Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Ahead

As we take this time to look back over the year and what we might do different in the coming year, my thoughts and plans turn to next summer's garden. The new year is when we gather all the seed catalogues and make our choices for next years garden. What varieties did good for us and what ones didn't. As I make these selections I will post them for you, so you too can know what varieties have proved themselves year after year in our own garden. We plant hybrid and heirloom seed. One we plan to try this spring is an heirloom open pollinated sweet corn and letting it dry on the ear for grinding into corn meal. Fruit trees can also be pruned now although late fall and early winter are better for the trees. Even though there is not alot to do outside, we can minimize the business of spring by being prepared now. Sharpen the hoe, take care of broken handles, (my husband custom makes hickory handles) oil in sand makes a good preservative and cleaner for hoe heads, forks and shovels. Let's be ready.

Monday, December 21, 2009

There were shepherds abiding in the fields

With Christmas just days away, may we stop and remember what the true meaning of the season is. Glory to God in the highest,on earth, peace and good will to men. Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I've been blending and dyeing some fibers to create some new skeins of yarn. This first skein is Suri and BFL it has a nice demi luster and drape. This dye combination I call Envy.

This second skein was created by drum carding strips of solid color BFL/mohair fiber side by side on my carder and spinning a singles yarn starting at the same end of the batt to create a consistent pattern. Then I plyed it with a singles white BFL. This dye combination I call Festival.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Farmers Market

Most Saturdays you'll find me at the River City Farmers Market in Marietta, Ohio, selling yarn and woven rugs. I really appreciate all you knitters out there who have purchased yarn and have encouraged me with your compliments. I will begin posting dates of when I will be at the market for your convenience. My yarns are handspun and are one of a kind. Wool yarns are from my BFL sheep and the alpaca yarns are from local alpaca breeders in Monroe and Washington Co. I am always warping up my rug loom for new and different rugs using recycled clothing. This Saturday the farmers Market( located at Washington Co. fairgrounds) will be open from 9-2 for all you shopping for handmade Christmas gifts. Free raffle tickets will be handed out for items donated by vendors and drawings will be made this Saturday, so come on out and see what the more than 45 vendors have to sell.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Fare

Deer meat is now plentiful in our household and two favorite ways to prepare it are either jerked or made into salami. I have had a few comments on my salami recipe and I am considering marketing packets of the spices to mix yourself. Since I am new to this sort of thing I am getting advice from someone who is marketing her own spice mixes and condiments. My goal is to have it ready by next deer season(2010).
Well winter has set in and that means no more greens from the garden. I have no greenhouse(yet), so getting fresh greens in our diet can become challenging. I get tired of lettuce from the grocery store so I am sprouting seeds. Through the process of sprouting, the starches and proteins in grains and beans are broken down into simple sugars and amino acids, which are simpler for the body to digest, and their high enzymatic value makes them arguably the healthiest fresh food on the planet. (Fresh Food from Small Spaces) I think alfalfa are my favorite. It takes only 4-7 days to sprout most seeds and they keep well in the fridge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

border collies

What can I say about this versitile breed. About 7 years ago a 4 month old border collie pup was given to me, and since that day Kate as we call her has been a worthy helper. As soon as she settled and learned her name the training began. I can say that I've been training dogs in obedience for many years but nothing could have prepared me for this experience. It wasn't long and Kate was training me. Since then we have gotten a litter of pups from Kate and I am training a couple of them. The 23rd Psalm has a whole new meaning to me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spindles and Soap

This past month I've been making goats milk soap with lard from our neighbors hog they butchered and our lovely goats milk. The oatmeal/almond/ylang ylang helps exfoliate helping make hands soft and smooth for spinning. The lavender/clary sage is anticeptic for those dirty gardening(or barn) hands. I've also been painting more folk art spindles to sell with my Lunch Bag Spindle Kits. Check out the leaping lambs and what about that border collie herding them around, literally. These kits have been a big hit at the farmers market. Priced right and portable.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Natural Tanning

Last week we butchered a lamb and instead of using a commmercial tanning solution, I decided to try my hand at brain tanning like the indians did. As the photo's show, I first scraped the hide and then washed it. After spinning the hide in the washer, I applied the brain (which had been mashed and mixed with 1/2 cup water) to the skin side working it in with a flat stone. I then folded it over skin to skin and placed it in a plastic bag for 6-7 hours. When I removed the hide from the bag, I let it begin to dry and as it dried I streatched and pulled the hide to make it soft. I like the result better than the commercial tan. The finished product show the lock formation and more of the true color of the fleece. I'm happy!

Putting to bed

Today I planted my pink daffodil bulbs. I have also dug the madder and dried it in the loft of the barn. The last of the veggies, brussel sprouts, broccoli, fennel, carrots and cabbage occupy their corner of the garden and the rest of the garden has been sowed with wheat. I will mulch the garlic bed with shredded leaves or put it to bed as they say. In the cold frame, I will sow lettuce and dig a hole for the rosemary pot and mulch it with straw to winter over. The border collie dogs are getting some work taking the sheep to the pasture on the hill in the morning and bringing them home at night, keeping the pasture close to home for later this winter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Best Tess

On Wednesday Oct. 7 I said goodby to my faithful and loyal corgi Tess. She died in her sleep while I was away. I wasn't expecting this of course, because I thought she would live forever, after all she was a corgi and only 11 years old. I guess that is old in dog years. I still find myself looking for her when I go outside or come home or rattle the milk bucket. She lived in true corgi style and died that way, being the boss(or Welsh as we say). This post is in memory of Tess, truely this farmers friend. I'll post a picture as soon as I am able.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My husband's Aunt Johnie is an avid collector of all things nostalgic. She has a collection of anything imaginable.... and unimgainable. She always brings out her latest collection at our family reunion, which this year, was an array of old aprons celebrating textiles from by-gone years. Looking amoung her collections of odds and ends, my daugher photographed a few interesting items that brought back memories, and a few laughs.
This particular photo (above) remineded me of my cheerleading days at Talawanda Highschool in Oxford.
This car looks so 70's.
This is the nostalgic part I was talking about....

Family reunion

On Friday Oct. 2nd we went back to Indiana for a family reunion. Our trip took us past Ohio Valley Natural Fibers, so I was able to pick up my roving. Now, I have almost 5 lbs. of soft BFL roving to spin. Even though we arrived at non-business hours, Kent Ferguson opened shop and gave us a grand tour of the mill. These people love what they are doing and it shows in the end product. Corn fields and soybean fields were ready to harvest and those Indiana sunsets are always a treat.
Being able to see my husband's mother, aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sister-in-laws took away any homesickness I had recently acquired. As we headed toward home and into those beautiful SE Ohio hills, the fall colors were abundant. I needed to take that fall road trip, and it left me more than satisfied.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Herding video

This is me working our one of our Border Collie pups, Ty.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Autumn Dyeing

I love to dye in the fall. The crisp air and the nice breezes to dry skeins of newly dyed yarn. Today I dyed 2-ply suri alpaca in rich fall colors. I am using commercial acid dyes and creating my own mixes. I plan to get my roving back from OVNF this week and can spin up some DK weight yarn and dye with natural dyes. I will also dig up my madder this week if rain doesn't stop me and dry it. Colored knitting is beautiful with natural dyed yarn. I started knitting a cabled cardigan in 3-ply Blue-Face Leicester yarn that I handspun last Spring and Summer. The cables pop out very nicely.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Farmers Market

For the last month on Saturday mornings,
I've been taking produce and fiber products to
the farmers market in Marietta OH. I've had
good success with my items and have sold out
of my all natural produce. It's been a little hot
to push the yarn, but I have sold roving, yarn
and homemade spindles.
I have quite a clientele who visit my stand weekly. I try to have one item every week made from fresh herbs on hand.
My lavender shortbread was a big hit! Yes, it is eatable!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dairy Goats

Our small herd of French Alpine dairy goats provides us with sweet milk and homemade cheese and soap. Our milkers consist of 2-3 does producing a gallon or more of milk a day. This spring has brought lots of milk so I have tried my hand at making goats milk cheddar and colby cheese."Goats Produce too" is an excellent book for anything about goatmilk.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My woven rugs

I have been weaving rugs for about 8 years. I have a two-harness rug loom, and a four-harness HD studio loom. I like to create my own designs, but I also enjoy weaving traditional Mennonite rug patterns. My rugs are made of 8/4 cotton warp with wool and cotton rags as weft. In the future I plan to weave towels and runners.

Comments and/or new ideas are appreciated!

About Grouse Ridge Woolens

We are a small natural homestead located in SE Appalachian Ohio. Our life consists of a small flock of cross-bred sheep and Alpine dairy goats. We also specialize in working and training Border Collies for use on stock. I have had a growing passion for natural living that has inspired me to create a small home buisness of fiber preparations, weaving and gardening. This also includes raising and homeschooling seven children as part of our christian lifestyle. An old Shaker saying "Hands to work, hearts to God" has influenced my husband and I to teach our children to not be afraid of hard work and to work as unto the Lord.