I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Goat and Lamb's Woolly Kind of Day

Went to our Goat Meeting on Saturday in Wilton, in the valley... to a farm I had not been to before. 
Lots of goats...
One buck that looked suspiciously like my Nubian Wether, Bart. Could it be that this handsome guy and my Bart have some shared genes? We know the same people. I bought from the same breeder.

You just have to love these Nubians... look at that face.
But, this breed (below) has a different look.

They have no ears. They are LaMancha goats and you can read about them here.  They were very curious and friendly. One followed me around the whole time we were out in the field with them. She kept rubbing against me like an old friend. She was just so lovable and cute.
Speaking of cute... Here's your "Awww!" for the day.
These baby were very reserved and keeping an eye on Mom. They wouldn't let me get too close.
But the Nubian kids (below) were falling all over themselves and being so lovable that I wanted to bring them home with me.
The "nubies" were prancing around and playing games in the sunshine. It was as if they knew just how cute they were.

Then we went to see the sheep. I was told that I could have some fleece after the shearing about a month ago. The owner said that I could have it all if I wanted it. Well....
"Baa, baa Dorset sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Fifteen bags full."
(Please forgive the adaptation of the old nursery rhyme.)
I could have brought home 15 bags of wool fleece. I chose one bag..
I don't know how much is in this bag but it's a lot. It's dirty stuff..., full of lanolin, grass and sheep poop.

"Thanks ladies"
Thank ewe (I mean you) wonderful animals. You will be cooler this summer and I will learn the process of taking sheep wool from animal to artistic endeavor.
Yesterday I pulled a big hand full out of the bag and after going online to learn how to clean raw wool, I took a small bunch of this...
 ...the dirty, lanolin laden fleece of a yearling Dorset sheep....washed it (long process that I will explain later), dried it and carded it.
This is what it looks like now. Amazing!? Yes it is.
It's clean, soft and beautiful. It's ready for a felting project or spinning into yarn. But spinning means that I need to buy some spinning equipment.. and as much as I would love to have a spinning wheel, which I have no room and is very expensive,
I think my first investment will be a small drop spindle. It won't hurt to learn from scratch. The drop spindle is the oldest way of making yarn from fleece. Here's a site that explains what a drop spindle is and does.
I love the "Warning" at the top of the link page.
I haven't gotten the "spinning" bug, yet, but I sure know what happens when the" felting" bug hits. It's like no other illness. You feel great. You don't have to stay in bed and you accomplish something while you're "under the weather". The "felting" bug is rather mild except when you find yourself hunting in the corners of you're house for fur and asking friends for their dog or cat hair. I have tried to felt everything that I can possibly think of around here, including dryer fluff and dog hair. It's just ridiculous what these passions do to you. You look at animal fur in a whole new way.
Seeing this fleece go from dirty and sticky to clean and white makes me want to spend HOURS washing and drying this stuff.
 It will probably be more like DAYS of washing and drying.... but I'm game.
Someone back in ancient times looked at a sheep or goat and thought that if the fur kept an animal warm why wouldn't it work for humans too... and so the process began.
This disentanglement from modern living has been going on for a long time with me. I don't trust the future of technology. I use it and I enjoy a lot of it, but I don't trust that it will always be here.
When I wash this fleece and make felt, I feel  connected to some ancient human who lived many centuries ago, a person that  lived close to the earth and lived his or her live with what was found in nature.. It was a matter of survival for them. For me it's a connection to that tradition,  wanting to learn what they knew. Wanting to bridge that distant time when what we did mattered and life was lived elementally.
Life was harder, physically, but the process was there. I find it hard to believe that all of this technology isn't going to collapse someday in the future and I would like to think that knowing how to make clothing by felting some fibers... or fishing in a river... will come in handy. I may never have to worry about it in my lifetime, but I want to show my grandchildren how to do this, just in case.
It's also just a lot of fun.
This beautiful animal agrees. She says, "I grow this fleece every year and you can have all you want. Just let my people know that you want some and zip, zip, zip... it's all yours. I'm ready for my Mary Jane's Farm Magazine "close up" this summer. Now, all I have to do is find a shady spot, some ice tea and and a handsome leading man. I'm all set for lights, camera.... action."
You go girl!


  1. This is a fun story, beginning with the first photo. Is that a bell, with a goat's head?
    The goats in your photos are cute cute cute, and that last one where she is ready for her Maryjane photo session made me smile. You have a fabulous hobby with felting and spinning.

  2. Another great post. I always learn something new from your post. The goats are so cute. Your pictures are great. Have a ball with cleaning the fleece. Have a blessed evening. Madeline

  3. That looks a big bag of work! Amazing how it became so clean and white and fluffy when you cleaned it.
    I think I like the droopy eared nubians best, something doesn't look quite right about those goats with no ears :->

  4. Gotta love a post that starts with, "Went to our goat meeting on Saturday in Wilton..." I really appreciate your desire to create in traditional ways and to pass that knowledge on.

    I've read the 'zine a few times. Are you going to be featured? You would certainly fit!

  5. Oh Connie! I'm a tad jealous of all that fleece! I've been offered it before but was afraid it would be too much work to clean...I've seen people use it for garden paths as well...snow in summer! We are searching for a buddy for our goat Tramp. The last of his buds died on thursday night and he's quite lonely...going to see a potential girly nubian tommorow...fingers crossed!

  6. Hard to say, but just looking at the picture, but it almost looks like that fleece might be a little "pilly" which won't be quite as nice to spin, especially just starting out. If you are close by, you might go grab another bag as a back up.

    And it begins... ;-)

  7. I just love your enthusiasm
    and of course I love looking at those precious animals

  8. I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

  9. sounds like you had a fun day...and a lot of work ahead of you but cant wait to see what you do with the cleaned wool...


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