Welcome to WoolyAcres!

WoolyAcres is our small farm here in south central PA where we raise and breed Corriedale sheep.  Other occupants include a flock of White Orpington chickens and two nine Nubian cross goats.

We raise our sheep for wool and meat, the chickens for eggs, and I haven’t figured out what the goats are doing here yet.  🙂

Please subscribe to be kept updated on fleece and lamb sales, animal antics and all the fun pictures I *plan* to take!

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Losing Weight part 2

I wanted to do an update on my weight-loss journey–and it’s been a long journey–about 2 years now. I’m close to my final goal. I’ve lost about another 60 lbs since my last post, for a total of -117 lbs. My goal is another 8 lbs (to match my weight on my wedding day 🙂 )

Here are the pics, then below that is how I did it, if you are interested. The picture on the left is from Sarah’s wedding in 2014, the one on the right is today.


After I posted last time (Nov 2015), I took a break for the holidays and then couldn’t get back to it AT ALL…for 8 months. Then this July, on my 50th birthday, I joined Planet Fitness. I had never been in a gym before or really exercised since high school, so I was very nervous and mostly dreading it. My daughters came with me and showed me how to use some of the equipment. It turned out, I REALLY enjoyed it.

About a month later I joined MyFitnessPal.com where they set up a calorie plan for you based on your goals and you can record your exercise. It keeps track of weight and measurements with fun graphs. And there is a community of people to talk to who are in the exact same spot you are.

I know talking about calorie reduction isn’t very trendy or exciting, but that’s what works. I maintain between 1200 and 1400/day and exercise 6-7 days per week. After a few months at Planet Fitness, I met up with the trainer there a half dozen times and he taught me how to use the free weights for strength training (as opposed to the weight machines) and made up a schedule for me to follow. I also do cardio most days. I am probably stronger now than I have ever been in my life.

As I finish up the last few pounds and transition to maintenance, I will probably continue the exercise the same, but I’ve upped the calories to about 1650. Once in maintenance, I can up them again a few hundred, but I will always have to watch them to some degree since I do not want to go back to where I was, and it’s just too easy to do that.

Healthwise, my doctors are very pleased with me. I am no longer pre-diabetic with a completely normal hgA1C, and amazingly my last echocardiogram showed no sign of the aortic aneurysm, left ventricular hypertrophy, or aortic stenosis that I previously had. I feel great and haven’t even had a cold in recent memory.

As for clothes, my tops went from a Size 26 Women’s (3x-4x) to a Size 10/12 Misses. My pants went from a 24 W to a  12/14 M.



Feb 8, 2018

Before/after pics from Circumferential Abdominoplasty  (1/31/18).

  1. Taken 1 week pre- and 1 week post-op. Drains and stitches removed yesterday. Swelling and bruising is still significant. Same underwear in all pics.
  2. (Feb 15) Added 2-week post-op pic of front (no changes to back).  Overall swelling is reduced, but swelling at incision is greater and really hard. The dr. said that will all dissipate from here on out, along with the puckering along incision. I’ve been to the gym every day for the past week–walking, elliptical, arm & leg exercises. (No abs or running yet).
  3. (Feb 21) Added 3-week post-op pic–swelling is much improved and most scabbing is even gone. Also added a front thigh/knee pic. The surgery wasn’t supposed to impact those areas (just side/back thigh) but I think they look a little better anyway. Ignore the apparent tan–took pics in different lighting this time!



post-op week 4: (notice lumps at incisions above hip bones are finally gone. Still have swelling at lower incision at pubic line)





Front thigh/knee comparison (2/19)



Comments are closed on this post, but you are welcome to contact me at pacebooks@live.com.


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Losing Weight

I don’t normally overshare  like this…but I wanted to celebrate a milestone that is a big deal for me. I have lost 60 lbs this year!

I started February 1, 2015, so it has been exactly 9 months (Seems like FOREVER…). Below are my “before” and “after” pics.

I must confess it was seeing Sarah’s wedding pictures of myself that finally motivated me. I just didn’t recognize myself in the photos. That which was in my mind didn’t match what I was seeing.

I am now a weight that I haven’t seen since age 26—so that means I’m younger now, right? I would like to lose another 40. So maybe I will do another blog post in another 9 months. :-). For the most part you can look at the pics and stop reading here. A number of people asked how I did it, so I’ll answer that below for anyone curious. Thanks!

Sarah's wedding family Julie

Sarah’s wedding September, 2014






November. 2015

November. 2015











Why I gained the weight in the first place and What has been working for me:

I had to finally accept that I needed a lifestyle change because diets do not work. You might lose, but it will come back on, often with a vengeance. So the changes I’ve made are permanent. But first a little medical history. (If you are going to overshare—might as well go big!)

I gained the bulk of my weight through my child-bearing years (age 23-35). Each pregnancy packed on the pounds (I was pregnant 3x, though I lost the first at 4 1/2 months). I was bewildered as to where the weight was coming from as it didn’t seem like my eating habits had changed. The doctors had identified a serious hormonal problem, but their only concern was to medicate me so I could get pregnant and maintain the pregnancies. Once I was done with that, they told me not to worry about it since I didn’t want any more babies. Problem was I was still gaining, and now, I was also losing my hair.

At age 35 I went to a hair transplant doctor who ran all the usual tests and said, “You know you have a serious hormonal imbalance?” Yep. But I told him the doctors had told me nothing could be done about it. He totally disagreed and sent me off to an endocrinologist. Meanwhile, I got the hair transplant (I was at Stage 4 Male-Pattern Baldness) which was successful.

The endocrinologist diagnosed me with a doozy of a case of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). He put me on meds that almost instantly stopped the hair loss and did slow down the rate of weight gain. The part of PCOS that is important to the weight gain and loss is that it causes insulin resistance. With IR, carbohydrates are a really bad thing. But it took me another 13 years to get through my head that I can’t just stop eating carbs for awhile. They just have to go permanently.

So here I am now. I very rarely eat pasta, rice, or potatoes. Pasta used to be one of my four food groups—I ate some sort of pasta meal at least 4x per week. I really like rice, too. Potatoes I could take or leave. I limit bread but not nearly as much—I use it for sandwiches mostly maybe twice a week. And I never eat straight-up sugar, like candy or syrups. But those were never a problem for me. I’m not a big fruit eater, but I haven’t limited them at all.

So I started in February with removing as many carbs as possible. I didn’t count anything, just cut out those products. I don’t worry about sauces and such—you need some flavors! I didn’t cut back  or limit anything else. This worked for about the first 30 lbs, which I lost by May 1 (three months). Then everything came to a screeching halt. No matter how careful I was with the carbs, nothing more was coming off. I wasn’t gaining, just stagnant.

So then I needed to deal with actual calorie reduction. I still don’t count anything. I eat one meal a day that is meat and veggies, then add in two protein shakes for the other meals that also supply all the extra nutrients and amino acids, etc. I began to lose again at about 1 to 1.5 lbs per week.

Though sometimes that rate feels really slow, I don’t feel I can cut back anymore and still realistically do this long term. Plus, slower at this point is probably better, since I am having some sagging skin issues. (Anyone have any good suggestions for tightening up 49-year-old skin?)

So I hope to lose another 40-50 lbs and if I can keep up what I’m doing this will take another 8 months. After that, I can switch to maintenance. That will still be almost none of the carby foods, but I won’t have to be so restrictive on the fats. I really think I can live with that. I have dropped down three sizes in my clothing, two more will get me back to my high school/college size.

A final comment about exercise. There were periods of time where I regularly exercised 3-5x per week, and there were stretches where I didn’t at all. There was no difference noted in the rate of weight loss either way. I really don’t think exercise contributes much to weight loss, though I think it is still valuable for toning up muscles and maybe maintaining a higher metabolism.

Any constructive comments are appreciated! Thanks for reading through this.

Julie 🙂

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Autumn Peeps

I usually get peeps in the spring, but because our egg laying was way down I decided to try sooner with some fall peeps. They should be ready to lay in the spring. I got 4 each of 4 breeds (all brown egg layers), plus an exotic that Murray McMurray Hatchery throws in for free. All 17 survived the mail and here they are in all their glorious puffiness!

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I don’t love mockingbirds, but a nest of babies is always exciting! Here they are in a very messy stick nest in my redbud tree.

I think there are two babies in there.

I think there are two babies in there.

One summer I had a mockingbird that learned the sound of the UPS truck backing up {BEEP, BEEP, BEEP} and she would perch just outside of my open bedroom window and broadcast that noise for hours, starting around 2 am.

The mother of these babies has learned a different noise. It is the sound of my dog, Fraser, whining. He actually rarely whines, just to go out or to come back in. For the last week he has been whining constantly. I keep getting up to go let him out, only to find him lying on the floor by the screen door looking at me curiously with utterly no interest in going out. I began to accuse him of lying to me.

This morning the light bulb came on. As I stood there lecturing Fraser about calling me in on false pretenses (Crying Wolf and all), I heard the whine coming from behind me on the other side of the screen door. There on the fence post was a mockingbird. She was making the noise, even with a worm hanging out of her mouth!

I don’t know much more than that about the birds, and I have never noticed them nesting near us before. But there are two adults tending the nest, so I’m assuming it’s mommy and daddy. They don’t really mind me, the dog, or the chickens in close proximity, but when a cat is near they send out a really sharp chirp. My cats duck when they hear that noise. I haven’t witnessed it, but I suspect they have been dive-bombed before!

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When all else fails…carrots.

If you follow my blog with any regularity, you may have noticed a total dearth of posts about my garden this year. It has not gone well for a variety of reasons. But my one bright spot has been the carrot crop.

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On May 26, little Hallelujah was born to Gretchen. (There is a graphic birth picture below the break)

hallelujah Continue reading

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Fleece Sale

Fleeces For Sale 2020

1. Gabe SOLD

Gabe is our eight-year-old ram who has won two grand championships for his fleece at Maryland Sheep and Wool, and many other awards along the way. He is a Cormo cross with a beautiful white fleece tending towards fine. 3″ long.

8 lbs…..$20/ lb. $160


2. Heather

Heather is a bottle-raised seven-year-old Corriedale/Cormo ewe with a long creamy white fleece also tending towards fine. 5″ long. She was my ‘tippiest’ fleece so the ruler picture has an accurate sample of what that looks like.

6 1/4 lbs…..$18/lb. $112


Unfortunately for the last two sheep, the pictures I took on skirting day did not come out because I got lanolin on the lens of the camera, making them all romantic and blurry looking… And useless.

3. Linus SOLD

Linus is a three-year-old bottle-raised Corriedale/Cormo wether. He has a long, medium-crimp fleece. 5″ long.

$15/lb…9 lbs. $135


4. Felicia

Felicia is a nine-year-old Corriedale ewe with a long, medium-crimp creamy white fleece. She has twice won awards in the medium category at Maryland Sheep and Wool, but as an older lady her fleece is less fine than it used to be. 5″ long.

7 lbs…$12/lb. $84



 All fleeces were covered. We did moderate skirting so little VM. But there is some tippiness that should wash out fine. All the darker yellow/orangey you see on the fleece is sweat and washes out.

Please contact me by email with questions or sales interest. PACEbooks@live.com. Don’t leave a message in the comments here.

I prefer pickup at the farm, but am willing to ship. I live in Dillsburg PA (roughly halfway between Harrisburg and York).

I take PayPal (pay as ‘friend’ to PACEbooks@live.com) or credit card (3% charge).

Shipping. I have no clue how to figure this out till I actually mail it so there will be a second charge for that. Actual cost–no handling fee. I do have vacuum storage bags that I can use to shrink down the size to save on the over-size fee at the post office.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Julie Helms


***********************Earlier post from May 2013************************

What an exciting weekend we had at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I entered 4 fleeces for competition and 3 of them won ribbons. Gabriel, our new Cormo cross ram, swept the awards though.  (For those following the saga of bottle-baby Heather, this is her daddy.)


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2013 Fleeces are posted

Look what we did today!

Some of the fleece’s are posted. Click on the “Fleece” tab above or click here

Nonny skirts Colin's fleece.

Nonny skirts Colin’s fleece. Can you believe all that only weighs 7 lbs!

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Sunbathing in the pasture

Had fun taking pictures on this pretty, sunny (but very cool and windy) Saturday.

Come here children, it is time for a story.

Come here children, it is time for a story.

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Posted in goat, Sheep | 4 Comments

VIdeo of the Bottle Babies

Here is a short video of me feeding the two little cuties, Heather and Cocoa.

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