Monday, January 28, 2008

Pictures of Ouessants
Here are some pictures I took yesterday to illustrate the range of colours I have in my ouessant sheep! The really black ones are the British ones and Derek my British ram (not pictured here) is pitch black with not a sun bleach mark on him! One of the brown ewes actually has grey tones in the fleece too so quite interesting!!. Note all the black/brown ones are actually 'black' when it comes to genotyping.....we think! The white one has orange/fawn face and legs but is a genotyped white far as we know!! Once we have got a few more years into this and know who carries the genes for which colour we will know more!!
Pictured below is the first lamb from the French import! Born up in north Devon at the home of the delighted owners Kevin and Trevor! She is a real cutie by the look of it! Her mother is white obviously, and her father is Cyril....jet black but with the odd white/grey hairs....and I thought black was dominant in Ouessants???
The young ram pictured above is my son of Cyril called Nicolas Sarkozy!

And below are my new indian runner ducks with their spanking new house! They consist of a pair of chocolates and 3 fawn and white ducks.....and we are getting eggs!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Well here are the pics of my solar panel lit sheds! and they work!!!...........of course they do I here you say............well I must admit I had my doubts but yes they do and we have even had some sun to charge them! I am now going to sort out solar panels for the electric fence batteries which will save electricity in the summer although with our current lack of sun they will have to have extra charging in winter. I have also got yet another water butt and a water diverter for the down pipe from the lower roof.....we are now a 4 water butt family!
Also bought some scaffhold planks that were no longer suitable for their original purpose and here they are in my trailer.....they are 13 ft long and make super raised bed edges.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We are over 900ft up on the top of the hill and unlike the nice dry picture its a bit slippery at the moment. This is a tale of lost and found sheep!
Last week I was ill with a nasty cold and cough, it also rained all week adding to the misery, so when I climbed into my car in the pouring rain and foggy gloom to collect my youngest from school I was not best pleased to see a gate between the small paddock where my senior Ouessant ram and his friend reside wide open into the 15 acre field the other side. Well after having collected 5 yearold and placed him strategically in front of the tv to keep him from mischeif, 14 year old son, myself and 3 dogs set about searching for said sheep. They were nowhere to be found and as it was getting dark we returned wet and cross.
Next morning husband, 3 sons (21 year old, 14 yearold, 5 yearold), myself 3 mobile phones and 3 dogs set off in still pouring rain to have another look having informed the farming neighbours that we had 2 knee high rams on the loose.....they could see the funnyside!
Well a few hours and several miles later we returned in dribs and drabs reporting not a sign of the little bu###rs.
About 3 hours later Ken the farmer across the road watched in amazement as the calmly meandered out of the woods, across the big field and tucked themselves back in their paddock! Needless to say he secured all the gates very well before telling us! So all was well........
Today at 8.30am I receive a call......'there is a black sheep out down in the village....looks a bit bigger than yours but you'd better come and have a look'. So off I go and no its not one of mine but a large shaggy in lamb ewe of indeterminate age that looks to have come a long way judging by the amount of attached debris! So we capture her in friends stables and I phone local animal health office (hello all if you are reading) with her ear tag number. Apparently she had a tag originating near Tiverton Devon but possibly could have been sold since then of course and it would necessitate delving through all the movement forms of many years to find where she should be now! Advise was to ask if anyone had lost a sheep and ask police if anyone had reported one missing. Drew a blank so she is now residing with my wensleydale cross ewes and looking quite content......result a free sheep who looks in lamb.........will let you know if her owner turns up!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Well its raining yet again! And it is forcast not to stop soon!......great!
Makes you feel depressed just looking out thewindow. I have so much to do outside too. Am installing solar lighting to both of my sheds and rebuilding the raised beds with help from Pete who is much more woodworky than me with damaged scaffhold boards that are from a local scaffholding company!! pics will follow when and if it stops raining! While picking up the boards in my car & trailer in the pouring rain and feeling ill because of a bad cold I had an amazing thing happen......I was travelling slowly across the industrial estate gingerly negotiating the speed bumps with the 13ft planks hanging precariously from the rear of the trailer when I went by the bakers delivery van selling cakes and sandwiches. I stopped and enquired as to the price of a Danish pastry when one of the builders working on the site bought a maple and pecan danish (my favoutite) and gave it to me refusing all payment and just said enjoy it!!!! Well that got me many of us permaculture inspired people who have earth care, fair share, and people care at the heart of our way of thinking enact random acts of kindness like that..........It really cheered me up and so I am going to think hard about whether I cheer people up enough!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

All things are turning towards wool at the moment and I am applying for lots of funding for the new project I am developing along with the Blackdown Hills Natural Fibre Group, namely feltmaking.....not the feltmaking where you card some wool and felt layers of carded wool by hand.....but acres of it! This is going to require some major work as we need to install a scouring machine to wash the wool and a drying machine to dry it. A machine to card it into huge sheets ready for processing either by wet felting where another machine presses and agitates it with the use of heat and water. Needle felting where the wool sheets are literally joined into each other dry with the aid of barbed needles and pressure felting which is self explanatory.....its squashed under great pressure!
We need lots of space to store wool, we have to work out how to dispose of our washing water in an environmentally friendly way and we have to do a lot of publicity.
And what will we be felting?.....well, sheeps wool mainly which is presently at the lowest price ever and is worthless.....except to those like us who know it is one of the most environmentally sound natural fibres on the planet. Also all sorts of other fibres such as alpaca for the fashion industry.
And what will we all be producing?.......well, at the start wet felt suitable for everything from jackets and bags to hanging basket liners! In the long term sheeps wool insulation similar to that produced by Second Nature, and sheets of felt for matresses, quilts, upholstery etc.
Are we mad? probably! Am I scared.....yes! Am I determined to see this bet! The project will be based locally in an eco business of the countries first environmentally sustainable, revamped, reused units complete with woodchip boiler burning locally sourced and produced wood chips and compost toilets! there may also be, in the future, a posibility of renewable energy being supplied!
Please get in touch if you want to get involved in this project. We also need investors and those who want to trial products for us. And if anyone can help put finishing touches to plans and projections I will possibly be applying to the Dragons Den.
The pictures are of 2 bags that I made recently out of wensleydale and shetland wool, hand dyed and hand made on the pegloom. Both now gone to good homes!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Getting obsessed by Ouessants! Here is a picture I have found by Gauguin the famous French artist who painted at Pont Aven in Brittany showing some of the little dears!
Yesterday was really busy and I didn't have time to take any photos! Having delivered 4 sheep to Kevin and Trevor in North Devon on Saturday, yesterday saw the other 3 Ouessant owners arrive to collect their sheep so it was a continual round of sorting and loading sheep and filling out paperwork for each batch. I am now left with 2 older small black ewes and a white lamb that I particularly like also a ram lamb with good horn placement. The other Ouessant ewes will now be moved to join them and Derek and Gilles will go along with the ram lamb to batchelor quarters! Need to think of a suitable French/Breton name for the new ram, so any suggestions welcome, I don't name the ewes. These sheep are remarkably friendly compared not only to most other sheep but to primitive sheep in particular who tend to be a bit 'flighty'!

Holidays and Ouessant/DEFRA stress over I must now concentrate on the matter of the felt processing plant and the idea of a reed bed based plant for wool washing waste water (this is the expensive bit about processing wool!) getting those little grey cells working also requires copious quantities of tea, chocolate and home made bread and jam!!!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Just got back from Brittany France to phone call from DEFRA vet....he came at 4pm and issued us with a letter and document revoking the previous orders (and he smiled and was very nice too).........the sheep are now officially healthy and can leave the isolation unit and go to their new homes....YES!!!
You cannot imagine the stress this has caused us all so please don't even attempt this unless you think you have the right documents and are SURE you have the right documents!
Pics and furthr news tomorrow! Meanwhile if you have not seen Stuarts blog about butchering their pig and their permaculture plot in Brittany take a look...its inspiring!