Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rain and more rain

I heard on the weather station this morning that we have set a new all-time record for rainfall in October now!  I can believe it, the goat pens are a horrible mess, the driveway  has large "water features", and everything is pretty much saturated around here.  The grass is green again, it's almost more like spring than fall, except for all the gold on the hillsides around here.  The Larches have all turned gold and look beautiful.  This mountain has an abundance of them, so it's a gold world out there.  Soon the road will be paved in gold.

We have an abundance of apples this year.  I think it's the biggest harvest we've ever had, and we had two trees die on us last year!  I think it's time to get out the apple press and make some cider.

Polly my horse is doing fine.  I actually worked with her a bit yesterday, and I do have my work cut out for me getting her over her dislike of saddles, etc.  I was just using the bareback riding pad, and she didn't want me to get that anywhere near her.  I did eventually get it set on her back, but I didn't cinch it up or anything.  Today it rained most of the day, so I didn't do anything with her. She'll get over it all with time and love, but it's going to take a while.  Good thing I have all winter to get her ready.  She's a nice horse, but she was not treated well at the place my friend got her from.  She had to wear saddles that didn't fit right, pack saddles, too, that slipped and hurt.  So she definitely has a strong dislike to anything resembling a saddle getting near her back.  She's fine if it's sitting on the saddle rack, but once it's coming towards her, her ears go back and she starts dancing around.  I did some energy work on her (EFT Tapping) and that worked quite well!  After I did that for a couple of minutes, she stood still and let me put the pad on her back a couple of times.  I quit while I was still ahead, so now she had a positive experience.  We will build on that, and soon she will be accepting of everything.

I am needle felting a limited series of commemorative bears that are small enough to be tree ornaments, or sit on a shelf or desk.  I am putting the year 2016  on their side.  If one has a new baby, new home, new relationship, etc., and wants to remember the year, these are the ticket. They will be in my store on November 1st.   click here to go to it.  There are quite a few other things in there now, if you'd like to check it out.  Handspun cashmere yarn, crocheted items, and needle felted items are all available, with free shipping in the USA.  I will ship worldwide with the buyer paying for the shipping.  Thank-you!  Everything is unique, each is hand made by me, so no two are alike.  The needle felted animals I'm making as realistic looking as I can.  Black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears and pandas are all in there.  I'm making more every week.  Being made out of cashmere makes them really soft, too.  They are not toys, though.

Well, back to the felting table!  

Monday, September 26, 2016


My new horse, Polly!  A friend gave her to me, along with a good deal on enough hay to feed her for a year.  She's 15 years old and hasn't been ridden in about 6 years, other than just bareback with a halter.  So I need to get her and me in shape slowly.  I haven't really ridden in about 8 years either, just little jaunts here and there on friend's horses in arenas and maybe a half mile ride up in this area.  Could be interesting!  She has a sweet personality, even with not knowing me and being in a strange place and no other horses around.  She hasn't been by herself before.  The goats really scared her at first.  It took over an hour before she was really calm around them.  Since she just got here Saturday mid-day, she isn't totally adjusted to life here yet.  Today she was much more relaxed than yesterday, though.
Polly is nice and short, too, so I won't have to lay on her neck when going through the forest around here. :-)

On a cashmere note, I got my fiber back from Zielingers mill last month, and it was all noiled and pilled and unfit for spinning. 5 lbs of it!  Luckily it needle felts really well, so I will be doing a lot of that.  I like felting with that better than the wool I've been using, it's much smoother, and way softer!  I can get better detail with it, too.  I can't really get any refund or anything from the mill since they say on their website that "cashmere and musk ox may noil and pill when going through the dehairing machine".  Although I had asked for the different batches I sent in to be put back in the bags they came in and to save those bags.  They didn't do that, they put it in different bags, and it wasn't the same batches exactly.  They did send my bags back, plus, they sent me a whole bunch of torn useless bags from other people back for some reason.  So I paid postage on garbage I didn't want or need.  Obviously they don't want my business ever again, which they wouldn't get anyway.  Funny thing is, I used them before I got my dehairing machine and they did a good job, either that or I didn't know any better. It was long enough ago that I don't remember exactly what the fiber looked like when I got it back.  Lesson learned.  At least I sold my very best fleeces raw, so it wasn't a total loss.  Everything happens for a reason, so I must be meant to use cashmere in my needle felting now, and focus on that more than spinning yarn and crocheting.  I am enjoying doing that more than spinning and crocheting right now, so it's all good.

The days sure are getting shorter now.  The fall colors are pretty on our road.  We have lots of Mountain Maples which are nice and reddish gold, and the aspens are mostly gold now, too.  I thank the Universe every day for planting me here.

The great "forest thinning project" is coming to a close.  One more day of cutting down trees, then when open burning season starts, lots of slash pile burning and then it's done.  The whole lower half of our place will be nice and open and the fire danger way down since there won't be much to burn if a forest fire comes through.  We've had three close calls over the years up here, so now we are finally mostly prepared for a fire.  I don't think we would lose any buildings, at least not the main ones.  It would still be pretty darn scary, but we'd survive.

The garden is still producing a little food for us.  We've had a couple of light frosts, but we had covered the green beans, so they survived and there is one more good harvest in those.  It's warm again now, so we should get a good amount of produce still.  I noticed a couple of zucchini plants even have fresh growth!  John's greenhouse is full of tomatoes.  Tons of them.

Well, that's it for now.  Hope you are enjoying autumn!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RIP Dani

 Today my faithful, loyal companion of 16 years died. She was 17 years, 3 months old.  She had a good long life, covering lots of miles riding with me back when I had my horse.  She was very protective of me, even growling at my husband a few times!  She was great at herding chickens and turkeys, baby goats, too.  But, she was afraid of the adult goats.  Dani is the one on the left in the picture.  Nellie, the great pyr is 10 now, so she won't be around for too many more years.  This picture is a few years old.
  The picture below is a large mountain lion that came around for a day or so, then has moved on.  It seems they come around about once a month.  We must be on their rotation of places to get close to.  Thankfully the dogs are keeping it on the outside of the fence.  The cover to my game camera wasn't closed all the way it seems, so the picture is a bit like looking through a porthole.
We are making progress on the thinning project.  It's down to piling all the branches and putting the logs in piles to be cut up later.  Then once fall comes and open burning season begins, we will burn all the piles and get it totally cleaned up.  It looks so much better out there!  I've wanted to be able to walk anywhere on our property without having to duck, go under trees, or around thickets since we bought the place, and it's finally happening, 22 years later.  There will be more grass and brush for the goats to eat, too.
  Well, that's all for now...

Friday, August 5, 2016

Empty spot in the yard

Today I got done processing the meat chickens for this year.  24 all together, with 10 going to friends.  Now it's rather empty out in the yard, there aren't any white chickens running around being chickens.  These birds got the best life, plenty to eat, free ranging all over the yard and goat pens, they were healthy birds!  These didn't have any leg problems, they were moving around just fine up till the minute I caught them.  They could still run/waddle even!  Some people call them "frankenchickens", but I think they just don't feed them right and let them eat too much and get too weak to move.  If fed right, they act like a regular chicken, eating bugs and greens and walking all over the place.  They sure taste good!  We will be doing this again next year for sure.

I hauled and stacked 190 small square bales of hay, 90 in the dairy barn and the rest in the cashmere shed.  The stuff in the cashmere shed is my "emergency" stash in case I can't get down the mountain this winter when I run out of the big bales I'm getting now.  I get one every week or so.

This summer has been pretty good weather-wise so far.  Not too hot, some rain and cool enough to have the wood stove going Wednesday!  We're in a warm couple of days now, but it is supposed to be cool again next week.

The garden is doing really well.  There are enough edible pod peas to enable us to have peas every day all winter if we wanted.  I think John may have planted too many!  His greenhouse looks like a jungle, too.  The tomato plants are touching the ceiling in there.  There is a good amount of onions and carrots, and it looks like there will be a decent crop of green beans.  Not a super germination rate on them, but it's looking like enough to do something with.  Cabbages are growing well.  I'll have lots of cultured veggies this fall and winter.

Tomorrow I am going up to Eureka for the fiber festival and quilt show that is happening up there this weekend.  It's a small festival, but I like going, it's in a nice venue and the people are good that run it.  There are hundreds of quilts that line main street which looks pretty cool.  I'll be seeing a friend I haven't seen in three years, too, so it's going to be a great day!

Have a good week-end!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hay time

It's that time of year again.  Yesterday I hauled 90 bales of hay and stacked them in the dairy barn by myself.  Where are helpxers when you need them? :-)  Now the dairy goats are set for the year on hay.  This should last them an entire year.  I am getting another load of 90 next week for the cashmeres to have as an emergency stash in case the weather is bad when I need to go get a big square bale for them.  I think I'm done with little bales, at least with the main crew.  It is too much work to stack them anymore.  I am pretty sore today, tomorrow will probably be a bit worse.  Little squares are too labor intensive.  Sometimes I wish I had a tractor that was big enough to move the big bales and stack them, but it's only use would be for that, we live on too steep of a hill to be able to use it anywhere else.  So that would be a big waste of money to have a tractor for only one use.   I will just haul them one at a time and use that one up, then go get another one.  I go to town once or twice a week anyway, might as well haul home a bale of hay at the same time.
  We are having some really nice summer weather this year.  Not too hot, rain when needed, at least so far.  Who knows what August will bring.
  The goat kids are all growing and doing well.  Their cashmere is starting to come in pretty good.  Some of the adults are getting a good coat already, they are pretty warm on the sunny days that heat up.  Haven't got any good pictures of anything on the game cameras lately, just deer and the goats.
   We've started butchering the meat chickens.  We have to wait till the bees go to bed before we can do them.  So just before dark, we are out there.  Can't do too many at a time that way, but we don't have anyplace to do them inside out of the bee zone.  That is on the list of projects, building a butchering room that is bee proof.  The meat chickens taste so good, I like them much better than the dual purpose egg laying/meat breeds.  These are easy to raise, and if they aren't over fed, don't have leg problems.  These are still running around and catching bugs and following me every time I go out.  I only feed them a lot the last week so they have a final growth spurt to get big enough to butcher.  I keep reading about how they only take three steps and lay down, but mine aren't doing that.  They are very active.

I've got my store on Square all up and going.  I have everything listed on there now, as it's easier to buy from there.  It says I only ship in the USA, but I'll ship internationally if you email me and tell me you'd like something.  PayPal is the best method to pay with if that is the case. Click here to see  My new Store 

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and staying cool in this heat wave!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Good Heavens!

What a wild time we are in!  People shooting people left and right, the weather has gone wild almost everywhere, everything is shifting.

I've been without internet service for over a week.  It's back on now, obviously, but it was interesting not having it for a while.  I do have my smartphone, so I could still check emails anyway.  There was a post on Facebook asking if one could live for 90 days completely unplugged from technology if you got $3 million at the end of it.  I was thinking that would be easy, but after this, it wouldn't be so easy, but I could do it since I wouldn't have to worry about my finances afterwards.  It's funny, I grew up without any of this, it hadn't even been invented till after I was way out of school, but now it's so ingrained in our collective lifestyle, that it's hard to imagine life without it.  Probably impossible for some. What would happen if the country's power grid ever goes down and people couldn't communicate easily?  Total complete meltdown, that's what.  With all the crazy things happening in the world now, it's something to think about a little.

My goat renting adventure didn't turn out all that well.  Started out okay, but ended on a somewhat bad note.  I took 16 goats over to a newly bought, overgrown farm to eat down the weeds and grass for the new owners.  The goats were doing okay with it, although they weren't eating it down as fast as the owner thought it should happen, so after 14 days she ended the contract.  Kind of broke the contract actually, but I let that go since I was stressed out not having the goats here anyway.  The day I went over to check on them after she had ended the contract there were a couple of women there with horses and a big trailer.  They offered to take my goats home for me.  Since it had taken two trips to get the goats over there in the back of the truck, I thought it would be nice to have them all home at once.  Not a good idea it turns out.  Some of the goats allowed themselves to be caught and trailered, but there there was one who jumped through the fence and out into the wetlands that are between the farm and the lake.  She was a wild goat and wouldn't let anyone within 50 feet of her after that.  So I left 4 other goats there in hopes that she would calm down and let herself be caught again.  Didn't happen.  I didn't think there were any predators in that area since there are people and farms all over the place and it's pretty open grass and farm fields.  Lo and behold there is actually a mountain lion that hangs out in that area, along with a couple of coyotes!  Cherokee was seen twice after she escaped, then last Saturday morning, early, I had the biggest feeling of dread and anxiety over the goats over there.  After two hours it went away suddenly.  I'm pretty sure that was when she got killed by the coyotes.  Nobody has seen her since.  The area is closed to humans till the 15th for the birds and such to nest in peace.  It's a federal wildlife refuge.  I think I will go over there after then to walk around and see if I can find her remains.  Anyway, I went over on Monday the 4th, and spent 4 1/2 hours with the 4 remaining goats trying to catch them and take them home.  The first two hours were spent just hanging out with them and letting them rest, they were stressed from being there by themselves and probably seeing the coyotes every night on the other side of the fence.   They wouldn't let me catch them, they would come up and stretch way out to get the grain out of my hand, but not close enough to actually get a hold of them.  Misty finally laid down and fell asleep and I snuck up on her and slowly grabbed her horns and caught her, put her in the back of the truck and got more serious about catching the other three.  Finally got a hold of Elsie's back leg and got her, then Snowflake and Zindy Lou were all wound up being only two goats.  They both squeezed under the corral gate, but I got Zindy's back leg just as she was almost all the way through.  Finally got a hold of her collar and got the lead on her, then opened the gate so Snowflake would come back through.  She stuck close to Zindy Lou and I led them both into a section of the barn that can be closed, and tied up Zindy in the back corner, Snowflake went over by her, I closed the gate, and walked up to Snowflake and put a lead on her.  Finally got them all in the truck and back home.  Never to leave here again.  No more trying to make some extra money by taking goats off the place to do it.  Both times it hasn't ended well and I lose a goat or two.  From now on, only goats that are sold or headed for the freezer will be leaving.  Of course the goat I lost was the prettiest one of the yearlings I had, and the only one I kept.   I was looking forward to having lots of babies out of her.  She had nice cashmere in an oatmeal color, too.  Darn.  No more renting out goats.  These guys aren't tame enough for that.  A few of them are, but the majority aren't, so it's not worth it.  I don't like having my goats off our property where I can't see them every day.  It was a 32 mile one way trip to the farm, so it was a bit far to just hop over there and check on them every day.  I did go quite often, though.  I think I spent almost as much in gas money as I got paid for renting them.  Not a good deal at all.  It was nice not having to feed them hay here, though.

We are having a cool rainy spell for a few days.  I am enjoying it!  I have even had the wood stove going most every night.  Kind of strange having the wood stove going in July, but last year I had the stove going at least overnight one night every month of the year.  Even in August!

I had fun at the MAWS (Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners) conference on Flathead Lake a couple weeks ago.  I took a class on making "bubble crepe yarn"  with Sarah Anderson.  It was harder to do than it looked, but it turned out okay and looks pretty cool.  She is a good teacher, if you ever get a chance to take a class from her, do so, it'll be fun.  I was also a vendor and a volunteer there, so I was somewhat busy, and not very good at any of it.  I wasn't at the booth much, so I didn't sell all that much, and I wasn't able to volunteer as much as I thought I'd be able to, so that didn't work out too well.  Next time I'll only do one or the other, but not all.  It was fun being around a 100 or so like minded people for a weekend.  That was great!  Robyn Spady gave the keynote speech on "Follow Your Path".  That struck a cord with me since my path has taken some unexpected twists and turns lately.  I'm still on it, though, just headed in a slightly different direction that I thought I would be taking.  It's all good.  Life is a journey and I'm having fun most of the time, taking the various twists and turns in stride and carrying on.  Cashmere is still my main focus, just a slightly different angle now than the last few years.  One door closes and a bigger, better door opens.  How fun!    

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mid-June? Already?!

Okay, so where did the time go?  All the kids are born now.  22 total.  There would have been 25, but I lost three of the bucklings, one at two days old, one at two weeks old, and the third at one week old.  Two I don't know why, and the third I did a necropsy on and he had a twisted large intestine.  I have no idea how he got that.  The other two were just laying there dead, not a hair out of place.  Sad, but at least they were all boys and not any of the girls.

Penelope had triplets!  These are her first kids, too.  She is a good mom and they are the cutest little things out there.  Penelope is half dairy and half cashmere.  She's the last kid Dottie, my first ever goat, had.  The kids are 3/4 cashmere.  They were born June first, I wasn't even here, I got home and here were three kids up and wobbling around, all healthy and mom doing fine.  I got home less than an hour after they were all born.
June is the one on the left, Uno is the cream one, and Pearl is the one in the back.  This was taken after they wore themselves out playing on that stump and two boulders just off camera.  
Celeste had her kid on Monday of this week (the 13th).  I missed that one, too!  I rented out 16 goats to a farm to eat down their weeds and grass on Sunday, and I was so concerned with going and checking on them, that I didn't really pay attention to Celeste that morning.  I wasn't expecting her to kid till yesterday, so when I got back home and there was a kid, I was surprised.  Celeste is 10 years old this year, so she's an experienced mom.  Everything was fine, and the little girl I named Celine.
I have a lot of goats for sale this year.  I want to get down to 10 does, and 10 wethers, plus the 3 bucks, and sell all the rest, including the two mature bucks that are related to everyone in some way.   I have 20 sold now, but I still have the bucks, one white and one black, and a couple of does with this year's kids on them.  I really like the kids the two bucks are throwing, but it's time they found a new batch of does that aren't related in any way to them.  They are 4 and 7 years old, lots of life left in them, they've had it pretty easy here.   I really don't want to take any to the auction, I don't like doing that. 
Next weekend I get to go to the Montana Association of Weavers and Spinners conference down on Flathead Lake.  The guild I'm in is hosting it this year, so I get a weekend away from here playing with like minded fibery folk! :-)  I'm also a vendor there, with my needle felted critters and some handspun cashmere yarn.  I am looking forward to it!  Hope the weather is half way warm, and not too much rain.  
Well, back to needle felting, I want to get a few more critters made before next week!