Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shearing Time!

Last Thursday, we had our sheep sheared!  It was quite exciting.  Even after having Martin Dibble come for the past three years, I am always still awed by how easily, quickly and efficiently he shears sheep!

Martin has been shearing for about 40 years now, starting when he was about 15.  I'm sure he took longer then but each sheep now is sheared in two to three minutes!  We asked him what his daily limit of sheep is and he told us that he'll do about 100 per day.  Well, we're not that big yet but in a couple of years we might be taking up the better portion of a day for Martin!

After watching our video of him shearing SweetPea, you may start to wonder what we pay him for.  Well, Jason and I have both sheared sheep before, using electric sheep shearers though not as nice as Martin's setup, and it took us much closer to an hour for each sheep.  and our fleeces came off with way more second cuts and the sheep were a fair amount bloodier than when Martin is done with them.  If you ever have the chance to attempt to shear a sheep, you will likely also conclude that Martin is worth his weight in gold!

Getting set up to shear was an interesting task.  Our first shearing experience was with some folks who, at the time, had nothing in the way of handling facilities.  We had to catch each sheep in the field.  With Jacobs being known to be more flighty than more commercialized breeds, this made for interesting times.  We learned our lesson then and there but we have to make facilities when we need them now because as yet, we have nothing permanent.  With our sheep barn steadily emptying of a decade's worth of storage, we had enough room in the nice dry barn to make a pen where we could squeeze the sheep into a small enough space to catch them easily without anyone getting hurt.  Our sheep are still flightier, being Jacob sheep, but I think they are less so than their reputation when we use gates and panels and chutes and proper handling techniques.  All of it is worth it in the end for happy sheep and the products they provide us with every year!

This year, we had 24 sheep done.  With an average of just over 2.5 lbs of raw wool per animal and selling two fleeces before even getting home, we still have 59 pounds of raw fleece to sell, process and sell.  None of this included the lambs.  Their wool is not yet long enough to be useful or cause them to overheat as it gets hot in July and August.
After washing, our sheep keep about 80% of that weight, on average, which is a pretty good yield.  That will leave us with about 47 pounds of wool.  If approximately 20 percent of that weight is lost again in the carding and spinning of the wool (dirt, vegetable matter, short fibers, etc.) we will still have nearly 40 pounds of wool yarn.  If it takes, on average depending on the weight and size of them, a pound to make a sweater.  Our sheep could make approximately 40 all-wool sweaters!  So if 59 pounds of wool didn't seem like a lot before, It sure seems like a huge amount now!  As a spinner, I'm looking at my huge pile of wool and thinking "geeze, I'm going to be BUSY this winter!"

If you are a fiber artist of any sort, please let us know if you are interested in purchasing some of our wool in any of it's states between raw and yarn.  Batts for spinning and hand-spun yarn will be available on a limited basis as I can make time for working on them.  As much as I enjoy the art, I have very little time to work on such items.  We should have washed fleeces available after the fourth of July as that will be our washing weekend.  If you absolutely must have a whole fleece before then, let us know and we can probably squeeze in a little bit of washing time.  Raw fleece is $12 per pound, Washed fleece is $20 per pound.  Batts are $4 per 1 ounce batt.  4 ounce skeins of yarn (varying yardage) are $20.  Colors will vary between white, black and all the greys in between.  If you come to the Pullman Market, you can choose from what is available each week.  If you have a particular project in mind, please come talk to Margaret and we will figure out just what you need!  (509) 590-8897 or

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Early Spring Pictures

I've posted some photos from March through May 4.  For those of you on Facebook, you may check them out there.  For those of you who are not on Facebook, below is a link to a publicly available album.

Jason and Margaret
Omache Farm

Hoophouse Pictures

At last! pictures of the completed hoophouse!

It was pretty nasty weather the week Jason was putting up plastic over the end walls.  We might still be able to see the footprints next year as evidence of the "stop flying away you silly plastic!"

HannaMae even helped put up the end walls!

Hoophouse from the North Side

 North Side End

South Side

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


For all of you out there who love to hear about whats going on and love to feel special enough to recieve newsletters, put yourself on our special list!

Omache Farm will be doing a weekly newsletter via email each week starting on Monday, May 16th. 

Each week, we will be listing what should be arriving at the Pullman Farmer's Market with us that week.  A recipe or two, especialy for those veggies that you might see a lot of or have never seen before.  Inspiration is always good!  We will also be informing you of what is going on around the farm in general.

Send us an E-Mail listing your name and email so that we can add you to our newsletter list!  We don't want you to miss out on this exciting new adventure with Omache Farm!

Send your email to:

Tell your friends, forward it on, keep in touch.

During my summer vacation, I'm going to eat great veggies and make new friends.  How about you?

Our Hoophouse Adventure!

We decided that one of the first big steps we would need to make in order to grow our vegetable operation was to obtain a hoophouse.  A hoophouse will allow us to start and grow veggies earlier in the spring and later in the fall as well as maintain a warmer, longer growing season for crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil and many other crops that enjoy warmer nights than what normally occur on the Palouse.

We decided the best method for us was to build it ourselves as opposed to purchasing a kit.  We started with Jason researching methods and materials and the best size for us between cost and quality.

We settled on a 48' x 20' structure.  We made our hoops out of bent chain link fence piping from Home Depot using a bender we bought that was specifically designed to bend our piping to the right circumference.  We borrowed our planting table from ourselves and mounted the bender on top.  The only difficulty with that plan was that we had no place to anchor the table so that it wouldn't rotate while Jason was bending the hoops.  Luckily, Jason is big and strong enough to have been able to both hold the table and bend the hoops at the same time!  I, on the other hand, can only barely do one or the other.  Jason did the majority of the hoop bending.  We worked together to drill and label the bent piping so that it could be assembled out at the farm easily and quickly.

Jason and his Dad built the frame over the course of a weekend.  They pounded the ground posts so that they were all level and then assembled the hoops and put them up.  They installed the purlins for stability and then Jason began calling friends for assistance in putting up the plastic on the next weekend.  He got about 8 of our friends out to help with the plastic.  Luckily the day chosen was fairly windless and the plastic went up without incident.  Jason and Ronn, his Dad, spent the next two days building and installing the end walls and doors.  Jason spent another few days putting the plastic up on the end walls to close up the hoophouse so that it could begin warming the soil. 

At the south end of the hoophouse, they installed a single man-door, because it was free and already framed.  At the north end, they built large double doors to enable something as big as a tractor to enter if necessary.

 The only details remaining for the hoophouse which will likely wait until next year for installation is the piping to enable the side to be rolled up quickly and easily for ventilation.  This year we will install a few more eye bolts and some colored cord so that we can ventilate via the sidewalls.  Conceptually simple, a little more time-consuming than the piping but much cheaper for the time being.

Now that our hoophouse, one of the major installations for this year, has been built, we are seeing lots of things out growing in it along with the weeds.  Our larger starts have all been moved out to the hoophouse and there are Carrots, radishes, beans and salad mix all growing in the ground inside, all of which have now begun to grow.  Hopefully we'll have some salad mix and radishes from the hoophouse in time for the first Pullman Farmer's Market!

Come back soon because as we are gearing up for an exciting growing season, there will also be a lot more going on here as well! (Including some finished and growing pictures!)