All a huge learning curve

So we have fly strike here again!! Poor Cherry and now her dad, Rambo!!

She was a feisty baby yesterday and was more awkward to handle, he, once we managed to lie him down seemed to accept his fate and enjoy the relief provided!!

But once again we have multicoloured predyed sheep in the fields! Though I am pleased to report Cheery’s fleece had started to grow back beautifully on the patches that had become utterly bald after her first round of strike!!

What have we learned:

  • Crovect, crovect and crovect!! Prevention is better than cure
  • Spot on is great as a cure
  • Battles summer fly cream is brilliant
  • Purple spray for any wounds
  • Don’t be afraid to cut more fleece than you think is necessary
  • Trim all the fleece as short as poss and a good pair of scissors beats hand shears for ease of working with jumpy babies!!
  • Washing up liquid, water and smidge of hibiscrub is great for washing out the maggots they almost need to surface for air!
  • Don’t forget the comb!!
  • and gloves 🤢
  • Take the time to get to know all your animals it’s easier to spot any issues (Both sheep seemed fine the previous day checks but heads hung low the following morning and then a bit of observation and itching spotted- no signs on the outer fleece) Sheep really like to hide their issues well!!

Sheep are amazing at hiding some awful issues as we learned from lambing this year! But we have learned an awful lot this year and things are already in the diary to do for next year to get on top of things early!!

However I do wonder if the different fleece of Rambo (which Cheery and A’tuin have inherited) is more prone to flystrike in our weather here in west Wales! Those that have the more Llanwenog style fleece seem to have faired better!! Llanwenog obviously being a super local breed (Any thoughts here gratefully appreciated!)

Anyway after a super hard day removing maggots from sheep we had a welcome beach picnic for dinner and a dip in the sea!!

The Benefits of Wool – and it’s many uses

So wool has many uses other than as clothing!!!

Clothing as previously discussed in the first blog post of this title

Carpets

Blankets

Bedding, both blankets and duvets or Baavets (as one company call themselves!!)

Mulch or weed suppressant mats to put round plants. There is also the added benefit of moisture conservation!

Fertiliser. It takes a while to break down, but when you toss wool into the compost pile, it adds beneficial nutrients, including calcium and sodium. It’s about 9% nitrogen, 1% phosphate, and 2% potash, too

Pet wares, horse blankets, saddle cloths, pet beds…

Upholstery the stuffing for chairs etc and the fabrics to cover them

Insulation for homes. It has an excellent R value and also provides an acoustic buffer

Insulation in outer wear coats etc

Uniforms for firefighters as some types like merino have the right properties

Furniture and soft furnishings like cushions

Packing boxes for thermal packaging as an alternative to polystyrene

Bricks. Mixed with seaweed and added to bricks to improve durability and environmental impacts

Lanolin products, salves, balms for all sorts including one of the best for breast feeding mummas!! But lanolin can also be used in cosmetics, lubricants and adhesive tapes!

Cleaning products, especially for soaking up the spills due to its absorbency!

Pianos, woollen felt covers the hammers inside the piano!! It also makes acoustic insulation for machinery!!

The Benefits of Wool – Wearing

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the benefits of wearing and using wool! so I thought it might be a good idea to get some of these thoughts out into a blog post!

Benefits of Wool:

Natural, renewable fibre – Wool comes from sheep and is a renewable source of material! Using wool in clothing is great for the environment and far better than using the synthetic alternatives!!

Wool is a natural protein fibre found on the backs of the millions of sheep you see over the world. It is considered one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection, and man-made fibres with the same properties have yet to be produced.

It’s biodegradable
That’s right, it naturally decomposes into the soil releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth. Compared to synthetic materials, it’s a very quick decomposer too!

It’s renewable
For as long as there’s grass to graze, sheep will grow producing a woolly fleece, a renewable fibre source. And woolgrowers actively work to protect the natural environment, enhancing the sustainability of the wool industry to enable future generations to benefit from this warm natural material.

It’s breathable
As wool fibres are packed together, tiny pockets of air form allowing the material to absorb and release moisture. This could be moisture in the atmosphere, or perspiration from the wearer. This makes wool an extremely breathable material and helps you avoid any clamminess when you head inside from the colder outdoors.

It reacts to your body
Wool is also able to react to any changes in your body temperature. It’s an active fibre that helps you to stay warm when it’s cold and cools you when it’s warm. This makes it the perfect material all throughout the year, helping you minimise your wardrobe and maximise the sustainability of your closet!

Wool keeps you dry. Wool fibres wick moisture away from your skin and can absorb around 30% of their weight before you feel wet. This moisture is then released from the fabric through evaporation.

It’s static resistant
As wool can absorb moisture from your body or the surrounding air, it rarely creates static electricity like synthetic fibres do, keeping you cosy and comfortable and avoiding any awkward clinging.

It’s easy to clean
As its primary function is to protect the body of a sheep to the surrounding environment, wool fibres have a natural protective outer layer. This helps to prevent any marks or stains from being absorbed, so the dirt sits of the surface and is easily removed.

It’s anti-wrinkle
Each wool fibre is structured much like a coiled string, allowing it to return to its natural shape after being bent, so woollen items tend not to crease or wrinkle. This makes them the perfect addition to you everyday bag or great items to pack when you’re going on holiday.

It’s odour-resistant
As wool can absorb the moisture from your skin, and therefore the sweat when you perspire, wool can even help to absorb any odour from sweating that is only released upon washing. So wool clothing is great for layering up in post-workout when you need to brave the cooler air outside.

Wool doesn’t stink! Wool products are also highly odor resistant due to natural, anti-microbial properties that don’t allow bacteria to bind and subsequently grow on the fibres in the fabric.

It’s eco-friendly – wool has eco credentials! It’s a natural, renewable product that biodegrades much quicker than synthetic fabrics. It’s got a long lifespan and is frequently and easily recycled and reused. It is also a carbon store; pure organic carbon makes up 50% of the weight of wool. And research is now investigating the health and wellbeing benefits of wool. Wool bedding and sleepwear has been associated with a better night’s sleep, promoting sleep onset and improving sleep efficiency. Merino wool has also been found to help people that suffer from chronic skin conditions, despite misconceptions of it being “itchy”, due to its moisture and temperature management qualities.

Warm even when wet. When fibres absorb moisture, they also release small amounts of heat, which can help you stay warm on a cool, wet day.

High warmth to weight ratio. A wool shirt is significantly warmer than a synthetic shirt of the same fabric weight.

Soft skin feel, not itchy. Wool fibres are often treated to reduce the prominence of natural scales, which cause the rough, itchy feel of old wool products. This increases the carbon footprint of the wool production process though and there are many breeds of sheep that produce next to skin soft wool naturally!! For example some of our beauties here!!

Very low flammability. Wool naturally extinguishes itself and will not catch on fire. It will also not melt or stick to your skin like synthetics will.

What else could you add??

Double Vanilla Socks

A free Pattern for double knit vanilla socks! A little present from me to you!

These knit up amazingly in both our Rustic with Alpaca and the Hilltop DK yarns! The Hilltop particularly is a fab hard wearing DK sock yarn which even manages to survive my husband’s hard wearing!

I hope you enjoy knitting these up. I LOVE how fast they trip off the needles!!

Hop on over to Facebook and share the finished socks on our group!!

Sheep Sunday, and then we got a Ram!

So we have decided the best way of expanding our flock is to start lambing. So the hunt for a ram began!

We initially though borrowing one would be our best chance, but quickly realised a lot of people keep a closed flock for many many reasons.

So we sat down and thought about lots of different sheep breeds that we know of locally…

Then I saw them!

Kerry Hill and Valais cross ram lambs!!!

We went up to visit them and after a squish of the fleeces and a look at their little faces we chose one to collect the following day!!

When we got him he was five months old, so he is now 8 months old and has grown a LOT! He is now getting almost as big as Lamb Chops!

If not as chunky!

His horns are growing in and whilst we wonder if he will be up to the job at the end of September… this year, he most definitely will for next year!!

So next year, his first shearing…. Do I add his wool to our current blend or do I save his fleece for hand spinning…. ????

Wooly Wednesday, even more yarn dyeing

So last week I gave the first half of the story! This week here is even more of the colourways I have been dyeing up ready for the yarn show!

There maybe more but I am at the point I can’t tell which I’ve uploaded and which I haven’t! 🤯

Sooooo these are getting released at Sweater Weather

Have you got your tickets!!!???!! I am super excited about meeting all sorts of knitting people!! Plus there are a few patterns going to be released for the show!!

If you want the heads up about any yarns left after the show going live for sale then head on over and sign up for the newsletter!! You can get priority notice on new releases yarny and patterns!! And occasionally the odd discount code!!

Smallholding Sunday

A little update on the holding! a little of what we have gotten up to this summer!

We have…. Giant courgettes, hoof trimming the sheep, honey harvesting, plum picking, a grape harvest, some beans and a new little chap hanging about more and more!

A Sunday dinner completely made and grown and raised by us, bottled rhubarb gin, the starts of a Holly run, an onion harvest and LOTS of berries.

All sorts of lovely stuff growing in the veg garden and Polytunnel!

We have baled, both big bales and hand baled small bales, we dropped the fleeces at the wool mill, made fire bricks from sawdust and paper…

And all this, as well as having summer adventures with the boys, dyeing yarn, forest school and so much more!!

Such a fab summer!!

Wooly Wednesday and LOTS of dyeing

So I have been very lucky and made it through the application process for the Farnham Maltings new autumn show – Sweater Weather

I have been working extremely hard dyeing up lots of yarns ready for the show!

These yarns aren’t available online yet as I just haven’t had time to sit and list them… but any left after Sweater Weather will be listed for sure!!

Which ones are your favourite??

Sheep Sunday – four more!!

A friend from a smallholding near to us here finally sold her property for a BIG move. She had to down size her animal collection. Most of her sheep went to market but a few, her pets, remained. She made the incredibly hard decision that she couldn’t take them with her. So we said that we would take them on! Initially three, but as Coal still had a lamb at foot we ended up with four!

Hairy legs

Coal, who was originally blackie but we thought she looked more like she had rolled in coal dust! Indie (if you ask the eldest she is actually called Indoraptor) and Lamb Chops a big chunky wether.

A wether is a boy sheep who has been neutered.

They arrived one cold evening in December 2020 while my friend was deep in the final throes of moving!

And they joined the flock with gusto! I think it helped that the three witches were some of the lambs from the flock from the previous year, and I think we reunited at least one mother and daughter!

They have upped our numbers of callable sheep, at first it was just Hairy Legs, but now Coal and Lamb Chops are readily available as long as a bucket is rattled!

Indie follows Coal every where so that makes her easier to catch too!!

All four of these are Llanwenog, which is fast proving my favourite yarn to work with!!

If you are interested in knitting with some of the yarn spun up from their beautiful fleeces then head over to our Etsy shop!

Sheepy Sunday

So after the 3 witches we acquired Wolfie!

She is a welsh white type sheep and was a bottle lamb that one of my neighbour’s wives acquired to raise.

We acquired her when she had transitioned into the neighbour’s garden and was spending more time munching flower beds and pooping on the front doorstep than cutting the grass! Particularly the pooping on the front door step!

We got her about Christmas time and popped her into the field with our guys and she looked at the other sheep as if to say what are these things…. and why why why are you leaving me with them! I think she would have followed us to the house and come in through the front door if she was allowed!

She is a lovely little sheep and is always at the gate after some sheep nuts and a fuss, as long as she has heard us coming. Once in a while we make it into the field before she spots us and then the little leaps and gambols she does are just adorable.

She has the most beautiful thick fleece too!!

Wolfie’s wool is blended into the Rustic ranges of wool we have in our Etsy shop here!