This week brought more snow, ice, then biting winds causing some drifting of snow followed by a rapid melting. We solved our hay shortage thanks to a delivery of 50 more bales which should see us through past lambing. The in-lamb ewes are 'bigging -up' (but not bagging up) and have found a new place to shelter from the weather. They always appear at feeding time though!
Sad news that Gail, one of my founding flock, died this week- I had sold her with a handful of other sheep to an old friend in the Yorkshire Pennines who wanted sheep to graze a small paddock. Julia has thrown herself into keeping sheep 100% and I know that Gail will have been much loved and petted in her final couple of years. Shetland sheep live a good long time though. Of my original 6, four are still alive (two with me) with my two just having 'retired from the duties of lamb-rearing).
As part of my birthday present, P bought me a p;ace on a ''next steps' weaving course in West Kilbride at Weft Blown http://www.weftblown.com/ I can't recommend this place highly enough. Ange, the owner, is a knowledgeable and patient teacher who has to put up with my fuzzy brain and inability to get even the most simple things right.. Ange also makes the most stunning hand-woven items for sale, and will be at Edinburgh YarnFest in March. The end-result of my day is shown in the picture above. Glad to get back to the relative simplicity of the 90th-birthday-shawl I am currently working on to a rapidly-approaching deadline.
The new website is still generating orders for wool, and there are not many of the variegated cones left. And I still need to work out how to put fancy words linked to the site that will mean people can find it on the internet. A big thanks to everyone who has ordered wool so far.
Lots of consultancy work next week, along with the funeral of an old friend, but time to give some serious thoughts about which sheep I can sell as there's a potential buyer coming to visit soon.
Have a good week everyone.
The weather has been odd this week. Crisp sunshine mixed in with snowy showers and some frosty mornings. We missed Storm Imogen, despite having sat in the way of all of the other named storms so far.
We ran out of hay this week. We always run out just at this time (because we don't have enough barn space to store more bales) just at the point when everyone else who has hay is scratching their heads, counting their stock of bales, and hoping it will last. Met a really nice local small-holder who keeps Gotlands and I shall be seeing if I can get some of the wool to sell next time they have some. Hay panic over - we have 50 more bales coming next week plus Andy-the-Gotland-man let us have twenty to be going on with.
Liver fluke has been a big worry amongst farmers this winter, due to the wet late summer, autumn and winter. We've had two sheep die of liver fluke in previous years, and it is distressing for sheep and shepherd alike. We dosed all of the sheep against it in the autumn and did them all again a few weeks ago. Fingers crossed.
A poorly shoulder has put paid to any knitting or crochet this last fortnight. Two visits to a nearby horse-osteopath has me feeling tons better, but I shall stick to spinning and weaving for a while. The picture above shows some skeins I've spun from bought-in carded and dyed rovings. The grey one is undyed. Felt better enough to do some great local walks this week - both up at the Hopes, a couple of miles away.
The website has been hard work but that has mostly been down to my inability to input weights into the shipping section properly. Those very nice people at Weebly got back to me within 24 hours explaining what I had done wrong. I think it's fixed now (fingers crossed).
My wool is also now on sale at Humbie Hub. Big thanks to them for putting it on display! .
It was a trip to the Big DeStash in Edinburgh which set up the momentum for this website. I have been selling wool for a couple of years now. I tried Etsy and had no (zero) sales. I have been selling on Ebay for some time but the profit margin is tiny and probably doesn't cover my diesel to the local post office in Humbie.
I took a table at the Big DeStash (is that not a fabulous idea?) and met some people who seemed genuinely blown away by what I was selling. What they loved most of all was that the wool was traceable and local(ish) and their first question - and I would be the same - was 'can I buy this online?'
I was embarrassed to have to say no and got some great advice on how to get started.
The new website has two main purposes: to inform people about my Shetland sheep and what it's like to keep them and produce wool from them, and to provide an online shop for my wool.
If this works out okay, then I would like to expand into selling wool for other local producers (perhaps other breeds as well as Shetland wool).
The website also has a contact page and a log/in register page. My plan is to send out the blog as an email to contacts so I'll need to work out how to do that.... In the meantime, have a peaceful time of it.