Monarch Migration

The Farm has always supported butterflies by keeping butterfly preferred flowers in the gardens and in particular looking out for Monarchs by raising them from caterpillars when their numbers are low. 2019 was the best Summer for Monarchs in quite a few years so I decided to start listing results for on-going comparison of years. But first a few pics….

Hungry Caterpillars
Monarchs in Waiting
Chrysalis Near eClose
Newly Emerged
Nearly Ready To Go!
Healthy Male Monarch With Wings Still Drying

15 caterpillars total

2 accidental deaths

0 disease issues

0 unexplained death

7 healthy males

6 healthy females

87% survival rate

Which far surpasses the 0% observed surviving in the garden.

Chrysalis Accidents

2 fell – one was crushed while cleaning the cage as it wasn’t seen on the bottom after it had fallen. The other fell just after the chrysalis formed and it was still too wet to survive the fall. This was the last caterpillar raised (9/18/19) and it seemed to have a bad destiny from the start. It wanted to j on the test tube rack for holding the milkweed leaves, when relocated to the top then picked the zipper of the cage, etc.

Orphan Goose

Orphan Goose aka OG

This is the saga of OG observed beginning in the Summer of 2018. I will keep adding to the story when new events unfold…..Never in >20 years of living with Canada Geese had I seen what happened to this goose.

There have been Canada Geese nesting at the pond since I moved here in 1997 but none nested here in 2017. There have been so many geese over the years that someone from US Fish and Wildlife showed up telling me they had identified the Farm as a hot spot of goose activity in Hunterdon County via satellite and wanted to take a look! More than a little scary….

Anyway, 2018 was a whole new set of geese, none of the older families reappeared. This was easily recognized as the prior families were quite familiar if not super friendly with the occupants of the Farm.

This new group of geese did not win any parenting awards as they blindly followed the chicks around out onto the roads and did not seem to point out other hazards either. The prior families were much more savvy and proactive about hazards to the goslings. Needless to say it was a miracle that any of them made it to adulthood. Very late in the season, a gosling showed up that had born much later than all the others. He seemed to lose his parents regularly as the goslings would all mix together and it became difficult for the parents to realize when one was missing.

In late August OG was found crying at one of the pasture gates when he couldn’t figure out how to get through it, but the only goose who came for him was another gosling who was a bit older. The two of them stayed together for another couple of months (last seen together Aug. 31, 2018).

When it became time for the geese to start making day trips, they all took off and left OG. I’ve never seen adult geese abandon a gosling before this. Eventually even his buddy took off (OG alone Sep. 1, 2018), leaving OG crying relentlessly for a good 30 minutes afterwards. OG disappeared for a few weeks and reappeared alone on Sep. 16th. He stayed at the pond alone until some flocks of geese began day visits on Sep. 23rd. The geese would return most days and OG would cry and cry when they left in the evening. Listening to him cry was truly heart breaking.

This went on for a week and I began to think he had something wrong with him, that he couldn’t fly and maybe that’s why the other geese gave up on him and left. Then suddenly OG started trying to fly when the other geese were leaving. On the third day he was able to fly off with them (Sep. 30th)! I thought I might recognize him when he returned because we was so much smaller than all the others but I couldn’t.

I kept watching the geese cycling through and counting the family members to see if there was a pattern. Nothing obvious emerged, but on Oct. 29th a single goose landed near sunset and called repeatedly for over 15 minutes before taking off. I felt pretty sure it was OG as I’ve never seen a lone goose except for him. Different numbers of geese flew in most days and departed at dusk through Nov. Then on Nov. 27th a lone goose got left behind by a group of 20 that left at 10:30AM. He cried a good long time but then stayed until about 3PM before departing to the north east.

Dec. 23rd there was a lone goose sighted with a group of 7 that left to the north. Not sure if this was OG but it might have been. Dec. 27 a lone goose arrived at 7AM and was joined by a few other flocks during the day. He left with a group of 6 at 5PM heading towards Spruce Run Rec. Area. He hung close to this group but they kept driving him away if he got too close so he mostly stayed with a group of 3 mallards also present that day. Since then I’ve seen him (assuming it’s a him as the family groups’ male drive him away if he gets too close) about once a month, always alone.

As the 2019 goslings began to hatch out he was here most of the time, keeping with but not too close to the families. I could never tell if he was hanging closer to one family than the other which I found odd as I had hoped he’d finally find his family at nesting time. Since he was born here and the families return each year to the same place each year I’d assumed he’d eventually catch up with them. Additionally geese will often stay with their parents an additional year before pairing up with a mate.

Last updated: June 20, 2019

Science of Knitting

https://phys.org/news/2019-03-science-unpicked.htmll

According to a recent new release by the American Physical Society “Knitting is a periodic structure of slip knots.” Elisabetta Matsumoto has been using math to describe properties of textiles/ fabrics such as stretchiness based on knitted stitches. These formulas may ultimately be applied to biological tissue replacements such as cartilage or tendons.

More information: The 2019 APS March Meeting presentation “Twisted topological tangles: or the knot theory of knitting,” by Elisabetta Matsumoto, Shashank Ganesh and Markande Dimitriyev, will take place Wednesday, March 6, at 8:00 a.m. in Room: 259A of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Abstract: meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR19/Session/K63.1

Full article: https://phys.org/news/2019-03-science-unpicked.html

Gingerbread Ganseys


Source: https://www.shetland.org/60n/blogs/posts/gingerbread-ganseys

These look adorable if a bit painstaking to make. The recipe is a vegan version of the old time favorite. Will give them a try but not sure I’ll have the time to do the shapes and drawn on frosting! This is from our friends at Promote Shetland – what will they come up with next?

Source: https://www.shetland.org/60n/blogs/posts/gingerbread-ganseys

Research Shows that Wool Eases Eczema Symptoms

A new study has confirmed that wearing superfine Merino wool helps ease the symptoms of eczema and improves the wearer’s quality of life.

Professor Joe Fowler at Dermatology Specialists Research in Louisville, Ky., undertook this two-year study assessing the effect of Merino base-layer fabrics on 50 of his patients with mild-to-moderate eczema.

Using a cross-over design, participants were placed in two groups. The first group was dressed in their regular clothing for six weeks and then changed to superfine Merino wool garments. The second group began with the superfine Merino wool for six weeks and then crossed over to their regular clothing for the final six weeks. Each patient undertook an initial visit to establish their baseline condition, followed by regular visits until completion of the study. They were assessed for clinical, physiological and quality of life outcome measures.

Significant decreases in eczema symptoms from Baseline to Week Three were seen in both groups. However, those who switched to Merino wool at Week Six experienced a further significant decrease in symptoms, in contrast to those who switched to regular clothing. Further, “it was only when Merino wool was worn that improved quality of life scores occurred,” Fowler said.

“I still wear the [wool] clothing, even though I’ve finished the study,” one participant said. “I’m super sensitive about clothing and never keep any that are not comfortable.”

Another participant commented, “I could feel it working, my skin got softer and I wear [wool] now when my skin needs help.”

Source: ASI Weekly November 9, 2018

Full Article (IWTO = Intnat’l Wool Textile Org.): https://www.iwto.org/news/us-study-confirms-wool-benefits-to-skin

Where Your Wool Comes From

Outdoor Online recently published an article about the Peruvian immigrants who work as shepherds on the last large-scale sheep-herding operation on Washington state’s public forestland.   It’s likely that the wool in your outdoor gear came from these 4,000 sheep, owned by the family ranch S. Martinez Livestock, near Mabton, Wash.  The wool goes to companies such as Farm to Feet, Pendleton, and Woolrich to be turned into American-made performance clothing.  Check out the outstanding photography.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2360806/sheep-herding-s-martinez-peru

The Martinez family immigrated to American from Spain in 1920, starting as sheepherders and becoming ranch owners.  Today the operation has diversified into fruit, cattle and grain as well as continuing the sheep operation.  They have a lot of issues to resolve due to grazing on public lands!  They’ve been successful by staying in touch with the Federal government and private landowners to avoid impacting bighorn sheep, being impacted by protected wolves and avoiding wildfire areas.

http://www.sheepusa.org/NewsMedia_SheepIndustryNews_PastIssues_2013_May2013_WashingtonProducersContinueGenerationalBusiness

 

 

2018 Shetland Wool Week Pattern Available

Introducing the Merrie Dancers Toorie

We are thrilled to announce this year’s Shetland Wool Week patron as Shetland knitwear designer and handspinner, Elizabeth Johnston.

The news was officially launched this morning at the start of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where Shetland Wool Week has a stand.

The annual SWW hat pattern, which is now synonymous with the launch of the patron, was also released. This year’s official hat pattern is called ‘The Merrie Dancers Toorie’ and was designed by Elizabeth Johnston. The hat is based on a fisherman’s kep in the Shetland Museum and Archives’ Boat Hall, and features three small patterns, but is not a Fair Isle design.

Elizabeth has lived in Shetland all her life, and like many others who grew up in the islands, has knitted from childhood. Elizabeth bought her first spinning wheel in 1978, which changed her focus from knitting to spinning, and also teaching these skills. She eventually started her own business, Shetland Handspun, which has taken her to many places around the world and she is in high demand as a speaker and instructor.

Elizabeth said: “I have loved designing the Merrie Dancers Toorie. The kep has a dark background with colours that remind me of the northern lights, or ‘merrie dancers’, and a familiar sight to fishermen. You can blend or contrast any colours and I have suggested a variety that use yarns from Jamieson & SmithJamieson’s of ShetlandUradale Yarns and Shetland Handspun.”

We are delighted to have Elizabeth as our new patron. She has a life-time of knowledge about Shetland wool, learned from those who came before and honed through practice. Centuries of Shetland textile craft come together in her work: sheep-rearing, wool processing, dyeing, spinning, knitting, weaving. Perhaps more importantly, she is passing on her skills and knowledge to others through practice-based teaching, just as Shetlanders have always done.

The Merrie Dancers Toorie pattern can be downloaded from Ravelry or come along to our stand at EYF and pick up a printed copy. Elizabeth will be splitting her time between the SWW stand and also her own stand, Shetland Handspun, so drop by and say hello.

The pattern will also be available from the Shetland Museum and Archives shop and textile outlets in Shetland.

Knit the hat in any of the suggested colour variations, or come up with your own colour scheme, and wear it to Shetland Wool Week 2018 – identify your fellow Wool Weekers and compare hats throughout the week and at the official SWW 2018 photograph!

Remember to share your creations and experiences with us by tagging your photos with #merriedancerstoorie or #shetlandwoolweek2018

Source: http://www.shetlandwoolweek.com/introducing-the-merrie-dancers-toorie/