Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hedgelaying, storms, wool dyeing and permaculture have all featured in the past couple of weeks.
We have been running some amazing courses on our holding and in the surrounding countryside, at times in extrodinary circumstances! On a beautiful warm unseasonal January day several people met to lay a hedge. It was a typical hedgethat had been left to grow up but had had the sides trimmed. The hedge was a double one in that there were actually 2 hedges on a very wide bank, the one on the far side belonging to the adjacent landowner. These shots show the hedge before it had a manicure from the trainee hedgelayers! Well 6 people who had never laid a hedge before tutored by the expertise and skill of Pete went on to produce a very nice result 6 hours later as shown in the photo of some of the proud hedgelayers here! One can hardly believe what can be achieved until looking at the before and after photos.
On the day of the great storm a dyeing for the terrified course took place and some beautiful colours were produced, not only with chemical dyes but with madder, onion skins, logwood and sandlewood. Unfortunately the power was cut off half way through but in true pioneering spirit we battled on over the rayburn using a torch to see what we were doing as the storm clouds rushed across the sky outside!

I am just completing a Permaculture design course and fantastic it has been too, I will update next time on the course, the venue and how we will be incorporating permaculture principles more fully into our lives and our smallholding

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Peg looming course took place on Wednesday with 4 lovely ladies all of whom made wonderful creations using a variety of fleece types including Jacob, Shetland, Dorset Down and Wensleydale X
Some was natural and some had been dyed into a variety of colours. The picture shows everyone hard at work with lots of bags of wool on the table.
Silk was also used of the kind that is ofter spun into sari silk, but this was unspun and therefore when combined with the wool made for amazing colours as seen in the picture..........this bit of peglooming is going to be made into a bag.
On Thursday I had a sheep moving day and transferred the Ouessants to a new paddock up on the top of the hill near the house. They have a little pig ark type shelter and are very happy with tons of grass to eat. The Shetland ewes joined the Dorset Down ewes and several animals had a bit of pedicure carried out as they were suffering from the wet ground. However everyone looks very well and they are getting racks of hay and haylage along with a high energy lick to keep them all in tip top condition. From early February they will be fed ewe nuts too to make sure they have enough condition to prevent twin lamb disease which can be fatal.
The lambs also have hay racks out in the fields which are kept topped up with hay or haylage but they will not have extra feeding as they are all fat and happy!
We have a hedgelaying for beginners course on Monday, Dyeing on Thursday and Lambing for the novice shepherd on next Saturday. There are one or two spare places available on some of the courses if you want to come along!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hello and Happy New Year!
Well all the sheep survived in the capable hands of Sarah a friend from down the road whilst we had a well deserved few days in France. However yesterday we had a rather traumatic day. My eldest son George, on his last day at home before returning to uni in Bangor, helped me gather up the rams from their various groups of ladies and put them in their batchelor field. All was well until a phone call from a friend whose house backs on to the field indicated a problem. We rushed down to find my newly purchased pedigree Dorset Down ram Herbert (who was very overweight on his arrival, and who I have spent the last 8 weeks trying unsuccessfully to slim down) had died of a heart attack! I had to then phone the fallen stock help line to arrange for him to be collected by the casualty wagon and drag the body to the gate to await collection today.
Very sad as he was a top class pedigree ram and I was planning to use him on all my ewes next autumn............he was expensive too! Still nevermind, these sad things happen. One a good note I found out that I had come 3rd in the novice class of the Dorset Down Flock competition, where they come and inspect all of your flock...........not just the pretty ones, so I was well chuffed as it was only my 2nd attempt and the competition is hot!
Just launching some new items on the Woolly Shepherd website including hat knitting kits and baby quilts that are filled with shetland wool. The one to the left here is a flower faries design but I will be able to do any design or colour to order.
I have new colours of banana silk too and some interesting hemp and nettle yarn.

Coming soon will be spin and knit kits consisting of fleece, a drop spindle, knitting needles and a pattern all in a little bag.