Saturday, December 27, 2014

Happy Holidays

   I hope everyone is having a great Holiday season!  I had a good Christmas, going to a friend's house for dinner that afternoon.  I spent the morning digging out from the 7 inches of snow we got, then barely made it to dinner on time.  
  Yesterday I spent 4 hours plowing our forest service road with first the drag plow, then the ATV and plow.  I got a bit chilled out there!  But, I'm very glad I did it, because it's snowing again today and we have a "winter storm watch" till Monday morning.  Glad I got a bale of hay yesterday, too!  Now I can stay home for a few days till the weather improves.  Next up is another batch of seriously cold temperatures starting tomorrow night and lasting all week it sounds like.  Oh joy, back to the solid ice water troughs, etc.    At least the sun is supposed to shine some, so I hope I don't have to run the generator.  

   John's nephew Matt got married today.  They should all be at the reception now having a grand time.  I made them an afghan, I hope they like it!  Maybe some day they will come out here for a visit.  I hope so!  

   It is amazing how fast this year has gone by!  As usual, I didn't get half the things done that I was wanting to.  But, the most important things got done.  Now I can be inside more and doing fun things like spinning up the cashmere that I kept to make yarn with.  I sold most of it as cloud to fellow spinners, but I did save some to make into yarn.  Now I just have to do it! ☺  I'll have fun dyeing some of that, too.  I'm not an expert at it yet, so it's always somewhat of a surprise what color or colors it is when it's all done.  So far, (touches wood) it's always turned out good, anyway.  

Well, have a great rest of the Holiday!  Happy 2015!  May everyone see their dreams come true!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Perfect Day

 Here is Rocky, my new Akbash puppy.  He's 9 weeks old.  I got him a week ago Monday.  He's a cute little guy (soon to be big!)  He's already watching the goats pretty good.  I've only let him in with the goats a couple of times.  He's not quite coordinated enough to get away from the ornery ones fast enough.  He's been whacked by a couple of them pretty good.  So I'm keeping him out of the pens now, except when I'm right there and can keep the meanies away from him.
  Sam is well loved in his new home.  They are so glad they got him.  So that whole episode ended well.  Now Rocky just has to grow fast so he can help Nellie guard the goats.  It's funny, Nellie barely looks at Rocky.  I think she is annoyed that he is here.  She figures she can guard things just fine by herself.  If she was younger, that would be true, but now that's she's almost 9 years old, she is going to need help just about the time Rocky is old enough to be of some help.  As soon as spring arrives, I'm re-doing the fencing around the goat pens and making an alleyway all the way around the perimeter of the pens so Rocky can run around the whole outside of them to keep the goats safe.  That way he won't be stuck in one pen if something is threatening another one.  

This carrot I discovered in the garden when the snow melted off it last week.  I pulled it and another one I missed during the harvest.  A crab grass root was growing right though it!  I broke off the rest of it pulling it out of the ground.  Talk about a tenacious root!  
Today was one of those days when everything seemed to go just right.  The sun was shining so I didn't have to run the generator tonight.  I finally found a good source of excellent hay.  The animals all behaved themselves, and I had fun at the Alpine Weavers and Spinners Guild Christmas potluck today.   The only almost not perfect part was when I was unloading the hay.  It's a big square bale weighing around 1300 pounds.  It took a bounce, even though I was driving very slowly out from under it, and fell over against the dehairing room wall, and pushed the wall in a couple of inches.  I just about had a heart attack!  I was afraid the wall was going to collapse before I could move the bale away and fall on the machine.  That would not be good!  But, I got the bale moved with no more harm, and all is well now.  A scary moment though!

We've had some interesting weather lately.  Last week for three days it was 50° up here and a good 10 degrees cooler down lower.  I went to town on Friday and there was snow still.  We didn't have any up here, so I wasn't dressed for snow.  Then on Sunday I went down again with my snow boots, and all the snow was gone.  I was a bit over dressed. :-)  But now we are back to normal.  We have a couple of inches of snow on the ground now, and not much left down below at all.  It's colder again up here.   This week the temps have been perfect.  Mid-twenties during the day and upper teens at night.  We've had a couple of bouts of near zero temps to way up in the forties back to back.  That's hard on the animals.  I lost a yearling doe in the last one.  Not sure exactly what was wrong.  I don't think she was drinking enough water and got a blockage or something.  She went down fast.  That was a bummer, she had really nice fleece in a soft gray color.  I don't have many of the black goats with that color.

Well, that's all the happenings around here lately.  Seems there isn't ever a dull moment around here, something is always happening...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Changes again

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and didn't eat too much!  For once I was very good and did not over eat.  I felt so much better! :-)

Another change has happened around here.  I found Sam a new home.  He is a great guard dog for 4-legged critters, but he is way too friendly towards people up here.  Plus with his sister living right next door, it was too much to have him around.  Every time the neighbor would let her out, she would come over here and get Sam and off they'd go for the whole day.  Sam was gone two days in a row, and that was the last straw.  The neighbor has all of a sudden started letting their dog loose every day, and she comes over here to get Sam.  I think I have the fence all secure and that he can't get out, and he finds another spot to squeeze under and away he goes.  So, since he's no good to me if he's not here, I called a friend who works with animal rescue groups, and she found him a new home.  It's perfect for him.  He has a family with 2 girls to love, and they love him.  They have an energetic Standard Poodle for Sam to play with, and some animals to guard.  I think he will be quite happy there.  It's a relief to not have to worry about him taking off from here now.  Nellie has her confidence back, thanks to Sam, so she can keep the predators away.   She also doesn't like the neighbor, so that is good, too. :-)   Plus, with Sam's 1/4 Australian Shepard in him, his herding instincts were a bit too strong and he was biting the backs of the kids (goats) as he was herding them around.  I kept getting after him about it, but he wasn't quitting.  So, after some deep thinking, I decided it would be better for everyone if he wasn't here anymore.   Next year I'll get a full blood LGD and then Nellie will have help again.

It looks like it's going to be another winter of up and down temperatures.  We had a very cold week, then it warmed up again, and now by tomorrow night, it's supposed to be below 0!  That is rather hard on the animals.  I'll have a bunch of shivering goats out there.  I'll be feeding extra hay again.  We did have about 8 inches of snow on the ground, then it warmed up and rained the last two days.  Now it's almost all gone.  Our road is pretty icy.  I had the chains on going down, but made it home without them.  I had a big round bale of hay in the back, so with all that weight, I didn't have any problems.  I'm glad I plowed my driveway so the steep hill part was bare dirt/mud.  I really don't like having to put on chains.  It's not hard to do, but when I've got my "going to town" clothes on, I don't like crawling around the muddy tires trying to put the chains on without getting all dirty.  I think it's time to get some studded tires!

Well, that's all for now......

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A short (hopefully) blast of winter

We woke up to snow this morning!  5 inches of wet, heavy, icky snow.  In about a month or so, I'll welcome it, but I'm not quite ready yet!  I have one last goat pen to get ready before it's all snowy.  This will be gone by Tuesday according to the weather forecasters.

I now have an Etsy store!  PNF Cashmeres is the name of it.  It takes a lot of hours to set one up!  I still have to tweak it a bit, and if any of you go on there and see something I need to do differently,  or some way to enhance it, please let me know!  Feel free to buy something while you are there, too! ☺  I'll be adding more things as I get them done.

I think I'm ready for winter, except for cleaning out the last part of the goat pen.  I still haven't got all the trees cut up into firewood from last year's thinning project.  There are a lot of them to cut up!  I'll be able to do some when this snow melts, but I'm running out of time....

I've had some interesting helpxers this year.  A couple from France, who were a good help around here.  A couple from Scotland were here also.  They helped us get a lot done in the week they were here!  The last ones of the year were from New York.  They did a lot, too.  Thank heavens for helpx!  If hadn't of had the helpers this year, I'd be so far behind, it wouldn't even be funny.  I didn't have as many helpers this year as I did last, but I did have 8 all together.  All were a really big help.  It is fun meeting all of them and hearing their stories.  Since I'm pretty much tied down to this place, I don't do much in the way of travel, so I live vicariously through them. ☺
  Someday I'd like to find a nice couple I can trust to stay here for a month and take care of everything while I do a big road trip around this country.  There is a lot to see right here in America that I've never seen.  My husband has been bicycle touring all over the country before we met, but I haven't been a whole lot of places.  A few, but there is so much to see!  I only want a month, any longer and I'd be missing this place and all my animals too much.

I've remodeled the goat pens some.  Now I have a pen to put the does I want to get bred this year in.  If they are separate from everyone else, I can feed them a bit more to keep them strong and fit for having their babies.  This year there are only 6 that will be bred.  I'm down to 53 goats, total now, and I don't want to go over 70 next year.

Here is a picture of Reggie helping me sort and bag the cashmere.  As you can see, he's a big help. ☺  It's been interesting having an indoor cat in here.  He's the first cat that's ever been in here, and he's getting into everything!  I didn't know this house had so many hiding spots. He does spend quite a bit of time outside, but at night he's in here till he's full grown.  He wasn't sure about the snow today.  He was only out for a few minutes and decided it was time to come in.  He hasn't wanted to go out again all day.  Well, I guess it's time for me to go out and do the evening feeding.  Now that daylight savings time has ended, it gets dark early!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

It's been awhile!

Time flies when you're having fun, right?  I've been so busy this summer running this place by myself, I haven't had time to write on here!
There have been quite a few changes.  I got a couple of new cats, and mama and her kitten.  At the beginning of the month, a skunk came visiting and scared the cats away.  They were in the chicken pen in the brush and ended up running over to the neighbor's to the east.  Nobody lives there, it's just a junk pile of stuff.  A perfect rat breeding ground.  A bobcat was over there eating rats (I hope) and I'm pretty sure it killed the mama cat, because Reggie, the kitten, came back home a couple of days later at 2 am meowing outside the bedroom window.  I haven't seen hide nor hair of the mama, Sheba.  Sad, but at least I still have Reggie, who is a little mouse killing machine!  I keep him inside at night so he doesn't disappear, but he's outside most of the day.   So far this year I've trapped 80 mice! and 19 rats.  None in the house, thank heavens.  Most of the mice have been in the dairy barn, with some in the battery room.  I got an electronic rat trap that electrocutes them when they step inside it to get the bait.  I love that thing!  The rats can't trip it and get away.  It's zapped quite a few mice, too.  The joys of living in a place in the woods.  Dealing with wild beasts of all sizes.

I got a game/trail camera about a month ago.  I've got some interesting pictures with it!  The bobcat, for one, and rabbits, rats, owls, deer and some other creatures I can't see well enough to tell what they are.  I got the cheapest one, so some of the pictures at night aren't all that clear, but it's working pretty good, and I get to see what roams around out there on the perimeter of our property.

Sam is turning into a really good guard dog.  He's  almost 18 months old now.  He's friendly with people, but to a predator, or other animal he deems dangerous, he's all business.  He will even go out with the goats if there is something out there that they need protection from.  I found this out when there was a bear roaming around the neighborhood.  Sam went out with the goats without me telling him to, and he stayed out there all day with them!  Usually he goes out at first, then comes in and lays by the buck pen and just looks out into the pasture occasionally.  But, when there is a predator, he goes out and stays out with them.  He's also keeping the deer out of the yard and gardens!!  Someday I might end up with a LGD that is totally bonded with the goats, not me, so it will just live with the goats all the time and stay with them all the time, no matter where they are.  Sam is better than Nellie, he does actually pay attention to what is happening with the goats, and keeps an eye on them, he just won't stay right with them all the time.  I guess he does if it's really necessary, though.  I'm getting closer to the ideal. :-)

After ending up with 96 goats this spring after the kids were all born, I did a major down sizing.  Now I'm at 56 goats total.  I sold off the 2 yr old and older wethers, plus a few does, and a couple of bucks and bucklings.  56 is a good number.  Although that leaves me only 47 with usable cashmere next year. At least the dehairing will go faster then.

I got a new milk goat.  A 3 year old purebred Alpine.  She's a good milker.  Very easy to work with.  Now I have two good ones again.

I am finally almost done with the dehairing for this year.  Only 5 fleeces left to go!  Running this whole place by myself this year ended up having the cashmere on the back burner more often than not.  I'd start out the days with a project to do in the mornings after feeding everyone, while waiting for the sun to hit the solar panels so I could get to the dehairing room for the afternoon.  The project would end up taking longer than anticipated, so I didn't get as many hours in the dehairing room as I wanted to. I finally said to heck with it, and just concentrated on the cashmere for the last month and a half.  Now I'm making good progress.  John is home for a few weeks getting things ready for winter for me before heading back east again.  That has helped a lot!  The wood shed is very close to being full.  I will be warm this winter!  The solar power system is all checked and ready for winter.  So I will be warm and have electricity.  Life is good! ☺  Clean running water, a flush toilet, a warm house, a comfortable bed, and plenty of food, that is more than millions of people in the world have, so I am very, very blessed.

The helpxers that have come this year have been great.  There haven't been as many this year as last, but the ones that came I've enjoyed having here.  They have been a great help!

This year has gone by so fast, it's hard to believe it is Fall already!   It's going to be a cold winter around here this year.  Although I'm thinking it might be like it has been all year, warm spell, then cold, then back to warm.  Rather hard on the animals.  We are supposed to get well below 0°, which I'm not looking forward to at all!

Well, that's it for now.  Maybe I'll get to this more often from now on.  Things aren't quite so hectic now.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Selling some goats

  I've got a couple of bucklings to sell this year.  I'm keeping the cream colored one, but the brown one and the red one are for sale.  $175 each.  All three boys are related, but the cream one is the least related to the rest of the herd, so I'll keep him.  Arthur and Hershey are both out of excellent fiber does and the buck is top quality, too.  Arthur is out of a white doe and buck, and Hershey is out of a black doe and white buck.  Spot is the buck.  If they weren't so related to my herd, I'd keep them myself.  They are so soft to touch!  Hershey is a stout little guy.  They were born mid-April and are weaned now.  If you are interested, I can send more pictures.

  It is July 20th and I have a fire going in the wood stove!  I think the rest of the country, and even the rest of Montana is hot, but we are only at 59° and it's raining.  I'm brewing some kombucha so it needs to be somewhat warm in here.  I'm glad it's raining, it's keeping the fire danger from getting high.  I sure hope my goat friends (and relatives) over in Washington are okay where the fires are.  I have a bunch of relatives and some friends over where the biggest fire is, and I haven't heard if they are safe or not.
Here is another view of Arthur.  As you can see, Fiddle seems to be in the middle of everything all the time.  He's the cream colored one.  He's the dominant one of the bunch, and Arthur is the most laid back one.  Hershey is very food motivated. 

I got a couple of cats from a rescue lady on Friday.  A mama and her kitten.  They've been fixed and all of that good stuff.  I brought them into the house and opened the carrier, and haven't seen much of them since.  They have gone into hiding.  They come out once in a while, but as soon as I move, back into hiding they go.  Obviously they aren't very tame.  As soon as they get used to here, they are going outside to kill mice.  I'm being over run with field mice.  I've caught 38 so far in traps, mostly in the dairy barn.  I had to put down my old cat this last winter and was just going to go without a cat, but with the invasion of mice, I decided a cat was a necessary critter around here.   Hopefully the two will realize I'm okay and am their friend and come out of hiding soon.  They run around in here at night, I hear them, but most of the time they hide.  I can't blame them, the mom had kittens in someone's garage, they called the rescue lady, she trapped the mom and kittens and took them immediately to get fixed, jabbed with needles and all of that.  No wonder they don't trust people!  Once they figure out I'm not going to do anything to them, I think they will be okay.  Hope that doesn't take very long.  They have a very important job to do!  

This pretty double rainbow was taken last week after a little thunderstorm we had.  I always think that a rainbow after a storm is a sign that all is well, despite how things look sometimes.  Oriental poppies and double peonies are so pretty!  The peonies are very fragrant.  Mother nature is showing just how perfect she really is with these.  They are beautiful.  Such detail in their petals.  The poppies are amazing.
Well, that's it for now....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wild Weather and sick goat

 The three inches of snow we got on June 17th.  Yuk!  It flattened all my flowers except the irises.  Most of them have recovered, except the oriental poppies, they are going to be blooming on the ground instead of way up in the air.  The lilacs straightened back up.  This is the first year they have bloomed.  Every year they have either been attacked by deer or goats.  They were so pretty and smelled so good!
This is one of the irises I have in the front of the garden that are all blooming now.  They are so pretty.

I've had a stressful week.  Oksana got sick the day after the snow melted.  Thursday of last week.  I read all my books on goat care and still couldn't quite figure out what was going on.  I called the Vet and he came out on Monday and decided it was Vitamin B deficiency.  She was so wobbly and staggering around, her brain wasn't functioning properly.  I held her while he gave her a shot of b vitamins in her neck vein, then he gave me the rest of the doses to give out every 12 hours.  I did that for the first two doses, and didn't really see any improvement.  I read in Pat Colby's Natural Goat Care book that it should be every 6 hours and at a bit higher of a dose than the vet gave me, so I gave the rest at 6 hour intervals instead.  She perked up and started improving with that.  I also made up a "power" water concoction of blackstrap molasses, raw honey and lemon juice, with a tiny pinch of cayenne in water and squirted that into her mouth with a syringe.  Plus an herbal concoction I made up.  She is almost back to normal now.  I came so close to putting her down yesterday morning.  She wasn't doing so well at all.  But I decided to finish out the last vitamin shot, I had one left, and keep up the water and herbs one more day.  By yesterday evening she was getting stronger.  She only got stuck on her side once last night and is now able to get up and down by herself.  Her back legs still aren't quite back to normal, but they are close.  Her brain is back, too. A couple more days in the "isolation ward" and she should be back to normal.   I went out with the jar of power water and syringe to see if any of the other goats wanted any.  A few of them came up and sucked down a good dose or two.  I poured some in their water, too.  They had a choice of plain water or the power water.  I saw the power water was all gone when I went out later.

I sold 23 goats a couple of weeks ago to a guy over by Spokane, WA for weed control.  Now I'm back down to 61 goats.  Much more manageable number than 96!  That was just too many for me to take care of by myself and also do everything else around here single handedly.    It was sad to get rid of them.  I sold all the wethers, plus 5 of the does, and the dairy crosses.  The wether pen was so empty.  I had a good cry after they left.  Now I'm not really missing them all that much except for Lincoln.  He has been around here for a few years and has a unique, rather strange, personality.  Now Bart, Poppy, Lupine and Dottie's last kids are in there.  They look so small compared to the big wethers.  ☺

Sam is actually turning out to be a decent LGD!  He goes out into the pastures with the goats and stays with them, at least until they come back for water, then he decides they can fend for themselves and takes a nap.  I'll give him a little leeway since he's only a year old.  I think as he ages, he'll become more responsible.  At least he goes out with them, which is more than Nellie does.  If I go out, she will, but if not, then she just stays in the yard.   Sam is keeping the deer out of the yard, which is good.  I'm trying to convince him he should keep them off the whole place, but he's not prepared to patrol all day and night. :-)

Well, that's the excitement for now.  It's  rainy day so I don't have to water anything today!

Monday, May 12, 2014


 Here are some kid pictures.  Top one is Aurora and Arthur.  They are out of Ariel   Arthur is a really nice color, not sure exactly what color he is, but he's striking.  The next one is Chocolate sunning himself.   He's out of Ming and has a twin sister.  
 This little black girl with the open page book on her forehead is Ebony.  She's a cute feisty thing.   Her mom is Oreo.  Oreo finally gave me a girl and a solid colored one at that!
 Here are Elsie and Athena looking out of the log. They are out of Celeste. None of the kids liked the 6 inches of snow we got on Mother's Day!  The last of it melted off today.  This seems to be the winter that doesn't want to end.
 This last one is of Savannah and Toby discussing the icky snow. :-)  Toby is actually Ebony's twin brother.  Savannah has a really nice looking cream colored twin brother.  Those two are out of Arianna.  She accepted both kids this time.  Last time she had twins (her first) she didn't want both of them, just the boy.  Tiki was a bottle baby.  She's turned out to be a really nice doeling!
That darn snow broke off about half the tulips by the fiber shed.  The snow slid off the roof onto the tulips and buried them.  I noticed today when it melted that a lot of the buds had broken off.  Bummer!  They always look so pretty blooming.  There are around 200 blooms.  Now there will be less than half of that.  The daffodils survived anyway.  This weather is getting old.  We get nice and warm, then another cold spell with snow descends on us and we get snowed on again.  Now it's supposed to be up around 70 this week, with yet another cold spell coming over the week-end again.  Sure hope there isn't any snow with it this time!!
  So far the over-wintered spinach has survived and the asparagus is starting to come up.  I'm not weeding it till after it gets warmer, that way the grass and weeds will shelter the asparagus and it won't freeze.  That's my hope anyway. :-)
  Well, it's almost a full moon out there so I think I will get my native american flute and go give the goats a little concert. :-)  Probably a short one since it's rather chilly out there. ☺

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


 Kidding season is now over.  20 babies all together.  These are just a few of them.  The top picture is of Matilda and Magic playing.  They are Speckles the dairy goats' kids.  Matilda is rather a flighty girl.  Magic is more calm and will come up to me to be petted.  I'm going to have to work with Matilda some more.  She's starting to come around, but she is very skittish.
 Here are Hershey and Mars.  They are out of Luna.  She wins the prize for the most colorful kids for the second year.  Last year she had twin girls, and this year, twin boys.  I think Hershey is buck material, so I'm keeping him intact.
 Here is another picture of Magic and Matilda relaxing in the morning sun.  Magic just looks too comfortable!  The bottom picture is of Nice and Sugar.  They are out of Spice.  I let my neighbor name them, and she decided that "Sugar and Spice and everything Nice" was a good saying.  So that became their names.
All the does had twins this year.  Even Ming had them for the first time.  Even split between boys and girls.  All the does drank their molasses water so nobody had any problems at all.  No bottle babies!  yippee!  I went for years without having any, then I had 5 the one year, 3 last year, and now I'm back to none.  Thank heavens!   There are 93 goats here now!  Anyone want a goat?  I'm selling a few, this is just too many for me to take good care of by myself.  Contact me if you are interested in a couple of goats.  Breeding stock to pet quality are available.
  I'll be taking more pictures of all the kids, maybe even a video or two.  One thing about it, even if you are having a really bad day, sitting out in the pen watching the kids bouncing around playing will cheer you up no matter what.  There is no way you can stay sad after watching them for a while.  They just exude joy.
  It snowed overnight.  I woke up to see two inches of snow out there!  It all melted by mid-afternoon.  It hasn't been really warm yet, except for two days last week in the 70's.  Now it's in the 40's.  I guess that is good for keeping the snow melting slowly in the high country so there won't be any major flooding around here.  We had an above average snowpack in all the surrounding mountains this last winter.  There still is a lot up there.  It's melting slowly and soaking in pretty good.  Our road dried out way faster than it usually does this year.  The earth is thirsty!
  I finally got all the goats combed now.  Finished the last one yesterday.  I've been washing a couple of fleeces a day.  I'm going to finish up a few outdoor projects this week, then start on the dehairing next week.  So many things to do around here and only so many hours in the day.  I make a list of things to do each day.  Some days I get them all done, and on others, I don't.   The important things are getting done, though.
  Well, that's it for now.  I'll get some more pictures taken soon and get them on here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First new kids of the year


Here is a picture of Speckles before giving birth.  Doesn't that look like there should be triplets in there?  She's had triplets twice before.  But, she had twins instead.  Nice healthy kids, but only two. 

The brown one is a little doeling I named Matilda, and the oatmeal colored one is a little buckling that I let the 5 year old neighbor girl name.  She named him Magic.  He was a little weak in the pasterns at first, but he's normal 24 hours later.  They were born on April 1st.  Matilda came out first at 1:30 pm, then 45 minutes later Magic came out, backwards.  It took seemingly forever for his head to show up!   I really was expecting triplets, but the afterbirth came out next, and nothing else.  Oh well, I guess that's good since they are half dairy, half cashmere and not pure of either kind, although I think Magic might have some good cashmere.  He's a lot fuzzier than Matilda.  Time will tell.  I'll be selling both of them, though.  Matilda has some really long "airplane" ears!
As usual, everything happened at once.  The Forester that was coming up to sign off the latest thinning project I did arrived just as Matilda came out.  At least I had time between births to take him out into the thinned area to see what I'd done.  He approved, so a check is coming soon!  After I get done with the cashmere this spring, I'm signing up for another section to thin.  I feel much safer from a forest fire now.  The area below the house and to the side is thinned nicely and now the dairy pasture side is, too.  The hill behind the house is already pretty good, so now out behind the goat pens needs done, then the house and goat area will be fairly safe.  Of course an ember could start a fire anywhere, but at least a wall of flames can't consume the place now.
  Sam was right outside the barn door the whole time, and he didn't leave that area until after I completely closed the doors on the barn that night.  He was guarding quite well.  I don't know that I'll trust him with the kids though.  He was a little too anxious to see them.  Speckles doesn't like him at all, so I'm keeping him away from the area now.  Since Sam isn't quite a year old yet, he'll be 1 on the 20th of this month, I think he might decide to use the kids as toys to play with, so he's banned from the area till they are a lot older and he is too.  I might have to buy a muzzle for him or something so he doesn't bite or chew on anyone.  He didn't last summer with the bottle babies, but he's bigger now, so who knows.

The snow is starting to melt around here finally.  I'm seeing the garden beds again.  I've started the yard clean-up.  3 dogs sure make a mess of things!  I have a lot of raking and picking up of things to do!

I got three more goats combed today.  Arianna was a real pain to deal with.  She wouldn't get up on the stand no matter what, so I had to comb her on the floor, which was not comfortable at all.  She wouldn't stand still for very long at a time, and kept laying down.  Thank heavens her cashmere was coming off easily and it didn't take very long to do.  Glad this is only a once a year ordeal. :-)  She's 8 years old this year, you'd think she would know the routine and behave.  Her two kids that I've combed so far did much better than she did.  They both jumped up on the stand and stood pretty still the whole time.  

I hauled up some compost to the green house today.  I'll plant some salad greens in there this week-end and have some early salads this year.  I try to buy mostly local food, so I haven't had a salad here at home since the garden froze last fall.   I'm looking forward to a fresh salad!

The next kids are due around the 15th, so I'll have time to get these kids nice and tame before the cashmeres start being born.  I'm going to sell a bunch of goats this year.  This number is just too many for me to handle well by myself.  Some will go in the freezer, and the rest I'll sell privately.  There isn't a sale yard around here, and hauling them over to the Spokane area would eat away any profit I'd get, so private sales are what I'll do.  I'll be selling mostly wethers, so if anyone wants some goats for weed/brush control and/or pets that have good cashmere, too, let me know.

That's it for now....

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Let the meltdown begin!

   The snow is melting!  yippee!! ☺  The only drawback to that is now there is water everywhere.  The poor goats don't have very many dry spots, except in their houses, and some of those have water in them.  I am so glad we built a raised platform in the main pen years ago.  I think all this snow will be gone by next week-end, then we will have a dry spring, then a rainy summer.  We'll see...
  I am now finally combing the goats.  I'm going out there at noon and combing until chore time.  Depending on how thick the fleece, I get anywhere from 3 to 5 done a day.  I have a nice little blister forming in the palm of my left hand. :-)
  Yesterday I combed Oreo and Astrid.  Oreo first.  She looks so totally different after she's combed.  Astrid decided she didn't like that, so she proceeded to attack Oreo and try to break her leg with her horns.  Came pretty darn close, too!  Now I have Astrid in with the wethers to chill out for a few days.  Hopefully both her and Oreo will forget about their argument and live peacefully after a couple of days.  Poor Cupid and Christie, Astrid's kids from last year, are missing their mom.  They are used to being with her all the time, and sleeping next to her.  Tonight they will be by themselves.  At least they can see their mom, they just can't be near her.  They are a year old, so they will be fine.  They weaned themselves a long time ago, they just all stick close together.  All the family groups out there do.
  It will be interesting to see what Arianna and Luna do this year.  They are a mother daughter pair and both are pregnant.  Last year Luna had kids, but Arianna didn't.  She was a good grandma.  Daisy and Cleo, Luna's kids, kept going through the fence into the misfit pen to eat, then one day they grew too much and couldn't fit back through, so they stayed in the misfit pen and weaned themselves a couple months earlier than the other kids.  Did not seem to hurt them one bit.

  Well, I think I'll go out and do my "bedtime" check of the goats and make sure everybody is where they are supposed to be and all are safe.  I hear the dogs barking at something, probably a deer coming in to eat the hay that the goats are wasting in the dairy barn area.  The deer don't go in the barn, but they eat on the compost pile of hay and manure out of the barn.
   Every once in a while one gets their back leg caught in the fence.  They manage to get out, but they sure bend up the panel doing it!  I wonder if they dislocate a hip or anything.  The last time wasn't too long ago, there was snow on the ground.  It totally bent the panel all to heck, but the tracks leading away looked fine.  No drag marks and all four feet were walking on the ground leaving normal tracks.  A lucky deer, that one was.
   I have to remember to set the clocks ahead tonight, too.  This year is going by too fast already!  I was going to have the thinning all done by now, the goats mostly all combed and once again,that has not happened.  I'm almost done thinning, one more good day and it will be done.  The weather has not been cooperating for the combing most days, so I'm behind again.  Oh well, it will all get done when it gets done and not a minute before. ☺

Friday, February 28, 2014

Winter returns again!

  This was the weather on Wednesday.  We had a couple of beautiful sunny days. Today it's a whopping 8° and it's snowing again.  At least we aren't getting the full effect blizzard they are down in the Flathead Valley.  We just get a little breeze every once in a while.  It's supposed to get well below 0 again tonight and Saturday it's supposed to be a high of 1°.  I know, this is Montana, we do have winter here, but this one has seemed extra long, even though we always have snow on the ground this time of year.  I think it's all the extra cold temperatures we've had.  It's relatively warm for a few days, then arctic air returns yet again.  It's really slowing down the combing of the goats!  Yesterday I partially combed one doe, but left her sides and back alone and just got her chest, neck, and lower sides, where it was really starting to come off.  I have completely combed a few of them and now they are out there standing around looking pretty chilly.  By Tuesday it's supposed to be back in the 30's again.  I hope we have a rapid melt off in the next couple of weeks.  I am so ready for green grass and flowers!
    I am curious as to what all is going to come up out where the big thinning project took place last summer.  I am almost done with the two acre thinning that I'm doing on my own.  It's open burning season starting tomorrow, but there is so much snow on the piles, that there's no way to burn them yet.  I have just a few trees left to cut in the dairy pasture, then that will be done.  I'm waiting for the snow to fall out of the trees now so I don't get covered in it when I cut them down.  ☺
   I am having an issue with the neighbor dogs coming up here almost every day.  They either climb over the fence, or dig under it and I am really getting tired of them coming up here!  My dogs aren't getting out, and I really do not like other people's dogs coming here.  I have repeatedly told them to keep their dogs home, I don't want them up here, but they aren't doing too much to keep them home.  They claim that they can't keep them home, they dig under, jump, or climb their fences, too.  To me, that means the dogs aren't happy if they continually leave their own home and come over here.   Maybe they should get rid of a couple of them.  They have 4 dogs.  This has been going on for almost a year.  The dogs aren't chasing any of my goats or anything, so I can't legally shoot them, they are just using this place as a bathroom and getting into everything.  One of the absolute dumbest things I ever did was tell them Sam had some siblings.  They got Sam's sister, so that adds to the problem.  The two dogs want to play together.  Sam is a good boy and doesn't climb or jump fences, but his sister does.  She is getting as sneaky as their blue heeler dog, who comes up here, too.  As soon as I open the door, they take off for home again, so they know they aren't supposed to be up here.  That also means I can't catch them to take them to the pound either.  I'm going to call the animal control guy here soon.  I'm done giving them leeway to fix the problem.  They obviously aren't thinking I will really do anything, so it's time to really do something.  I've given them plenty of warnings, I've even lost my temper and yelled over the phone at them, with a few choice words, to keep their dogs home.   The other neighbors up here keep their dogs at home.  They have escaped a couple of times, but they don't continually come here.  They don't go over or through the fence, so they aren't bothering me.  I have this place completely enclosed, the driveway gate is even closed all the time, so there is absolutely no excuse for any dog coming here.  Now I've written about this publicly so there is a record of it.  It's most maddening, to say the least.
    On to happier subjects...  The chickens are finally laying a good amount of eggs again!  Now I have enough to sell, or take to the food bank for them to distribute.  I'm thinking I'm going to get some turkeys to raise this year.  We used to do that for years until I got the dehairing machine and didn't have time to take care of everything around here.  I miss homegrown turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Any other time, for that matter.  Even the organic store bought turkeys aren't as good as the ones we grew.  Plus, I have customers that are really wanting me to get back into growing them again.  They miss them, too. :-)
  Well, it's time to go out and do the evening chores already.  Even though I didn't do a whole lot today, the day went by pretty fast.
  Spring is coming, it really is, someday, somewhere......  ☺☺

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winter on the Farm

It's turning into a long winter around here!  I'm tired of the snow and it's only February.  I shouldn't complain at all, though.  The rest of the country has had much worse weather over all than here.  This is just a pretty normal winter for here.  We just haven't had a normal winter for so long, that it doesn't seem normal anymore.
  The goats are all doing well.  The pregnant ones are growing their babies in fine fashion.  Speckles is probably going to have triplets again, she is quite large, and she's not due till the end of March.  Belle never did come into heat after the first time, at least that I could see, even with a buck right next to her in the weaning pen.  So, I'll just milk her through till next fall.  I guess she likes being run through and not having to deal with kids every year.  She is 13 this year, though, so I was wanting her to get bred before she gets any older.  She has different ideas I guess.  She's healthy and everything.  She did give me two doelings last year that look like they might be good milk goats, so we'll see.  She might not ever get bred again.
   Dani is all healed up from Nellie's attack on her.  It's amazing how well the herbs and oils worked on her!  She's back to her senior self now.  She's half deaf, half blind and her back legs are getting weak, but she still gets around pretty good.  Sam is her protector now.  He follows her everywhere and watches what she does with great interest.  He's a good dog/puppy.  He's only 10 months old, today, but ever since he helped me get Nellie off Dani during the attack, he's really matured.  He still has his puppy moments, but his confidence level went up tremendously.

I got a cold last week, the first one in years.  I'm being a big baby and taking it as easy as I can till I get well, which seems to be taking forever!  Since it's quite rare that I get sick, this hit me rather hard.  I'd forgotten what it's like to be sick.  Not fun, that's for sure.  But, I'm almost completely well again now, so onwards I go. :-)
  I'm slowly getting the goats combed, one by one.  The weather isn't cooperating very well.  I can't comb wet goats, and I don't have a good place to keep them really dry in.  Today I got the alleyway between pens situated so I can put family groups in there to keep them dry till I comb them.  In the morning I will put Celeste and her two kids from 2012 in there and then after they are done eating, I will comb them. Then the next day I'll put another family in there and get through them that way.

 Well, that's all the news from here for now.  Winter is pretty slow, for the most part, around here.  Oh, a mountian lion walked right by the neighbor's house a few days ago, and wandered around between places. I was wondering why my dogs were barking so much that night, now I know.  I'm so glad I have the dogs to keep things away!!  Nellie and Sam are working well together, it's kind of neat to watch.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The power of herbs

Last Friday night Nellie attacked Dani and was going for the kill this time.  I was sitting here at the computer when I heard a most awful screaming noise outside.  I went running out there and here was Nellie on top of Dani.  I grabbed Nellie's tail and started pulling her off, but this time I couldn't get her off.  She was too strong and intent on doing in Dani.  Luckily Sam came to my aid and started biting and barking at Nellie, distracting her enough that I could finally get her to let go of Dani long enough to separate them.  There was blood everywhere.  As I was disciplining Nellie, Dani went up on the deck.  She was standing up there with blood pouring out of her.  Nellie had torn a big hole in her chest right under her left front leg.  I had to grab a couple of towels and hold them up against her to get the blood to stop flowing out.
  I got her in the house without getting blood all over the floor and examined her to see what all was going on.  She had bite wounds all over her front half, and the big hole in her "armpit".  I mixed up a concoction of coconut oil, calendulated oil, lavender essential oil, and some tea tree oil and took a syringe and squirted it up into the hole.  You could put a golf ball in that hole!  I could see her muscles where her leg joined her chest.  After I got a good dose of oils in there I took another mix of powdered herbs: garlic, comfrey, willow and some cayenne and stuffed the hole full of it.  I tried to wrap it, but nothing I tried would stay in place, so Saturday morning I quit trying.  I just left it open.  I also gave her some raw honey, a spoonful at a time, 3 or more times a day.  She is healing quite well!  The swelling in her leg has gone down and it's almost back to normal now.  She's barely limping on it.  The hole is shrinking and there is no infection at all.
  Dani is going to be 15 years old in May, so she's a little old to be getting in fights, especially with a dog so much bigger than her.  So, from now on, I have to keep those two separated.  I don't trust Nellie not to attack her again.  This is about the 6th time she's attacked and this was the worse one.  Thank heavens Sam was there and helped.  He's only 9 months old, but he's as big as Nellie and very smart.  He catches on to things quite rapidly.  He's also best buds with Dani.  He was very worried about her Friday night.  He slept on the deck the whole night, as close to Dani as he could get, being an outside dog.  He's very gentle with her when she goes outside to go to the bathroom, not trying to play with her or anything.  He just sniffs her and stands by her for a minute, then walks away and leaves her alone. He also keeps between her and Nellie while she is out.
  I'm glad we got a lot of snow last night and today, it covered up all the blood out there!  We've got a good 10 inches of new snow now, and it's still lightly snowing and 12° out there.  I hope it stops pretty soon, I'm tired of shoveling and plowing snow!  I still have more to do tomorrow.

  Anyway, the herbs and oils are doing a wonderful job of healing her wounds, probably as good as, or better than, the drugs a veterinarian would have given her and a whole heck of a lot cheaper than taking her to a vet, especially since it was after hours, as usual.  I have never had an emergency during office hours.  It's always been in the evening or week-end.  Even had to take a goat in for an emergency C-section on Easter Sunday one year.  We're so far away from any of the offices, that a house call mileage charge is more than the actual cost of whatever they are treating.  I've learned to treat almost everything myself over the years.  There are a few things that I will still take an animal to a vet to take care of, but it's got to be a last resort.

  Luckily Dani is going to make a full recovery, and is healing rapidly.  Now I just have to make sure that I keep those two apart all the time.  That will take some juggling around, but I think it will work.  At least for the rest of the winter.  Once the snow is gone, I'll have to figure something else out.  Dang dogs, anyway.  Never again will I have two dogs of the same sex here.  LGDs are just too territorial.  Good for predator control, not good for other pet dogs.  Nellie is especially mean when it comes to food.  A bone is what set her off this time.
  Well, that's all the excitement around here for now.  I'll be digging out of the snow for the next couple of days.  At least now we have a decent snowpack around here.  It was pretty slim before this storm.  Lots of bare spots under trees, etc.  Not now!   Glad I finished my thinning project on Tuesday!  I just have a few big trees to take out of the dairy pasture and it's all done, except for the burning of the slash piles.  That will happen in April when open burning season is.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cashmere goat hide throw pillows

Here are the pillows I made from a couple of goat hides I had tanned a few years ago.  This wether was a half cashmere, half dairy goat, hence the spots.  These two pillows are pretty soft.  Not as soft as the full cashmere pillows are going to be, but close.  I tried them out by taking a short nap on the couch with these behind my head.  I slept well. :-)  They are really comfortable.  They are 20 inches long by 13 inches wide.  Made completely by hand.  My sewing machine doesn't do leather, so I hand sewed these.  My fingers got a bit tender! :-)  At least goat skin is softer and not as thick as cow hide, so that makes it easier.

  Our forest service road is a skating rink now.  Solid ice from side to side.  I went and got a pick-up load of traction sand today and spread some on the driveway hill.  Tomorrow the neighbor and I are going to take the sander he borrowed from a friend and sand the road.  I really don't like having to put chains on and off when I'm in my "going to town" clothes.  Neither does his wife.  So for the first time ever, we are going to have a sanded road!  The last neighbors never wanted to spend the money to get it sanded, they just wanted to do everything the hard way.  Now we have neighbors that want life a little easier. Yea! :-)

  We have had a run of mild weather the last week or so.  Temps up in the 40's!  Today was a beautiful sunny day.  The goats are starting to shed, I've combed three so far.

Well, that's it for now....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New year 9 days in

  I hope everyone is surviving the wild weather around the country and world!  Here in NW Montana it hasn't been too bad.  We've had a couple of cold spells, then it warms back up into the 20's and 30's again.  There is just enough snow to be winter, but not enough to be a hassle.  I am very grateful for that!

   The cashmere harvest is beginning already!  Seems a little earlier than usual, but the fiber is letting loose, so I'm starting to comb them.  I love this time of year.  The goats are so soft and my hands stay warm while combing, buried in all that wonderful fleece.

  I am sure glad I have LGDs!   We have all kinds of predators around here this year.  A couple of wolves have been seen in the immediate area, although not by me, by the neighbors.  All I ever see is the tracks.  There are a few mountain lions around.  A big Tom and a mama with a couple of cubs.  Those four eat a lot of deer!  We are down to 2 deer up in this area now.  The lions have moved down lower. following the food source.  With the dogs barking all night every night there for a few days, I'm glad the predators have moved on and things have quieted down a bit.  I can sleep again.  Sam does not like deer, so he barks at them, but only until they run off.  A deer has figured out to watch and wait till the dogs are sound asleep during the night, then she sneaks into the garden area.  Sam caught her in there last night, so in her haste to escape, she tore down the upper part of the fence up in the upper garden.  Dang beast!   There really isn't anything to eat except a few dried leaves still hanging on the trees.  There is more food out in the woods and no dogs, but no, she has to come in here.  She sneaks in through the front gate that I have open just a little ways with a piece of baling twine holding it in place so the dogs can come and go.  Now I have to figure out something else to keep her out and yet let the dogs come in.  I'd like to get a picture of her coming in, she must crawl through the opening.  Someday I'm going to get one of those trail cameras and set it up in various places and see what's going on around here.
  A deer got hung up in one of the cattle panels around the dairy weaning pen last night.  It got itself out by itself, bending up the panel pretty good.  I didn't see any blood, or even hair, around there, and there weren't any drag marks in the tracks as it was leaving, so it must not have got hurt, surprisingly enough.  One nice thing about snow, you can tell what's gone on when you're not around.  There are more rabbits and hares around here than I thought, too!

  After adding up my income and expenses, I've come to the conclusion that I either raise my prices, or get out.  Even with selling all the cashmere I wanted to last year, just saving a few ounces for me, I didn't make enough to pay the goat expenses.  Then I started looking around the internet at cashmere prices and found a wide range of prices.  Mine have been in the lower end of things.  Since I don't have an outside job to subsidize this operation, this is a full-time job itself, I need to make the money off of the products I have here on the farm.  I am raising my prices some.

  I also have come up with a new product.  I am making throw pillows out of the tanned goat hides, stuffing them with the waste from the dehairing machine!  (The waste is the guard hair and short bits of fiber that get separated out of the good cashmere as it's going through the machine)   They are pretty cool!  I've only made a couple so far, and they are nice looking.  One side is a tanned hide with the hair on, and the other side is a tanned hide with the hair off.  I'm sewing them by hand since my sewing machine doesn't do leather.  My fingers are a bit tender!  I made a prototype out of the very first hide I ever had tanned, a half cashmere, half dairy cross young wether named Spot.  It turned out pretty good.  I could've put a bit more stuffing in it, but other than that, it's nice.  The second one I made today.  I did put more stuffing in, and it's great!  I can get two pillows out of most of the hides it's looking like.  I don't have very many hides, either, so these are very limited in supply.  
  Now I have a good way to use almost the whole animal.  I've always hated the thought of taking goats to the auction, it's just inhumane to me.  I know it's a necessary part of life to feed the masses, but not for my goats.  Now the ones that don't have a big enough cashmere  yield, or not really great cashmere can still be useful to me.  I can butcher them for meat without them having the stress of leaving the farm. Their last thought is "oh boy, I get some grain to eat!".  I'll have some of the best meat in the world to eat, the dogs will get some bones, and the hides can be used, too!  There are two tanneries here in Kalispell, one does the hide with the hair on, the other one with the hair off.   I finally have a use for all the waste hair out of the dehairing machine, I don't like just taking it to the dump, it seems like such a waste. (No pun intended) ☺   I'm not going to be making a lot of pillows, I don't get rid of many goats in a year, maybe 6 at the most, and there isn't that much waste in the dehairing process,  but at least I have a neat product and another source of income from the goats.  I'll put a picture or two on here pretty soon, once I get a couple more made.

  Well, that's it for now.  Happy 2014!