Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Blessings

Only 4 more days 'till Christmas!! My little ones are busy counting down the days.  You can almost see Emma shaking with anticipation as she tries to think of something else but you know her mind is on that chubby red clad fellow who will be whisking presents through the air for all the good boys and girls!  In the evening we try to turn their attention at least for a moment toward the true reason for Christmas.  In our Christian Catholic faith this holiday represents one of the most holy days of the year second only to Easter, this is the day when the light of the world was born! Jesus Christ!!
We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of what in essence is good spirited, buying gifts, cooking meals, baking all sorts of goodies, keeping up with other festive commitments and sometimes we get caught in a whirlwind of activity that we scant have a moment to sit and BE in the moment or to LIVE the season and all its wonder.  So in the evening as we try to reign the girls in from their Christmas lists to Santa, we actually manage to reign ourselves in for a little while too.  We sit and talk about the different events that led up to the birth of Christ, what our Christian traditions are and our family traditions and how together they help us to relive what that special moment must have been like more than 2,000 years ago.  The girls are amazed and filled with a special wonder for a few moments before they drift off to sleep. 
It is in those quiet moments when all is still that I can run my fingers through their fine hair and take an account of all the blessing in our lives.  I am thankful for so much.  My faith, my family and friends and our health.  But this year amongst all those blessings that I have counted are our sheep our beautiful gentle Icelandic sheep.  I am ever so thankful that the Lord has placed them in my care.  They enrich our lives in countless ways and this being our first Christmas with them I will count them as EXTRA special Blessings!
There is something that moves me from within, the knowing that somehow in this life's journey I became a Shepherdess, just like those Shepherds thousands of years ago.  Somehow I was given the privilege of being a steward of these special creatures.  So, in the day to day I know I don't think of them this way as often as I should but...tonight I pause and reflect that they are part of ALL the many Christmas Blessings we have been bestowed this year and we are eternally grateful. Enjoy the pictures!!

May you all have a very blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year.  For my non christian friends...enjoy your own faith traditions and may you too take a moment and enjoy your blessings.

Sandy
Shepherdess

 Arna the regal elf
 Eliza Jane

Four of our little blessings.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wet Felting During The Snow Storm



We had at least 26 inches of snow! It was so cool to see the sheep...at least the first couple of days, attempting to find a blade of grass but by the the third day of falling snow they kept under cover in their little barns.  I wasn't able to get any pictures of the wonderful scene.  I'm hoping that under such close quarters...babies are in the making! ;)

But what else to do to keep busy but play with more fleece! This time around I wet felted a small hand bag and a small pouch.  So much fun!!  Still need to add a strap on the yellow one and a clasp  on the little pouch. Let me know what you think? And please post some pictures of projects any of you have made, would love to see them!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My First Needle Felted Hat

Here you go...my first hat made from our very own Icelandic fleece! Its so toasty warm.  

Breeding Time and Fleece Sale!!

Wow, two posts in one day! Can I stand it!

Things are now really moving slow since the Thanksgiving calories are settling on our bones ahhh but the extra insulation doesn't hurt with these low temps we are having (gotta put a positive spin on holiday weight gain)!
Finally the time came for our gorgeous Ram Arna, to be reunited with his fabulous gal pals!! I got myself all bundled up in my heavy duty coveralls, wool socks and new wool hat (needle felted by yours truly) and off to the sheep pen I went.
The air was crisp and the anticipation was high both for me and the sheepies.  It seemed they knew what I was about to do.  That their natural instincts were to be satisfied after much separation.  Eliza Jane greeted me first, well, really second she head butted poor little Aniela out of the way.  Her look was curious, as if studying me and my intentions.
Snapping pictures as I entered they followed my every step.  Across the pen the boys stood at the gate with a quick little shuffling of the hooves. I spoke softly to them and asked them to play nice with each other.
As soon as that gate the kept them apart for the last almost three months was swung open, it took no more than half a minute before the choreography began! Arna's neck went down, his regal head went up and so did his top lip.  He set his sights on Ania, our black lamb only she wasn't too thrilled at the advances.  After a quick ring around the rosey round the big maple tree, he decided he'd change the game plan.  Elilza Jane our yearling was more than agreeable to his attempted affections and held her position!  I stood in amazement at the sight of this dance of nature.  Camera in hand and a few video clips later (oh did I mention I wore rubber boots not insulated ones? Yeah, my toes were numb) I knew my presence was not needed nor wanted I am certain.  After trailing them through the pasture for a good 45 minutes, I made like the wind and made my way back to the house.  Reluctantly I might add.

We all continued to watch from the kitchen picture window!! What busy bodies we are ;-)  .
If all goes well, come April we should have some lovely babies gracing our farm! fingers crossed everyone!!!

Changing gears for a moment, lets talk fleece!!! Since our shearing a few weeks ago I have been working hard at skirting and needle felting!! As you know I have felted everything I can get my hands on but truly I think hats are going to be my thing.  I will be posting some pictures a little later when the camera starts acting normal again.  I've already made two and am working on my third.  Meanwhile, I have put up a listing on Ebay and will soon on Etsy, for 2.2 oz of black skirted, unwashed fleece.  Check it out, its under gebjr90 on Ebay.  In the future it will be under BacharFarms.

Here is a sample of the locks...let me know if you'd like any or just your thoughts would be plenty!!



Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. It is my prayer that health and happiness abound for you and yours!!

Sandy
Shepherdess

Thanksgiving at the farm.

Thanksgiving here at Bachar Farms, was filled with much hustle and bustle.  My mommy and I cooked all day long while my I-pod cranked out my eclectic collection of tunes, from John Denver to Julio Iglesias! Ahhh the sounds of family traditions filling the kitchen with much love. 
My brother drove up from the Jersey Shore to spend two nights with us, he did a fine job keeping the little ones, Emma and Abigale very entertained! And Georgie did a fine job keep the fires burning all through the day and night.
Each dish was prepared to perfection (and if it was shy of perfection...no one dared to tell me hee hee).  Even though I tried to duplicate my mother in laws ritz cracker stuffing that my dear husband longed for...I'm sure it wasn't quite the same as hers.  Alas, nothing every tastes like mommy's cooking but he always appreciates my attempts and loves me all the more for trying. (big cheesy grin)!  My mommy made her classic Cuban dish of black beans and rice that added a nice touch to the traditional Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and gravy.
I made two pies, pumpkin and a Nantucket cherry pie for desert.  A new recipe for homemade bread fixed on the stove top with no kneading added a yummy bunch of fresh dinner rolls to the festive spread

Let me know if anyone would like me to post one of the recipe's, I'd be glad to share. ;)


We were and are all thankful for all the many blessings in our lives.  Grateful for the abundance of love, health, food and faith!  Thanksgiving was pretty low key yet excitement filled our country kitchen with the many simmering aromas of family and love!


God Bless You ALL,
The Bachar's

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happenings At The Farm

Well, its been a couple of busy weeks since my last post.  Life on the farm is pretty calm.  Had one lamb Ania our pretty little black lamb with a bad cough for a spell.  The vet had come out a few weeks back to give them and our new little set up a once over and heard the cough but didn't think much of it.  She did mention that if it continued to give her a penicillin shot once a day for 7days.  I waited and prayed that that would not be necessary....but alas...you know what always happens.  Shots were necessary.  I didn't want her to get worse and since the cough was not going away on its own it needed to be done.  Thankfully, Mr. Doug who cares for our charges when we are not on the farm had a good friend with some experience in the matter of administering medication with a syringe.
Mr. Doug and I watched closely so that we could mimic his actions exactly.  Definitely a two man job until you really know what your doing.  All went well.  And thankfully Mr. Doug did all the subsequent shots. 
Its been well over a week and Ania seems cured of all that ailed her.  She never seem sick or lethargic but certainly not coughing has made her seem all the perkier!

We had the remainder of the fence line run down the length of the east and west side of the farm.  On the west side we ran it down to the barn so that come lambing season, should we be so blessed with little fluffy babies it will be alot easier to scoot mama and babe into the lambing jugs right from their pasture.  Of course we haven't cleaned out the lower barn or set up any jugs just yet but it is all on our to do list at least.  Oh yea, maybe we should get through breeding first!  That happens next week.  Our gorgeous ram Arna is ready to rock and roll with his lovely ladies!! Got his horns stuck in the fence more than once attempting to cop of little whiff of a ewe or two!  So come Thanksgiving weekend "let the games begin"!! Everyone say a prayer that I know what I am doing or better yet...that Arna knows what he is doing ;-).

I have a ton of fresh pictures for you that my friend Teresa took while visiting with us and am waiting on them.  Can't wait to share.  Now I'm off to get ready for my American Heritage Girl troop meeting tomorrow.  Many Miles to travel before I sleep.

God Bless,
Sandy
Shepherdess

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More Icelandic Felted Soap Creations

On such a rainy day the wee one (who is not so wee anymore) is feeling quite content drawing her pictures.  Dinner is cooking and I had about an hour to spare so what else could I do....But Felt some soap!!





I need to learn how to spin soon before I run out of fleece making all kinds of felted things!! :-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Felting Soap With Icelandic Fleece

Felting soap is a very new idea to me but apparently it has been around for a very long time.  Below is my first attempt at felting soap with fleece from my own Icelandic sheep! Icelandic fleece felts very easily so this process didn't take long at all. They were just shorn about two weeks ago and I have been washing and carding the fibers and this is the result of my handiwork. I think I know what everyone is getting for Christmas.  ;)

First I used about 2oz of fleece that had been carded into rolags and placed a very very inexpensive soap on it. I made sure the width of the rolag was just wider than the soap. I then rolled it. I then took another piece and wrapped the soap across the other way. Then I took a third piece of fleece and wrapped it length wise again to make sure the soap would not be visible after felting.
So here is my soap tucked inside a big ball of fleece!

I then ran it under hot water and began matting the fleece and began the felting process. I did little dribbles of water at a time and kept matting the fleece down until it was sticking together and not opening up. Lots of suds at this time.


(doesnt' it look like a yummy ball of fresh mozzarella)

After I ran it along the ridges for a while I continued to pat it and shape it with my hands. I tried to pull the fleece away from the soap and it would not give and that is how I knew the felting was complete.

Now picture it with a little raffia tied around it! Oooh lovely little homemade gift!
Its a pretty and practical gift, soap and loofah in one!

Have fun felting!!

Sandy
Shepherdess

Carding Wool

I am really enjoying my Ashford curved carders.  At first I was a little intimidated but after a few whirls, it got a lot easier.  Transferring the fiber from the stationary carder to the working carder seemed impossible to me (though it is really really easy) but I found a few great videos on Youtube.com and it became alot clearer.
Like I have said in the past few posts, I just need to find "stuff" to do with this beautiful fiber while I wait and wait for my spinning lessons.  I can't just let it sit there fluffy white and washed waiting!!!!

So I have begun the carding and making rolags.  From what I understand some handspinners will spin right from the rolag.  If any of you can shed some light for me please do, what is the difference between rolags and rovings? I know that rovings seem smoother...is that it?

For now I am working with my white fleece.  In the future I will play with some natural dye and see what lovelies I come up with.  There is a project I have in mind for today if I have time, Soap Felting!
It looks so pretty and practical! I'll keep you posted as to how it goes.  Meanwhile here is a picture of one of my first rolags.



And just a quick note.....Don't forget to VOTE!!!

Sandy
Shepherdess

Monday, November 1, 2010

Side of Beef!!! Mooooo!

Nothing feels as good as knowing you have enough food to feed your family...and then some! Thanks to some very good friends we all shared a beef cow between four families.  Now all we need is some chicken and some home baked bread, some fresh garden veggies that have been put up (not that we got that many) and we are good for the winter!! Oh and lets not forget some warm woolen socks knit from our very own sheep's wool! Gosh, maybe I am Laura Ingalls.  "Pa!! Please play the fiddle for us!!!" LOL Love it!

Sandy
Shepherdess and wanna be livin off the land girl!

Needle Felting

George and I had a ball Trick or Treating with the girls last night! Guess what I dressed up as...a SHEPHERD!!! LOL couldn't resist it! Little Bo Peep wasn't an option as most of the costumes were in the "adult" section of the Halloween shop. So instead I tried to pull off a biblical shepherd. Emma our oldest was Wonder Woman and little Abigale was Cinderella.  We had a ball.  Then after sorting candy and waiting for the them to crash from their sugar rush it was time for book and bed! When all was quiet in the house, I realized I had received a package on Saturday and hadn't opened it.  To my joyful surprise it was my new Ashford Carders!!!!
So I grabbed a baggie of freshly washed fleece and began loading up my carders (didn't have a clue what I was doing but just couldn't wait)! On went the fleece and a carding I did go!
Some of the fleece I used wasn't very smooth and if you ask me looked a little felted but I really am not sure how to gage the quality yet, so as I carded I noticed how nice and smooth the fibers became.  The more I carded the smoother and straight they became!
Now I rolled them off the carders as the little instruction sheet told me too and I placed them in a pile.  As I oogled my handiwork...dreamed of spinning (which I can't yet do), I decided I just had to play with this white fluffy stuff!!!
I quietly snuck upstairs tip toed past the sleeping princess and super heroine and found my bag of supplies.  Back down in the breakfast room I unveiled my new felting needles and not knowing one from the other except for what I have learned on YouTube began to felt up some of my very own sheep wool!!!
With no initial idea of what I would make, the inspiration just popped into my head to make a wee little snow man!  Not the greatest but no too shabby for my first "stab" at it!! ( i just crack myself up)! It took me about 30 minutes start to finish.

I guess its part of the addiction to sheep, fiber and fun! If you can't spin it, felt it, if you can't felt it, use it as stuffing...as long as you are having fun with your fleece that's all that matters!! Hope you enjoyed my little snowman!!

Happy All Saints Day!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I See Fleece Everywhere I go.

OK, so I was driving along a busy highway, having spent the entire day (6 hours) at my daughters school for the big All Saints Day procession and games.  Fun though it was...I was delirious.  Two little girls sat in the back of the suburban mobile and chatted away as if they weren't the least bit tired.  The next 8 miles seemed like an eternity. Home and my comfy slippers were all I could think of when I looked up into the sky which had been overcast for most of the day and it was this perfect powdery blue with the gentlest of cloud wisps strewn across like fresh shorn FLEECE!!!

So there you have it...everywhere I look I see fluffy carefree fleece!! I think I am addicted and I love it!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Preparing My First Icelandic Fleece

Its been three days since the flock was sheared and it has been tough not being able to get to it and work with it right away.  But life happens and with two little girls ages 5 1/2 and 2 1/2, being troop leader, cleaning house and making dinner...my fleece had to wait.  But this morning the little one slept in almost as if she knew mommy needed fleece time!!
I took the fleece from our yearling ewe Eliza Jane and began the skirting process.  This is my first time so I was not completely sure how much to remove and what really constituted a second cut or cuts that would not be good for handspinning which is my main focus. After some research online and asking around I hope I did it justice keeping what should be kept and tossing the tags and burr clumps.
Here is a picture of Eliza Jane's fleece before skirting and then one of the small batch after skirting. Even before washing it is so pretty.

It took me about two hours to skirt the whole fleece.  Any parts that I was unsure of keeping I set aside and will ask someone with more knowledge than I (oh Margaret) to see if it is worth keeping for handspinning or for other projects.  Now I was ready for washing!!! Soooo exciting!
I ran the washer and filled it with really hot water about 150 degrees, too hot for your hand.  As it was a small batch of wool I only set it to fill a medium load.  After it was done filling I set the washer to the "spin only" setting this way there would be no chance of  accidentally turning the washer to the wash cycle and felting the wool.  I then added a little less than 1/2 a cup of Dawn dish detergent....as they say it even safely washes birds and penguins caught in oil slicks.  Not that Icelandic's have much lanolin, unlike other breeds but at least I know Dawn is gentle and cuts grease easily.  With a long stick I gently stirred  the water to disperse the detergent.  Now I lay the wool on the water gently and pressed it very very slowly and gently with the stick into the water.  I closed the lid to keep the heat in. 
After about 20 minutes I turned on the final spin.  When done I gently pulled it out (ooooh so happy) and placed it in a small tub while I re filled the washer with more hot water like before for the rinsing soak.  Once full, I placed the fleece back in the water, again very gently.  I let it soak about 10 minutes and then the spin cycle again.  Now it time to dry it.

Many folks use sweater stretchers to dry their fleece or homemade screens fitted with legs to get maximum airflow.  I had limited resources so I hunted in the basement for something that could work.
Like I said earlier, I have two little ones and so I found an old wooden baby gate that opens sort of like an accordion.  I opened it up and lay it on an old wooden table my husband uses in his workshop.  It seemed too flat and was afraid no air would circulate through the wool, so I found some old plastic baby food containers and placed them under the four corners of the gate to lift it up off the table.  WA LA!!!! Presto a wool drying table!!! I gently lay the fleece on the baby gate and now I wait patiently to see the results.  I know it has to be perfectly dry before I can store it so I will be washing in very small batches.
Here is a picture of my drying wool.  It is perfectly sparkling white!!! Its a beauty of a fleece!!!!


Sandy
Shepherdess

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Sheep Shearing Pictures

The ladies trying to find a way out of the barn!

Georgie before Eliza broke his hand! He's such a sport!

Emma and Abigale waiting patiently for the shearing to begin! They were so well behaved!



Sheep Shearing Day

Well folks the day finally came! We had a local shearer from Otisko Lake come down and shear our mini flock of 4 Icelandic Sheep and 1 Shetland Sheep on Sunday.  The excitement was  overwhelming.  The day before we decided to get the sheep under cover as it was raining and we had awoken to our first light snow.  As this was our first time shearing I was very nervous that we had decided to do it so late in the season.  But as luck would have it and by the Grace of God a light heatwave blew in on Sunday morning with temps of about 65 degrees!!
My sister in law and her husband were visiting with us from New Jersey and were more than eager to help out in any way they could preparing things for the following day.  Many of our attempts to herd the ewes across the farm to the barn were comically futile! Though very entertaining to any on looker! Suddenly without much fuss, we spotted my brother in law Jeff herding the girls down the fence line and promptly into the barn!! Hail the beast master!!!  Since the ram is separate from the ewes until later in November for breeding we just kept him and his wethered buddy Rhum in their little 3 1/4 barn with a gate.
So the flock remained nice and dry for their shearing.

The first one to be sheared was the Matriarch Eliza Jane, our yearling.  Nothing prepared us or Jim the shearer for her feistiness!!! She bucked like a mechanical bull gone haywire.  I attempted to hold her down at Jim's direction and it was not easy.  Though I was holding my own, my dear husband George decided to come in and lend me a hand.  He's is "strong like bull" but Eliza gave even George a run for the money.  So much so that she broke his hand!! Seriously, she kicked his hand that at least one finger is broken, he is getting X-rays as I write.  But as I say he is strong, he continued to work with Jim for another two lambs before deferring to someone else in the crowd.  Thanks Georgie!!

All said and done, we have 5 beautiful bags full of Icelandic Fall fleece!!!! And a flock that look more like little goats rather than sheep! Can't wait to skirt it and wash it! Please check back often to see what is for sale!  Might have at least two full lamb fleeces available, one white and one black!

Thank you to everyone who helped out! Couldn't have done it without you!

Enjoy the video and turn the volume down before playing!


video

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Learning about my flock

Well, finally got an appointment with the vet to come out and give the flock a once over.  They probably don't need it but I sure do!  The day after we brought them home I noticed some "irregularities" in the holding area we had them in and thought "oh oh" parasites! Yuck! After contacting the sellers they recommended Valbazen dewormer and said they should all be fine.  I checked their eyes for that pale anemic look and they were all nice and pink.  Our guess was that the stress of travel must have woken up some sleepy worms. Nice! But such is life with the sheep, better I get used to it.
A week later after being dewormed with the drench of Valbazen, some of the sheep were still not "regular" if you follow me.  It was quite a messy sight.  Ok, now I was getting nervous.  We had a visitor to the farm, Margaret from Trinity Farm who sold us Rhum the Shetland wethered ram and while she was dropping him  off she offered to check my flocks eyes for me.  YIKES!!!! White as snow they were.  She thought it may be the dreaded barpole parasite in the stomach that sucks the very life out of a sheep.  She recommended, a drench of ACV, nutri drench for sheep, molasses, and lots of garlic powder along with a serious dewormer drench of Ivermectin.  We administered both and two days later their eyes were returning to normal.  Thank God!! Was it the treatments? Was it nothing? Who knows, but better safe than sorry.
Now truth be told the sheep never displayed any other warning signs that they were extremely sick. Don't we wish they could speak.  They have been fine since.
Shortly after this episode, I noticed my black ewe lamb Ania had a cough.  Sounded much like a cat coughing up a fur ball.  Ok, my new shepherd nerves were on high alert "now what?"  So that's why I am having the vet come out and give them a once over to settle my own mind.  I think they are well but since the little sheepy can't whisper in my ear, I'd rather be on the safe side of things.


Here is a picture of me giving our ram lamb his drench of ACV. And my good friend Kelly after I talked her squeamish self into helping me tend the sheep!! Good job!! Who says we city girls can't rastle a sheep or two!



Monday, October 11, 2010

Images of the farm

Its been a long year of hard work but it has really paid off.  Most things are in working order and ready to be used and lived in.  First we added four hens and Buddy the rooster! Wow what great egg layers!! Then with the addition of our Icelandic sheep grazing freely to be seen from any window of the farm house has really made this dream come to life.  Here are some of the images of what it all looks like now.  Soon  I will post pictures of the before and during some of the work.  It really is night and day from those first days. 
George and I walk the line every morning when we are able to be up at the farm, to check the fences (which are all new and have no damages areas) every day just to feel close to it all.  There is no greater feeling than knowing it was all worth it and the fun is just beginning.


The original 1850 Barn

The old smokehouse turned playhouse years ago.

The newer house we live in.



The dirt road leading down to the farm.

Our Icelandic Sheep


George rastling the lambs into the truck.

Does the look of pure joy show on my face!!? We are finally bringing them home!


These are three of our 5 sheep the day we brought them home last month!! In this picture are two white sheep, the yearling ewe in the front is Eliza Jane and the white lamb is Aniella.  Still mulling over what name for our sophisticated little black ewe lamb!

This will be the very first of many posts sharing our Icelandic Sheep farming experience!  So far nothing has matched the joy of having this gorgeous ancient breed of sheep on our farm in Skaneateles, NY!

Just looking out the window at any given time and see them dotting our little landscape, grazing peacefully brings such a sense of calm.  I will be sure to keep you posted on all of our Sheepy Adventures!!

Sandy
Shepherdess

Our Farm


Georgie on the tractor! Just lovin life!!!

These are the out buildings.  The barn in the distance is the original Barn from 1850 that we had restored. My husband's great grandfather farmed this land so long ago, we wanted to save this beautiful barn.  The smaller building was the smokehouse later turned children's play house.  Our two little girls love playing Laura Ingalls in there! The farm was out of the family for many years until after much perseverance and hard work my hubby bought part of it back, the original farm house with a newer house on the property, the barn the little house and a total of 22 acres. 
We have fenced  the ten acres that have the two houses and barn on it with horse fencing and sheep wire fencing behind it and electric running the perimiter on the bottom to keep predetors out and the sheepies in.  
And lets not forget the ladies, Titi and Rosa Linda (emma named them) :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Our New Shetland Ram Lamb ~ Rhum

This is Rhum, out latest addition to the farm.  He is the sweetest little guy! Rhum is a wethered Shetland ram that will be more of a pet to our two little girls and keep our Icelandic ram company on those lonely days in the pasture while he has to stay away from his girls before breeding time.
We got Rhum from Trinity Farm on Cayuga Lake. Thanks Margaret for all your sweet guidance!
I will try to post a video of Rhum jumping, he looks more like a gazelle than a sheep.  Its all part of his sweet charm! Dontcha just want to hug 'em!