We can't wait!

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!

Saturday, August 1, 2009