Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Quick Update

The farm/building tour with the township went great this weekend.  Adam conducted the tour while I stayed inside making peppermint patties because for the love of all things wooly it's just too freaking cold to stand outside in our currently unheated garage bay for an hour or so.  Farmers like to talk!  The township planning board love the idea, love the animals, love the farm, love the fact that the building is already there, up to code and doesn't require any additions or exterior renovation and they're just pretty psyched about the whole thing.  It's been wonderful to see how excited people are about what we're trying to do.  And I'm sure it doesn't hurt that one of the board members has a wife that wants us up and running by spring- apparently she has some fleeces that she needs washed and I'm sure he would catch hell at home if he did anything to delay that happening! 

The next step is that the planning board gave their approval to the township supervisors last night, and now we get notified of the date of a public hearing which will be sometime in January.  Before that time, the township will send out letters to our neighbors (anyone within a distance to really care one way or the other) and people will have the opportunity to show up at the meeting to give an opinion and we will be there to answer any questions for them.  If no one shows up, which apparently happens a lot, we have the chance of being passed that day.  Otherwise, the supervisors have the option of waiting until the next meeting so that they have a chance to think about what was said.  But no one is anticipating any problems, which is fantastic.

After that, we get to start working with Belfast to plan our mill and start the *hopefully* minor renovations to the building to make it a business.  And get a license and a tax ID and get the name registered and insurance....  a lot of things will start happening!

But this week it's Christmas, so we've been decorating the farm and getting ready; we're almost there-

and Cisco has been "helping."

(There are currently no presents under our tree because someone would take it upon himself to unwrap them for us.  How...helpful.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mill Progress

We're still trying to move forward with the plan for a fiber mill.  This seems like it has taken an exceptionally long time, mostly because I think we don't really fit into any neat category for the township- are we light manufacturing?  Agricultural business?  Textile production?  They don't know.  Things that can't be filed nicely always seem to gum up the works a bit.  Also, my application kept disappearing en route to the township office.  BUT we hand-delivered it last week, which means that last night Adam and I were scheduled to go before the Planning Board.

It went better than expected.  I don't think I was expecting pitchforks and flaming torches, but I always like to be prepared for the worst.  I could tell when we started talking that pretty much only one person had any idea of what in the world we might be talking about, but they seemed to get on board pretty quickly.  I think it helps that although the board is mostly men, and there is sadly far too few male knitters in the world, I have a feeling that most of them probably have a wife or mother or aunt or somebody that knits.  So once we started talking about yarn and such, they could kind of see where we were going with things.  It also helps that we're the kind of business the township likes- local jobs that help small, local farmers.  So next Saturday the planning board will be out at the farm to check out the building for the mill.  After that, they submit their findings to the township supervisors and we have to schedule a date for a meeting and the neighbors have to be notified so that they have the ability to make their opinions known.  I'm not expecting a lot of neighborly resistance, but then again, you never know. 

Keep your fingers crossed for us as we slowly plod ahead- but any progress is still progress.  And at least we have a week to get the garage cleaned out- we'll need it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Great Wheel

Over Thanksgiving, Adam and I visisted my side of the family.  This trip, we remembered to bring the trailer, which meant that we could bring home the great wheel my grandmother gave us a year ago.

And by great wheel, I mean Great Wheel.  This thing is HUGE. 

It's also in incredible shape, with all the pieces still intact, minus needing a new string for a drive band.  That's pretty amazing, considering that the wheel was found in the attic of the house when my grandparents moved in.

I'm so excited to learn how to spin on it! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Cisco is settling in wonderfully on the farm.  He's doing pretty well in the housebreaking, although there are still a few accidents.  He's also learned how to sit and the best way to annoy his big sister.  He's made himself quite at home, including taking over Thora's couch for occasional naps.

In between naps though, he's a fireball of pure energy.  Which is a good thing in a Border Collie- not so great after a long day when all we want to do is lay on the couch in a stupor and all he wants to do is play 1435 games of fetch- but a good thing overall.

He's also shown a lot of promise with the sheep.  So much promise that now the naughty sheep caught out of the fence make a beeline back home when they see him coming.

He's already showing all the right collie moves and has even gotten the yak herd to move a few times.  He has incredible focus for his work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Happy (belated) Halloween from Skirted Fleece!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


We had a great day at Rhinebeck yesterday.  I think that the people going today probably have the better weather, but all things considered, it was a terrific day. 

Lots of wool. 

Let's skip over the amount of wool that may or may not have been purchased and brought back to the farm.  That's irrelevant.

Lots of sheep:

And because I fell in love with these:

we now have Sailor- a red satin angora buck.

And because Adam fell in love with these:

yeah, you guessed it.

Meet Cisco, the new farm dog.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To Market

Today Adam, his mom, and I went to the Calicoon Farmer's Market and set up with the Spinners and Weavers Guild.

Manning the table while trying to get some knitting done on Adam's Christmas sweater

Mary's felted hats

I've been knitting and felting these lambs while my sister has been giving them names and personalities. 
They sold really fast!

It was a beautiful day, but 80 degree weather doesn't make people want to think about snow and
warm woolies.

Mary demonstrating spinning.

Annie, who works with Adam and I.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ninja Yaks

Niobe.  Stealth yak.

Gaia, on the other hand...

less stealthy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Take a Guess

Q:  How many sheep can fit into a hay trough at one time?

A:  Five

No, we don't have any idea why that's their favorite place either.  Your guess is as good as ours.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Earning Their Keep

A few weeks ago I stopped into our local yarn store and was talking with the owner, who has been waiting to get her hands on yak fiber for her shop.  No yak fiber yet, but I did mention that we have bags of angora, just sitting around. 

And one thing let to another...

So for the last few weeks, Adam and I have been

taking the bunny fluff...

running it through the drum carder...

weighing out one ounce batts...

and boxing up "Bunny Clouds." 

Ten boxes are going to hit the shelves of "The Gentle Arts" in Honesdale tomorrow, and honestly, I don't know about him but I'm a little terrified.  I don't know if I'm more worried that they won't sell at all, or that they'll all sell out and then we'll have nothing new to stock.  Nova and Storm were just plucked, leaving only Nimbus left to do and then we'll have no more angora for another three months.  I'm having terrifying visions of us hovering over the cages, pleading with rabbits to grow hair faster. 

That is not a life I would like to live. 

So keep your fingers crossed for us, as the very first ever Skirted Fleece Farm product heads out for sale.

Also- Adam designed the new logo for the farm.  I think it's awesome!  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Memo to Sheep

Dear Julie,
  I realize that you have traditionally been the dominant sheep in your little flock.  I realize that you think you are Queen of Everything and that all the other sheep are used to following you and listening to you and moving out of the way when you headbutt them.  I realize that you have based your somewhat limited life around this status and have grown to expect certain things.

However.  There are a few things you need to accept.

1.  You are a sheep.  On a farm that has yak.
2.  Yaks are bigger than sheep are.
3.  Yaks do not like to be headbutted in the rump.
4.  You have short stubby legs which are quite ineffective for making hasty escapes.
5.  40 acres is not enough space to escape from a wrathful yak with a bruised bum. 

Perhaps next time you could think some of these things through before deciding to "move" Gaia out of your way.  Just a thought.

-Much Love
the people laughing at you

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In Pictures


Nimbus and Storm got a new hutch, twice as big as the old one.  Of course, in the true fashion of sisters, this means that they have divided the hutch into "your side" and "my side."


Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome to the Dark Side

Our power went out around 10 am on Sunday.  It was returned to us around 7:30 Thursday night.  That is, for those keeping score at home, just under four and a half days with no power.  Some of that was broken up by the fact that Adam and I still went to work, and some of that was broken up by the fact that when you have no electric, you go to bed when it gets dark out- which runs about 7:40 pm these days, if anyone's interested.

But to fill the other hours without tv, video games, cell phones, or the computer, you can:
curl up under quilts and read (or nap!)

play with the dog

look up knitting patterns (in real books!  Instead of on Ravelry!)

Knit in the sunshine

or by lamplight

after you convince your husband to wind some balls of yarn for you.

(winding yarn is not Adam's favorite past time)

You could find new and exciting uses for the garage overhang and some 550 cord

when the power goes out mid-laundry cycle.

Harvest some lavender

or play in the sunshine

All in all, it wasn't a terrible experience.  Not one that we would like to repeat at any point in the near future, but not awful.  We kept thinking how much harder the whole thing would have been had we been in the middle of a sweltering heat wave and trying to keep the animals cool or in the middle of a blizzard or cold snap and trying to keep the water troughs from becoming 50 gallon ice bergs without power to the electric heaters.  Honestly, the animals didn't have a clue that anything was different.  We ran two borrowed generators, one for the chest freezer in the garage and the other for the water pump and furnace so that we could water the animals and take quick, hot showers.  And flush the toilets, which becomes more important than you might imagine after Day 1 without power.   

The one good thing that came out of the whole experience (other than getting a lot of knitting done) was the fact that without other distractions, Adam and I got to spend a LOT of time together.  There was not much else to do other than talk to each other, no video games to play or Facebook to check.  We went to bed early together, got up early together, and spent a lot more time, in general, together.  We also got to spend some time with his family, as his sister had power, so those without were huddled around her table for hot meals. 

So, in short, it could have been a lot worse.