Feeding the critters was delightful today. The sun was bright; it was cold but there was no breeze and it just felt good to be working in the fresh air.
The critters had finished their first bale of haylage, opened for them on Christmas Eve. Haylage is hay that is cut and then gathered up before it has had a chance to dry out. It is compressed and wrapped in plastic; the absense of air in the bale causes the grasses to ferment. (Off subject: in the distance are, left to right, the woodshed, Fort Apache the chicken house, our home, and just the peak of the building in which my husband built me a beautiful studio.)
I feed my sheep haylage rather than bales of conventional, dry hay because haylage keeps the fleeces cleaner, the sheep waste far less, and it's more economical.
A bale of haylage weighs in the vicinity of 1200 pounds. In the lower right hand corner of this image you can see a wrapped bale; the one that I just opened is the brownish-green one behind it.
Here's a close-up. When opened, a good bale of haylage has an odor that's been described as "pickles and beer." It's actually quite an appealing odor.
A few words about why I was silent since my post in May. 2008 did not get off to a good start here. There were numerous sad events and losses, and even an attempt to get away from it all for a few days ended in failure. One of the losses was my part time job; my company eliminated an entire sales division this past spring.
I knew that I had an indefinite period of unemployment and needed to find a positive way to spend this time as I sorted through various issues. I made the decision to see this time as a gift and to spend it quietly doing a lot of creative experimenting. Those months were a sort of passage for me between a not-so-good beginning and a much better ending for the year. Not every issue has been resolved- some won't be- but in general things are much better (and, by the way, I was able to find new employment and am in a better place career-wise). But beyond 2008, I made several discoveries and conclusions that will probably shape the path I follow.
Here's the first of many images over the next couple of weeks to get caught up with what I've been up to.
These are what I call stitch-lets; little 4 x 4 samplers of embroidery stitches. The wool is two-ply sock yarn from my own and other Massachusetts sheep; the felt is made up in large sheets from the less desireable (to spinners or knitters) fiber that I separate out when my sheep are shorn.
I love embroidering on felt and am doing these stitch-lets to learn new embroidery stitches and to apply embroidery concepts to felt. Very different from working on evenweave or needlepoint canvas! While I'm learning how to work on a scale that's larger than most embroidery work, it helps to keep the projects... and associated failures as well as triumphs- small. I love the texture, the variations in color, and especially the fact that this takes me back to when I was a little girl experimenting with felt. It was during the summer that I realized this connection to my past. I'll most-likely be posting lots more stitch-let images.