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...
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.
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.
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!