Where Did October Go?!

Holy Moley!  I’d say I can’t believe its been a month already, except it feels like it’s been 2 months since my last post!  I have been making soap, prepping wool, felting soap - and not much else.  I estimate that since the first week of October, I have sold something around 400 bars of soap!  And I am operating in an almost-constant state of just-about-out of soap :).  I have had a couple of smaller wholesale orders on Etsy, and numerous sales of a few bars here and there, but probably the most exciting for me is that I am now selling my felted soap through another storefront.  A gift shop in Wilmington, North Carolina, Eclipse Artisan Boutique, contacted me through my website here, and asked if I would be interested in selling on commission in their store.  I said yes, and sent my first shipment on Tuesday!  I’m excited for another physical venue to sell soap that customers can actually see, feel, and smell - it’s just not the same shopping online for items that have such a visceral appeal to the senses.  

With all the felted soap, I’m finally making some headway on my immense piles of alpaca fleece, sorting and carding it into batts (fluffy sheets about 14”x22”), and then dying them a rainbow of different colors, and saving one or two of each color for felting in the natural shades.  Each “second cut” - the neck and leg shearing off the alpaca - gives me about 5-6 batts, and each batt felts maybe 10-18 bars of soap, depending on their size, either 4 oz or 2 oz.  I have processed 5 second-cuts since early October, and I am still just about out of ready batts and need to skirt at least 3 more immediately.  It’s such a great feeling to have another empty bag, though - I’ve actually emptied 2 big plastic totes that used to be full of wool, just sitting there filling up my porch.  

As soon as I can find the time, I also need to start making dryer balls.  The store in NC also wants those, but in natural shades of alpaca wool and all mine are currently alpaca insides but sheep wool outsides, and dyed fun colors.  I just don’t have the time right now, but as soon as I do, they’d like about 200 balls!!  I have 3-4 garbage bags of “trash” wool filling 2 big totes, just begging to be turned into dryer balls, as soon as I can get some nicer fiber carded up to wrap around them and make pretty, smooth outer layers.  

In non-fiber/soap news, there’s too many little things to even mention, and only a few note-worthy developments.  Let’s see...

We borrowed a sheep ram in early October, so we should have baby lambs in early March.  And so many!  With 9 ewes, we will be hoping for 18 lambs, but expecting maybe 15-16 since half the mamas will be first-time lambers.  I’m excited to see how they do, I’m still getting familiar with sheep and just don’t know them well enough - either the species or these particular individuals - to really know what to expect.  

We also borrowed a goat buck on Wednesday, so we’ll be looking for goat kids starting the first week of April or so - I am trying to stagger the lamb and kid seasons just a bit so that I can focus on lambs, and specifically starting the milking (including trialing several new milkers), without the distraction of baby goats left and right.  I’m hoping to milk at least 3 sheep this next summer, and at least 2 goats, so we’re going to definitely be looking for 4-6 cheese (and sheep ice cream!) share customers this time.  

We have the 5 boy lambs and 2 steers scheduled to go to the butcher on the 16th, so we’ll be fully stocked up on beef and lamb for the rest of the winter!  We might even get to eat some lamb this time - we only had the one last winter, and he sold so fast that we only used the neck ourselves.  

Also on the 16th, the kittens are all scheduled to get fixed, and none too soon!  They are 16 weeks already, and we intended to get both the year-old “big kittens” neutered last month, but could only find one when it came time to load them in the car, so the other one will be going off with the 7 babies this month.  I have been really impressed with the big cats, Shadow and Bagheera - I’ve never before seen older cats that hate the newcomer kittens make a complete about-face, and end up best friends!  They all sleep in a huge pile together, and play and rough-house together, and it has made the older two much friendlier with us humans as well - like they didn’t realize until they saw the babies getting attention, that humans were actually good for something besides food :”

Finally, in non-farm news, Ewan is walking!  He started just about a week ago, very considerately the day before a pediatrician check-up so I didn’t have to say “nope, he’s still not doing that either” - and he’s loving it!  He walks all over the house, grinning the whole time, he knows he’s pretty awesome, and is already getting pretty good at it.  Now if only he would start using some real words...  He says “maa maa” all the time but it seems to mean “gimme gimme gimme”.  It sounds good out in public, though :)

It’s finally fall here, we had about 8 days of frosts a couple weeks ago - then a week of 70’s again, and now it’s back down to freezing most nights for the next week, and I’m sitting in front of a toasty fire in the stove - I think I’ll make a cup of tea and knit for a while :)  I’m ready for a quiet winter, warm house, long evenings, and lots of spinning and knitting!  And yes, I’m being overly optimistic...


so much creativity

I was just bragging today about how creative my daughter in law is. Forgot about your dryer balls. And great to hear about Ewan walking about--such a joy to see those first steps when we were in the neighborhood :-)

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