Thursday, July 30, 2009

Linen Research

With the Joybilee Farm 2nd Annual Linen Festival just 10 days away, I wanted to whett your appetite for some exciting hands on learning --

Here are some resources for flax and linen culture and fiber processing:

Here’s some very worthwhile books on linen – I think most are available in the public library system in B.C.

“The Magic of Linen” by Linda Heinrich (1992, Orca Book)

“Flax Culture, from flower to fabric” by Mavis Atton (1989, Ginger Press)

“Linen Hand spinning and Weaving” by Patricia Baines (1989, BT Batsford,)

“Le Lin” by Helene de Carufel (1980, LeMeac) Book is in French

“Unlike the Lilies, Doukhobor textiles traditions in Canada” (1986, Royal Ontario Museum)

Online resources:

This is an info sheet on Fiber Flax planting and processing

This is a paper on using bast fibers in the production of handmade paper

There are also lots of reports on the current state of fiber flax, coming out of agriculture Saskatchewan.

This is the digital archive of documents related to linen at U of Arizona

This is the digital archive of documents related to flax at U of Arizona

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Too Many Books?

On Saturday, a few of our guests at the Indigo Dye Day commented on the number of books in our extensive library. 'You sure have a lot of books. Why do you need so many?' I mumbled something about homeschooling and the lack of reference books in our local library. But really we just love learning -- and books are a huge part of that.

We have an extensive collection of nonfiction books for reference and interest -- homesteading, animal husbandry, fiber arts, science, field guides, history -- lots of history books, theology, and art. As well as homeschooling texts and reference books like Saxon Math -- every grade from 4 to 12 --, Exploring Creation through Biology, Chemistry, and many collections of literature, and poetry, Latin, Greek, Logic. These books have nurtured the creative and intellectual development of two generations of Dalziels. Some of these books have nurtured 4 generations -- like Charles Dickens, "The Christmas Carol" -- our copy is from 1843 and was first read by Robin's grandfather, Gordon Rutherford Brown, to his children each Christmas.

My Fiberarts books cover natural and chemical dyeing, weaving, basketry, spinning, knitting, crochet, fingerweaving, luceting, and botany. And I still add more books to the collection.

Every once in a while I pack up a box of books and give them away -- some of the books are favorites though and Sarah wants to save them for when she is homeschooling her own children. (Sarah's 16, so it will be a long time before she is ready for them).

I recently added "Koekboya, Natural Dyes and Textiles, A Colour Journey from Turkey to India and Beyond" by Harald Bohmer. I love the photography. Dr. Bohmer has included a scientific analysis of the natural dyes used in turkish carpet weaving and in historical turkish textiles. His analysis is valuable for its insight into the fastness of various dyes.

Unfortunately his evaluation of woad is incorrect. He states that it is the second year plants that are used for dyeing, when it is the first year plants that have the most colour. There are other errors in his description of woad as well. He seems to have misunderstood the relationship between the indigo precursors Isatan B and Indican in the woad plant. But for his other information about natural dyes, the book is very valuable.

Its interesting that many of the plants that are used for natural dyeing in Turkey, have a family member in Canada -- yarrow, mullein, St. Johns Wort, Chamomile. But I learned new things about these plant families by reading Bohmer's book.

Mullein's yellow dye constituent is luteolin, same as yarrow and weld, in the leaves and flowers -- so it is a good fast, bright yellow. Mullein is useful because it contains tannins in the leaves, which when combined with iron, give a rich black. (Koekboya, p. 145) Hmmm. That experiment is on my gonna list for the next week or so, as our mulleins are just beginning to flower.

If you dye with Mullein wear a mask and avoid breathing in the dust. The plant contains saponins which can be toxic and the little hairs become airborne and irritate the lungs, when the leaves are torn for the dye pot. (the voice of experience talking).

Joybilee Farm now carries this book in our store. Priced at $130CND plus shipping.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Indigo Dye Day

Saturday was our 2nd Annual Joybilee Farm Indigo Dye day with 22 visitors, most participated in the indigo dye vat. One family of 7 bought their own prepared indigo vat ($20) and brought cotton fabric that they had meticulously stitched and clamped before dyeing. Most visitors bought dye blanks -- silk scarves, and hanks of yarn -- to dye and played on the resist table. Every creation was unique.

The vat was very aromatic and a bit shocking for some, but the magical transformation of indigo in the air was the highlight of the day. Indigo dyed textiles come out of the vat pale green and transformed to blue in the air, while people watched. Magical!

Sarah extracted indigo from woad in front of the audience and explained each step. Some people took home woad seeds to grow their own blues.

We had the Maiwa documentary "Indigo: A World of Blue" going throughout the day and several people watched it as they waited for their creation to dye or oxidize.

The Kast family said that the Joybilee Farm "Indigo Dye Day" is the most fun they have had as a family. Every one had a very good time. It was a fun and educational day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fibre Arts Gardening

Sarah is growing several varieties of woad sent to her from friends in UK, Norway, and Prince Edward Island. The variety that she received from Norway is a surprise.

The first year leaves had larger cells in the Norwegian variety, than in the woad that came from UK or Ontario. It also appeared to have higher indigo yields -- faster to extract -- 7 to 8 grams of indigo per kg. of leaves. Although the indigo was less pure -- had a lower indigotin content.

Now those plants are in their second year and look entirely different from all the other varieties that Sarah is growing. The seeds are held high on the plant with fewer seeds per plant. The siloque are larger and more rounded. Plus they are reddish rather than purple-black. (The regular woad is black in the background of this picture, with the Norwegian woad in the foreground)

This seems to be another Isatis sp. -- not Isatis tinctoria. The Isatis tinctoria plants have blue-purple stem colour. This plant has a red stem colour. Does anyone have any insight as to what this might be?

Could it be Isatis chemisis? Or Isatis glauca (a perennial?).

This year's woad is ready for the first harvest. Some of the leaves were damaged by hail about 2 weeks ago, but new leaves have replaced the damaged leaves. Sarah will be doing a harvest for the public tomorrow, at our indigo dye day.

Here is the living willow chair in all its glory. Some of the back weavers didn't take so we'll weave in the side shoots on the arm branches to fill it in. Only the cat has sat on it. But it looks like it is well rooted so we can sit on it now.

The linen flax was damaged by the hail but not too badly. It started to flower last week and the plants are beginning to yellow at the root area, so we are right on schedule for the harvest at the linen festival in two weeks.

Here is dyer's chamomile. I harvest the flowers as they open and dry them, saving up for a large dye vat. (Dye content: quercetin, apigenin, luteolin) I am dyeing with yarrow this week -- high in luteolin, like weld, so a good fast yellow. I have acres of it growing over our homestead and the animals leave it alone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Plying yarn to free the bobbins

Spinning singles is fun, meditative and hypnotic. Plying, on the other hand, requires intense concentration to keep even tension on the singles, or not, to make a balanced yarn with integrity. Plying requires counting treadles. Singles practically make themselves while I am concentrating on an audio book or listening to music or talking to a friend.

Hence I tend to let the bobbins of singles build up until I run out of bobbins. I am in that state now -- with more than 15 bobbins full of yarn and no spare bobbin left, and an angora bunny spinning workshop on Friday that will necessitate at least 5 empty bobbins. So today I will be counting treadles and plying for a while.

What's on the bobbins? Superwash merino in natural white that will become a sweater, chocolate angora bunny that may eventually become a "kind fur eternity poncho", someone's dog hair that should just get finished so I can send it off (not my favorite project -- short hair and coarse feeling so I'm still working on it after 3 years....enough said.) some silk singles in bright rainbows that is destined to become a novelty cocoon yarn, and some singles linen that I want to weave tea towels from -- weft not warp. ( I'm still intimidated with linen warp so am afraid, very afraid.)

I'll post pictures when the spinning is done and I have the yarn to glow over.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Boundary Artisan Studio Tour

The BAA studio tour was today and yesterday. We had a steady flow of visitors from about 12:30 right to closing at 5pm. The best was a surprise visit from the Kalkamalka Weavers Guild from Vernon. They came down to see the Thread of our Heritage show of Doukhobor textiles, took in the studio tour and stopped at Joybilee Farm at the end of the day.

I showed and tell'd the new to us, PG Cottage Industry Carder. Wish we could have visited longer. Its always too short a visit when you get together with other spinners and weavers.

Total number of visitors: 33 over the two days -- 30 of them today.

Many of the visitors promised to come again.

Total studio visits for the whole tour: 285, which is up from last year's 200. Although sales were down overall. The economy is pinching the pennies in this community. But at least we gave people joy for the time they were at Joybilee Farm.

Natural Dyes -- St. Johns Wort

Joybilee Farm uses natural dyes for their wool, mohair and silk yarns, fibers and fiberart.

Here's the promised update on dyeing with St. Johns Wort flowers.

After boiling the flowers in hard water for 1 hour the bath was strained and left to cool for three days until it started to bubble slightly, and become slightly acidic. The dye bath was a deep red, the colour of raspberry juice.

One 4 oz. unmordanted skein of wool/mohair was put in and allowed to soak at room temperature for 24 hours. The bath was then heated to simmer, 1 tsp. of alum (8% wog) and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar were predissolved in 1/2 c. H20 and then added to the vat. The skein was simmered for 1 hour and then the pot was removed from the heat and allowed to cool down to room temperature without assistance. The skein emerged from the vat a lovely raspberry colour, which faded somewhat when hanging to dry in the sun.

The second skein was immersed in the vat and the above method followed. It appeared that no colour was laid down on the skein so a tsp of sodium carbonate was added. The skein immediately turned a bright chartreuse. Much of the colour was rinsed but the skein remained a greeny yellow.

A third 4oz. skein was immersed in the vat, brought to a simmer and alum was added. The addition of alum and cream of tartar caused some foaming of the vat and a straw yellow was laid down on the wool.

The vat was pH sensitive, turning red-purple with the addition of acid and green with the addition of alkaline, indication of the presence of anthroquonines in the St. Johns Wort.

Light fastness: The raspberry colour was not as light fast as I would hope for, fading to a brick pink colour when exposed to full sun. But the yellow and chartreuse did not fade as much. I wonder if the raspberry colour would have changed to green with a dip in ammonia?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Fundival and the Art Auction

Here is Joybilee Farm's contribution to the Christina Living Arts Centre fund raising auction, for the 2009 Fundival Auction, a gala event being held at Christina Lake August 6, 2009.

The Christina Lake Artist and Artisan Society is aiming to raise another $25k to complete the new Gallery and educational space in the Christina Living Arts Centre ($5k has been raised so far).

So let me tell you about this uncommon Joybilee Farm wrap. It is made of 100% white angora bunny fiber, hand felted onto both sides of a silk chiffon rectangle, sprinkled with holographic fibers and then wet felted to a firm, thin, drapey fabric. It was then dyed in the natural indigo vat with 10 immersions and oxidizations to give it a deep navy blue on the silk. The angora takes the dye to a lighter shade of denim blue. The holographic fiber sparkles in the light for just the right touch of glitz.

The shawl is warm and light, a mere 120 grams, with a feminine ruffle of navy silk framing the angora. The finished size is 60 inches long by 20 inches wide, including ruffle. Just the right indulgence for a cool summer evening at the lake.

This is Garnet, a pure bred French Angora rabbit, living at Joybilee Farm. Here she has just had her fiber harvested. 120 grams of Garnet's long fiber was used to make this elegant wrap. Garnet gives us 4oo grams of prime plucked French angora fiber each year.

Flax Crackers

To wet your appetite for the Linen Festival on Saturday August 8th at Joybilee Farm, here are three recipes for Flax Seed Crackers with three different methods -- The key to successful crackers is the thinness of the dough before cutting and baking -- then baking to a crisp, golden brown texture. Times for baking are given for my elevation at 2700 ft.

Joybilee Farm Spicy Flax crackers:
This one is my favorite. Tastes better the second day. Keeps well so you can make it ahead for a party. Just the right texture to eat alone or with a topping.

These crackers have no leavening. The dough is heavy and needs to be kneaded until it is smooth and shiny, awakening the gluten in the flour. Kneading well will ensure a crisp, light cracker. They can be rolled very thin and baked to a perfect, crisp texture.

2 cups of w/w flour, freshly ground
1 cup of flax seed, freshly ground
1/2 cup of whole flax seed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
3/4 cup. water or enough to make a stiff dough -- like a noodle dough

Mix all ingredients together, except water until well mixed and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Make a well in the centre and add water. Mix until mixture forms a firm ball, adding water 1 tsp at a time to get the dough the right consistency. Knead on well floured surface for five minutes until dough is smooth and satiny. Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 portions. Knead each portion separately and roll very thin. Cut with round cookie cutters. Pierce each cookie with a fork in at least 4 places. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 15 minutes in 350F, until golden brown. Cool in a basket lined with a linen towel.
(Towel is handwoven by Laura Fry of linen and cotton.)

Light Flax Crackers
These crackers use baking powder for their leavening. The dough should be handled only lightly to maintain their flaky, crisp texture. Good with butter or a dip.

1 cup flax seed
2 cups w/w flour, freshly ground
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 to 2/3 cup of milk, enough to moisten dough, not enough to make it sticky
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1 tbsp. whole flax seed, sesame seeds or poppy seeds

Grind the flax in a blender till it is coarsely cut. Mix flax, flour, salt and baking powder. Mix in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Make a well in the centre and pour in 1/2 cup milk. Mix lightly, adding more milk 1 tsp at a time until a ball is formed that is dry enough for rolling. Handle as little as possible. Cover and let rest for 15 min.

Roll as thin as possible on floured surface. Cut with the rim of a glass or a mason jar ring for round crackers. Pierce each cracker at least 4 times with a fork.

Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle on whole flax seed, sesame seed or poppy seeds.

Bake on ungreased baking sheet in 350 F oven for 15 minutes, until crisp and golden. Cool on cooling rack or in a basket lined with a linen towel.

Joybilee Farm's Flax Flat Bread
These crackers use yeast for their leavening and take longer to make as the dough needs to proof before rolling out. They are easier to roll thinly than the unleavened cracker. If you get tired of rolling out crackers, you can use the left over dough to make a loaf of bread. In this case divide dough in half before rolling out crackers.

7 cups w/w flour, freshly ground
1 cup ground flax seed, grind this as you need it
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp. of sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp yeast
3 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil

Mix flour, flax seed and salt. Set aside. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of water to which 1 tsp. of sugar has been added. Set aside until yeast mixture is foamy and all yeast is dissolved. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture. Add oil. Mix well adding more flour as necessary to make a firm bread dough. Knead for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Oil the top of the dough, cover and let proof in a warm place until dough doubles in bulk -- about 60 minutes. Punch down, knead again briefly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 36 portions. Roll each portion as thin as possible to make a 4 inch circle.

Preheat oven to 450F. Preheat cookie sheets before laying out circles of dough. Bake each cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Flip crackers over and bake for an additional 2 minutes. Crackers will puff up like pita bread and become crisp and light.

Store crackers in an airtight container. Will keep at room temperature for a week -- if they last that long. Use them as a base for Jerseyland Organics cheddar cheese sliced thinly -- or your own homemade goat cheese. Yummy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Linen Festival updates

There will be fiber flax seed available from Randy Cowan (Crop Fibers Canada) at the 2nd Annual Linen Festival at Joybilee Farm. Randy will be bringing several varieties of fiber flax seed with him so you can expand your collection of Linen flax seed.

Flax is self pollinated and varieties planted side by side do not cross-pollinate, so you can grow two varieties together without fear of corrupting your future seed, provided you keep them separate during the rippling stage.

If you are looking for a large amount of seed, let me know and I'll pass on the word so that Randy brings enough seed with him.

On the Thursday before the Linen Festival (Aug. 6th) -- the Fundival by the Christina Lake Artists and Artisan Society will take place at the Lake. The Fundival is an evening of music and fine dining surrounded by art. There will be an art auction to raise money for the building of the Christina Living Arts Centre. Tickets for the Fundival are $30 per person. So if you are looking for an artsy weekend consider coming to the Boundary -- taking in the Fundival on Thursday night and enjoying the Linen Festival at Joybilee Farm on Saturday.

2nd Annual Linen Festival on August 8th -- update

Our 2nd Annual Linen Festival is shaping up to be a first class event.

Randy Cowan, from Crop Fibers Canada in Saskatchewan will be demonstrating flax breaking with a Doukhobor flax break. He'll also take one of the speaking slots and talk about what is happening in Sasketchewan in reclaiming the flax fiber from the oil seed flax plants -- whole plant useage, and some of the industrial uses of flax fiber and shive.

This year we've added an outdoor artisan market and so far have two linen clothing designers lined up as well as the Joybilee Farm studio. We were even contacted by Maggie of "Irish Linen" (from Ireland!). Maybe they will come next year. I'm already dreaming of a fashion show of linen garments for 2010.

There is room for more artisans so if you know of someone who weaves in Linen let them know about the linen festival. I would love to see some linen or cottolin tea towels, placemats or any handwovens at the festival. Or an artisan in handmade papers? Cost for vending is a nominal $50 -- to cover advertising and entertainment costs.

We're still trying to firm up the music plans. I'm looking for music that is more folk, fiddle, classical or gospel rather than the usual rock and country-rock or punk that seems to brand the music offerings in this region. Ian (our son) provided the music last year but he's on his honeymoon in Nicaragua, so I don't think he'll want to do music for us this year.

We have approached the "Twisted Tomato" to be our food vendor for the day with their pizza and wraps. Still waiting to hear if they will come. We will also have coffee, cookies and lemonade available. Visitors are welcome to bring their own bagged lunch.

We have advertisements on CBC radio, Articulate Magazine (Arts and Culture Magazine for the Kootenays), Rocky Mountain Visitors Magazine, as well as online at GoBC, HelloBC and on our website. This is an official year of natural fiber event and is also listed on

Local newspapers will also carry advertisements.

What's happening at the linen festival? Here's the tentative schedule:

10am Open -- view the artisan market, see the growing linen flax plot, visit with the fiber animals and have a cup of coffee. Live Music

10:30am Hands on harvest of the Flax Field

11am Farm Tour -- Linen Field, Natural Dye Garden, Grazing fiber animals

11:30am Talk -- Chris Dalziel -- Growing flax, flax culture, history of flax growing in the Boundary -- see examples of handspun, handwoven and embroidered Doukhobor textiles.

Noon: Hands On Flax Breaking, scutching, hackling, spinning or braiding

1pm: Farm Tour -- Linen Field, Natural Dye Garden, Grazing Fiber Animals

2pm Talk - Randy Cowan, Crop Fibers Canada

2:45pm -- Live Music -- visit the artisan market,

3:30pm Hands On Linen Spinning, and Weaving and Natural Dyeing

4pm -- Farm Tour -- Linen Field, Natural Dye Garden, Grazing Animals.

Artisan Market is open throughout the day, along with the food vendor.

The Riverbend B & B is offering a special rate for the weekend. Just mention Joybilee Farm when you reserve your room.

The Second Annual Linen Festival is sponsored by the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild and Joybilee Farm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Herbal Medicine Chest: St. John's Wort Tincture

Its the right time of year for harvesting St. John's Wort to make herbal medicine. We harvest St. John's Wort from the mountains around the farm to add to Joybilee Farm Peppermint Foot Balm and Joybilee Farm Hemp Hand Balm and Hemp Seed Oil Lip Balm. St. John's Wort is healing to the skin, relieves pain, and heals nerve damage.

We also make a St. John's Wort tincture for our own herbal medicine cabinet. As a tincture St. John's Wort is used to treat mild to moderate depression, relieve pain, especially joint, nerve and back pain, relax and aid in sleep. It is also an immune booster. It relieves the pain of broken bones and strained muscles better than codeine medications, without the side effects.

To make St. Johns Wort tincture you harvest the flowers from St. Johns Wort Plants. Around here they bloom about the second week in July. Only the flowers are used not the leaves. Its best to harvest them in the morning, as the heat of the sun diminishes the potency.

Fill clean and sterilized mason jars with blossoms. Pack the blossoms into the jars until you cant get any more in. Add 40% alcohol Vodka to the jars (never use rubbing alcohol for herbal medicine). Use a knife to get rid of any air that is trapped under the blossoms. Keep adding grain alcohol until you can't get any more into the jar. Then cap it. Put it in a sunny window to cure for 2 weeks.

The liquid will turn ruby red. That's the medicine leaching out of the blossoms.

After two weeks strain off the liquid and bottle in glass bottles. I use the vodka bottles for this. I put the bottles in brown paper bags to exclude light and keep them in a cold, dry place (our cold storage room) until they are needed.

Dose is 5 ml tincture in 120 ml cold water -- taken once a day at bedtime for insomnia or depression or once every 4 hours for pain. This will make you drowsy so don't drive or operate machinery when you are taking St. Johns Wort during the day.

For St. Johns Wort Oil the same procedure is followed, except add Cold Pressed olive oil instead of the alcohol. The oil will be ruby red in colour when it is placed on a sunny window sill for two weeks. Strain off the oil and bottle in mason jars. Do not heat the jars. Store away from heat and light until ready to use.

To learn more about harvesting herbs and making herbal medicine consider taking a workshop at Joybilee Farm.

This year we had an abundant harvest of St. Johns Wort. There was enough left over to make a natural dye bath. More about that in another post...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pat Green Cottage Industry Carder -- my new toy

Yesterday we got the Pat Green Cottage Industry Carder up and running. And with a bit of advise from Paula Simmons-Green, and some online advise, I managed to produce both batts and roving from the carder. Yippee!. OK, I am still on the learning curve, but since I'm just carding my own fleece for my own spinning and felting work, a learning curve is all right.

We also added a wringer washer (circ. 1960, Beatty, Canadian made)to the fleece washing tools and we put the first fleece through it yesterday. It is yummy. I can heat the water with the wood stove, while I'm cooking or heating the house, drain the fleece soaking water out for garden irrigation, and put the fleece through the wringer before drying. The only electricity needed is to roll the wringers to press out the water. It will be a more eco-friendly way to wash fleece and keep the process out of the kitchen, too.

I was worried that rolling the fleece through the wringers would felt it, but it didn't.

The tub on the wringer holds 15 gallons. It is insulated so the heat stays in for over 3 hours of soaking. It can wash 15 lbs of fleece at a time (about 2 fleeces)so it should speed up the fleece processing at Joybilee Farm. I have a backlog of gorgeous kid mohair, adult mohair and coloured sheep fleeces to wash and card before fall.

Many of these fleeces will become felted bags, but more about that in another post.

The Weather and farming

We had hail and thunder showers this week. But not just any old summer thunder shower. The hail was as big as cat's eye marbles and pounded down on the farm for 20 minutes.

We were lucky. Our neighbors in Rock Creek had hail the size of golf balls. I've never seen a hail storm like this one.

The linen bed was just beginning to flower. I expected to go down and see it flat against the ground. No its still standing. But many of the tops are broken off. It will recover and we will still be able to harvest it for the linen festival. but it may be branched at the tip.

The bok choy and cabbages are decimated, though. They were just at the harvest stage and now they are torn and flat on the ground. But I can plant again. We will still get 4 weeks of growing season before the frosts come every night.

And in the midst of days of thunder showers we had 3 llama babies born. The final boy was born on Thursday to Cappuccino. A palomino suri male. Our first suri llama, too. He is the biggest boy we've had and he needed help to get out. Thankfully we were all home. With Sarah holding Cappuccino's head and me holding her side, and Robin reaching in to turn out the leg that was stuck, we had a safe delivery. Visitors stopped in at the farm shortly after the birth and took some great pictures of the still wobbly legged boy.

And we are now finished with births except for rabbits and chicks.

Friday, July 03, 2009

New llamas at Joybilee Farm

Summer is here finally. We thought it would never come. Daytime highs have been in the 90's (F) here and we've had frost every morning. Some of the willows (particularyly salix alba, vitellini) have been nipped at the tips -- they'll branch at that spot, instead of growing straight rods for basketry. Thankfully, most of the basket willows are very hardy and don't mind occassional frost in the summer, continuing to grow straight all season.

In the last two days we've had two llama babies born. Today, Selene gave birth to a lovely black boy. Yes! We were hoping her baby would be both black and a boy. He will be our new stud male, when he is of age. Selene came to us, already bred, from Dave and Connie Carlson's farm in Ft. McLeod, Alberta. And this boy is just what we were hoping for.

Yesterday Expresso gave birth to a boy that looks just like her with black face and legs and a carmel coloured neck and body. Awesome. This is Laddy's first son. Amazing to have a son after 5 daughters.

Cappuccino is still on the "Ladies in waiting" list but she should have her cria in the next two weeks.