Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Extracting blue from 2nd year woad

Here is the student with her two silver medals won at the Canada Wide Science Fair for her project on growing and dyeing with woad-indigo.

The student saw cells of indigo in the flowers of the 2nd year woad plant. Her last year's science project is sending up flower stalks and she wanted to see if they would have enough blue to extract.

She harvested the stalks by cutting the 2 ft. flowers stalks off at ground level, leaving the crown of the woad plant intact. She used the extraction method that's on her website.

Using the Birmingham woad she got lots of blue in the indigo extraction. Then she boiled the spent leaves for a second alum mordanted skein for a good pink. She added a second mordanted skein once the first was done, and got a corn yellow.

She has an NA woad indigo extraction going now. It doesn't seem to have as much blue. In fact the bath is very green. Still waiting to see if it will dye blue though.

She doesn't think so as the usual blue foam didn't happen when she was oxidizing it. (update: there was blue but a pale sky blue instead of the medium queen's blue of the Birmingham strain.)

NA woad is the strain that Richter's Herbs sells. Its been consistently lower in indigo yield at every stage of growth. The Birmingham seed originated in UK and has been very promising in indigo yield and in the plant vigor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

People for the Ethical Treatment of animals are not

Chad Golladay writes on his blog "" about 7 things you might like to know about the hypocrisy of PETA. This is an issue that every homesteader should be aware of.

PETAs goal is to rid the world of livestock, pets, laboratory animals, companion animals and working dogs. To force people to become vegan vegetarians. PETA kills or injures more animals than they help. They are intimately linked to the SPCA.

My view on the issue. Livestock were created by God to bond with humans for the mutual benefit of both. (see the Genesis 1:24) If you walked among my sheep and talked to them or watched the shepherd-sheep bond, you would realize instantly that both the shepherd and the sheep are content in the relationship. Sheep are very intelligent animals -- as intelligent as a dog. They remember faces for their entire lifespan. They will talk to you if you will listen and they understand human language. (This was a surprise to me when I first began to shepherd sheep and goats.)

Their supposed "stupidity" is an urban myth, that comes from their protective instinct to flock together and to learn from their elders. In fact some Big Horn Sheep population programs have failed as the younger sheep did not venture over their terrain seeking food because they had no elder sheep to lead them. The elder animals show the way to the younger animals, as well as teaching them what food to avoid and where to find water -- seems a pretty natural arrangement to me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Homebased Business Opportunity -- publisher wanted

The Shepherd’s Journal, a 17 year old Canadian publication, is looking for a new publisher. The magazine is published 10 times a year with the summer and Christmas issues being joint issues. It has a feature article currently written by the publisher about some aspect of the sheep industry, plus several regular columns. The magazine could use a new editorial focus to make it more relevant to the industry – as it currently duplicates much of the information in its rival “Sheep Canada”. This would be a good opportunity to promote the fiber end of the industry and to talk up economic diversity and sustainability within the shepherd community.

It currently has a subscriber base of 500. There is room for improvement through marketing to a wider audience – no recent marketing has been done beyond some ads in Woolgrower’s annual catalogue. Further, very little advertising marketing has been done so there is a huge opportunity for the right person to profit from this lack. The subscription costs fully cover the cost of printing and mailing the periodical.

The web domain names and are registered for the next 4 years but the website is not what it could be.

This opportunity would suit someone with some capital, plus writing ability, advertising and layout savvy, and web skills.

I'm posting this as a courtesy. Joybilee Farm is not affiliated with the Shepherd's Journal in any way.

Contact Bruce at 1-800-682-8885 for more information. Serious inquires only please.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spring work -- the garden

Its been 10 days since I posted. Here's an update:


Lambs and kids are done for the year. 55 lambs and kids on the ground. No mother losses.

Linen field is germinated and growing.

Student's Woad is planted for the phase 4 science project.

More woad is due to be planted just for fun.

200 new willow trees/stools are planted.

Willow stools are harvested for 2009.

Replacement willow trees have been planted for the trees that didn't make it from 2008.

Weld bed is planted.

Madder bed number 1 is weeded. Still need to weed madder bed #2.

Spring green bed is planted. Spinach is planted. 1/2 of the potato bed is planted.

Garlic and shallots are up. They were planted in October.

2 beds of peas are planted.

The new dye kitchen is working -- with a sink and a burner for the large dye pot -- all outside the studio for fresh air and ventilation. Only thing missing is a work table.

We are just getting started in the garden. I still have the willow beds to weed. The rest of the garden to plant in carrots, beets, cabbage and other cold hardy vegetables. We are zone 3 and get summer frost.

The baby apple trees need to be pruned, weeded and mulched.

The Joybilee Farm artisan studio opened to the public May 1. We've had 6 visitors through. I do enjoy the visitors after the long winter. We are working on moving some of the dye plants up closer to the studio, however, the ducks are poking into every area I've planted near the studio. I may need to build a willow fence around the planted areas to keep them out.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Linen Flax planting

Yesterday we planted the flax field getting ready for our linen festival on August 8th -- when we will harvest it with our visitors.

First we needed to ripple the flax to get the seed off of last year's fiber flax (linen). To accomplish that we placed a Tartar comb (The Doukhobors brought this design over from the Caucasus Mountains to use for combing wool)inside the bathtub that we use for retting flax and softening willow.

Then we separated the flax bundles into smaller groups and whipped the bundles through the teeth of the tartar comb. Most of the seeds were caught inside the bath tub.

After rippling all the bundles of flax we swept the seed boles into a huge pot and pounded them with two pine saplings, until the majority of the boles had released their seeds.

Then we took the whole pot down to the flax bed in the garden to winnow the seed in the breeze. Kiwi got covered in flax seed as the wind swirled around us. But after an hour of pouring the seed back and forth we ended up with about 1 kg. of flax seed -- twice what we planted last year.

Then we scattered the seed in the prepared linen field and stomped it in. It rained last night so the flax is well watered in and should sprout in about 2 weeks.

Flax is so pretty as its growing and it blows gracefully in the breeze. It doesn't even mind cold summers with occasional frost.

Now last year's linen flax can be retted, which will be accomplished in the old bathtub over a week or two -- one bundle at a time.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Natural Rearing Puppy Diet

We have only 1 male puppy and 3 female puppies left out of 8. They are 10 weeks old now and weaned.

This is our neighbor's grand daughter, "Stella" -- couldn't get her to hold still long enough to catch a picture of her hugging all the puppies at once. Stella is almost 2.

I wanted to mention how we care for our puppies.

Our puppies are on the “Natural Rearing Diet’ as described in the books by Juliette de Bairachli Levy – The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable and The Herbal Book for the Dog, A complete handbook of natural care and rearing. Both books are available from as used books and are fairly inexpensive.

Puppies are fed twice a day and a mostly raw food diet consisting of:
Raw goat’s milk (1/2 to 1 cup per feeding)
Soaked but uncooked Oatmeal (2 cups per day – 1 cup each feeding)
Kelpmeal – 2 tbsp.
Brewers Yeast – 1 tbsp.
Raw Free Range Eggs or raw meat (tongue, liver, heart, lungs as well as raw meaty bones.) (Only ¼ lb. per day is needed per dog or 2 eggs mixed in with oatmeal)

Raw meat or eggs are fed once a day. Oatmeal in milk is fed twice a day, mixed with kelp meal, raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds, raw garlic or onions – keeps worms from getting a foothold.

Carrots, zucchini, peas, greens can also be added to the diet as they are in season.

One day a week should be meatless. In adult dogs one day a week is fasting.

Dogs have not been immunized as we’ve found that when we have immunized our dogs they have been less healthy and seem to have a compromised immune system – with troubles later in life – cancers, epilepsy, etc. The parent dogs have not been immunized and have been very healthy.

We've never had trouble with any of the diseases that dogs are generally immunized for. Our dogs are exposed to wild coyotes, wolf and occasional canine visitors.

Also on the natural rearing diet we don't have to worry about melamine in pet food or any of the other strange additives that commercial pet food manufacturers add to dog food without listing them on the label.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Our first 'open' day of the season

Our farm sign is finally here and Robin put it up last night -- in the dark. We created it on our computer and asked "Boundary Signs" in Greenwood to make it for us. Nice Job, Mike.

Today we opened to the public for the first time this season and had our first visitors by 10:15am. Elisabeth from Tatkla (sp?) lake with her husband.

Were we ready? No.

Robin was sweeping out the entrance and we were looking for pens, calculator and receipt book. But at least the lights were up. It was a fun day and so encouraging to have visitors through right at the start.

I spent the rest of the day filling willow orders and harvesting willows. I have just two willow beds left to harvest. All the s. purpureas are done (they are always the last to leaf out). The viminalis and triandra, too. I have "Belgium Red" and "Rubikins" left to harvest for tomorrow. Then I will plant the new willow beds.

I plant out two new willow beds each Spring -- 50 cuttings, plus fill in with new cuttings any plantings that didn't fill out from the year before. We have 20 different varieties of basket willows with at least 25 stools of each variety. All are hardy to zone 3 and long and slender for willow basket weaving, living willow sculpture, hurdle weaving and imaginative scultptural weaving. Its amazing what can be woven from willow.

This week Robin and I built a living willow chair. Building a living willow chair has been on my gonna list ever since I read "Living Willow Sculpture" by Jon Warnes.

Robin did most of the work. It has a green pine non-living frame and willow seat (nonliving). The arms are living willow and the back rest is living willow. It should leaf out and grow over the summer and the new growth can be woven in for dramatic effect. We can't sit in it yet, until the plants become established. In the mean time it is behind the fence protected from curious, hungry goats and sheep.