Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Life of a Lamb

Life of a Lamb




The not so fun stuff-tail docking and immunizations

and then it is back to....




Thursday, March 24, 2016

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop #44

Welcome to the Hop!

I am so happy Spring is here! 
Spring means lambs at the farm, one of our favorite times of the year.
I hope you link up this week and share your Homesteading, Homemaking and Homeschooling post.

Sandra at ClearwaterFarm
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Our Simple Homestead 

Blog Hop- Co-Host
LeeAnn & Alex 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sheep Shearing Made Easier

"Pet Me"

The first year we sheared sheep on the farm, we had no idea what to expect. We didn't have many sheep but we knew shearing was not a task we wanted to take on ourselves, so we hired a sheep shearer. We made it through our first sheep shearing experience, and many more since then.  Over the years,we have learned a few things that make the job a little easier.

1. Confine the sheep. Our shearer works quickly, which is nice for all involved, but we have to be ready and keep things moving. The less space sheep have to run around, the less chasing you will have to do. I don't know anyone who likes to chase sheep. This year due to larger numbers, we had the sheep split into two groups. When one group was finished they were moved into the barnyard, and the second group was bought into the pen. Within the pen, we have a crowding gate and a chute,where two sheep are in line waiting for the shearer. While they are in the chute, we look them over to see if they need hooves trimmed. We also check overall body condition to see if their is need of some extra TLC before lambing.

2. Invite friends to help. If you have friends that don't mind getting dirty, and helping out, invite them over. We have friends that raise sheep, and we help each other out during shearing time. When we have the extra help, we can trim hooves, medicate (dewormer, vaccines) and skirt the fleeces as we shear.

3.Be organized. I like to get as much done as I can the day before. We set up pens, gather supplies, and have a place ready for the shearer to work,  The holding pen is outside, but we are able to set up a shearing station in the barn. Everyone is assigned a job. Even when our kids were younger, they could do the small jobs such as putting labels on the bags of wool, or sweeping the shearing area between sheep.

Sheep Shearing Day Supplies for us include tables- I have one set up inside for sharpies, labels, and large garbage bags for the skirted fleeces. Another one is set up outside by the sheep pen. Hoof trimmers, dewormer/syringes, chalk, (so we can mark who was given dewormer), I also have the skirting table set up, to put the fleeces on.

first day outside

Shearing for 2016 went well. The weather was nice (45 degrees, much better than last year's -2). We had plenty of help, and I was able to lightly skirt and bag the fleeces instead of throwing them on tarps, as I have had to do in years past.  Hooves were trimmed, which doesn't always happen during shearing. The ewes were in good condition and being shorn makes lambing time a little easier.

Even though it is busy, I enjoy shearing day. We get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. It is a sign of spring and lambs. It also means, I have enough wool to keep me busy for a very long time :)

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop # 43

Welcome to the Hop!

I am so looking forward to Spring.
Can't wait to see what you have all been up to.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Shepherdess Notes: Dealing with Loss

It wasn't long after moving to the farm that we started raising livestock. There is an excitement that comes with bringing home those first animals, for us it was four sheep. It was such a new experience, as neither one of us were raised around farm animals.

Fast forward to today-we are still raising sheep, a small flock of about 30 which grows during lambing time.  It has been a very rewarding and overall enjoyable experience. I provide them care, and they gift us with wonderful wool and lambs.

I have learned a lot over the years raising sheep. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn, is that no matter how well I take care of my sheep, there are still going to be losses. No getting around it, if you raise livestock it is something that will eventually happen.

Even after 18 years, it is still a difficult lesson. I try very hard to do whatever I can to keep these animals alive and sometimes it is just not enough. This week has been an especially hard week. I lost a set of triplets during lambing, and I am still fighting to save the ewe. These are the kind of weeks that you spend a lot of time second guessing yourself and questioning if you really are cut out to do this. Yes, even after all of these years of raising livestock, I still have those moments.
Contrary to what people say about sheep, I find them to be very resilient. So, I still have hope that this ewe will pull through.

I expected the homesteading journey to be physically challenging at times. It didn't take long to discover that it can be emotionally challenging as well.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Make Your Own Wool Dryer Balls

One of the products that we produce on our farm is Wool Dryer Balls. 

Common Questions about Dryer Balls

  • What are wool dryer balls? 
  • How many do I need?
  • How long do they last?

Wool dryer balls are nothing more than 100 percent wool roving that has been felted into balls. Used in the dryer,  as an alternative to chemical laden dryer sheets or fabric softener.  (my mom's cats try to convince her they are better suited for cat toys, and "borrow" them on a regular basis)  

Dryer balls last a very long time, I am still using a couple that I made over two years ago. Because of their longevity, they are a money saving option as well as an eco friendly one.
The minimum I recommend is 3. 

3 for small loads
3-5 more medium loads
5 plus for large loads.

I very rarely wash small loads. Extra large loads are the norm in our house.

Benefits of using dryer balls

Reduce drying time. I have heard claims that they reduce it by up to 40 percent. That has not been my experience. I do see a reduction in drying time, but closer to 20 percent. 

Softens your clothes.  I love using them with towels! They get a great review from those using them with cloth diapers. 

Help with static cling. I was just reading comments from a woman who said that they do nothing for static cling. I was surprised by her experience. I never have static cling. 
I find making sure I am not over drying the clothes helps. 

Wool is a renewable source.  One of the many things that I love about wool. No harmful chemicals, just 100 percent untreated wool.

Essential Oils and Dryer Balls make a great team If you are one that uses fabric softeners and dryer sheets because you like your clothes to have scent, then essential oils is a great alternative. Just place a few drops of your favorite oil (NOT fragrance oils) on each dryer ball. Let dry for about ten minutes before using in the dryer. 

Making your own

If you are a DIY, you will be happy to know that wool dryer balls are an easy enough DIY project.

What you will need 

  • 100 percent wool roving (do not use superwash, you need it to felt)
  • A pair of old tights or socks

I make my dryer balls 1 oz. in size, which is approximately the size of a tennis ball.

So, if you start out with 4 oz of roving, you can split the roving into 4 pieces. 

Wrap each piece of roving into a tight ball. 

Place the roving into the tights (or individual socks)-if using tights, you can place the first ball into the foot of the tights, tie it off, add another ball, tie it off, etc. 

I use the washing machine to felt the dryer balls.
Wash them once (you can wash with a load of laundry) Hot water works best.

After the first wash, I take them out of the tights (or socks). The felting process has started. 
Wash them again. 

After the second time, they should be good to go. If you have really stubborn wool, you can put them through one more time. 

I use only natural colored wool for dryer balls. I do not want the worry of dyes bleeding onto any of our clothing in the dryer.

If you do not have wool roving, but have wool yarn on hand, you can use the wool yarn instead of the roving. They will just not last as long, as the yarn is prone to unraveling.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop- Giveaway Winner

The "Simple Homestead Hop Giveaway" has ended. 
The winner is.....

                                                       Julie Raye-Rodriguez


I would like to thank everyone who participated and help spread the word about the giveaway. 

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop #41 and GIVEAWAY

Welcome to the Hop!

If you haven't entered our giveaway, there is still time- It closes today at midnight. The winner will be announced tomorrow. If you are the winner, you will receive an email. 
I will also announce the winner on the blog and Facebook.
The winner has 48 hours to contact Tracy and claim their prize.
Good Luck!

February is all about LOVE and to show you how much we appreciate you we are doing a Homesteading Gift Giveaway! From our homestead to yours we’re sending a little love right to your front door.
Entering the giveaway is easy! All you have to do is like our Facebook pages. For every new LIKE, you’ll be entered into the drawing.
The Homesteading Giveaway includes:
  • Beeswax Candles
  • Wool Dryer Balls
  • Note Cards
  • Relaxing Lavender Bath Soak
  • Hot Ginger Muscle Rub
  • All Natural Beeswax Lotion
  • Healing Lip Balm
  • Ultra Bright Egg Candler
  • Writing Tablet
  • Hard Lotion Bar

The giveaway ends March 3, 2016. When time expires, we’ll choose the winner, email them directly, and announce them on social media. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


We look forward to seeing what you have to share this week!  If you would like to be featured in the future, be sure to link back to the hop. We love to read encouraging posts about homesteading. Please stop by to congratulate the featured bloggers this week.

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Family friendly posts only!-No links to blog hops or posts dedicated to advertising products.-Please share posts that you haven’t linked up previously to keep the hop fresh.-Please visit other bloggers and let them know you found them here!-If you wish to be featured, you must link back to the hop (on any host’s blog... in your post, side bar, or blog hop page) with the button or a text link!-Please follow us by email! You’ll receive notice when the hop is open for business.-Only share content and photos that you have created or have permission to share.-By linking to this hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post and share one photo if you are featured.
 Please note: Posts that don’t follow these few little guidelines will be deleted

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Starting a Fiber Arts Group

I have wanted to join a Fiber Arts Group (Guild) for many years, ever since I got my spinning wheel. The closest group is about a 45 minute drive away.  When, I realized one wasn't going to magically start up in our area, I took my husband's advice and started one in our area.

Our first meeting was in October of 2015. As I left the house, I told Mike that it may be a short meeting, if I ended up being the only one that shows up!  Thankfully, that wasn't the case. There were about 10 ladies that attended the first meeting.

There has been a lot of interest, and our small group is growing.

First challenge was finding a place to meet.
I am lucky to live in a small community with a great library and librarian. We have been allowed to use a room in the library, after hours. They have also allowed us to put up flyers, and have helped promote our group.

Spread the word- Flyers, Facebook, and word of mouth.  Those are the avenues that I chose to let people know about the group. Everyone has been great about spreading the word and bringing friends to the meetings. 

At our first meeting, we discussed what type of group we wanted to be. Formal? Casual?
Casual was the unanimous vote. We meet once a month, the same day/time every month. You can bring whatever you feel like working on. There has been some teaching for those who are interested in learning a new skill. One thing in common with most crafters, they love to share their ideas and help others learn.

The group is open to anyone interested in attending. We have knitters, handspinners, felters, crocheters, weavers, and quilters. There are groups that are limited to a specific craft, but being in such a small area, we left it open to all.

I am glad that I listened to my husband. It has been a great outlet for me, I love sharing the fiber arts craft.

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