Monday, January 19, 2009

What's happening at Joybilee Farm while we're closed for Winter?

2009 is the International Year of Natural Fiber. Joybilee Farm will be acknowledging the year with our 2nd annual linen festival on August 8th and an indigo – woad dye demonstration in July.

We are currently closed for the winter and continue to receive website orders.

We will be participating in the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild Art Gallery show and the Grand Forks Museum natural fiber and historical textiles show with live demonstrations. The museum has requested that we provide live fiber animals for their show.

Our natural dye gardens will be redesigned this Spring to make them more accessible to the visiting public. We are putting them closer to the studio, and adding permanent perennial beds for the madder and dyer’s chamomile. We are doubling the garden space dedicated to woad-indigo production, as well, since there was a big interest in the blue dye plant. (Last summer I wasn't allowed to harvest any of it -- the student was rationing it for her science project -- with more plants I may actually get to play with it, too.)
Our basket willow beds will continue to be expanded as well. We are growing about 20 different varieties of basket willow for various textures and colours in the garden as well as several colours for basket weaving and natural dyeing.

We are also planning to expand the linen demonstration garden to allow more hands on experimenting for our visitors. The linen was a big hit with our visitors last summer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Angora Harvest

Its harvest time for the angora bunnies and they love it.

I harvested two Ruby Eyed White French Angora babies -- 4 months old -- this week. This was their first harvest. They sat on my lap and purred through the whole process. I think they were happy to have their coats lightened and groomed. Its very satisfying to see the lovely, calm temperments growing in these rabbits and the dense, shiny angora coming off in handfulls. They already have a new coat growing in, so the old coat is loose and falling out.

We have 14 adult rabbits right now plus a few youngsters. We aim for 20 adults, so right now we'll be looking at 6 replacements among the babies, to fill the empty cages. Each bunny gives us about 100gms (3 1/2 ounces) of prime fiber every 3 to 4 months. Or about 400 grams a year, enough for one shawl or poncho.

Moms give less fiber as their energy is going in to producing babies, so we only breed our females once a year, to keep them healthy. The rest of the year they are growing their lovely fiber.

The winter harvest is the most satisfying, since the rabbits hang onto their coats longer and the fiber is full and long. One of our black bunnies gave us 6 inch fiber this time around and 120gms worth.

All my angora fiber is already spoken for. I have a one order for white sport weight yarn that will take all the white angora I have. Then I'm making a fawn "eternity shawl" for a show at the Art Gallery in March -- "Our Daily Thread". That will use up all the fawn I have, too. That will leave only black and chocolate angora in inventory.

My goal for January and February is to
1. Harvest all the bunnies.
2. Card and hand spin all the fiber into yarn
3. Design and Knit the angora eternity shawl -- due February 25th at the Art Gallery.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Homemade Toothpaste - better for you

Commercial toothpaste contains
detergent for foam,
peppermint flavouring to disguise the taste of the detergent,
titanium to coat your teeth with white for a few hours until you swallow it -- (same thing that makes paint white)
glycerin to coat your teeth and make them feel smoother, it prevents the natural healing of cavities,
formaldehyde, to kill germs (its a poison and a known carcinogen) that you introduce with your toothbrush,
fluoride another poison,
Plus water to hold it all together.

The only essential ingredient in this mix is the water.

The price of toothpaste has risen a lot in the last year. From under a dollar a tube to $5 a tube at my local store.
With just 4 simple ingredients you can make your own toothpaste -- without the poison. Its better for you. Its better for the environment. Effective dental hygiene adds 7 years to your life span. (Don't forget to floss)

Homemade tooth powder:
1 cup natural sea salt (contains sodium chloride, a natural disinfectant, plus, depending on source, iodine, magnesium and phosphorous -- the minerals that help your body to rebuild tooth enamel)

1 cup baking soda -- refreshes your breath, changes the pH of your mouth (cavities and cancers thrive in an acid environment) and removes stains.

1/4 tsp peppermint essential oil (for fresh breath, kills bacteria, helps digestion)

1/4 tsp. tea tree essential oil (antibacterial, anti fungal, antiviral)

Mix it all together and store in a jar with a lid.

To use dampen your toothbrush with water and dip the moistened brush into the tooth powder. Brush as usual. Rinse your mouth with clean water and spit. Remember to floss daily.

You can also use this as a disinfectant gargle when you have a sore throat. (1/2 tsp. plus 1/2 c. warm filtered water)

Other things you can do to encourage your body to heal existing cavities:

Cook soup bones for broth and drink the soup. Bones contain the magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, that your teeth need to rebuild themselves. Your teeth have a limited blood supply and so need to take in minerals from the food that you put in your mouth.

Drink raw, unpasteurized milk, from healthy goats. Raise your own if you can.

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss your teeth once a day.

When you wean yourself from commercial tooth paste you will notice within a week that your teeth are cleaner and you have less plaque build up.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Wool reduces body odours

Plastic clothing makes you stink.

This is the real reason that outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, skiers, cyclists are switching to wool clothing. They often cite wool’s great traits like “it’s better at keeping sweat from accumulating,” or “it’s warm in winter and cool in summer,” or “it stays warm when wet,” or “wool is an earth-friendly product.”

But the real reason is that wool keeps you smelling fresh all day. A great incentive to wear wool longjohns on the ski hill and wool sweaters in the barn.

The article is about a project at Red Mountain Resort in B.C. about 2 hours East of Joybilee Farm, where staff has been outfitted with Australian merino wool longjohns and undershirts.

How far we've come from our roots! The value of wool, (mohair, angora, ) in keeping a body warm and fresh was well known to every Canadian in 1940. In 2009, the UN International Year of Natural Fiber, it is time that we renew the wisdom of our mothers and grandmothers.