Jacob Sheep

Penny and Pearl have arrived on the farm!

Sheepgirls

I have wanted to add sheep to my fiber herd for years, but I always came up with a reason to put it off. Until this Spring that is, when various changes steamrolled my usual no-sheep-yet excuses. I talked to my partner and started doing more research on breeds that would work best for us. We spent a delightful day at the MD Sheep and Wool festival talking to shepherds, visiting sheep, collecting business cards, and buying fleece from our top 3 breeds.

We had narrowed down our choices and to my surprise I found that my #1 breed, Jacob sheep, had been replaced with the Hog Island sheep from Virginia. To further my research, I washed and spun the Hog Island fleece I’d purchased and loved the tweedy yarn it made. We visited Mt. Vernon, purchased a black fleece, and talked about buying a few wethers. P and I were busy planning fencing and sheep shelter. And that’s when I threw a wrench into the whole thing.

Thinking back to when I first started with llamas and alpacas, all of whom were rescues, I started wondering how often sheep show up in rescues. So, I pulled up the websites and poked around on the pages of the rescues in our area. Finding no sheep, I decided to check the Petfinder website for sheep in MD and PA. And there they were, two little Jacob sheep ewes at a rescue in PA. They were within a 2 hour drive, and Jacobs were #2 on my breed list. Uh oh.

When I sent the rescue’s link (http://oneliferescue.org/) to P, I expected to be reminded of our decision to start with Hog Island sheep. But, no. His question was “when are you getting those ewes?” He knows me well and is just as dedicated to animal welfare. I filled out the adoption application, emailed the rescue, and waited while they checked my references. We didn’t have to wait too long for our approval. Penny and Pearl would be coming home with us! We made arrangements to pick up the girls that Sunday afternoon, and got to work on the fence and sheep shed.

Today marks Penny and Pearl’s first full week with us. They are still quite young, and the folks at the rescue did a wonderful job with them. The girls are curious, friendly, and surprisingly affectionate.  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of the beautiful Jacob fleece. Hog Island sheep are still on our list, but right now I’m going to concentrate on these two girls, and learn as much as I can about shepherding before we begin growing our flock.

 

 

My Current Obsession: Sewing

I’ve fallen in love with my sewing machine. It’s a Singer Simple model that one of my sisters gave me for Christmas several years ago. I don’t use it often enough. It comes out every now and again to hem things or sew up simple projects. Curtains, kid’s dress up costumes, and small uncomplicated stuffed animals have been the usual fare.

A couple of weeks ago, after reading a haunting article about a sea creature suffering because of plastic bags in the ocean, I decided to stop using plastic bag as much as possible. I remembered reading in various places that you can easily make old polypropylene feed bags into totes. And I have plenty of feed bags! I rarely throw them away because I feel so guilty about that much plastic going into the landfill. So, I fired up the googles and looked up a few tutorials, taking the best bits of each one and coming up with a plan.

I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, cutting, and sewing a tote bag made from a chicken feed bag. It was easier than I expected and lots of fun. The finished bag has been in almost constant use and holds up beautifully despite the fact that I used regular white polyester thread.

chickenbag

In the next few days I made 2 more bags and I’m sure there will be more in the future. And I did buy heavy duty thread. I’ve also started working on clothing. The last time I tried to sew clothes was with my grandmother when I was 8 years old or so. Like the bags, the whole process is great fun. I’m currently working on a couple of shirts. More on those later…