Meet the Animals + Something Special for YOU

As I mentioned in my post about all of this year’s changes, we went from living on a small rental in Los Angeles to a 5-acre property in Tennessee. By far, the most FUN part of this entire process of change has been adopting and raising farm animals. I will leave the birds for my next post (although to my great surprise, the birds give us more entertainment than even our house pets).

We started with 5 wool sheep, and then, for my birthday, added a pair of Nigerian dwarf goats. I will not write too much in this post, as I am sure you’ll find the photos much more entertaining. The important things to know are that the sheep are a Bluefaced Leicester/Shetland/Cotswold mix, which my spinning friends tell me is going to make some lovely yarn, and were about 6 months old when we got them and are now, as of this writing, nearing their first birthday. Sheep are not easy, and if anyone is interested, I can do another post about all the things we have learned so far about raising them, but I really do enjoy our new life. Despite the hard, and often dirty work, going out to the barn to take care of the animals is one of my favorite parts of the day.

5 lambs having a little snack after arriving at their forever home
Front row, right to left: Freckles, Roman, and Nona. In the back – a little black sheep named Molly and Mr. Percy, a proper English gentleman …when he’s not begging for grain that is.
It took us awhile to get paddocks set up and to learn how to herd the sheep where they need to go. At first, there were days we had to pick them up and carry them – just a little morning workout.
The horned ones… I always thought it was just rams who have horns, but ewes can have them too. Molly and Mr. Percy just wouldn’t look the same without them!
If one takes off running, most likely they will all follow. Sheep love to be together. A sheep thing that is sometimes annoying, and other times, super helpful! 🙂
Enjoying the summer pastures. Truly a sheep’s happy place.
After shearing. Yes, we did it ourselves, and yes, it is SO HARD! My husband and I were quite proud of ourselves when we finished Mr. Percy and Roman.

And the goats… what can I say except that they are as people-loving, cuddly and fun as they look!

Happy birthday to me! Graham really does love cuddles and being held.
Leia loves cuddles too, and if I’m sitting down, will jump right into my lap.
One day when we were out and about, we left them to roam in the yard. When I came inside a few minutes to cool off, look who showed up at the front door!
My baby nephew thinks the goats are pretty funny too.
Leia is our female – and she’ll be a good mama some day. She doesn’t tolerate nonsense.
Graham: the sweetest, most lovable little goat I’ve ever met! He does try to eat my clothes however…
It’s true: goats really do love a nibble of just about everything!

This has all been a huge learning process for us. We did lots of reading and research before buying our animals so that we’d know how to keep them healthy and happy. It has been so fun and rewarding, but I always feel like I have so much left to learn. Next up is learning to process wool and spin it. I hope you enjoyed meeting our ruminants, and I will do another post soon about our birds.

I can’t yet sell any of my own fiber, but if you’re in holiday shopping mode, I do have a little treat for you. Lovecrafts.com gave me a discount code for my blog readers: Use EKB2019 to get 15% off orders over $10 (excluding PDF patterns, sale items & value packs). One use per customer, valid until December 31, 2019.

(And if anyone is wondering, I don’t make commissions from any sales, this is just a treat they are letting me offer you!) Please enjoy – their site has goodies for knitters, crocheters, quilters, and cross stitch and embroidery.

#WhyIMake

Earlier this week, LoveCrafts.com asked me to participate in their blogger awards (The Crafties) by writing about #whyimake. At first glance, it seemed like there are so many reasons why I’m a maker, so how to condense them into one post? But after looking back over how I became a maker and thinking about why I’m still doing it, I realized why I make is actually quite simple. Here is my story of how I started and why I will always be a maker.

I have always been a creative person. As a young girl, I loved to draw, and then as a teen, dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. My sketches of dream outfits from that time are still tucked away in my studio. When I was in high school, I got serious about taking art classes, drawing, painting, and preparing my portfolio for art school. I ended up going to school for graphic design and loved my college courses.

But graphic design in college is not the same as graphic design in the corporate world, and I have to be honest and admit that after graduation, I was not happy as a working graphic designer. I felt chained to my computer all the time, and so many days it felt like there was no creativity or making in my day at all. I would come home from work feeling drained, read fashion magazines, or just go shopping. This was not fulfilling at all, but it certainly filled the house with stuff and drained my bank account!

After I became a stay-at-home mom, we moved to Los Angeles when my son was 9 months and my daughter was two, and as you can imagine, it was a hard adjustment. A year later, I was still feeling lonely in the large city, and then my father died very suddenly. I found myself in the lowest, most painful time in my life to date. I felt trapped at home with the all the challenges that come with mothering two toddlers, a continent away from all our family and closest friends, and of course, the shock and grief of losing a parent. When someone from church asked me if I’d like to come to her little fiber group and learn to crochet, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying, so I went.

It sounds dramatic, but it was a life-changing night for me. I went home from that first meeting and stayed up until the wee hours practicing because I desperately wanted to make sure I wouldn’t forget how to do it by the next day. It is hard to put into words how important it was that I didn’t forget how to do it, because a whole week until our next meeting felt like such a long time!

I consider learning to crochet to be when I truly became a maker. It was the first night since my dad had died that I was able to get my mind engaged and enthusiastic with something. Crocheting made me excited, and it didn’t even matter what I was working on. I was as excited and energized to work on that first hole-y, uneven little dishcloth then as I am to work on a beautiful, complicated shawl or sweater now. I would sit and crochet anytime I was feeling sad or when I couldn’t sleep, and sure enough, after working on a project, I’d feel worlds better. To me, this is what it means to be a maker – enjoying the process of learning and of creating with your hands. The end result is just the cherry on top.

I’m a maker because I love to explore and learn, then translate what I’ve learned into a beautiful piece made by hand. People love to ask designers where their inspiration comes from, and I know I’m only one of many when I say, “Everywhere!” That may sound vague, but it is a true statement because there is always something new to learn or explore. The endless possibilities are what keep it exciting and fulfilling. There are so many studies about the the great mental benefits of knitting and crocheting, but I think those things are the side effects of what is really going on, which is experiencing the joy of learning and creating. Whether it’s focusing on a new stitch pattern or technique, or listening to an audiobook or podcast while I’m meditatively stitching a simple pattern, I love that feeling of having my mind engaged. It energizes me just thinking about what new project to start or what country’s textile tradition I can explore next. It’s exciting to buy a different fiber or even just use a color combination I’ve never tried before.

I have also realized that being a maker leaves me fulfilled and satisfied, and being a consumer, whether of things or entertainment or both, does not. I no longer have the craving to constantly shop and buy new things all the time because I am satisfied with the process of making. (Except for yarn and books – but you saw that coming!) Advertising doesn’t lure me the way it used to either because as a maker, I’ve learned to appreciate true value. I am also much less inclined to waste time getting sucked into Netflix or social media (and then being angry at myself after) unless I am working on a project. If I spend an evening watching Netflix while knitting or crocheting, my mind has still been engaged with my hands, and it still feels fulfilling. (So no judgment here on a good Netflix binge, but please let me have a project in my lap at all times!)

I love that this competition is not called “why I’m a knitter” or “why I’m a crocheter”, but is focused on why we are “makers”. You can always enjoy being a maker, even if you get tired of a certain craft or medium for a time. I’ve discovered that if I’m feeling bored or out of the mood with my craft, it is usually because I’m no longer learning, and once I fix that problem, the excitement returns. Since that first night I learned to crochet (and to knit shortly thereafter), there have been very few days I don’t spend at least a few minutes working on a project.

I still want to learn to needlepoint, to quilt, to spin, to weave…let’s be honest, that list will probably just keep getting longer! But whatever my craft of the moment is, I will always be making because it fulfills and excites me. I am a lifelong learner, and therefore a lifelong maker.

All of us have our own stories about how we became makers, and I’d love to hear yours. Thanks for reading mine, and please leave yours in the comments. If you want to keep up with what catches my eye, as well as my latest works in progress, check me out on Ravelry and Instagram. Special thanks to Lovecrafts.com for nominating me to participate in their blogger awards contest!