Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pasture Fix

Although the rains arrived late this year, they are now solidly entrenched as part of our weather landscape for the next 6 months.  Fixing bald spots in the pasture wasn't possible (or wise) earlier, as the ground was still very dry and my pasture harrow would just have bounced over the top of the soil, rather than scratching it up.  The bald spots are caused by gopher and vole activity, which is why trapping the varmints is necessary to keep the grasses healthy and productive.  You would be amazed to see how much damage small, furry rodents can wreak on acres and acres of fields when left to their devices!

Yesterday was a rare clear day, so I took the pasture harrow out to our biggest pasture and prepared an area of the field for overseeding.  This year I am trying out a new blend of perennial grasses that have been developed for their higher sugar content which should make them extra tasty to the sheep.  After harrowing and overseeding, I gave my Pop a ride back to the house in the bucket of the tractor.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

People and Landscapes of the Chrysochou Valley

A lot of people have been in touch with me regarding my mother's recently published book People and Landscapes of the Chrysochou Valley & The Princeton Cyprus Excavations, 1983-2008 and where they might purchase a copy.

You can try getting in touch with the Princeton University Art Museum; they are selling the book in conjunction with the City of Gold exhibit.  However if they are sold out, you can get in touch with the publisher in Cyprus, Moufflon Publications.  They are sell and ship books all over the world - I believe the book costs 25 euros plus shipping or $35 in the US.  Here are some sample pages from the book:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Special Weekend wih my Pop

This past weekend, I made a quick trip to New Jersey to visit my father and attend the opening of a very special exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum - City of Gold.

Dad is an archaeologist and has been running the Princeton University Excavation in the Republic of Cyprus in Polis Chrysochous.  City of Gold is a collection of artifacts from a number of museums around the world that were found in Polis over the last 100 years.  Dad was digging up the ancient city of Arsinoe, which dates to between 500 and 400 BC.  In addition to getting the exhibition ready, Dad also worked tirelessly on pulling together Mom's book, a photo and essay collection of this area of Cyprus.  Mom was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer at the age of 64 in 2007; she died after a recurrence in December of 2008, not having had the chance to finish her project.  Dad completed it for her, using only her photos and text and got a publishing house in Cyprus to generate a first printing in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition.  Needless to say, it is selling like hotcakes.  Honoring Dad's lifetime of archaeological work this past weekend was wonderful, but the great gift that he has given all of us is his dedication and love for Mom which is reflected in his efforts to finish her last project.  I can not think of a more special gift for both my brother and me as well as our children.

On the flight back to Oregon (Dad came back with me and is enjoying some R & R on the farm) I worked on my latest pair of socks:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall's Arrival

As you can see from the yellow grass and the changing colors of the leaves, fall has arrived at North Valley Farm.  The first rains are giving a little life to the pastures after almost 3 months without any water falling from the sky.  We've been feeding grass hay since the beginning of September because of the unusually dry weather.  And today we got a load of oat/alfalfa hay to get us through the first part of winter.  You don't want me to blog about feed prices this year because it would just be a string of unprintables.....the good news is that I found a wonderful grower/hauler - Ken Threet - with whom I've been working for 5 years now.  He and his wife work over 1,000 acres; in fact, his wife raises sheep, so they have a really good handle on what kind of hay we need, year in and year out.  Buying directly from the grower means I get a better price than if I bought from a broker.  And Ken knows he can rely on my business, so the situation works well for both of us.

I am very pleased with the quality of sheep our flock is producing.  Here is my favorite white ram lamb from this year's crop, out on the pasture.  His father is a Larson ram from Michigan, and his mother is a ewe of my own breeding.  I've kept his twin sister as well - this is a top producing line that has done well for me over time.

In fact, this ram lamb was the champion white longwool ram just a few weeks ago at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in Canby, OR and went on to be the grand champion white ram of the show.  Here is a photo of the same ram lamb at the show:

It's always nice to do well at a show, but ultimately the test of our flock is whether it is thrifty and productive, in terms of producing good carcass lambs and quality fiber - the other stuff is just icing on the cake.  Our sunrise this morning:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Machine washable pelts for sale

We just got our first shipment of machine washable pelts back from Bucks County Fur Products in Pennsylvania.  As in past years, I am very pleased with the results.  These pelts are from lambs that were never shorn, so the staple length of the wool is over 6" in length.  Bucks County really is the premiere pelt processor in the US which is why we spend the money to send these clear across the country.  These have a great handle, lovely colors and are just wonderful all around.  If you are interested in purchasing one (a great Christmas present!) please get in touch with me through the website, either by e-mail or phone.  In most cases, the pelts cost $125 plus shipping.

Please note that we do not specifically slaughter lambs for their pelts.  These are lambs that were going to the butcher's anyway and this is just our way of using all of the animal, rather than letting the wool go to waste.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Petunia the Pig

I have a good friend in the barn yard - her name is Petunia and her favorite thing in the world is food.  Her second most favorite thing is tummy rubs.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Know Your Wool by Deb Robson - featuring North Valley Farm

I should have posted this link months ago, but sheep happen.  In any case, during my trip to the National Lincoln Show and Sale in Estes Park, CO, I was fortunate enough to take part in a video shoot for Craftsy.  Craftsy is a newish company that publishes all sorts of really nice instructional craft videos - cooking, knitting, sewing, spinning - to name a few.  Deb Robson, author of the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and a former editor of Spin Off, was in Estes Park as the host of the video shoot. 

Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook cover

Lincolns are one of the featured breeds in the video which is available on the Craftsy website for FREE; here is the link to the spinning page.  I highly recommend it, not because you get to hear me compare my 250 lb. sheep to tomatoes, but because it contains some very good information and is well presented.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Birth of a pair of Felt Boots

Two weekends ago, I had the good fortune to be able to take a boot felting class taught by Caren Engen at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR.  It was extra fun because several friends were also signed up.  All the ingredients were in place: friends, wool, soap and water.  Here is the evolution of my set of boots:

First we chose a color or colors for our boots; I chose green which I am sure was no great surprise to my family or friends (it's a genetic thing - Germans are born liking green as far as I can tell.)  We laid out thin strips of roving in multiple layers on a large plastic template like so:
After we made the wool wet, we worked for quite some time to get the fibers to cling to one another and keep the shape of the template:
Once enough felting had taken place, the template is removed.  As you can see, one still needs to full the boot extensively to get it to shrink down and fit on the foot.....This is one of my boots begore it was fulled.........
And here are the boots after fulling - success!