Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Year in Review

2012 has been quite a year!  Lots of changes, new faces, opportunities, good things, not-so-good things, all have been learning experiences.  

Starting in January with finishing up the dehairing of other people's cashmere, which took all of January, February and part of March to do.  Then came the cashmere harvest time.  I had help this year for the first time.  H and C were here, and they both got to bury their hands in the soft fiber of the goats.   Here they are combing Wilbur, who wasn't exactly sure he was going to survive this experience, since it was his first combing ever.  H&C did a good job with the combing.
Then came kidding season, with all it's trials and tribulations this year.  This was the most difficult kidding season I've ever had.  Starting with Ariel aborting her twins 21 days early, then going blind for two weeks! She's fine now, and pregnant again, so hopefully all will go smoothly this time around.  

Belle had twins this year, with one of them being born a whole hour later than the first one.  She came out all crooked and almost dead, just barely breathing.  I left her out there with Belle for an hour, thinking Mother Nature would decide what happened.  I went back out there and she was still breathing and Belle was still cleaning her up and trying to get her moving.  I decided with a will to live that strong, that I would try and save her.  So into the house she came.  I spent the rest of the night getting her warm, stomach tubing her mom's colostrum into her, and getting her going.  She actually lived!  I named her Sweetpea.  She was still pretty crooked, and deformed, but amazingly enough, she thrived, getting a little straighter with every week.  This picture was taken the day before I took her to her new home down by Elmo.  She is now a very well loved pet of a really nice woman who is very happy she has her.  I cried when she left, she was my little baby, but she is in such a good home now, I'm glad I let her go.  She is now almost totally normal, no visible crookedness left!  

Spice had triplets, two of which are in the above picture.  The little brown one ended up having to be put down, one of the hardest, saddest things I've ever had to do.  He had such a distinctive "foghorn" voice!  I will always remember that.  I remember holding him one day giving him his supplemental bottle and just getting this "knowing" that he wasn't going to be around much longer, and sure enough a few days later, I had to put him down.  One of the other goats must have stepped on him or something, breaking his back.  He couldn't stand, just lay there on his side flailing his legs.  Very sad....

Then April had complications with a single kid that was too big to come out, entailing a trip to the vet, a dead kid, and then April herself dying 24 hours later from having constant contractions that wouldn't quit!   They wore her out and she died from them.  There wasn't anything I could do to stop them, even after calling the vet more than once.  She was my highest producing goat, giving me 6.2 ounces of dehaired cashmere!   Big vet bill and two dead goats to show for it.  Not a good time!

There were 18 healthy bouncing kids born, so all wasn't bad.  H&C got the full spectrum of goat raising 101, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  They still want to have them someday, so that is good!

 Then Spring came, everything turned green and the yard and garden work began.  H and C moved out in May on a rainy cold day.  Then I signed up with the Help X exchange site, and had some new helpers come and go.  They were all a great help and fun to have around.  The goats got well-fed out in the forest all summer and into fall.
 I did some more dehairing of outside cashmere, mostly from Canada, throughout the summer and into fall, then finished mine.  
  A deer or two ate 90% of the garden this summer.  I did get some great asparagus, salad greens, some peas, a meal or two of green beans and a decent strawberry harvest before the deer ate it all.  New fencing is in store this coming year!  I also got a great garlic harvest, a few carrots, and lots of apples, which I just finished up tonight with a cranberry-apple crisp I made.  Yum!

I've sold all the cashmere I wanted to sell as cloud this year.  Now I just have to spin up the few ounces I have left into yarn and make a couple of accessories to sell, and I'll have it all gone.  A good feeling!!

Now it's on to 2013 and all the good things that year is going to bring.  More adventures, lots of cashmere to harvest, new kids, new helpers, and a good garden with no deer invasions, just to name a few of the upcoming good things in store for Pine Needle Farm.

                                                      Happy 2013!!  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Perfection of Silence

Tonight as I was doing the evening chores, I stopped for a couple of moments and just stood there, listening to the absolute silence.  The sun was setting through the clouds, the air was still, all the animals were quiet.   It was a magical moment in time.  Made me appreciate where I live even more.  No human sounds at all.
  Then the neighbors started their generator and that was the end of that. ☺  I should do that, too.
  Our batteries for the solar power system are worn out.  They gave 9 good years of service, but now they are just not holding a charge anymore.  I am having to run the generator twice a day most days.   I think I probably shortened their lifespan when I first got the dehairing machine by deep cycling them too many times running the machine after dark, trying to get everyone's cashmere dehaired in a timely manner.  The machine doesn't like to run off the generator power, there is a little too much fluctuation in rpms for it to run smoothly. It will do it, but it doesn't sound as good as when it's off the solar power.  So I would wait till I was done for the night, then turn on the generator to recharge the batteries.  There were a few times when my husband came running down yelling that the batteries were way too low and to turn off the machine.  Next set of batteries will be treated better. :-)
   Now we just need to somehow come up with that money, which is in the thousands for as many batteries as we need.  Iron Edison has a 25 year battery which would be a really good thing to get, as opposed to the regular ones that last on average, 6 to 10 years.  Of course, they are way expensive, too, but in the long run, cheaper than buying a set every few years.  Whatever we get will be the third set in 18 years, so that's not too bad.  The first ones didn't last very long, they were our "learning" batteries.  It's amazing how much hands on you have with your own off-grid power system.  One learns to really watch their electrical consumption!

   The goats are all doing well.  There are 14 pregnant does out there, at least I think they have all settled now.  Midnight got quite a workout this year!  I'm looking forward to seeing what his kids look like.  I've only got three that he's thrown from last year, and the year before.  They are all well covered in excellent cashmere, so I hope all these coming will be, too.  It's always fun to see what comes out each year.

   Today I discovered that the ATV will actually pull the drag plow!  I've always thought it was too big and heavy for the ATV to pull it through snow to plow.  Sometimes the truck has a hard time.  But, today I plowed the whole driveway with it with no problem.  I almost got stuck turning it around out on the forest service road, though.  I had to really gun it and hold on in a circle to get it turned around.  The drag plow sure saves a lot of time.  It cuts a 10 foot swath, while the ATV plow only does a four foot swath.  Much faster at 10 feet!  :-)

  Well, that's all for now.  I am sure enjoying the mostly mild winter we are having so far.  Only 5 or so inches of snow on the ground now.  It's been above freezing again, too, so the snow is settling down good.  Haven't had to have to the forest service road plowed yet, so this is good!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spinning and dyeing

Here's my latest adventures in dyeing.  The second one in on the left is actually a nice dark red wine color, not black like it looks in this photo.
  Now that the days are so short, I have more time in the evenings to do the fun stuff like spinning.  I'm finally almost done with the dehairing, too.  Now that the batteries are worn out, I really have to wait for some sun before I can run the machine.  I'm going ahead and running the generator twice a day for the next few days so I can get the rest of the fleeces dehaired and then put the machine to bed for the winter.  Next year I will not accept any fleeces for dehairing after September 1st.  

  I've got all the does bred now, except one.  I keep missing her cycle!  I'm watching her very carefully this week so I can put her in with a buck the minute I see she's in heat.   After she's bred, that will make 13 does that should be pregnant and have a kid or two in the spring.  The first week in April is going to be a busy one!   Once again it doesn't look like there will be a kid born on my birthday.  One of these years it's going to happen!  That will be a very special present for me when it does. :-)

  I am enjoying the lack of snow so far this winter.  We got about a half an inch this morning which didn't melt off today, so the ground is white.  We've been getting quite a bit of rain this month.  A couple of snowflakes, but no big dump, which is nice.  The only problem now is the ground is starting to freeze pretty good, and with all the mud, it's freezing into a very lumpy, bumpy area out in the goat pens.  Rather hard to walk on when I'm pulling the wheelbarrow in to feed these days!  The goats have made their little trails everywhere, so they aren't having too much of a problem, but I'm having a grand time staying upright in there. :-)

   Hunting season is now over for this year.  The dang road hunters are really annoying!  Our fs road was like a major thoroughfare, with lots of vehicles going up and down it every day.  Silly people, as I was going down, I would meet four or five rigs just far enough apart that they couldn't see each other.  Too lazy to get out and actually hunt for a deer, they just drive slowly up and down hoping one will jump out in front of them.  Besides being illegal, it's not very sportsman like.  They wouldn't get out of the way very fast, either.  One of the joys of living out in the woods. :-)  At least the season only lasts for 5 weeks.  I was bummed, nobody got the garden eating doe around here.  I was so hoping someone would.  I'm not overly fond of venison, or I would've tried for her.  Plus we have enough goat meat to get us through.  I'll just have to outsmart her with better fencing I guess.  I have a new plan, we'll see if it works next year.

   This year's kids sure have some nice fleece on them!  I can hardly wait till harvest time in the Spring!  Lots of soft kid fleece to play with.  They all have nice coverage on them.  Midnight is turning out to be a really, really nice buck!  He's throwing his great yield and style in his kids.  Lots of crimp, and good length.
Well, that's it for now....  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Almost ready for winter

Here is one of many loads of firewood we've gathered this fall.  I got the last of it cut up yesterday and stacked down by the wood splitter to be split later on, as I need it.  The woodshed is almost full, plus there are little stacks out in the woods, and there is almost two cords down in the "round pen" woodshed.  I think I just might have enough to get me through the whole winter this year.  I'm hoping it's a mild one like the forecasters are saying it will be.  I'm thinking it's going to be an icy one.  We haven't had one of those for a couple of years now, so we are due again.

  It's breeding season around here.  There will be kids born starting in late March and going all the way through May again.  I've been missing some of the does in their heat cycles, I'm not watching them close enough this year, too many other things going on.  Guess I'd better pay closer attention to them!  The way I have things set up, I can't just put the does in with the bucks and leave them there, so I have to be watching for the signs they are in heat and then hurry and grab them and put them in with the appropriate buck.  Some day I'll have a different arrangement, but for now....

   We are supposed to get snow starting on Thursday, so I think winter is about here.  I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be for it.  It's supposed to get colder, too, so it's a good thing all the animals have their winter coats grown out.

   I hope the survivors of the superstorm Sandy do okay.   I hear there is another storm heading their way this week.  Just what they need.
  People do need to quit thinking the government is going to rescue them, though.  Everyone needs to look out for themselves and each other, and not rely on outside help for anything.  Community is what gets one through something, not the government.  Community meaning different things for different people.  Neighbors helping neighbors is what gets a person through a challenging time.  Being part of a community, whatever kind that means, is key to all of us.  No One is an island, even though I think I am sometimes. :-)  Just when I think I can handle anything anywhere, something happens and I need to call on someone for help.  Luckily, I am very, very blessed to have a good network of friends and community that will help me whenever I call!  Life is so good!!!

  Okay, now I'm off my soapbox. :-)  I'm spinning and crocheting again now that it gets dark so early.  Evening hours are good for that.  The dehairing is just about done for the year.  12 more fleeces to go, (4 are someone else's) and then the machine gets put to bed for the winter.  Our batteries for the solar system are about worn out.  They don't hold a charge very long anymore, so running the machine on cloudy days is out.  This time of year there aren't very many sunny days anymore, so I'm glad I'm almost done dehairing.  We aren't going to be able to get new batteries until a year from now, (got to save up some money for them), so I have to run the generator every night for a couple of hours to charge up the batteries for the night.  That could get a bit expensive, what with gas prices like they are!  These batteries have lasted 9 years, and have been abused a bit, so I guess we are due for new ones.  When I first got the machine, I didn't do things right and ended up really deep cycling the batteries too many times that winter.  This machine takes quite a bit of electricity to run, and we didn't have a lot of sun that winter, so the batteries got overworked way too much.  Live and learn.  Last winter I didn't do that, but the damage was already done.  I'm praying for 12 more sunny days this month so I can get the fleeces done in time for Christmas sales!

  Pray for sunshine...  


Monday, October 8, 2012

Free range eggs

The girls are out and about, finding all kinds of goodies during the day.  It is so nice to have fresh, homegrown eggs again!  Now that they are old enough to be laying, I'm getting anywhere from 6 to 11 eggs a day.   These are Silver Laced Wyandottes, and the two golden ones are Golden Wyandottes.  A nice change from the all black chickens we had for years.  Jersey Black Giants are nice chickens, but I wanted some more color this time around.  The only problem is we don't have a rooster, so there won't be any babies out of these girls, just lots of eggs.  Maybe next year I'll get another batch that includes roosters, too.

   I'm glad the snow melted from the other day.  Waking up to two inches of snow wasn't fun. (Wednesday) I'm not ready for snow yet!!  It was very pretty in a wintery kind of way, but it can wait till the end of November before it snows again, please.
   The deer came in again last night, right through all the fencing and all that I had put up to keep her out.  Actually I think she walked in through the open gate that Nellie pushed open, but she left through the fence and tore it all up.  She is really going to have to go in the freezer!!  I heard her get tangled in the fence at 3 this morning, then got free and then had the nerve to snort at it.  Dang beast.  It is now a battle of wills between her and I.  So far, she's winning!  Not a good thing.  John got a little pellet type gun a couple of years ago, so I think I'll figure out how that works and start peppering her with that and see if that keeps her away, at least until hunting season starts in a couple of weeks.  If Nellie would do her job like she is supposed to, none of this would be happening.  Id have a freezer full of veggies, the apple trees wouldn't look half naked, and life would be great.  I am so grateful I have friends with bountiful gardens that shared their produce with me this year!

   I'm taking on some custom spinning jobs here this month.  I haven't spun wool in a long time!  It should spin up pretty fast.  I'll have to dust off the Louet and get it ready to go.  I use my Majacraft Rose for spinning the cashmere, and the Louet for everything else.  I haven't done anything else for a while, so Louie is a bit dusty. :-)

  Well, that's it for now, more as it happens...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weather is changing finally

The weather is finally going to cool down and maybe even rain!  We've gone all month without a drop of rain, so it's getting rather dry out.  Today the wind is blowing and there are a few clouds scuttling across the sky.  I had the woodstove going last night, but let it go out today, since it's in the 60's.
  I got another fleece dehaired today.  Camilla has some really nice cashmere!  A nice white and micron count under 16.  Some soft, wonderful fiber.  The machine is making an unfamiliar noise that I can't figure out what it is, so I'm done dehairing till the guy from mini mills gets here sometime next week.  I'm so glad he's coming through here!  They don't make the "rounds" every year, at least not out this way, so I'm glad the timing is such that the noise happened just before he gets here.  I've got 9 fleeces left to go, plus there is an order coming to be dehaired this week.  So the machine can't quit now!

  The deer has eaten 99% of my garden this year.  She has done waaay more damage than the goats ever have in all the years I've had goats.  She ate all the green beans except one tiny meal, all the peas except 4 tiny meals, all the broccoli, the spinach, a lot of the carrots, pulled up the onions repeatedly so I only had about 5 of those, and now she is working on the apple trees.  I have put up more booby traps for her than I can count, and she just figures them out and gets in anyway.  She even lifted a double layer wire cage off the beans!  I had a hard time getting that off to pick my one meal, but she just pulled it off and ate the beans, just as another little meal for me was about ready.  Grrrr....  She also had pretty much eaten the whole blackberry bush that was getting some ripe berries on it finally.  At least I'm getting some of those.  One or two a day.  She just blasts through the high fence I have up, even though it is that black snow fence stuff that is highly visible.  If there weren't so many things to hit around the garden, like vehicles, etc., if I missed, I'd just shoot her and put her in the freezer.  Since she's eating my winter's food supply, she can be my food supply, at least the meat portion.  With at least 10,000 acres of national forest all around us, there really is no reason she should be in here at all.  The dogs are afraid of her, so they are worthless.  Although Nellie, I think, has figured out that this isn't "grandma" deer and that she can chase this one away and it will run from her.  She finally did that last night with great success.  A little too late, but better late than never.  When John gets home, we are putting up a real deer fence, or I'm not even going to attempt a garden next year.  I've told a couple of bow hunters about her, and one came up a couple of times.  Of course, she didn't come anywhere near the place till after dark.  So all that accomplished is two disfigured trees cause the guy had to have "room" for his tree stand so he cut a bunch of branches out.  Way more than I thought he would, or he said he would.  Now the trees look ugly.  Especially the one near the dairy barn.  I might just cut that one down now.  Then the guy filled his tag by shooting a deer from his deck at home.  A lot of good that did me!  Don't think I'll invite him up again to hunt, ever.  Yes, I'm rather annoyed with him.

  The chickens are laying quite good now!  6 to 11 eggs a day, depending on the day.  I've been waiting all year for this, and having fresh eggs is a wonderful thing. :-)  I'm getting enough to sell again, too.  I have a few customers that have been waiting for these girls to start laying.  They say these are the best eggs they've ever had.  That is a nice compliment to my chicken raising ability. :-)  Thank-you!
  The bears have moved away from here for now.  I think they are still visiting the people down below us, but I haven't seen any fresh sign around our perimeter for a while.  This is good.  I saw one out on the forest service road last week as I was heading out for a bale of hay around 8:30 in the morning.  Not too far down the road from here!  Must have been what the dogs were all barking fiercely at the night before,  
  Well, that's all the news from here for now.  More as it happens....


Saturday, September 22, 2012


Having help is a wonderful thing!  I signed up with HelpX, a help exchange network this summer, and it has been a very good thing.  There have been a few no-shows, but I've had 5 great people come and help me get things done on the farm.  Got about half the firewood in now, the garden is ready for winter, lots of little things have been done, it's great!  I've met some neat people, too.  Thanks Heidi for telling me about that organization!

   The bears have been active around here this year.  Neighbors have had visits, and I've had an almost close encounter with one while out in the woods with the goats.  I haven't taken the goats out now for over a week.  Do not want to run into a bear.  The goats would run for home, leaving me there to deal with it by myself.  No, Nellie would go after it, or at least bark at it and scare it away.  :-)  Still, I don't want to take a chance and have a close encounter.  It might just go after a goat or something.

  The deer, or I should say one deer, has decided that the gardens are her territory.  I've been chasing her off and throwing rocks at her when I see her, but now she's only coming in at night.  The apples are starting to ripen and she's going after those.  The bears aren't coming in because of the three layers of fence and the dogs barking, but this deer jumps the fences and ignores the dogs for the most part. Nellie is finally realizing that this deer will run from her if she charges towards it barking.  "Grandma" would just stand there and take her on, but she got ate by a mountain lion last winter, and her descendants aren't quite as brave as her.  The only problem is Nellie only goes after her if I yell "get outta here" at the deer.  Otherwise, the deer have the run of the place.  The trees look pretty bare in the deer eating range.  The tops still have leaves and apples, but the mid to bottom of the trees are well trimmed.  Most annoying.  Next year we are getting a real fence up that the deer won't destroy.  The black snow fence stuff they just blast through.  Now it looks horrible with big holes in it where they jumped through it, not over it.  It's archery season, but no one has shot these deer around here yet.  I keep waiting and telling all the bow hunters where they are hiding out during the day, but the deer are still around.

   The long dry spell in the cashmere sales is finally over!  Thank heavens!  I've only got 13 fleeces of mine left to dehair, then I'll be done and get can them all up on the website and other places and get them sold.  I'll make some yarn with it, too.

  Miss Astrid is the first, and hopefully only, unplanned pregnancy of the breeding season.  Midnight got out when the herd was out in the lower pasture and had a grand ol' time out there.  Thank heavens she was the only one in heat that day!  February babies are not what I want around here, it's usually too cold then.  I don't have a good barn, just a bunch of 3 sided shelters that work great in the late winter, early spring, but not so much in the dead of winter.  I guess if I have to, I can make something in the hayshed.  I just don't have heat lamps or anything.  Good thing cashmere goats are hardy!

  Well, that's the latest news from around here.  Happy Fall everyone!   


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Out with the Goats

Here are the goats on their way home from eating out in the neighbor's places.  They are quite full and going rather slowly. ☺ There is a ton of food this year for them everywhere but on our property.  They have eaten that all down already.  Luckily all the neighbors want them to eat their weeds and tall grass to keep the fire hazard down.  In this lower picture they have found a big thistle patch and keep going back to it each day we go down there.

  It only takes them about 2 hours to eat their fill and want to go back home for water and to digest it all.  I take them out almost every day unless I have a project that really needs to get done, or I don't get home in time from town to take them out.  Saves on hay, and it's quite pleasant to take my folding lawn chair and follow them around the forest for a couple of hours.  A good way to connect with Mother Nature and contemplate life.  I started out fretting about all that I wasn't getting done in those couple of hours out with them, but then I decided that it was a good break, it saved on hay, and I felt better when I got back, so it was worth losing a couple of hours of work time to feed the goats for free.
  There sure has been an active bear in the area!  Everywhere we go, there are shredded logs, stumps and over-turned rocks.  So far I haven't seen a bear when we've gone out, but there sure has been a lot of signs that one is around.  The goats sound like a herd of elephants crashing through the brush, so that probably scares everything away long before I can see anything.  A couple of times the goats have been rather nervous and stay in the open meadow areas and stick pretty close together, so I know they sense something is there. Nellie, the LGD goes out with us, too, so she keeps an eye out for anything.
  I have come to the conclusion that trying to stick to a set schedule around here is just a lesson in futility.    Something always happens to change things.  Either a goat has an issue, someone comes or calls, or I have some kind of issue that I wasn't expecting.  So to keep stress at an acceptable level, I've decided to just do as much as I can in a day and not get too worried about what didn't get done.  There is always tomorrow....and if not, oh well. 
   Now that the weather is hot and dry, things are starting to turn a bit brown.  The yard is mostly brown, except for the gardens that I keep watered.  The deer got in the veggie garden and severely trimmed and ate my winter's food supply.  It ate every single broccoli plant, a lot of the peas, beans, carrots, and spinach.  Luckily I hadn't weeded the strawberries so the grass was thick and tall and hid the berries, or they would've been eaten too.  Dang beast!  Why she had to come in here when there is so much food out in the woods,  10,000 acres worth to eat, is beyond me.  I think a mountain lion got her two nights ago.  I heard a deer scream (which sounds an awful lot like a goat!) in the wee hours of the morning, the dogs all went ballistic, and I haven't seen her since.  I jumped up and went outside to make sure it wasn't one of the goats, but they were all just laying around not concerned at all, and the scream was a bit farther out in the neighbor's place anyway.   Hopefully it was her and then she won't be back.  She had a fawn this year, so I wonder if that got eaten, too.  I know this sounds rather mean, but she needed to get eaten so she'd stay away from here.  She was way too familiar with the place, thought she owned it.  She even has the dogs afraid of her.  Her mom, who I called Grandma, went after the dogs a couple of times, so they learned that when she stomped her foot and tipped her head, they had better look out.  She taught her kids that, too.  She got eaten last Spring by a lion, and now I think her remaining daughter got it the other night.  There are more to replace her, but they are more afraid and won't come in the yard.  It's nice to have the lions keeping everything in check out there.  As long as there are deer around, I don't have to worry about the goats getting attacked.  
  To be safe, I don't take the goats out till afternoon and then I make sure they are back in the pens a couple of hours before sunset when the predators are taking their afternoon naps and not looking for food.  It's worked good so far, knock on wood.
 Well, that's all for now.... Here we are, back on our property heading for the water troughs. 

   Here's a cow elk on the forest service road, down from our place a couple of miles.  The rest of the herd is in the woods already.  There is a small herd roaming the area around us.  Beautiful animals!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


   Boy, summer is going by fast!  It's been an interesting one so far.  The weather has been pretty good.  No real problems, all the big thunder storms have gone around us, for which I'm very grateful!  We get rain from them, but no close lightning or anything.
  I've sold all the dairy kids for this year.  Sweetpea and company went to a great home.  She is being treated like the princess she thinks she is.  The other four have it pretty good, too.  I'm happy.  Now I just need to sell 10 more and I'll be set for numbers for this year.   
  I've got my hay all lined up for the coming year, so that is a big relief!  I haven't been able to take the goats out to browse very many times this week.  There is a mountain  lion in the area and the goats are very nervous when we go out.  I'd decided to give the lion a few days to move on to the rest of it's territory.  I think it has moved on now.  I took the goats out yesterday, and they were their normal selves.  Before they would stay in the open meadows in a pretty tight bunch, but yesterday they were a little more spread out and back into the trees again.

   I've started a fund raising campaign on  Pine Needle Farm Fiber Arts Retreat Center.  I want to build a retreat center for fiber artists to come and relax, learn some new techniques from well-known teachers, and hang out with like-minded people for a week-end or a week-long workshop.  There will be informal spin-ins and other gatherings, too.  It's going to be a great place when I'm all done building it.  There will be six guest cabins that sleep 6 people each, with each one made out of a different "green" building  material, a main classroom, dining building, and a big gazebo in the middle of the complex for evening gatherings and get togethers.  There will also be a few spots to camp at, too.  There will be walking/hiking trails all over the property, with lots of natural dye materials to search for.  It will be a good place to re-connect with Nature, relax, and have a great time with other like-minded people, enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer.
  I did kind of goof when I was writing up the campaign.  I didn't read the fine print soon enough and put a big amount to raise, thinking I could use some of it to buy the piece of property next to us to build the Center on.  I guess you are not supposed to use money raised to buy real property, so I only need about half of what I'm asking for to get this up and going.  My goal is to have the Center open and going on June 15, 2014.  A lot has to happen between now and then, and most of it costs money, so if you or anyone you know would like to contribute, I would hugely appreciate it!  Please pass the word on to all of your "fibery" friends.  Thanks!!

   I've got quite a few helpers lined up for the month of August.  I got a camper!!!  Now they can stay in that instead of in the house, and everyone can have some privacy and their "own space"  It will be much better than having people staying in here on the couch.   I am so excited to have the camper.  That opens up a whole new world for me.  I can go to fiber festivals and stay in that instead of hotels, saving me a lot of money.  I can buy more fiber! :-)  Not that I need more, I have enough going on with the cashmere, but I can't resist all the colorful rovings and new fibers out there just waiting to be spun.   There is some pretty cool stuff out there!
  Well, I hope everyone is having a good summer, despite all the wacky weather.  It seems that you are either drowning or burning.  Not much in the "just right" category this year.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cool rainy day

  Today was a nice cool rainy day.  A nice break from the sun and heat.  Even though we haven't had that much sun and heat, after a few days of it, I'm ready for some clouds.
  A deer got into the garden last night and ate the broccoli that was just starting to grow well.  It also ate the tips of most of the peas, the carrot tops and even had the nerve to walk up by the front porch and eat the pansies that are in the wheelbarrow planter!  There is so much food out in the woods there is no reason at all for it to come in here.  The goats get full after an hour and a half out there.  They come in looking like they are about to pop!  Oreo was actually waddling. :-)  She's an "easy keeper" anyway, so when she gets out into the good food, she really expands.  She's as wide as she is tall.

  I sold the dairy cross kids, including Sweetpea.  That was sad selling her, but she will be going to a good home where she will be treated like a little princess, which she thinks she is anyway.  I'm delivering them this week sometime.   They've already been paid for, but the people had to build some fencing before they were ready for the goats.  I'm starting to wonder, though.  When I tried to call her tonight, I got a recording that said that number was no longer in service.  Rather strange.  Hope nothing is wrong!

   I got a couple more boomerang goats back this last week.  Out of the 4 wethers I sold two years ago, they have all now come back here.    Alex and Andy are back, and now Nicolas and Maxwell are back.  Alex and Andy have really nice cashmere, I was kind of glad to get them back.  I don't remember what Nicolas and Maxwell's cashmere is like.  If it's not really nice, they are nice big goats, so they can go in the freezer with no problem.  They are also rather wild and can't be caught too easily.  Not sure what all happened to them when they weren't here, but whatever it was didn't tame them down any.  It's funny, they won't let me touch them, but they are the first ones in when I call them all in from eating out in the woods.

   I've decided to sell Speckles, one of the milk goats.  She's the nicest of the three, doesn't have any horns, and is giving me a good amount of milk.  I'm getting way too much milk, so I came to the conclusion that I really don't need three of them.  She's only 5 years old, births out her kids easily, and takes her milking job seriously.  Jumps right up on the stand and eats her grain calmly while I milk her.

   I'm debating on whether or not to sell a bunch of the cashmere goats.   I'm not selling as much cashmere as I need to and I have bills that need paying, so I'm thinking about selling a bunch.  But, I also keep getting a strong feeling that I'm going to need every hair of cashmere I can get next year, so I'm hesitant to sell very many goats. It's a delimma!
    I do have a buckling that I'm going to sell pretty soon. Flash.   He's a beautiful shade of light brown with a stout build.  I'll put his picture on here one of these days.  I'm 99.9% sure he's going to have outstanding fleece, his parents both do, and he's looking like he is going to, too.  He has a nice square build also.

 There is a bear or two out there.  I saw one as I was coming home mid-morning one day last week.  Then when I've been taking the goats out to browse, I'm seeing shredded logs and stumps all over the place.  Overturned rocks, too.  The dogs have been barking a lot at night lately.  I'm glad we have the perimeter completely fenced.  It won't keep out a serious predator, but it keeps out the curious and lazy ones.  Between the fence and Nellie, the animals are rather safe here.

  Well, that's it for now.  Have a good summer!  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The goats are enjoying the freedom of being out in the pasture, especially this area, as you can see it's already eaten way down.  They head here first, then move out around the rest of the place.  This used to be a round pen when I had horses, and then it was just pasture, then the bus was parked here when H&C lived here, and now it's back to pasture.  I've been taking the goats out into the neighbor's places to eat, too.  Good for reducing the fire hazard out in the forest.
  We've had a lot of rain this month.  I think we are 3 inches above normal for precipitation this year now.  It's rained almost every day.  Makes for lots of food for the critters anyway.  I haven't had to water anything but the greenhouse.  I need to figure out how the best way to get the rain water off the roof into the greenhouse when it's raining so I don't have to water anything.  I have a couple of ideas, I just need to experiment and see what happens.
   The garden is still waiting for warm weather to really take off and grow.  I haven't even planted most of it yet.  Later this week it's supposed to warm up finally, then I'll plant.  The peonies are about to put on their show.  They are such pretty flowers.  The columbines are starting to bloom now.
   The grass is getting out of hand in the garden and inner yard.  The weed-whacker decided to quit working last week, and I finally got it into the repair shop today.  It won't be ready till next week, so I'm going to have a hay crop for the goats when I do get all the grass cut, it's getting so long.  It's even going to seed!
   With all this rain we are going to have a bumper crop of raspberries this year.  The apple trees all have a ton of blooms on them, too.  Apple cider, applesauce, pies, and all that good stuff this fall!!  Yum!

  The Bluebirds that nested in the eve of the house have hatched out some babies.  I can hear them yelling when their parents bring them food.  Sounds like a full nest in there.  This is the first time we have ever had bluebirds up here.  They usually like more open field areas.  I guess we are open enough for them now.  I hope they all survive.  That would be neat if next year a whole family returns!

   I have a couple of different helpers coming from HelpX now.  One couple is coming in mid-July and one is coming mid-August.  Now if I could just get someone here the first parts of July and August, that would be great.  There is so much to do around here, it's almost overwhelming.  Not quite, but almost.

   I've tweaked the dehairing process and prices again.  It is just too slow of a process to be able to make any money at.  That is why there are so few mills that dehair cashmere.  If I were to even  come close to making a profit, I would have to charge at least $6 an ounce.  That would be way too expensive for the growers to pay and be able to make any profit on the sale of their cashmere after they get it back.  So I think the only way the cashmere business in this country is going to go anywhere is to have a few people go in together and get a dehairing machine, and just do whoever buys into the machine's cashmere.  If little groups in all the regions did this, then the mills around the country could spin it up fairly fast and the American Cashmere grower would be able to have a good business and make a decent profit.  Give the foreign cashmere a run for it's money.   The machine is not hard to run.  It's a very slow process, so one has to have patience, but it's interesting to put it into the machine and then see how it looks coming out the other end.  It helps to have a window to look out of, too. :-)
  I also do not know why anyone shears their goats.  It might save time on the harvesting end, but you lose any advantage there during the dehairing process.  It takes way longer to run through the machine, and the yield is so low compared to combed, I see no advantage to shearing.  Since you pay on the incoming weight, and at least 60% of that weight is guard hair, which gets thrown away in the process, it's like you are just throwing money down the drain.  Plus, if you have to pay someone to do the shearing, you are really losing money.
  I know I've only been doing this dehairing thing for about a year and a half, but I've seen a lot of cashmere in that time, both combed and shorn, and the combed is the way better deal.  It's got a better return, it's faster to dehair, and there isn't so much waste.
  Well, that's my humble opinion on it, anyway.  :-)  
  Happy Summer!!      

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's raining finally!

       It finally rained today!  Now the forest will grow and the goats can get out to eat by the week-end.  They ate the yard down fairly fast!  If the deer would stay out of our property and stay out in the forest service land, it would be even better.  I don't know why they have to come in here, when there is far more grass and food out in the woods.  I guess they feel safe in here.  I think one deer eats as much as two goats do.
     I have 69 goats now, counting both the dairy and cashmeres.  The kids are way too cute.   Here's Flash when he was about a week old.   Then there's Otis jumping onto the rock and promptly sliding off the other side.  Between the hollow log and the rock, the kids keep themselves entertained pretty good.

   The garden is is starting to grow.  I've got carrots, beets, lettuce, radishes and garlic planted so far.  This week the spinach and broccoli will go in.  I have some salad greens and peas growing the the greenhouse this year.  So far, I've had two salads.   The asparagus is up and I'm eating that almost every night.  A great way to fix it is to saute' it in a mixture of coconut oil and butter with a little onion and when it's tender sprinkle some goat cheese on and a splash of soy sauce,  Yum!!  I also have cooked a chicken breast, chopped up, with it, and put it over the salad greens.  That was really good!

  Now that my interns have moved on to their next adventure, I'm looking for someone else to come along that would like to learn about cashmere goats, and the off-grid lifestyle.  We have 20 acres, gardens, goats, and chickens.  It would be nice to have a couple again.  I'll share the food we grow here with you, (lots of goat milk, etc,) but we don't have any guest quarters yet, you would have to have an RV of some kind.  There is a good flat spot to park in that is private, yet close enough to walk up to easily.  If you want to take a working vacation for a couple of weeks, and don't mind a little bit of somewhat hard work, you are welcome to come for a visit.
  The things I need help with are cleaning the pens, gathering firewood for next winter, and some gardening.  I need to spend more time in the dehairing room and working with the cashmere fiber, so I need someone to get these other things done.  
  We are only two hours away from Glacier National Park, one of the most beautiful places on earth.  It is a good day trip from here if you leave early in the morning and don't get back till almost dark. ( I've done it many times)  We live out in the middle of the mountains, with one other neighbor that is close by, up a forest service road that's in pretty good shape.  We're 45 minutes, or 21 miles,  from Kalispell, and the Flathead Valley.  There is lots of wildlife up here to see, too.    
  My husband is working back east till this fall, at least, so I'm trying to do everything by myself, and it just might get to be a little overwhelming.  I do not want anyone who uses drugs of any kind, or drinks alcoholic beverages in excess.  A nice, responsible couple in good physical shape that is not afraid of working outdoors, and that likes goats, would be perfect.  Kind of like  H&C were! :-)  And, if you know anything about solar hot water installations, that would be really great!
   Well, it's time to go out and feed everyone, water the greenhouse and get things all shut down for the night.  One thing about having the greenhouse, it needs watering even if it's raining out.  I"m going to have to figure out an irrigation system to get run-off from the roof inside and watering things when it's raining.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Springtime in MT

What a beautiful day we had today!  I spent most of it weeding and landscaping the gardens and yard.  Tomorrow it's back to dehairing my cashmere.  It's looking like I won't be able to get all of mine done before the outside cashmere starts coming in. I've got 36 fleeces to do.   But, I'll get enough done to fill the CSA orders and a little more, then do others, then go back to mine.
  I have 69 total goats now.  11 dairy and crosses, and 58 cashmeres.  The kids are all doing great.  I'm only keeping two of the boys bucks, the rest are getting "wetherized".  One of them is white with a silver dollar sized spot on his neck, and the other is a pretty shade of brown with some neat looking facial markings.  Both are nice square bodied kids.  The white one is really stout.  He's a chunk.  He'll make good meat babies, along with the fiber.  His parents both have outstanding fleece, so he should, too.  The brown one isn't quite as stocky, but he has nice conformation and is just cute. :-)  He comes from parents with great fiber, too.  When I get decent pictures of them, I'll put them on here.
   The baby chickens had their first day out in the big world today.  They weren't quite sure what to do at first, but by the end of the day, they were having a grand old time out there.  They are big enough now that I don't have to worry too much about a raven or hawk picking them off anymore.  I'm so used to the Jersey Black Giant chickens we used to have, that these are looking a bit strange.  They are Silver Laced Wyandottes, with two Golden Wyandottes in there as well.  The golden ones are really pretty!  I might have to get a couple more of them.  It's nice to have something besides black in the poultry department around here.  I'll be ordering turkeys again here pretty soon.  I have a few people that want me to raise them a turkey or two, plus we want some for ourselves, too.  I'm going to get some Naragansett ones this time.  They are a heritage breed that gets to a medium size from what I've read about them.  Somewhere around the 18 to 25 lb range.  I might keep a breeding pair and let them raise a hatch or two.  

  My daffodils are blooming nicely, and the tulips are about to start.  There are over 100 buds in the tulip garden again.  It's going to be pretty!   I'm going to start planting the vegetable garden this coming week.  We had a couple of really good frosts this last week, so I'm glad I hadn't planted anything yet.  I got the beds all ready to go.  One nice thing about raised beds is they don't take long to get ready for the new season.  The Square Foot Gardening method really works good, too.  It's surprising how much food you can grow in a small space using that method.

  Well, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's May already!

Here is Zindy Lou with her first kid.  She's a very nervous mom and is always checking on him and calling out to him if she is more than 10 feet away.  I named him Drizzle.  It was lightly raining at the time I first saw him.  I went out in the morning to check on her and here he was, up and dry and nursing.  I had been worried she would have trouble having him since this was her first, but obviously she had no problems.  Thank heavens!  I was hoping for a gray kid, since she's the only gray goat I have, but he's solid black, not a white hair on him.

  There are 28 kids all together now.  They are more entertaining than TV!  I have some nice colors out there, too.  I was wanting more black kids so I'd have the various colors, and now there are 7 of them.  They are getting hard to tell apart.  Two of them are solid black with no white hairs at all.  Both boys.  One is going to be a little leggier than the other, so that will be how I tell them apart.  That, and putting different colored collars on them.
  There is a good range of shades of brown out there, too.  So far the girl/boy ratio is even.  That is unusual.  Most years I have an abundance of boys.  Especially with this many, but not this year.  I'm glad!

   The interns leave this week-end!  They've been here for 8 months now.  I think they've experienced just about every aspect of goat raising and farming.  From breeding, to kidding, to having to put a couple of them down, to butchering one, to harvesting the cashmere fiber, even milking them.  I think they now know a whole lot more about goats than when they arrived. :-)  They also learned how to butcher chickens.  A well-rounded venture into the world of goats and homesteading.  I'm going to miss them!  Now they are on to their next adventure en route to their own place some day.  I wish them well!  Heidi is on her way to becoming the best Special Ed teacher out there, and Colin is a wonderful carpenter and worker.  They have both been a huge help around here.  They made surviving winter around here much easier this last year.  I'm pretty sure I got the better end of the deal, too.  A remodeled kitchen, a closed in combing room for the goats, all the roofs vertical again after the 2010-11 winter made them all lean.  A new dehairing room door, lots of help with fencing, pen cleaning (especially pen cleaning!), flower beds weeded, a whole lot of clean-up out in the woods/pastures picking up sticks and thinning out the trees, the ability to do a little traveling without worrying about this place.  That was especially nice!  It was so nice to have help around here!  People that actually like the goats and have respect for them.  Thanks you guys!!!  It's been great!

  I'm waiting for the last two does to have their kids, then kidding will be over for this year.  I'm starting to think the one doe isn't pregnant anymore.  There is no milk in her udder, and no bulge in her side at all, at least not enough to be a kid, I don't think.  We'll see by the end of next week.  The other doe is definitely pregnant, though.  Hope the boy/girl ratio stays even!
  Well, that's it for now...


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kids are everywhere!

Only Six more does to kid, and this kidding season will be over with!  This has been the most challenging one I've ever had in the 11 years I've had goats.  There are 20 kids out there now.  12 cashmere and 8 dairy crosses.  Lost three kids, two were aborted, and one was too big to come of the doe, so we took her to the vet and they couldn't get it out either, so they cut it's head off and pulled out the pieces.  ick.  Glad it was a boy and not a girl.  Then the poor doe was so traumatized by the whole ordeal, plus an overdose of oxytocin that kept her having contractions for 24 hours, she died the next night.  Poor April.  There wasn't anything I could do to stop the dang contractions.  I called the vet a couple of times and they said they would fade away and quit.  Well, they didn't.  They wore her out and she died.  Lost my highest cashmere yielding doe!  I got 6.2 ounces of dehaired fiber off of her fleece from last year.  Glad I got this year's combed off before this ordeal.  That's a picture of April above, having a discussion with Sophie.  At least she has one daughter out there that has just as nice of cashmere as April did.  Just not quite as much.
  April was also the orneriest goat out there, so I don't think anyone is really missing her that much, except maybe her daughter Oreo, who just had a kid and doesn't have grandma to babysit like she used to. :-)
  I've also had to really pull hard to get a couple of the kids out.  They did come out in good order, though.  The boy/girl ratio is even, too.  So there are good things in with the not so good.

  On the dairy side, I'm dealing with a bad case of mastitis, which I've never had before, either.   What a year!  At least I'm learning a lot, and so are H&C.  They are getting to experience just about everything, both good and bad, to do with raising goats.  I do have a really good looking kid crop, though.  Some of the best I've had come yet.  I think I have a replacement cashmere buck in there, too.  He's a cream colored one, so that will be a nice contrast to the two black bucks I have now.  He's a very solid nice looking kid!  We'll see what he looks like as he gets older.

  I'll be getting some good pictures of all the kids on the computer one of these days.  They are on the camera, I just haven't taken the time to get them on here, yet.  One of these days.....


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kids are arriving!

The Kids have started popping out!  The dairy goats are going first.  Dottie had twin boys on Thursday morning around 5:30.  Then Speckles had hers yesterday morning around 7.  I totally missed that birth!  I was out there at 6:30 checking on her, she didn't look like anything was going to happen anytime soon, so I went back to bed.  Went out at 8 and here were two kids up and cleaned off and nursing already.  Speckles must have had them shortly after I came back in.  The only time I've seen her have her kids is when she was having a hard time getting them out, so she had them when I was there to help.  Goats really do know when they are going to need some help, and when they can handle things themselves.
  So now there are four kids, 3 boys and only one girl.  i suppose I should use correct terminology and say 3 bucklings and one doeling.  Now I'm waiting for Belle and Brownie to have theirs.  So far they are just laying around looking ready to pop, but not doing anything.  Belle I'm not too worried about, she's an old pro at kidding, but this will be Brownie's first time, so I want to be there to make sure she takes care of the kid(s) and doesn't have any problems having it.

  I'm over half-way done with the combing of the cashmere goats now.  There are 18 left to do.  I was going to comb all afternoon today, but it started raining/snowing, so the ones that I was going to comb got wet.  Since they still have all their fleece, they stand out in the precip while the ones that have been combed head for shelter.  I might get in one or two combings if the rain stops pretty soon.  Colin and Heidi have been helping to comb.  They are getting pretty good at it.  It goes much faster when there is a person on each side of the goat combing at the same time.  The goat doesn't move around as much either, they aren't sure which way to go. ☺  I'm getting a good yield off everyone this year.  Lots of cashmere to play with!  I'll have more shares to sell than I was figuring on earlier.  I think I'll offer some half-shares, too.  
  I've decided to go back to dehairing batches of cashmere for people instead of just individual fleeces.  I'd rather do the individual ones, but so many have asked me to do batches, that I'll go back to that, too.  Only 3 pounds at a time, though.  The dehairing process is so slow that if a huge amount arrives at once, it just overwhelms me and I get disheartened.  3 pounds I can handle, it takes almost a week to get that done.  I want to do the best job possible and return the fiber as guard hair free as I can, so that takes a lot of time.  I do love doing it.  I have the best job, being up to my elbows in pure luxury every day.  I haven't run into any "bad" cashmere yet.  It's all been of a good quality.  Some has been better prepared than others, but after it's through the machine, it's all looking pretty nice.  I've seen a good cross section of North American Cashmere now, and overall I think we have cashmere that is as good as and better than most foreign cashmere.  Yea team!!  
    I think the only way it's going to really pay though is for regional groups of cashmere producers to get together and buy their own dehairing machines.  Lots of mills can spin it, but very few can dehair it and do a good job.  The dehairing is the slowest part of the process and makes the least amount of money for a mill.  But if cashmere producers pooled their resources and went together and got dehairing machines, then that would speed up the whole deal.  The machines don't take up a huge amount of space, I have mine in a 9 x 16 foot room and there is enough room to move around it and run it properly.  They aren't hard to operate, you just have to be able to figure out what speed to run it for each fleece.  No two fleeces go through at the same speed!   The fineness and length of each fleece determine what the speed will be.  It's actually an interesting process to do.  
   Well, now that I've written a book, practically, I guess I'll go out and check on the goats again and see if anything is happening.  I'll post pictures of the kids after they are all born....

Friday, February 24, 2012


   All sorts of things have been happening this month!  I had a great time on our "fibery" week-end get-away.  It was so much fun to be with like-minded people.  The weather wasn't the greatest, but it was okay.  Got a lot of spinning done, ate quite well, and did lots of talking, well, mostly listening, on my part.  I usually don't say a lot in a group setting.  
  I got a newer computer now.  It's so fast compared to the old one!  I didn't realize how slow and outdated my old one was till I started using this one.  I am sometimes slow to accept change.  Then other times I'm all for it.  
  It has been snowing a bit here and there.  It's also got above freezing during the day, so the road is rather interesting again.  Not too bad yet, but the potential is there.  
  The goats are doing well, except for Ariel.  She aborted her babies 38 days early, then went blind right afterwards!  Miss April really nailed her one day last week, and I was afraid this was going to happen.  I was watching her carefully over the next few days, and sure enough, she lost the babies.  Two little doelings.  She pinched a nerve in her neck during the birthing, which has made her temporarily blind.  I wasn't out there when she had the second one, I had gone inside for a minute, so I didn't see how she pinched it.  She's starting to get some sight back.  She can definitely tell light and dark, and she's seeing some shapes again.  Poor goat.  I have her in the grooming area so no one can bother her.  She's got a pretty comfortable spot in there.  I've been massaging her neck and giving her herbs to help her get her eyesight back.  Ming had this happen a couple of years ago, too.  She went blind for two weeks, then got her sight back.  I do not know why this happens, but at least they come out of it. Ariel throws really nice fiber in her kids so I am very sad these girls didn't make it.  One was going to be a tan color, and the other was a dark brown with a white stocking on one front leg and a white ankle bracelet on the other.  Everything happens for a reason, so we'll see what that reason is at some point.  
  I have ended up with a very bad cold this week.  I haven't been sick in years!  This is not fun.  I had forgotten what it felt like to be sick, I am ready to be well again.  I've been downing tons of Vitamin C, Cayenne, Echinacea,  and eating good foods, so I'm almost well.  

   I am now busy getting my cashmere processed and making things.  Got one order for a customer done, now it's time to start on the next.  The kids are due to start coming out in two weeks, so I want to be ahead of the game a little so I can spend time with the newborns.   I'm starting to line up dehairing customers now, too.  It's going to be a busy, fun year!  I do love my job. :-)  
  Spring is almost here.  Although up here it won't show up till sometime in April.  We've had a pretty mild winter so far.  There is 12 inches of snow on the ground here.  There isn't hardly any at all down in the valley.  All the fields are bare, the roads are clear, then I come home and it's all white.  The avalanche danger is really high now for elevations above 4500 feet.  We are at 4700 feet, but I don't think there is enough snow on the hill behind the house to cause an avalanche.   The dogs run up there after deer and don't trigger any, so I think I am safe.  Of course the deer have been going back and forth across there all winter and haven't caused anything.  
  I was watching Nellie today barking at a deer.  The deer are not afraid of her at all.  She gets within 5 feet of them barking her head off, and they just look at her and go about their business.  Grandma deer taught her offspring well.  She chased Nellie and Dani so they are afraid of all deer, for the most part.  They bark at them, but if the deer turn towards them, they back off rapidly.  
  H&C's dog Ryder, on the other hand, goes after them and they run.  He's not afraid at all.  I think I'll employ him to guard the gardens this summer.
  Well, that's it for now.  Think Spring....         

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February already

  It's already February!  We got another 5 inches of snow last night.  Now the goats have a fresh "dinner plate" to eat off of.  There are a couple of feeders out there, but I also put little piles of hay out and around for the lower ranked goats to eat.
  I have a question for you all that raise goats.  How do you keep your bucks together without them fighting and killing each other?  I had to put Hercules down because him and Midnight were fighting and Midnight won.  He did some serious internal damage that I didn't realize until Herk was too far gone to repair.  So now I'm down to just two bucks!  Both black.  Herk and Midnight were the same age, grew up together, and were kept in the same pen, except for breeding, when I took Herk clear to the other side of the place to do his job.  After everyone was done, I put them back together and Midnight tried to kill Herk.  I separated them as soon as I saw what was happening, but it was one blow too late.
  So from now on, there will be permanently separate pens for each buck!  Preferably on opposite sides of the goat areas, too.  
  Only 4 weeks to go till kids start popping out!  I am getting excited to see what comes this year.  What colors they are, and hopefully more female than male this year!  There should be around 30 kids born, so I will probably be selling a few this fall, or next spring.  I might wait till next spring so I can see how their fiber looks when I comb them.

   I get to go on a "fibery" week-end get-away tomorrow.  Six of us are renting a fs cabin down the Swan and taking our spinning wheels, etc., and playing outside in the snow skiing and snowshoeing, then spending the rest of the time spinning and visiting, eating and just having a nice relaxing time with our various fibers.  H&C are going to take good care of this place so I don't have to worry about anything, just go and have some R&R.  I'm looking forward to it very much! 
  The combing of the goats is going well.  Glad they don't all shed at the same time!  It's looking like a very good harvest this year.  I'm getting to them on time this year, so the yield is much better.  I got some free plywood that is in great shape, so we built a solid wall on three sides of the combing area, so now it's much better.  The wind can't blow any cashmere away anymore. ☺ Or, I should say, I can now comb even if the wind is blowing a bit.  The weather isn't playing quite as big a factor in the combing schedule this year.  As long as the goats are dry, I'm combing.  

  Well, Happy Valentine's day to everyone...   

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Interesting Winter, so far

  After two months with virtually no new snow, we got dumped on again, with 12 1/2 inches!  It was really cold, too.  Down in the single digits.  Now it's warmed back up to 42 degrees today!  The snow really settled down again. 
   It's been a rather sad January the last couple of weeks.  Colin's cousin back in Vermont died of hyperthermia a couple of weeks ago while out hiking.  H&C went back there for the funeral this week.  My sincere condolences go out to his family.  19 is too young to die!  At least he died doing something he loved.
   Then this week in the severe cold, I had to put my buck Rusty down.  So now I'm down to three bucks.  It seems things go wrong when I'm here by myself, instead of when there are others around.  The bus is having some issues, too.  The propane isn't working right, so I turned off the tanks and am running back and forth, keeping the fire going in the woodstove to keep it warm enough in there.  Luckily it's fairly warm out now!  What with all the snow, having to put the buck down, and then the bus issues, it hasn't been that good of a week!  But, I've got things pretty much under control again now.  I'm all dug out from the snow, the goat is gone, the bus is warm, and I'm back to doing the cashmere again.  All is well, once more.  Till the next time.  ☺ 
   At least I'm finding out I'm capable of handling things, for the most part.  After my initial panick attack, I figure things out and deal with it all.  One thing about it, there aren't too many dull moments around here!
   That's the update for now.  Time to get to spinning again.  More as it happens...