Animal Corner: When Fleece Becomes Wool

The 2 resident sheep at Filbert Street Garden, Edie and Lorna, are due to undergo their annual sheering tomorrow during Easter Fest!

Lorna in full fleece

Here’s how it went last year: The process was completed by Geri Lackey, who has been helping keep our sheep well groomed since 2021. Afterwards, Edie and Lorna’s wool was bagged up and taken to Nancy Newman of Butchers Hill. Nancy has years of experience spinning wool into yarn and has been gracious enough to share some of her process!

The wool must first be cleaned, as both Edie and Lorna picked up quite a bit of dirt living at Filbert Street Garden. Any matted wool, stained wool, or anything coated in manure is unusable and cannot be saved. After the salvaged wool is cleaned, the wool is thoroughly air dried, and then ready for carding. Carding is the process of combing out the wool fibers to ensure there’s no tangles and all fibers are aligned in one direction. Carding also helps ensure that the wool spins easily and evenly. After carding, the wool is ready to be spun on Nancy’s spinning wheels. Once spun, the yarn is bundled into skeins of ready-to-use yarn.

Filbert Street Garden is so thankful for both Geri and Nancy for helping keep our sheep happy and healthy. Stay tuned to Filbert Street Garden’s newsletter to find out what the next steps are for our skeins of yarn. Maybe a scarf? Or mittens? Or even a hat? We’ll follow up with answers!

Spring 2024 at the Garden!

Growing at Filbert Street Garden is underway!

We’re officially in the growing season now! Our hoop house has slowed down from our Fall and Winter leafy greens and herbs, and is ready to be turned over for a robust Spring and Summer growing season. Garlic and onions are going strong and will be ready for harvest in a couple months. Our fruit trees are pruned and prepped. We’ve switched out our Production Garden raised beds for more versatile and dynamic mounded beds. This will also allow us to grow more produce for the community than ever before, which is perfectly timed with the expansion of our curbside pantry. Along with the delicious classics you’ve come to expect from us, we’re excited to be growing culturally relevant heirlooms like Baltimore Fish Peppers, Hill Country Red Okra and more!

We’re excited to see both new and familiar faces in the Inner Garden this year! Our community gardeners have been working hard preparing and planting their plots. Our Garden Coordinator has been tending to seedlings that will be ready to go to our gardeners and the broader community in a few weeks. Keep an eye out for our Seedling Giveaway on May 11th from 11am-1pm right at Filbert Street Garden!

Seedlings galore!

Animal Corner with Charles: Animals Trying to Beat the Heat!

As we enter high summer, our animal husbandry program is on the look out for heat injuries among our animals.

Our fowl and waterfowl can often be found flopping in the shade with their wings held up to let heat escape their bodies.

Our goats and sheep are usually lying in the shade or in front of the industrial fan during the hottest parts of the day.

All of our animals “pant”. Their mouths open and their breath hard to exhale heat from their bodies. The ability to sweat is rare in the animal kingdom. Only horses, monkeys, apes (including humans), and hippos can sweat to cool themselves.

Heat injuries are extremely dangerous for animals and are often a sign of neglect. Like all other injuries, the prevention is preferable to the cure. The garden takes the following steps to reduce the likelihood of heat injuries.

  1. The garden has shade in each and every habitat. Lack of shade structures and/or foliage can easily injure or kill animals.
  2. Clean water is abundant for both drinking and bathing. Both mammals and avians can dehydrate quickly in the intensity of Maryland’s summers.
  3. Our goat barn has a ventilation fan running 24/7 throughout summer and autumn. The goat play area has a large industrial fan during the hottest hours of the day.

Each week we carefully monitor temperatures and often check the cameras for signs of heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat stroke in our animals.

The Production Garden Abounds!

With help from our Internal Relations Coordinator and Master Gardener, Shira Goodman, Filbert Street Garden has successfully launched the production garden for the 2023 season. The production garden is a smaller fenced off area, located in between the bee yard and the shade area. The garden has 12 raised beds, all of them dedicated to growing vegetables for the community. In the spring, the production garden produced radishes, peas, spinach, lettuce, carrots, scallions and arugula. Now that summer is in full swing, the garden has pivoted to all of our favorite summertime veggies, including tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, beets, okra, peppers and tomatillos.

Shira makes it a priority to visit the production garden at least three times a week, and spends her time weeding, pruning, trellising, tackling pests, planting, and most importantly, harvesting. The garden’s produce goes to our Little Free Pantry! The stewards also help keep the production garden afloat by watering daily and taking on additional tasks as needed.

If you’re interested in expanding your vegetable garden knowledge and skill set, the production garden could use your help! Please email Shira Goodman at [email protected] to coordinate a time to volunteer. You’ll be able to learn from an experienced gardener, and help contribute to feeding the Curtis Bay community.