School of Wool

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The shearer came, she saw and she absolutely conquered. Since this is our first experience with wool sheep and we had zero point of reference for what to expect from a shearer, with the exception of our personal experience ‘shearing’ two of the ewes when they arrived on the farm, I must say that I am blown away by our experience. Nicole and I had been messaging back and forth for a couple of months when I asked if she’d come out to shear the small flock of Jacobs on the farm and when she showed up, I was a little nervous. You see, we have zero experience with fiber animals. Zero. Unless these last few months of tending to these Jacobs count then count us out of the fiber farming world. What’s a micron count? What’s luster and staple length? What exactly does VM stand for? These are all little things we are learning but I certainly don’t consider myself a fiber snob although I aspire to be one someday, because when part of your life includes ‘shepherding a small flock of wool sheep’ it’s kind of cool to know what you’re talking about.

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So, Nicole arrived and made us feel right at home (we were actually in our front yard) and made us feel completely normal and like the best clients she’s ever had, which is simply because she’s awesome and knows her stuff and is happy to teach and share what she knows with the likes of us.

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Andy had already loaded the sheep onto a livestock trailer in anticipation of shearing which was a good thing since Yoda sent us (andy, the kids on myself) on a wild ram chase for over an hour earlier that day. The sheep weren’t too happy to be out of the pasture, but they are all relieved to have lost their fleeces before they melt in the sunshine and warm weather we’ve been having. Nicole and Amy (her partner in crime) and Andy trimmed hooves while she taught us about how to evaluate body scores and eyelids and gum color to determine if anyone is anemic or needs some extra TLC. It is really nice to have a starting point for the flock’s health so that we can keep good records of everyone through the seasons.

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It was also really great to identify names with faces, because the truth is that I only knew 3 of their names and that’s kind of sad, all things considered. But, they have tons of area to roam and they aren’t exactly coming to get their heads scratched when I go out into the field to say hello. That’s okay, because I almost have their names down now and I have a much greater appreciation for each of them after our shearing on Friday afternoon. They are awesome animals and I’m excited to see the lambs they produce and to improve their genetics with each generation that is born. Sheep are great.

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We learned about Nicole’s business and ministry with Adonais Alpacas in North Georgia and are completely inspired and blown away by what she does. She’s a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of love and generosity. Thankfully, she not only shears sheep (and Alpacas) but she also processes the fiber. Hallelujah! So, the fleeces went back to North Georgia with her and will return as roving, which is the step before spinning into yarn. That seems much more manageable at this stage than learning how to skirt, wash, tumble, card, rove (?) and spin with zero experience and zero equipment. I’m not writing a tutorial on how to process wool anytime soon, because I don’t know. I don’t even know how to knit. Working backwards here, huh? Or maybe from the ground up which is exactly how we like it.

XO

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Inspired by everything good

A brand new Charolais heifer calf was born just a few hours ago. Andy called me because he needed some help opening some gates while he carried the calf to an adjacent pasture that all of the mamas and babies are on with Frank, the bull.

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I haven’t moved our minivan since my dentist appointment on Tuesday. It’s Saturday night. The kids have had colds. I’ve been homebound. It’s good.

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When the boys and I went out to give daddy some assistance, while Buttercup napped, I was gently reminded over and over and over again why I love this lifestyle that we eat, sleep and breathe. It’s the life. The life all around that takes my breath away. It’s the miracle after the tragedy that makes me want to soak it all in.

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The LGDs watching over the 4 horned sheep in the pasture. The chickens running around chasing bugs and scratching up the field. It’s the mama cow with her new calf and the geese on the pond. It’s the heirloom corn taller than my husband’s head and the farm boys learning how to drive at 3 and 5 years old. It’s the seeds in the soil and the sunset in the sky that give me hope and encourage my soul.

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It’s the melted beeswax being poured into candle molds and the homegrown meals that are served at our homemade table. It’s the fresh food and the fresh air and the beauty of life all around. It’s the grace that follows the grave and the life that follows death. It’s the joy that comes after sorrows. We have many sorrows and heartaches. It’s part of life in our broken world. But, there is so much beauty to behold.

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Today I saw a lot of it. Tomorrow is not promised, but these glimpses of our glorious eternity give me great hope. It’s a gift from God and I’m so thankful to Him for all of it and I’m inspired by everything good.

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“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”(James 1:17)

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Tomato Tomato

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We’ve been in full swing mode over here and while Andy’s been managing the farm like a champ, I’ve been sort of all over the place with ‘putting up’ the harvest. After not growing a decent crop of tomatoes the last couple of years, this year’s tomato gardens have been awesome!

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We’ve been canning quite a bit and it is so very satisfying. I don’t think we used nearly the amount of tomato sauce that we have canned so far, but that might be because we didn’t grow our own. Although we prefer a fresh tomato sandwich any day, it’s nice to have some preserved for the out of season months that are coming soon.

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If you aren’t growing your own organic heirloom tomatoes, I highly suggest you find someone who is ASAP. Try your local farmers market and talk to the farmers in your area. If you don’t have a farmers market nearby, take a little trip down the road. Surely there is a group of renegade, grassroots growers and makers and shakers somewhere nearby. Maybe you just haven’t found them yet.

XO.