Gus the Ram & Gideon: Winning on Hope

Seven. That was the final count for how many ram lambs we had born this year. As the saying goes, there’s always the one black sheep. This year, it was very true. Sybil had given us the only natural colored ram of the year. Born on a windy day, he was dubbed Gusty and Gus for short.

I’m not sure why, but Gus was friendlier than any other lamb that year. As such, Gideon formed an attachment.

The “black sheep” of the bunch of rams, Gus was special to Gideon

“Don’t get attached. We don’t keep rams,” we continually reminded him. No matter, Gid is the king of making excuses. The final one he landed on was if Gus wins at the NC State Fair, we had to keep him. I just shook my head, but let him hope.

Gideon spent extra time on Gus the days before the show. He trimmed his “dreadlocks” from his face, and gave him a buzz cut. He washed him, and he put show sheen in his fleece. He even had a special halter picked out just for Gus, although I’m not sure why pink and blue was the choice (the halters would later get mixed up in the chaos of the show).DSC_6013


I had to admit, Gus looked good. He had one of my favorite fleeces of the group, and I couldn’t help but wish he had been a ewe.

When we arrived at the show, we walked the pens of sheep to scope out the competition and view the various breeds. I secretly told mom that night that it was tough competition this year. Don’t get your hopes up. So, we didn’t, but Gid did.

Because Gus is a ram, he couldn’t show in the junior show. So Gid showed his mom, and waited patiently to be able to bring him in the ring during open show. When it came time for Gus’s class, Gideon did a little jump and clapped his hands in excitement.

He won first, and Gid was grinning.

Hugs in the middle of the ring for winning his class.

He then went in for champion Medium/fine Natural Colored Ram.

He won grand champion in that division.

Gideon came out of the ring with the biggest smile and said, “now we have to keep him…”

I told him not to let his head get too big, but he did a good job.DSC_6243Gus didn’t win overall champion ram, but he did win his fleece class.

Gideon thought he was done for the day, but there was still Overall Grand Champion Fleece yet to be decided. Back in he went with his prize ram—Gus, and out he came with the champion banner, a plaque, and the biggest grin you ever did see. Gus had won it all.

I smiled and shook my head at this (not so) little boy and his little ram, my heart filled with pride. I looked back over to see Gid on his knee talking to Gus, telling him what an awesome job he did.DSC_6290Believing in someone or something can go a long way, especially when hope is involved. Gideon and Gus won on that, and now, I think Gus is staying on Countryview Farm.

Lambing Season- 2016-

When it comes to animals being born on the farm, I think I get the most giddy over the lambs. There is something about those little wooly babies and their over attentive mommas.




Aspen was the first ewe to go. We walked outside to 2 little black girl lambs.



Meet Lace….


and Silver…

I just knew it would be a short time before the next lamb would arrive. I checked several times a day and through the night. Alas, it was like watching a pot boil. Finally, Aspen’s sister, Fiona, had a super splashy baby girl that is all diva. Meet Paisley…


We now had 3 more mommas to lamb. I made my predictions as to who would go next. Of course, they decided to spite me and go in all sorts of orders. Our old girl Duff, was the third one to lamb. Once again, we had another little girl, but this one was white! Meet Eve…



We were down to our southdown sisters. Sybil went first and had a super black little girl. I’m somewhat partial to Sybil, so this baby was really exciting for me. Meet Georgette…




The last arrival was Edith’s little white lamb. Once again, we had a girl. While we just missed her birth, we caught her right after, so she was still getting cleaned off by mom. Meet Evelyn…




We are so in love with our 6 little girls. They are all very different, and have way cool wool. We can’t wait to show them at State Fair. They have already been on several field trips to visit kids and tell everybody about wool.


Now that lambing season is over, shearing season is about to begin, so stay tuned! For now, enjoy all of the cuteness.














A World Without Ag Wednesdays: Tennis Balls–We Don’t Get Along

Let me go ahead and say that I am not a sports person. I am all for watching them but I fail epically when it comes to playing them. My sport of choice was target shooting–no balls or running involved. However, I was forced to play a sport during my undergraduate career. To graduate, I had to pick a PE, so I chose tennis. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Actually, I know what I was thinking–swimming was at 8am and bowling required driving. That left me with tennis. Quite frankly I was more worried about what I was going to wear than anything. Really, I was also worried that achieving an ‘A’ would require actual talent… something I don’t have.

Anyway, before I get into what this has to do with agriculture, I wanted to share an awkward Marisa life moment. Don’t judge. I had been doing alright in tennis. I could hit the ball some and serve a little. I was doing ok. My goal was to not get noticed for doing bad or good, but to just blend in. I epically failed on that front one morning. Tennis was from 11-12, and I had a class before that. As usual, I skipped breakfast (I’m not a big morning eater). It had never been an issue before, and I got lunch right after tennis. That day it was an issue.

I was standing around with the other students, listening to coach explain different terms and stuff. I started to get really dizzy, and decided that squatting would be a good idea. I knew what was happening. I was getting too hot and hadn’t had anything to eat. I was going to pass out if this guy didn’t hurry his speech up. Hold it together, Marisa I thought to myself. I lasted until he finished his talk, stood up to walk, and made it to the fence and plopped. The world was definitely black and swirling. I would say I was embarrassed, but honestly, I was too busy concentrating on making my world go back to a normal angle. Coach came over and started asking me questions. I don’t think I really responded. He asked if I wanted him to pick me up and carry me to the bleachers. I held up my hand emphatically, horrified at that thought. I got my butt up and wobbly walked to the bleachers. Coach gave me a granola bar and Gatorade. I was completely fine in 5 minutes. Now, that the world wasn’t spinning like a fair ride, I was thoroughly embarrassed.


During my semester of tennis, I learned a few things: 1) eat breakfast before participating in sports 2) if you don’t want to play tennis one day, just pass out 3) tennis balls are made of wool.

The third point brings me to agriculture. The yellow fuzz on tennis balls are wool felt. Originally tennis balls were made of wood, and over many years, evolved. Early tennis balls were made of leather and stuffed with wool or hair. We now have the neon green fuzzy balls today. The fuzz makes them more aerodynamic, and the more bald they get, the faster and bouncier they get. Around 300,000,000 tennis balls are made every year in the world. That is a lot of tennis balls, I will not be playing with.

I know this is a world without ag post, but how bad would it really be if there were no tennis balls? I know I wouldn’t have an embarrassing story to tell, that’s for sure.



Fact Filled Fridays: Not All Wool is Itchy

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have had a great week and are looking forward to a somewhat relaxing weekend. 🙂

Today I wanted to start a series of “Fact Filled Fridays”, where I throw some random facts out there that you may or may not know. If you have a specific question that you would like me to cover on these Fridays, feel free to shoot me a note!

Earlier in the week, I mentioned that I would explain the different types of wool, because it is super diverse. You may have had that  awful, super itchy wool sweater in your closet that you refuse to wear ever again or buy anything wool again. I get that. I have had those garments too, but through out the years, I have learned that wool is not all itchy. Allow me to introduce you to the many faces of wool.


Before I delve into the types of wool, allow me to give you some terms so you can more easily follow along.

  • Crimp– this is the waves that you see in the wool fibers. The tighter the crimp, the finer the wool.wool crimp
  • Staple length–this is the length of the wool fiber.
  • Micron count–this is the measurement of the diameter of the wool fiber. It is a micrometer, meaning one millionth of a meter.The smaller the number, the finer the wool.

Types of Wool:

  1. Coarse– this wool is typical of your long-wool breeds like Lincoln, Border Leicester, and Cotswold. The crimp on these sheep are more like curls. longwoolEach fiber is of a longer staple length (6-15inches), making it coarser (micron:41-30) and inevitably itchier. Although it is coarser, it is also more durable. It is ideally used in outerwear garments that is not next to the skin. In addition to the long-wool breeds, there are also carpet-wool breeds that fall under the coarse category. These breeds include Scottish Blackface and Karakul. As the name implies, their wool is used for carpets.
  2. Medium — Ranging between the 22-30 micron count, this type of wool is great for various things from sweaters to outerwear garments. If you have sensitive skin, this may still feel itchy to you, but it will certainly make a great layering garment. It is produced by breeds such as the Corriedale, Columbia, and Southdown (the Southdown has more of a down type wool that makes it have more elasticity). It has a staple length of 3-6 inches.
  3. Fine– Alright, here is the moment you’ve been waiting for… the oh so soft wool category. This type of wool you could put on your baby. It is the perfect next to your skin wool.  It has a micron count of 17-22 and a staple length of 2.5-4 inches. The king of this category is the breed Merino. Coming in close to the king is the Rambouillet and Debouillet.

If all this isn’t enough, the fineness of the wool is contingent on the age of the sheep. The finest wool comes from the first fleece of a lamb. Same as humans. Kids’ hair is a lot softer than us big people.

The thing to remember is not all wool is itchy. It is all dependent on what sheep it came from. Typically, if it says Merino, you are dealing with a soft wool, and don’t forget #WearMoreWool.

alec wool

PS if you want to see all the breeds that I mentioned be sure to visit this site for those mentioned and more! (I’m  not responsible for time you may waste looking through all the many faces of sheep)


American Wool Council

World Without Ag Wednesdays: Lanolin Love

Oh my goodness. Where did the time go? Another semester of graduate school started today, as did the colder weather. True to North Carolina weather, it was in the 70’s on Sunday, and now it has barely gotten above freezing. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wool coat for the trek from the parking deck to my classes. No worries, guys, Rural Ris isn’t a popsicle yet–that may be in the morning though.

Tomorrow is supposed to be no higher than 27 degrees. Now, for those up north, I know 27 degrees is not that cold, but for us here in NC, it might as well be Antarctica. That much cold also means putting extra bedding down for the animals, setting out heat lamps, and making sure all pipes and hoses are drained. Depending how bad it gets, I may be swinging an ax trying to break the animals waters–funny sight for sure.

Anyhow, this first day of classes is now over, and I have survived. So, now on to “A World Without Ag Wednesday” where we highlight some of my favorite things.


I may be a farm girl, but I am all about bling, dressing up, and makeup. Oh, makeup. It is inevitably dangerous for me to go into the makeup aisles of the local drug store. I just want all of it. makeup

Clearly, I don’t need anymore (that is only half of my makeup collection). What am I saying? You can never have too much makeup.

I also appreciate a good lotion, especially in the winter months when my hands get chapped. What I love even more is that agriculture has a part to play in my beloved makeup and lotion.

In a world without ag, a lot of makeup and hand creams would not be the same if it were not for lanolin.

What is lanolin?

Lanolin is the grease from a sheep’s wool. It is also called wool wax or wool fat. It is of a yellow tinge and comes from the oil glands of a sheep. When you touch a sheep or unwashed wool, your hands will feel greasy and sticky. This is the lanolin you are feeling. It is the equivalent of the oils you secrete.

How do you get lanolin from the sheep?

After the fleece is shorn from the sheep, it is scoured (boiled) in water with added salt. The lanolin floats to the top. It is then purified by shaking it with olive oil and water. The impurities will move to the water and the oil with the lanolin floating between the two properties.

What is it used for?

Lanolin is a great moisturizer and is often used in lotions. This is a favorite of mine:

wool cream

It can also be used in other cosmetics. Cool huh? Wait, it gets better!

Because lanolin is water-repellent, it is used on oil rigs as a corrosion inhibitor. In the same way, it is also used for spare auto parts when put into long-term storage. In addition, it can also be found in paints, and is used as a leather finish.

Embrace the lanolin love. It gets a bit messy when you play with sheep all day but makes fabulous products!




PETA says #WoolFreeWinter, but really it should be #WearMoreWool

With the start of cold weather, PETA and company have started a campaign against wool. The following photo and the hashtag #WoolFreeWinter has gone viral.

peta sheepThe photo is quite gruesome, I must say, BUT it isn’t really true. How can it not be true when it is staring you in the face? I cannot deny that the photo happened somewhere; however, the statement “you can’t have one without the other” is NOT true. It is plain and simple. That is not how wool is taken from sheep. If it was, I wouldn’t have many sheep left on my farm.

Wool is sheared from a sheep much the same as your hair can be buzzed from your head. The animal may yell a bit because they aren’t thrilled about being confined, but ultimately, the sheep runs away a few pounds lighter, much cooler, and very alive. I don’t know where this photo came from; however, it is more likely that what you are seeing is the beginnings of a pelt. Pelts include the wool and hide from a sheep, and no, sheep are not skinned alive. Pelting a sheep is all part of the process of utilizing as much of the sheep (meat, organs, pelts, bones, etc.) as possible once harvested.

Sheep need to be sheared on an annual basis. They do not naturally shed their wool and by shearing season, it can weigh around 15 pounds. When you use wool, you are not only helping the sheep out, but are utilizing natural resources.

“You can’t have one without the other” is so very true; however, these words are not properly paired with the correct photo. A proper portrayal can be seen in the following photo:cant have one without the other

I promise I have worn wool from my sheep, and they are still enjoying the life of a sheep at this very moment (In the above picture, I’m wearing a 100% wool sweater).  The entire wool industry does not need to be boycotted because of this misinformation. It is completely ethical and fine to wear wool. In fact, it would be greatly beneficial to have a little more wool in your closet. Wool is an amazing fiber that has some fantastic qualities.

Did you know?

  • Wool is flame retardant. If you set it on fire, it will extinguish itself.
  • It is comparatively stronger than steel.
  • Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in moisture and not feel wet or clammy.
  • It has great durability and can fold back on itself 20,000 times without breaking, while cotton can only be folded back 3,000 times and silk 2,000 times.
  • Wool fibers can be stretched 50% when wet and 30% when dry and still bounce back to its original form, giving it an A+ in the flexibility category.

If those qualities aren’t awesome enough, wool is also an extremely versatile fiber, making it wearable all year round. “Hold up!” I hear you say, “Wool is hot and itchy and not for summer.” That is stereotyping. Wool can be thin and lacy. It can be super soft and also itchy. It all depends on the type of wool (check back on Friday for an explanation of the different types). Think of wool like a cooler or thermos. Because of its makeup, wool keeps warmth in during the cold, and cool in during the heat. It isn’t just for winter; it is for everyday of the year.

PETA wants a #WoolFreeWinter, but I say #WearMoreWool. Post those pictures of you and your wooliness. Wool is too fantastic not to wear. It isn’t cruel. It helps sheep. Besides, mimicking is the highest form of flattery. So mimic the sheep and #WearMoreWool. See just what it is to be in sheep’s clothing.

wear more wool

Sources: American Sheep Industry Association