Monday, June 27, 2011

It's almost July already!!

It's almost the fourth of July already!  We haven't even had any summer weather yet, and summer is almost half over.  I just got the garden planting finished today!  This is the latest I've ever been.  But, with the weather the way it's been, I'm sure this garden will grow fine.  With Square Foot Gardening, it's easy to cover any beds that need it, and one can grow 100% of the food in 20% of the space of a regular row garden.  We started doing that last year, and it worked great, so we are doing it again this year.  It's so much easier to take care of!
  The dehairing is going good.  I just got done with some that a customer had sent to another mill, got it back still full of guard hair, and then sent it to me to clean it up.  The mills that advertise dehairing, then only run it through two passes are NOT getting it even close to being properly dehaired!  This stuff I just did started out at 14.7 ounces, and ended up having 6.3 ounces of waste! (guard hairs)  There were some noils in it, too.  Those mills don't charge very much for the dehairing, but then they aren't really dehairing it, either.  Just opening it up and fluffing it, while removing less than half of the guard hair.  This is one of the big problems in the cashmere industry.  If the cashmere doesn't have the guard hairs removed, then it can't be sold as quality cashmere, and if it is sold, people will get the impression that American Cashmere isn't very good.
   AC is really good, actually, if it's dehaired all the way.  So far in all the batches I've done, there hasn't been a really bad batch yet.  When it's all dehaired, it's pretty much looking the same, and feeling fairly similar.  There is some difference in quality, but it's not huge.  The dehairing is the most critical part, and the slowest, of the whole process.  One has to have a lot of patience to run the dehairing machine! :-)  I like doing it, it's rather neat to see how it improves with each pass of the machine.  I have to make sure the speed is right, or it either doesn't get enough guard hairs out with each pass, or it starts to noil, or something.  It's not a machine you can just throw some fiber onto the belt and walk away, and expect to have a well dehaired product.  You have to monitor it almost constantly.  No two batches use the same speed, either.  So far each one I've done has been run through at a different speed.  Not huge differences, but it's amazing how just a couple of points difference, make a huge change in how the fiber comes out.  I'm enjoying the process!  It's a learning experience, too.  Some day I'll be really good at this!
   We've had a couple of days of nice summery weather now.  Hope it continues for another week or so, so the hay growers can get the hay cut and baled without any rain getting on it.  The goat pens are dry enough I'm going to start cleaning them out tomorrow.  Finally!  
  Well, that's it for now....   

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fiber Festival

I went to the Big Sky Fiber Arts Festival down in Hamilton, MT yesterday, just for the day.  Left here at 7am and got back home and into bed at 2am.  That made for a very long day!  It was fun.  My one and only festival for this year.  Now it's back to work again. 
  I saw my fibery friends that I only get to see at these events.  It was great to catch up on what's happening in their lives.  I resisted buying more fiber, except for one roving that I just couldn't pass up.  A Merino/Tencel blend in a pretty blue color.  It should make a very nice scarf or maybe even a shawl, we'll see.  I have enough to spin just with my cashmere, but I just couldn't resist. :-)  I also got some beads, and a festival T-shirt, since they had a cashmere goat on it this year.  First time that has happened, at least since I've been going to it.
  There sure is a lot of high water everywhere in this state.  Most everyone I talked to at the festival has water problems this year.  There is still tons of snow up in the mountains.  Up in Glacier National Park at the Logan Pass visitors center, it's still mostly buried in snow drifts, and the parking lot is under feet of snow.  They might not open the Going to the Sun highway till July at this rate.  It just keeps snowing up there.  We are getting a lot of rain down here, but it's still snowing up in the high country.
   I finally was able to let the goats out today.  Boy were they happy!  They went running from spot to spot, eating as fast as they could, then running a ways and eating again.  They did this as a tightly packed herd.  They looked like a school of fish or something.  It was funny to watch.  Then we had another torrential downpour so they headed for their pens and shelter.  They will get let out again tomorrow.
   Thursday and Friday I was in seventh heaven.  I was actually dehairing my own fleece!!!  I have finally realized my dream, to dehair my own cashmere.  I did one fleece, and it turned out wonderfully.  Now I'm working on one more, and then it's back to customers' fleeces on Tuesday.  It was so cool to be dehairing my own fiber.  
   Well, that's it for now..... 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pretty Flowers

Here are a couple of pictures of my daffodils and tulips this year.  They are so pretty, I just love to go out and look at them and smell their perfume.  There are over 200 blooms on the tulips this year.  This picture is just one section of them.  All the rain as made for some pretty flowers all around this year.
  The rain is not making for a clean goat pen though!  Just when I thought it was almost dry enough to clean out, it rained again, and now it's a mucky mess once more.  At least the goats have a "high side" to their pens, so they don't have to be down in the muck.  It's been cool enough that the browse out in the woods isn't growing very fast, so the goats are still having to be cooped up in the pens.  They are getting so bored!  Starting tomorrow, I'm letting them out into the yard and driveway to eat for a bit.  The yard grass is growing pretty good, so they can eat that down for me.  I just have to make sure all the gates are closed and the "inner yard" is secure, so the goats can't get to the apple trees, garden, or flower beds.  It's rather stressful letting them out, always wondering if they will find a weak spot in the fencing, but they need some fresh greens.  One more week, if it warms up, and the browse will be tall enough and growing good enough to let them out into the pasture/forest.  They can hardly wait!
  I checked the lower fenceline last evening.  Surprisingly enough, it's in good shape, even after all the snow and everything this winter.  There is one spot where a deer got stuck momentarily and popped the wire off the post that needs repairing, but other than that, it's all good.  I saw a freshly shredded stump just on the other side where a bear had been.  Glad we have the perimeter of our place fenced entirely now.  Keeps out a lot of the critters!  Nellie does her job pretty good, too. 
   I've been doing some dyeing lately.  It's always fun to do.  I never know for sure what it's going to look like coming out of the dye.  So far, it's turning out very well.  I'm making wrist warmers out of these two skeins.  I should be able to get two sets out of each one ounce skein. 
  Well, that's it for now.  More as it happens, or I get the time to write. :-)