My favorite month, February is almost over and as I reflect back on the month it was not as restful as I would have wanted! The beginning of the month was an extension of January, with warmer weather and the first of the many, false springs. We took advantage of this and tapped the maple trees with the hope that we would get the early-season sap which is absolutely delightful! When we inserted the taps the trees were running like mad and we collected about 20 gallons before the cold set back in. Although we welcomed the warm weather, we were not fully prepared to start our sugar season, and thankfully the cold has given us some needed prep time. The sap will keep for a long time in this cold, once it warms up we will be ready to boil it down and stash away the golden richness of the first run of syrup.
The warmer weather, and longer days, kept us outside doing chores well into the sunset, reminding us of what is to come. In the middle of the month we saw rain, and rain, and more rain, which turned the whole farm into mud before swiftly turning to ice, the entire farm was a sheet of ice! It has been an adventure walking around to do chores while avoiding falling.
The flock was shorn this month, the fleeces are beautiful and I am excited to use the cheviot in the first yarn and roving for the CSA. I released spots for our CSA earlier this month, if you are interested in local yarn and roving make sure to check it out. We, thankfully, do not have lambs yet but we were surprised to see a small litter of kittens in the hayloft. If you are looking for a great barn kitten let us know!
The month has flown by in a dizzy haze, I am so thankful for this massive snow storm which has allowed us to slow back down and take some time to rest. I hope everyone is resting and staying safe in all this wonderful snow, soon it will start to melt and the crazy spring will return.
Old Lady Badger has something to say!
Can ewe believe they sent me to a different farm this fall? The shepherd lady said that I was not to have lambs this spring, which is why they were sending me to stay with the flock at Burning Daylight Draft Farm. Well let me tell ewe, I was the most misbehaved sheep on the farm! I would break out of every fence and snack on all the goodies. Icy, the other old lady they sent, would go up to the people who came to visit and get scratches, but not me! No way!
The farm I am staying at has large draft horses, these things are like big sheep with long tails, I think they look pretty silly when they are hooked up to the equipment. They use the horses to mow the grass and pull massive logs up from the woods. They even use them to plow the snow! I am thankful I am a sheep, no one is hooking me up to a plow to make me work.
The flock was shorn last week, we are tucked away in the barn staying nice and warm. The shepherd lady came to see me and take my wool during shearing, she said "oh Badger! You are pregnant! What a naughty sheep you are!". And she is right! Try as they may, I found a way to have lambs this year, no fence can keep me from what I want! After this snowstorm passes the shepherd lady will come and take me back home to lamb with my flock, many of which are my daughters and relatives. This will be my 14th year on this earth, my 9th on this farm, and I fully intend to have lambs until I return to the soil. So stay tuned, in a few short weeks my lambs will come and the shepherd lady will have to take care of them. My old lady milk bags are not what they once were so I have a hard time feeding my lambs, but I know she will care for them because I am her most cherished sheep. I have that shepherd lady in the palm of my hoof!
Restocking roving, and adding new yarn!
On the last day of January, at around 4:30 in the evening, all of the final paperwork was signed and I officially took full ownership of what was Norn Sisters and is now part of my existing mill. This celebration and moment was a long time coming, and the feeling was simply amazing! This final step gave me the freedom to communicate with people who financially supported the expansion of the mill, and to finally plan for the future. I plan to have a line of locally sourced yarn and roving, I launched the yarn and roving CSA, and I have taken in my first orders for yarn processing! I plan to only process a few customer orders per year, really focusing the mill on producing yarn and roving, I want people to see Badgerface Fiber as their first stop for all their local fiber needs. This ending also freed up some space in my head, which has really allowed me to focus on the business and the art of making yarn. I am now cranking out some yarn that I am really proud of, and I am working with some amazing pattern designers and artists to offer kits. Make sure to keep an eye out for new products soon! March will be full of releases.
My overarching goal with this mill and business is to strengthen the local fiber economy. To show people the value of locally sourced fiber, they continue to keep their dollars local. Each purchase strengthens my business. This allows me to pay a higher price for the fiber I use, which strengthens the business of each place I get fiber from. I want to build up this fibershed, offer more educational opportunities, more opportunities for fiber artists to connect, and more understanding of natural fibers and textiles. I feel like this is the start of many years of great fun, hard work, and community building. It is also the start of the greatest adventure of my life, and I am ready!
Farm goods, Events, and all the Fun!
The first "Brew and Knit with Ewe" was a total hit! The fiber community came out in full force to Arbeiter Brewing Company, taking over two large sections. It took my breath away when I came in and saw all the people who had gathered, we are truly a strong community. If you missed this month's event, make sure to join us on 3/19 at Venn Brewing Company. We had spinners, weavers, knitters, and crocheters there with their projects, sharing conversations, over tasty drinks. These events will continue through the year and will be the drop spot for the CSAs. I am also able to bring orders to these events, so if you want to cast on a project with some of my yarn, or need to spin some roving, you can order it and select "pick up" and let me know you will grab it at the event.
To celebrate all of the amazing things that this month has brought, as well as all of this snow, I am offering 10% off of everything in the shop! Simply use the code SNOWDAY for 10% off of everything. It's the perfect time to grab a sheepskin, a wool pillow, some yummy yarn, or stock up on some spring-inspired roving blends! Sale ends Saturday, so make sure to take advantage while you can.
I believe we have 18 inches or more of snow, the drifts are 3-4 feet high and have created a great bridge for the sheep to cross. Thankfully the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence at this time of year! I divided the flock into two groups this morning, giving the Cheviots space in the barn and leaving the cold hardy Icelandics in the lean-to area. The Cheviots have greater protein requirements, and I noticed that the Icelandic sheep were starting to get too fat off of the Cheviot's diet, so it was time to split them up. This also allows the Cheviots space to lamb, which should be soon. Their lambs will come out with less wool on them so we have created a little headed space for lambs and purchased some super cute wool lamb jackets. If the weather is warm we will not need these items, but it is better to be prepared.
March is speeding its way toward us, I hope everyone is taking this moment to rest and relax and finish or start a new project.
As always, thank you for reading this far and I hope to see ewe soon!
Theresa, Jake, Padruig, Opal, and the whole flock.