jeudi 26 décembre 2013

Christmas Knits

Well, Christmas  was quiet enough to get started on my next knitting project. The yarn is single ply from on my bobbin #5. I wanted to spin a woollen yarn and one that was relatively chunky. Ok I don't think I exactly succeeded on either count  but it is satisfying to have something to be able to knit up.

There is a way to go until my spinning skills are refined enough to produce a yarn that looks anything less than rustic but its all practice. The stitch I have chosen is designed to complement the textured yarn. A tutorial on how to knit yourself a scarf in bramble or trinity stitch  was all that was needed to get me started. This video makes it very easy to follow!Although mine doesn't have quite the same accomplished look to it :-)



I am hoping to add a little twist to my scarf to  release it  from the rather mundane but that all depends on whether I can produce something that is aesthetically pleasing and workable. It make take me a while but I'll post something when I get there! 

mardi 24 décembre 2013

Have a Woolly Christmas!

This year my project has been to re-interpret what you can do with Ouessant wool. It has been a very busy year, in lots of ways and Christmas is about the busiest time of year for me.  However I still managed to get some wool in there somewhere. If you look closely at the photo you will see the needle felted hearts I made earlier are now decorating the tree. I am more than ready for some rest and recuperation  and if lucky tomorrow will be relatively quiet. I have a little yarn project all ready to start:-) Have a good one!

samedi 21 décembre 2013

Breeding Groups 2013

Eusa
This year, despite all my resolutions last year, has been the most lengthy for breeding groups. For various reasons, I have staggered  when the rams have gone in their groups resulting in lambs possibly being born over a considerably longer period than I would have usually. Come lambing time I will be exhausted! That said the option to be able to select a group or even a single ewe to put to a ram does have benefits that must be taken into account. Five months or possibly longer....... and counting!!

vendredi 20 décembre 2013

Wassail!


I was going to do a post on the winter solstice which is tomorrow. Unfortunately my photos of the golden sunset, were rather more tarnished than golden! However as I was wandering around putting everyone to bed I couldn't help but notice that on this apple tree there are JUST two apples left! They are beautiful and ripe and yet incongruously were left still hanging on a bare tree. It was too good a photo opportunity to  miss!

Wassailing LINK celebrates the apple and the drink  and passing of the wassail is traditionally celebrated around Christmas. Providence! I will leave  with a  old chant  recounted when wassailing, of course its sheep related :-)

Next crowne the bowle full
With gentle Lambs wooll,

Adde sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of all too,

And thus ye must doe
To make the Wassaile a swinger.

LINK 

dimanche 15 décembre 2013

Heritage Flock - PNRA Parc Régional National d'Armorique


Recently I ventured deep in the heart of Brittany, it is a magical place, where myth and legend come to life. The area is rich with celtic symbolism and the geography and landscape does much to draw you close to its beating heart.  Its dark corners hide goblins and faeries in equal measure.

Nestled into the landscape is Ménez Meur seat of the Parc Régional National d'Armorique.  LINK here is a flock of Ouessant sheep  whose origins can be established back to the earliest days of the breed.  They are without doubt a flock whose heritage is a long one.

I was fortunate to visit the flock earlier this year, I was able to spend a quite a bit of time with the flocks (one white, one black)  and came away with the  lasting impression that the breed is in sound hands.  I may have also come away with a sheep  or two oops:-)


Gaia (PNRA)
The importance of recognising the connection of this breed with its cultural home cannot be underestimated and is never more in evidence than when you visit their native region. My trip into Finistère ( the end of the earth) was all too short and I will make time to return.

mardi 10 décembre 2013

Picture Perfect

I confess this little girl has captured my heart

lundi 9 décembre 2013

Gary

Looking Good Mate x 

dimanche 8 décembre 2013

Winter Regime


I was asked the other day about feeding the sheep in the winter. Everyone has their own thoughts on this subject and opinions will vary.

The ewes are currently getting a bucket of windfall apples a day between them. I''ll know when they are fed up of them as they'll start to leave them. For now I view it was a welcome addition to the grass and hay provided over the winter. The rams have their own supply of windfalls  and this years bumper crop of apples means that the ground under the tree is still a carpet of apples.

A salt lick is always available and periodically the sheep will take advantage. I prefer to use one specifically manufactured for sheep to ensure that the mineral content is balanced for them.

Hay is self serve and I have racks  dotted around the place, so that even the less forward sheep can find a rack to browse from.

Feeding grains is personally not something that I like. I find that Ouessant  sheep really don't need the high protein content. I will supplement and a base of luzerne granules can be used with the addition of ewe nuts and or afalfa and molasses as a coarse mix when needed. This mix can be varied according to the specific requirements of the group of sheep being fed and is more sensitive to individual needs than a highly concentrated commercial feed supplement.

vendredi 6 décembre 2013

Feeling Felty For Christmas

Needle Felted Christmas Hearts - Ouessant Sheep Wool 
 Coeurs de Noël Feutré à l'Aiguille - Laine Mouton d'Ouessant

Well, after some heartache ( groan) I finally finished the christmas felty decorations in time for Christmas!! Needle felting is very forgiving of mistakes and if things don't work the first time they are easy to adjust and adapt and still obtain a good result. I liked the use of ribbons and embroidery to embellish the basic idea and this type of added decoration can be taken in many different ways.

A quick search will throw up lots of excellent ideas. One such search provided a tutorial and many different ways to decorate felt ornaments. This uses wet felting as the basic method   but needle felting should also be  possible. 

LINK - Judy Coates Perez Blog

mercredi 4 décembre 2013

Country Stroll

Santa taking a quiet stroll before things get hectic.

Needle felted Santa - 100% Ouessant Wool  / Père Noël feutré à l'aiguille 100% laine Mouton d'Ouessant

dimanche 1 décembre 2013

2013 - A Little Later...

Spered Breizh Ushant
Around this time last year I found myself speeding across Europe and an appointment with a ram in Germany for a selection of ewes from my flock. A one way trip was over 1000kms and it was necessary to do there and back in two days.........twice!  Yuk!! The driving was a headache, the paperwork was officious  but necessary,  it must have been some ram!!

 Christian de Brioux - owner J Schneider - photo courtesy  J Schneider
Meet Christian de Brioux, a much loved ram, originally bred in France by C Coutant and exported to Germany some three years later. Aside from being a dual champion GEMO and IGOU, he is one of a rare few  individuals whose origins can be traced back to the very earliest beginings of the restoration of the breed. Yep he is definately some ram!

I am grateful to both his owner J Schneider and also A Bergmann for accommodating my ewes in Germany to allow for this mating to be possible.

Ushants dam Spered Breizh Nimue, a home bred ewe was selected for her origins and type to go to Germany, she was narrowly placed ahead  of a very nice ewe at the GEMO national show at Brécé this year to be given Prix d'honneur brebis blanches.

To be able to reach deeper into the breeding of Ouessant Sheep than purely the aesthetic and to be in the fortunate position to look towards conservation of the heritage of the breed and its Breton roots is a priviledge. I am grateful to everyone who has helped me along that road. 





The Ouessant Sheep originates from the island of Ouessant, part of a tiny archipelago just off the north coast of Finistere, Brittany. The island of terror as it was known to some, was swept by the full force of the atlantic’s weather, the hardy sheep adapted to survive on poor grazing from salty clifftop meadows. It was the women of the island that raised the sheep, renowned for their black wool to weave into cloth known locally as berlinge and their meat with its sweet and delicate taste.

La race "Mouton d'Ouessant" est originaire de l’île d’’Ouessant qui fait parti d’un petit archipel au large du Finistère, Bretagne. L’île de l'épouvante comme c'était connu par certains était balayé par les intempéries de l’atlantique, ces moutons rustiques s'adaptaient à survivre sur les pâturages pauvres des falaises salées. C’était les femmes de l’île qui élevaient les moutons réputés pour leur laine noire à tisser « la berlinge » une étoffe régionale et leur viande avec un goût doux et délicat.

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