On May 5th two of my bff's, Liz and Nancy, went on an expedition to Morning Star Fiber Mill in Apple Creek, Ohio, to take this year's fleeces to be processed. I loaded the eleven assorted noodles and bags of fleece taken from the herd on April 27th into the wayback of my car and the three of us set off early in the morning to cross the state diagonally to the mill.
I use the process of "noodling" my blankets (the fleece across the back and shoulders of the animal) which is just catching it intact as the fleece is shorn from the animal, and placing it on a plastic drop cloth, folding each side lengthwise over the fiber and then rolling tightly from one end to the other as you would a sleeping bag. This makes it ever so much easier to sort out the short cuts and any vegetation that is in the fleece before cleaning, combing and carding it. I put the second cuts from the underbelly, neck and upper thighs into bags. This part is not usually long enough or fine enough to be processed into yarn but can be used to make rovings for spinning and felting or wrapped around a cotton core to make rug yarns.
Once we arrived at the small, family owned, mill south of Wooster, we were met by Devin, with whom I had spoken on the phone a few months ago. While we browsed through the mill store, oohing and aahing over the lovely yarns, rovings, dyes and other fiber supplies, Devin assessed the quality of the fleeces and weighed them up. It was gratifying to hear him praise the overall quality and cleanliness of my fleeces. He discussed with me the different types of yarns that could be made and his recommendations for each fleece. Once we had made the decisions as to what yarns and rovings I wanted, Devin took Nancy, Liz and I on a short tour of their facility. I was so enthralled that I forgot to take pictures! Duh! When I return to pick up the products sometime in the first week of June I will ask permission to snap some photos to include with the pictures of my yarns and rovings.
My friends and I drove a bit further down into Ohio Amish country and had lunch at a restaurant that serves traditional Amish foods before returning home. Being retired teachers, all three of us thoroughly enjoyed the educational experience.
Recently the weather turned unseasonably cold (whatever that means in Ohio!) and the animals have been staying inside only to venture out on the sunnier days. They do enjoy basking in the sunshine and I imagine it feels on their newly bared skin.
Brutus, Asterius and Mango
They look very strange after their stuffed-teddy-bear-like appearance of the winter it is difficult to tell them apart from one another unless I am looking them right in the face. Brutus, of course, is the smallest so he's no trouble; but Asterius is getting so much taller that standing alone he often can be mistaken for his mother, Took. Mango is by far the tallest of the animals. She is such a statuesque young lady. Leezza is the one who looks so different from her fluffy cold weather self. If you compare the picture of Leezza in the banner of the blog to this one...
A totally different look. Her floofy topknot was so matted that it had to be lopped off. She was so young that we had last year's shearer leave her "helmet" head look and it got so long that it became matted. I guess we will have to shear it off every other year. She is still my gentle, shy little Leezza. A mere haircut doesn't change her sweet nature.
Now that the weather is milder than the harsh winter stuff we had, both Rich and I are spending more time out in the pasture and barn when we go out to tend the herd. I find the interaction with the animals to be conducive to feelings of serenity and overall cheerfulness. In short, they make me happy.
How could one not smile at something as cute as this?
Mango (back) and Asterius (front) hoping for a treat from Rich