Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sojourner Farm: MA #14

I am pleased to share the fact that my flock has been certified as a scrapie-free flock, effective 06-19-10, in the voluntary scrapie program conducted by APHIS (Animal and Plant Inspection Service).

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. The USDA would like to eradicate scrapie in US flocks because its presence decreases the economic viability of flocks and prevents the exportation of sheep to some countries. More information about this disease can be found here; click on Fact sheet (PDF) in the Related Topics column to the right for a brief overview of the disease

Farms participating in the voluntary scrapie program have annual inspections by a USDA veterinarian. Farms that have been found to be scrapie-free for five years and whose animals have not been exposed to potentially infected animals obtain and maintain certified status.

I’ve been in the program since 2001 but the addition of sheep from farms that were not certified has set me back in the program twice.

I do not sell sheep for breeding stock, so why am I doing this? Back in 2001 I wasn’t clear about my goals for this flock. At this point my sheep are a motley crew comprising a fiber flock and I do not sell breeding stock.Yet...the USDA vet tells me that it’s still good to be certified because it contributes to the overall health of sheep in this country.

Glad to know that, but it doesn’t really have any impact right now on my little operation.

However, as alluded to earlier this summer, there will be some new arrivals in September and being a scrapie-certified farm will carry a little more weight here in the future.  More to follow...

Summer is ending.  On my morning walk with the dogs I looked for hints from Mother Nature that this is so.  Hope you enjoy these photos, as well as Dar William's melodic poem about this time of turning.  If you right click or control click you'll be able to switch back to this tab and enjoy the photos while Dar sings.

                                                End of the Summer
                                  by Dar Williams

I don't know what this plant is, but at this time of summer its flowers create a pink haze that captures the morning dew like tiny diamonds.
The Staghorn Sumac leaves have just begun to turn; soon they will be brilliant ruby.

Some, more enterprising souls than me, make a sort of lemonade from the fruits of the Staghorn Sumac.

Goldenrod, a flower that yields lasting color on wool.

Wild grapes.  The sheep love them!
 Thanks to my daughter Amanda for reminding me about Dar Williams.

What signs of summer's passing are you seeing?   Please click on the word comment below to share your thoughts.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Socks! ... and prefelt.

Aren't they just beautiful?  I love what she did with the heels.  The local knitter who is kind enough to share photos of her items knitted with my Muffins has done it again!  And again I offer to put you in touch with her if you'd like more information about how she did it.  Except this time I think it would work out best if you send me your e-mail address directly instead of through a comment.  Contact me here.  But feel free to post a comment on the blog too; comments create the energy that fuels blogging activity!

Same knitter, another splendid treat:

Her next project using my Muffins: mittens!  Can't wait to see them!

About felt, and my Nearly Felt.  Since I posted my last entry which included some comments about what defines felt, my words have not set well with me.  I still believe that the definition of felt ought to be more inclusive... but there's no reason to be snarky about it.  I have edited that entry.

And I'm changing the name of this product.  On a recent foray to New England Felting Supply to buy felting needles I noticed that they now stock sheets of needle-felted wool prepared using the same method as my own.  They are hand-dyed and beautiful, softer to the touch than my own.  And they are called prefelt.  I think that if Chris White, the charming and talented owner of New England Felting Supply and author of the title, Uniquely Felt, calls them prefelt, then I will too.  There, that's settled.

I plan to add a few pages here with information about what's available for sale, relying less and less on the web site.  Right now I'm rather focused on spending what free time I have on the construction of an item that will be entered in the Needlework, Mixed Media category at the Creative Arts show at the Eastern States Exposition in September.  I won't post a photo here until it's on display at the Big E, but I'll share that it involves felt weaving, needlefelting, and embroidery.