Archive for May 2009

Friends & Fiber at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is a parallel world where truckloads of exhausted sheep people and vans and buses full of ecstatic fiber artists converge on the Howard County Fairgrounds for a three-day celebration of fleeces and the animals that produce them.

The sheep people are exhausted because there is always a bout of bad weather immediately prior to the festival. Lambs that were thriving before the front are suddenly hump-backed and cold. In between daily chores, show competitors spend hours finding the perfect sheep under a fleece that had spent too much time in the weather and near a hay feeder. They load those perfectly coifed sheep for the drive to Howard County. Haphazard haystacks with feet step off the trailer when they arrive. Many hours of work lay ahead for the shepherds before the sheep enter the show ring for their big day.

Completely oblivious to the trials of the shepherd, thousands of fiber artists and fiber consumers spend the weekend exchanging a year’s production of fiber magic with a year’s worth of pent-up fiber dreams. Vans full of women from Baltimore and Philadelphia and busloads of knitters from New York City make the pilgrimage to purchase the materials for their personal nirvana; raw fleeces or roving for spinners, skeins for those who can’t put their needles down. Between laps through the buildings of yarn and equipment displays, they pass through the sheep barns where they enter the shepherds’ world and delight in meeting wool-on-the-hoof. A lovely woman from Brooklyn was enchanted by our yearling lover boy, a natural-colored Bluefaced Leicester ram named Cadfael, and she arranged to purchase his fleece once he was shorn.Within days, a three-and-a-half-pound box of happiness will arrive at her door.

Dave and I set up a fiber display to the side of our sheep pens. We enjoyed visiting with sheep friends, viewing each other’s animals and meeting so many wonderful lovers of sheep and fiber. It is an event that we just don’t miss.

Lambing 2009 – A Great Success

WitsEndSheep123-BOur flock of 10 Border Leicester and Bluefaced Leicester brood ewes began earning their keep when six-year-old Natasha lambed one afternoon in late January. Fortunately, she had come inside for the task, and the 12-pound ewe lamb and nine-pound ram lamb were up, dressed and eating when we found them during afternoon feeding.

Three more ewes lambed by mid-February, producing six more lambs, including a set of triplet Bluefaced Leicester ewe lambs. The last ovine bundles-of-joy arrived by mid-March, and we were thrilled to have a second set of triplet Bluefaced Leicester ewe lambs.

Looking at our thriving 2009 crop of 21 lambs, we are so thankful. With 16 ewes and just 5 rams, we have a wonderful selection of breeding-quality females to renew our brood ewe flock and share great genetics with others. Moreover, our girls got through lambing and gestation without mishap, and produced a more-than-200-percent lamb crop yet again. How’s that for girl power?

Sunny Pond Farms

We are so pleased that Melissa Heneghan of Sunny Pond Farms has purchased three venerable girls from our brood ewe flock in order to establish her own Border Leicester flock here in Rappahannock County, VA. ‘New York Red’ was bred by JoAnne Tuncey of Twin Birches Farm in New York and is the full sister of a past Supreme Champion Ewe at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. She has produced beautiful lambs for us for seven years, and still going strong.  Making the trip with her are two natural-colored brood ewes, one also from New York and the other a Pennsylvania gal.  Both have fruiitful production histories, and they are ready for their next adventure with the Heneghan’s.  Thanks so much, Missy!

‘New York Red’ (her friends call her Ana) looks ready to go to her new home in Boston, VA.  (She does have four legs — she’s hidden her fourth one just to mess with us!)