We have a new addition to the farm this week! It is fun to have a new animal, and we are very excited about this addition…
Earlier this fall we had a hard loss when our long-time fine wool ewe, Fiona, died suddenly and unexpectedly. She was the first sheep we ever purchased and she gave us several amazing lambs. When crossed with our long-wool ram, her lambs had beautiful soft, mid-length fleece. Her death not only left a hole in our hearts and barnyard, but it also meant we didn’t have any fine-wool ewes anymore. So, once we were emotionally able to start discussing it, we contemplated what type of ewe we wanted to add to the flock. Considering the large varieties of fiber that come through the mill, we had a lot of options to choose from, and were well-versed on who had the fiber we were looking for.
We ended up choosing to go with a Bond ewe. Bond is a breed of sheep started in Australia. They were started by crossing Lincoln rams on Merino ewes and selecting for the fineness of the wool. They are similar to Corriedales, but with a longer staple length, finer fiber, and more wool per animal (all things we like!) They were brought to America (to Colorado) in 2000 by Keith and Joanna Gleason. At our mill we have had several fleece come through from the Gleason’s flock and have always drooled over them.
Meet Matilda – our newest ewe. She is a moorit-colored, 4-year-old, Bond ewe.
She arrived yesterday and is settling in with the flock. We purposefully planned for her to arrive while the goats were gone to the breeder because it makes it easier for her to bond with the sheep flock, and then deal with meeting the goats later. (The goats can be bullies to the new sheep when they don’t have the bonding of the whole flock).
We are all very excited about her and look forward to having her on our farm.
Canning and Cheesemaking
I finished up canning apples, and now have moved to making more aged cheese. I made a lot of cheese this summer when the girls were all fresh. But with everything else to do on the farm, it can get out of hand trying to keep up with all the dairy coming through. That is one of the great things about sheep milk. It is the only milk that can be frozen, and still be made into cheese after thawing it out. So I was able to freeze a lot of our sheep milk from this spring/summer to use to make cheese this fall and winter. Now that we have eaten a lot of what we made in the spring and summer, I am back at it, making more.
I am trying out some new techniques and learning more about the characteristics of sheep milk and making aged cheese with it. It is definitely an art…and also a science. LOL. Now that we have had time for a lot of the different cheeses I made in the spring/summer to finish aging and we have tried them out, I know better what we like and don’t like and I am trying to improve my sheep cheesemaking skills.
Now that I finished that big knit poncho project that took forever, I am moving on to a lot of small requests from the family for knit winter-wear and Christmas presents. This week I did a major ball-winding from skeins and cast-on a bunch of new projects. Now I can grab and go whenever I have time to knit, as opposed to having to get the yarn wound and thinking about casting on. Almost all the projects are using yarn from our sheep from the last couple of years – which is oh-so-fun. I have a goal of using up most of that yarn over this winter, before next spring’s shearing time. Although – with the fire evacuation, we might not get as much yarn this next year due to potential breaks in the fleece…we shall see how that goes.