Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ride Bikes, Save the Earth

A young couple, Becky and Darren, contacted us earlier this summer. They were riding their bikes across the U.S., stopping at small family farms along the way, wondering if they could visit us. They had a website and blog, and guess what? They were acrobats for Cirque de Soleil!!!! I wondered what they would think of our little farm. They finally arrived on Saturday afternoon. What a fascinating couple, and some of the best house guests one could ask for. We wandered around, looking at the old farm buildings, gardens and animals. Even though they had traveled the world, they were more interested in talking and learning about us! They filmed their visit, and may do some sort of documentary. After a dinner on the deck of lamb stew, Becky was eager to learn to spin. We started out with spindles, then moved to spinning on the wheel. We all laughed and talked late into the evening. They were up early Sunday morning, ready for the day.
I didn't envy them at all, and their ride through Chicago.
You can read their "mission statement" here.
Here's what they looked like in costume
when they performed in the Cirque de Soleil KA show:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Lamb Rules

The latest issue of Saveur magazine arrived in my mailbox yesterday. What a great cover! I spent a mouthwatering evening, pouring over the 17 Recipes (click) starring this rich, flavorful meat. We love lamb, and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it. There a nice section on a guide to lamb cuts. This will be a good lesson to read, so when a customer asks the difference between a rib chop, loin chop, shoulder chop and a sirloin chop, we'll know! The article "A Shepherd's Life" tells about a Basque sheep rancher in Idaho. Beautiful photography! They even mention grass fed Icelandic Lamb, as "exceptionally fine grained and mild tasting, prized by chefs". Lamb Around the World is another article. We usually grill our lamb legs, and love the pink, rare meat. This 7 Hour Leg of Lamb Recipe looks like something I'll be sure to try, especially on a cold winter day--mmmm....

With eggplant in season, I'll be trying this Moussaka Recipe from Saveur first. It looks so rich and hearty,
definitely not for the calorie conscience!
If you don't subscribe to Saveur,
go out and buy the October 2009 issue!
(photos courtesy of Saveur magazine)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival

We spent a wonderful relaxed Sunday at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, held two hours northeast of our farm. It was a perfect day, driving through countryside of rolling hills, old barns and leaves just starting to turn color. At the festival, we wandered through the two big barns full of vendors. I love the endless assortment of products, from raw skirted fleeces, to yarn, roving, wheels, looms and everything in between. I got a jumbo flyer kit for my Kromski Polonaise wheel from Wool, Warp & Wheel. The bobbins can hold twice the amount of fiber as the regular sized ones. It will also be great for plying.
I bought a new set of combs from Lone Tree Wools. I'll be using them to comb out my fibers before putting them on my Strauch drum carder. The combs are smaller than some, and the curved handles make them very comfortable to use.

I bought a pair of Forsyth mini combs at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair a couple of years ago. I do enjoy using them, but I think the wide set teeth on my new combs will work well for pulling apart (picking) heavy fleeces. Our shearer, David Kier was there, doing his traditional sheep shearing demos, which always draw a big crowd. He also did a demo on shearing the sheep while standing, with lots of great tips. He will be here NEXT WEEK! to shear our sheep!!! Oh NO! I'm not ready! Here's a YouTube video,
and and excellent article on David
There were a lot of different sheep breeds to look at. I especially enjoyed the Mule show. The BFL crosses are so interesting. Lambing was going on in a pen nearby.
There was a hooked rug exhibit too.
I would love to learn more about making them. Isn't this sheepy one cute?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fudge for sale

Fudge RBR74U, born 4/19/08
Moorit horned Ram
For Sale $400
This ram has the alert leader style of his dam SRX 752S-AI Dalla, but looks to be maturing with the more muscular body type of his sire SRX 744S-AI by Rector, Saga. He has retained a wonderfully rich solid moorit fleece. I had planned on using him on just 3 ewes for the 2008 breeding season. He had other plans, and broke into my non-breeding pen and bred 3 more in just an hour, producing a 200% lamb crop!
His pedigree includes the Yeoman ram Moorit 3D STS3D "Mocum" (the 2nd photo below). What a resemblance! Not just in appearance, but in character, as well. You can read more about Mocum on Susan Brigg's Tongue River website (click).
We will retain several of Fudge's offspring, so he is for sale. His lambs all have extremely heavy fleeces and look so much like him!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Icelandic Sheep Calendar

The 2010 Icelandic Sheep calendar is now available to purchase on the ISBONA website. Breeders were invited to submit up to 3 photos. I was surprised and delighted to hear that all three of my photos were chosen! Our ram Caesar is on the cover!
I love this snowy photo with the ewes.
You can almost feel the chill.

This one is so cute, three little badgerface lambs waiting for me to refill the water bucket. The calendar has 48 photos with over 2 dozen farms represented. It's $16 plus shipping. You can contact Sue Faunce with your order and she will let you know the shipping costs.

Black Mouflon Icelandic Ram Fable

Fable RBR 68U, born 4/14/08
Sale $350
Black Mouflon Triplet
AI genetics include: Bambi, Hnykill, Morro, Ari, Biskup
Fable has matured into a gorgeous ram, combining the best qualities of his parents. He will make a great foundation ram for your flock. Extremely calm, a muscular build, and a heavy fleece like his sire Echo, with the prolific hardiness of Stella. Just look at those awesome wide horns, too!
Buy 4 ewes, and you can add him to your flock for free!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Autumn Days

What beautiful autumn days! With highs in the lower 70's and lows around 50, it doesn't get much better than this.
Pastures are still rebounding, with our frequent rains.
The sheep can sense that winter is coming, and are eager to go out to new paddocks.
The fields of corn around us are beginning to ripen.

Stella (our oldest ewe born in 2002) with 2 of her her triplet girls
from 2006, Drea and Delphine. Finn is looking better every day, with his perfect horns,
muscular frame, and silky white fleece.
I hope he keeps his calm demeanor.

Another photo of Stella with her twin daughter Ella from 2007.
I love Ella's non-silvering black fleece.

Echo is looking nice as well. He is such a calm ram.
We'll use him again this fall,
then hopefully he can go to a new home.

Here is Echo grazing with his son Fable, grazing amidst the golden fields of corn. Fudge with a group of ram lambs.