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Blue Monday

That’s what I heard on the radio this morning. Today is supposed to be the pits: the holidays are over, it’s cold & rainy, everyone has realized the extent of their Christmas debt and are already breaking their New Year’s resolutions.

The heck with that. As far as I can tell, today is a pretty darn good day.

I’m off work. It is beautiful and sunny out, though a bit cold. Blue Sky. (Maybe that’s the blue they’re talking about?)

Blue Sky In January!

I’ve got two happy pups to keep me company.

Doggie Butts

I’ve got lots of wool to play with- and thanks to the first item I mentioned, I have time to play with it!

It’s always best if I can do my wool washing and dying when the man is off working or distracted with other activities, so today is my day. I’m washing up some of that lovely dark Romney lamb fleece, and dying some gray yarn and some white fleece from the stash.

It’s a mighty rare day in January that you can dry fleece outside, but that’s what I’m doin’.

Wool Drying Outside

And here are some more of those January blues. Nice , eh?

The Blues

A Denisee Day to Remember

The day started out dark and cold.

We were planning on being out of bed by 6:30 in order to be out the door by 7:30, but the dogs decided I had slept enough by 5:15.

It was an icky winter day, even by PNW standards. Cold, rainy, windy. But regardless, I awoke a happy girl, knowing that today we would be going to Stanwood to learn farm stuff.

And learn we did! About organic soil improvement, pasture weeds, fencing, sheep shearing on a stand, fruit tree pruning, and producing/processing/marketing quality fleece.

And I have pictures!

Here is our lucky contestant for the “sheep shearing on a stand” demo by Eileen Hordyk of Sand Hill Sheep and Wool:

Romney Ram Full Fleece

He was a very cooperative fellow, especially for this being his first time through the shearing experience. Isn’t he handsome critter? Here he is about half-way through the process:

Shearing In Progress

What is really neat about the concept of shearing on a stand is that you can get all the prime fleece off and out of the way first, and then go back and clean up the legs, belly and anything else you’d otherwise have to skirt out later. And it also keeps you from having to flip a sheep on it’s butt and roll it around while you’re clipping- another big plus in my book.

Here is the young gentleman with his entire lamb fleece removed:

All Shorn!

And here is the half of his fleece that I gleefully bought from Eileen:

Birthday Fleece

Between that and the cool books the man got me (including Three Bags Full, by Leonie Swann), this just might qualify as the best birthday yet.

Farm Livin’ 101

So, I was at a Spindrifers (local spinning guild) meeting on Saturday, talking sheep with Yvonne, who recently adopted some CVM (California Variegated Mutant) sheep. She mentioned something about a WSU extension event going on in Stanwood next weekend. Farming seminars and such. Just my speed!
So I came home and checked it out on the web- Country Living Expo 2008, Stanwood High School, Saturday, Jan 19.

I am so excited. The man and I are both signed up (he gave in pretty easy because it’s my birthday- I lucked out there!) and I think it’s going to be great. Lots of good topics for the seminars, everything from maintaining a pasture to shearing sheep on a stand- and a prime rib lunch to boot.

Now that’s my idea of a good time.

I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

Life is like a pile of rolags…

Happy little pile-o-rolags

Success in the product is largely about the prep work.

(Maybe I’ll develop that metaphor more completely later on.)

These little rolags are carded seconds of a couple different wools.  Bits left over from my first time around flick carding the locks. Handcarding the rolags is more work than the flicking process, but it lets me make good use of the shorter fibers that get screened out in the first go-round. And it’s kind of a relaxing way to spend an evening.

I spin up the rolags using a long-(ish) draw  method, and it results in a really nice soft, lofty kind of yarn.  I do love the long draw and spin this style whenever I can. Of course, it works best when the fiber is well prepped and drafts easily and evenly.

But that can be said of most things  in spinning, and life, eh?