Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials

Yesterday we decided a day off from everything was necessary for mental and physical health. We got up early, took care of the livestock and headed for Montpelier in Orange county, VA, to the Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials.

What a beautiful day! We still can’t believe how clear the air was . It was a little cool when we left home but by the time we arrived, it was in the mid 70’s. An added benefit to the trip was the leaves are starting to turn. We took in everything – all 5 large tents with rows of vendors selling everything fiber – beautiful hand dyed silk and wool blend yarns and rovings – there was a lot of yarn. It seemed that the vendors choose to cater more to the hand worker than the spinner.

We passed by the outside tents and went over to the Livestock Exhibit tent. They had a good example of various different fiber producing animals – the Angora Rabbits, Llama and Alpaca were not represented very well in this exhibit but I later found more of them in the outside tents. After looking around we found our friends Magi & Jay from Magi’s Wood Farm, you know, where we just got our Icelandic’s from.

Magi & Me

Magi & Me

She was happy to see me because she had let a child play with her wheel and it wasn’t working. She’s been having a problem with it every since she got it but it was worse. Later in the day, hubby found the same wheel and discovered her problem is incorrect set up. Hopefully the pictures he took of the correct set up will fix her problem.

Hubby wanted to take in the sheep shearing demos and I really did want to check out those outside tens, so I left him. My first stop was the Fleece Sale tent. Lot’s of beauties in there.  I found a CVM Sheep fleece that was really beautiful – when I looked at the price, I came very close to passing out – 2.2 lbs./$102.00. Needless to say that didn’t come home with me.

As I walked by the outside tents – something caught my eye – A spinning wheel! It looked to be very much like an Ashford Traditional but then again..it didn’t. I’m not going to tell you the price yet. This wheel had suffered a child assult on Saturday and it was broken. I got a handful of roving and a chair and set out to fix this cool little wheel. Whatever this child had done to it, I don’t know but it would not spin at all. Hubby came to find me and got involved in the fixing process. An hour later, I walked away with a fixed $60.00 spinning wheel! It is a mystery wheel though. I’ve added a photo, maybe one of you may have an idea about who made it. It does need work but it will spin yarn.

The New Old Wheel

The New Old Wheel

Armed with mystery wheel, we set out for food and Sheepdog Trials. I was a bit disappointed in the food options. In years past there has been lamb chili and fruit plates. Not so this year, so we got a heavy BBQ, set up our chairs and became spectators. The dog trials were great! We stayed to the end and we got lots of photos.

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

"Nice Job"

"Nice Job"

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

"The Shed"

"The Shed"

"The Pen"

"The Pen"

It’s so enjoyable watching a dog work..they take their job seriously. I am so happy we have 7 Border Collies of our own to work with.

We left the event feeling invigorated and hungry. In the town of Orange we went to a restaurant called the Silk Mill Grille. As you may have guessed from the name, it is an old Silk Mill and the place is decorated much of the old salvaged accessories and processing equipment. Had a great meal and we were home by 7:00.

I have a lot of readers that know very little about this side of my life – they know me for the goats and goats milk products. You see fiber and fiber arts is my true passion. Any opportunity I get to do a day like this, I will put all else aside to do it. My only regret – Didn’t go both days!

I’m going to add an events page to my Blog so everyone might have an opportunity to see and possibly attend what’s going on the rest of 2009. Some I will be a vendor..some I will just visit.

Parting comments and a little rant! Please, if you bring your children to events like the Fall Fiber Festival, try to pay attention to what they are doing. One of the wheels that was messed up yesterday is a several thousand dollar wheel. We want everyone to come to these events..especially children, they are the ones who will keep this going in the future but vendors and demonstrators put their life into this and it shouldn’t be destroyed by an adults carelessness of not watching their child. At this event, I saw big pulls of rovings run off with, a driveband ripped right off a spinning wheel, Angora bunnies being plucked through the sides of their cage by uncontrolled little fingers, hand crafted wooden knitting needles being used as swords and a grape snow cone dropped on a beautiful silk scarf. Please bring your children and please be good, aware parents! Rant is done.

Have a wonderful day!

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A Hot Fall Day In Virginia

Our weather is so odd in Virginia. Last week it felt like Fall and this week, it’s summer again. The weather forecast for last week included several days of rain..we didn’t see a drop here. This week was suppose to be rainy too..nothing! Our late garden is not doing at all well and our first attempt at tobacco is just yellow. I will honestly be glad to be done with gardening this year.

I kind of like this photo that was taken at the Green Market last Thursday. I’m in the red shirt (just excuse all my fatness) with the obviously messed up hair cut. You never know what the back of your head looks like..I am not amused.

IMG_1161

By the way there is a spinning wheel in front of me and no, neither of us work for Gander Mtn., but it is good advertising for them.

As everyone knows from my Monday post, hay cutting and bailing was going on around here and we took the opportunity to get a couple of Border Collie shots. It was almost dark so some of the shots are affected by the flash.

See those eyes? Now we know why the sheep say "yes sir"!

See those eyes? Now we know why the sheep say "yes sir"!

Katie and her kids

Katie and her kids

Katie is clearly bored with this whole operation and please just don’t look at her butt. She has some of the worst allergies. Gael is our smiling BC (nose spasms) and Roy is just good!

Well I need to stop killing time and get back to work. Until next time!

Quiet Peacefulness of the Country?

As I sit here trying to figure out what next for the day, it occurs to me that something is bothering me. I’m irritable, figity and in general getting in a bad mood. It’s noise! When you move to the country, peace and quiet are the two things that come to mind. You can hear the birds sing, you go hours without hearing a single sound of any kind and its just peaceful. You know what, that simply isn’t true. The thing that’s so funny about what I’m getting ready to write is I grew up in the country and as a child I can remember the deafening silence (especially as a teenager). Not a lot of traffic, no horns blowing, lawn mowers, weed wackers..there just wasn’t that much noise.

So far today, I’ve heard heavy equipment running..for hours. The farmer next door is cutting and putting up hay. Apparently this is not a process that is done sitting in the tractor but one that requires a person strutting around, swinging their arms and yelling! So what do you think happens when this occurs? That’s right, the dogs go nuts, the sheep and goats take off running for fear that their lives will surely end soon and I am jumping up and down like a “pogo” stick trying to see what the problem is. As if that isn’t bothersome enough, another neighbor (not a farmer, but son of the farmer) has just returned from a weekend of  “truck pulling” (tractor truck style). So there’s the banging and clanging of pulling these trucks off the hauler. Well, he must not have done well because those trucks sound like they are on the fast track to explosion. All the while the neighbor and another dude are standing around yelling at each other at the top of their lungs because they can’t hear over the trucks idling. Keep in mind this neighbor shared his feelings about our dogs barking at the UPS driver all the time and how it just had to stop!  The military has more than obviously changed their “day’s of thunder” helicopter flight pattern to go right over the house. Each time this has happened (of the 6 times) the windows shake and you guessed it..the dogs bark, then the sheep and goats take off running again..it’s an aerial assault don’t ya know.

So, what have we accomplished today? The dogs have exercised their vocal cords, the sheep and goats have run to the point of exhaustion, I have spent hours going from window to window, field to field just making sure that all of the commotion is what I think it is and not some predator ready to eat the flock or herd. Maybe I expect too much from country living but it would be nice to have a 30 minute stretch of time when my ears aren’t being abused. Oh my I really am in a bad mood. Sometimes we must vent and even rant a bit!

OK, that’s it, no more fussing. I’m off to make soap for the rest of the day!

The Icelandic’s Have Arrived!

Several months ago, I share pictures from a farm visit, where I had looked at Icelandic sheep. Holly, one of those sheep, already had been chosen to come to our farm but she need a buddy. Well, I finally made a decision and we picked up our two new sheep Saturday evening from Magi’s Wood Farm. They are absolutely beautiful – well you be the judge- meet Holly & Ricky (girl).

Holly-Ricky

New Girls Meeting "Roy"

New Girls Meeting "Roy"

I can’t wait until we shear them next month so I’ll have their fleeces to work with.

We were told several things about these sheep that had given us some cause for concern. First, we were told they aren’t real big on flocking. The first day that seemed to be true but if there is a grain bucket involved they seem to flock just fine. We were also told that the Border Collies could not herd them. This isn’t exactly so, you see, if all the sheep are together, they can all be herded. While I feel like the new girls tolerate our sheep, I know they much prefer the the goats. After the song I heard the other day, “Sheep Go To Heaven..Goat’s Go To Hell”, I don’t know that I like this bond so much..HaHa!!

Well I’m off to make soap. The Green Market at Brandermill is Thursday and as always, I’m not ready! Someday I will get caught up, maybe in January?? I’m looking at this market as the launch of “crazy season”. Wow! It’s hold on time. By the way Molly, from Fall Line Farms Co-op will be there signing up new members for the Winter Season

In my next blogpost I will introduce you to our new project that I will be partnering up with Nadolski’s Butcher Shop in Goochland Virginia on. It’s new, exciting and on the path of my true passion. Can’t wait!

Until next time, be safe and enjoy this wonderful Indian Summer weather.

Rainy Days Are Getting Old

I, for one, love cloudy, cool, rainy days. It’s seems to make me thrive but our recent weather pattern is even getting old for me. For days now it has either rained or has threatened rain. Yesterday, the sun came out for 5 minutes and what happened next? Tornado Watch! This rainy spell has caused pastures to “green up” and gardens are starting to grow but we could use a little bit more sun to keep things going. Another thing that is affected by the rain is sheep shearing, something we’ve needed to do for a month. I love to see the girls out in the field all big and fluffy..they make the perfect picture but before we know it we will have 90 degree days again and they won’t be happy. Not to mention, the sooner I get those fleeces off the sooner I can get all the fiber shipped off to the mill. Until then, I must look at the fact that we are blessed with a wet Spring!

Overheard some chatter at the barn last night. Looks like, for the first time in years, we did really miscalculate our delivery dates. The does are getting ready now, so there will be baby photos coming soon!

 There was additional chatter out there when Breeze our picture perfect Border Collie rousted up a skunk. She is such a cool dog. When she goes out for her barn work, she has to stop off and kiss the other dogs, kiss the cats, kiss the pig, she’s just a sweet kisser. Well, she seems to think that skunks are cats, so she tries to kiss them too. Aparently her doggie genius only goes as far as what to do with the sheep, she just never learns. She got a bath in what we have found to be the best skunk odor remover, disposable douche (found this in a natural pet care book), and the otherwise nightly sofa hound spent the night in an outside run. This morning she smells fresh and clean and dishing out kisses again!

"Breeze"

"Breeze"

Well, I have to make soap today. Just got the orders from the co-op (www.farm2udirect.com) and soap is the big seller this week. People were probably thinking about Mother’s Day when they ordered this time. Also, the Market at Gather (www.shopgather.com) is Thursday so inventory needs to be ready for that. I’m so glad I have this life!