Monday, November 19, 2012

Wovember news

Wovember is continuing apace, the Knitsonik badges are out and all is well with the sheep. I've been really enjoying reading the posts on the Wovember site - get on over there if you love sheep (in a healthy and respectable way that is...) and I've been proudly wearing my 100% WOOL badges by the amazing Felix, made from Estonian and British wool fabrics. (Can you tell which is which in the above picture?)
There is a Wovember photo competition running too with great prizes, including a sheep kit by yours truly. So get on down there!

(Obligatory sheep photo...)

Friday, November 9, 2012

New arrivals!

It's taken quite some time, much longer than we thought, to finally get some animals here, but yesterday our lovely friends from Harmony Farm (who run amazing courses - two very inspiring and generous people with a real love of what they do and a talent for sharing knowledge - if you want to learn about smallholding skills they really are the people to go to) arrived with four very lovely lambs - three ewes (for breeding) and a wether (castrated ram) which we will keep for wool, and a goat kid.
They are all settling in nicely. The ewes are Shetland/Jacob crosses and the wether - Jake - is Shetland crossed with Texel. (His father was a runaway Texel ram who managed to break into a field of Shetland ewes, impregnating Jake's mother. After Jake was born, the dominant ewe stole him briefly until her own lambs were born, at which point she rejected him. By this time, his own mother was rejecting him too, so he had to be bottle-reared. Ah, the soap opera life of sheep.)
But isn't he just lovely? They are all lovely.
 How great are sheep's bums? They just make me laugh.
The main problem with photographing the sheep is that you can't get far enough away from them, as they are so friendly they eat from your hand.
 Csibike, the goat, is even more friendly. If that is possible.
And what better time to get sheep than Wovember? A month-long celebration of woolliness.
Yay sheep!!!

I found it interesting how much it has changed how I think about wool in 24 short hours. I have used fleece from the mothers of these sheep before, and visited them, checking out their wool, so I was surprised at how different it feels being the people responsible for them - I have a different relationship to their fleeces already - a closer one I guess. I will be looking at their fleeces and feeling them every day, watching how their wool responds to the seasons, to their diet and health, patiently waiting for shearing time, thinking about spinning yarn and knitting jumpers...but first I want to buy a couple of sheep coats, so we can get the best wool we can from them, while being the laughing stock of Roscommon for keeping out sheep in coats. Ah well. That is the cost of better fleeces.

 For now we can sit at home reading the Breed Profiles Handbook - extreme nerdy reading about selecting grazing animals to suit your grassland. (Fascinating stuff, if you are that way inclined, which I know most people are not...) And we can think about extending the flock!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ed Walshe Ceramics Exhibition in Longford

Everyone's favourite ceramicist, Ed Walshe*, has an exhibition in the Backstage Theatre in Longford, the opening of which we attended last night.
 The pieces are gorgeous, all painstakingly hand burnished with a spoon before being fired in a bin of sawdust and straw, which leaves a smoky unpredictable finish on them and lets you know of the pyromaniacal nature of their maker. Then they are shined up with a beeswax polish.
 I love the process, and have helped out with it on occasion. When you use a kiln with ceramics you really don't have the same elemental feeling as setting bins of flammable material alight and waiting to see what the results will look like this time.
 No two pots are the same, and the smoke leaves delicate and strange patterns on them.
Anyway, get down and see them all for yourself! And purchase one! Very reasonable with most pots being 25 Euro.

* AKA, Dad.