November 25, 2008

Update : Coated Fleece Experiment

As's an update on my coating experiment!
In the previous post you saw a picture of RhumRaisin in her dirty coat ....
Although the outside of the coat is quite soiled, under the coat, the fleece is in pristine condition!

Rhum Raisin : Coated Fleece -- 24 November 2008

And here's a picture of 'Tit Bijou's fleece :

'TitBijou : Coated Fleece -- 24 November 2008
note : this fleece is JET BLACK ... sorry the photo doesn't show how black it is!

These pictures really don't do justice to the beauty of the wool. It really is a handspinner's dream! They say that the wool grows faster and longer when coated. I always thought that this couldn't be true. But I'm wondering if it isn't the case! The wool of both fleeces measures over 12 cm long (ie. approx 5 inches!). And this is only November!

Fiber samples from coated fleece : 24 November 2008

So far I'm very pleased with the results! I'm so looking forward to spinning this fiber next summer! It really is beautiful. The sheep don't seem to mind the coats at all. The only downside has been that the smallest size coats available are still too big for my sheep ; so I have to alter each coat to fit the sheep. I wish I didn't have to do this, but so far I think that it is well worth the effort! Time will tell : shearing day will be the real test!

November 16, 2008

Mark your calandars!!!

Can you believe it!!
This is a picture of RhumRaisin in her little “white” coat!

What a mess! And only yesterday is was clean! Now look at it!
Seems to me like someone has been jumping up on her!
And I bet I know who that someone is!

He sure does look innocent, doesn’t he ? (note : photo taken in June!)

So I’ve marked my calendar : 16 April 2009.
Looks quite possible that this could be the due date for a lamb!
In the next few days I'll do an update with photos on the coating experiment.
Just to let you know ... I'm really looking forward to spinning some coated fleece next year!!

November 14, 2008

How green is your grass?

Recently someone mentioned that I was quite lucky to have such nice green grass. It is true that one of the advantages of living in Normandy is the abundance of grass. For example, it’s not unusual for me to have to mow the lawn in November ... and then again in February! Of course, the grass grows slower during the winter .... but it does continue to grow ... and it is green! With all this grass, it’s not at all surprising that Normandy is so well known for dairy production. Just think of cows as being very, very large sheep! Remember, they are both ruminants!

But even if Normandy is blessed with beautiful pasture land ... occasionally one does have to do some re-seeding. This is generally achieved with little effort : scattering handfuls of seed in the early spring or fall. That said, I have had one big problem with this method! Earlier this spring I tried to do some re-seeding .... unfortunately the birds ate the seed before it could germinate!

After a bit of research, I decided to germinate the seed before sowing.
I bought 3 KG of ray grass seed. Mixed it with 5 KG of potting soil. Put the mixture in a heavy weight black plastic bag. Added some water (not too much). Kept the bag in a warm place ... I left mine on the south-facing patio. Once a day I rolled the bag about. Within 5-6 days I had a bag full of sprouted seed. After raking some of the “bare spots” in the orchard, I scattered the germinated seed. And left nature to the rest!

This is what the germinated seed looks like :

Germinated Ray Grass Seed

I was quite pleased with this method. So far, I’ve gotten a really good stand of grass!
Here’s a small patch of grass ... approximately 2 weeks after scattering the germinated seed.

It might not look like much right now .... but by March - April .... it will supply my little ones with some beautiful, high-quality pasture!

Thank you for visiting the Spinning Shepherd!