Raising Finnish Landrace, Cotswold, Border Leicester, and Romeldales, in the Heart of Illinois, as well as working with rescue llamas.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This week is Bishop Hill Fiber Guild's SPIN IN!!

SQUEEEEEE!!! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!! This coming weekend  is the one that I wait for every year!!! Bishop Hill Fiber guild Spin In will always be an event close to my heart!! So many lovely memories have been made for me at this event. My children and I have attended many a workshop and learned many new skills at the Spin In. We've learned to use the drop spindle together, learned to dye silk, played with needle felting, locker hooking, learned to use the triangle loom,  learned to use our spinning wheels, and learned how to ply on said spinning wheels. We have had great conversations on the ride to and from the Spin In and had lovely quality time lunches. But the best thing we have all found at the Bishop Hill Fiber guild has been fabulous fiber friends who understand how my fiber filled brain works because their brains are obsessed with fiber too!  This is the event that I go to to fill my fiber being up. I usually come home exhausted and energized at the same time. Exhausted because I learn so much, energized for the exact same reason. It was a few years ago after a Spin In that I was emboldened to post our fleeces for sale on Ravelry, this site and  many new fiber friends have grown from that.

Last year, we decided to host a booth and we will be hosting a booth this again this year. We are still connecting with those fiber friends but in a different way! This way we get to share our passion, our wool farming! We will be offering raw fleeces (both sheep and llama) and several of our wools as rovings processed at Frankenmuth fiber mill.  COME SEE US! We are looking forward to seeing you there!! 

Bishop Hill Fiber Guild's yearly SPIN IN is October 19, 2013 at Embassy Suites in East Peoria!!!  The BHFG SPIN IN now in it's 33rd year has been redesigned for this year and has much more to offer in terms of making those fiber friend connections and sharing of skills!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

October Lambing is here!!

Lambs are on the way! There are already 4 lovely little rams lambs in the barn!!  This is our first fall lambing and I must say the weather is certainly much more enjoyable than our spring lambings. No heat lamps to fuss with, no thinking about icy drafts.  I will post photos of  the lambs soon. While we will be keeping a couple ewe lambs back for breeding against our new Finn ram, we will have lambs available, that is the beauty of Finnsheep, always enough lambs to go around!

 As always get your reservations in early on lambs, they will sell out quickly!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Recent Surprising Fiber Events

The weaving bug has bitten hard! I never thought I would fall in love with weaving. In fact, I have always sort of avoided looms, mostly out of fear that I would break them with my ever present inherited clumsiness. However, this summer while I was looking around on Ravelry, I discovered a group dedicated to peg looms and stick weaving. Intrigued, I watched a couple Youtube videos, the process became simply something I had try for the sole reason that it looked so simple even I couldn't screw it up. Tired of hearing me talk about these looms, my family surprised me with a peg loom for my birthday. I am in love with the weaving process!!

Within the first few hours I had a used up the end of a bolt of cotton yard making a trivet for my sister's table. Upon hearing, I started another project on the loom not even an hour after finishing the first, a fiber friend and my llama mentor warned that she found weaving addicting. I can clearly see that she is right. Will I give up wet felting, crocheting, and spinning, hear me shout a resounding "no!', but peg and stick weaving definitely has earned a permanent place in my heart.

The first attempt while on the loom, with a quarter to show relative size.  A trivet that matches a bunch of coasters I crocheted to match my sister's living room. This sweet little trivet rounds out the gift and is now on her dining room table. 
Another trivet/table runner to use up another mostly used skein of cotton yarn, this time I get to keep it!  The blue is another larger weaving that is using some skeins of fuzzy boucle like yarn from my stash that have been languishing for years. I hated crocheting with that yarn with a passion but I love the woven product it is producing!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Washing llama fiber

Since we have had a stretch of lovely weather, we've been washing fiber, mostly llama. As you may or may not know llamas love love love to roll in the dirt. If there is not a spot in your pasture were there can access the dirt they will create one, thankfully they always seem to go back to the same spot and not create more. All this rolling creates dirty fleece!! While we do blow a lot of dirt off our llamas before we shear them, but to blow all of it off would be impossible. So here is how I handle a dirty llama fleece (and sometimes sheep fleeces as well).

 I fill a large storage tub outside on the deck with well water using the garden hose, the water is typically cool. I toss in the raw llama or sheep fiber and let is soak for a while. Then I dump out the water onto the yard sometimes using it for potted plants. I frequently get busy and accidentally leave the fiber in cold water overnight. After a rinse or two the water is noticeably cleaner. At this point, I drain the water and move the fiber to my home made drying rack (aka window screen stapled over a wooden frame) which rests either over the top of my bathtub with a fan underneath to facilitate drying or on a corner of the deck. If I leave the fiber outside to dry I cover with a clean bed sheet  then clamp the sheet down so the wind doesn't blow the fiber away and let it dry. Once dry I will do a hot wash in my top load washer and repeat the drying process.  

 Buster's fleece drying on the outdoor drying rack on the deck, ready for final wash, then onto the combs or drum carder.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August Check In!

Howdy out there!!! We really haven't fallen off the globe time has just gotten far away from me this year!! I keep meaning to get things posted on the site but have been spending more time taking care of my elderly folks and running our teenagers places than anything else this summer.      We are sold out of spring 2013 lambs. We will be doing a Fall 2013 lambing so get your lamb orders in before the lambs are gone, they go fast!  We are using our new Finnsheep ram (black) this fall with our Finn ewes so we will have a new genetic line available in the spring 2014 lambs!!
We've added 2 registered CVM ewes lambs to our flock, Hattie Brown and Bobbie Socks. They belong to our youngest daughter. I can't wait to play with this fleece!

FLEECES: I have oodles of fresh fleeces I have yet to market, I simply haven't had the time to sit down. We sheared differently this year, all sheep were blanket shorn. This means we shear the sides from the front legs to hips then over the back and the other side. We leave the chest, belly and rump wool for removal after the best cleanest wool has been removed and saved. Belly, chest, and rump wool is usually the heaviest in vm (vegetable matter) and really who wants that?  This way we are shearing and saving only the best.
The kids showed our sheep and dairy cows this summer again and truly loved the experience. A new experience for us was taking one of our guard llamas and one of our foster llamas to the 4h fair to promote a 4H llama SP.IN. (Special Interest) club that we will be starting in the spring of 2014 for our county.
We thought Buster, one of our guard llamas who went to the 4H fair with us, would hate the noise of the 4H barnyard Olympics, instead he loved it!!! He watched the 4 H kids with close attention.  He is just a 6 foot tall child at heart if he could have played those games he would have!

Zoey one of our Southeast Llama rescue llamas went to the 4H fair with us,
 she wasn't super happy that I ran out of time to bathe her, as she dearly
 loves to get wet. Such a sweet llama, I can't wait for her to find a forever home, she deserves it!!!
     This summer we brought in a few South East Llama rescue llamas and have been working toward getting them halter broken. It has been a very enjoyable experience thus far as these foster llamas are an exceptionally intelligent group.

Meet AURORA, born this month, a cria from one of our South East Rescue llamas.... Yup, you guessed it, we'll be adopting her, she has a special type of llama fleece called silky.. and boy, oh boy, does that fleece live up to it's name.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ahh, Saturday!

Ahh, a rainy Saturday. The remaining snow from winter's last well played last stands doesn't stand a mere chance against todays' balmy projected 45*. True to traditional there will be mud for the next month, but spring is coming swiftly and there is just something about the steady soothing patter of rain splashing on the windows that simply soothes my soul.  But this is a special type of Saturday that only comes once a month. A day that helps get my creativity flowing for the rest of the month. A day where I get to be surrounded by other fiber lovers, a day of fiber fellowship! That's right it is fiber guild Saturday!!! Today's topic is entralac crochet and the breed study wool is cheviot. I'll leave you with a recent photo....
My finished skein from last month's breed study wool, Leicester Longwool, spun on my Ashford Traditional in the grease long draw, Navajo plied but not well as I am so out of practice with the technique... always something new to learn or relearn!!

Monday, February 18, 2013


 Our sister site! We are pleased to introduce the website for our CPA practice:  Please feel free to check it out, any questions please feel free to email!  or 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lambing Season 2013 is just around the corner!!

The time is drawing near for the first possible 2013 lambs to make their appearances!!  We are eagerly awaiting their arrivals!!!  We will again have lambs available, please email to be put on our waiting list.  DO NOT WAIT to let us know your 2013 lamb needs our list fills up long before lambing season even starts!!! We will again as in years past have a ongoing lambing page to share the new arrivals with you.

The upcoming lambing season is weighing heavily on my eager to get started mind, questions pop up at all hours of the day and night, proving shepherds lose sleep over lambing even before it begins!! There is this ongoing question blog always running in my head:  Do I have all the supplies stocked into the "lamb arrival kit" we keep ready to take to the barn for each lambing? Will we have massive litters from the Finns? Quads or quints would be welcome. Will that same Finn ewe who has only given us twin ram lambs every time she's lambed, give more of her long legged excellent conformation superior silky fleeced boys? Oh, I how long for a ewe lamb from her!!! How did our Shetlands do with our new Shetland ram with the awesome fleece? Will his offspring inherit his calm quiet disposition and his rare fleece color that make the fiber enthusiast heart in me go pitter pat,boom? Will our commercials, single or twin, since we tried our Cotswold ram against them? Will the commercial lamb fleeces have their sire's Cotswold ringlets and their mother's softness, as I am hoping for? AH, only time will tell!!   Thankfully there is not a long wait left!!

With little a ways to go until the earliest of due dates there are several Finnsheep that are looking quite round and full of lambs. The barn is ready, unless they all decide to lamb at once... which they have done to us before in the case of an extreme low pressure. In that case our emergency jugs are standing by and we will employ that very quick and easy system we created before that was so wonderfully efficient and easy to use.(perhaps that would be a good post for next month.)

The weather has taken a intense cold snap and we have many trips to the barn day and night planned  in the near future so perhaps a new pair of flip mittens and a hat for the upcoming chilling nights are on tap on the felting table...