Saturday was an exceptional day in Northeastern Ohio. Here it is, late November, and we had 50-plus degeees and sunshine. 50 degrees!!! Unless you live here, you have no idea how rare this is. Rare, and truly appreciated. A cause for celebration.
We know "brisk" and "blustry" are right around the corner. In fact, they are overdue.
Joey couldn't believe his wonderful llama ears when he heard how warm it was.
Dewey took the news in typical Dewey style: lying down. She's waiting for cooler temperatures.
Moose, with his large border collie brain, was trying to figure out how many more days he has to chase the ball before it snows.
Raphael was speechless.
We're not sure the chickens know how lucky they are that is isn't cold yet. O.K., that's a lie. We KNOW the chickens don't know how lucky they are.
Two of the crias were out enjoying the day. They, too, with their dense coats, are waiting for cooler temperatures.
But the browns of late fall tell a story.
Winter is coming. Enjoy the heck out of the remaining warm days because April is a long way away.
We are ready for Small Business Saturday, and from the look of our mascot, we are also ready for Winter.
Today, no matter where you live, do your part to stimulate the local economy by stopping into a locally owned business and making one purchase. Support the stores that support your community. (I have warned you in the past that I occasionally climb onto my "Go Local" soapbox. Well it looks like I'm up on it again today!) It could be the corner grocery store, the independent bookstore or the family run shoe store.
That'll Do Farm's small fiber store will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today if you need a little more fiber in your life.
We've boxed up roving for gift-giving.
Lots and lots of pretty alpaca roving.
And nowhere in the rule book does it say that the gift your giving can't be for yourself. In fact, if you read the rule book carefully, I do believe it says, "Buy two gifts for others and one for yourself."
It's there. You just have to read the fine print.
The same rule applies to yarn.
If you're a knitter or spinner, come on by for an entire day of Sit-N-Knit. If you've never knit even one tiny stitch but have always wanted to learn, this is your day. Just bring a pair of needles and we will gladly show you to basics.
And, with today's unusual-for-late-November weather of sunny and warm, it's the perfect day to come out to meet an alpaca or two.
Is it possible to love a pair of socks? I'm not talking mere affection, the type of like/love where you would slightly miss them if you didn't own them.
No. I'm talking about the deep down in-your-heart-which-would-be-broken if you lost them type of love for a pair of socks. Where your toes cry out for them on a snowy Winter morning.
If it is possible to love a pair of socks, then I totally love these alpaca socks.
And if you spend any time outdoors in the Winter above the Mason-Dixon line, you will love them too. And I suspect there are those below the line that will love them as well.
The first day it hovers around 32 degrees, these puppies go on my hooves and they don't come off until Apil. (That's not entirely true. They do come off for washing, but I think you get the picture.)
These thick socks are a mix of alpaca, for warmth, and nylon, for staying up power. And even better, they are made in the USA with fiber from animals right here in the states. A 100% made in America garment -- that's pretty rare.
I don't want to leave you with the impression that these are from our animals. We are in the process of having our own socks made. Way back in May, we shipped off about 100 pounds of our own alpaca fleece, mixed with fleeces from a neighboring farm, to a mill in Michigan for processing into socks. The mill warned us that we wouldn't get our socks back until May of 2012, and they meant it.
That's the good news and bad news rolled into one package. Bad for us that there is such a long wait, but good for the local economy that there is such a demand for American-made products. We're happy to know that our farm is helping to employ mill workers in our neighboring state.
Heck with occupying Wall Street. We say occupy American-made socks!
On Saturday, That'll Do Farm is taking part in Small Business Saturday. It's a chance for you, the shopper, to show your support of your neighborhood small businesses -- the mom and pop stores that make up your town.
This Christmas, we ask that you make one (just one, but feel free to make more!) purchase at a locally owned, independent retailer.
And if heavenly warm, thick socks are on your list, we hope you stop out at the farm to pick up a pair for the farmer, skiier, hunter, hiker, popsicle-toed outdoor-lover on your list.
American-made socks. Locally owned business. THAT is a win-win situation.
We're a small business. We like Saturdays. So joining up with the Small Business Saturday movement was a natural for the farm.
The idea of Small Business Saturday is one we love: shop small, shop local this holiday season. And start the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Let's face it, Black Friday is for the big box retailers that run crazy deals during even crazier hours. And Cyper Monday is for all the on-line shoppers out there.
So where does that leave us, the small, local stores in your own backyard? In addition to our own personal biasis that you should shop local each and every day of the year, it leaves us with Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday is for the Main Street businesses in your community. The Mom and Pop stores that keep your money in your community.
We''re asking that you start a tradition this Thanksgiving weekend and visit at least one locally owned store. Of course, we hope you'll pick That'll Do Farm, and to encourage you to visit us, we're offering a few in-store specials and holiday fun.
-- All That'll Do Farm yarn will be 10% off regular retail price.
-- 10% off all That'll Do Farm honey.
-- Make your own Art Batt at our Art Batt Cafeteria. Go through the line picking out your base fiber and then add the colored Merino Top of your choice and finish it all with a splash of sparkle. We'll help you use the drum carder so you can design and make the Art Batt of your choice. At only $7 an ounce, a 2 or 4 ounce personalized Art Batt makes a great Christmas present.
-- An all-day, free Sit-N-Knit. Or Sit-N-Rug Hook. Or Sit-N-Do-Whatever-Needlecraft-You-Like. Bring your friends and spend the day making a holiday gift or two. Bring your lunch, but we'll have plenty of sweet treats and hot beverages for you to enjoy.
-- Take a tour of the farm. Meet the alpacas and goats. Say hello to Joey the llama -- he's everybody's favorite.
We also have a selection of made in the USA gifts that just might be perfect for the hard-to-buy-for people on your list.
Midwest Fiber Company will have some of their beautiful hand-dyed and natural colored yarn for sale at the farm that weekend, along with a few kits for knitting mittens and several finished items.
We will be open on Small Business Saturday (November 26th) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Note that these are not the crazy, 2 a.m. hours of Black Friday. These are respectable, human hours. If you feel you must get here at 2 a.m. for the best deals, then head out to the barn. The 2 a.m. Doorbuster Special is all the manure you can shovel into trash bags!)
The competition was fierce. The entries were coming in right and left. But we've finally done it.
The brain trust at That'll Do Farm put their heads together and looked at each and every name. Drum roll please, a miracle has occurred and we have finally have made a decision on names for the two young alpacas! It's harder than you think as there were so many good ones from which to choose.
First up, meet the new Miss Babble On.
This young lady spends her days yapping up a storm so we thought Babble On would be a perfect name for her. Thank you to blog reader Heather from Normal, Illinois for suggesting the name Babble.
Now, we've never in our lives met or even spoken to Heather, but I'm guessing she either comes from a family of girls, has young daughters or even more so, is the mother of teenage daughters. How else do you easily come up with the name Babble for a female!
Congraulations to Heather, an art batt is on it way to you.
Our next winner had to name this handsome young man.
This male alpaca is constantly rough housing with the other alpacas. He has no time for the young ladies in the group, he wants to hang out with the boys. He's a man's man -- the Clark Gable of the alpaca world.
And what name suits a man's man better than Bourbon.
Country-Born. Made in America. A Rugged Individualist. All those things describe this young man. Well, all those things and the fact that he happens to be the color of bourbon.
MaryAnne Williams is the winner of this naming contest. We don't know if MaryAnne is a knitter or a spinner, so her prize will depend on her interests.
We'd like to thank all who entered the contest. We had well over 40 entries and it was certainly hard to make a choice!
But we do think Miss Babble On and Mr. Bourbon have been aptly named. She's out yaking it up in the fields and he's stoically looking like a tall glass of bourbon.
We held a fiber-y pre-Christmas class at the Farm this past Saturday.
It may have been warm and beautiful outside, but we were thinking Winter. We made snowmen and santas and even gingerbread men. A good time was had by all.
This was a very festive group.
They make look like serious santa makers, but don't let those looks of concentration fool you. This was a creative bunch.
They gave their santas personalities.
They gave their gingerbread men hearts.
They stabbed themselves in their fingers with very sharp needles and carried on.
Yes, this was one tough group of felters.
When the table looks like this at the end of a crafting session, I consider it a success!
Who said things slow down in the fall? I demand to know because that person is a liar!!
We've been up to our eyeballs with end-of-the-year things here. So busy, in fact, that we didn't get around to naming two of our baby alpacas. So we're asking for your help.
Hop on over to our alpaca page and see the two nameless cutie pies. Then come back here and leave your suggestions. Remember, all names of crias born this year will start with the letter B so keep that in mind when you put on your thinking caps.
Good luck and think fast. The contest ends this Sunday!
On a different alpaca front, we're slowly putting up the purchasing info for our Alpaca Fiber CSA. If only I had paid more attention in computer class in college, this whole process would be a little bit easier.
Oh wait, we didn't have PCs in college. We worked on something called VDTs (Video Display Terminals, I think). Little tiny screens with blinking bright green letters. That could drive you batty by the end of the day.
So, now that you know I went to college in the computer dark ages, please be patient with me! All fiber CSA info should be up by tomorrow night. However, if you are driving by the farm and see a PC come sailing out of the window, please pick it up and give it a good home.
Big news for 2012!!
That'll Do Farm is now offering Ohio's first Alpaca Fiber CSA.
What the heck is a fiber CSA, you ask? We think it's one of the coolest ways out there to buy yarn or roving and support your local farmer.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The term traditionally applies to vegetable farmers, but we are taking a page from their book and applying it to fiber.
In a typical vegetable CSA, customers buy "shares" early in the season for a percentage of the upcoming harvest. The same holds true with a fiber CSA, with the only difference being that the "crop" isn't vegetables but alpaca fiber. When you purchase a share, your money is used to help feed and care for the animals and for their shearing in the upcoming season.
The share offers you, the fiber lover, and us, the fiber producers, a chance to form a relationship that benefits us both. We encourage you to come out to the farm, to become involved in the process of growing fiber. We want you to gain a better understanding of how fiber is produced, how the animals are cared for, and the many steps involved in putting beautiful, soft yarn or roving into your hands.
In turn, we are helped financially, knowing that when the fiber is sent to the mill, an end market is already in place.
What exactly is a share? You have the choice of three options:
Signature Yarn, $180 per share
Choice of one alpaca's prime blanket fleece in its natural color -- you pick the alpaca. We mix that with 15% Merino Top. You'll receive "your" animal's yarn in worsted weight. We invite you to come out to the farm to have your picture taken with the alpaca you've chosen. Or, if you're shy or live too far away for an up-close-and-personal visit, we'll send you a picture of your animal.
Farm Yarn, $200 per share
This is a mix of our own alpaca's prime blanket fleece with alpaca fiber we have purchased from other Ohio farms. We are discriminating fleece buyers and pick only the cream-of-the-crop fleece for our Farm Yarn. It is mixed with 15% Merino Top and then hand dyed with natural plant dyes, mostly from our own dyers garden and from wild plants growing on the farm. Yarn colors will vary from year-to-year, but they will always be in subdued, natural colors ranging from the rich, brown tones of acrons and walnuts to beautiful yellows and greens of coreopsis and black eyed susans.
Roving, $50 per share
If you're a spinner, you will certainly enjoy the luxury of our pure alpaca roving. Full of luster and soft as a cloud, That'll Do Farm's roving is offered in its natural color, Each share comes in two complimentary colors, chosen by us. You can either spin them together or separately -- that design element is left up to you!
Whichever option you choose, you will also receive the following benefits:
-- A Shareholders Certificate
-- Registration for one class per year at the farm at no charge
-- Occasional coupons for discounts at the Farm Store
-- An invitation to a shareholders only fall picnic and mini fiber festival
-- The satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a local farmer and purchasing an Ohio-grown product!
The alpacas are shorn once a year, usually in early April. The fiber is then sent to a local mill and, depending on the mill's schedule, will be returned to the shareholder in August. Yes, we know it's a long time to wait, but we also whole-heartedly believe the wait is worth it. We may be slightly biased here, but we believe our yarn is spectacular. Soft to the touch, yet warm as can be. And knowing which animal it came from makes it that much more special.
2012 Fiber CSA shares will go on sale, on the website, tomorrow. If you are interested in Option A, which is a specific alpaca, don't wait too long. We'd hate to have someone buy "your" alpaca while you were deciding!
I'm that person. You know who. The person that whines and says "I've never won anything in my life."
But that has all changed today baby. Today, I am a Winner! I will no longer hang my head in shame around other lucky people. I can hang out with those that have won houses, boats or even the grand puba of winning, the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes.
I have won yarn and a pattern to make a Bo Peep scarf from blogger Sandra Singh.
Sandra also has a website that sells yarns, knitting "stuff" and patterns. One of the pattern companies she carries is Tiny Owl Knits, makers of this shepherd-inspired scarf.
Next Spring, when sheep arrive at the farm, I will greet them in my Bo Peep scarf. After all, how else would they know I am their shepherd. Certainly the extra large border collie at my side might be a give-away, but the scarf will be my insurance. I'm going to wear it over my Carhartts.
Tiny Owl Knits is the designer of these fabulous lamb cuffs, too.
I'm thinking long and hard about these puppies. I'm pretty sure I have to order the pattern.
After all, I am a winner. It's about time I rewarded myself!
It may be November on the calendar, but we are certainly thinking Spring here at That'll Do Farm.
It's not that we are wishing Winter away. Winter is a great time for us to get caught up on all the little things that get pushed aside during the rest of the year. You know, little things, like life.
Currently, we are knee-deep in planning our second year of the farm's vegetable Community Supported Agriculture, otherwise known as a CSA.
A CSA allows you to pre-purchase a portion (referred to as a "share") of the farm's vegetable harvest for the upcoming season. The share is spread out over 17 weeks, starting in Mid-June. Each week, you can either come to the farm or a Bay Village location to pick up your basket.
Think of it -- organically grown, heirloom produce at the peak of freshness, hand-picked for you either the day before or the morning of your pick-up day. Unless you are out in the fields gnawing on a tomato while it is still on the vine, you just can't get any fresher or more local.
Plus, CSA members are leaning to eat a wider variety of vegetables than your average bear. Never cooked beet greens before? We've got a recipe for that. Received a plethora of yellow squash and you're wondering what the heck to do with it? Don't worry, we've got a recipe for that, too. Think of the cocktail party conversations you can have with you new-found knowledge of vegetables! You will be fluent in Swiss Chard.
We sometimes include in the weekly baskets eggs from our fabulous free ranging chickens or honey from our free ranging bees. Once you've had a taste of either, you'll be hooked for life.
And for all you fiber lovers (the wool/fleece type of fiber, not the dietary fiber type of fiber) out there, check back on Saturday for what we belive is Ohio's first alpaca fiber CSA!