Thursday, October 02, 2014

~~ SALE CANCELLATION ~~

Hmmmph, I was afraid of something like this happening ;(   

Despite our best efforts at preparation, some things are just beyond my control and I'm afraid our Fibers, Feathers and Furnishing Sale has been cancelled or at least postponed for a time.  Items are ready to go, for the most part, but location is not.  I'm so sorry for any inconvenience and hope you'll "stay tuned" for a possible future date!


Who would have thought that we'd still be putting up hay in October?!?  This is where the sale was supposed to be!  Not much room for anything else ;)




And now the baler, waiting for parts and repairs, sitting here as well!  The good news is that the barn is filling up with hay, more than enough to feed the sheep and horse this winter, hurray!  Its just that the sale will have to wait...sigh.


So, no Barn Sale here at Serenity Farms in October.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Fiber, Feathers and Furnishings


That title makes it sound a little bit like I furnish my home with feathers, doesn't it?  Well I don't, but it is beginning to feel like the house is being taken over by fiber!  The Burnham Barn is being taken over by vintage and rustic furniture that we're not using and the Main Barn is being taken over by our special Silver Bantam chickens.  What's a farm girl to do?  How about a little sale to share with her friends!  

~~ A Fun Fall Sale at The Barn of Serenity Farms ~~ 

NEW DATE!!! Friday and Saturday, October 10th and 11th

That's right, a first ever for Serenity Farms ~ a Barn Sale featuring Yarn; Spinning Fibers; Patterns; Books; Notions; Jewelry and Soap Making Supplies and a small but interesting assortment of vintage and rustic furnishing and architectural features.  Quality goods at thrift store prices!

And as long as we're at it, how about offering up some livestock as well, something just perfect for your farmstead, large or small?  We still have just a few of our Corriedale and Corriedale cross sheep for sale and I need to find homes for one or two breeding pairs of our Silver Bantam chickens.  

So why not mark your calender for the first Friday and Saturday in October, October 1Oth and 11th and pay us a visit?  You're sure to find a treasure of some kind and even if you don't you're sure to enjoy the big cozy barn in autumn, well-lit and dry, interesting to look at in its own right.  Enjoy a visit and a cup of coffee or fresh Michigan cider.  I'll have more pictures here on the blog in coming days, so keep checking back ~ feel free to drop a note or call if you have any questions, especially about the livestock.  


Sheep and chickens are ready to go any time, you don't have to wait for the sale if you're interested in any of them but please no early sales on furnishings or crafting supplies.


There will be plenty of spinning fibers to choose from!  Yarn, too...



Saturday, August 09, 2014

Wait for us, we're coming too!
These two young Aracauna chickens have been entertaining lately.  They were the ugliest chicks!  Its not a breed I'm all that fond of, but had gotten four of them to put under a broody hen.  A varmint got the hen and two of the siblings, these two survived though traumatized - and even more so after the scary human (me) caught them up and put them in secure quarters!  They've gradually become quite tame and follow me everywhere during the day.  They like to hang out with Christy, the farm cat.

I think I'll call them "Opal" and "Ruby".  Or "Peanut Butter" and "Crackers"....

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lambs and Lilies

Well, the title of my last post was "Lambs and Ewes" and this one will be lambs and lilies, you'll see why in a minute.  Summer has been pretty good to us with cool temperatures, great pasture and hay so far.  The lambs are growing like crazy and the ewes are staying in good flesh, not getting thin from nursing lambs.  I haven't been doing as much spinning or knitting as I'd like and that's mostly because I had an argument with a big barn door a while back (I lost!) that resulted in some pretty bad strain to my back and hip.  I've been on the mend, slowly, but sitting (or driving) are still very difficult and painful...maybe it's the good Lord's way of keeping me on my feet and moving this summer?  I'm so thankful for our wonderful family for helping me out in extra ways over that time...

Now about those lambs, here are a couple of pictures of two personal favorites.  A head shot of a white Corriedale ram lamb that I'm quite taken with.  Might keep him around for a while to see how he grows.  Fleece is very nice and he's a stocky guy.  It doesn't show in this picture so much, but he has good Corriedale characteristics, nice typey ears and head, though I wish his nose was more solidly black:


And then one of the ewe lambs I'm keeping, the daughter of "Image" so a granddaughter of "Violet" :


How's that for a badgerface - teardrops and sugar lips!  I'd been calling her "Lily" and I think that will stick, which leads me to the next part of this post, some of the lilies from my garden that are in bloom right now.  I've been adding more and more of these every year, they're just so amazing.  I've got daylilies, Asiatic lilies, Orientals and Trumpets.  I'll leave you with pictures of a few of them. 




 
I wish you could share the amazing color and fragrance with me as well!  Do you have a flower garden?  What's blooming for you right now?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Lambs and Ewes

What can I say, it's a sheep farm and the lambs are growing so well, I wanted to share a picture or two!


I love this picture of Collette and her ewe lamb, Little Britches.  Collette, more than any other of our ewes, stays very attached to her lambs.  We have two of her adult daughters, and they all stay right together.  Its not unusual to find Collette with her chin rested on one of her daughters.  I made the difficult decision to offer Little Britches for sale and she'll be making her way to another farm this fall, will probably have a new name.  I just hope that having her older girls still in the flock will be a comfort to this mama sheep.  I regretted the decision almost right away, but its done now.  (Sorry they're laying in the barn yard and not out on the fresh green grass or clean straw, lol!  Not as pretty of a picture, but real life)


Ainsley and her boy, he's one of the youngest lambs but he's an eye-catcher, all of her lambs have been.  He was actually a twin, but his sister took on fluid at birth and didn't live, sadly.  I really wanted another ewe from Ainsley.  This ram lamb is going to the same farm as Little Britches. 

Ainsley and Collette are our oldest ewes now and I love them both dearly.  My heart will break the day Ainsley ever passes....she's showing her age quite a bit these days.  I still love her funny little patches over her back and hips and her fleece is as fine as ever, though its now mostly grey rather than coffee bean brown. I may not breed her this fall, though she stayed fit through this rough winter and then had the twins.  But I notice she doesn't jump to her feet as fast as she used to (don't I understand that!) and she stays in the barn more.

One last picture, this one is Ivy, Ainsley's two year old daughter.  She's almost a carbon copy of Ainsley, though she silvered out much quicker ~


She had a handsome ram lamb herself this year, though only a single.  That's okay, he was such a big lamb. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

On Into June ~


 I realized its been a bit over a month since I wrote last, but like most of you its because of the busy-ness of the season, so I know you understand.  Everyday I think of things I'd like to write - happenings around the farm and in the flock.  Tales of walks in the woods.  How the hay and pastures and lambs are growing....how the fleece sales were fantastic this year (and did I mention we sold out quickly and completely?!?  No more Serenity Farms Corriedale or Corriedale/Bond raw wool till 2015 and even then the waiting list grows steadily!  Am I proud of that and happy?  You BET I am!)  I've got stories of knitting and spinning and Bible study that I'd love to share.  We've dealt with mind-numbing losses and incredible joys in our family, and then there's just the day to day life on the farm that I'd love to record here for myself and to share with the world (or at least our loyal readers)!

LOL, but the days go by so fast and I get tired early on...no time to sit at the computer and no desire to do so when the spring weather is calling.  Its raining hard here this morning, so I thought I'd take a minute to at least post a few pictures of lambs.  So not many words, they're all still here in my heart, but some lovely lambs to steal your heart or make you smile and hopefully keep checking back to our blog, even when there aren't many new posts....let's start with these two, do you remember Leah and Logan, the first lambs of the season?  Look how they've grown!  Always together, too.  Leah is staying in the flock, Logan will be for sale if he continues to grow so well....


Above "Little Britches", a Corriedale ewe, will probably be for sale

Image's spotted ewe, "Lily"  will probably not be for sale ;)

Neither will "Lynn" (be for sale I mean)


The next two pictures are of Jinger's moorit ram lamb.  He's going to be castrated and may very well stay here as a fleece wether.  He looks rather correct in these pictures, but he's actually very light boned and also has scurs (small horn buds)  He's a single lamb, too.  But it looks like his fleece is going to be pretty amazing, so we'll see if he gets wethered and stays around.  The moorit Corriedale/Bond cross fleeces sold well for us this year.


Now here's another moorit ram lamb, this time one of Jessie's twins.  His moorit sister (that's her lying behind Hannah's white ewe lamb in the third picture) is staying in the flock, but he'll probably remain intact and be available as a breeding ram.  I like him - he's beefy and substantial.  Nice dark red color with flashy white markings, too.  These aren't the best pictures, but these two just don't stay still for very long!





Finally, I'll end with this picture of a newly prepared field, fit and seeded for hay, with oats as the "cover crop".  This mornings rain will help all of that come along, I hope!  Now tell me, what do you have to share?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Playing With Fiber

Since my last post with raw wool for sale, I've been getting questions and emails about what to do with fleece if you don't have all the expensive fiber tools (combs, carders, pickers, etc.) 


Pictured are some washed Corriedale locks, lower right, inexpensive dog combs and finished combed fiber, top, ready to spin!
Good questions!  And one I understand because I didn't always have the equipment I have now.  You know, there are tons of great videos, websites, articles, downloads available out and about by people that know a lot more than I do - do a search for them when you can and you'll learn a lot about processing or prepping fiber for spinning without all the equipment.  My post here isn't really a "how-to" I'm just sharing a few photos sitting on my couch in my living room with a basket full of washed fibers and some really inexpensive tools that can get you started on your fiber prep journey!

First you need nice fiber (see my last post if you're looking for great Corriedale fleece!)  Next, you need to wash that fiber (unless you're planning to spin in the grease)  See my series of posts on Washing Wool, The Way I Do starting here.  So now, you should have some nice clean wool ideally still in the lock formation.  At that point, you could just tease open each end of the lock, fluff it up a bit and spin from the lock.  Or you could flick card (using a flicker or an inexpensive dog brush - the kind with rather stiff wire teeth).  Here's a short, simple video showing the process.

As I've mentioned many times, I really like combing wool for spinning.  Wool combs are expensive, even the small ones.  So why not start with a pair of dog combs from the pet store, farm store or even discount stores!  Not perfect but it works....here are a few pictures of some that I picked up for .99 each in the clearance bin at the farm store:


Load one comb with a thin layer of fiber, not to thickly
In the picture above, I've combed the fiber from one comb to the other two times.  The little pile of fuzz both next to and on the comb is "waste" -short stuff, chaff, throw away.  Next to it is fiber ready to spin
Three little birds nests of combed "sliver"  A delight to spin!
I measured these particular dog combs and the tines are 3.5 and 4 inches wide.  Teeth are 1 inch high and the wooden handles are 3.5 inches long.  They're very comfortable to use.

And what if you don't have a spinning wheel yet?  Here's something I just discovered, thanks to my new fiber friend Jill ~ a support spindle!!!  See it nestled in the basket of fiber, below?



I can't tell you how fun this is for me!  I've never mastered the drop spindle and at this point, don't care to keep trying ;)  I've got three spinning wheels but I'm really enjoying learning the support spindle and have even made some "rustic" yarn on it already!  My point being, spindles (drop or support) are a good way to spin before you're ready to invest in a wheel.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Looking For Corriedale Wool

And I have some to share!  I feel so fortunate to have people interested in finding and trying Corriedale and Corriedale cross fleeces, as a small farmer/shepherd your continued support is what keeps us going.  I'm going to share some photos and descriptions of fleece we have available right now.  If you see something you like, please send me an email at serenityfarmswool at yahoo dot com or PM me on Ravelry to check availability and to figure a total cost for you.  It might be helpful if you have a second choice as well, because these tend to sell quickly.  I'll list them as sold as soon as I can, so you won't be disappointed.  We happily take Paypal, personal check or money order and cash if you're close by.  We're happy to sell fleece by the pound, you don't have to buy an entire fleece (most of these listed are partial fleeces)  All of these fleeces are $15 per pound, plus shipping.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me about a particular sheep or fleece.  As always, remember that all computer monitors are different and may not accurately represent the color of the fleece.  I'll try to give the best descriptions that I can.  All of these first fleeces listed are lamb fleeces, and while those are often the nicest fleece a sheep will have in its lifetime, they can also be dirtier or have dry or gummy tips.  I don't begin coating my lambs till after they're weaned so they've already lived half the year without a coat and they tend to get into a lot of stuff ;)  That said, I'm very happy with the cleanliness of this years fleeces.  

Here we go ~

KELLY - white Corriedale ewe ~ S O L D ~



Very pretty, traditional Corriedale crimp, dirty tips but very little vm as you can see in the photo.  5" staple length.  About 2 pounds available

KITE - white Corriedale ewe  ~ S O L D ~



This is probably the prettiest white fleece, very fine and lacy.  4.5 inch staple length, dirty tips but not vm.  About 2 pounds available.

KARL - white Corriedale ram lamb ~ S O L D ~



Bright white, nice crimp, dirty tips but very little vm.  4" staple, about 3 pounds available.

KLONDIKE - white, Corriedale/Bond cross ram lamb ~ S O L D ~



Really nice crimp with a 4" staple length.  A little finer than Karl's fleece, but also a bit dirtier along the staple.  About 3 pounds available.

KENNEDY natural color Corriedale ewe ~ S O L D ~






I've got two pictures here of Kennedy's fleece because I just couldn't get a good color representation.  Its probably somewhere in between the two, and I'd call it a divine steel blue grey color.  She's got lovely crimp, good 5" staple length and I've got three pounds still for sale of her original twelve pound fleece!

KIMBLERLY natural color Corriedale/Bond ewe ~ S O L D ~



This little ewe has the most elegant fleece!  Its nearly black, 4" staple length and good crimp.  Some fading on the tips as you can see from the picture.  Now three pounds available.

KASTLE natural color Corriedale ram lamb ~ S O L D ~



This is my favorite fleece of the year and the picture just doesn't do it justice.  This is an awesome fleece!  Another steel blue grey, a bit finer crimp than the other and a little more variety in color, making it more complex.  This is a very active ram lamb and though he was coated, you'll find more vm in this fleece than the others.  I'm keeping half of this fleece for myself!

And now the moorits, the Corriedale/Bond crosses!

KODIAK moorit (red) Corriedale/Bond cross ram lamb ~ S O L D ~


Paler, rusty red fleece with faded tips and a shorter staple length, length varies from 3 to 4 inches throughout.  This is a very clean fleece and I have 2 pounds left to sell.

KILLIAN moorit (red) Corriedale/Bond cross ram lamb ~ S O L D ~



This is a rich, dark red, chestnut fleece, dark all the way to the tips!  Fine crimp and 3.5 to 4 inch staple length.  Not quite as vm free as Kodiak's fleece but still nice.   

And that's it for the lamb fleeces this year - I hope you'll see something you like!  I've still got adult ewes to skirt and list, but that may not happen till lambing is done.  If you miss out on a fleece you like this year, be sure to contact me about 2015 shearing.  Thanks for looking!

I just love fresh fleeces, don't you?

Monday, April 28, 2014

New Crop Lambs!

Skirting fleeces has come to a stop ~ lambing has started!  Excitement and anticipation because three new rams were used last year.  "Hannah 223" (a granddaughter of old Hannah VerLee) started us out on Friday afternoon with a text book perfect lambing and gave us this set of beautiful twins, a ram and a ewe, sired by our moorit Corriedale/Bond ram "Killian".  I was taking pictures of our lambing barn set up to share and she obliged by going into labor, LOL! 

That post will have to wait for another day, but I was excited to share this one of the twins with you.  It's an "L" name year for us and in honor of my new knitting friend Leigh, let me introduce "Leigh" the lamb and her twin brother "Logan"!  She's quite photogenic isn't she? Stay tuned for more (we have a large black single ram and another set of twins, wildly colored ewes)  I think there are about ten more ewes to go, and I think you will also see one named for another new knitting friend "Lori"...check back to see ;)  Oh, and one named for "Lona"...the list goes on!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Shear 2014

The day has finally come and gone, the one I look forward to the most each year ~ shearing day for the sheep!  


I'd say Francie needs a haircut, wouldn't you?
I've said it before and I'll say it again that the wool is my favorite part, I love it so much more than the stress of lambing ;)  Not that shearing doesn't have its own stresses and I worry constantly about my "product" - will it be good enough, will it sell, will I have to much or not enough?  And the truth is, the wool crop reveals as much about the shepherd (me) and the care given to the sheep as their lamb crop does!  Poor feed or lack of it, crowded conditions, parasites, poor health, bad genetics - all of these things contribute to the quality of wool a sheep produces.  With the long winter we'd had and other circumstances that kept me from spending any time with the sheep apart from being sure they were fed and watered....I was anxious to see what we had!

The appointment is made with our friend and long time sheep shearer Dave.  The night before, we shut the sheep in the barn to be sure they are dry for the early morning appointment.  Also, they won't be so stressed about being moved around the barn if we take our time, bribe them with grain or sheep cookies and get them settled.  They look pretty relaxed, don't they, even with the chickens checking for breakfast early (I'm peeking over at them from the hay mow) ~


Good morning Girls!
They're moved from here to a pen at the back of the barn, underneath, where there is cement floor.  Its also well insulated, being the part of the basement barn that's "underground"  We'll remove the rest of the coats and get them ready for their turn in the barber chair!  In the picture below you see a small group penned here and the rest are waiting in a larger pen behind the wooden doors.  I'm not sure if you can make out that there's another door just to the left of the photo ahead of the panel, and that's where we'll move the sheep once they've been shorn.  Because it was still pretty cold on this day, we've bedded that pen deep with fresh straw and there's a big feeder in there full of fresh hay and fresh water, too.  They're pretty happy there!


Waiting....
Am I next?  I can't see!
(In the picture above, that is youngster Iris in the front, behind her the white ewe Honey and the older grey girl behind here is Ainsley)  White sheep are shorn first and then the rest.  The older girls accept what's coming, the yearlings usually fight like crazy!  I'm lucky to always have great help who know the sheep and we're comfortable with Dave and always happy with the work he does.  Lots of laughing and joking goes on!  Below, Dave's shearing while my daughter Nakia waits to take the sheep ~ just noticed the cinch hanging from a peg on the right of the photo!





I'm pretty that's Francie's silver grey fleece in the picture above.  It was a good morning's work, followed by a hearty lunch and more "tall tales" around the table!  There's still plenty of work ahead of me, just look!


Bags of wool, loosely tied, plenty of "air holes", waiting to be skirted
So far, fleeces look great!
And remember shaggy Francie in the first photo?  How does she look now?


Clean Francie, and she's in great shape!
I hope you enjoyed this look at Shearing Day at Serenity Farms!  I'm excited about the quality of the fleeces, but most of all I'm proud of the fact that the sheep (and I) came through this rough winter in fine shape.  Not a SINGLE SHEEP is thin or in poor condition, not even 13-year old Violet!  This even though we don't grain at all - just lots of good quality, home raised hay and plenty of free choice salt and mineral and always fresh water no matter how hard it was to get to them this year.  Half of the flock was snowed out and away from the main barn all season and I struggled to get hay to them every single day of this snowy, cold winter.  But I did it, with strength from the Lord and help from my kids.  The ewes all look to be bred, too, though it looks like things will be a bit more spread out and you know, I'm okay with that.

If you have any questions about our flock or our care of them, please don't hesitate to email any time.  In coming days, I should have more fleece photos and hopefully soon the lambs will start to make appearances!