2014 Musings

October 10, 2014

A long season.  It was a summer I will say that, It still feels like summer, going to be in the 70’s today in October.  Lovely.  We had quite a year, new challenges and new victories.  Big changes may be looming on the horizon too.

I ramble.  The lambing was fantastic, it was our best season in many years.  Very few losses, healthy lambs and good deliveries.  It was an ideal season.  We did have a couple very small babies and not quite sure where those came from.  Siblings of normal size with a pint sized lamb to follow.  They are cute and because they are so well loved they are vary tame.

The Cheese has been going well we had narrowed down the choices and we decided to discontinue the Tin Willow Tomme and the Queso de Oveja, sometimes these ones stay around longer than we like and become a bit dry.  They will be back.  Our new strategy will be to make a larger wheel.  Instead of 4 pound rounds we will be making 8 pound rounds……Don’t mess with our Affineurs, they can lift brush and flip these tommes with the best of them, great upper body workout!

We added a couple distributors and have slowly edged into California.  It is very nice to hear of cheese sightings.  Though we have really missed our friends at Farmers Markets we are happy not to be up at 4 am Saturday Morning.  We are focusing more on making good cheese and taking out some of the busy work.  We are open on the farm most Saturdays from 10 to 4.  We have met some wonderful travelers who come and find us.  Thank you!

The yarn has become my passion.  The colors the warmth, I will take time next year to get the dying garden in order.  This summer had many challenges to overcome and I hope and pray next year will be better.  Dying the yarn is so profoundly satisfying.  Watching colors develop value and intensity dependent on many factors, controllable and otherwise……what can I improve upon and what will nature stop at…..lots to discover.

The acid dyes will be fun to play with all winter, much more vibrant and much more variation along the skein.  Wool is fascinating in what colors “stick” at what point in the yarn.  A dye pot of red and blue may look purple but if done properly the yarn can pick up pink, red, purple and blue.  Fascinating!

We welcome fall.  Breeding season is here and we have begun to make plans for the next year.

The Dairy Sheep Association of North America will be meeting in Chehalis next month.

http://dsana.org/

http://dsana.org/Resources/pdffiles/20th%20Brochure%208%201.pdf

All is good.

March 1 2014,

The Frog Chorus is here. In early to mid February as I walked to the barn in the wee hours of the morning I was awed by the silence. There is a silent beauty about frozen night air and clear starry skies. I knew at some magical point in the month the silence would change to a resounding rendition of the Frog Chorus. It began. It will never cease to amaze me that on some night the conditions are just right and thousands of frogs break forth in song. It does not start with one or two but literally Thousands, the stillness of the cold nights is replaced by less outerware and more entertainment….which means spring will be coming!

We have Lambs on Grass, picked the first daffodils yesterday and the Frog Chorus has been sung…..bring on the sun!

January 22, 2014

Ready set go….lambing just around the corner and then Cheesemaking. Big changes this year. Lots of wool to sell new cheesemaker to be introduced soon and fewer markets…..hmmm. Not sure how to say this but we may not do any Farmer’s Markets this year…except perhaps our local market. Farmer’s Markets have been tough. Are there too many of them? Is it just as easy to find local in your grocery store? Is the economy still in the tank despite what the news is on Wall Street? Not sure but all I know is that we lost money doing markets….mostly because we are not able to staff them ourselves and labor is not free. Are we going to shoot ourselves in the foot? We are not sure yet what to do. I know the Washington State Farmer’s Market Association meets soon will be interested to see if this topic comes up, or if it is a problem just a few of us have had. All very interesting.

Time has flown by so busy with all the busyness of the business it seems I have not had time to think about the business. Brad and I have a lunch date today to plan…..okay a bit late but here we are, almost to lambing and what are we going to do this year.

New Cheeses, the Enchante, has rolled out and is well received, it is a product under the Black Sheep Brown Cow label. We are making mixed milk cheeses and will be marketing this gem under a new name Enchante. Enchante, is a mixed milk semi-soft cheese, It will come in 1/2 to 1 pound “patties”, I know there must be a cheesey term for this shape but my mind has gone blank. The other Black Sheep Brown Cow cheese is a mixed milk Tomme style cheese…..we released some to Steve Jones at the Cheese Bar last year and it was well received. We will be cutting into those soon. Thus far the name is Adnatou. Be on the lookout!

Wool is wonderful. Shearing is over and we have wool that is now dry and ready to be sent out to make yarn and top. We have some lovely colors and products for sale on our Etsy Site and here at the farm. Brad has been making stitch markers in the evening. See them on Etsy. He is very good at winding those wires and making a smooth product that does not catch n your wool. Watch for row counters soon. I am using one on a sweater I am knitting and it does really help me as the row counter is passed along the needle like a stitch marker, therefore I have to move it and it is not left to be a forgotten hash mark on paper…..I have really learned the art of Frogging believe me!

So that is our story, life goes on, Big decisions to be made, new products and soon to have new faces. Kids are well, we are well, bring on those healthy happy lambs and off we go!

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