This is a big travel weekend for some of the humans and a few of the animals of That'll Do Farm.
We're all heading South, but in different southerly directions.
Farmer Gal and a few of the young alpacas are heading to the Carolina Alpaca Celebration in Concord, North Carolina.
It will be the first time in the show ring for some of the babies and it will be their first long road trip. Not to worry. They have plenty of snacks to keep themselves occupied for the 8-hour trip. Their big show day is Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed.
I'm excited to teach some brand new rug hookers how to hook. They will be working on this cute sheep kit from WoolNuts.
I think every hooker should hook at least one sheep in their hooking life. It should be mandatory. So why not start them off on the right hoof.
The remaining animals on the farm are left in the more than capable hands of their full-time care takers -- farmhands Mike and Alison.
The farm store will still be open on Saturday the regular hours of 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
I'm sure there will plenty of interesting stories to tell after this weekend. We'll keep you posted!
Over the many months I've been writing this blog, I've introduced you to the two border collies that live and work at That'll Do Farm.
That's Grady on the left and Moose on the right.
Both are wonderful dogs with totally different personalities.
Moose thinks you're ALWAYS going to play with him, even if he has to wait for a long time. He doesn't know how to relax. He is always on.
Grady is a bit, let's see . . . dare I say smarter. How about laid back. That sounds nicer than smarter.
He knows if he's sat in the back of an SUV for a long period of time, there is no need to sit at attention. Ball playing or sheep herding isn't going to happen.
Why not lay down, get comfortable and enjoy the wait. Now that is a smart dog.
But recently I saw a YouTube video that takes the cake when it comes to border collies.
Move over Moose, there is a dog that is more obsessed than you. In fact, after this video, you are looking down right normal. And Grady, you could teach this dog a thing or two about relaxing.
Borders collies are said to be the smartest dogs in the world. I don't know. You tell me.
Yes. I know it's still Winter. But let's face facts. You're already thinking Spring. Spring, which is only 36 days away.
You remember Spring -- when you can smell the earth, hear birds singing, and your hands aren't frozen the second you step outside.
In Spring, a young man's (or woman's) fancy turns to gardening. Honest. That is exactly how the saying goes.
The gardening gurus at That'll Do Farm can help you when your fancy is turning to gardening, but your head says, "Hold on there buddy. Wait just a second -- I don't know how to garden."
We can change that.
The farm is offering a series of gardening classes to make this the year you start veggies from seed, grow mouth-watering tomatoes, rule the compost pile, learn what the heck lasagna gardening is and discover why you want to attract bees, butterflies and birds to your garden and how to go about doing it.
That's a whole lot of learning for one short Spring season.
Classes range from $10 to $25 each and are hands-on. Bring your own gardening gloves kind of hands-on.
You'll learn the basics of organic gardening and why we believe it's the only way to go. And we want to hear your success stories the rest of the year. We want to know what worked for you and what didn't. We want pictures of your first tomato, your first handful of rich compost. We are passionate about gardening and we want you to catch the gardening bug, too. Figuratively and literally.
Registration is limited so sign up early.
You too can be among the few, the proud, the gardeners.
This past fall, one of our fiber CSA members came out to the farm to take pictures of "her" alpaca.
This is her boy, Artie. Artie has always looked like a creature from Star Wars. But he holds a soft spot in our hearts because he was the first alpaca ever born on the farm.. And he's darn cute.
This is Ember, with the sunlight glowing off her stunning fiber.
And this is the beautiful Charlie's Angel.
Charlie is a wonderful girl. Calm, friendly and always confused looking. If you need help with a project, call Charlie. She's always hanging over your shoulder, trying to see what you're doing so she won't be far away.
The light colored alpaca in the middle is Bella, with Ember in front of her. Bella was originally a Colorado girl who moved to the Midwest to become a That'll Do Farm girl. She's happy she moved east, saying she prefers our winters, especially this one, to the cold of Colorado.
Our CSA members are the best. They are taking their adoptive parent status very seriously. We're anxious to see the first projects they knit with their fiber and look forward to posting those pictures here as well!
Some days are perfect sheep days.
Today was one of them. A nice cool temperature -- not too hot, not too cold. No rain. A bit of snow. Not a lot of wind.
Today, we had very happy sheep.
Happy, and perhaps a bit pensive.
Valentine's Day is right around the corner.
Sure, you can give chocolates or diamonds and emeralds. You can even name a star after someone. But really, that's all been done. It's become cliche.
My guess is you've never given the gift of vegetables for Valentine's Day. You heard me. Vegetables.
Carrots. Lettuce. Tomatoes. Potatoes. The things your true love really wants for Valentine's Day -- fresh produce.
All right, all right, I'm somewhat joking. But if you stop to think about it, the gift of a share in That'll Do Farm's CSA is a great Valentine's gift.
It says, "I want you to eat healthier so we can hang out together for a million years." And, "You deserve the freshest produce money can buy." And also, "I know you're concerned about added chemicals in your diet, so I wanted to give you something organically grown."
Yup, one gift of a CSA share says all that and more. It also says you want your Valentine to think of you everytime he or she picks up his or her share -- that's 17 weeks of thinking. It says you want to hang out in the kitchen together, trying new heart-healthy recipes. It says you listened when your Valentine said this is the year you're both going to eat healthier.
That's a lot of talking from one small CSA share.
That'll Do Farm was awash with spinners yesterday. Lee Ann King from Midwest Fiber Company came to the farm to teach several more advanced techniques, such as spinning with beads, Andean plying and Navajo plying.
Everyone came eager to learn. So eager in fact that the room was quiet. Quiet with concentration.
But soon bobbins were flying and there were those Aha! moments where the techniques made sense.
Within no time, there were beads spun onto yarn.
Navajo plying was accomplished.
Sticky wheels were oiled. Bling, in the form of iridescent Angelina, was spun into yarn. Yarn was wound off bobbins.
And all was right with the world.
Perhaps the day was best summed up by Jan's shirt:
Carpe Lanam -- Seize the Wool.
Technically speaking, this is alpaca fiber and not wool. But what the heck. Carpe Alpaca sounds like you're out in the pasture grabbing alpacas around the neck, so we're going with Carpe Lanam. Much more of a ring to it.
The farm will be offering many more fiber- and garden-related classes in the coming months. Be sure to check the calendar page often for updates.
We want everyone to be able to Carpe Lanam and Carpe Solum (seize the soil).
We're pretty darn excited here at the farm. The current issue of one of our favorite, "go-to" magazines has a story that is near and dear to our hearts.
Among the featured articles in the March/April issue is a story about how to "Start a Fiber CSA."
And that is exactly what we did back in November of 2011. We started the first alpaca fiber CSA in Ohio.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a way for customers to buy, in advance, "shares" of the upcoming harvest -- in this case, the harvest is either yarn for knitting or roving for spinning.
In the article, entitled "Common Threads," the author details how to go about starting your own fiber CSA.
But, if you're like most people and you don't have a couple of dozen fiber animals lounging around in your backyard, it also details how to go about joining a fiber CSA and having somebody else raise "your" animal for you.
We have a few of those fiber-type animals lounging about at the farm and we'd love to have you in our CSA. We'll do the "dirty" work, you reap the rewards!
We offer our yarn CSA two ways: by individual animal, in the natural color or by several of our animal's fiber mixed together and then dyed with natural plant material.
Either way, you have a true connection to your fiber. When somebody asks, "Did you make that sweater?" you can answer, "Yes, and would you like to see a picture of the animal it came from!"
Of course, there are some downfalls with having this article in print, and several of our animals featured. Joey the llama and Michaelangelo the goat now have huge egos, thinking they are extra special because their handsome faces grace the pages of a magazine.
But the other goats quickly put them in their place -- they tried to eat the magazine when we showed it to them. Goats are like that. They won't stand for any uppity behavior.
If you're interested in purchasing a share in our 2012 Fiber CSA, we have a few left:
This is Appletini. She's a suri and her fiber has outstanding luster and would make a beautiful shawl or elegant sweater.
And this is Maia. Her fiber is the most beautiful deep, rich chocolate brown. Once you put your hand into a bag of this fiber, you'll be a goner.
Both are super soft. We also have our roving and mixed animal CSA available.
If you happen to be someplace that sells Hobby Farm Home magazine, pick up a copy. I know you'll find it interesting.
Saturday was a lovely day.
It started out with a bit of snow. Nothing major, just pretty, Christmas-like snow.
It was the perfect day to stay indoors and play with yarn, which is just what I did at the Crooked River Knitting Guild's Knit-In.
The guild asked That'll Do Farm to be a vendor at their event and we were happy to do it.
We packed up a bit of yarn and the newest love of my life, our own alpaca socks, and headed to North Olmsted to spend the day with fellow knitters.
The group had a brief meeting,
and then it was time to shop first, knit later. This group has their priorities in order!
Also vending Destination Yarns, with beautiful hand-dyed yarn named after the colors of various vacation spots. I don't know the name of this beautiful orange/brown yarn, but I know I want to travel to whatever city it is named after!
So it was a day to knit a bit, talk a bit and eat chocolate cake.
How could that be anything but a good day!
There is finally a completed hooked rug hanging at my house.
It is completed because I didn't hook it. My friend Laruen did. Lauren has a tendency to finish her projects. Mine are in the limbo stage of almost done, but not quite.
It is the perfect colors for my kitchen.
I hope it will soon be joined by my nearly done Chicken Rug, but I'm not making any promises here. However, the Chicken Rug has jumped ahead of the Sheep Rug in the queue, but it is still behind the two year large sweater project. With any luck, the large sweater will be finished today!
But, if you're a fan of completed rug projects. jump on over to Lauren's blog. She is having a heart rug giveawy.