Shear Bliss

Too corny?

Ah, well.  Yesterday the flock finally was freed from their heavy fleeces (just in time for temps to plummet and rain to fall all day today). But yesterday. Yesterday was glorious.  Later in the evening there was much more frolicking than I have seen since…..well, last spring.

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I love watching Emily work, and I love seeing the wool coming off to reveal the little bodies underneath.

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Wembley’s fleece came off in a solid, felted clump, not unlike a rug.  Poor thing. When a sheep has been as sick as she was, it’s no surprise.  I’m sure the three or four baths I gave her didn’t help. But, now she’s well and free of the old fleece and can start a new, healthy coat.

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Now, this. This is what I love to see. The colored flock. The sun-bleached outer layer, the darker layer at the skin, and all the variation in between.

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The pure Border Leicesters were mostly silver underneath; the Border Leicester/ Cormo crosses were more black underneath.

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Our friend Amy came and helped out with hooves, while Emily’s dog watched (and snatched hoof clipping to chew on).. Seriously, she was a HUGE help. And unsurprisingly, Emily can easily manage a sheep one-handed while Amy and I struggled tag-teaming them.

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The goats were surprisingly well-behaved for her.

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Neve helped out, too, of course!

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Cassie.

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Lyra

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Ursa – who is seriously the tiniest thing once you get her out of her coat!

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Wembley the Wonder Lamb.

I know everyone is sad we were unable to have a party for shearing this spring, but trust me, we had a great reason (BABYBABYBABY) that Susan will update y’all with soon enough.

In the meantime, I hope all of your steps are as light and carefree as the flock!

Yesterday In Pictures

We are SO reveling in the spring weather!!!

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Yes, hello. My name is Adelaide. You show me a fence and I’ll show you a stuck goat!

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She does this every. day.

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It’s been warm enough the last few days that the dogs have started their summer ritual of hanging out in the stream.

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The peas are growing well!

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The peonies are going to bloom any second.

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The lilacs are blooming now and busy attracting bees and butterflies with their heavenly scent.

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The strawberries are flowering.

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The broccoli is sprouting.

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The Monarda is shooting up fast.

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The raspberry bush is taking over!

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The azaleas are about to pop.

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The dogwoods are showing off.

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And Ursa is looking mighty tired of that fleece!

Evening In Pictures

Every day seems to be gaining ever more momentum toward summer. I took extra time this evening to appreciate the new flowers, the new bits of green popping up everywhere, and the wooly creatures who will be freed of their heavy winter fleeces in the next week or so.

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The apple trees are starting to leaf out.

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This broody hen is very unhappy that I keep taking the eggs from under her.

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A different kind of lambing season…

For the past ten years of my life, early Spring time has been about waiting. Waiting for the pastures to turn green again. Waiting for the mud to dry up. Waiting for shearing time.

But mostly waiting for lambs. I’ve probably spent a hundred nights or more waiting for ewes to give birth, sleeping in my truck or in the barn, or in my bed with a baby monitor propped up on my pillow. Year after year, I experienced the same excitement and anticipation waiting for the very first lamb or kid of the season to be born. Sometimes it felt like it was never going to happen and then, suddenly we were up to our elbows in knobbly knees and pink noses.

Juniper Moon Farm lambs

I am happy to say that lambing never lost it’s magic for me. No matter how many babies I saw born, no matter how many sleepless nights, no matter how many moments-old lambs I saw take their first wobbly steps, it never stopped being an amazing miracle.

Juniper Moon Farm lambs

Last year, we decided not to breed the ewes for lambs this spring. Mostly because our flock was at capacity and we didn’t want to have to make any tough decisions about any of the older ewes. When you have a no-kill flock, there is always a trade-off to be made between the old animals and the new.

Juniper Moon Farm lambs

We also held off lambing because I knew that this year, I would be awaiting a lamb of my very own during lambing season. I am 37 weeks pregnant today, eagerly anticipating the arrival of my very own knobby-kneed miracle.

Juniper Moon Farm lambs

I am feeling all the things you might expect a very pregnant first time mom to be feeling. Excitement. Anticipation. Trepidation. Discomfort (my empathy for the ewes has increased greatly!).  I can honestly say that I have never been so happy– or so content– in my entire life as I am right now.

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But in spite of that, I will miss the lambs this year. I just keep reminding myself how incredibly lucky I was to have that experience so many times.

No one in this world has ever been luckier than me, that’s for sure.

An Easter Lamb Miracle

Hopefully you are all having a lovely and relaxing Sunday.  The weather here is beautiful, if windy, and the kids are about due to crash from their sugar largesse left by the bunny.

I am enjoying the newly blooming flowers and the pea plants which have begun to sprout.

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But the BIG news we are happy to share is that Wembley the wonderlamb has made a full and complete recovery.

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When I found her downed several weeks back with a thiamine deficiency, we were pretty worried.  When we brought her home from the vet that evening, we were unsure how she’d do through the night.

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She lived in my tub for two weeks before I felt like I could move her out to the sheltered front porch.  But after a few days I was still pretty worried. She was still crooked, and could barely stand on her own. When the nearly three week mark hit and she was walking sideways, unable to lift her head completely, I was really worried. But then, suddenly one day, she decided she’d had enough, and walked around the gate and off the porch.  I took her down to the other lambs (lots of bleating was to be had) and worried yet again how she’d do through the night.

But now? Holding her own at the feed trough and hay bale. Walking straight, no head tilting or any indication of illness other than being a bit skinny still.

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The only difference between her pre-illness self and now is that she got used to us being her food-bearers, and consequently is very friendly and cuddly now.

I’m pretty comfortable calling this turn around nothing short of miraculous.

And They’re Outta Here!

That’s right! All of you lucky Juniper Moon Farm shareholders (after waiting patiently for what seems like FOREVER) will be getting delivery of your share yarn starting this week, depending on how close you are to the farm.

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Trina and I spent the day getting ALL the orders sorted and packed and processed for shipping.  We powered through and you should start getting tracking info in the next day or two.  Full and Double shares will be arriving in boxes; half shares in the envelopes.

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The color is a lovely light grey/brown, with maybe slightly more brown than last time.

The biggest difference, however, is that the mill sent them in a different size than we ordered.  Normally share yarn comes in 4 ounce skeins. This time it was a motley mix of assorted sizes and weights.  Trying to make sure everyone got the proper amount STRESSED ME OUT.  And here is why:

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The size difference!  This is why we had to weigh everything and fill orders by that metric. I meant it when I said motley mix. We had a hard time of it, but we got as close as we could for everyone.

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A full share.

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A double share.

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All loaded up and on their way to the post office!

Keep an eye out for your packages, and happy crafting!!

Your Annual Sunscreen PSA

WHOO! Springtime!

Warmer weather!

Sunshine!

Picnics!

Days at the Beach!

Wrinkles!

Sun spots!

Skin cancer!

Okay, I’m being silly and dramatic to make a point, but it’s the same point I make every year at this time. It’s time to amp up your sunscreen routine.

I am the palest person on the planet. Seriously. I was once approached by the editor of a fetish magazine for men who are into pale women to be a model. True story. Humiliating but true.

I have spent a lifetime covering every exposed surface of my body with the highest s.p.f. sunscreen available on the market. Covering my face in the thick white glop is the very first thing I do when I get up in the morning. Sunscreen is one of the few things I’ve believed in my entire adult life.

And guess what? A couple years ago, I had a spot of skin cancer removed.

If I can get skin cancer, you can get skin cancer.

It’s time to step up your sunscreen routine, y’all. The World Health Organization has a handy list of best practices for sun protection that includes limiting your time in the midday sun, wearing protective clothing, watching the heat index and wearing sunscreen and re-applying it every two hours. Even if you are wearing sunscreen daily, you probably aren’t re-applying it every two hours, right?

A couple more tips from my own dermatologist. Be sure to get the sunscreen all the way to your hairline– most of the skin cancer docs remove is near there. It’s better to apply a couple of thin layers than one thick one.  And neglect not your neck, décolletage and the back of your hands.

Now, get out outside and enjoy the sunshine safely!

**Sarah V has the great idea to share our favorite sunscreens! I am always looking for something new. What’s your brand of choice?

Happy St. Paddy’s Day From The Flock!

03.17.15

Happy Pi Day!

Since tomorrow is Pi Day (3.14), I thought I would share our recipe for Blueberry Slab Pie with Strawberry Mascarpone Ice Cream. Slab pies are great for feeding large groups and for people who just love a higher crust-to-filling ratio.

Blueberry Slab Pie with Strawberry Marscapone Ice Cream

Blueberry Slab Pie

For The Crust

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups ice water

For The Filling

  • 2 1/4 pounds fresh (8 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

  1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. With machine running, add 1 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix. Divide dough into 2 disks; wrap each tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon zest and juice. On a floured work surface, roll out 1 disk to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Place in a 10-by-14-by-1-inch rimmed sheet pan. Pour in blueberry filling, then lightly brush edges of crust with water. On floured surface, roll out second disk to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle, carefully cutting out the star shapes. These will serve as vents to allow steam to escape.  Lay over blueberry filling; press along moistened edges to seal. Fold overhang under, tucking it into pan, and crimp edges.
  3. Place pie in oven, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour, preferably two. Allowing the pie to rest will keep the filling from running when you slice it.

Blueberry Slab Pie with Strawberry Marscarpone Ice Cream

 

This pie is even better with a scoop of ice cream and, if you really want to impress your family, our Strawberry Mascarpone Ice Cream is a dreamy addition.

Strawberry Marscarpone Ice Cream

  • 8 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 16 ounces marscarpone cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 2  1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Directions

1. Place the slice strawberries in a bowl and mix with the balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate for overnight, or for a minimum of 2 hours.

2. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the marscarpone cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

3. Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

4. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the marscarpone cheese mixture until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly. I usually just put the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours but if you are in a hurry you can use Jeni’s quick chill method. Pour the mixture into a 2-gallon Ziploc freezer bags and submerge the sealed bags in an ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

5. Strain the strawberries, saving the balsamic vinegar for a salad dressing. Add the strawberries to the ice cream base and pour the base into your ice cream makers’s canister and proceed according to the manufacturer’s directions. Spin until thick and creamy. If you prefer your ice cream more solid, you can pack it into a plastic container and place it in the freezer for a few hours.We like it the way it comes out of the ice cream maker.

Makes two quarts ice cream, which may sound like a lot before you taste it, but it really isn’t.

 

The Very Hungry Baby Gift

My friend Cris is one of my favorite people in the world. She is funny. She is kind. She has more empathy than almost anyone I know. And she is thoughtful in the sense that when you ask her a question, she really takes her time to give you a considered answer. The only thing I don’t love about this woman is that she lives all the in Kentucky, which is entirely too far from me.

Because Cris lives so far from us, and because she is raising two young sons and managing a career in academia, she was unable to attend the little baby shower get together that my friend Jeannie had for us a couple weeks ago. Instead, she sent us this gift, and I am still sort of stunned by it’s awesomeness.

Cris knitted our baby a Very Hungry Caterpillar sleep sack.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sleep Sack for baby

Have you ever seen anything so sweet in your life?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sleep Sack for baby

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sleep Sack for baby

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sleep Sack for baby

She got the idea from a crocheted version that we saw on Facebook and tracked down to Ravelry. Since she wasn’t able to find a knitted version of the pattern, she kind of made it up but studying other sleep sack patterns and experimenting.

Everything is knit, except the eyes which she crocheted. Basically, she cast on 96 stitches for the sleep sack and changed colors when she felt the urge. For the hat she cast on 80 stitches. The whole thing is made in JMF’s Neve yarn so it’s cotton and washable.

You can get more details about yarn usage on Cris’s Ravelry project page. There has been a lot of demand for her to write up a pattern and I’m sure she will oblige when she has time.

And I promise to post pics of our little man wearing it as soon as he arrives.

 

 

 

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