Saturday, January 19, 2008

Is it over yet?

I know I shouldn't wish my life away....but I'm not enjoying January. Wow, do you think it will be warmer in February? I know there are lots of you up north of me who are below zero....But....that is a relative experience. Relative to what kind of cold you are used to. People here in the almost south ask me why I moved here. I answer....the cold. Not the cold like we have in Missouri....but the bone chilling unrelenting cold of Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 26 below this morning in northern Minnesota. That's throw-the-water-up-in-the-air time. I always add descriptions of water vaporizing in that kind of cold. People here stare and consider that possibility.
Now I will admit...I got my husband up this morning to light a fire in the wood stove. Even in the middle of the living room it was too cold to sit and watch the political pretend news. Consider that these homes were built before insulation. The windows don't always have storm windows. This year, I was going to add window we used in the north. First isn't at the end of every aisle in these stores. Wouldn't you know....I have a hair dryer now.....bought to dry the puppys after a bath. Great pyr puppies look like fuzzy santa-bears when they are young. But it is January and I haven't seen any 3-m window kits yet. Oh well, soon we will have to put an air conditioner in the window anyway.
I am lost in thought about shearing. My sheep start the rise earlier here. By March, they are sticky and matted. We have discussed the possibility of shearing in February. But it's pretty cold right now. What will February be like? I know when I shear, I will have to close one or both west doors on our little barn. The winds has been whipping thru for weeks. Hard to even feed hay without freezing from the cold wind funneling thru the barn. The doors have been propped open to keep them from more breakage in the gales. We have had a few storms thru this year.
What are you going to do about shearing? There are lots of folks who make it a party. Food and crafts....selling fleeces as they come off. I have always had food. But I can't imagine talking to guests during the long hours of catching sheep and bagging fleeces. I used to have index cards with the names of the sheep to drop in the bag. Unfortunately, if I have to catch each sheep to hand them to the shearer....I am not the one who bags the fleece. I'm the only person who can tell the names of the sheep. It is really easier to find a certain color if the fleeces have the names of the sheep with them. Oh well, I have never had the time or money to add value to these sheep by selling wool. You have got to be kidding....skirt all of these 90+ many years would that take me? Besides, my sheep were dirty in wisconsin. We had trees, and thistle, and burdoc....I fed alfalfa hay when I could find it. Yup dirty sheep.
Now my sheep are half fenced into the woods. I don't mind ordinary woods....but cedar trees hurt when the sheep stand under them in the rain. They are as bad as thistle...but cover the backs of the sheep more evenly. We have small "stick-tights" instead of burdoc.....I can pick them off the dogs....but not the wooly sheep. The biggest problem is in the sheep doing the job of clearing the land. It had been a long time since there was grazing on my land. The rose bushes pushed out into the grasses. There isn't a day that goes by, that I don't have several sheep wandering in with rose bushes caught in their wool. Sometimes the branch is trailing behind and I can step on it to remove it. Sometimes I have to judge the moment to pull and not lose my hand from the thorns. If you can shear your sheep....go to it! I've never been too excited about doing it myself. If you can skirt the fleece...wash or spin it...or even afford to send it out....Congratulations! Go for it. Get some added value! I told someone sheepy that I had spent several days in 90 degrees skirting fleeces. I did! I took out any really veggy places....ripped out backs...skirted legs....lost necks.... packed the wool in open plasitc bags and stuffed it into large plastic storage boxes. Then I stacked the boxes in the back yard. They winced at that fact...."you mean you left the wool outside in the rain?" Yup.....oh well. The boxes haven't blown away yet. Going on 9 here. Time to go feed the girls and let them out in the hay ground. They have pretty much eaten everything out there..... so it is no langer a hay's pretty much a hay ground. At least they get lots of exercise.
Almost February.


At 5:00 PM, Blogger Nancy K. said...

You're right, Mary Ellen ~ it is NASTY cold here! The water freezing in air, hurts your face kind of cold. I can't say that I "like it, but if I had to chose between this bitter, freezing cold, and 95 degrees and muggy, I'd take the cold. I've got LOTS of layers to put on...

PLEASE don't talk about shearing! I was just going through some of my fleeces from LAST year, yesterday. I'm not doing real well with staying on top of things the past couple of years. Maybe I'll send a bunch in to get "processed". But THEN what do I do with them????

Stay warm!

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Karen B. said...

Even here in southern/central Minnesota we had 24 below zero this morning. But I remember you moving 500 miles south to escape some of this-and I'm sure it will shape up soon. February will be warm for you! It's better than the heat you had last summer.

As far as fleeces, I've pretty much given up sending them out for processing even if they were clean. Too expensive. And I have no market for my roving. But I'm really happy for those that manage that part of their business so well.

Hang in there, it will be warm soon!


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