Fleece for Sale

Now that both the Mat-Su Valley Fiber Festival and the Alaska State Fair are over I can part with all this yummy fleece.  If you had your eyes on something earlier this year please don’t be shy, REMIND ME, because my brain cell is not always the best at remembering things 😉

I’ve included the judges comments for your information.

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Bert is clean and crimpy. He washed up to a fine bright white.

 

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Niko is a very fine bright white fleece. Not too greasy and very clean. This is exactly why I coat my sheep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perdita is sold

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Perdita looks like a white sheep with black spots, however, when we sheared her we found out she is covered in spots! This gives her some solid brown fleece and some “white” which is actually marbled brown and white.  The lock structure would allow for separation before processing.img_1084.jpg

Tommy Chong is sold

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It appears the vm is debris that got on the fleece from the shearing floor. This sheep was coated.

 

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There are some areas that have heavier lanolin and appear more yellowed which is (I think) what the judge would have preferred been skirted out. In my experience it washes out.img_1091.jpgIMG_1092.JPG

 

Duchess has a low lanolin content that gives her fleece a light feel. If you like to spin with a little grease you could spin this raw.

 

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Missy is pure Cormo, bright white and tightly crimped.

 

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Princess won the Best White Fleece at the Mat-Su Valley Fiber Festival.

She is another Columbia/Hampshire Down cross who’s fleece feels light and ready to spin, even in the raw 😉

 

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Bertha was also coated so the vm is debris from the shearing floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is just 1 # left

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I’m not gonna lie. These dark colors are so hard to photograph.

Mocha looks chocolate on the outside and is pretty nice dark grey with silver threads throughout.

 

 

 

Latte is Sold

IMG_1101Kind of like a Silverbacked Gorilla, Latte has both dark and lighter shades of grey. They are both lovely, fine and crimpy.

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Suffolk

Sold out – We will have more fleeces soon 🙂

I’m selling these fleeces for a friend.

This raw fleece weighs 5.25 lbs, is relatively clean (for an uncoated fleece) and rinses out pretty bright white. $35 for the whole fleece.

This fleece has more vm than the other, is 5 lbs, and will take some combing to remove the bits. Perhaps some of the vm will blow out prior to washing. This fleece is $20.

To purchase email me at TowerRanchAlaska@gmail.com

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Rookie Mistake

This guy, this awesome, well built, beautifully fleeced guy, should have been a champion.

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Tommy Chong coulda been the best sheep in the show.

But no. Because I was so preoccupied with other things I took the wrong sheep into the ring. (Queue the sound of my head hitting the desk).

July 22nd & 23rd I attended the 2nd annual Mat-Su Valley Fiber Festival. I am also the chairperson of the event, backed by a great team of committee members, and we pulled off a really great event. The highlight, for me at least, was a livestock show based on FIBER. That’s right, no meat market here, just wool, wool, and more wool. Fleece and Fiber of every texture, color, and purpose from all over our great state.

We brought up some real-deal fiber judges from out of state, and started the show with a fleece and fiber show. The judges decided to work together and judge the fleece as a team. It was very educational to watch their process and hear all their comments. After the ribbons were awarded they took the time to answer questions from the producers, most of whom had never been to a real fiber festival or fleece show before. It was fascinating to hear all the reasons they placed one before the other, or decided not to score one at all.

Out of the 32 fleeces on the table 13 were from Tower Ranch. We won best white fleece (Princess) and took several blues, a few reds and we even had a couple that didn’t get scored which I later found out was because the judge deemed them poorly skirted and not well presented. Considering 98% of my time and attention was spent on organizing the festival I was satisfied with my mediocre showing.

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Congratulations to Valerie Tompkins for Best Natural Fleece.

I was watching the judges when they reached into a bag of natural colored fleece from my ewe Latte. The tag read Romney because that is what I had been told she was when I bought her. The judge insisted it was not Romney and after I admitted that I didn’t actually know what she was (the gentleman had passed and his kids were selling the sheep without his records) he corrected me that the fleece felt more like Merino. I had heard the previous owner had Romney/Rambouillets so the judge said that must be it, he would believe she was Rambouillet (french merino) but she most definitely wasn’t Romney. I laughed and said, I stand corrected, apparently she’s a rambouillet 🙂 And that is how our whole day went. They taught, we learned, and a good time was had by all.

After the fleece show we moved on to live animals.

Saturday was the sheep events judged by Sam Wiford. We started with the rams, all 3 of my rams did well. I had to correct my entries as it appeared that my Cormo/Romney was actually a Cormo/Rambouillet. The judge was once again careful to teach us as we went. Most classes only had 2 or 3 sheep in them and we had been very honest admitting this was the first fiber festival with a fiber animal show we had ever had the opportunity to attend. He showed us each of our animals strengths and weaknesses, validating my choices to wether one lamb while leaving the other intact.

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Tommy Chong won Best Ram

Next came the ewes, Princess did better than Duchess, and he said Felony Melanie is going to be great. I hadn’t had time to prepare the sheep so they were straight out of the pasture, I took off their coats and put them in the ring. I would have liked to have at least washed their faces or something but time didn’t allow, I’m still not sure how one prepares a wool sheep for the ring. Regardless we still had a great time and brought home some ribbons.

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Spot won Best Ewe

Lee Hecimovich won best ewe and Becky Hammond from White Fireweed Farms won Best fleece overall. Congratulations to both for a job well done.

The biggest lesson I learned that day? Pay attention to what the judge is saying.

After Chong won the Best ram the judge made a comment that he was a full package. Great confirmation, size, and unbeatable wool. But his fleece didn’t even get scored on the fleece table, and Princess one best white fleece so when the ring steward called for best fleece sheep I grabbed Princess, because her fleece won on the table. Of the 4 sheep in the ring Princess didn’t place. As I was leaving the ring with Princess the judge told me I screwed up, that I should have taken Chong into the ring for Best Fleece Sheep. That’s when I remembered how he had complimented Chong when he awarded him Best Ram, said he was a full package deal, well built, good shape, nice fleece. “He’s everything you want a great ram to be.” (mental face palm) All I could do was shake my head and say rookie mistake. I didn’t think my choice through. He was kind when he pointed out I brought the wrong sheep to the ring and we both laughed about it.

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Becky Hammond and Maddie won best fleece sheep

Sunday was the goat show with Carol Ronan. She too took the time to educate everyone inside and outside the ring. I was very impressed when she said for all the presenters to stay on the backside of the animals even if she moved to that side so the audience could see the animals. She answered audience questions over the rail as we displayed our animals and a great time was had by all.

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Maximus the Pygora Buckling 

All three does in the Pygora class were mine but Miss Diva was the best of the bunch and the judge said I was very lucky to have such a fine doe. She showed why each was different than the others and complimented each on their strengths.

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When the call came for the best of show and the ring steward said “Grab your best goat” I considered my previous day’s mistake. Since I got it wrong the previous day with the sheep I was determined not to make the same mistake. As I grabbed Diva back out of the pen the judges called from the ringside “You picked the right one this time”. We all laughed as I made my way back into the ring.

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Diva getting her fleece inspected.

The judge was very gracious and explained that although Diva was an excellent Pygora she would always be less than an Angora

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Our first fiber animal show was a great success.  It was a pleasure to share the ring with friends and I’m glad a good time was had by all.

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Tasty Lamb

Got the first lambs of the season back from the processor. They came out beautifully. Get yours before it’s all gone.

Leg steaks = $12 per lb.

Meaty chops = $12 per lb.

Stew meat =$10 per lb

These animals are bred and raised right here in Palmer, Alaska. We feed Alaska hay and barley from Mat-Su and Delta producers.

Thank you for supporting Alaska Grown meats.

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Working Sheep

Ana has a little lamb… who follows her EVERYwhere. 

Minnie loves her dog and follows her all around the pasture. The other sheep go off to graze but Minnie tags along with her big white dog. 

Today Ana was helping tom with the sprinkler and Minnie was right with her, until she spotted me. There is nothing quite so adorable as a baby lamb who spits her foster mommy from across the way. Click here to see her reaction.

Once Tom was done working outside the fence and came back through the gate Ana had to go with him again. Click here to see Ana and Minnie

My favorite work crew posed for a picture but I. Ever did get one where Tom was looking up. 


But alas, chores are never quite finished on a farm so we are off to our next task. 

Click here to see us go

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Poultry and LGDs

This article is so well written I just want to share it From Mother Earth News

It explains how we train our LGDs. The instincts take care of the guarding. We work on manners and appropriate behaviors. 

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Dinner Time

This is what makes my heart sing. 

This little lady isn’t an orphan, she’s a quad. And as any mom of multiples can attest, keeping several mouths fed at once can be quite the task. Add to that the facts that she was born in Fairbanks and I wanted her for my farm in Palmer. So the decision was made to put this baby on a bottle. 

Bottle feeding lambs is a labor of love. They start with several small feedings every day and all through the night, then progress to 4 – 10 oz  meals and eventually 3 – 16 oz feedings until they start eating solid foods at about 3 weeks. The 4th week stays at that level or less so there is more time to eat hay and lamb feed and after day 30 formula stops altogether and solid foods are all she gets. 

For now she is still getting bottles and boy is she happy about it. As a lamb nurses their tail wags when they get milk. It’s a great way to tell if they are latching onto mom since that’s a hard angle to see clearly and an adorable side affect of bottle feeding. 

Click here to see Minnie’s evening bottle
I’m so lucky I get to come home after a hard day’s work and spend time in the barn with all my critters. 

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