Washing My First Fleece

I’ve been wanting to process a fleece from the beginning for a long time. This is a very intimidating thing for a beginner, particularly for someone who is isolated from the spinning community. Basically since I began spinning, I’ve been occupied with small children at home and haven’t been able to participate in spinning guilds or classes. I have read books and articles on washing a fleece. Usually the information is scant and not definitive, which makes the process even more intimidating for a beginner.

This is what I attempted for my first go.


I ordered a Border Leicester Blue Faced Leicester Cross fleece from Windsor Wool Farm. The fleece is pretty clean with relatively little VM. I ultimately went with a BFL type fleece because its considered soft but also has less lanolin. I thought I’d have better luck than with a merino type wool, which is my natural leaning. I pulled apart locks and lined them up before placing the wool in a laundering bag.


Soaked the wool overnight in cold water.



I used a bucket and tub for washing. I only used the bucket for the small bag and extra wool. The extra wool is wool that was felted around the backside of the ewe, which cannot be used for spinning. I plan to use the waste wool as stuffing like polyfil. Next I poured boiling water in the tub and added the fleece bags. I did one wash with blue dawn. And then I pulled a lock out and tested it before doing a second wash. I couldn’t really tell much difference between the first and second wash until it had dried the following day. I didn’t wait that long to decide. But went ahead with my second wash.


Between each wash I pulled the fiber out and refilled the buckets with fresh water. A very tedious process, which I don’t plan to repeat. After 2 washes, I did 2 rinses and on the 3rd rinse let the wool sit in the water until the water cooled to room temperature. I had some felting occur. But the fiber is still usable and I have some ideas on what I will try next.



This is my what my dinner menu line up looks like this week:

MONDAY  pizza

TUESDAY pulled pork with homemade buns + veg.

WEDNESDAY  twice baked and stuffed butternut squash

THURSDAY black bean and beer braised pork + green beans and kale

FRIDAY waffles, eggs, sausage + peaches


** some additional things I’m hoping to cook


apple slab

cinnamon roll lasagna


Recognizing the signs of soil defiency in plants…Garden Notes

Soil deficiencies are observed in plants in the following ways:

  • Nitrogen Deficiency–generally produces in plants slender fibrous stems, and foliage and stems that fade to yellow in color.
  • Phosphorus Deficiency–the underside of the leaves turn reddish-purple in color, and the plants are slow to set fruit and mature
  • Potassium Deficiency–Ashen-gray leaves are observed instead of the normal deep green color. The leaves develop brown edges and crinkle  or curl. Later they become bronzed.
  • Calcium Deficiency–thick woody stems
  • Magnesium Deficiency–plants do not mature uniformly,  characteristic lack of color with the lower leaves being affected first, the area between the leaf veins turn yellow and then brown, while the veins remain green.
  • Boron Deficiency–produces more specific changes in different vegetables. Beets and turnips develop cork-like areas in the edible root. A hollow stem develops in cauliflower, while celery cracks.
  • Iron Deficiency–spotted, colorless areas develop on young leaves. Yellow leaves appear on the upper parts of plants.
  • Copper Deficiency–usually confined to peat or muck soils. Leaves become bleached looking and leaves and stems are flabby.
  • Manganese Deficiency–plants mature unevenly, the area of the leaves between the veins become yellow, then brown, while the veins remain green.
  • Zinc Deficiency–occurs in peat soils, leaves are abnormally long and narrow. The leaves may also turn yellow and be mottled with many dead areas.

While these are ways soil deficiencies affect plants in general, they do many times affect a particular vegetable more specifically. For Example, if cucumbers are pointed at the end, then the soil is deficient in nitrogen. If cucumbers are narrow at the stem and bulging at the flower end, then the soil is deficient in potassium.

“At first glance it may appear somewhat difficult to diagnose the problem in a garden where the plants are sick, it is easy if you pick out one vegetable and concentrate on that.

In general, it can be stated that plenty of manure, or good quality compost made with kitchen scraps and a wide variety of plant materials such as weeds, grass clippings, etc., will correct all soil deficiencies. At the same time, manure and compost will tend to neutralize an unfavorable soil pH. Whenever, there is a doubt concerning the cause of sick looking plants, it is recommended that heavy applications of manure or compost, or both, be used.”

by Charles Coleman out of “The Complete Book of Composting” by J. I. Rodale

Shared in Tuesday Garden Party.


Whole Wheat Noodles


1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp. oil

2 Tbl. water

1 egg

Super Veggie Shepherds Pie


super veggie shepherds pie

This is from laurels kitchen

onion, around 1 lb broccoli, 3-4 carrots, any leftover lentils or split pea, chopped tomatoes, spinach, basil, salt, pepper, plus any other leftovers you might want to add

3 potatoes plus milk for mashed potatoes.

I substituted 1pt. canned carrots, some split peas, 1pt. tomato sauce, frozen swiss chard, a few pickled peppers,  and some chicken.

Make mashed potatoes, meanwhile:

Saute the onion and then add in broccoli and any other raw vegetables that need a while to cook. When those are soft, add in the rest of the ingredients. Let cook for 15m. Poor into 9 by 13 casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes, and bake at 350 for 15m.

There’s Cabbage in My Eggs


mushrooms, bacon


Chinese Cabbage, green onions, fresh herbs


fry it all then add in the bacon


a few pickled peppers


when everything’s done add in the eggs


The kids turned up their noses but they all went back for seconds. And the toddler ate the veggies, which never happens.

It’s much prettier with a few eggs on a bed of greens, but I really need to use the eggs around here.

Real Life

real life

or as my aunt used to say “Here in the real world.”



And we have babies. S, my oldest, pines for the baby goats to be born every year. About when the school year starts, she begins to dream about new babies.

There’s nothing quite like the gift of some new special friends.









And with that comes the dream of another season.

full garden

Some things I learned in 2012:

1. Sprout everything that is at all reasonable in the house before planting.

2. Don’t bother planting anything in the corn when you hopelessly over crowd it every year.

3. Dry shelling beans are really fun to grow.

4. Plant onions sets deep because of the robins and then dig out the tops later.

5. Yes watermelons can grow here.

6. I like pickled peppers better than dried peppers.

7. One can never have too many pickled peppers.

8. I like fermented pickles just as much or better than vinegar pickles.

Goals for 2013

1. Try growing some peanuts.

2. Get some peas this year.

3. Grow some good quality Romas  ( I don’t know what my problem is with this).

4. Grow a few different varieties of shelling beans.

5. Have enough green beans to can.

6. Grow more than a few eggplant.

7. Harvest more watermelon.

8. Harvest some cantaloupe.





I took these pictures about a third into my tomato processing. Which I have just now finished off. I only made sauces since my romas did not produce much and most of my tomatoes were very juicy. I quartered the tomatoes and then cooked them until they were very soft. Then I ran them through a juicer and cooked them down until the desired consistency.

I ended up with 10 pints ketchup, 26 pints tomato sauce,10 pints pizza sauce,  and 10 half pints tomato paste. I had to guess at the spices for the ketchup and pizza sauce because my recipes called for a certain amount of a certain kind of tomato. I don’t find that practical at all. It’s much more useful to know the spices to add after a particular consistency has been reached with the tomato puree. I also thought it was helpful to know how many quarts and gallons fit in the pots I was using. That way when my puree was cooked down, I could guess roughly how much puree was in the pot without measuring.

I used the ketchup recipe from The Joy of Pickling. Its more of a steak type sauce, so I probably won’t make it again. I was looking for a ketchup taste with less sugar.

I used the pizza sauce from the Ball Complete. It turned out excellent, tasting similar to purchased pizza sauces only richer and more complex in flavor. I need to make up some notes for spices to puree next time I make this.

I left my tomato sauce and paste plain so I can season later depending on the dish.