Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Where do our fibers come from?

We get asked this question at every event we attend.  This subject is very near and dear to our heart because it is the basis for our business model.

We believe in small family farms.  We believe in American grown.  We believe in supporting other families and their endeavors.  Because this is so dear to us, we have chosen to use as many American grown, small family produced fibers as we can.  When we run out of our own fleeces, we start buying fleeces from other family flocks. 

I am very choosy about the fleeces I buy.  Because we are hand processing our fibers, I try to get fleece that is fairly clean to start.  The more picking I have to do, the more time it takes and the fewer products I can put out there for my customers.  I also work hard to make sure that the fleece is of excellent quality.  It is important to our farm that we are using the best of what America grows. 

I also purchase fleeces that I like to work with.  It doesn't make any sense to me to work with wool that doesn't excite me.  I have to spend a lot of time with the fiber.  Why should it be anything less than enjoyable?  So, because I tend to be a long wool lover, you will see that I use lots of Romney,
Shetland, Lincoln, Border Leicester, Jacob and Teeswater.  I also enjoy a little Rambouillet every now and then and some Merino from time to time.  Of course, adding some mohair into the mix always makes our products more interesting, so you will see those fibers crop up when I get my hands on them. 

Purchasing fiber products from us not only supports our farm.  We work extra hard to make sure that it is helping to support other families' farms.  We rarely use animal fibers from overseas or from 'big box' type producers.  Its not that we think badly of them, its just that our hearts are drawn to the smaller flocks and we like to purchase directly from those shepherds. 

In the end, our choices are putting us to more manual labor and our products take more time to produce.  We wouldn't have it any other way.  The satisfaction we get, knowing where the materials came from, is so rewarding. 

Sheepishly Yours,


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Water, water everywhere...and boy does it stink!

Ugh!  Everyone on the 'stead is frustrated this week.  That flooding issue we have had in the past is back.  And with a vengeance.  Look at all the water!

The farmers are pumping the water out of the driveway and away from the rabbit barn 2 or 3 times a day, but it just isn't enough.  The water is coming in way too fast.  So now the driveway is muddy and you have to walk through a swamp to get to the rabbits.  The farmers are wearing big, heavy rubber boots all the time.  It makes them cranky to wear those in the heat.  And, to make things oh so much better, there are mosquitoes everywhere!!!  The farmers have tried a couple of natural remedies for the problem.  They work, but there is just so much standing water and they are really having a hard time staying ahead of the problem.  They don't want to have to spray for the mosquitoes, but they are worried they might have to so that they can keep us all safe from West Nile Virus.  Meanwhile, many of the animals here are getting sprayed with essential oils daily to try and protect us from the little blood suckers.

All this water in the driveway means the car has to drive through mud every time someone wants to go in or out.  This is making a big mess of the driveway and the car is really getting muddy.  The farmers are talking about having to park up on the road and walk in for awhile until the mud is under control.  Poor farmers!

I really hope they can find a way to get rid of some of this water soon.  Us sheep got moved back to the barnyard for the time being.  We were out grazing on some of these areas, but we can't be standing around in muddy water.  So, no salad bar for us for a bit.  There is one dry section over on the other side of the property that the farmers were talking about letting us eat.  They have to go into the muddy part first to get all the posts and fencing though.  What a job that's going to be!  If they can get the fencing moved, then we can go back out to graze.  That will be delicious, but I feel bad that our people have to get muddy and wet to make it happen. 

Stay tuned for an update on our little version of "Water World" or "Old MacDonald Had a Swamp"!

This is Blackjack saying, "Keep your feet dry"!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hi! I'm Dinah and that's my girl with me.  I'm a four month old Shetland/Romney cross lamb.  This week, I get to bring you the Fair Report!

We all got to travel to this place they call, "the Fair".  It was all pretty exciting. The horses got to go over first.

From what I hear, they spent all their time "horsing around".  Bwahahahahaha!!!! But seriously, the horses had a great time.  They got to have baths and spent a lot of time eating hay and getting petted.

The rest of us got to come over a couple of days later.

 The rabbits had a pretty good show.  They sure brought back lots of ribbons.  This was The Boy's last year showing at the Fair.  I heard he is too old now and they are sending him to some place called "college".  I hope I don't get too old and get sent away!  That sounds rotten.
I also learned that this chicken, Cinderella, was super naughty at the show.  She escaped three times and all the kids had to run around like crazy and try to catch her.  Look at how that little girl is trying to keep ahold of her.  Scandalous!

But the sheep show was my favorite part.

Here I am looking gorgeous for the judge.  I had to walk around the building with some other sheep.  Of course, I was the most awesome in the ring.  Then I had to stand pretty and let the judge touch me and talk to my girl.  It was all very cool and educational. 

Blackjack went to the show, too.  He got lots of pretty ribbons (mine were better!).  The judge said he had fine wool and good staple length.  Ha!  I think I did better because he said I had nice density. 

Lots of people came by all week and petted us and told us we are cute.  Like we didn't know.  Silly people!  But it's okay because my girl said they were learning about wool sheep and how awesome we are.  I'm all for that!

I can't wait for it to be Fair time again next year.  I have big plans for a sheepy sleepover party in the barn.  I'm bringing the apple s'mores makings!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rumor Has It

Hi!  My name is Blackjack.  I'm a black shetland ram.  I am one year old and that is my girl in the background.  I live here on Desert Garden Farms.  In fact, I was born here.  It's a mighty interesting place.  With the other sheep to hang with and a couple of lazy llamas that let us climb all over them.  The horses are kinda bossy and push us out of the feeder, so we don't hang out much with them.  The goats are okay, though.  They play tag with us and don't smell too bad.

I heard some talk the other day between my girl and the boss lady.  Everybody calls her, "Mom".  Anyway, I heard there are some big changes happening here on the 'stead.  Yeah!  I heard that some new sheep were coming to live with us.  Shetlands, like me.  Woohoo!  I also heard that some of them are super hawt!!!

In just a couple of weeks Mom and the big guy she hangs out with (I think they call him Poppa) are going to pick up these new sheep.  But that's not all I heard!  I heard that when the new sheep get here we are all going to have new jobs.  Our jobs are going to be to "grow shares" for some people who are going to be a part of "the CSA".  Sounds super exciting to me.  I don't know what shares are, but I know I'm pretty good at growing wool.  Hope I still get to do that. 

I also heard that we are all getting brand new coats!  Isn't that just the bees knees?  A new coat for me!  I've never had a coat before but I hear they are just the height of sheep fashion these days.  The girl says it will keep me clean and make my wool nicer for the CSA.  I don't know about this staying clean business.  Honestly, I think dirty sheep are the best, but I'm willing to give it a try if I get to have one of those stylish sheep coats.  I hope mine's blue.  I realy like blue. 

I heard more, too.  I heard that Poppa and all the kids are going to be building some new grazing pens for us.  Yeehaw!  Salad Bar!!!  My girl said that we will get to use the new pens to get fresh greens to eat.  When we have eaten the good stuff from one pen, we get to move to another, fresh pen of greens.  Sounds yummy! 

All in all I think good things are coming for the sheep at Desert Garden Farms.  I know I can't wait to meet...ahem...I mean GREET the new ladies coming to the farm.  That means that this fall there will be 7 shetland sheep, 2 East Friesen sheep (lovely ladies!), two llamas and a pack of pygmy goats living on the 'stead.  Oh, and the pesky horses.  I've heard there are some chickens and rabbits hanging around too.  I've never met them.  Things sure are exciting over here! 

Well, I'm off.  Gotta go eat my weed assignment for today and talk to the farm cat about dropping some live mice into the horses' hay feeder......