This year, fall came at the same time as all our roving from the mill! Thank goodness our yarn came in earlier so that we could enjoy the dyeing process a bit less hastily. I've never done an online fiber festival before and am not sure what we can expect. We've had hand-dyed Finnsheep roving hanging on the exercise machine, warping board, neatly nautilused on the mini indoor trampoline, just anywhere that would be safe to dry and stay clean. To some it would look messy, but to me, it's like decorating with hope and joy - memories!
The kids have been helping. They are diligent in weighing amounts and looking for any extra vegetable matter to pull from our roving as we carefully lay the wool out to dye. I always have a dye buddy or gal. We pick and measure colors together and delight in what happens when we add hot water to dissolve. Often, we mix our own colors and record our recipe in the "Dye Notebook." I am enjoying watching them enjoy this more than anything else I think. My youngest, Peter, will carefully take the dye specific potato masher and carefully move dye past the boundaries to where we want it. I am amazed at all he has picked up and how careful he is to not agitate. John David, my next oldest, is my expert rinser and hanger. He is great with keeping the faucet turned on the the right spot to not give any change of temperature. John David is fortunate to be the first one seeing the roving out of water and semi dry from the salad spinner that we use. I think this keeps him motivated to enjoy his job. Elizabeth and Arianna, my second and first born, help with the actual dyeing and laying out. I love that we all get to enjoy this process together! My husband, of course, gets main cheerleader position which is much needed. Second eyes are most helpful. I think our feeling of greatest success is when no one can decide which yarn or roving is their favorite!
In the meantime, I don't have as much time as I would like to spend enjoying leaves or inspirational colors out of doors. The sheep and I don't get to visit as much, but we get to enjoy a Shepherd's Harvest and color in different ways. I hear the "baa's" and still can't resist all the time. I love to go to our closest set of Finns - my growing Spring ewe lambs. They always draw me to them. Somehow sheep born on the farm are so much more hefted and confident in their love and belonging than sheep that are brought in. They know who they are. They know their land and shepherds.
All of my Finnsheep are one flock owned by multiple little and big shepherds. This time through as I visit the Spring ewe lambs, I find that Cornflower and Maimie are especially attentive and happy to see me! All the girls come to visit, but these two tell me how much they have missed me. They lean in for more hugs and scratches. Elizabeth, my daughter, is with me, and Cornflower has been raised by her. She has rubbed Cornflower's belly from day one. She has lifted Cornflower to sit to practice for shearing and lifted hooves just to help her Spring lamb to be used to such routines. Cornflower thinks that all of this is lovely. More ways to be petted. And her naturally short Finn tail wags full of joy anytime a hand comes back in the petting or scratching rhythm. I watch my daughter loving on her ewe while I pet Arianna's lamb Maimie. My joy is so full and beyond explanation!
Yes, it's those joys and memories that we bring back inside with us. They run through our hands and back up to our hearts as we feel and measure our lovely sheep's gifts of wool. Those memories and joys are what paint the colors in our rovings and dyes, as we smile and laugh together about our visit to the lambs and our hopes and dreams for them. I hear another "baa" through the window, and my heart swells. Shepherding in the way that we do is not a particularly lucrative business. I do not know what to expect this year especially. But I do often think that we are the richest family in the world!
This blog chronicles our very full life here on WoodSong Farm. We will share everything from dog to sheep stories, unique wooly works, to animal husbandry tips we pick up along the way. I hope this helps to give you an idea of what our extended farm family and wooly projects are like, and that we may somehow benefit everyone who reads about our journey.