Whether you own sheep, spin, weave, knit or do anything fiber related, James Rebanks’ latest book “A Shepherd’s View: Modern Photographs from an Ancient Landscape” is worth a read. Rebanks disperses beautiful photographs throughout his collection of essays. He lives in Matterdale located in the English Lake District where he raises Herdwick sheep.
Here’s a peek into the daily life of James Rebanks:
It’s time to get spinning! Since January 7th is the first day after the twelve days of Christmas, it is known as St. Distaff Day or Rock Day. In Medieval times, this was the day when women returned to household chores including spinning. A distaff is a tool used to hold flax or wool while spinning. Happy Spinning!
St. Distaff’s Day; Or, the Morrow after Twelfth-day
Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaffs Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then cane home and fother them:
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff’ all the right:
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.’
– Robert Herrick
In the Winter 2017 Spin Off, I found an article called “Homespun Heritage”. The article highlighted the 1975 documentary film “Homespun” by Sharon and Tom Hudgins; they filmed local folks from the southern Appalachian Mountains shearing sheep, washing, carding spinning, dyeing and weaving wool. Now, thanks to the National Archives , the film is available via YouTube. Take a look!
A few weeks ago, The Mill offered free hay testing. In order to get more accurate results, we purchased a hay probe bale sampler; it attaches to a cordless drill. The probe drills into the hay bale and chews up the hay for easier testing. The sample bag (a gallon bag) is attached to keep the sample free of contamination. We tested both our first and second cutting; our hay is right on target for good nutrition for our sheep. It’s really a good feeling to know we are growing, harvesting and providing hay for our sheep. The sheep definitely enjoy our hay!
Hay Sampling Tools
Hay Sampling in Action
It’s been a little over two weeks since we put up our second cutting of hay. What started out as a beautiful Wednesday afternoon to bale hay turned into a visit to the ER. With my “I can do that” attitude, I tried to move the hay elevator closer to the barn loft. The crank is a manual gear and some how my left hand got hit/caught in the crank or gear; it all happened so fast that all I remember is the excruciating pain and blood. In the ER, I was teasing that I needed to update my tetanus shot but this is definitely not the way I wanted it to happen. My injury is mostly to my ring finger; it is a crush injury with fracture. I am only able to look at finger now; maybe I will look at the ER photos at a later date. Thankfully, I had on my gloves. I checked them later to see only a small cut in them; my injury would have been worse without them.
Since the chores need to go on, my sweet husband finished baling and hauling the hay by himself. I watched from the sidelines. Our second cutting yielded 200 bales.
Next cutting, I promise to “respect the hay elevator” as my husband is always telling me…..