Winter Weaving with Churro!

It's still winter here and the sheep are still being fed, but there's a little bit of time between chores to get some weaving done. Here's a tapestry that Molly is making with natural and hand-dyed Churro yarn from our flock. As you can see in the photos below, our Churro sheep produce a variety of natural grey, tan, and white fleeces. One of the defining characteristics of Churro wool is that it takes dyes well, producing beautiful, rich, lustrous colors like the ones in the weaving below.

If you would like to learn to weave, Tierra Wools offers classes once a month all summer in the pastoral village of Los Ojos, New Mexico. Now's the time to call and sign up! For more info on classes, visit the Tierra Wools website at http://www.handweavers.com.

 Molly's Churro tapestry on the loom

Molly's Churro tapestry on the loom

 Each of the yarn colors waiting to be added to  the tapestry is organized into an individual hank, also referred to as a "butterfly."

Each of the yarn colors waiting to be added to  the tapestry is organized into an individual hank, also referred to as a "butterfly."

 Churro sheep at feeding time

Churro sheep at feeding time

Land Baby!

Here we are, rolling merrily along into the New Year – feeding the sheep every day, continuing to develop our woolen products – and listening to new music! We are proud to share the news that our daughter Lara recently released her first album of original music. The title of the album, Land Baby, comes from the title track, whose lyrics were inspired by the New Mexico landscape and which includes the sounds of work equipment from the ranch as part of the percussion. In addition to writing and singing the songs, Lara also designed the album cover, using a Churro blanket that she wove as the background image and featuring a portrait of one of our ewes in the fold-out portion of the CD cover. Lara’s creative spirit never ceases to surprise us! Here are a few ways you can listen to and order Lara’s music:

 

Album_HardCopy.jpg
 In the recording studio with tools from the ranch

In the recording studio with tools from the ranch

 Lara in front of the mic

Lara in front of the mic

Here's what Lara had to say about the album:

"Land Baby is about movement – not only physical and geographical movement, but also emotional and cultural. I was raised on a beautiful but isolated sheep ranch in Northern New Mexico, with my parents’ 1960s and 70s folk and rock record collection to keep me company. I grew up hearing both English and Spanish and speaking Spanglish. The stories, customs, and traditions of my childhood were rooted in the distinct culture of northern New Mexico: a deeply complex mixture of old-world Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and Anglo-American ways of being, all held together by a deep connection to the land.

When our family wasn’t hiking across the mountains behind the sheep, we were in our living room having rock n’ roll dance parties led by my Dad. The Doors, The Beatles, The Supremes, Simon and Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash and more melded with local Spanish polkas and chotizes played on the piano by my great-grandfather, the classic country and bluegrass fiddle tunes of my grandmother, and the Garth Brooks-era country and Mexican rancheras and corridos that wafted over the local radio waves. The haunting and mournful alabados of the penitentes at our local religious ceremonies provided a beautifully mournful undertone to the wild, pulsing freedom of the landscape, and the beats of our neighbors in the Pueblos and on the Navajo and Apache reservations permeated the oftentimes dusty air.

I left New Mexico at 18 and headed out into the world. I spent the next 15 years in transit: Appleton Wisconsin, Washington D.C., Granada, Spain; Milwaukee, Chicago, and finally, six years in San Francisco. I did all the things you’re supposed to do when you leave home: I lived, loved, learned, made music, and danced my socks off. I met amazing and interesting people, began and ended relationships, and forged strong friendships. I learned about new cultures and fell in love with new music. I sang Mexican rancheras on the streets. People asked me about my cultural background, and I tried my best to explain the complex and unique cultural flavor of Northern New Mexico, with varying degrees of success. I got knocked down a few times but always found a way back up through my music.

This movement – across land, across time, across cultures and languages, and through emotional space – is what this album is about. I still get asked about my cultural roots. When I try to explain it with words, my answer never stays completely still… and so I sing it instead."

~ Lara

 Lara at the sheep camp, around 1994

Lara at the sheep camp, around 1994

Sheep Back in the Valley

We brought the sheep down from the high country last week. The weather was cool and overcast most of the first day, which is good for traveling overland. Just as we neared our destination, we got poured on, but all arrived safe and sound. Here are a few photos of the first day of the trip.

 First part of the day is all uphill.

First part of the day is all uphill.

 Coming across the top of the mountain.

Coming across the top of the mountain.

 On the downhill side.

On the downhill side.

IMG_0885.jpg
IMG_0889.jpg

Tribute to Abbey

The only constant on the ranch is constant change. We lost our mare Abbey not too long ago; a faithful and steadfast helper, companion and part of the family. Abbey was 27 years old and had been with us since 1994. Here are a few photos of her.

 

 Abbey is the mare on the left, ridden by shepherd Domingo, pictured here with his son Enrique on Jimmie. Abbey was always Domingo's favorite; she spent many, many summers tending the sheep.

Abbey is the mare on the left, ridden by shepherd Domingo, pictured here with his son Enrique on Jimmie. Abbey was always Domingo's favorite; she spent many, many summers tending the sheep.

 Here are Abbey and Domingo moving ewes and new lambs to pasture.

Here are Abbey and Domingo moving ewes and new lambs to pasture.

 With Juan Carlos, one of her many days working on the ranch.

With Juan Carlos, one of her many days working on the ranch.

 Abbey will be missed. 

Abbey will be missed. 

Summer

Our sheep are hanging out, getting fat on lush mountain pasture right now. We're down in the valley at the ranch, getting ready to put up the hay we've been irrigating all summer!  It is once again almost time to bring the sheep to the valley for the fall and winter. We will keep you posted. 

 Ewes and lambs on summer pasture at about 8500 feet elevation

Ewes and lambs on summer pasture at about 8500 feet elevation

 Lara and Antonio, picking up bales of hay to be stacked for winter feeding.

Lara and Antonio, picking up bales of hay to be stacked for winter feeding.

Thanks for visiting!