Saturday, January 17, 2009

Needle Felting 101

Let me just say that before Maggie's Farm and sheep and all that, I didn't much appreciate wool. But, as sheep produce wool, lots and lots and lots of it. I've discovered the humble fleece. Wool is my friend, our friend. I'm getting to know it rather intimately, in all it's permutations, from raw, poop-ridden unskirted wool, to fine spun two ply yarn and everything in between.
Wool is pretty amazing. It keeps sheep warm enough in -11 degrees (This, grrr...., is what the weather's been like lately) and cool enough in 80 degrees (Oh, 80 degrees, I miss you....) It can be messed with and manipulated in countless ways. In the last few years, I've tried my hand at spinning (I stink at spinning), knitting (more or less abysmal results), dyeing (kinda neat and hard to mess up) wet felting (Fun, but very tough to do consistently well) and now, needle felting.
Needle felting is deceptively easy. Basically, you poke a blop of wool with a sharp (Sharp!) needle until it mats into a solid shape. Hopefully, the shape is cute or useful in some way. That's all there is to it. Really. Of course there's a lot of skill involved in poking the matted blop into something cool, or cute or beautiful... I've got a ways to go in that department.

Anyway, here's my first attempt:

I'm pretty proud of it, I must say. I ran out of bear-colored wool and so fashioned a "UF colored" sweater and pants for my little guy. (That way, I only needed a bit of brown for the tips of his arms and legs. The whole project took about two hours.

Dan came around and made a little gator to match.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Musical Rams

No, the rams are not suddenly operatic. Instead, they seem to be playing that old-fashioned party game, scooting pasture to pasture waiting for the music to stop, or at least busting out and trying to scoot from pasture to pasture as long as the music of love is loud in their ears.

It all started (of course) when we were away for our yearly sojourn down south. Charlie Bucket thought this would be a fine time to go visiting the gals in the far pasture. Luckilly, he was caught in the act (before the act...) and coaxed into semi-isolation.

But the hijinks didn't stop there, oh no. Next, it was Rahm, who managed to hop the fence and visit the ewes Charlie left behind. "Boys will be boys" Dan and I sighed and dutifully marked the unplanned meetings (Hopefully not "matings") on our farm calendar just in case.

But then Bombadil, our serene, affable polled gentleman ram decided to GO CRAZY yesterday and busted down the pen that had been just fine by him all fall and winter. He went mooning over to visit Chance's group. Chance (Below) was a good little ram-boy and while all this mixing and attempted matching was going on, he stayed put.

So Dan spent a bit of time on Friday sorting (and re-sorting) sheep. Hopefully, all this, um, curiousity is after the fact and the breeding groups we'd planned so carefully will have been the groups in which breeding occurred.

These sheep, I swear they like throwing us for a loop now and then!.