“January Has Come In Like A Lion…”

That saying use to apply to March around here but for the last 5 or so years, it’s an excellent description of what our January’s have done. This one is no exception. We thought it was cold on New Years Day when the thermometer topped out at a balmy 42 degrees..well, I am here to tell you that was a heat wave! Since then our nights have been in the mid-teens and our days have struggled to reach 30 degrees and oh good Lord, the wind! The daytime sustained winds have been around 25 mph, with gust over and above. I am a huge lover of cold weather but if there’s no snow involved, it just as well be 70! This is ridiculous. I feel so sorry for all of our friends in the mid-west and up North. The prediction was for a hard Winter and I think we’re having it.

My talk about the cold is leading me to take a moment to discuss animals care in the harsh Winter months..mostly, water. Here at the farm, we are not fortunate enough to have a year round outside water source for the livestock. During good weather, we use hoses from the house but this time of year, livestock needs water too..possibly more than in the heat of Summer. What would normally take about 30 minutes in the morning and evening to do livestock feedings and waterings, is easily taking up to an hour and a half each time for us. Everyone must always remember that our animals need to have water sources that are clear and flowing for at least a little bit of every day. We are feeding diets high in roughage (hay) and grain which both absorb moisture in the gut. Feeding like this with a lack of water will take a sheep, goat and llama (speaking for my own animals) down quicker than parasites. So please, when you are doing your daily chores in this weather, remember water. Also, on this same note, don’t forget any outside pets you may have. I know that I am not telling anyone anything they don’t already know, but usually your pets water dishes are much smaller and shallow, which means they freeze much easier..just keep an eye on them too. I just hate it when a fellow farmer friend  tells me about loosing livestock in bitter cold weather. I know that the chore of water hauling is not easy, especially when you get to be our ages, but keeping our stock alive and healthy is so very important.

So, tell me, now that you know that our New Year has brought additional work for us..how about you! Any stories or other recommendations you want to share? Feel free to leave us a comment.

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!

Hello Again!

Wow, I cannot believe how busy the last, almost two weeks have been and how behind I am on blogging and just about everything else. It’s been so crazy, in a good way, I’m not sure what I’m doing! Just in case anyone really cares..business is really good. Since the introduction of the Fiber CSA, it’s been endless emails and phone calls and yes even some purchases. Also, once the offering was listed in the Local Harvest Store it’s been out of control. Who knew how well this was going to catch on. Be sure to check the CSA out at www.breezehillfarm.com, there are still shares available and the time is nearing for us to send the fiber off to the processor.

Let me share a little bit about what has been going on. It all started on Saturday, May 23, when we took off to the mountains in search of the magic “Heirloom Vegetable Seeds”. Well we found them; tomatoes, peppers, okra, squash, pumpkin and many more. It was a nice day for us to finish up shopping for seeds for the garden..the late garden. After lunch at historic Michie Tavern, in Charlottesville, we headed back to the farm. On the way we received a phone call from our friends at Shady Nook Alpacas www.alpacasinvirginia.com/, in Powhatan, they were birthing babies and wanted us to come out. So we diverted our trip to their farm. How wonderful to be included in this. I had spoken to Lois and Ken on the phone numerous times but had not met them. Our visit was two fold, we got to meet two of the nicest people and see one live birth of a cria. (Sorry, no photo’s today)

The next day we sheared our llama, Kosmo. Still don’t think we’re over that one yet. He is so big and so spoiled (don’t know how that happened!) and is such a bratty baby. First he had to have his hum and kick fest, that was fun. Then he cushed and refused to get up. The crowning blow though was when he got nose to nose with me and spit. He had eaten breakfast about 3 hours before, you know that was a really pleasant spit! He and I got in a spitting match while my husband just stood there and laughed. Finally, Kosmo was shorn. We were invited to a Cuban Party that afternoon, so after showers we left for the party. Didn’t stay very long but the food was to die for. We promised we’d come back later for fireworks but came home and crashed.

I’m glad we got good rest on Memorial Day because last week was the week everyone decided they needed to order soap and lotion. With it only being me doing the production work, I tend to get backlogged easily and now I am. We’ve got a Farmer’s Market this weekend at St. Stephen’s and wholesale orders coming in from all of our accounts. This is such a good and encouraging thing. Business is picking up for all of us.

Wow, I’ve been all over the map with this post. Look next week for some fun and exciting things we will be offering to our customers and readers. Have a great rest of the week and upcoming weekend..we’ll be back Monday!

Almost forgot to include that we sheared most of our sheep this past weekend. We had one ewe produce 22 pounds of fiber, with a staple length of close to 12″. I’m thinking that we might should consider shearing her twice a year from now on. She’s always been a big producer but this was huge. To add to that, she is over weight, so her diet started Monday.

What A Hot Day

Well here we are, the 25 day of April, the day time high was 92 degrees! That’s a bit on the high side considering we are in Virginia. According to the forecast we are looking at another day in the 90’s tomorrow and Monday. Thankfully, Breeze Hill Farm got it’s name because we have a breeze here most of the time. Unfortunately, all of our shearing is not done. Kosmo, our llama has been laying on his back most of the day. He will get shorn later on this week. The sheep are wondering why we waited so long to shear them, not to mention all those beautiful oak trees haven’t completely sprouted their leaves, so there’s no real shade yet.

Enough about the weather for now. I know everyone is wondering where the Fiber CSA option is in our Store. It’s coming! Just making the last few tweeks on it and it will be up for purchase by the end of the week. I can’t tell you how exciting this is for us and hopefully it will be for you too.

If anyone happened to make it out to the West End Farmer’s Market today, I’m sure you noticed we weren’t there. Hubby and I managed to eat something that didn’t exactly agree with us yesterday, so we stayed home. I really don’t like to miss the first market’s of the season but sometime you have to make decisions based on how you feel. So, our first market will be next Saturday at St. Stephen’s Church (Richmond, VA). It should be a fantastic producers market!