Shop at Spinner's End Farm

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Time to Lose the Wool!

Our alpaca shearer is scheduled for June 4th and our sheep shearer will be arriving in the UP sometime after the fifth. Meanwhile some of the sheep are in the rise and wool is starting to poke up and out of their fleeces. Some have totally naked necks. Muckle Mull's sire B.O.B rooed his fleece last spring and when I took a close look at Mull's fleece it was clear that there was a clean break between this years fleece and last years fleece. Will and I got out the stand, took off his coat, and started rooing his fleece.

A very fuzzy photo of the beginning (I had lanolin all over my hands and couldn't see the screen!). You can see a clean white line and below it a grey line...that is the break. All you have to do is get your fingers between those two spots and start peeling it back and away,

Spring has finally arrived here in the U.P. and we had a sunny 70 degree day today. Mull was happy to have some time on the cool shade of the barn and get some oats for his trouble.

The whole fleece peeled off nicely, but was a little sticky at the front shoulder and Mull was getting impatient so I scissored a couple of spots. Otherwise, he has a beautiful even coat!

He is in pretty good shape after that long cold winter and working hard to sire five (and maybe more- we shall see in early July!) lambs.

He had a well deserved rest in the shade, but not until after the rest of the flock mobbed him to figure out who he was and where his fleece had gone....a funny thing sheep do after being everyone is now a stranger. One less for the shearer to do!



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Losing Toby

Barely here for three weeks, little Tobermory captured our hearts with his delightful antics and will to live. His loss of sight was not much of an obstacle when combined with his boundless enthusiasm. I was so busy enjoying his company that I hardly took any good photographs; he was always on the move, unless he was sleeping or peeing- hence the silly look of concentration below.

Toby died of abomasal bloat late last night. I found out during some feverish searching through reference books and on the web that there is no successful cure for this type of bloat (although I tried), but that it can be prevented. Bottle lambs do not come with manuals and I foolishly learned a horrible lesson in my ignorance, at a severely tragic and terrible cost. Toby trusted me implicitly and it was undeserved. I will cherish all the sweet memories he gave me and hope his nightmarish end blessedly fades from my head.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Proud Parents

Lila's last band concert for the school year was last night. She plays flute in the seventh grade band. The band program was recently re-instated at her school after a few year hiatus due to budget cuts. This year, the entire seventh grade was required to take band as a rotation every third week which makes learning an instrument tricky. The band concert last night was 5th and 6th grade band, 7th grade band, 8th grade band, and high school band. They all did a great job. Next year Lila has elected to take band as an 8th grade student. She has done a great job with her involvement with band and we are quite proud of her!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Interesting bit of history....

I found this notice for sale on ebay, and it led me to ponder what a dreadful existence it must have been spinning for mills. Nothing at all recreational about it and probably not the soul inspiring activity I find it to be done without (much) pressure. Interestingly, the fine for washing oneself is higher than missing a day of work! It doesn't sound like a cheery working environment working for Will Cobbett.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Sam Fin and Grammy Jo

I wasn't sure I wanted to post recent events in this manner, but the photographs fit and my heart told me to go for it, so I hope you will forgive this unorthodox delivery.

Grammy Jo, the light of many people's lives, left this planet on Tuesday morning for uncharted territory. She will be fearless at the places on the map where "there might be dragons" because she will face them with feet firmly planted and charm them with her disarming and oh so loving smile. That's just the way she was. Josie gifted me with my first spinning wheel (that had been gifted to her by her first born) and was ever so proud when I learned to use it. You could say she enabled this whole wooly endeavor. Most of all, she gifted me with Will and new to me sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. And, derivatively, Duncan, Lila, and Sam Fin.

Grammy Jo, Will and myself and all my new brothers and sisters.

Today, Sam Fin turned 11. He was very excited for it to be his birthday, but disappointed that it was SNOWING. On May 16th! I made him bacon and eggs, which cheered him up because, you know, bacon does that. Here is Sam Fin with his Grammy Jo. He was a big baby....

Sam, Josie, and Lila at Dougette's house on Big Manistique Lake circa 2003.

Sam and Grammy Jo some years later in New Hampshire.

This was just last year, and you can see, Sam's moon face remains the same though he is able to fashion it in many different ways...(Moon face: Sam was born on the evening of a full moon during a full lunar eclipse; plus he has a rather round head!)

As we celebrate the birthday of Sam Fin, so too will we celebrate the life of Josie/ Grammy Jo who was an inspiration to us and taught us that a charming and genuine smile can touch and warm the hearts of many.

(Thanks Mary for always taking pictures!)


Monday, May 12, 2014


Last we left this sad tale, the wee Tobermorey was in the house, unable to stand or do very much of anything frankly. We are pretty sure he had polio and he was treated with copious amounts of thiamine (vitamin B). He recovered his ability to walk and has mostly stopped shaking his head and turning in circles, but appears to be partially blind. This could have been caused by the polio or I wonder if he was the second born behind Talisker who was a huge lamb and was oxygen deprived.

After two days I thought he might be able to go out with his mum, Gaia, but she thought otherwise; so back to the house he came and he has been in here for ten days. He does pretty well and follows us by sound. He has very little sight in his left eye and has limited vision in the right. He can tell the difference between light and dark at a distance and close up but can't see objects until he is right on top of them or runs into them.

So, we have a special needs lamb in the house for now. He does manage quite well to get about and depends a lot on his hearing to track where the humans are. He likes to run wide circles around whomever he is with and doesn't lose us that way. He loves to be outside and explore and hang with the big sheep. He has learned to walk on the linoleum in the kitchen and seems quite delighted about it! He is curious and sweet. And I hope he can cope as an adult living amongst the rest of the flock.

We love our first house lamb, and hope we did the right thing by him.

Thanks very much to both Karen and Sara for their advice, encouragement and kind words.....what would we do without mentors and friends?



Sunday, May 4, 2014

What's In A Name?

Each lambing year we try to go with a naming theme. See if you can guess what it is this year;


His giant brother, Talisker.

Islay on the left and Inchgower to the right.


Of our lambs there are three rams, two ewes, two black, two grey, and one brown.

Come July we will see what damage Muckle Mull did jumping the fence....


Friday, May 2, 2014

Baby Stealer!

I didn't get any good photos of Gaia's lambs the morning they were born because of the wee brown lambs issues so went out today to capture an image of the big ram lamb.

Gaia is pissed. I risked getting beat up to get a few pictures and to say hello to the big guy.

He's cute.

The wee brown one is still in the house having some pharmaceutical treatments and is improving, but still has some wonky issues like shaking his head a lot and turning in circles. I'd like to reunite him tomorrow with Gaia and his brother to see how they do together.

Meanwhile, he is in the house and I am the baby stealer.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Under My Desk.... a cardboard box with one of Gaia's lambs in it.

He is a moorit (brown) ram lamb with a white (krunet) patch on his head. Gaia had her two ram lambs in the wee morning hours after I had checked on her, and when I first saw them at 6:00 all seemed well. They were up and nursing out in the field. Her other lamb is HUGE. He is a black gulmoget with a white head, black yuglet eye markings and white legs (sokket in Shetland speak). That lamb is bigger than the three week old ram Maya had. I'm amazed. The little guy in the box is a little smallish but not too small.

It started to rain around 6:30 so I went out to gather Gaia and her lambs up to pen them in a jug. I picked up the two lambs and put them in the pen and Gaia followed and the little brown fella started arching his neck and thrashing and couldn't stand. I gathered him up and brought him inside to see what we could do, not really knowing what the problem was. I figured he was either deficient in selenium or Vitamin B so gave him injections of both and he greedily guzzled four ounces of colustrom from a bottle. I sent my friend and shepherd mentor Karen a text and she quickly texted back that it was a vitamin B deficiency and then climbed the ridge where she has cell service to give me a call to talk me through it. It is nice to have friends like that! :). A vitamin B deficiency in sheep is otherwise known as "polioencephalomalacia" or PEM, or Polio. It causes swelling on the brain which in turn causes convulsions, incoordination, head pressing (backwards onto the spine), and potentially blindness if it isn't treated right away. Hopefully we caught in in time to reverse the effects with the thiamine....apparently it just t ages a few days on average for recovery , if there is to be one.

Keep your fingers crossed!