December 23, 2010

It's Christmas Time

Today is baking gingerbread, a coconut cake, sugar cookies and a pecan pie for Christmas dinner. Need to finish knitting and add the final touches on one last Christmas present. Later this afternoon will make one final trip to town before the winter weather they are predicting sets in. Looks like it will be a white Christmas this year.
From All of Us at Southard Farm

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

November 16, 2010

Deer Hunting, Pears and Back to Business

This past weekend was the opening of deer season. Around here it's a big deal. For the guys that is, not me. The better half, his brother, brother in law, nephews and this year his great nephews all gathered at their old homeplace for the guys hunting weekend they call Southard's Deer Camp. They bring campers, tents and trucks to sleep in, gather and visit around a campfire, cook in cast iron over a fire pit and hunt. This is a family tradition that began before my time in the family and hopefully will carry on for many more years.

My contribution to "Deer Camp" is normally making sure all of Jim's camo and hunting gear is packed and ready to go. I pack his cooler of food and cook a few things up to send out to round out their meals; cornbread for their pot of beans, cakes or cookies, etc.

The last couple of years Jim hasn't had much luck. I actually think he goes out to spend the weekend with the guys more so than hunt. Which is fine by me as long as he is safe and enjoys time spent with his family. I hate to say this out loud - I actually prefer Jim not take to aim at Bambi or her mother. I tell him always look for a nice big buck. As they tell it, those nice big bucks are few and far between.
Normally one of the guys from the city will have a bit of luck and they don't eat venison. So Jim will bring that home to process. We have venison for the freezer even if he doesn't take one himself. This year seems no one saw anything.

But he did bring home my winter pears.
At the old homeplace there is a huge old pear tree. Each year they collect the pears and bring them to me since I am the only one in the family who home cans. There was a bumper crop this year, roughly 50 lbs. of pears. I'll be busy this week putting up pear butter (like apple butter just with pears) and spiced pears. I have been looking through my grandmothers recipes and vintage cook books for other pear recipes to try.

Just 6 Mohair and 3 Shetland fleeces remaining to wash and card. Have finished carding all brown fleeces for the blanket panels. The felted blanket is on the top of my "To Do" list for this winter. Plus the remaining carding. I am hoping to have all fleeces carded and ready before spring shearing. Just in time to do it all again eh :-)
Finally have the natural colored warp for the rigid heddle loom. Hope to work that in while house bound this winter also.

Hope all is well on your end of things. Til next time... have a great rest of the day!

November 8, 2010

The Human Shield - Rest In Peace CJ

The show of support and kindness to help protect and honor this fallen soldiers family amazed me! They called it the Human Shield.

300 stood at the funeral home.
A mile away stood over 300 more. Citizens of Weston, Missouri, members of the Patriot Guard, VFW, American Legion, active duty soldiers, friends and supporters from near and far stood the line, the corners and the streets. They arrived early and filled every parking space, road side, nook and cranny to block the Phelps protestors.
There was no room for the protestor’s bus to park. The protestors were only allowed a fifteen foot section of sidewalk. When the demonstration began the Patriot Riders revved up to full throttle to drown out the noise. A local business set up a stereo system and played Amazing Grace along with music by Lee Greenwood.

Another local business brought their huge flag and set it by the group. Supporters of the Sadell family would move the flag to block the view of the unwanted demonstrators as they moved.

“The American Flag does not fly because the wind moves past it. The American Flag flies from the last breath of each Soldier, Sailor, Airman & Marine who has died protecting it.”

The Phelps group of 7 only stayed about ten minutes - their mission was futile.

A few links if you are interested

Members of The American Legion and VFW

We support the Patriot Guard!

DEFINITION OF A VETERAN: A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a check made payable to "The United States of America", for an amount of "up to and including my life." Author Unknown
Photos courtesy of Rebecca Rooney and April Lipscomb.

November 5, 2010

America Has Lost Another Patriot

A family friend, US Army Master Sgt CJ Sadell of Weston, Mo, 34, died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He was wounded Oct. 5 at Arif Kala, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.
CJ was assigned to the Army’s 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y. His unit had been deployed since spring.
CJ joined the U.S. Army in 1995 and was assigned to Fort Drum in March. His previous deployments include a four-month tour in Saudi Arabia in 1997, a six-month tour in Kosovo in 2001 and a one-year deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and 2006.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, numerous other decorations, now the Purple Star.
He is survived by a wife, two children and his mother
It has been brought to our attention that the group from Topeka, KS who protests military funerals will be protesting at CJ's funeral. Thankfully the Patriot Riders, VFW and active duty soldiers at Ft. Leavenworth have been notified and will be there in full force to stand opposite of the Phelps group.
God bless you CJ. Rest in peace.

November 4, 2010

Then and Now - Goats & Sheep

Sundance Fiber Farm - The Sundance Kid
This is one of my favorite photos. As a bottle baby Sundance went everywhere I did. I love this little fella...

even now as a full grown blubbering buck. That's him standing on his back legs wanting in with the girls.

Fairlight Jackdaw

When we brought him home.
Still on the up close, touchable and loveable side.

After his first shearing in May.

Now in his full ram mode
Isn't he just beautiful!
Thank you for the photo Tammy

Last week Jackdaw's breeder Tammy came for a farm visit. We have been talking about her coming for a visit ever since we first bought the "Woolly Boys" aka Angus, Aberdeen, Kirby & Kelly.
From left to right - Aberdeen, Kirby, Kelly (black) and Angus
We have had the opportunity to see each other at different fiber events (Marshfield Fiber Fair, Fiber U, Celtic Fest) and when we picked up the different sheep we purchased from Fairlight Farm over the last couple of years. We were finally able to find a day when neither one of us were busy with all others things in life. Was a great afternoon talking all things fiber, sheep and such.

Back in April, on Earth Day to be exact, Scarlet lambed. She had twins, a ram lamb and a ewe lamb. We kept Eartha the ewe lamb. Eco her brother went to live with a wonderful family in Arkansas.
Little Eartha a few hours old.

Now at 7 months old

Last year Isabella kidded twin doelings. We kept Maybelle.

Maybelle a few hours old

Maybelle now
Til next time, have a great rest of the day.

October 30, 2010

New Shetlands

We were to pick up the sheep last weekend. It didn't happen. The better half didn't make it home.
The 5 new additions
However he did have a load bringing him by the house on Tuesday. Things worked out so we had just enough time to make the 4 hour round trip to pick up the sheep.

Whirlwind eating her Halloween treat.

Adrian the wether.
He is a little cuddle bug. One of my favorites. His fleece is very close to being almost white. I am so looking forward to shearing him in the spring.
Jim says we should starting calling the sheep up at night by yelling "YO Adrian" while playing the song "Gonna Fly Now" (you know the song Rocky/Sly Stallon ran the steps to).
Funny man eh?

October 22, 2010

Hug A Sheep & Photos From The Road

One of my most favorite things to do is

If you haven't already - check out Nancy's blog A Shephard's Voice to learn about, participate in or visit with her on Hug A Sheep Day. On her blog you can even vote for the sheep you would most like to hug at her open house. Me, I couldn't choose just one, I would want to hug them all.

The better half has been out, about and all over the US this week. He sent photos of Nebraska, Wyoming and North Dakota.
Complete with squashed bug on windshield - Nebraska I 80 I do believe
Welcome to North Dakota...
Lovely, scenic drive in the Black Hills he said.

Sign said World's Largest Metal Works
Looks like a hill in the background, hun? Nope it is a row of sugar beets. He was picking up sugar made from sugar beets.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

October 21, 2010

Felted Wool Blanket

The weather has been amazing! Yesterday was another great day to be working outside. Was wonderful...soaking up the warm afternoon temperatures, enjoying the sunny skies not to mention the beautiful fall foliage.

This was my office...

My desk...

My co-workers...

These three are my constant companions. The big one is Brutus my grand dog, a GP/Lab cross. His mom is one of our livestock guardians. His dad was the neighbor over the hill's dog who jumped the fence to come a courtin'. Brutus was born the weekend my son moved back home. My son just had to have his own dog, so he had pick of the litter. He does care for Brutus, buys his food, takes him to vet when needed, plays with him when he can and did have him nuetered. The thing is my son works 2 jobs and is never home.
The little silver one is Fiona, our most recent rescue. She and Buster Brown (the blonde dog in back) are both Llasa's. Fiona lost half of her ear before she came to us, as well as weighing in at 1 lb., had a skin disorder and was malnourished. Now she just looks a bit quirky with her one ear standing straight up. Buster Brown also a rescue is a whole nother story.

My project...

I am attempting to make a felted wool blanket. Why? The better half wants one. So I am trying. It will consist of 6 felted Shetland wool panels sewn together, with a backing of flannel or another warm type material. Mom says she can machine quilt the two layers together. We are going to give it a whirl.

I had been reading a few different felting tutorials when I ran across the stomp felting method. You use your feet to felt the wool = stomp. In that little bundle is a layer of plastic and layers of wool neatly wrapped around some plastic pvc pipe then tied together. You roll it back it forth with your feet. Much like log rolling just without as much water. I sit most time while rolling it. Though also will hold onto the porch railing, putting most of my weight on it while rolling to add more pressure.

In olden days it is told that Indians would felt wool by covering and dragging the bundle behind a horse on their journeys. I have read some folks will beat the wool to felt it. Most use their hands and some have a felting machine. Don't have a horse, though Jim did voluteer to drag the pipe behind the truck up the drive way. Can't justify the expense of the rolling felting machine. I also don't think I would find pleasure in beating the wool, my old hands have "arthur" creeping into them and show signs of carpel tunnel. Stomp method should and did work.

The results

I used brown and light grey Shetland wool, threw in a bit of white Mohair for texture (the curls in the photo below).

Pinch test showed it was ready for the next step. The edges were a bit rough, they didn't felt well. Will pay more attention to the outer edges next panel. 1 panel down 5 to go. I will take photos to post of the process from start to finish with the next panel, in case anyone maybe interested.

Till next time...
Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the day!

October 19, 2010

Lemon Vinegar & Fleeces

It was during one of my rare “ah-ha moments” that these lovely jars of lemon vinegar came to be. I was working with one of the Shetland fleeces, actually attempting to put the fiber through the drum carder. I say attempting due to the drum carder and I having a very rocky beginning. I just couldn’t seem to get the swing of things with the wonderful little machine.

My little crafting corner, fiber flows off the drum carder now. Those bags on the shelf in the background are what I am washing while it is warm for craft projects this winter.

Oh I could fill the drum perfectly; I just couldn’t get the batting off the drum. I had to literally pick it off. Time consuming to say the least, definitely not good for the teeth on the carding cloth regardless of how careful I was and it was frustrating as all get out!
After suffering with the same results 2 or 3 times made me just not want to use the darn thing at all. I read and re-read directions. I scoured the internet for information; watched how-to You Tube videos (this is an act of desperation – we have dial up and it takes an hour or more to load a 7 minute video) even talked to the wonderful makers of the drum carder about my issues.

My friend and sheep mentor Tammy mentioned possibly re-washing the fleeces, making sure to get them uber clean. There might be the possibility grease could still be on the fleece which was gumming up the works for me.
Rewashing the fleece was not a big issue, I just really didn’t want to because I knew I was washing the fleece very well and carefully rinsing completely. I had been rinsing as many times as it took to see clean, clear water. The dry fleeces felt clean, not tacky or greasy. I just knew they were clean. I gave in and decided to rewash them. At the time I was also surfing the internet for fiber washing info. Not sure where I found the info, I think it was my Colored Angora group. Someone suggested adding vinegar to the final rinse. Humm…stinky vinegar on my precious fleeces made me cringe. I hate the smell of vinegar.

Vinegar is something we keep in the pantry at all times. We use vinegar to home can, make cheeses, marinades, salad dressings and due to Jim being diabetic you wouldn’t believe the info floating around out there about using vinegar to lower blood sugar. I have a folk remedy book on the benefits of vinegar. Vinegar for bug bites, dandruff, skin rashes, as a household cleaner it makes a good bathroom cleanser, use it on the bowl, sink and mirrors. For laundry, vinegar is said to soften, you can add a ½ of cup to a cup depending on size of load. I also use vinegar to dye fleece. …you could probably find 1001 uses for vinegar.

During the summer we like fresh squeezed lemonade and I love homemade lemon curd on toast and muffins. Winter brings baked goodies like lemon pies, which for some reason I am craving at the moment. Sure I could use that store bought lemon juice but it just doesn’t have the sameness as a fresh lemon, not the same zing and definitely no lemon peel to zest. At times we accumulate a few lemon peels which I hate just pitching them out. We don’t have a garbage disposal in the kitchen (our garbage disposal = pigs) or I would run them through it as a cleanser for that clean fresh lemon scent. So what to do with the peels?

One day after making lemon curd, thinking vinegar cuts grease, lemon juice dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits - in combining the two would surely make my fleeces oil free and soft.

But what about that vinegar smell? There is still a bit of the vinegar stink but nothing as bad as straight vinegar, it’s fresh lemon scented vinegar.

I started adding lemon vinegar to each final rinse of the fleeces. How much? Well, the on line sites I read recommended a “glub” of vinegar. Come on a glub? I started with ¼ cup. Thinking less is best. The fleeces are soft, have no sheepy or vinegar smell. And another plus, lemon is also considered a natural pest repellant for fleece.

In the kitchen I have substituted the lemon vinegar in marinades and vinaigrette recipes. Not bad if I say so myself. Next will be using in making goat cheese to see if the lemon is noticeable.

Was grease in the fleece causing my problem? We will never know for sure. Shortly after I began using the lemon vinegar I learned the proper method in removing the batting. I was going about it all wrong, backwards to honest with you.

Til next time
Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the day!

October 18, 2010

New Additions & Breeding Groups

Hopefully, we are picking up the new additions to the Shetland flock this weekend. 5 new sheep, 2 ewes and 3 wethers. This means new sheep to spoil and 5 new colors in fleece.
Above is Minwawe Whirlwind, I fell in love with her lovely oatmeal color fleece as well as her markings. Below is Adrian her wethered ram lamb. The two are as probably as close to white as I am ever going to get.

This is Three Ring Buttered Rum, the photo below her is of her twins Timothy and Matthew.

These 5 woolly ones will round out the Shetland flock. Am now content with the size of our little flock, staying within my manageable number, have a variety of colors in fleece (light oatmeal, shades of brown, grey, black and black and white spotted) and there will be at least two ewes for each ram.
With the Shetland search and flock now closed, my next search will be for an Icelandic and a Merino ewe. Jim still swears he is going to have a pair of Merino wool socks out of this obsession of mine.
With the exception of the new ewes we are now officially separated into breeding groups.
Pitty Pat
The Sundance Kid(black buck)
Bella (black)
Aurora (white)
Bonnie Lass (white)
Fairchild (white)
Jacob's Chance(white buck)

I mentioned the scratching tree in yesterday's post. This is another view. The bark at the bottom continues to slowly be rubbed off.

Til next time...
Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!