Thursday, December 30, 2010

History in the making...

The first white Christmas in Hendersonville since 1981...
I was just 16 years old at the time...nothing stands out in my memory about that day.

My Belle, a dachshund-terrier mix, is 17 1/2 years old and celebrating another Christmas as an "old girl."

Began a Shetland shawl on my triangle loom with the above yarn on the 26th, my wedding anniversary, as my husband was out with the tractor scraping driveways...

Completed 7 foot shawl in a record four days...

Finished product commissioned by my brother in New York for his wife...
Wow!! Much going on in western North Carolina over Christmas break!!
Hope everyone has a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Visit To America's Largest Home

Katie and I enjoyed a day at the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. Katie's first visit to this amazing home was when I was teaching 6th grade in the public schools and was pregnant with her. Now she is 22 and we could really enjoy it together!
It was cold enough to feel Christmas-like but not cold enough to be miserable.

Inside decorations for Christmas included a huge live tree in the dining room. Thirty something feet tall, I believe. It was adorned with huge ornaments including full sized presents among the branches. We were told that Mrs. Vanderbilt would have all the employees and their families in for a party. Children 11 years old and under received gifts each year that were actually in the tree. It was amazing! Of course pictures were not allowed inside.

George Vanderbilt bought acreage that totaled 200 square miles. Here you see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Much of the land was sold to Pisgah National Forest upon his death. Wow!!

Here's my lovely Katie posing in front of Vanderbilt land. Her bag contains beautiful Christmas ornaments purchased in one of the shops in the old stable. We love to collect ornaments wherever we go.

Here is the greenhouse where amazing flowers grow. An orchid room was what pleased me the most. You will see many of the lovelies below.


We also visited their farmyard. They raise a flock of sheep and herd of cattle on the property.
Someday we will return and take a nighttime Christmas tour...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

CHRISTMAS! Snowy weather this early is quite unusual for us here in Hendersonville, NC. Last year was an unusually snowy year and weathermen are predicting a calmer winter for us (or so they say).
It was exciting to wake up to 3 or 4 inches of snow that was only to have been snow flurries and snow showers.

The sheep seem to have enjoyed a nice day in the barn. Hopefully these mammas are growing some sweet little lambies!

Merry Christmas! May you have a blessed season celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SAFF 2010

Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair October 22-24, 2010
Talking about trained Shetland sheep! Here is Camille, a yearling ewe, being shown by Lauren.
She is a "ghost" kat. As you can see, Camille knows just what to do!
I was in the show ring during the ewe lamb class and the aged ewe class so we haven't any pictures.
On Sunday, the 24th, the Open Wool Sheep Show commenced.
Our first class was for ram lambs. Lauren placed 1st with our homegrown black ram, Midnight. Katie was 2nd with Mapleton Farm Thunder. Our judge was looking for a lot of crimp and of course, soft fleeces.
In the Shetland ewe lamb class there were 13 entries. April Showers was 3rd, Hearttrob (Katie's new ewe lamb) was 4th, Aurora was 5th and Stormy was 8th.

Here is our judge examining Camille being shown by Lauren. This was the yearling ewe class.

This is Katie showning Solitaire. (This same judge picked her for first place at the NC Mtn. State Fair in September.)

She is inspecting Electra's wool. Electra being shown by Joe, Lauren's boyfriend. Boyfriends in our family are expected to help with all aspects of our sheep! :)
Katie's Solitaire won the yearling class and here she is showing for Champion Shetland ewe. The grey katmoget in the front is Scarlet. She was ours and is now owned by someone else. She was the first placed aged ewe.

And the Champion Shetland ewe is..........
Solitaire...proudly shown by Katie.

In the aged ewe class we were 2nd with Cara, 3rd with Sprinkles, 4th with Shania, and 7th with Amelia out of 11 ewes.
Out of about 25 pairs in the all breed pair of ewes, Cara and Sprinkles placed 7th.
In the Shetland fleece class we were 1st with the black ram lamb, Midnight, 2nd with Heartthrob, 4th with April and 6th with Aurora.
Overall, a very nice show!!
We also entered 7 fleeces in the fleece show and sale. The judge this year didn't judge by comparison--1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. She judged using a scorecard. I believe that anything over a score of 90 was a blue ribbon. All 7 of our fleeces won blue ribbons. Our lowest score was a 94 and the highest was a 98 with Shania's fleece. We were very pleased! We sold one of the two we were offering.
We sent 2 of the show fleeces to Davis Ridge Fiber Mill, in West Virginia. We sent 4 show fleeces to Fleury Sheep & Wool Fiber Processing in Georgia. Can't wait to get them back!! The Fleury's purchased a ram lamb from us several years ago. They raise Shetlands and they love their fleeces.
We didn't purchase many things at SAFF this year. I did get an embroidered long sleeve t-shirt from Sunny Meade Woolies in Kentucky. It has a cute sheep on it, of course! Katie and I both also bought 2 yarn bowls. We first bought small single bowls from Brandon from Davis Ridge Fiber Mill (my husband's second cousin). A friend made them for him to sell at shows. Then we each bought one from Knit Witch. Mine is a large double yarn bowl that I use to hold my roving as I spin. It is wonderful. The roving doesn't run all over the room. Katie bought a shawl pin and then she bought me a beautiful sheep from Fiber Dream Santas made from her Cotswold locks as an early Christmas present. Thank you, Katie!!
SAFF is our favorite sheep related event of the year. It always goes too quickly!!
Breeding groups have been put together and the next event? LAMBING, of course.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It Was A Grand 'Ole Fair!

Last week we were preparing for the 2010 North Carolina Mountain State Fair. Rothey and Katie loaded 16 sheep Friday morning and delivered them to the WNC Agricultural Center. We love being in the barn "talking sheep" with others after settling our flock and setting up our information table.
Saturday is the shorn fleece competition and then the junior show begins. I enjoyed a day of spinning since we no longer have showmen 18 and under. This year we had so many more people interested in "talking sheep" instead of asking all those "interesting" questions---are these goats? Why do those other sheep have coats on? What do they do with the wool they are trimming? Yes, we had plenty of those questions as well.

Sunday at 10:00 the open show began with the ram lamb classes. In the picture above Lauren is in pink on the left with Midnight and her boyfriend, Joe has Jack Frost. Then comes Katie with Mapleton Thunder.

Katie was very pleased when Thunder took 1st place out of 11 natural colored Shetland ram lambs. Jack Frost was a respectable 3rd and Midnight was 4th.

After the ram lamb and yearling lamb classes, 4 rams compete for Champion Shetland ram and Reserve Champion. We were very excited to receive the Reserve Champion ribbon. (You can tell by the smile on Katie's face!) Thank you, Kara!! :)

Below, Katie is showing Rare Find Farm Heartthrob for Lynn Michaels. Katie is now the proud owner of this little ewe lamb. We weren't planning on bringing any more ewes in for a while but she was irresistable!! Lynn will bring her to SAFF in October after she is shown at our NC State Fair in Raleigh.

In come our natural colored Shetland Ewe lambs. Lauren has Stormy, Joe has Dew Drop and Katie has Aurora. Stormy and Aurora are twins. I was somewhere in the ring with April Showers. There were 15 ewe lambs in this class with only 8 placed. April received a 4th place, our best. Stormy was 7th and Aurora was 8th. There were lots of pretty little girls in this class. The judge kept talking about how diversified the Shetland fleeces were and that she was going to go with what she liked best.

Below is the yearling class. We entered 4 yearlings. Camille placed 2nd in the white class. In the natural colored class Katie is showing Electra, a grey kat. Joe has Christmas who will be leaving for Virginia in a few weeks. Lauren has Solitaire, a light grey kat. There were about 10 yearlings in this class and Lauren placed 1st with Solitaire. Electra was 4th and Christmas was 5th. We feel successful if we can place in the top half of the class.

The pair of ewes for each breed is always a fun class. Katie with help from her 4-H friend, Kelsie, placed 1st with Cara and Sprinkles, two aged ewes. Lauren and Joe were 3rd with Jackie and Camille. There were about 10 Shetland pairs in this class.

We are very fortunate here in NC to be able to show aged ewes. They are usually our best trained sheep. They know exactly what to do in the show ring. After showing for many years, Katie and Lauren prefer to show without halters. These ewes walk in with presence and enjoy being in the ring.

Lauren is above with Cara. She had a year off from breeding. Joe has Amelia and Katie has one of our favorites, Shania. There I am too with Katie's ewe, Sprinkles. Joe and I use a halter just in case! :)

Lauren placed 1st in the white aged ewe class with Jackie O. There were 13 natural colored aged Shetland ewes and Lauren placed 1st with Cara. Katie was 2nd with Shania, I was 5th with Sprinkles and Joe was 8th with Amelia.

The 3 Dotson girls took Jackie, Solitaire and Cara in to the Champion Shetland ewe class. Lauren was proud of Cara when she took Champion Shetland ewe! Just look at that smile!

We were very proud of our sheep and all the contacts we made with people that loved them too!

Our shorn fleeces placed well on Saturday also. In the white class, Solitaire was 2nd and Camille was 3rd. Katie later sold Solitaire's fleece. In the natural colored class Abby was 1st, Christmas was 3rd, Shania was 4th, Electra was 6th and Amelia was 7th. I believe that there were 12 entries.

The weather was hot and beautiful this year! Rothey and I even rode the chairlift...twice! We were able to get home and unloaded in the daylight...a weekend of fun!! It was a grand 'ole fair!!
Yes, my Dad would have been proud too!! I sure missed calling and telling him about all our sheep and their ribbons. Ribbons or not, we know we are champions. Dad always made sure we knew!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet April Showers

This is April Showers. She is an adorable musket yuglet/katmoget. This is our first double patterned lamb. April has a dense, soft fleece with luster.
We bred Hidaway Farms Emily Bronte, grey katmoget, with Sycamore Farms Tundra, a black smirslet. Emily then went to live with wonderful friends of ours. April was born at their farm.

We were amazed to see pictures of her as a newborn. So...Denise was very gracious and we traded Money Penny, a yearling katmoget for April.

Our new ram, Mapleton Thunder, and April Showers hang out together. They are the newbies on the block or rather in the pasture and the others aren't terribly willing to let them into their click!!
Thank you, Denise!! We love her!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Day in Paradise...

Paradise, Pennsylvania that is! Talk about a whirlwind trip--what is the purpose? You
will see at the end of this blog post, but don't look just yet. On Sunday, August 1st Katie and I began our trip at 6:00 am. The 10 1/2 hour trip took 12 as we made a detour to Antietam National Park. We arrived in Paradise (Amish Country) at the Beiler's a little before 6:00 pm.
Our reservation was for two nights in the Garden Room and we selected the "Off the Beaten Path" package. A good nights rest, a lovely breakfast and Q&A time with our hostess, and then off we went with a wonderful map that took us around parts of Lancaster County. What a treat for us!! The pictures below don't quite do this wonderful place justice.

The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes were something to behold. We tasted Amish made soft pretzels at one farm, a homemade whoopie pie at another and homemade root beer. Reminded me of those little root beer barrel candies. We purchased a peach pie, rocky road fudge, a sampler box containing apple strusel, a sticky bun, shoefly pie and chocolate shoefly pie, and a chocolate whoopie pie, homemade potato chips and a little cinnamon wrap with cream cheese inside. Somehow these items made it home to share with Rothey and Lauren.

Beautiful farm land...corn as far as the eye could see as well as tobacco and alfalfa being cut.

I definitely think I would like to live near these hard working, family oriented families.

Martin houses abound on these meticulously cared for farms as well as flowers, laundry on lines so high, Belgian horses or mules, a few sheep, and chickens in the yard.

We visited many farm stores on our tour. Each place had amazing handcrafts and food.

This was my favorite farm! It's barn is below.

Of course I couldn't leave without purchases that would remind me of this amazing part of our USA...

We found these precious Amish dolls that go nicely on one of my "sheep" shelves.

This sign was in the "bargain barn" at one home. (Made in China, I believe.)

The quilts were outstanding and one day I would love to own one. Until then...I purchased a framed quilt block. Above it is a swag made by a lady in her home's shop. She had beautiful wreaths! Yes, we will go back. Hopefully soon!!
So, why this trip for only one day? Well, it was on the way (sort of) to pick up a Shetland ram lamb of course!!

Introducing...Mapleton Thunder!!!!

On Tuesday morning at 6:00, Katie and I began our journey to Judi's house from Ewe Can Do It. We had to drive about and hour and forty-five minutes. Judi graciously brought Thunder back to her house from Kara's in New York the day before. After picking him up we had another 11 1/2 hours to drive back to NC. Thunder was a terrific passenger. Everytime we started he would plop down in his crate in the back of Katie's truck. If we stopped, he would hop up. He drank water out of a McDonald's cup. Katie was asked if he was our pet at one rest area.
Our trip started at 6 am and ended at 8:30 pm!! Thank the Lord we made it home safely in a total of 14 1/2 hours. Whew!! What a was all well worth it!