Friday, October 30, 2009

EverRanch at the Kitsap County Fair

This summer I took small strings of sheep to the Island County Fair and the Kitsap County Fair. That was in August. This is October. hmmmmm. Above is the poster spread I put above our pens. ...maybe it'll biggify if you click on it. The Homeland Security poster is one of my favorites.

Above is Town Crier, one of Electra's twin rams from 2009. He was Champion Shetland ram at both Island County and Kitsap County Fairs. Below are the two Shetland ewe lambs from Kitsap County Fair. Moira is on the left, Mindy is on the right. Mindy was Champion Shetland ewe :-) They were great ambassadors for the little sheep.

The two % Gotland ewes below both went to Island and Kitsap County fairs. Daisy was Grand Champion ewe at both Fairs. Her larger size probably did it for her; I like Chloe better.

This guy is a 62% Gotland ram. Beauregard was Champion % Gotland ram at Kitsap County. His fleece is gorgeous!

Fairgoers can be rather unique. This one wasn't too out of place.

I'm almost ready to consider going to another event open to the public. :-)

- Franna

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gotland Gloves and Airplane Knitting

Two weeks ago, Dave and I flew to Denver to judge 3 days of agility trials for the Terry-All Kennel Club. It had been 70 degrees in Denver. That weekend, a big, arctic storm drove in to the Great Plains from Canada, across Montana, Wyoming and into Colorado. Sub-freezing temperatures and snow was predicted for the weekend. Of course.

We both packed for cold weather. Alas, I couldn't find my fingerless gloves, so, at the last minute I threw in a skein of handspun and a circular needle, guessing, at size 9.

This was no ordinary handspun - oh, no! It was a sample I'd taken from a Gotland/Shetland lamb fleece, before sending out the rest of the fleece for commercial spinning (for a friend). The 4 oz raw fleece became 2.8 oz of carded batts (along with a bit of blue mohair and turquoise Shetland for accent :-)

I hoarded the batts for a while, then finally spun them up at various events - Sumner days, Island County Fair.... They made a beautiful skein of yarn. And then it sat. It went to more events and got fondled whenever I could engage folks into talking about Gotlands.

Then... packing day for Denver. Arctic cold. Impending snow storms. Unheated arena. Three days of judging... and AWOL mitts.

I started knitting on the airplane. It was cozy. My (other side) seatmate marveled at how I could knit on and on... and on. "Don't your hands hurt?" he asks. Well, no. At least not yet.

I made up the pattern as I went, guessed at how many stitches, had to redo the thumb once. I wanted the top to snug my hand, but let my fingers spread (for signaling to the scribe during the agility trial), so put a wide ribbed band there. I fit checked often (!) and the yarn felt so smooth and soft against my hand. Yes!

The first glove got finished as we taxied in Denver. The next day it was still in the 50's with ominous black clouds coming in from the North. That evening it started snowing. I finished the second glove that evening in the motel room, using a bobby pin to work in the ends (since I'd forgotten a yarn needle (!) My hands would be warm in the morning!
Well. It was COLD in the morning. In the teens. There was snow on the ground. We cautiously drove to the trial site and walked into the building where ... it was warm. There *were* heaters in the building. Four of them, and they'd been running all night. Dave and I started peeling off layers. My beautiful gloves stayed in my pack along with my handspun, handknit (Shetland) wool hat.
When we flew out the next evening, it was already thawing, and the next day it was back in the 60's.
I'm ready for the cold!
- Franna

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kemp Photos and a Few More

These are some photos I took years ago, and put on the EverRanch website to help folks evaluate their fleeces. The subject of kemp came up on one of the lists I'm on, so I'm posting a few of those photos here.

Kemp in the lock (Scottish Blackface - they're supposed to have some kemp.)
Closer of the base with some kemp fibers pulled out:

And a few other fleece faults:

Note: the dark fibers in this photo are not kemp. Are they "medulated" fibers, perhaps?

Note on the canary stain - this ewe went on to produce fleeces without canary stain. I've heard that once they have this organism, it never goes away. Not true, at least in this case.

- Franna

EverRanch Autumn Color

Here is our little Asian Pear tree. We planted it in 2001 or 2002 and it's given us just a few pears until last year. Last year it outdid itself... then someone stole all the pears just before their peak!

This year, as if trying to make up for our loss last year, it outdid itself again. I thinned quite a bit and still got 2 big boxes of fruit. We shared a few with neighbors and friends, but most went into juice for cider... hard cider :-) This little tree gave us almost 6 gallons of juice, and it is delicious juice, too. Now, it's providing eye candy for the front yard. I'm going to miss that little tree when we move.

Jennifer (DD) and I picked several boxes of crab apples in Mattawa (Eastern Washington) in September, also for cider. We're trading with Donna and Tom for more Asian pears, plus have several hundred pounds of Winter Banana apples for more juice.

Two years ago, we made 2 batches of cider. One an Asian pear, Winter banana apple blend, and one was several apple types plus some crabapples. The pear/apple blend was outstanding; better than any commercial hard cider I've tasted. The apple was okay, but could have used more flavor. So this year, we're making more. More batches, and using more Winter Bananas.

Ask me in the spring how it turned out. :-)

- Franna