My Own GC Sheep Wool

So I had some of my own Gulf Coast sheep’s wool washed and sent to a fiber mill to be spun into yarn. Some is a larger size for crochet and some a thinner for weaving. Ok, any guesses that I don’t deal with the terminology well for yarn sizes outside of the normal weaving sizes. The terms for crochet and knit don’t make any sense to me so they don’t stick in this brain. But anyway, I received skeins and cones back. So have started using it.

So I started with beginning a crochet top from AUSTINtatious Crochet. This book has crochet projects that are inspired by Jane Austin and the Regency period. Below, I finally got smart and took the skeins to my work room and wound balls with the ball winder to make it easier. But you can guess that my first skein and ball was a bit of a mess till I hit on a way to wind it off my water and arm.

I have the front of that top half done. Fairly close to what it is suppose to look like. Yep, I’m making it so it isn’t perfect by any stretch of one’s imagination.

But then I decided to weave some on the table loom. I have a disclaimer here. I haven’t woven anything that wasn’t sectional warping in at least five and half years as my table loom was in parts when we got it after the move. After so much time, I finally looked at it. It wasn’t as bad as it looked and now is one complete machine again. Alas, that wasn’t the end of the troubles of this project.

Did I mention it has been awhile since I have warped anything not sectional? I thought it would be simple to do, but being me, it became complicated.

I also picked a not so simple warp for relearning front to back. So again, what one saw in this room in this process would have driven real weavers insane. If not crawling to their own sweet rooms and petting their looms and promising to never have such confusion touch them. Ha!

But let’s back up a bit. I have had a copy of a modified log cabin pattern floating around for ages. I love log cabin and this one I’ve wanted to try for too long to not decide to start it with this project. For good or bad.

So I wound some warp and then dyed it so I could have my two colors. In the end, remember this was me doing this, the yarn ended up space dyed. Ok, we can still work with this. But I did forget to wind enough for the weft as well. I was in a just warp mindset and so got the warp all set, but now must pause in this whole process to dye some weft and hopefully get it similar to the first dye. Oh, yeah, any bets that is going to happen?

But now to warp the loom that I forgot I can’t do in the manner of a sectional. But hey, we will still probably make a mess of it anyway – so onward. I took my two colors and threaded the reed and heddles with the two colors coming from their own batches. Intertwining, I imagined the mess that was being created that would take forever to wind on – and that only if I didn’t end up cutting it short in a tangled mess. But, thankfully, this is only 8 epi (ends per inch), so not a detailed hundreds of threads to work with.

Amazingly what you see above didn’t end up such the crazy time consuming mess that I imagined. All those threads made it to where I sent them, and I managed to get the whole warp wound on without cutting anything, pulling anything too much, or any massive tight tangles. Happy dance! If you can’t guess, no one will be asking me to teach any one how to warp a table loom any time soon, but I can get it done when everything is all wrong. I might add it is only about 5 yards long. Happy sight from the top with it all ready to start weaving – hopefully. There were only two crossed threads. The rest was all in order. Another Happy Dance time!

So today I started weaving. It is working! It is a bit springy but we are able to work with that. It is an odd log cabin pattern with its space dyed yarn. Can I convince anyone that I did that on purpose? Or should I just tell people that no matter what, something can be created out of anything. You can play with the pattern with your eye as it isn’t quite obvious.

So now to go dye some more yarn. Hmmm… If you looked close at two pictures above, you will notice what I did not in the moment – the reason that this ended up space dyed. One of those after thoughts of – good grief, you should know better. But I need to do it again. So maybe the woven bit above is just the practice run as the rest will be too different. Or it will all blend together. So more to experiment with. I’m liking it and hope that it will come out well in the end, and that I will be able to create out of it what I thought in the beginning. Or once again manage to make it work in some way.

Categories: dyeing, Fiber, Gulf Coast Sheep, Weaving | Tags: | 2 Comments

Learning to Spin

So it has been awhile. More than awhile. And though there are projects in all sorts of stages of work, nothing to add to my memories yet. One in particular will make it here, but the first try was a fair disaster. Or maybe not a disaster but not a success either. But the second try is in progress.

So today I was looking for some lace to use to fix a net that I use to clean out the sheep’s water troughs. And in that search, I found some of my first spun yarn. I may be a bit discouraged at what is happening right now in fiber around here, but compared to these little balls, it is of the most grandiose perfection. Ha!

Babies and More Babies

So let’s remember where we’ve come from.

I read near the beginning of my fiber journey to save those first depressing bits so that you could see where you’ve come from down the line. I also saw a simple project to do with that first yarn to make it useful but you could see what you’ve done easily. A wrist distaff. So here is some of my first spindle spun yarn. I have always loved this little thing. It is my almost first hand spun on a spindle. The first was red.

As spinning does take a little bit of practice. Or a long bit of practice. I was finding it hard to feel I was getting anywhere with it at all. But then Connie gave me a bit of this pink batt. Not a lot but something to play with. That was the first time I felt like I had found something I could spin. I could become somewhat proficient at this craft, maybe, after all. I do like batts still today.

So, my first yarn spun on a wheel here in Texas was not a spectacular success. Does it hold together? Yes. Is it in some form of yarn? Yes. But is it very usable? Not for anything nice. But having heard to keep track of those first bits so that you can see where you came from, I can say I shouldn’t be too sad at what is happening on the wheel right now. Nothing near this lumpy bumpy or big or weird or whatever one would call such a ball. So progress.

But I didn’t stay with just wool. I must admit this early ball of yarn is impressive looking to me and it was llama that I drum carded and spindle spun. Compared to the others before, I think I may be getting better at this craft after all.

One last one here. I had spun cotton as well in the beginning. I find this note rather interesting. It states that it is green heritage cotton. Alas it has been a few years or more and is distinctly looking tanish brown. Also I seem to have take my Turkish spindle and used it as a supported spindle to spin it. Still a bit lumpy bumpy but not looking too bad.

So a good look back and maybe I’ll get back to my work I’m doing now and get it logged in here sooner than later.

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Lovely Fiber, Yarn, shawl Done

So a project that should have been done many moons ago is finally finished.

I won a door prize at a Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference that then sat for a bit. Maybe longer than a bit. I started spinning it and loved it – Who wouldn’t. Just look at that label.

RedFish DyeWorks is a great company with luscious silk and silk blend fibers. A vendor booth you live in for some time but then if you have to count your pennies, you do need to walk away with just the experience of having touched some of their offerings. But this particular year, I had the privilege of walking out of the conference with 4 oz. of silk and baby camel. Wow! What does one say? I was speechless. I did go back and buy a small bit from them as a thank you. Nothing near this expensive or nice, but I did pay back a thank you.

So what does one do when they get home with what seems like a million bucks? Leave it to sit for a bit. Not quite used to something that slippery and soft and totally slick. I did finally spin it all up during a trip to my folks. So next question – what to make of it? What shape, size, length, width? I did finally decide on something to go at the top of a dress I have that is rather plain. So some simple shawl to go around the shoulders sounded good.

After looking at some ideas, I ended up just taking a pattern from a book and started creating. I got to crocheting and modified my idea which went through more than a few variations. I was going to add other yarn to it, but in the end just finished it up with what I had and let it shine on its own. My starting idea was a bit grander than the amount of yarn I had, but for what is there, I think it came out to be something quite simple and nice.

So here I have my small simple shawl. It just comes around the shoulders and then can tie in front. I had just enough yarn left that I created a bit of a button look where they would meet. Actually, I was just fiddling with the idea of making a flower, but well it was me doing it, and it has a very distinct button look with funky loopy bits in the center.

I will say, if I wasn’t mostly done with this much at the time that I decided that I wouldn’t add other yarn to it for a bigger piece, I would have made it a bit longer and thinner. Alas, I think this is still nice and works quite well.

I’ll have to wear this and the dress Sunday and see how it actually looks together. My farm work attire doesn’t quite do it justice. I am quite happy with it. If I spun thinner, it would have gone farther, but actually some of this is some fine thin spinning for my part. I am happy.

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The Good and The Bad

Life is moving along here. Texas summer heat and humidity is here in spades, and boy, does one sweat when out doing chores. But it is a good time all the same.

I did sell three more sheep. Two of this years lambs and a year old ewe. So I have sold 6 sheep so far and need to sell some more. So hopefully will find some more people who want to fall down this rabbit hole and love them or else someone who has small acreage and would love a couple of wethers to take care of the mowing needs. Sheep do love to mow your yard for you.

I’ve been working on my Copperplate and Spencerian penmanship. Now when you start from where I am in handwriting this is a long slog, but I’m quite enjoying it and am getting better. Or so I keep telling myself.

Next, the judge in our county finally joined everyone else on the bandwagon of people having to wear masks when in any business in the county. Yikes! I hate masks. I don’t have full breathing as it is and to hinder it further would be just wrong. I did manage to make me a version of one that Mark has where it is like a cowl around the neck then you just pull it up over your nose. That worked well last night for work as I could quickly pull it up and down and could still breath with air from underneath as it was not tight at the bottom. At least I had it easier than others at work who never did get comfortable wearing one and breathing.

But really, worse than having to wear a mask came yesterday. Sweet little Elizabeth broke her leg sometime since last I was out there. It was heartbreaking to see her. But we got her fixed up and she is doing well today. Thankfully. It isn’t slowing her up too much now. I tell more of this story on the Bent Oak Site. So yeah, that is worse than having to wear a mask now if I go out to town. And no I wasn’t the only one getting as much done in town as they could before 12 noon yesterday when it went in play.

So this is just a quick recap. I do need to record some real craft or work here beyond sheep. So must get back to busy. I do have a project going that needs to be finished. Maybe I’ll get to it sooner than later.

But to close here is a picture from a couple weeks ago of three babies (I call all my sheep my babies) enjoying there afternoon ruminations a bit much. I got a short video of their jaws just a working on what they had eaten that morning. So cute and who is enjoying it more than the lamb behind Miriam. It is a girl and Miriam had twin boys so not hers. I am thinking it just might be Elizabeth. That white face is the clue. She really looks like she should have been Sarah’s daughter as Sarah has always stayed so white in face and legs compared to any of the others.

Categories: Gulf Coast Sheep | Tags: | Leave a comment

What is a Wether?

So you love animals and you want lots of sheep and lambs. But once you head down this road you realize what you have heard is really true. What do you do with all the boys that are born? Yes, it seems that in the human world many want their sons though they don’t begrudge their daughters. But in the animal world it is the other way around. We want girls as they are more useful. Boys on the other hand are problems.

Do you know what it is like to have four intact rams trying to vie for King of the Mountain or Top of the Totem Pole? Not very good spot to be caught in the middle. Ask me how I know. So most boys end up going to freezer camp, whatever the farm animal.

But what if you don’t want to send them all to freezer camp? Sheep boys have an added benefit – they produce wool. So if I want to keep the boys for their wool, but I don’t want all the wild male testosterone flowing and running rampant in the pasture, what do I do?

I am going to go into more detail about this on the farm blog. So if you are interested in what happens to these boys and why they may be the perfect fit for you, you may go to the longer blog What is a Wether? on my Bent Oak Farm site. See many more pictures. Read about my wethers. What they are. What they are wonderful for.

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber, Gulf Coast Sheep, sheep | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dyeing, Felting, Sewing

So, have I been quiet and still all this time that I am not posting reminders of my doings? Actually, no but it seems hard to find interest in memories that aren’t that exciting. But here goes with a couple of things that have happened.

So I took some of my wool that I had sent off and did a quick Kool-aid dye to it. Well, not really Kool-aid, I picked the cheaper brands but picked ones high in blue dye tones.

This is a project though that is not working out as envisioned. I have woven the two colors alternating weft and the white for warp. Then I went to felt it and it did somewhat, but I guess I didn’t rinse them very well as some of the color went walk about. So then put in other pieces to cover it and discovered that my felting needles that are old need replaced. I actually broke them. Oops. Probably my fault. So back to felting it as a big flat piece. Alas, it isn’t going as wonderfully as I had hoped and I doubt I use it as intended. I may just have a “thing” when I’m done. But will say, as with all disasters, you do learn and in trying this again, I know what I’d do differently. There are no pictures of its current state.

One job I started a bit ago but finally finished was a skirt with 96 squares in it. I saw the pattern for this skirt on Heidi’s Youtube Channel at Rain Country. She came up with this skirt and has shared how she does it but it is for personal use as she does sell these on her Etsy store and they go fast.

I had some blue jean skirts that all had holes in them. So decided to save the good fabric of them in this skirt. So I cut many and many a square out of skirts. Not as easy as she makes it look in the video when just using plain simple cotton yardage or sheets. In the beginning, I was careful not to cut over seams but later squares I cut right over the seams. The advantage there was that I got more squares out of a skirt. But still by the end I didn’t have enough. So it was off to the stash and I found a dark blue cotton that I could get four squares from and then a couple brown plaids that would work. The number I ended up with each fabric came out so well, that I could have a pattern with them around the bottom. Then it was fold over for a gathered waistband and found a tie out of a gathered skirt that was well past its prime.

I will have to say that I do love the skirt. Being out of denim, it is rather heavy but I do tend to like that. It would be wonderful done out of light cotton fabric for summer and would go faster than what I did here. But all in all, I wear it often as it is so quick and easy to put on.

And Dinah would like to wish you all a lovely day. Remember you can follow the farm website for more lamb photos. We have wool, lambs, and sheep for sale at this time. Check out Bent Oak Farm.

Categories: dyeing, Fiber, Sewing, sheep | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

One More Surprise

So Abby marches to her own drummer. Like she doesn’t do anything like the rest. That may be the wrong way to put it, or at least very exaggerated. But despite others thinking that spring lambing was over, I knew that the girl that didn’t have her lamb till a full month after everyone else last year was finished – hadn’t had a lamb. She didn’t look very fat, but well, I still wasn’t going to be surprised.

So Sunday morning after the last lamb was about 22 days ago, I go out and Abby presents me with this sweet little one. Was I surprised? Not really. Although I was not specifically going out to check and see if she was to ever have a lamb this year.

This is always a joy to see new little ones. How quickly we forget how little they are when newborns. She has made Judah look huge all of a sudden.

One note to add here. I have a longer post on Hadassah on my new site I started for Bent Oak Farm. I will be posting most all animal happenings over there. So if you are interested in the sheep and want to continue following them, you can go to www.bentoakfarm.wordpress.com and sign up to receive emails on them there. There is a static first page at that site so if you want to see the blog roll, it is under What’s Happening on the Farm tab. I hope to do better at posting there as I really need to sell some sheep and wool, as well as just share them more. This site will then be more of what it was intended to be when I started it – my journey in fiber and history. I do have projects going and need to post to my memories of working on them.

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Gulf Coast Sheep, sheep | Tags: | Leave a comment

In Times Like These

That old hymn just popped in my mind while sitting here thinking of a title for this piece. In times like these you need a Saviour, In times like these you need an anchor, be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the solid rock. This rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the one, This rock is Jesus, the only One, be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the solid rock. 

These times we live in are a bit strange to say the least, but I’m thankful for the Solid Rock.

But not only that, but how much Scriptures give us the picture of God in sheep and the shepherd. Below is a bit I posted on Facebook yesterday, although here I have lengthened it some.

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Storm clouds rolling in and sheep grazing

So do you go ahead and do afternoon chores when a storm is coming in? I had decided not to. Then decided to. Then…. yep, bad decision making. Sometimes it is hard to make a decision when you just don’t know what is best. So Mark went out with me, and it was fun watching the ones out grazing, and storm clouds moving in, and little care showing. But then I decided that I would deal with sheep. Thankfully, that decision was made late enough that we got to the barn and then … in short order … lets just say the heavens opened up and the winds blew. Interesting time.

Now our barn isn’t tight to the outside weather. Though this is the first time we have noticed that the wind blown rain really got inside. The main sliding door doesn’t close all the way but it is under a sort of shelter and hasn’t been a problem. So glad that we waited and got trapped in there as my job quickly became one of getting wool and anything out of the way of those gusts coming through the gap.

We went ahead and took care of the boys as they were at the back of the barn and we could safely and dryly check on them. But the girls and lambs were in the west pasture and not for us to reach.

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A picture from two years ago, but what I’m talking about with the sheep shed.

Now I don’t have a picture of it as I was too far away for a good one. But looking across to the sheep shed from the protected overhang of the boys, you could see all the mothers lined up protecting their lambs. Mark built a loafing shed in the west pasture that is the sheep shed. Some protection from the hot sun of summer, the rains of winter, generally just a shelter. But no protection from this particular storm.

The rain was coming down with the wind to definitely get it very wet inside the shed. A mad crazy wind that was driving this rain. What were the poor girls to do. Well, what any mother worth her salt would do. The babies were all at the back wall farthest from open front. Then the mothers were in a line with their backs to the storm. Standing together as a shield wall to the storm for their little ones. I wish now I had even attempted to get a picture of it despite knowing it wouldn’t have been clear or good. No one was moving up there. Just this wall of motherhood protecting their little ones from the storm raging outside.

My mind often goes to Scriptures when out with the sheep. It is quite no wonder that the Lord used sheep so often as illustrations in Scripture. At this time of the year we remember the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Without which sin could never be conquered. But also the Good Shepherd who watches over his beloved ones.

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He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

So just remember that in times like these – like those mothers, if we let Him, if we stay where it is safe in Him, if we keep between Him and the safe back wall, God will stand between the storm and us. He will be our shelter, shield, defense, guard, and so much more. Psalm 59:16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou God hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Categories: Fiber, Gulf Coast Sheep, sheep | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Babies and More Babies

Did I say that I only wanted a few baby lambs this year? You need a few to just make springtime an incredible nice time of the year. There is nothing like lambs frolicking together to make any dreariness in your mind to vanish and a smile to come on your face.

Alas, the short time Aaron was with the girls, he had a gay ole time and hit everyone it seems. We are up to 2 singles, 3 sets of twins, and one set of triplets. The only sad bit is that one twin didn’t make it. But that is to come.

Just checked and we are behind in logging in these sweet little babies. So here goes.

After Rahab joined us, little Jael came along in all her black, brown, white delight. Her mother was Rachel who had to be happy to have a girl this year after her two boys the previous years. And yes, Jael is a favorite Bible lady of mine.

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Rachel checking if Jael is ok with me around

Next came a morning with a big surprise. I went outside and Hannah had a little girl. Yeah, another girl. Last years long run of boys was being beat so far this year. I had to leave and when I came back. What? Not just one lamb but a second one. Ok, Hannah has two this year. Good girl. Not that I’m wanting twins. I’m wanting just a few lambs. Right? So I left to get Sally’s cream and came back. Was rubbing Sally when out of the corner of my eye I noticed WHAT??!?!?!?! There are THREE over there. Needless to say, I was afraid to leave and come back again. But all were in good health and she had a girl, a boy, and then another girl half the size of the first two. So what to name them? Well, first thoughts was Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. So I named the first one Martha as she was more of a go-getter from the time she was born, and the littlest of all was Mary. But boy is that little bit of a girl cheeky. Thankfully, Hannah is proving able to take care of all three though by the time we’re done with this, I think a lot of bumming off of whatever mama is around is actually happening.

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Hannah with her three in tow.

In less than 24 hours of Hannah’s three, I noticed that Miriam was finding a spot off alone. She was up and down. Hmm… I think we may have a baby soon. Why don’t I go get a quick breakfast. So inside I went and before hardly started, Mark informs me that he thinks there’s a baby out there. So ran back out and Miriam ups and has twins as well. Oh dear. Two little boys. Now I let my sister know whenever there is a lamb birth and she shares with her class, so I offered that they could name these two. By the end of the day the class of fourth graders had settled on Paul and Silas. I liked their choice.

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To tell the brothers apart. Silas has the spot on his neck and their tails are different.

Who would next surprise me? Ok, I have yet to see anyone born and this still runs true, I go out and there is Phoebe with two little ones awaiting me. Two again? We are running long on extra babies. Could it be that their father was also a twin? But still I did have three sets of twins last year. Now I have a cute as pie boy and girl. So after some thought I named them Aquila and Priscilla. A great couple in the book of Acts. Again such sweetness in all whiteness with just some touches of color on the forehead. How is a girl to learn who’s who? Thankfully I can at least tell boys from girls. Ha!

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Priscilla on the left and Aquila on the right.

But then this good run had to come to an end. Yesterday when I went out, I noticed a new lamb again. But again it was a twin but this time one didn’t make it. Not sure what happened in his birth, but something didn’t go well. He looked full term and quite well. His umbilical cord was still attached to the placenta lying under him. Poor baby. It had to have happened in the wee hours of the night as brother was up and dry and getting around well. Mama wasn’t moving far from her lost boy, but had given up on trying to get him up. Alas, as Rebekah lost a boy last year to tetanus and last saw him being taken to the truck to never return, she is being a bit of a helicopter mom to Simeon the Second (his older brother who had died) and boy woe to the boy if he gets out of mother’s eye shot.

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Rebekah with her second Simeon looking like she’s giving me the evil eye

So yes there are still pregnant ewes. We have matched last years number of births. Yes, we are still expecting some twins. So yes, we will beat last years number. But even though it is more than I wanted, who can really deny all the cuteness.

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Mamas grazing so we are playing and exploring.

And one last fun one.

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And yes a bit late I notice that the apostrophe is all wrong. Oops.

Categories: Fiber, Gulf Coast Sheep, sheep | Tags: , | 2 Comments

First Baby Lamb 2020

Is there anything more fun than going outside to see a new lamb? I doubt too much can beat the feeling. We almost didn’t breed any sheep at all this season as life and the farm were a bit of a mess last fall. But in the end, we did leave Aaron with the girls for a short time and it is looking like a crop of babies are on the way.

But I’m expecting lambs about the middle of March and what happens last week? Yep, while I’m working early voting, Mark sends a picture of a new lamb on the pasture.

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First look of the new member of the farm

Mark and his mom discovered the new little one after she was born, and mother had her cleaned up, and she was already finding her new source of nourishment. Now I had to wait till I could get home around 7:30 pm.

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Little One in her coat

Little One was born on a descent weather day for winter, but the next day was to be a windy, blustery, cold one for our neck of the woods. So her human mother decided she needed a coat. I went to get the one I used with Moses last year, but it was way too small. So despite the fact she seems so small, she isn’t near as small as he was. I then went and made her a new coat. Not my best work, done quickly, but it made me feel better that she wouldn’t be just out in the cold with nothing and only a day old. Now of course, these sheep are tough and she probably didn’t need it.

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Waiting patiently

One thing I will say for her is that she is quite photogenic. I have loved getting pictures of her and she looks so sweet in all of them.

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Maybe that grin and eye can be a bit mischievous.

I love getting mother and baby pictures with the sheep that are ever so loving. This is one in a series I got at one moment.It is amazing that I got these pictures, because I was heading out and saw them. Decided to risk going back to the house for the camera and making it back and getting close enough for a good picture. All of that was accomplished with a series of pictures of Ruth moving her head around and looking at her little baby.

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Ruth with a loving look at her baby.

So what have I named this newest member of the farm. Well, they all have Bible names, and I have tried to get an association somehow between mother and child for most. (Such as Rachel is Joseph and Benjamin’s mother.) But with Ruth what was there to pick? We know her son, grandson, great grandson, and more but not a girl’s name close by. But Ruth was married to Boaz and Boaz’s mother was Rahab. Now I like Rahab. Here is a gal who has had a hard lot in life, but when confronted with the truth goes above and beyond to help those in need at the risk of her own life. As a result God richly blesses her with a good marriage and a son that was beyond a gentleman and gracious. I believe one reason that Boaz was so good to Ruth is the example of his mother. An outsider who found the grace of God. And then Ruth and Rahab both are privileged to be in the line of Christ. How blessed they were.

Now Mark thinks Rahab is a big name for such a wee one so we are still calling her Little One for the most part.

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Aren’t I the cutest thing?

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Out strolling together.

I hope to add all the new ones here to remember, but may not as each year it is the same with them as with us. The firstborn gets the most attention and then it dwindles down in pictures for the rest. But here’s hoping that the girls that look past ready to pop, do so soon and we have many more blessings to add here.

Rahab

born 25 March 2020

Categories: Fiber, Gulf Coast Sheep, sheep | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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