As prescribed by Paulina Constancia
On the last two of our 7 part BAAutiful series, we go into the world of Teresa Perleberg, a needle felting artist who lives and works on a sheep farm in North Dakota, USA.
Dose #48-54 : ” BAAutiful” (A Special Year of the Sheep series)
Dose # 53 – BAAutiful 6: An Artist’s Life on a Sheep Farm
DDoA: Since your family is in the sheep raising business kindly share with us what a typical day is like for an artist who lives and works on a sheep farm?
(you can share specific activities/time/duration—this will give our readers an idea what it’s like in your world)
TP: Every season on a farm is very different from the other. Spring is my favorite time of year as a shepherd. Our lambs start arriving at the end of March. We shear the sheep right before lambing. We have several different color sheep and their fleeces are separated and skirted (removing the outer portion of the fleece that are the most soiled) and set aside for processing. I bring my wool to a local woolen mill for processing. (washing and carding) Lambing season is very busy for us as we have to check the sheep often so that we can help them if they have any problems during lambing. We check every couple hours even during the night. Sometimes the lambs need help with nursing or delivery. I spend hours in the sheep barn this time of year watching for signs of birthing and enjoying the new lambs that play around the barn.
After all the lambs are born they are put out to pasture, I enjoy this time as well especially for photography. This is the time of year I focus on making the Bear Creek Bunnies. The kids and I finish up our homeschool year and look forward to summer. During the summer I have more time for my business and I try to design a new felting kit each year, make some new sculptures and teach some local classes. The sheep are pretty low maintenance during the summer, we just need to keep checking them to make sure they are healthy and safe. late summer we wean the lambs and offer some of them for sale as breeding stock. We keep most of our ewe lambs and sell the ram lambs. Late summer is when I buckle down and make sure I am ready for the holiday season at Bear Creek Felting. I make sure I have enough supplies for the needle felting kits, boxes for shipping, printed instructions etc. on hand for the busy Christmas season. We start school again in the Fall and we all work together packaging kits, getting the wool ready for my sculptures, dyeing the wool, spinning wool into yarn, getting the sheep ready for winter etc. The holiday season can get extremely busy keeping up with assembling the kits, keeping supplies stocked and shipping. I needle felt from morning until bedtime everyday during this time of year. After Christmas is a short time to unwind and get back to work felting. We have a flock of 60 sheep and use all of their wool for my felting kits and sculptures usually running out just in time for shearing.
DDoA: In your opinion, what are the most endearing traits of a sheep? Please share a sheep story with us.
TP: My sheep are cute! I raise Registered Romney sheep and find that they are adorable even when full grown. All of my sheep have names and I know them well. They all have different personalities that help me to pick them out in a flock. My favorite time of year with my sheep is spring when they are having baby lambs. I am a mom to 4 children so I love to watch sheep moms in action. Some sheep moms are better than others and I have my favorites in the flock. I even give out a mom of the year award each year. 🙂 My favorite moms are very concerned and protective of their babies. They have a special baa just for their babies that melts my heart. Some stomp their front feet when the dog comes near because they are concerned for their babies safety. Making sure their leg is out of the way to make it easier for the lamb to find the milk is so cute to see. They know their own babies baa and come running from across the pen to comfort them when needed. My favorite lambing story started out pretty sad. One of our ewes had her very first baby, she licked it completely clean and stood so very proud over her baby when we entered the barn. We found that the baby was not ok and even after all our efforts to save it, it died while my daughter snuggled it in her arms. The mom “Buttercup” was very upset and distraught over the loss of her lamb. The next day another ewe “Daisy” had a set of triplets. We knew it would be hard on Daisy to support three lambs so we put one of the lambs in with Buttercup. Buttercup went crazy cleaning him off and claiming him as her long lost lamb. Buttercup was mother of the year that year and has had that honor with her own babies several years since.
Below are two examples of my needle felted brown and grey sheep. They were not inspired by any particular sheep. -T.P.
But they sure look like Buttercup, don’t they??
Read tomorrow’s feature “Heart Felt: The Art of Teresa Perleberg”