Friday, February 27, 2009

The birds are back

Well, it's somewhat official that spring is here...the red-winged blackbirds are back. The temperatures don't reflect this but nature usually proves to be correct on weather and seasons so I'm going to trust it on this one.

I was planning on attending the Sewing Expo in Puyallup yesterday and woke up at 4:30 am to take off only to find out the pass was getting dumped on with snow and the west side was having traffic accidents left and right with the snow and icy roads. So I said forget it and instead I went online and spent my fun money I had planned to spend at the Expo getting some new patterns for some basic clothing items. Now to find some fabric! I was out the money for the tickets/registration but didn't drive 4 hours to and fro so saved the gas money so guess it's a wash on that end.

This weekend I'll be skirting some of the fleeces in the garage. Got quite a few more to do although I've gotten a good start. Think I'll start some seeds for the garden inside and see how that goes. We start lambing in 2 weeks. Everything hits at once, good weather, lambing, farm work, etc. Winter does seem sooooo long but spring hits hard and then you forget all about winter! Once the robins arrive, we'll be set!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Peter Pan horse - in memory of Tommy

I've been not in the blogging mood the last few days. My 26-year-old best animal friend, Tommy, died last Sunday. He and I were partners for 24 years and it's been a tough loss for me. He was my Peter Pan horse - never grew up and acted like a colt his entire life and brought me so much joy. He was full of personality. He loved people and loved to keep things fun and was always up for a new adventure with me. I really miss him.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shearing is done! Yippee!

We sheared yesterday and so glad it's over and done! We had a new shearer and he did a beautiful job in a short time. My parents came and helped too which was fun for all of us. They enjoyed it and helped so much. Really appreciated the extra sets of hands. My mom wrote out the labels as the sheep came through as we keep track of which breed and if it's a lamb fleece, etc. We sell our fleeces individually to spinners and such so it's important to know this stuff. Dad hauled the fleeces to the garage where they all sit to air dry for a couple of days before we begin skirting them. It was a frosty morning so there was a bit of frost when we began but the sun shone and it warmed up nicely so they dried off quickly.

Rams were first and they got a hoof trimming too. DH provided entertainment by slipping in the mud a few times and falling over a few times. We were sore last night...just not doing lots of activity over the winter contributed to this as we're out of shape this time of year. Even though I exercise almost every day, it's a different kind of "exercise" to wrangle sheep around and such.

And, by the way, the red spots on the fleeces are not blood but rather washable "paint" that we mark the ewes with after they got their shots a month or so ago. No worries, very few got nicks this time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Postponed Shearing

Well, in the end the weather just didn't cooperate for shearing yesterday. I baked some homemade bread and we roasted a leg of lamb and had an inside day...well I did. DH was outside doing things like he always is. Got the new cover on the Costco carport we use for lambing. Yeah, I keep reminding you of how thrifty we are, but this carport hooked to a shed we have has worked great for lambing the past 3 years but now the cover has gotten torn up in the winds we have. Found a company in Moses Lake that makes replacement covers for them, so wa-la! Another year we have postponed having a barn, all for about $100. Can't beat that!

So we shear next Thursday and the forecast looks great for it, so let's cross our fingers! I'm off work today so best get outside for a couple of pruning projects.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lamb Coats

My friend, June, from Starshire Ranch is new to sheep but she is selling these cute polarfleece lamb coats on her website for sheep producers. At first, I have to admit, I wasn't too sold on the idea of coating the lambs. I don't know but it seemed a bit silly to this farmgirl, BUT...I witnessed the results of these on her first crop of lambs last year. The lambs were busy eating to grow instead of using that energy to keep warm and she only left them on for a few days. So, she gave me a couple as a gift and last night I found a large remnant of polarfleece I bought at a yard sale last summer ($2) and decided it would be perfect for the lamb coats. I don't have pink and camo like June's, which are adorably cute for little boys or girls (sheep) but I wasn't going to buy anything to go that far. Ha. You know, I'm a practical girl and a bit on the cheap side too. You probably have figured that out already, huh?

So, I got 7 coats out of this remnant using June's for a pattern and we'll just see how it goes. It's the first I've sewn in a few weeks to be honest. I've had the winter blahs and I can see I'm coming out of it, thank goodness. Super easy, cut on the fold for the back section, 4 slits for the legs and only sewing is the front chest seam. I used my rotary cutter to make the leg slits. I made all 7 in about 15 minutes. I am wondering what my ewes will think of having their lambs in these coats. I have a few sheep friend folks who use them also and they tell me it doesn't matter if you wait until the lamb is dried off to put these on. Just in case you don't know, newborn lambs are wet and gooey and mothers like to lick and lick and lick on them. Their tongues are very warm and it actually helps the lambs to get up and nurse. So there's the sheep lambing lesson for the day and my confession that this old dog can learn new tricks!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Snow and shearing, not a good mix.

Snowy weather has returned. I know it's still winter but the reprieve was nice. We are set to shear this Sunday but may have to cancel if the ewes are wet. Wet sheep and shearing don't work. The fleeces cannot be stored wet, for one reason, and the shearer's equipment won't work on wet sheep either. Right now everyone has a snowy back. If it warms up they will hopefully melt off and dry but I'm not holding my breath. Might have to postpone shearing. We'll see.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the feedback on the Etsy store idea, changing names, listing more, putting more effort into the store, etc. This online commerce thing is an up and down road and I end up putting too much time into it for not much in return. I accept responsibility for not going all out on it...just so many hours in the day and I know you all know that feeling. I am a real face-to-face type of person so the internet is a love/hate relationship for me. It's necessary in so many ways for our farm but it can also suck the hours out of a perfectly wonderful day to where you do nothing but sit in front of the computer and get nothing accomplished in the long run.

I have some paying job issues right now and think one of them is going farewell in about 4 months so possibly if I have some more time, I can devote more effort to pursuing the online store. Stephanie had some great feedback. I know it takes real active posting and listings to be successful on Etsy. You know, I think I've just got the blahs and once I can get outside and farming becomes more active, I won't have time to think about this stuff. Ha.

Speaking of being outside, I have to run. I'm defrosting my freezer today before that locker lamb is ready from the butcher. Off I go.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Time to restock the store

I have a dilemma. My Etsy store is out of stock and I have not restocked it for a couple of reasons. I haven't had time to craft much lately for one...2 jobs is the main reason besides the sheep, and I am contemplating opening an Etsy or BluBird Store (no fees) with our farm name, Cooke Creek Sheep Co. I am not sure why I opened the first store called Farmhouse Flair. I was in a real MaryJane's Farm mode then and although I really enjoy her magazine, I am just not into going to the forum that much anymore. Again, this is a time issue for me, nothing more to read into that, so please don't.

I do love the name Farmhouse Flair because the sheep name implies we only have wool and that limits people in their thinking. However, I have sold hardly anything on Etsy so I may be giving it too much thought. I have more success selling directly off of our farm website and through the LYS. So, if you have any input, I'd appreciate it, as I feel kind of brain dead about this issue for some reason. I think work is just getting to me and the winter blahs. This too shall pass. Happy trails.
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