The drought has ended and the abundant rains brought with them incredible growth. The Sonora heirloom wheat has reached to a glorious height of 5 feet, the annual ryegrass planted around the area not irrigated by the magnificent center pivot produced many tonnes of hay, and even the alfalfa field's volunteer annuals all thrived. Allowing us to mow and bale that sumptuous mix of winter/spring annuals and alfalfa into the bales that will feed the sheep for just about the entire year.
The Sonora Heirloom Wheat is flowering in this picture, growing intertwined with crimson clover, it's infield cover crop. Entirely rain fed.
A mere month later, here the seed heads are filling out and turning into the "amber waves of grain", not really seen on a large scale since the heirlooms were replaced in the 1960's by the green revolution's dwarf varieties. These new varieties responded to fertility by producing more grain and not plant material. Those practical dwarfed varieties do feed the world using chemical fertilizers. But for this Organic/Biodynamic plant breeder, getting to watch this tall Sonora Heirloom Wheat dancing in the wind, has been an unexpected treat.
Here is the annual ryegrass mowed awaiting to be baled up, more beautiful plants that will become wool and through the sheep fertilize the soil for the cotton to be.
And this month we got these old 1950's style irrigation systems up and going on the west side where the cotton was in 2013, and 2015. Watering the newly mowed alfalfa has been physically hard for me, but lots of fun. And the alfalfa has taken off with all of this abundant water. This organic alfalfa will feed my sheep and also be sold to organic dairies nearby.
Starting at the very end of March, the sheep began to have their lambs. Over 132 new lambs have joined the sheep party here. Way too many for this farm, and so I am looking to sell some of them to people who will want to raise quality wool sheep of many colors. Be sure to contact me if you are interested. My long term goal is to keep 40 ewes, 2 rams and 100 wethers (castrated rams), as wethers produce the best wool and live the longest. And maybe not have any more lambs....or at least not until I have forgotten how utterly exhausting the entire lambing escapade was. Here are a few lambs with mom's eating some of the gorgeous alfalfa from this beautiful farm.
These sheep produce the most lovely pallet of fine and superfine merino wool. Which I sell as raw fiber, roving and yarn on the shop on the vreseis website. But my long term goal is to use this superfine naturally colored wool to blend with the green, brown and red Foxgfibre® Colorganic® cotton to make unique yarns and fabrics.
Only the finest wool can be blended with cotton, and that is what these sheep produce.
And so, what about the cotton? Well, the abundant rains kept me from being able to get the field prepared in time to plant any cotton this year. So, what I will be doing is analyzing data from last year's crop, and I will produce a few more yarns and fabrics to sell to keep this incredible cotton in the hands of the talented and creative people who buy it.
This is a knit style I am considering bringing back, along with the rib knit above, and more of the french terry. I can get knits spun and knit in the US now.
And this year I will incorporate the actual non profit. To make it all official for once and for all. I am currently stumped on it's name, though.....so for those of you who got all the way down to the end, I am announcing a contest. Email to me (using this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org ) your ideas for the perfect name for this Foxfibre® Colorganic® Research Institute (hey maybe that should be it's name...?) and if I pick the name that you propose, I'll send you a set of socks. Last date of submission will be July 15th, 2017.
One last thing, I do fund all this research by selling the products on my website. It is a pretty easy to use packaged program in general, but I cannot seem to fix the excessive shipping that it charges customers. And so, for the next few months, all orders over $100 with delivery in the USA will be shipped for free, just use the code FREE at check out: www.vreseis.com
Many thanks for your continued support of my work with this amazing cotton that grown in colors.