The Home of Beautiful Bluefaced Leicesters and Shetland Sheep

Come visit us in southern Pennsylvania.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eating our way through NYC and Brooklyn

Since Molly's home that means I don't stop for a second.But if it weren't for Molly I would never have seen half the places I've been. We just returned from a trip to NYC, not to see the ordinary stuff but to visit some of the Best Affordable Restaurants. We started out in Brooklyn in the Brighton Beach section. We were the only ones there that didn't speak Russian. The stores were full of fur coats and hats and some really wonderful felted hats and shoes. We could have been in Moscow by all appearances. The restaurants had all kinds of Russian favorites that they loaded on your plate then charged by the pound. Tim's girlfriend, Elisabeth, was along so we all shared. We were stuffed for less than $9 so some walking was in order. Too cold for the beach (Coney Island is right next door) but the shops were interesting.
From there were headed to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn to Junior's and the World's Best Cheesecake. Awful traffic but we got a parking space amazingly enough. The cheesecake went into boxes for later. Next stop Hoboken NJ, just across the River. A mere 4 miles as the crow flies but the Garmin took us accross the Brooklyn Brige and right thru Chinatown in lower Manhattan. AAHHH. I grew up in NJ and have gone to NYC all my life BUT I have managed to avoid driving there until now. My brother who works in the city is still laughing. This is another fine mess you have gotten me into Molly!
We survived Canal St. and gratefully arrived in Hoboken where we had a hotel room booked. And what a room it was! 16th floor with a 12 foot window overlooking the NYC skyline and the Hudson River boat traffic. AWESOME. The girls were still ready to go since we still had daylight so we found Carlo's Bakery...Cake Boss on TLC... and got on line. By this time it felt more like Chicago than NJ with the wind whipping off the river, but the people on line with us were fun so we braved the cold. Molly and Elisabeth got pictures with Buddy...Cake Boss... and more bakery items. By now I was craving protein so we walked around in search of real food. Hoboken has really changed since I was last there MANY years ago. They say Eli Manning lives there but we must have missed him. I swore I saw Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear Fame but they girls assured me that if I had indeed seen him he would have immediately pulled me off the street for a fashion intervention. I kept purchasing cheap additions to my attire as the day got colder and was not too careful about matching. My Teva's and wool socks were reportedly the worst fashion faux pas.Even my brother who just worked outside in NYC all day looked better than I did when we met him for coffee.
Tuesday morning was bitter. Wind chill of 6 and 40 mph wind gusts. Now I was wishing I had purchased one of those Russian fur coats in Brighton Beach.
This time we took the train into NYC and the subway to Dylan's Candy Bar on the upper East side. That place makes you feel like you are living CANDYLAND.... A magical lollipop land. Chocolate fountains,hundreds of candy bins on 3 floors. Even the floor has a candy motif! The music was all candy realated tunes. The girls were thrilled but I kept asking myself "Why does the daughter of Ralph Lauren need to own a candy shop?" Too realistic I guess. Maybe I am as cynical as Anthony Bourdain.
From there it was blocks and blocks of walking. Molly and Elisabeth were not interested in the old standard NYC stuff like the tree at Rockefeller Center (Rockafella Centa, as my mother used to say) but I made them go anyway before returning to Hoboken. Actually we were glad to get out because the Christmas tourist crowds were impossible to navigate in spite of the cold.
It was a great time for all of us in spite of the fact that our camera was missing. All of our pictures gone! The girls were devastated that their pictures with the Cake Boss will never be on Facebook but they now have no proof that I wore what I wore. Guess we will have to go back and retrace our steps... in warmer weather tho.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fiber Friends Forever

The dreaded call from the UK that I have feared for so long came yesterday.Isabel, my friend of almost 20 years has died. The ovarian cancer she had fought for 5 years with such strength and dignity finally won.

Our friendship began as 2 spinners in guilds that wanted pen pals in 1990. For 10 years we exchanged patterns,funny stories and life adventures. We learned that we had so much more in common than a love of fiber. We had 2 children and husbands many years older than ourselves. When we met for the first time in the UK, that budding literary friendship blossomed into a special connection that "the pond" could not break. We were so alike but so different that we became the perfect traveling duo. Isabel was quiet and smart and witty, while I was cheeky,loud and overly friendly. We both loved to travel,sip wine,have cream tea and laugh. Our semi annual trips together took us to every place of fiber interest in the UK. It was Isabel that introduced me to the BFL sheep on the hillsides of Wales. Although she was afraid of sheep close up, she agreed to spend her 5oth birthday at the Welshpool sheep show where a charging Texel sent her right over a gate.Some birthday celebration!She would go anywhere to make my trip special. Our inability to read maps brought us to some places that we never intended to see but that made travel so much more memorable and funny. She was my friend and the sister I never had. It was the sisterhood of the traveling spinners. Laughing was the thing we did best.

The walking trip along Hadrian's wall that was to be our next adventure is not cancelled...I'll walk it alone one day and laugh and recall those wonderful trips with Isabel. And of course, I will miss her. She brought joy and laughter to my life as only good friends can do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gorgeous Day in November

What a wonderful warm sunny day after many of rain. Yesterday I got the truck stuck in the muddy lane going up to the top field trying to deliver protein tubs. Even 4WD didn't help the mud was so deep. One wiff of those tubs and the flock ran down the lane and waited for me to roll the tubs off the tailgate. Notice I didn't use the word patiently. They attacked before I could get out of the way. Gotta love 'em.
After a morning of trying out my new dye colors and making some of the most frightening color combinations, I decided to take a break and sit on my porch,sip coffee and watch my flock. This porch is like being in a treehouse. I can see the whole farm. Unuasual to be sitting here in November, but it sure feels good. There's green grass in most fields...amazing. The skeins I dyed earlier are drying in the breeze and look a bit less vivid. Maybe Bozo the clown won't buy them after all. It's funny about wool though, no matter what color yarn or roving you make, someone will love it and someone else will be negative. Good thing too or the world would be a pretty boring place. I love guessing what will sell first.

Molly just called from a cold canyon in Utah on her way from Salt Lake to Logan. Think I'll enjoy sitting here for a while longer. That cold will be here in a few days!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thinking Christmas Yet?

Here are a few items that might work for a gift for someone on your list.

Lap blankets Made from York County PA wool...not BFL tho. Woven in PEI, Canada
2 styles white with white blanket stitching
white with black stripe and blanket stitching

Scarf Kit
1 pound of wool roving with a scarf pattern included. The bag comes
with a picture of the sheep and a little bio. $20

kits come in white,light grey and dark grey. The wool is BFL cross.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rhinebeck Rovings

Biltmore wool Barn delivered so many bags of my roving to Rhinebeck that I thought I'd have a lot left for winter shows. I was wrong! Here are 5 colors that are left. I'll have to start dying wool tomorrow and have more roving made.

Amount remaining
#9 12 oz.
#10 2 pounds
#11 12 oz.
#12 7 oz.
#13 10 0z.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shearing Lambs

Got my lambs sheared last Thursday before they had a chance to fill their fleeces with burrs and hay. Wow are the fleeces beautiful and soft. It makes me so happy to bag 'em up and just look at the locks in the clear plastic bags. Not only am I happy with the fleeces but the lambs looked great this year. Most of them look like yearlings. Good growth this summer since we had plenty of pasture. No health issues either. It was a good year.
I'll be off to Rhinebeck on Friday with some of these fleeces ready to sell. Hope to see some familiar faces there. Anne Priest is always such fun to visit with. Kathy and Mark Stephens from Biltmore Wool Barn will be bringing my new BFL and Shetland roving. They processed it on short notice when I got news that I had gotten a booth. Can't wait to see it. They do such a beatiful job carding. I'm so glad I had dyed lots of fiber over the summer to send them in a hurry.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesdays with Tech Support

Here it is another Wednesday and my computer is gone again. This time no one at tech support can even begin to fix it. After 8 hours (yes 8, a record) on the phone, I have no prospects for getting cyber connections soon. Sooo I am here at the library using their high speed internet. COOL This is so much better than my Verizon aircard connection. Who knew things could connect this fast. Welcome to the 21st century, Kathy! Now I really support gov't funding for the library system with a passion. If you need me, call.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BFL Roving

Several spinners have asked for pictures of my BFL rovings for sale. These wild colors are all I have presently but will have more in time for Rhinebeck in 3 weeks. Order by number. Price...$32. per pound. White Shetland roving is $28. per pound.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shetland Mode

My Shetland flock was not by choice. In 2002, a local woman came by and unloaded 5 Shetland ewes and 4 lambs from her horse trailer. For 5 years they just lived on the lawn in electric net fencing being bred by different rams I selected for soft fleece. They were funny little things,especially one ram from NC that terrorized us. It wasn't until several customers at MDSW went crazy over my fleeces did I realize I had something. That ignited my interest in the breed and really connected me to my maternal Scottish ancestry.I love spinning Shetland and am really into knitting traditional patterns. The one I wore at BSG was a combination of Shetland and BFL. That pattern was the hardest thing I have ever knit. This triangle shawl was easy. My spinning isn't Shetland fine but the shawl still floats on your shoulders.Can't wait to knit another pattern after I finish reading Dr. Bowie's book on Shetland animals that Garrett suggested. Hope there's a NASSA trip to Scotland next year. My hardy Shetlands are my comic relief and just so easy. Who would have thought that 9 years ago before Shetlands.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My 3 TTT's

Usually I am quite patient. Teaching first grade taught me that. BUT there are 3 things all starting with T that will send me off in a big way. TIME...can't stand tardiness or waiting for people. TRAFFIC...will drive miles out of my way to escape it. And TECHNOLOGY...electrical cords,chargers,batteries,computers. I refer to myself as the perfect 19th century person. My computer pushed my T button big time this week. HACKED Why me? I only turn it on once a day and do emails. Well, when I turned it on Monday everything was gone. Who would want hundreds of sheep pictures??? I called my "good friends" at Tech support. My folder there is heavy enough to need a fork lift. Every tech there knows me by name. Since we do not have a high speed connection it takes hours to download and upload so while that happens, we chat. So far we have discussed population in India and the impact of swine flu, places to order a kilt, retirement in the Ozarks, my kids, and the best Scotch. Monday night we worked from 11 til 2AM getting things sorted out.My record with support is 6 hours. I must say tho that I have learned so much more about my computer and actually amaze myself when I can do something independently! Thank you guys and girls at tech support. I'm still having issues with my printer but after a few glasses of Scotch who cares. Hope my SCRAPIE records are on a backup disc.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Andrea Minicozzi came to visit today and took home G25, in the picture with Samantha my best farm helper. It was great to find a home for him since he has one of those "touch it once and you love it fleeces." I hope he does a great job breeding her Black welsh ewes. From what she tells me, he was ready to work as soon as she put him in the barn.
Unfortunately, Andrea and her friend could not stay for a visit. I felt like I did when Garrett, Rayna and Becky and I got together at Becky's home last year and I had to leave too soon to get back for my sister-in-law's wonderful dinner. Sometimes you just want to sit and talk sheep! It's an obsession. Life is so much better if you have a passion and share it with others who also have the same interest. What a great way to learn.
Andrea and I will get together again soon AND I will drive to MN again for a longer visit. That's a threat Garrett and Becky. I want to visit with LeeAnne too.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Several weeks ago my 4 year old day care child Lillian and I took an aenemic,limp Romney ewe lamb home from a local farm. Lillian immediately named her Whitey. Dewormed,medicated and loved, Lilly and I found Whitey walking out to the road 3 days later. We no longer had to lift her to get her on her feet. Putting her in with the Blues didn't work. Whitey hated them and refused to go near them. SHE had decided she was a Shetland. Putting her in with the wee terrors was so funny to watch. In true Shetland style, they wanted nothing to do with this stranger. She was butted at the feeder and tormented. Since she needed calories, Lilly and I supervised feeding to ensure that Whitey got enough grain. Last week Whitey started butting the Shetlands back. Her wool is peeling off but the pink skin underneath reassures us that life is good for Whitey.
Yesterday, my husband directed a dumptruck driver to unload "topsoil" from our neighbor's driveway project in our front yard. We live on a piece of PA that does not have one level acre so Bill has made it his life's mission to collect enough dirt to turn this place into the great plains of PA. We have piles of dirt everywhere. Even the local gravediggers bring the dirt here. A woman at the local market once referred me to the woman married to dirt man. Well in yesterday's pile of topsoil, there was a well rooted little evergreen shrub. There was a perfect spot for it by the barn so I planted it. Shall I name it Greenie and hope for the same result?

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Suddenly Fall

After the horrible humidity last week, I woke up to a wonderful cool morning. Suddenly, my energy was back, so I sorted the ewes and put the BFL rams in. From the looks of things, they were glad it was fall too. Isn't it funny how the separation of the ewes is painful to some. I had about 6 ewes pining for a friend that had been moved into another group. They are still standing at a gate bawling. 2 ran to me as if to say,"You made a mistake,I don't belong here!" Even though my flock numbers 90,all my sheep have names and personalities that distinguish them. It annoys me when people refer to them as "dumb". It's obvious people who say that don't work with sheep on a daily basis.

My Shetland ram will go in October 1st, since putting him in early doesn't give me lambs sooner than March anyway. He had a head banging temper tantrum when he realized he was not to be reunited with his girls. Dealing with him from now on will not be as easy as it was all summer. I love the mellowness of my BFL rams in comparison.

I was really happy with my ewe lambs this morning. They are growing well and starting to become quite stylish. Usually ewe lambs here are all exposed to a ram but this year I don't think I will exposed more than the 3 largest ones. The yearlings that did not lamb last spring are all so much larger than those that lambed. The yearling that had twins has a lot of catching up to do.

My son Tim left for Europe last Monday. He's been in Athens with my nephew and his wife so he has been calling,thanks to Vonage, and emailing daily. Today he left for Venice on the Greek ferry system so we are incommunicado for 2 days. I'm not liking this. Now I understand why my husband gets so nervous when I drive cross country by myself. Tim's final destination is Prague, where he will be studying for 2 months.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


For weeks now I have been excited to drive to the BFL show in Wisconsin. Getting the booth at Rhinebeck put a glitch in those plans. Not enough money to do both so.... I have decided to skip Wisconsin this year. Bummer. But being a believer that everything works out for the best, I'm excited because now I can attend the Shetland Show in NJ on the same weekend. It's 2 hours away...a lot closer than WI. I might not be learning more about Bluefaced Leicesters, but I sure do need to learn more about Shetlands. This should be a good opportunity. Maybe I can stuff 1 or 20 of the Shetland ram lambs born here last spring into the truck for door prizes. One thing I am hoping is that someone can tell me why we had all those ram lambs and only 4 ewes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Itchy Revenge

Molly returned to Utah last Thursday after 2 weeks at home and Tim left for his course in Europe on Monday. It's too quiet here. The barn always makes me feel better so I sheared my CH V2 ram Finnegan. He is such a big guy but so gentle. Shearing went very smoothly so happily I went down to the pasture to take pictures and repair a gate. That's when things went downhill fast. The gate was full of yellowjackets who attacked. Now I have multiple itchy stings to go with my itchy hives that plague me periodically. Revenge is sweet tho.....I filled that pipe with insecticide and watched those suckers die! It did help me forget about missing my kids for a while tho. Benedryl time!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two Ram Lambs For Sale

G4 is a Bluefaced Leicester ram lamb with a Titan sire and a Loyalty/Laird dam. He's a triplet with a very fine fleece. I think he's going to be a big adult ram.

Repeat is son of Pete, the Shetland ram pictured on the home page of my website. He has a super soft fleece and great horns.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Vendor Space at Rhinebeck

I said I would blog once a week and here is my third post in as many days. Is this blogging thing an addiction? Oh well, I have great news... I got a vendor booth at Rhinebeck, NY. Lisa Westra, another Shetland breeder, and I will share a space in the horse barn. We found out at 9:30 last night so we have spent the day frantically gathering wool to send off for yarn and roving hoping it will be ready by the 17th of October. The dye pot is simmering too. If you have never been to the Rhinebeck show, you have to go at least once. Great location, great food, super vendors and it's HUGE. Lisa and I are so excited.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Painting the barn

Our 1880 barn was looking a bit faded so Tim took the painting job.... It turned out to be Murphy's Law day. The lift wouldn't level, the pressure washer died,temperatures soared to the mid nineties, and the bucket shook with each stroke of the roller. By sunset, with a side remaining to paint, Elisabeth, Tim's girlfriend arrived to help. What a sport! Elisabeth likes sheep and paints barns. She is a keeper for sure.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Brenda says I can do this blog thing

Since it is finally raining and I can't mow the pastures as I planned I will attempt to revive the blog Molly set up for me long ago. She refuses to enable me any longer and says I am on my own. Well here goes......after I look at everybody else's blogs and see what I am suppose to write about.

I just read a great book for the sheep obcessed SHEEP The remakable story of the humble animal that built the modern world. by Alan Butler If you love sheep and history you will love it.