It's always about the weather this time of year in Central Illinois . . .
We haven't seen the sun for at least two weeks, and everyone's mood seems to be affected. Last week it was gray, cold, and damp, and the week before the temps were hovering around zero with ice, snow, and leaden skies. Perfect weather for a bout of cabin fever. Today, however, snow is falling lightly and persistently, and we've been promised a modest accumulation followed by a little sunshine!
The sheep are spending more time outside than they did when the temps were lingering around zero. The ram is in with the feeder lambs and getting fat, and the new lambs should start to arrive by mid March. I'm hoping to have everyone sheared by then--by someone other than me! We're going through more hay than I expected this year, so it might be time to start thinking about taking the feeder lambs over to Allen's.
I met the Craigs last week; they raise very nice Corriedales about 10 miles north of us. Ryan cares for and shows the sheep, and his dad, Gary, does livestock and other types of trading. Gary deals with several Amish families around Arthur, and he could probably help me find someone to shear, build fences, and put a loft in the barn.
I've just finished my first spinning commission. I spun enough yarn for a sweater in exchange for processed wool (not money), but it's a start. Nancy will get a pretty, bulky sweater in charcoal and white if she can find someone to knit it for her. She also gave me a very small spinning wheel. Her father made it for her, but she said she always felt it was too small. It's very nicely made, and it's particularly good for spinning cotton, but it has a problem with the axle that causes a slight bump every revolution of the wheel.
I was at the coop on Saturday, and ran into Rachel, Micah, and Kerianne. They came out to look at the farm last summer and expressed an interest in helping me process wool. Rachel followed up our chance meeting with an email, and we decided to get together here for a day of washing, carding, dyeing, and spinning wool in February. It will be fun to have their help, company, and creativity as we finish up last year's clip.
A quick update on Gracie: Gracie went to Guardian dog rescue about three weeks ago. She's already been promised to a family, who will take her through her canine good citizen and have her evaluated by the National Therapy Dog Association as a therapy dog. She will also get to work at the local nursing home at which her new owner works. Gracie, I'm sure, will excel at obedience and therapy work, and will love all the attention and working around people. What a nice ending for Gracie's Seven Sisters Farm saga.