Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fully Fleeced

(raw alpaca fleece)

We have been researching the viability of becoming a fiber farm. We're almost 100% certain we'll be getting Gulf Coast Sheep late next year. This past weekend I had an opportunity to visit a fiber convention. The Florida Fiber In is a great (free) yearly event for all types of fiber enthusiasts. I met so many people that knitted, spun, crocheted, owned fiber stores, owned animals, and processed fibers. I made contacts and forgot all my business cards at home.

Even with all the chatting and eating and demos and more chatting, I still was able to finish one bobbin that's been sitting on the wheel for weeks. I'm pleased with my progress on the wheel. I'm getting good at creating a consistent, uniform thread. I'm starting to tell the differences between fibers by look and feel.

Like this Merino/Tussah silk blend. I picked this up to make a scarf for me for the winter. I'm still not confident (or have enough fiber) to create product for sale yet. So, much of what I spin now is either practice or personal projects and gifts. I hope within the next six months to a year I'll be able to offer spun yarn for sale and within 18 months offer raw, rovings and yarn from our own animals.

Here is that same roving spun up. For this I'm going for a thick/thin variation. I'm purposely making it this way. I love the subtle colors.

As for the sheep, I have a date with a flock in early October. I'm over a hundred pages into the Living with Sheep: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Flock book and it's just a wealth of information. Now, I'm exploring the logistics and budget for our own flock of sheep. Trying to decide if we want to keep it simple or jump in fully fleeced.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

in the details

In my exhuberance yesterday to announce Rob's acceptance of a new job offer I suppose I was a little vague in the details. The new job is up near our land which is currently about three hours one way from where we are now.

We're hurrying to get the electric service started but the steps to get it done just flat out take time to accomplish. We're pretty sure it won't be up by the October 11th new job start date. So, we're scrambling to figure out where Rob will stay, when we'll join him and how quickly we can get the shabin done to at least give him a place to eat, plug in an alarm clock, sleep and shower. Being late, starving and body odor might be a deal breaker on the new job.

Right now we're also a one car family. Rob's Trooper died a few months back and his mom and step-dad have been godsends lending us their spare vehicle but car repairs are taking a back seat to living arrangements. The cost of the fix is much more than a cheap A-to-B car so we're looking around for something he can drive back and forth to work while he stays up there. We have a few more weeks we can borrow and then we're back to one again.

We haven't decided when exactly we're going to join him. The shabin completion is tantamount to moving. I have to have stairs to the loft, I can't just chuck a three-year-old up there to sleep. I have to have some semblance of a toilet for midnight potty runs. We're working on it, but again it takes time. That damn clock is frustrating to no end.

I'm digging through everything we own as I plan the biggest yardsale of our lives. Our weekends are filling up quickly between now and the 11th. We're working on getting it done. The next few months are going to be some of the busiest, hardest, tension-filled and agonizingly powerless months of our lives. So, if I'm grouchy, absent, vague or unavailable I apologize in advance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

oh my...

He got the job. Now the three week countdown begins.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Living with Sheep

I got this book for my birthday. It came in the mail today and I'm already fifty pages into it. It's a great book for the very, very beginner shepherd.

Now, ask me why I need a book on sheep.   :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three weeks

We've had our girls for three weeks now. They were probably about 1-2 weeks when we got them. They've morphed from cute fuzzy chicks to ugly ducks. It's amazing to have the kids get a first hand look at the growth cycle of a chicken.

They're gawky and loud. They make a mess and smell terrible in their small rabbit cage in the laundry room. The chicken tractor is currently being built, hopefully by weeks end they'll be outside where they can enjoy the large selection of bugs Florida has. They sure do love the worms I dig up from under the rabbit hutches. The kids were grossed out the first time one ate a bug. But now they understand that will make good eggs so they cheer on the insect eating with more gusto than I ever imagined possible.

They all have names now. The white is Lemonade, or Lem for short. The dark black and white is Cocoa. The medium brown is Jenna and the light brown is Cari, short for Caramel. I have no idea why the majority have food names. Perhaps, it's something subliminal, though these girls won't go to freezer camp unless they have issues.

We're switching them to a whole grain diet as soon as I gather up everything I need. It's more expensive than traditional bagged feed but I like that I could eat their food. That seems right considering I'll be eating their eggs. There is also the added benefit of no feed waste.

We're constructing a simple A-frame movable tractor which will be plenty for the four we have now. Though if we want to expand we'll have to build a real coop. I'd like to make one with roational grazing pens. Possibly with a broiler side and a layer side but we'll see what happens.

The timing of these birds wasn't ideal but I can't imagine not having them. I wonder what another three weeks will bring.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A slow dance

Today is an busy day for us. Though I don't get to actually go do any of the exciting things that are happening the emotions are still running rampant through me regardless.

Rob woke up earlier than early and headed north before I was even awake. Directions and cash in hand he headed up to the Building Department to get our electric permit for the land. At ten thirty I got the call that it went off without a hitch. We now have permission to get electric set up for the shabin!

It's still a slow dance to completion. Still so many steps to figure out and finally take. Next we have to take this permit to the electric company. They'll schedule a technician to place a marker on our property where the smaller electric pole needs to be set. Once the pole is set up the building department comes and inspects it and we get the go ahead to have the electric company run power to the pole. We run our electric off that ourselves, attaching it to the breaker box on the outside of the shabin.

While we wait for all this we have to run the electric in the shabin walls, insulate and panel or drywall. It's still a long process but it's getting completed one small step at a time.

The other exciting new is that Rob is up there to be interviewed for a job about forty-five minutes from the land. This is one of the major road blocks keeping us where we are. He has a stable job with good pay and benefits but its just too far from where we want to be. This is the second interview after an over the phone one last week. We're hoping it turns out well.