Various Forms of Torture and a Song

The Great Gonzo

First, Car Torture. Our poor old truck, affectionately known as Gonzo--partly because he was blue and grey and partly because we had recently seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas--died this week. It'd been running pretty rough the past few months and finally the engine seized altogether. We had to have it towed to the mechanic and they say it needs a new engine. It's a 1888 Bronco II with about 160,000 miles on it (which really doesn't sound like a lot to me after the 1982 Toyota Tercel that chugged along for 230,000). But anyway, given its age, mileage, and the cost of the work that would need to be done, I don't think it makes sense to try to salvage it.

At this moment, I sure wish I was back in the land of bountiful public transportation, because I'm not sure how we're going to afford another car, but we certainly can't be without one here. I didn't even own a car for ten years in NYC, and Mr. O'Kitten didn't have a driver's license until we moved to Michigan ~ and he was 30. Ah, if I could only walk to the grocery store or hop on the subway...if only gas weren't $3.50 a gallon...if only they'd hurry up and get that hydrogen-powered car into production so I could simply fill up my tank with water and get on the road...

Sheep Torture

This is Paul shearing Thorn. Trust me, he's really not being at all abused.

Thorn, shorn. (See, he really did survive, and is just fine, promise.)

Contrary to popular belief, Tyr is not a cross between a possum and a boar, but actually an Icelandic sheep.

Tyr's turn.

See? Here's the sheep that was underneath all that woolliness.

Tyr's fleece in the tub.

So Beth taught me how to wash fleece. Put a few inches of really, really hot water in the tub (or in a nice big basin) with a wool wash--the one I have is Meadows Wool Wash and it has pure herbal essential oils so it smells wonderful without being at all heavy.

Yes, you can use laundry detergent, Dawn, or baby shampoo, but none of those things are made for wool, your fleece won't smell as nice and fleece-y afterwards, and it may lose some of its softness/hand. (I found the Meadows Wash at The Spinning Loft if you need a source for it.)

Spread the fleece on top of the water and press it down into the water gently with the palms of your hands (or the wool wash bottle if the water is too hot). Let it sit in the tub for 45 mins. to an hour.

Gently pull the fleece to the far end of the tub (away from the drain) without agitating it and drain the water out. Refill the tub again with about the same amount of water and some more wool wash, without letting the running water pour directly onto the fleece. Then ease the fleece back into the water, and soak again for 45 mins. to an hour and drain again.

Repeat, only without adding any wool wash. Beth says she usually does two washes and three rinses. After your last rinse and drain, you may want to layer your fleece out between some towels and press it a bit to get the excess water out. Spread on a sweater rack or mesh shelf to dry; she likes to dry hers in the sun.

While Tyr soaked in the tub, I knit at my sweater and Chelsea worked on the tri-loom (above).

Today was the first Sheep Breed Study. It was great! We talked about washing a fine wool fleece using a different method than described above, one that allows you to keep the locks aligned and then spin right from the locks. We also spun some gorgeous Corriedale, and it was my first experience spinning directly from the locks (rather than from roving, batting, or hand-carded rolags). I'll tell you more and post more pics when I'm more awake, it was a very busy day.

Chicken Song

I've been watching Goldie and her chicks from our basement window, through which I have a view directly into their nest. Turns out that eight of her ten eggs hatched, so I'm very impressed with her 80% hatch rate. I removed the empty shells and two unhatched eggs from the nest yesterday, and a closer examination revealed that only one of the eggs was infertile. Sadly, the other unhatched egg did have a chick in it, but for some unknown reason it failed to hatch and had died.

Goldie also has a whole vocabulary of cooing and burbling and chortling that she uses with the chicks that is very different from the usual cluck and babble the hens use with each other. And she talks to them all the time!


Obsidian Kitten said...

And yes, I am planning to keep all the chicks! After all this excitement, how could I bear to get rid of them? lol

I have more pics of Goldie's little family and the rapidly growing Heath(er) to post tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Samantha said...

gosh - 1888 is a very very old car? Sorry to hear about your car woes - I hope something will work out and you'll be back on the road again.

I love your sheep - they are so beautiful and the tiny chicks are gorgeous.

Puss-in-Boots said...

How lovely, chickens! What a clever girl, Goldie is. Congratulations to the new mum!

Reading about you washing the fleece certainly takes me back to my farming days. Isn't it satisfying, after the washing and rinsing to have lovely fresh smelling wool, ready for carding and spinning and/or maybe dyeing.

Have fun!

jessie said...

I love seeing Goldie tend to her babies. It makes me mad at Rose, our lazy hen turkey who alternately has no interest in setting on her eggs and then becomes the Mother of the Year with her devoted brooding. I don't believe we'll see any poults from her.

But our bantam has a nest somewhere. I wonder how tiny bantam chicks are?

Gattina said...

Must be the car of your great, great (great) grandfather of which you inherited ! A Bronco II from 1888 !! Wow, that's indeed something ! Now I can easily understand that you have to buy a new one !
Please, please stay away from poor Goldie and don't mingle in her babies like a bad mother in law ! Watch from far above and listen to the music !
8 babies climbed out of her eggs, not bad at all ! They look so cute !
Even shaved Thorn is handsome in his naked way !

DAWN said...

I love knowing that Goldie has her own language with her chicks. That is great. How cool to be able to sit and listen in for awhile.

Obsidian Kitten said...

Oh, good grief -- it's a 1988 Bronco. It was very late at night when i was typing, it only *seemed* like an 1888...rotfl

Yes, that Goldie is a clever chook. I'm very proud of her.

It is satisfying, this fleece adventure, and this was my first experience washing fleece.

Unfortunately, little Tyr had been dining underneath the llamas' hay rack all winter, so his fleece is quite riddled with eensy bits of hay. Going to have to re-do the eating arrangements in the hopes of preventing this from happening this season. (Live and learn...)

But the whole process is really so exciting. I do love the smell of sheep, and the feel of fleece (ah, lanolin, you're right puss-in-boots, it's so nice on the hands!), and then all the soft, clean locks...it's such a thrill.

Chris said...

Bummer about the Bronco - I got a giggle from 1888, too. :)

I like the idea of Goldie sharing all of her wisdom with her babies, teaching them how to be good chickens!

Heide said...

I love the picture of the mama chicken with her little peeps!

meeyauw said...

I want chickens SO bad now! The pattern on her feathers and the emerging markings on the chicks are gorgeous. I love it that she talks to them differently than the other hens. This photo is gorgeous.