Monday, February 10, 2020

Maid-N-Meadows: Winter 2020 Update

  I hope everyone out there is getting as excited for spring as we are! It has been unseasonably warm this year. So much so that the daffodils bloomed 2 weeks early!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

An Easy Way To Wash A Fleece!

           Here I was with trash bags full of fleece from our beautiful East Frisians and I didn't have a clue what to do with any of it. It seemed a shame to just toss it in the woods or compost it. Surly the wool could be a valuable profit stream for the farm, but I was clueless and daunted, even, by the fiber world.

       I  started by watching YouTube videos on various topics. No one seemed to be taking wool from raw fleece to finished product without complicated processes. I did not want to invest in a carder or make roving or rolags. I just wanted to have some wool that was a pretty color and that was clean enough to felt. Felted shoes looked cool! But I need to do something a bit faster and more on my novice level. I finally settled on felted soap. I felt on store bought soap and on some of my homemade sheep milk soap!

         I don't know much about fleece, folks. I just know a little about what I have to work with....which is East Frisian. Once that wool comes off the sheep, I bag it up. When I am ready to wash it, I take off the big bits of dirt and cockleburs. I think this is called "skirting". Before I can do anything else, the fleece must be clean.

          My midwife recommends putting the whole fleece in the tub with as hot of water as can be drawn with the fleece in a netted bag. A large onion bag works well or just a netted bag. Just push the wool under the water and let the soap do its work. I use dish soap due to the high grease levels and a little laundry detergent.
          When the water is cool, lift the wool out and let it drip dry or repeat if still very dirty. The goal here is to remove dirt and some vegetative matter. But there will still be plenty of bits of dirt still left inside the fleece, even when it is "clean". The lanolin, or grease from the sheep, is what is most important to get out.

         Then I hang it up to drip dry. This can take awhile depending on the weather. Some people take it out and drip dry it in a more spread out form. You can squeeze extra water out if you are gentle and don't massage it. (That can cause it to felt into one lump!)
         Do you have an easy way to prepare a fleece? If so, give me a holler!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Married To An Ex Mennonite: Part 3

      Special note! Some of you may notice how delayed this post is. As we move into the nitty gritty of Daniel's expulsion, it must be understood that there is a weight that comes with the memories. It takes emotional energy to relay what happened because the experience of rejection never really ended. This telling is akin to the end of Daniel's experience in the Mennonite world and the beginning of a new kind of experience. The whole world opened up for him in the form of thoughts and ideas, while his family slowly became more and more estranged.
The only known pictures of Daniel in his youth are the ones he saved from old driver's licenses.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Maid-N-Meadows: Fall Update 2019

  Fall sure has been a doozy! I don't know about anyone else, but the heat combined with no rain turned our pastures into dust! Our cows suffered and so did our milk production! But that wasn't our biggest challenge of the season. As soon as we started to experience a cool down and a bit of rain, we got hit with a family that would take a month to recover from.
Baby Elora on CPAP, under a heat lamp. She was 18 inches long and weighed 4lbs 10oz.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

10 Things I love About Farming!

        The farm life is a life of passion and excitement! (Sometimes the excitement is not the fun kind, but there is never a dull moment!) Here are my top ten favorite things about living and working on a farm.

10. No Traffic And Comfy Clothes


Monday, September 30, 2019

Raising Meat Chickens

      Many years ago, I got 10 Cornish Cross meat chickens to try and raise a little meat for my family. It was May and they were cute and cuddly and were fun to watch as they snapped up bugs and gorged on clover blossoms. As butchering time approached and they became big, clumsy beasts, it was July. They were not fairing well in the heat. They panted and waddled over to their water and then stretched back out in the shade. Occasionally one would be dead for no apparent reason, though I suspected the heat was playing a role.
      I decided I wasn't doing that again! Losing a six pound bird is expensive, not to mention the animals didn't seem too happy in the heat. Who could blame them?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Why We Started Maid-N-Meadows

           I have been sharing some of our journey in the cheese business, but I thought today I should share some of the personal reasons of why we actually started this journey to begin with. What really pushed us forward was a time of crisis in our family and marriage....this business, was actually born out of a serendipitous opportunity in a time of insane uncertainty. While our friends were supportive, there was no getting around that given the stress we were relating to, this was a rather risky time to invest in such a huge undertaking.
Early label design!

           Looking back though, I think the business was a beacon of hope. It was something that we could build together, even though at that moment  we had forgotten how to work together. The efforts we have undertaken to make our family stronger were and are valiant ones. But this business is still in the early stages and the hours are rough. I still look back in wonder at how far we have come, but I still wonder about the path forward!