Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DIY: Wooly dryer balls

I am not sure why I did not do this sooner.  I have plenty of wool.  I love all-natural, diy projects.  I had friends asking me about it.  In any case, it has happened.  I finally stopped the spinning wheel and turned my wool roving into those eco-friendly dryer balls that everyone is talking about.  These are used instead of dryer sheets.  They combat static, soften your clothes, and shorten your drying time because they tumble the clothes better.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Small-town Christmas Bazaar

handmade notecards

There is a certain nostalgic charm to small-town Christmas Bazaars, and this past weekend I shopped one of the best in the state.  One Saturday only, every December, a small-town high school in north-central Wisconsin opens its doors to nearly 80 vendors, filling the cafeteria and gymnasium with handmade crafts, and they've been doing this for thirty-seven years.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Indian Summer

It's the first week in November.  I'm hanging laundry on the line, and the kids are outside in their shirtsleeves. 

Hello, Indian Summer.  

This has been a mild Fall here in Wisconsin, and I can't imagine that we'll see many more days that reach the 70s until next June so we are making the most of this week.  And Little Rancher is enjoying some sunny pasture-time with Misty. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sheep Talk: Composting

It seems that Mother Nature has flipped her calendar, realized it's now October, and said, "Time to drop the temps by fifteen degrees!"  The days are notably cooler here in Wisconsin, and the nights are down-right nippy.  The Little Rancher is bundling up in her winter jacket for morning chores.  I prefer to wait until the sunshine has taken the chill off a bit before heading out for my chores.  The chickens will have to do with brunch these days instead of breakfast.

bucket of treats
As with every year, it's also time to start cleaning out the garden.   Time to round up the last tomatoes, find the giant cukes that got away from you, and keep a close eye on the growing squash.  While many of these vegetable plants can now be weeded out of your garden, take a few minutes to think about which of your barnyard animals can benefit.  Everyone immediately thinks of feeding their old veggies to the pigs.  Pigs have a fabulous composting reputation that's been in place for centuries and, quite frankly, is one of their biggest selling points.  That and bacon.  However, chickens follow a close second for composting.  They love tomatoes and zucchini, peppers and overripe watermelon.  If you toss them anything red or seeded, they'll love you forever.  I suppose goats do pretty well in this department, too, but I've not had any personal experience with them.  To be quite honest, I'm a total snob and have no intention of ever raising goats, feeling that sheep are far superior.  Besides, don't goats just butt things and eat tin cans?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Derby: In Memoriam

Two Winters ago one of my favorite rams passed away.  Derby.  He was born on our farm in 2004, sweet and gentle from Day One.  As he aged, his disposition never changed.  He was top ram for a couple of years when youth and testosterone were on his side, but slipped from power pretty quickly because he just wasn't a fighter.  He is the only ram we've ever had that never, never, lowered his head to me.  I was perfectly comfortable, never hesitated in fact, to break that Cardinal Rule and turn my back to him while in the pasture.  Aside from his remarkable demeanor, Derby was, and still is, the only sheep we've had who has shed his wool.  Each Spring, I would wait for his fleece to loosen and lift off the skin.  He would stand stock still for me while I pulled off, handful by handful, his gorgeous chocolate brown wool.  When he died late one evening, the other rams stood vigil.  My husband found them and remarked how it was chilling to find Derby on the ground while the three other rams stood quietly with their heads resting on his lifeless body.  Being the middle of Winter and befitting a Shetland ram who has equally strong Scandinavian as well as Scottish heritage, we built a large bonfire from a shed that had been torn down and sent Derby off in glory.  His soft nose, nuzzling into my hand, and his calming presence are sorely missed around the pasture.

So I decided to honor his memory the best way I know how,
with my needle and thread. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sheep Talk

It seems like quite a long time since I stopped to talk sheep with y'all.  Way back in Spring I hurriedly posted some lamb photos, but the sheep are so self-sufficient all Summer that...hold on...I don't think I ever posted lamb photos this Spring!!  What kind of shoddy shepherdess am I?!  There are a few cute lamb videos on my facebook page, but I think a few introductions are in order.

This is Smudge and her ewe lamb, Bobble, so named because she has a silly wobble to her head when she runs.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

These are washdress days.


This Summer I resolved to finally be honest about my sewing projects.  What did I actually need in my closet?  Did I need more 1950s, fitted-bodice, full-skirted dresses?  Did I need more pencil skirts?  More novelty print aprons?  No.  I needed a dress that I could mow the lawn in.  A dress that had a bit of breathing room.  A dress that I could wear out to do chores, wipe my muddy hands on, and not feel bad when the sun faded it on the clothesline.  I needed a washdress.