Sunday, June 26, 2011

Skirting, Washing & Felting

We have spent a lot of time the past two weekends doing those three things!

We managed to skirt both Bella's fleece and Bosox's fleece last Saturday morning before the humidity got the best of us.  Skirting the fleece removes second cuts, some of the dirt and VM (vegetable matter) from the fleece.

Bella's prime blanket fibers have been washed, and the last batch is currently drying.


Drying (this was some second cuts from last year's shearing)

Someday I'll post on how I wash their fiber, but not today.  :)

We are planning on carding Bella's blanket fiber from the past two years, and turning it into roving.  That will hopefully be a project for later in July.

Next up for washing is Bosox's blanket and second cuts.  Hopefully I'll start on those in the next day or so.  Bosox is an older production female, so her fiber isn't as nice as it used to be, but it is great for felting.  Most of our felted soap is felted with her fiber.  She is a rose grey, so the fiber is a nice heathered brown.

That brings us to felting!  I've been felting soap this weekend as well.  After felting enough stock for our shops, I took a break felting our artisan soap.  This weekend I decided that if it was going to be a fiber-centric weekend, I might as well felt.  I've felted 12 bars already with 2 more to go this afternoon.  I recently got a neat mat to use to felt with, and it is way easier to wet felt with it than bubble wrap.

Someday I'll also post on how I felt our soap, but not today!  :)

We still have Lars' fiber to skirt from this year, and we have four blankets of fiber upstairs in the closet as well.  Those have already been skirted, but it was a couple years ago, so they will probably be re-skirted before they are washed.  (We are better at skirting than we used to be!)

Lars' fiber is his cria fleece, so we'll probably use it for felting just because it is going to be a lot of work to get it clean.  The other four fleeces are Bella's from three years ago, a rose grey & a silver grey fleece we purchased last year, and a white fleece that we purchased last year.  All will be turned into roving, and we hopefully will experiment with dyeing fiber with the white fleece.

We have a lot of plans for our fiber, but I will be happy if I can get all of it washed this year, and all of my soap felted!

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Genetics and Cost Reduction

Hi all!

We hope your summer has started out grand!  We've had rain, then scorching 100 degree days, then cold (60s) and more rain.  I mean, we are in Minnesota, but this is still pretty crazy weather even for us!

This weekend we had the opportunity to attend an alpaca breeder's seminar in Tomah, WI hosted by Kinney Valley Alpacas, Bluff Breeze Farm Alpacas Inc, and Breakstone Ridge Alpacas.

It was a very interesting seminar, and it was fun to visit and socialize with the other farms that attended. 

Dr. Wayne Jarvis of Sixth Day Farm presented an interesting talk on alpaca genetics, and how we can use our knowledge in alpaca genetics to select for various traits in our herds.

Justin Radloff of Kinney Valley Alpacas spoke about how to increase our farm profits by lowering our costs and making our farms run more efficiently.

Overall it was a very well put together seminar, and well worth the seminar fee.  Plus, we got to visit Kinney Valley Alpacas in June (it is usually early November before we have a chance to get out there), stayed in a hotel, and had a mini weekend get away.

Hopefully if the weather isn't too rainy this week, I'll get to skirt some fleeces!