Saturday, December 7, 2013

Deep Freeze

   We are in a deep freeze right now.  Although here in NW Montana, it's not as bad as in other parts of the state and country.  We got down to -16° last night and it only got up to 1° today.  The sun has been shining every day while it has been cold, thank Heavens!!!  I haven't had to run the generator to charge the batteries, the sun has been doing a wonderful job.   We haven't had the wind either.  There was a little breeze today that was really cold, but it wasn't nearly as bad as in other parts.  The cold came on somewhat gradually so the animals have had a chance to adapt somewhat.  They are cold, but they are fine.  I think the goats are growing a bit thicker coat of cashmere this year, they sure feel more fluffy.  Wouldn't that be great!  

   It's rather beautiful in a cold kind of way.  The contrast in colors between the blue sky, the trees and the snow is pretty.  Everything squeaks.  The wheelbarrows sound like ships in a stormy sea, groaning and squeaking as they are being pushed along in the snow.  The snow isn't slippery, either.  Our road is really smooth now, much better than in the summer.  
  The cold is hopefully killing a lot of the insects that have been decimating the forests in the last few years of mild winters.  Good things can be found in just about any situation. :-)

   The slash piles are all burned finally.  It looks pretty nice out there.  The last two weeks of burning season I was out there every day from 9am to 4pm.  There were around 60 piles out there!  The poles are all still scattered about out there, I'll get those sometime before next summer and get them cut up and curing so I have lots of firewood for next season.  The goats are going to have so much fun out there in all that open area now.  There should be a lot more forage for them to eat, too.  I threw out all the grass seed I'd saved from the hay bales in the upper side of the thinned area, so there should be some nice grass up there.  I'm going to see what all grows out there next year before I plant anything else.  Now that the sun can hit the ground in a lot more places, it's going to be quite interesting to see what grows.  It is so nice to be able to walk all through there without having to follow little trails and duck and squeeze through the trees.  It was really thickly wooded out there. 

   The dogs are keeping all the deer and other critters out of the place now.  Sam isn't afraid of deer and doesn't like them, so he goes after them whenever they come in close.  Nellie is back to barking at them too, now that Sam is.  I think she figures if he can bark and go after them and not get hurt, then maybe she can, too.  They don't chase them very far, just out of the yard and driveway. 

   Well, I hope everyone is staying warm and your critters, too!  Be careful out there... 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

RIP Dottie and Emily

    Monday October 14, 2013 was a sad day around here.  Both Dottie AND Emily died that day.  Dottie was 13 and Emily was 14.  They were two of my seven original goats I got back in 2001.  I left early to go get a couple of bales of hay and saw Dottie standing outside with her kids looking around.  When I got back home about an hour and a half later and went out to milk, here was Dottie laying in the barn dead.  I guess she was out taking a last look around, saying good-bye to everything when I was leaving.  Boy did I cry while milking the other two goats!   Dottie and I had a special bond.  I always said it would be the saddest, yet happiest day when she died since she was such an ornery goat.  But, it wasn't happy at all.  I must say though, that the dairy barnyard is much more peaceful now with her gone.  Belle and Speckles get along fine.  
  At least Dottie lasted long enough for her kids to be old enough to wean.  The kids in this picture aren't her current ones.  I didn't take a good picture of her this year for some reason.  These are last year's kids.  I also didn't want her bred this year because she was getting old.  But, she took it upon herself to get bred anyway.  I guess it was a good thing, her daughter looks like she might end up being a good milk goat.  She doesn't have any cashmere and has a dairy look about her.  We shall see.  She is half cashmere.  Her brother looks like he's going to have decent cashmere.  Time will tell.  I do miss Dottie!   She gave me 19 kids and gallons of milk over the years.   

Then, when I went over to feed the cashmeres, here was Emily laying down and just about dead!  She was fine the night before, although she was slower than usual and hanging back a bit.  She did eat like she normally did and was acting okay.  I wonder if her and Dottie decided to go out together, since they died within hours of each other.
  This picture is of Emily when she was 11 years old.
  I spent most of the morning crying, then had an eye doctor appointment that afternoon.  My eyes were all red and burning, so I hope my new prescription for glasses works! :-)  The Dr. dilated my pupils, too, so I had a hard time seeing for the rest of the day.  Then after I got back home some friends from back east that were out here on vacation came up to visit.  I wonder what they really thought about the whole situation? :-)
  So now I have 71 goats all together.   I finally have all but a couple of fleeces that are off older goats and bucks dehaired, so now I'm working on the fleeces for a couple of outside customers.  Then it will be time to clean up the machine and dehairing room and put the machine to bed for the winter.  One of these years I am going to have a well-insulated "real" dehairing room so I can work all winter out there.   A building big enough to house the machine, a washing area for fleeces, a little showroom for my cashmere items for sale, and enough space to set up spinning wheels so I can have spin-ins and workshops up here.  That is my goal.
   I've had a good group of  helpxers this year.  Got quite a few projects done.  What a fun and great group of people they were!  Good workers and fun to be around and visit with.  I am so glad I signed up with that network.  Thanks to Heidi for telling me about it!  Help Exchange is the website.

  I had some long-term, live-in helpers here for 3 1/2  months that did some thinning for me.  5.5 acres of the lower pasture were thinned.  Now I have 40 some slash piles to burn and a lot of clean-up to do.  I guess I should have been paying a bit more attention to how they were doing things.  Piling the slash under trees is not exactly the right way to do it.  Now I have quite a few piles that I need to move before I can burn them.  Oh well, live and learn.  I'm not having any more helpers that move in and live here,  that is too much of an invasion of privacy for me, even though they were down in the "round pen" area and living in their own camper.  I ended up losing Henry because they didn't secure their chicken and rabbit feed and 5 goats got into it, then didn't tell me right away that the goats did eat it.  It just doesn't work to have people live here, bringing all their stuff and totally moving in.  H&C were fine, they were set up for independent living, but these last people weren't really, and they had way too much stuff!
     The helpxers are great, they come with a vehicle and some luggage and that's it.  They stay in the little camper I have set up as a spare bedroom, and are only here for a week or two at a time.  That works quite well!
  It is nice to have the lower pasture thinned out, the helpers did do a good job of cutting out the trees, and the piles were nice and tight, just not in the right places.  After I get the piles all burned and the sticks picked up, I'm going to take all the grass seed I've saved from the hay bales and throw it out there.  Then take the moldy hay and spread it thinly over that and next spring I will have a great pasture.  The goats won't know what to do!  They will be able to see clearly and have lots to eat out there.
Well, that's it for now.  Enjoy the Autumn weather and the great fall colors.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where did the summer go?

 Some of the events of the summer include seeing Sweetpea at a year old.  She has straightened out almost perfectly.  Her front hoof turns out just a little still, but her shoulders and everything else is normal now.  She's in a great home and is well loved.
 This big horn sheep ram is on Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake in Montana.  It's the biggest island in the lake and is pretty neat!  I met my sister and two of her friends in Big Arm, got on a pontoon boat with a tour guide and went around the perimeter of the island in the boat with the guide telling us interesting facts, then he let us off at the trail head and we hiked around for a while.  There are 5 "wild" horses on there, but only saw the old gelding that was dead, and had been dead since early spring I'm guessing by the state of the carcass.  He was 33 years old, so he lived a good long life there.  We did see some of the sheep, this ram being one of them.  He had a buddy with him just out of the picture.  We saw a few deer and a little herd of sheep a ways away.  I was hoping to see the horses, but no luck.  Someday I'd like to go back out there and hike the whole island.  It's 2100 acres, so it would take a while to do, but it looks interesting.
 Dottie had her last kids on July 27th.  Whitey and Penelope.  They are cute and full of themselves.  I am really hoping that Penelope doesn't turn out ornery like her mother.  I'm keeping her as a replacement for Dottie, who is too old to get bred again, and has udder issues.  She's done, so Penelope will take her place.  Hope she has a great udder!  Whitey is just cute, so he'll stay here, too.  At least for now. If he turns out to not have a great personality as an adult, into the freezer he will go.
This summer flew by, faster than previous ones for sure.  I had various helpxers here, and have some more coming towards the end of the month.  I also have had a little family here long term, living down in the round pen area in a camper.  They did 95% of the big thinning project I had.  5.5 acres to be thinned by September 1st.  It got done, approved and the check is coming shortly! Now they will be moving on to a different place for the winter and beyond.  They were a nice couple and their baby one of the cutest I've ever seen.  Great, hard workers, too.  
    It sure looks different out there!  Next year when the grass comes up and everything is growing and cleaned up, it's going to be beautiful.  The goats won't know what to do out there!  It's so much more open and easier to walk through, it's amazing.   I signed up for a couple more acres for me to do this fall after I get done with the cashmere.
  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the cashmere dehairing!  I only have about a week left and I'll have all of mine done finally.  It's been a long, slow process, but it sure is rewarding.  I love working with the cashmere!  Now if I could just figure out a way to actually make a living doing it, I'd be set. :-)
  One of the low points of the summer was when i had to put Henry down.  He was the first kid born on the place back when I first got into goats.  He got into the helper's chicken and rabbit feed and ate way too much.  They wouldn't admit that he and four others got into the feed, just said they ate the tomato and strawberry plants they had.  I had to ask a couple of times if there was anything else the goats ate before they admitted it.  By then it was too late for Henry.  He ate the most and got really sick.  I put him out of his misery and hauled his body up to the pass for the scavengers to eat.  The other four survived with a good dose of baking soda.  One of my helpxers had just got here an hour earlier, so he got quite a first impression of the place!  Shooting a goat and hauling it off all before he even got to move into the camper. :-)  He was fine with it all, and was a great help with the thinning.  I don't think it would have been done on time without his help.  Now we can get new batteries!  A slightly larger battery bank is next.  That will be nice not to have to run the generator every day the sun doesn't shine!  The old batteries are pretty well shot.  I should only have to run the generator every few days this winter after the new batteries are installed.  I'll be able to run the dehairing machine a little more, too.  Although I should be all done with dehairing cashmere for the year by the middle of October.
  The garden is doing well this year.  The bottle baby trio has managed to get in there a few times, so there are some pruned apple trees, and broccoli plants.  They have left the green beans alone so far, so I'm getting a good amount of them.  Last year the deer got all of them, so I am quite happy this year to be able to eat beans fresh out of the garden.  Last night a deer got in there at 3 am.  Thank heavens Sam barked at her!  Nellie is worthless when it comes to deer, she ignores them and they have the run of the place.  I got out there and chased her out before she did too much damage.  She did stretch and disfigure the upper wire fencing as she was trying to jump out.  8 feet was just too high for her, so she almost broke through the wire, fell back down into the garden, then ran behind the greenhouse and ducked under the high fencing by the woodshed, crashed through the woodshed and out into the driveway, snort/whistled, and ran off.  I hope she doesn't come back anytime soon.  I'm not sure how she got in to begin with.  I think she must've crawled through where Nellie does, at the gate!  Dang beast. She fit through a little one foot wide gap in the gate that is tied with a wire half-way down, so she must have literally crawled through there.   Why she has to come in here when there are much easier pickings out in the forest is beyond me.  I do hope she got scared enough last night to not venture in again.  I closed the gate more, too, now, so she can't come in.  Nellie can't come and go, either, so I don't know how this will work.

Well, that's all for now.      

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July Happenings

 Meet Sam, my new LGD puppy.  He's half Anatolian, half Great Pyrenees/Australian shepard cross.  In this picture he is 9 1/2 weeks old.  He's already watching his kids, the three bottle babies in the next picture, and he's a pretty smart puppy!  He also has green eyes.

The three kids in this picture, Poppy, Lupine and Bart, are ready for their bottles, with Lupine getting pushed on by both of the other kids. :-)

 I have three helpers up here now.  Two are a couple with a baby that are living in a camper for the summer.    They are really nice people and great workers.  The other helper is here for three weeks.  She's from the helpx network.  My flower beds haven't looked this good in years!  She is a great weed puller, and she actually likes doing that.  This isn't the best picture to show the weeding job, but the peonies look pretty. ☺

The goats are all doing well.  They go out into the woods almost every afternoon now and eat their fill of goodies.  I have actually got all the Aspen colored fleeces dehaired now, and am almost ready to start on the cream and white fleeces!   I just need to finish up the "leftovers" of the aspen, then I'll start in on the others.  The leftovers are the stuff that falls into the waste bin on the machine on each pass.  It's still beautiful usable fiber, just not the prime cashmere that I sell to my customers.  It has a little shorter of a staple length, which makes it not quite as easy to spin although it still makes very nice yarn.   I just combine it all so it makes a different shade than the individual fleeces are.  Kind of in between the two.

We've been in a heat wave for the last few days.  I now know what working in a sweatshop must be like for all the foreign textile workers!  My dehairing room gets quite hot and stuffy, even with a fan going in there.  The motors on the machine put out quite a bit of heat!  In the winter that is a plus, in the summer, not so much.  
  Have a good 4th of July and be safe!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Goat antics

Goats can be the silliest creatures sometimes.  Walter got all tangled in a feed bag, how I'm not sure, but he had a nice head dress on.  Scared the livin' daylights out of the rest of the wethers who were all running away from Walter, who was trying to keep up with them.  It was the funniest thing to watch, I about fell over I was laughing so hard.  Luckily I was over in the main pen taking pictures of the kids when all of this happened, so I had my camera with me.  Although I didn't get a good picture of them all running away in a tight bunch, snorting and blowing.  Silly goats. :-)  They are more entertaining than TV by a long ways. 

Then there is BB on the door of the dairy barn.  She gets on the bench, jumps up on the upper door and walks across to the lower door.  That door is only as wide as a 2x4 on it's edge.  Good balance!  Speckles is laying there with her triplets climbing all over her.

  I'm still working on the cashmere, in fact I'm washing two fleeces as I write this, and then will spend the afternoon dehairing some.  I'm so far behind I think I'm ahead of things right now.   My big plan of having the cashmere all done and ready to go by June isn't going to happen.  One order will be ready, but the rest won't be ready till July.   I underestimated how much other work there was to do around here back in January when I said I'd have it done by June.  Funny how I forgot all about all the clean-up and gardening there is to do in the Spring! After all, there are only so many daylight hours in a 24 hour period.
  Luckily I have had some helpers once in a while.  Without them, I wouldn't be able get much of anything done.  The HelpX  website is a good thing!

  The three bottle babies are doing well.  Bart is almost old enough to be weaned now.  The twins are three weeks behind him.   They live in the dog pen at night and are running all over the place during the day.  I do have them closed out of the inner yard so they don't eat all the flowers and gardens.   Today I'm going to let the main pen of goats out into the outer yard and driveway to eat that down and get used to fresh greens again, after only having the hay all winter and up till now.  I have been throwing them the grass and weeds I'm pulling out of the gardens, but they haven't been out of their pens yet this year.

  We had 2 1/2 inches of snow on Thursday morning!  I'm really glad it melted by that afternoon and that it didn't kill all my flowers that were blooming and the apple blossoms that are starting to open.   The tulips and daffodils got flattened, but they are perking back up again now.  It didn't break any branches on the trees, either.  Now I hope we are going to have warmer weather for the rest of Spring and into Summer, with a little rain each week to keep things green and the fire danger low.  In an ideal world.....

  Well, that's it for now.  Have a good Memorial week-end!    

Friday, May 10, 2013

All Done

     Here are some of the cashmere kids sunning themselves after a very cold late April snowstorm/blizzard we had.  Luckily the snow melted by the next day!
 Here is Mariah with her very first kid born today at 12:30pm.  It was a nice warm sunny day today.  A good day to come into the world.  She's a nice healthy girl I named Mimi.  Mariah wasn't going to be a good mom at first, she didn't want anything to do with her.  But, I held her and got the kid cleaned up and up to her to drink, and after about an hour and a few times of nursing, she accepted the kid completely and all is well.
 Here are Poppy and Lupine, two of the three bottle babies I have this year.  I had to put down two does this year, both from a congested udder that I could not get uncongested, no matter what I did.  Both does were the only two that didn't drink their warm molasses water after kidding, and they were the only two that had any problems.

Here's Whiteout, he was born in the blizzard we had last week, hence the name. ☺  He's got one little brown spot on his cheek.  Other than that, he's all white.  

All together there are 22 kids out there, and 76 goats total!  I haven't had this many for quite a few years.  14 girls and 8 boys.  I've decided this year I'm not keeping any of the boys as bucks, they are all going to get "wetherized".  There are a couple that might make good bucks, but I don't need any more now, and I don't know of anyone who is really wanting one, so they will all be wethers and used for their fiber.

  We are enjoying a spell of sunny warm weather now.  We've even had a couple of thunder storms this week that dumped a decent amount of rain.  I really need to get out there and mow and weed-eat now.  The garden is deer-proofed now, so I should have a good harvest this year.  I ate my first helping of asparagus out of the garden last night. YUM!

  I hiked up to the Rocks the other day and cleared a good trail that anyone should be able to follow now.  The ticks are out.  I had one on me that I discovered in the middle of the night when I woke up and felt something crawling on my neck.  Ick!  Glad it didn't attach itself to me!  I think I will wait awhile to go up there again.  I'll wait till the ticks go away again.  In the Spring when one goes up to the Rocks and stands still, you can look down and see the ticks crawling up your legs.  It's enough to freak a person out!

  I'm slowly getting the fleeces dehaired.  I'm getting behind on my self-imposed schedule.  There are just too many things that need done around here this time of year to spend all day in the dehairing room.  So I do one fleece a day in the afternoon and try to get all the other things done in the mornings and then after I'm done with the dehairing for the day.  So to all my customers, I'm sorry, but I don't think I'll have the cashmere ready to ship when I said I would.  It won't be a whole lot longer, but it won't be right when I said it would.  I hope you understand.

Well, it's 10:30 at night and I haven't had dinner yet, it's almost ready now, so I think I'll go eat and then hit the sack and start over again tomorrow....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kid pics

Fancy and company sunning themselves.

 Bart, the bottle baby this year.  He's quite the character. He spends most days out with the crew, and sleeps in the house in his cage at night, at least till it warms up some.  Then he'll just stay outside all the time.
                 Astrid and her kids all crammed into the tub.  They stay nice and warm in there.
Some of the kids having fun in the lean-to.  They like to bounce off the walls in there.
So far there are 18 kids, with three more does due the end of the month.  Then Dottie will have her kids in July.  I wasn't going to breed her this year, but she took it upon herself to get bred.  She broke out of her pen, went over to the young boy's pen, either chewed or sawed with her horns, the thick baling twine holding the clip to the gate, and got in there.  So now she is bred again.  I hope she has her kids okay. She's 13 years old this year, and last year she had some problems kidding, so I'm hoping since it will be warm that time of year, she'll be okay.  Time will tell.

  This is the busiest time of the year for sure.  With the Spring clean-up, gardens to get ready to plant, cashmere to harvest and dehair, plus all the normal day to day chores, life on a farm is never dull.  I've come to the conclusion that I need three of me.  One to do the cooking and cleaning, one to do the gardening and yard work, and one to help with the cashmere.  Thank heavens I get some help one or two days a week!  I'm hoping a helpxer will come in pretty soon.  Having someone here every day for a week or so would really get me caught up and maybe ahead of the game a step or two.
  The wonderful guy that has been coming up one or two days a week for the last few months is heading out for his summer job pretty soon, so he won't be around anymore.  He's been a great help!  His girlfriend has come up a couple of times and helped, too.  They are good farmhands!  I'll miss them.  I hope they come up to visit this summer when they get time off.
  Everyone who has come up here has been wonderful, and I am very grateful for their help.  I wouldn't be able to keep this place going very well totally by myself.  If any of you are reading this, THANK-YOU!

  We are supposed to get snow again tomorrow.  I hope it's not more than a couple of inches and it melts right away.  I am really ready to start my garden, now that the deer can't get in it anymore.  This morning I looked out and there were two deer standing by the fence looking into the garden, trying to decide if they could get in there somehow.  They gave the fence a good look over, then walked away.  YIPPEE!  I'm going to have some veggies this fall for the freezer! ☺
  Well, time to go comb a goat or two.  I'm down to the "clean-up" stage on them.  They've all had their initial combing, now I'm getting what's left.  On some, it's quite a bit, on others, not so much.  Then starting next week I am really going to get serious and get the dehairing machine going.  I've only done one fleece so far!  52 fleeces in 40 days.  I'll be working long hours.  Actually they won't all get done by the first of June, but the CSA shares will be, if nothing drastic happens around here.
  I'll post more pictures pretty soon.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Half way through kidding season

Here's Louie, Louise's first kid.  She's a great mom and I think I'll keep him a buck, he's got some great conformation.  He's also a nice color.  Both parents have great fleece, so  the chances of him having, and passing on that trait are pretty good.  He's got a good personality, too.
  I'm having a hard time getting good pictures of the rest of them  Luna gets the prize for the most colorful kids so far.  The only problem is, they are hard to get a picture of since they are usually in hiding.  At least when I have the camera with me.  When I don't have the camera, they are all over the place.  Isn't that the way it always goes.? :-)
  Carmen, the one pictured below, is Fancy's first kid.  Her white spot looks like a flower and stem, kind of like one of the Ravelry members' ravatar picture. :-)  You know who you are?
   Carmen was really giving Louie a hard time yesterday.  She wouldn't let him in the little kid house they have.  They were really having a little argument, seriously butting heads.  It was pretty cute to watch them.  The looks in their eyes, they were really glaring at each other!  She has a pretty dominant personality already.  Kind of like her grandma Celeste.  

  We woke up to 8 inches of snow this morning!!  It was down to 21 degrees, too.  I'm kind of glad it did snow.  It protected the flowers that are blooming and the ones that are coming up.  It's a good amount of moisture, too, which is always good.  We've had a pretty mild winter without a huge amount of snow here.  The higher mountains around us got their normal to slightly above normal amount, but we only had about a foot on the ground most of the season.  It was nice, enough to look like winter, but not enough to be a total pain to deal with.  The temperatures weren't bad, either.
  The kids weren't too sure about all the snow.  They all stayed in their houses till the adults had the snow all trampled down.  They still aren't coming out very much.  The chickens are laying low, too.  All twelve hens laid an egg yesterday!  That is the first time they've done that.  Usually I get between 7 and 11 eggs a day.  There is one that is laying a green egg every once in a while.  I think I've found 8 so far.  They are all good eggs, just a different color.  Not sure why or how that is happening, but it's interesting, anyway.  I have 10 silver laced wyandottes, and 2 golden wyandottes.
  I'm washing some fleeces today and crocheting a new scarf.  Good inside things, since it's not conducive to being outside today.  I was making good progress on getting the spring clean up done and the deer fence is all up.  No deer for over a week now.  I just might end up with a full freezer of veggies yet!
   I've dehaired one fleece so far.  I started combing the goats earlier than usual, getting fewer guard hairs in it, but they weren't totally letting go of their fleece, so I'm having to re-do a lot of them.  I think I'll just wait till they are really starting to let loose next year.  I think I lose about the same amount of fiber either way.  So the dehairing is getting a slower start than I was anticipating.

  Well, that's it for now.  I'll try and get some more pictures up soon....

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Kids

  Here are the newest kids.  BB (for Baby Belle) and Samantha.  BB is the one on top laying down.  They were born on March 14th around 6pm.  BB was trying to come out backwards with her legs folded under her.  That wasn't working, so I had to reach in and push her way back in, grab a hold of her back legs, get them straightened out, and then pulled her out backwards as Belle was pushing.  She came out easily then.  Samantha came out in the normal way.  They are so cute and have such symmetrical markings on them.  Especially BB.
  Spring is thinking about coming.  We get a couple of nice warm days, then it gets cold and snows again.  We are getting dumped on as I write this.  It's supposed to get down to 16 degrees tonight!  Kind of glad it is snowing so it covers up the tulips, daffodils and rhubarb that are starting to come up.  The snow will insulate them and keep them from freezing.  I think it is supposed to warm up again next week.  I hope so.  At least none of the kids are due during this cold snap.

  I've started crocheting door mats out of the baling twine I get off the hay bales.  It's the thinner twine that the big round bales are wrapped with.  You would think that the door mats would be ugly, being made out of orange twine, but they are actually not bad!  I've made one, and am in the middle of another one.  The first one I made as a rectangle, going lengthwise.  This one I'm making a rectangle again, only going from the short side.  The first one is a bit loose, but it works great, except if you have the ice walkers on and the little spikes get caught in the twine.  Then there is the possibility of tripping.  I've had a couple of close calls.  But on regular shoes and boots, it's working great.

  I'm almost done combing the goats.  I think there are only 4 left for the first round, then there are still a few that need a second combing.  I've started washing the fleeces.  It is amazing how much dirt is in one fleece!  The water turns a very dark brown on most of them.
   The first of April I'll finally get the dehairing machine fired up and start getting all my fleeces dehaired and ready to ship out.  I've got quite a bit of yarn to spin, and a lot of cloud to get weighed out into the correct amount, bagged and sent out.  Things are starting to really get busy around here!

  I hope we don't get more than a couple of inches of new snow.  I am ready for green and growing things now.  We have had a relatively mild winter this year.  I am not going to complain about it at all.  I didn't even have to put the chains on the truck this year!  Yay!! ☺  Although I suppose I shouldn't say anything yet, winter isn't completely over.  There have been years when we get more snow in March and April than in the whole rest of the winter.   I do hope that isn't the case this year.

  Well, Happy Spring everyone!      

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kids are arriving

Four kids have arrived so far.  3 doelings and one buckling.  Belle had hers yesterday around 6pm.  Two girls, one of which I had to push back in and grab her back legs and straighten them out, then pull her out backwards.  Belle's water broke, the water bag came out, then nothing.  I stuck a couple of fingers in there and felt two little hocks folded up against a little belly.  There was no way she was coming out in that position.  So, in between contractions, I pushed the kid way back in and got her in a good exit position.
    The second one came out correctly. They are quite lively and very cute. I'll post a picture or two soon.  I named the first one BB, for Baby Belle, and the second one is Samantha.   Midnight throws some really nice kids!!  Lots of great fleece, good conformation, and a decent personality on each one so far. I'm really looking forward to seeing what all he throws this year!  He was the "main man" this last breeding season, so there will be mostly his kids out there pretty soon.
  Now I get a break until around the first of April, then that week will be a flurry of activity.  10 does are due in the span of 7 days. Hope the weather is good that week.  

  The snow is melting at a good rate.  The frost has gone out of the ground now, so the water is soaking in good.  The rhubarb is poking it's little red heads out, and things are starting to turn green.  Now that the snow is going away, it's spring clean up time.  The dogs have scattered all kinds of interesting things out there that are now being exposed.  Pretty soon I'll be able to get the hoses out and end the bucket brigade for the year.   I did hear on the weather report that we are supposed to get some snow again next week, so I guess I won't get in too big of a hurry for green.  Spring in Montana can be interesting.  I do think we might have a rather dry spring, which will get everyone in an uproar about the upcoming fire season, but then we will get a fairly rainy summer.  We're already 1.3 inches below normal for precip this year.  At least down in the valley.   We still have a fair amount of snow in the woods. and on the flat areas.  The hill behind the house is completely bare now.  
  The robins are back!  I heard one this morning when I was out doing the chores.  Pretty soon I hope the pair of bluebirds we had last year come back.  I saw some down in Kila today, so they should be up here pretty soon.  I'd better get the old nest cleaned out of their spot.  
  Well, that's it for now.  I'll post some baby pictures soon...  

Friday, February 22, 2013

A good Poster

Keep Calm and COMB CASHMERE Poster

This is my new motto for now. :-)  I still have 15 goats to go, and it's been snowing for the last couple of days, getting them all either wet or damp, so I can't do any combing.

  One of the members on Ravelry made this poster (Quinn).  Thanks Quinn!!  She raises cashmere goats, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kids are arriving

The first kids of the year have arrived!  Miss Astrid had twins on the 10th.  The tan one is a doeling and the black one is a buckling.  Christie and Cupid.  Christie has her mother's personality, an escape artist extraordinaire.   She's only a week old and already going anywhere and everywhere, dragging her brother along for the ride.  Astrid has her hands full with her.  Now I'll have 2 goats that always check the gates to make sure they are latched and closed securely, or out they go, taking most of the rest of the herd with them.  I hope they have as good a fiber as their older siblings!  They all have the softest, best fiber around.
  Well, I've put myself out there again.  Rather scary, but I'm to the point of either folding or expanding.  So I started a fund raising campaign on Indiegogo to raise the funds to expand.  The link is at the bottom of this page.  I really want to start a fiber arts retreat center up here,  also a farm stay vacation experience, plus expand the dehairing ability so I can dehair more cashmere for producers than I do now.  There is also my own cashmere to work with, combing, dehairing, spinning, crocheting, all that good stuff.
  Starting with new batteries for the solar power system, so I can power all of this!  Then a guest cabin to start the farmstay with.  A strawbale dehairing room with a washing and drying area, and room for the machine, too.  I plan on having the farmstay and dehairing provide the income to get the retreat center started.  Big plans I know, but this is really what I want to do, and I think we live in the perfect spot to do it.
   Remote, close to Nature, a great place to come and de-stress from the real world, relax and do some spinning, or knitting, weaving crocheting, dyeing, whatever fiber related activity suits you.  Take a break from the fibery stuff and go for a little hike through the forest, or visit with the goats, or take a nap in a hammock hung between two trees.  I want to bring in talented instructors to teach new techniques, and also have unstructured week-end get-aways for a few to just get together with friends and visit and do your fibery thing.
  There is such a great need for a good cashmere dehairing facility or three that I want to be able to do more than I do now so I can help more producers get their fiber processed in a timely manner.  I am not set up right now to do any more than I do, especially with the worn out batteries we are working with.  The machine takes quite a bit of power, so new batteries are the most important aspect of the whole operation right now.
  Obviously this all won't happen overnight, but I want to get the farmstay thing going by the end of this summer.  Fall is the prettiest time up here, so that would be a good time to start that end of things.  Next Spring will be the new dehairing facility.  I'd like to have that up and going by May.  Then by the Spring of 2015, I'll be ready to get the retreat center building started, and have that going, at least in a small way, by July.  Since my husband really loves to garden, he will be in charge of growing all the food to feed everyone.   We have lots of garden space to expand to, always a work in progress around here.
  I have a good network of friends and helpers willing and ready to chip in where needed.  It's going to be a fun, very busy couple of years getting this all up and running!   If you would like to donate some money to this adventure, that would be wonderful, or if you could please spread the word to people you think would be interested in this, I would really appreciate it! 
   Back to the goats; the next kids are due around March 10th, then the first week in April is going to be really busy, that's when the majority of the rest of them are due.  Christie and Cupid will be the "boss" kids this year.  They will be older than all the rest of them.  Glad Astrid had twins!

Well, that's it for now. Thank-you for your support!  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chicken Feed

Today I put out some new feed for the chickens and they attacked that with gusto!  I had their regular feed out too, just to see which one they went for.  The new feed won hands down!  It's a non GMO, corn and soy free layer feed, with real grains instead of cooked pellets or crumbles.  It's more expensive than the other feed, but since "you are what you eat" I figure it will be worth it to have healthy chickens, eggs with nice orange yolks, and no questionable feed going into them.  They are getting real food now.

   I'm starting in on the cashmere harvest for this year.  So far it's looking really good!  I'm looking forward to getting it all dehaired before June.  This week I had some help around here and got a wall built along the alley way in the cashmere barn.  I've been wanting to do that since I built the barn a few years ago, and now it's finally done.  Thanks you guys!!  Now the girls have more shelter and there is more room in the alley way.  They had bent the fence panels enough that they were sticking out into the path I take the wheelbarrow on when full of hay to feed them, making it a challenge to get through there.  Not anymore, it's nice and wide and straight. ☺  Next up is the mid-winter clean up of the floor in there.  It's nice and dry, so the composted poo isn't frozen, making it much easier to clean out.  I made little sides for my plastic toboggan today so we can pile more in there at a time to haul over to the compost mountain.

  Well, I'd better get back to crocheting.  I'm making two cashmere hats for people.  I just have three more ounces of cashmere left to spin, and it will all be gone.  Yay!

  It's snowing a bit outside.  Hope we only get an inch this time!  A fresh dinner plate for the goats to eat off of.