Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fall 2005 Newsletter

Vancalcar Acres
Fall 2005 newsletter
392 Elwood rd Ft. Plain, NY 13339

Well I can’t believe we’re well into fall here. We’ve already had a very early snow storm that left us with a scattering of heavy snow that was gone the next day.
We had a booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck this year, and have just gotten everything finally put away from that event. We got to meet a few of you face to face finally, and had a wonderful time visiting with old friends. We introduced acrylic as a spinnable, blendable fiber in both 100% and a wool – acrylic blend ranging from 30 – 45% depending on which color you chose. So far, the feedback has been good we’re looking forward to having many other colors available soon on the website!
The website is finally up! We’re still updating things, and adding pictures but there’s a lot to see on the new site, so visit us there at www.nysfarm.com
Oscar the Border Collie is working himself into the family very well. He’s had a few formal lessons and has been a HUGE help around the farm, almost from the first day he joined us! Even the guard dogs like him. Speaking of guard dogs, we’ve adopted one more Italian Maremma here on the farm. Her name is Mya and she is a gentle and affectionate dog. But don’t get on her bad side! I don’t think we’ve ever heard a louder, deeper warning bark than hers! We are thrilled to have her here with us.
The calves & pigs are doing great, as are the birds. The rams are across the street grazing pastures down and conserving their strength for the coming breeding season. We will be using 8 rams this year, as we gear up for about 300 breeding ewes!! Just wait until lambing starts J
We finally managed to find time and warm enough weather to move some strawberry plants into the garden. Looking forward to summer already!
Several of the sheep on the Rent-a-Sheep program were snatched up at the Festival in October. The listings are posted at the website, www.nysfarm.com but pictures are not quite there yet. Thankfully, we’ve finally gotten a new digital camera and we’re working on pictures this week of the animals, new rovings and yarns that are available. Don’t forget to check back!
There are still a few freezer lambs available, our next date with the USDA butcher is Nov. 14th which is FAST approaching! If you miss out, contact me about individual cuts, ground, or sausage by the pound. Shipping is available to most areas, contact me with your zipcode to check.
Pelts are currently sold out, but we’ll have more available soon. Please check back in a few weeks.
For information on the ‘Rent a Sheep’ program here at our farm, visit our new website www.nysfarm.com and stop by the WoolRoom. If you have any questions about anything going on here at the farm, or would like to arrange a visit/tour, please get in touch with us. Contact@nysfarm.com

Thanks for letting us keep in touch with you,
Jennifer, Eric, & Nora, the sheep, cows, pigs, dogs & birds all say hello!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Summer 2005 Newsletter

Well summer is just about over and I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy in my life! We had a bit of difficulty with the lack of rain around here this summer, pastures got pretty dry in August. When we first moved in, they told us the creek behind our house hadn’t dried up in anyone’s memory… but it did this summer! Oh well. It’s starting to trickle a bit back to life, and we’ve gotten a little rain, enough for the pastures to at least come back some, but probably not enough to hay again before winter which is a bummer, with 300 breeding sheep planned! That’s a lot of hay to feed.
We’ve welcomed a wonderful 2 year old male Border Collie to our family. Oscar is very gentle and very affectionate. He does double duty for us as both the family dog and the working herding dog. We’ll be getting lessons to help us train and work better with him in the coming months. We are very happy to have him!
We picked up more calves from the dairy down the road for beef, and they’re in their own small movable paddock here by the house, already weaned and loving grass.
Piglets joined us in august, a little later than we wanted but there just wasn’t time earlier in the season. They are out on pasture now as well, and they love the garden scraps! They’ll probably be here until mid-winter.
We added more layers to the farm. They’re happily catching grasshoppers, and they entertain themselves by moving their laying nests every couple of days to keep us hopping. Rather annoying, but they’ll settle down soon as we get the new chicken house in place this fall. For now, Nora who turns 3 this October loves searching for ‘chickie eggs’.
Hera the new guard dog pup and Apollo are working together now to protect the whole flock as they graze the hillside by the pond. When the moon is lighting things up, they are really busy warning things away from their fences. She is an extremely affectionate and gentle dog to us and to her sheep.
We still have a few Turkey’s hatched this past spring, with several heading for thanksgiving dinner.
The garden went like gangbusters, out of control in no-time flat! We’re having to argue with the chickens over ripe tomatoes, they seem to agree with us that vine-ripened really are the best. I’m moving strawberry plants from my small herb garden to a permanent and largerspot in the garden to expand the berry harvest. There is nothing like homemade strawberry jam, but we sure run out fast with a toddler who knows where the ‘yummies’ grow!
I started working part-time at a weaving studio nearby. I love it, and have learned quite a bit. It has encouraged me to get my own loom unpacked and begin weaving again.
The Rent-a-Sheep program here is drawing to a close for the year, those of you who are looking for your yarn, I’ve just finished spinning the last of it a few days ago, and we’re putting the picture packs together for your sheep. There was a small injury around here that slowed me down for a bit, but I’m just about back on track. For those of you who missed out on last year’s Rental Program, we’ll be posting a new list and pictures of the sheep available in a few weeks. We’ll let you know when they’re up!
**You can reserve your freezer lamb now, we’ll have lamb available for you from USDA inspected facilities in Oct/Nov. $50.00 reserves your lamb, we will get your cutting order then. Total is $170.00 for a whole lamb, and $85 for half. Shipping is available, contact me for shipping prices.
**We have a limited number of pelts currently on hand, icelandic lamb and icelandic x romney cross lambs, all natural colored. Contact me for pictures, all pelts are $120.00 each.

Thanks for letting us keep in touch with you,

Jennifer, Eric, & Nora, the sheep, cows, pigs, dogs & birds all say hello!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Spring 2005 Newsletter

Vancalcar Acres
Spring 2005 newsletter
392 Elwood rd Ft. Plain, NY 13339

Spring has sprung here! We have 95 lambs so far, and about 10-15 girls left to lamb. Quite a bit of color out there, we used 2 black rams this year, and a large portion of the lambs are black with some white on the forehead and feet. We are thrilled with the crew. They are out grazing the hillsides here, and they move to a new spot every day as we try to keep up with the grass growth. Rain has been a little on the short side, so some of the pastures are already going to seed. We have added more sheep to the farm, and will have almost 200 girls in the breeding pens this winter. The cows have grown by leaps & bounds, they look like real cows now, instead of baby calves.
We’re adding a 2nd guard dog for the flock. A beautiful Maremma girl named Hera, she’s just a puppy now but will really be a help to Apollo, who works so hard all night long keeping the flock safe from predators.
We finished shearing, and have quite a bit of wool in the barn now. I’m sorting it for spinners, so give me a call if you are interested in fleece! The flock fiber breaks up fairly consistently into a couple of groups. Longer, finer fleece (4-6inch staple) and shorter denser and springy fiber, about 3-4inch staple. All of it is lamb fleece, and is available by the pound, not by the fleece.
We’ve added Narragansett Turkey’s to our farm!! 2 laying hens and a tom, with hatching eggs for sale (shippable) and chicks we’re hatching out. Chicks are available for sale as well, and we’ll have a few turkeys for the table this fall, please contact me early if you are interested in any option as we only have a few. The chickens are doing fine, though the rooster did meet with disaster… he was getting aggressive around the barn yard and had attempted an attack on all of us at one time or another. Pity this had to happen BEFORE we got the incubator up & running! Oh well.
The garden has been plowed and we’ll be planting this weekend, can’t wait for fresh veggies! We had wanted to plant earlier but it was either fence the pastures or till the garden and the fence won the argument. Because the garden is a little behind my schedule, our plans for hitting farmer’s markets early are also behind schedule. Stay tuned for later updates on when & where we’ll be this summer. Baked goods, veggies and fresh eggs are always available at the farm, call before you come to check availability, or a couple days early to place an order. Once the farmer’s markets are in full swing, you can also place an order for p/u at the market to be sure you don’t miss out on something.
We always have handspun yarns, knitted goods and fleece/roving available, just give me a shout. Sometimes we’ll include yarn samples in our mailings. If your going to be in the area and would like to visit us, please give me a call to schedule something so we’re sure to be here. We’d hate to miss you! Fresh eggs, produce and grass-fed meats available seasonally here on the farm and at local farmer’s markets.

Thanks for letting us keep in touch with you,

Jennifer, Eric & Nora,
270 sheep, 4 chickens, 9 turkeys, and Apollo & Hera the guard dogs.

P.S. For details on the ‘Rent a Sheep’ program -- See the Winter Newsletter here in our blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lambing Update - April 26

As of April 26, we have 32 lambs running around. A little more than a month ago, we were blessed with 6 early lambs due to a ram escapee. The Icelandics began lambing a couple of weeks ago, and we've seen a few early lambs in the commercial flock. The actual due date for the majority of the 90 or so that are left, is May 2nd. Things are getting very busy around here now!
2 of the 3 rams we used on the commercial flock are black, and I've already got a couple of black lambs from that crossing. Lovely boys with white stars on their heads, spitting image of their dad :)
The Icelandics have shown several blacks, a couple of grays, and a few spots... along with the usual group of white lambs. The most unique looking lamb is a moorit spotted lamb. His face is white, and the rest of him is moorit, including his ears! There are a couple of adults left in the Icelandic group, and the ewe lambs who were bred a little later, are getting ready to start.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Shearing Update

Well! What a time around here. Eric has just finished shearing all of the sheep, and for his first shearing experience, he did great. He sheared 139 sheep, a few every day. We learned that we need some serious work on sorting equipment around here.
My work begins now as I get to spend several hours a day skirting all of the fleeces. There are 3 stalls in the dairy barn full of fleece, and another stall full of just belly and junk wool collected during the shearing process. I've kept the colored fleeces seperate as he sheared them, and they are in individual bags awaiting skirting. The Romney ram fleece is so big I had to split it into 2 bags.
Those of you who have a 'Rented' sheep, I'm working on them!
Unfortunately, the icelandic fleeces were not worth saving. The adults were quite felted on their body (a real joy to shear), and the lamb fleeces had quite a bit of hay and dirt in them as well as some felting. I've saved back several white and the 2 beautiful moorit fleeces and am seperating the tog out of them. The thel is very short and not worth spinning, but the tog is fine, especially on the moorits. If anyone is interested in the tog, let me know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Winter 2004/2005 Farm Newsletter

Sorry for the delay, our printer finally died, and so we've posted the newsletter here!

Vancalcar Acres
Winter 2004/2005 newsletter
392 Elwood rd Ft. Plain, NY 13339 518-993-4326

Winter is almost over, though as I write this a late winter storm is blowing and it’s only 7 degrees outside. The wind takes your breath away and is giving us a windchill well under zero.
The sheep are doing great, we have 137 now, as we’ve added quite a few beautiful Icelandic girls. 2 beautiful moorit girls the color of dark caramel, several black/gray girls, a single lovely moorit badger and a bevy of white sheep to give me something to put in the dye pot. I haven’t had time yet to sit down and see what the color genetics are in our new additions, and most have been exposed to rams, but it’s always exciting to see the rainbow of colors when the lambs are born. Look for lambing updates in the spring newsletter, the Icelandics are due to begin lambing as early as mid-april, with the rest of the flock looking at the 1st of May.
We will begin shearing here in the next week or so, you can contact me for contract spinning or fleece if you want to reserve something, or look for information in the spring newsletter.
The cows are surviving the winter just fine, they hang out with the sheep all day, bed down with them at night… pretty smart cows, actually! The chickens finally have a small coop in the barn, it sure makes it easier to find the eggs – otherwise they insist on hiding their nests somewhere in the 300 bales of hay on the farm! It sure is nice to have fresh eggs to bake with now that they are laying faithfully every day like good little chickens. **If you are local to us, feel free to give a call about eggs, we often have more than we can keep up with, even with the baking!
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time searching seed catalogs for this coming summer’s gardens, we’d like to have a flower garden with lots of cut flowers available, as well as some new veggies for the farmer’s markets. For those of you who are local to us, at this time we are tentatively scheduled to be at the new Ft. Plain Farmer’s market located at ‘Mace’s Place in Nelliston on Saturdays beginning the end of May. Updates in the spring newsletter. We are looking to add a mid-week market, so if you know of a good one, please let us know! Baked goods, veggies and fresh eggs are always available at the farm, call before you come to check availability, or a couple days early to place an order. Once the farmer’s markets are in full swing, you can also place an order for p/u at the market to be sure you don’t miss out on something.
We’re working on the new website, if anyone has a picture of something they’ve made with fleece or yarn you’ve gotten from me, I’d love to put it on the site. You can email it to me at gwynivar@hotmail.com
Well, that about wraps up the winter newsletter. If you have any questions about us, or the farm, feel free to call, email or write to us.
Thanks for letting us keep in touch with you,

Jennifer, Eric & Nora,
137 sheep, 4 chickens and Apollo the guard dog.

‘Rent a Sheep’ program
The Rental program here runs for 1 year, fall to the following summer. There is a spinner’s version, a knitter’s version, and a ‘crafted’ version. Prices are listed below.

Here’s a breakdown of what is included for the year:
1 year subscription to our farm newsletter
A Bio, picture of the animal you've rented and an introduction letter (hard copy mailed to you).
Pictures of offspring in the spring (ewe's lambs or a 'group' photo of the lambs sired by a ram, depending on who you've 'rented') also mailed to you.
Sample of the fleece as it comes off the animal when we shear.
pictures of the animal at shearing.
Final summer picture and thank-you card from your sheep :)

Spinner’s Version: $65.00
Includes all options listed above plus your animal’s well-skirted fleece in the spring, skirted by a spinner (me).
A one-of-a-kind orifice hook made here on the farm

Knitter’s Version: $90.00
Includes all options listed above plus 1 lb handspun yarn processed by me here on the farm. Washed gently and hand carded, spun softly in a 2-ply yarn (if you want to discuss options like 3 ply or a particular weight, call/email me). (more yarn may be available separately from this animal.)
Beaded stitch markers made by me here on the farm.

‘Crafted’ Version: Price varies. Contact me for more info.
Includes all options listed above plus your choice of finished product, contact to discuss these but options range from hat/scarf/mitten sets, shawls, woven blankets, or other knitted/woven goods.

Sheep in the Rent-a-Sheep program for the 2004/2005 year:
‘Buddy’ the black Border Leicester ram. His fleece is a lovely, very light red from the sun, with black at the skin moving into grays before it turns red. Very light colored ‘black’ fleece, will make a beautiful and unique yarn! Impossible to dye to match this one.
UPDATE: Buddy has been rented. Check back next fall.

‘Romeo’ the black Romney. His fleece is a very dark chocolate, with some bleaching of the tips but barely there. Very large animal, very large fleece. This would be a bargain fleece in the spinner’s version.

Moorit ewe lamb, ¾ merino ¼ icelandic. Her fiber shows the icelandic qualities only by adding to the merino. Added length to the typically shorter merino staple/length, and she seems to have less lanolin than a merino. Beautiful crimp, not as tight as a merino. Very dark chocolate brown fleece with bleached tips.

Black ewe lamb, ½ merino ½ icelandic. She is actually a black mouflon. Her belly, chest and neck (think a stripe on her underside) is cream and the rest of her is black. She looks 100% icelandic. Her fiber is silky-soft. ** Over the winter some silvering has come into the black on her haunches, very elegant looking.

5 white ewe lambs with fiber similar to a border leicester, longer free-flowing locks.
Update: 4 ewe lambs available, 1 rented.

5 white ewe lambs with fiber more dense, ‘springy’ and similar to a cheviot or typical ‘meat’ breed, no black fibers , these are white faced girls.

3 black ewe lambs, lovely chocolate fleeces, fiber is dense and springy, really beautiful color. Really only the top 1/8 to 1/4 inch is sun-bleached, the fiber is so dense the sun really couldn't get in any deeper. Very black underneath! If you would like to reserve a gal and have her coated, there is an extra $15.00 service fee. With a flock this large, managing coats can be difficult, but we will coat a few for you!

Fleece from the rest of the flock will be available to spinners in the spring after we shear. Look for more info in the spring & summer newsletter, or contact me privately.

We always have handspun yarns, knitted goods and fleece/roving available, just give me a shout. Sometimes we’ll include yarn samples in the newsletters. If your going to be in the area and would like to visit us, please give me a call to schedule something so we’re sure to be here. We’d hate to miss you! Fresh eggs, produce and grass-fed meats available seasonally here on the farm and at local farmer’s markets.