Happy Valentine’s Day! Introducing new “Be Mine” Roving. You can find it on Etsy @ https://www.etsy.com/shop/parsonsprairie. It is 55% Alpaca/40% Wool/5% Nylon. Perfect for sock yarn or any of your projects where you want the softness of alpaca, the memory of wool and the strength of nylon. The alpaca comes from Sgt. Pepper.
The weather in our area since the first of the year has been crazy! Rain, snow, ice, high winds and brutally cold temps seem to have taken over. We have had a few nicer days in between so it hasn’t been all bad, but it has definitely been a wintery start to the year.
We always get asked how the animals are doing when the weather is extreme like this. The alpacas are in almost full fleece and don’t have an issue with the cold at all. They typically don’t have a problem with snow, but seem to prefer not to have to walk through it and won’t even try to graze with snow on the ground. They don’t seem to like the wind. They spend much of a cold, blustery winter day tucked away in their barns. But if the sun is out and some grass is peaking through the snow, they will venture out no matter the temperature.
Bella stays safe and warm in the barn with the female alpacas. Jeff worked this fall moving extra hay in the barns to keep some of the cold out. It is amazing how warm it stays in the barn with all the animals in it. Bella has re-arranged a bale or two of hay and made her bed tucked away in the corner of the barn.
The chickens stay close to the barns and roost in the rafters at night. I’m sure it is plenty warm up there for them. The cats live in the hay barn. They have tunnels in between the hay bales and they are probably the warmest of all!
There are always things that need to be done on the farm, so we have concentrated more so far this year on projects we can do inside. Since we both have full time jobs outside of the farm, we have to get as much done in our spare time as possible. Here is a little of what we have been working on when the weather outside is awful.
Spinning Colorway Samples
Loading up Etsy with our new yarns and rovings…..
Doing a physical inventory of our products and preparing merchandise orders for the spring sales season…..
Keeping the driveway and pathways to the barns safe and clear of snow…..
Even with the weather, this is an exciting time of year. It’s a great time to get caught up on indoor projects, planning for the new year and watching that fiber grow!
Shearing Day is once again upon us! And, this year at least, it can’t come a minute too soon. It has been unseasonably warm and a few days it was downright humid. The alpacas and I will be relieved when they have all that fiber off! Right now we plan for the shearers to arrive around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 15th. As always we welcome visitors. If you would like to participate we can certainly find a job for you. If you would prefer to just pull up a chair and watch, we would love to have you do so.
Watch the blog for any changes to our shearing date and time. We try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the shearers schedule.
The boys before shearing
The same boys after shearing! Always makes me laugh!
Get ready for the next batch of blended roving…….Pink Pandemonium. This is a blend of 70% alpaca (a natural beige) and 30% bamboo (dyed a shocking red/pink color).
The roving is already up on the website at http://www.naturalfiberfarm.com and comes in 4 ounce bundles.
The alpaca fiber came from Ringo who has soft, fine fiber with beautiful crimp. Ringo is one of our shy males and can always be counted on as a good & safe buddy when we move the male weanlings over to the “big boy” pasture.
So…..do you know who your roving comes from?
We just received the 2014 processed fiber back from Shepherd’s Mill and it has been like Christmas around our place! We have some of the most beautiful 100% alpaca and amazing alpaca/bamboo and alpaca/merino blends to offer this year. I can’t wait to get it all marked and checked in and out on the farm store shelves. I am working very hard to get it all ready to go in time for our upcoming fall shows, but I want to give you a first look and first chance to purchase all this beautiful 2014 fiber. Once I introduce the new fiber here, it will also be ready for purchase on the farm website at http://www.naturalfiberfarm.com. If you see something you want, place your order as quickly as possible. I think this fiber will go very quickly once we start our fall show tours.
I will start by introducing Timna Valley, a beautiful 60% alpaca/40% bamboo blended roving. The alpaca fiber is light fawn and comes from our alpaca Imagine. Imagine’s fiber has been blended with bamboo, dyed a beautiful malachite color. The roving comes in 4 oz. bundles and is $26.00 per bundle.
As you can see, we have plenty of bundles right now, but I think that will change very quickly, particularly as shoppers get their hands on this incredible fiber.
Imagine is one of our beautiful males……..fine fleece with a nice long staple length. And that color…….gorgeous!
So…..do you know who your roving comes from?
Last spring I decided I was going to give Luffa farming a try. Typically, when I decide to try something new, I just jump in with both feet, go way overboard and worry about the consequences later. It’s just the way I am when it comes to my creative endeavors. But this time, thank goodness, I tried to be more conservative and started out small. I started with only 12 plants and after making several mistakes and having a terrible summer in Missouri for Luffa farming, I ended the year with 2 luffas. Yes, that is it! There is no one else in the world that was as proud of my 2 luffas as I was, but let’s face it, it was not a great first year.
But as the winter went on (and on and on and on, it seemed), I began to get excited about Luffa Farming – Year 2. I learned a lot last year and if Mother Nature cooperates a little bit, I’m hoping to have a much better season.
One of the first decisions I made was to purchase a different seed. I don’t know that a different seed would have made much of a difference last year with the short summer that we had, but I am excited to try something new. At the Mother Earth News Fair last October I met the folks at Botanical Interests and was able to talk to them about the luffa gourd seeds that they have. I purchased my seeds this year from them and am excited to see how they work for me.
Luffas need a very long growing season, 110 days at least. This year I planted my seeds indoors earlier than I did last year so that I had a more mature plant to start with. I also used a plant light to give my seeds the warmest and lightest start possible. I really think it made a difference.
I started around 60 plants indoors. To prepare a good place for my luffas this year, I purchased 2 cattle panels just for my luffa farming project. We attached the panels to posts which gave us about 32 feet of space for the luffas to grow and vine to their hearts content.
I got the 60 plants in the ground today. We are off to a much warmer start this season and if we don’t have an early freeze in the fall, my luffas will have plenty of time to mature.
We have placed temporary fencing around the luffa garden just until the plants mature some. I don’t want my chickens to uproot the plants while they are still so young and tender.
Watch for more posts to see how Luffa Farming – Year 2 is coming along.