31 August 2007

We've Got Wool!

We just got back from our trip to the eastern slope to pick up wool from the two wool mills we are using. The whole back of the pickup truck was filled with the rovings and we had 2 big boxes of yarns inside. Most of the wool is from our Black Welsh Mountain sheep but we also blended some with western finewool fleeces from a local range flock. I even sent in a few special fleeces from the fleece archives for processing. I'll probably end up keeping most of those for myself but you never know what might show up on the web site for sale eventually.

Wool is a significant product for us and we pride ourselves on having nice handspinning quality raw fleeces and special rovings. I'll be updating our web site sales page with details over the next few days. www.desertweyr.com wool sales

For now we have a lot of lovely rovings, straight Black Welsh, Black Welsh with Corriedale in grey, and also blended with blue, red and yellow dyed Corriedale and Black Welsh with mohair. Most of our rovings are prepared by Red Barn in Loveland, she does a great job on our wool.

I also have a lot of absolutely gorgeous yarn from a new mill that I tried, DVA Fiber Processing also in Loveland. I have some bulky straight Black Welsh, mid weight Black Welsh with Western Finewool and some lighter grey sock yarn that is a 50-50 blend of Black Welsh with Western Finewool. The yarns came out really nice and I can't wait to play with some both as woven yardage and knitted fabrics.

If you're looking for a special fiber to make that one of a kind Christmas present then you really should take a look at our stuff. This has been one of the best years for good wool production from our flock. Seeing all the gret wool is part of what makes doing all the work for the sheep worth it.

27 August 2007

Nitrates and Grazing

Typical farming news.... We had planted oats in a new pasture to provide some grazing during the summer slump and then again in early fall for our sheep. We always do testing on all our forages to balance the custom minerals we give our sheep so before grazing the pasture I take a sample and send it off for analysis. Because small grains can produce high nitrates we get that tested as well. Our June testing revealed that our oats pasture was high in nitrates, high enough to require us to feed the sheep hay in pens at night and only let them graze about half time. This was ok but not ideal. We checked with extension and other folks and were told that we should wait and re-test before grazing it again. Nitrate levels often go down with time and perhaps the plants were just stressed from our hot summer and would recover. We are now at the time when we need to be grazing that field so I sent off another sample for testing. Well the tests came back, the nitrates are so high now that we can't graze it at all. With 200 sheep to feed we had really planned on having that oats as finishing feed for our lambs and flushing feed for the ewes. Now we probably won't be feeding it at all. It's going to be very expensive green manure! We are still debating what to do but it looks like we'll plow it all down this fall and try to get the permanent pasture planted on that area. And I've got to go find more hay as we'll be starting winter hay feeding about a month earlier than expected. At least we did the test and didn't discover this by finding dead sheep in the field.

17 August 2007

Winter Corrals

Big task lately is to finish cleaning the manure pack from the winter corrals, grade the area for better drainage and rebuild the pens. Today we got all the ram pens dismantled and ready to clean. A couple of the apple trees have nearly died and need to be removed so Ken used the tractor to push them over. We're still figuring out how and where to rebuild the pens. Each winter we've tried something different and we don't yet have a good solution for the boys pens. The ewes work well under the shedrow roof of the hay barn but the boys need to be separated and so far we haven't had an ideal set up for them. We keep trying different options. One of these years we'll figure it out. Until then it's like a fresh puzzle each year as we try yet another version.

11 August 2007

My New Blog

Many years ago I used to post monthly updates to our main web site as The Farmers Notebook. Moving the farm to Colorado, major construction and reconstruction projects and a change in farming focus meant there was no time to provide proper updates to that portion of our site so it was removed. Things are settling down now and so I've again decided to post regular information about our farm. It will be a bit slow at first but bear with me, I expect things will pick up in winter, our farming slow time.