Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Needle Felting

 Here is some of what I've been doing lately.  I can finally show the alpaca I made!  It was a custom order for Christmas, so I couldn't put it up till she got it.  This was fun to do.  I had a couple of pictures to work from, both showing the same side, so I hope the other side looked the same! :-)  Panda is the alpaca's name.

This dog is my Great Pyrenees Nellie.  She's 10 years old now and still going strong.  She still follows me all the way down the forest service road, which is 4 miles long, when I plow.  When I'm doing the turn-outs she lays down in the middle of the road.  Thank heavens nobody came around the corner!  
 I've done a lot of bears, too.  They seem to be popular.  Bear cubs and the parents are what I've been doing mostly.  I really like this needle felting.  It's fun to create realistic looking animals.  (some are more realistic looking than others)  I'll post more pictures soon.  I hope everyone has the best year yet in 2016!  Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A medley

It's hard to believe it's the last month of 2015!  A lot has happened around here this year.  John is finally home for good now.  I don't have to be by myself anymore!

I had a good bunch of helpxers this year.  All were good workers, and all were fun to have here.  I like meeting new people from different walks of life and different countries.  It's fun to compare lifestyles and things.  A lot of projects got completed this time around.  Some got started and are waiting completion.

Rocky is all healed up and back out with the goats.  He is so much calmer and nicer to his sister now.  They still have arguments on a daily basis, but it's not huge fights like it was.  He minds better now, too.

There is a packrat in the dairy barn that must be too big to go in any of the traps I've set.  I'm going to have to resort to a poison bar for this one, I guess.  At least it's not making a big mess in there, but I can smell it, and it does get into things somewhat.  Annoying beasts.

We still have some snow on the ground.  It's warmed back up again from the low teens and single digits, back to above freezing.  I plowed the entire 4 miles of fs road with the ATV on Tuesday before it warmed up and the snow was light and fluffy still.  My fingers on my right hand, running the throttle got quite cold, but the rest of me stayed warm.  One of the neighbors half plowed it, but didn't finish it for some reason.  They left big piles of snow right on the edge that would really cause problems by spring if left.  So I got rid of those, widened the road clear out to the very edge and made all the turn-outs.  Now it's good for the other neighbor to continue on with for the rest of the winter.  It's shaping up to be another winter like last, a cold spell, then a warm spell, then back to cold. etc.. We got the studded snow tires on the truck this week, so we're ready now.

The goats are doing well.  There are 10 does bred now, with two left to get bred.  Lots of kids next spring!

The turkeys are going in the freezer slowly but surely.  The one we had for T-day sure was good!  Tender and juicy.  I don't think I'll ever eat a store bought one again.  They just don't taste nearly as good.  Even the organic ones.  Ours are fed organic feed with no corn/soy/ or canola in it.  Good stuff!  The only downside to raising them is they eat a lot!!  Even free ranging, they still ate a lot.  The chickens are laying quite a few eggs.  The cold spell slowed them down, but they are picking up again now that it's warmed up.

Well, it's time to get back to spinning up the cashmere.  I just sold all the natural colored yarn I had spun, so now I'm spinning the last of the fleeces up.  Then it will be back to needle felting.

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


 We got the lower triangle pasture all done.  Now all we have to do it cut up all the poles into firewood and stack it out there to dry for a couple of years and we will be set.  Now we just have the area behind the goat pens to do.
Monday will be a day of burning, the weather sounds like a perfect day for it.  Then we have a winter storm watch out for Tuesday for snow and blowing snow.  We won't be able to get all the piles done tomorrow, there are too many, but a lot of them will get done.  We will cover the remaining ones with tarps so they don't get covered in snow, then burn those after the storm.
  Yesterday Rocky got his nuts cut off, so he's in the house recovering.  Tomorrow he gets to go back outside.  For never being in the house before, he's behaving quite nicely.  He weighs 102 pounds!  Not a small dog.  He barely fits in here.  One thing about his size, it got him right in and out at the clinic.  They didn't have a cage big enough for him to fit in, so they operated right away.  He wasn't quite awake yet when I got back there to pick him up, so a couple of the guys carried him out to the truck on a blanket and he rode home mostly zonked out.  He was still pretty groggy when we got home, but he could walk okay, so we slowly made it up and into the house, where he laid down and slowly woke up entirely.  Today he's pretty much back to normal.     Tomorrow he will spend most of the day outside and in the porch where it's cooler, then back outside he goes.  He's missing his goats and is getting pretty antsy in here.  I'll put him in the isolation pen which is beside the main pen so he can be next to his goats and see what's happening without being able to play just yet.  He's supposed to stay quiet for 7 days.  I think he will heal up faster than that.  Cloud healed up faster, and hers was a major surgery, his was pretty much external.
  I have opened up a new on-line store on the Montana Marketplace website.  It showcases Montana artists and craftsmen.  The website is/https://www.montanasmarketplace.com/store/pine-needle-farm-cashmeres/  That will get you to my store.  I'm adding things to it slowly but surely, as I get them made.  I am almost looking forward to snow on the ground, I'll be able to devote my time to fibery things instead of getting things done outside.  It sounds like tomorrow is the last day before the ground turns white anyway.
  We had a serious wind storm on Tuesday and Tuesday night.  Luckily nothing got damaged, or blew away.  A couple of the roofs on goat houses blew off, but those were easily fixed.  No trees of any size came down, and everything survived just fine.  Solar poser is a good thing!  There were a lot of power outages in the area, but we were well lit. :-)
  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Winter has arrived.  The ground is covered in 3 to 4 inches of snow and it didn't melt today, even though the sun was shining.  It was a pretty day, actually.

The forest thinning is almost done, all that is left is the burning of the slash piles.  The lower triangle part is all done.  It looks so different now.  We burned 7 piles today out behind the goat pens.  The goats are going to have so much fun out there next year!  If the deer don't eat everything as fast as it comes up in the spring, that is.  One got stuck in the boy's pen fence last night.  It got out on it's own, but it bent the top of the cattle panel and left some hairs on it.

The Akbashes have figured out how to get out of the goat area now and have been running all over the whole place yesterday and today.  They got in the turkey pen last night and scattered them.  Luckily they didn't hurt or kill any of them, just moved them around.  I had to go out and herd them back to their corner so they could huddle down together again for the night.  Then today Rocky attacked Nellie and wounded her some.  Nothing major, but she got a puncture wound right above her eye and on her ear.  I put some ointment on it, and will do that for a few days till it heals up.  When I was trying to break up that fight, I had a hold of Rocky's tail and was pulling him away from Nellie, who kept coming after him!  I yelled for John to come and help me.  We got them apart finally, then Rocky started to go after John!  Luckily I still had a hold of his tail!  I grabbed him by the collar and grabbed his muzzle and clamped his mouth shut and gave him a real lecture.  He is getting his nuts cut off on the 21st.  Hopefully that will calm him down!  He's getting way too aggressive, bordering on dangerous.  At least he doesn't do anything to me, he knows I'm the supreme boss around here.  He really was going to attack John after he took the rake and pushed him away from Nellie.  That made him mad.  Glad I had a hold of his tail still or that could have been pretty bad.  Then after I had him sitting down and calming down and John came back after checking Nellie, he growled at John as he walked up.  So I made sure Rocky quit doing that.  I then put him in the new pen I built the other day with the goats, and made him stay there the rest of the day.  I fixed the spot where they were escaping from, I finally figured out where it was.  Now they are back where they are supposed to be, with the goats.   I was going to keep Rocky intact and get another female unrelated to him next year and raise them, but I've decided I don't want to have to deal with his aggression and testosterone, so he's getting neutered on the 21st.  I had already made that appointment before this happened today.  Glad I did!  He is too big to be that aggressive, especially when I have a lot of strangers around at various times of the year.  It would not do to have one of the helpxers get hurt by him.  Livestock Guardian Dogs are unlike any other breeds of dogs.  They think independently of humans, react differently than companion dogs, and are bred to guard livestock and guard them well.  Even Nellie, who didn't bond with the goats, but is my faithful companion wherever I go (unless it's in a vehicle) can turn on a dime into a scary dog.  She has bit me, although it was by accident when she was trying to kill Dani, almost killed Dani 3 times, and is a fierce protector of the place in general.  She will only come when I call her if she sees that I'm not going to do anything to her but pet or feed her.  If she thinks I have something up my sleeve and am going to do something to her, she goes the other way when I call her.  When I have the comb in my hand and call her, she really heads the other direction rapidly. ☺  She did let me doctor her today willingly.  She knew I was helping her.

All that excitement today has made me tired, so I'm actually going to bed at a decent hour tonight!  I'll probably wake up in the wee hours of the morning ready to go, but oh well.  It's funny, when I turned 50, my sleep habits changed.  I used to need a good 8 hours of sleep, but now 6 1/2 to 7 hours and I'm good to go.  I've not set my alarm clock a few times to see how long I'd sleep, and right at 7 hours I wake up ready to go.  The only time I take a power nap during the day, is if I didn't get much sleep at all the night before.

Hope everyone is ready for winter, or almost ready.  I was wanting to get a few more things done, but they aren't vitally necessary, so it's okay.  Now I have a really good excuse to stay inside and spin and felt! ☺

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Slowly, but surely, I'm getting some spinning done.  I've even dyed some of this.  My photography skills leave something to be desired, but someday (soon I hope!) I will have a real craft studio where I will have room to set up an area to take proper pictures of my work.  A place to set up all of my equipment and have things arranged so I can actually find something when I need it, instead of spending wasted minutes looking for it, sometimes finding it, sometimes not.  At least I have room for the really important spinning wheel!  Right beside the computer, so when the computer decides to take a nap while loading something, I can have a productive moment or five of spinning while waiting. ☺

Today was the first day of the general hunting season for big game.  It is bucks only in the deer department, so since there are very few of those up in this area any more, I didn't hear any shots fired.  Yesterday John and I went out and spent 3 hours working on the forest service road getting it ready for winter.  It was graded this fall, but the grader left a ridge of dirt clods and gravel along most of it, and especially in the turn-outs, so we cleaned it up and made it smooth so the plow wouldn't break hitting all of that when it's frozen.  The road is nice and wide and quite smooth to drive on.  It really needed work, it had been 6 years since it was last graded.  Lots of traffic and some torrential rains made for a rough road.  It's all better now.

The thinning project is all done, except for the slash burning, so the forester is coming out on Monday to inspect and hopefully approve it and sign off on it.  Then we will sign up for another section, maybe the rest of the property, for next year.   Our place is shrinking!  I can see the fence line from the goat pens now.  Before it was so thick out there, one couldn't even walk through it.  The goats are going to love it next year when they get out into that area.  They will be able to see clearly, there will be more vegetation to eat, and the predators have nowhere to hide in there.  Good things all the way around!

I am having all kinds of buck challenges this fall!  It's time to invest in some new fencing and get these guys fully contained again.  Today Midnight was out running with the herd!  I don't think anyone was in heat today anyway.  I wrote it down just in case.  What's that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men?  It seems not much is going according to plan this fall.  Oh well, I'll just go with the flow, remembering that everything happens for a reason, and not stress out about it all.  I might live longer that way. ☺  The goats enjoyed running out and eating the aspen leaves that are falling all over, munching on the slash piles, and then coming back into the pens and eating the wasted hay in each other's pens.  Saves me having to feed them hay in the evenings.  They were all looking quite fat tonight.
  Here are the Akbashes at a year old.  Hard to believe they are 1 year old already!  They are pretty good guard pups/dogs.  They have bonded with the goats and stay with them all the time.  Rocky is the one sitting and Cloud is laying down.  They get into some pretty loud fights at least once a day.  For being a brother/sister duo you would think they would get along good, but they really argue a lot.  Fortunately there is rarely any blood, just lots of growling and yelping.  Cloud is spayed, and Rocky is going in to get neutered next month. Hope that calms things down a bit. I wonder how much they will weigh when they are fully grown.  They are right around a hundred pounds now.  They eat a lot of food!  It's nice not having to bend down to pet them. :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2015


This week I finally entered  the world of texting.  Yes, most people have been doing that for seemingly ages, but I am somewhat resistant to being too connected.  I like being up here on the mountain, isolated from most of the drama and angst out in the big world.  But, as more of my friends and relatives keep asking if I text, and that it would be so much easier to keep me "in the loop", sending me pictures and things, I decided to jump in and get a smartphone.
  We got a new phone plan, doing away with the "home phone" cell plan and John getting rid of his number he had back east.  Now I have the home number on my phone, and he has my old "traveling" cell phone number.   More phones added to our cell phone "museum".  We were one of the first people in the Flathead Valley to get a cell phone, even got to pick out our own phone number way back in 1994.  That really isn't that long ago, but it seems like it.  Amazing how fast and far technology has come!  That first phone was called a "bag" phone, and it was like a brief case size.  Not all that portable, no carrying it in your pocket or anything, but it worked good.  Then the phones got progressively smaller, and now they are getting bigger again.  Funny how that works.
  For being so resistant to it, I seem to be doing a lot of texting the last few days. :-)  It is nice to have more contact with my relatives that aren't close by.  Which is all of them, since the closest one is a good 8 hours away.  Most being at least 11 or more hours away.  It's easier to contact some of my friends, too.  So, I've entered the modern world.  Now I just need to become smarter than my smartphone.  I'm figuring it out fairly fast I think.  I know how to answer the phone now.  I have a Motorola, and one has to swipe it sideways to answer, not tap it.  So if you call me and I don't answer, it most likely means I didn't do it right. :☺  It also doesn't ring every time, which I'm not sure why.  Today someone called and the phone was right beside me and it just buzzed once after the person left a voice mail, no ring at all.  Not sure why it did that, but hopefully I'll get it all figured out soon.

On to farm life...  The new chickens, the pullets, are really laying eggs now.  They are so small compared to the older girls' eggs.  They taste good, which is all that really counts.  They'll get bigger as the hens age.  Helpxers built a new coop for them with three nest boxes.  The hens were using the boxes just fine, then they started laying them all over the place, so John and I took the double nest box out of the other coop, since those girls quit laying in it, and put it down in the new coop.  Now the hens are laying in that one, and still in the corners on the ground, and quit using the three original boxes all together.  Maybe the triplex needs a bigger lip on the edge so the hens don't feel like their eggs will fall out.  It's two inches high, but they aren't using it anymore.

  The does are starting to come into heat big-time, so the bucks are making all kinds of strange noises to entice the girls over to them.  So far Fiddle, the youngest one, has the most musical voice.  Most of the girls are going over to him.  I don't want any of them bred before next month, so I hope the bucks stay in their pens!  The way they are bashing the panels, I don't know if the fencing will hold or not.  I swear bucks are harder on fences than bulls.  They rear up and come down hard on the fence, bending the panels with every hit.  Dang beasts.  I have 7 bucks now!  That's three too many.  The two little guys are for sale, will somebody please buy them?  They will be a nice addition to anyone's herd.  Both have nice cashmere coming in, and both are friendly.  One more than the other, but he's coming around now.  $175 each.   Red and Moonshine are their names.
  Well, that's it for now.  We are having some exceptional fall weather, too warm for this time of year, actually.  We need some rain!!  We have quite a few slash piles to burn this fall, and it's way too dry to do that now.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

We got a little rain!

We got a little bit of rain yesterday, enough to settle the dust anyway.  It would be nice to get a lot more pretty soon.  
  Now that John is back home, we are getting a lot done around here!  We've had some good helpxers this year (as always) and now that he is here, too, I have more time to do my cashmere business.  At least I will in the next couple of weeks.  
This is the lower "triangle pasture" now.  We did a drastic thinning of it to prevent a forest fire from wiping us entirely out.  Once it rains a bit more, we will burn all these, and more, slash piles and get it all cleaned up for next year.  There are 17 piles in this section, and at least twice as many, if not more, in the bigger section behind the goat pens that we are working on now.  Thank heavens for helpxers!!  They have really been a big help in doing this project, and also the firewood.  For the first time ever, we will be a good two years ahead on our firewood supply, instead of always scrambling just to get enough to get us through the currant year.  

The goats are loving this, they get to eat all the tree branches without having to do much to get them.  Just go to a pile and munch out.  The aspen leaves are falling now, too, and the goats are inhaling those as well.  This is my favorite time of the year.  The bugs are mostly gone, it's cool out, the colors are pretty, and the days are getting shorter.  Back in the days when I had horses, this was my favorite time of year to go riding, too.  

The new chickens are laying eggs already, and they aren't even 6 months old yet!  Out of 14 hens, I'm getting 7 eggs a day now.  They are so small compared to the older chickens' jumbo eggs.  They will get bigger over time.  Occasionally I find a "double yolker".  

Dani, my old heeler cross dog, is still hanging in there.  I was sure she was dying a week and a half ago, but after fasting for an entire week, all she did was drink water, she's now back to eating a little and moving around again.  It's amazing how animals can pretty much heal themselves if given a chance.  I didn't force feed her or anything,  I just let her do her thing.  She didn't eat a single thing for a whole week, only drinking a little water, she's looking a bit spry and is eating a little.  We'll see how long this lasts.

The article about me in the October issue of Montana Woman Magazine is pretty good!  I like the way the writer, Andrea Blair, made sense of my rambling answers and wrote a great piece on my lifestyle and adventures up here.  

Well, that's all the news around here for now.....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Too Many Bucks!

I have seven bucks on the place now!  Time to sell a couple of them.  These two are Red and Moonshine, two of this years' kids.  They were born in April, Moonshine is a couple weeks older than Red.  $275 each.  Red is out of Spot and Snowflake.  Spot is white and Snowflake is black.  Both of them have excellent fleece, so Red does, too.  Moonshine is out of Midnight and Miss Kitty.  Black, and red. Both have beautiful fleeces.   Interesting what colors the kids come out, isn't it?

I am tempted to keep them, especially Red, I like his coloring, except they are related to most of the herd, so there aren't enough does they could breed to warrant keeping them.  So, my loss, your gain!  If you are interested, I can send you pictures of the parents.  Miss Kitty is one of the prettiest goats on the place.  Nice conformation, beautiful head, and a nice deep red/brown color, like Red, only a shade darker.  Snowflake is a pretty goat, too.  Solid black with a soft grey fleece.  Red's great grand dad was a red color, too.  So if you'd like to add red to your herd, either of these bucklings carry that color in their bloodlines.  Moonshine has a creamy colored fleece.  He's like his mom, you can't see the cashmere till you start combing it out, then there is a lot of it!

The dehairing machine left on Sunday.  It is a relief to have it gone.  It was just too big of a machine for my situation.  It is made to be in a mill, and that is where it is now.  It used too much electricity for an off-grid homestead.   I enjoyed doing my own fleeces, but it is one of the slowest processes on the planet, and it's not why I'm here.  Now I have time to do all the other things I need to do around here that always got put off for the last 4 plus years.  I am open to whatever happens next.  It's all part of the journey called life!  Who knows, maybe I'll develop a "personal" sized dehairing device that anyone, anywhere can use and it won't cost an arm and a leg to buy.  That is what is needed in the cashmere world.  So, we''ll see what happens in the coming months.....

If you are interested in either of these boys, let me know.  Thanks!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Combing Nellie

After one hour and 45 minutes, Nellie is a fluffy hairball instead of a matted hairball.  She finally let me comb her out!

 This is all her hair that came off.  That's one of the Akbashes in the goat pen watching all the proceedings.  Probably glad they shed out much easier!
 Nellie was worn out after that and had to take a nap.  She was not entirely sure of the whole thing, but decided to let me work on her.  I guess she was tired of all the hair matts, etc.  For the longest time she wouldn't let me touch her, she'd head for the hills as soon as I had a hold of the comb.  But, today was the magical day.  We both feel better now, although I have a blister on the hand that was holding the comb the most.  It's worth it though.
A few years ago she "blew" her coat and was almost bald.  She did not like that at all, so she hasn't let me get near her since.  Now she sees that she can get combed and pretty and still have hair, so maybe from now on she'll let me comb her more often.  After that one time, she hasn't ever blown her coat again.  Feeling the air on her skin just about drove her crazy, I even had to remove her collar for a while.  Nellie is a wonderful dog, but I don't think I'll ever get a Great Pyrenees again.  It is too much work grooming them.  I like the Akbashes better, they don't bark quite as much either.  They shed out easier and have shorter hair.
Well, that's it for now.  More as it happens....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rain is falling!

We are finally getting a good rain!  There is almost 3/4 of an inch in the rain gauge and ti's still coming down.  It's quite chilly, too.  43° is all.  The wood stove is going and the heat feels good!

John is enjoying being back home again, and I am enjoying having him back!  Thanks to helpxers, the wood shed is 95 % full, and John has about 2/3 of the trees that were cut and left in piles out in the woods all cut up into firewood.  They just need to be stacked and left out there for another year and brought in next summer.   It looks much better out there now.  It's nice to be able to turn the gardening over to John and I just have the animals to take care of now.  I'll have truly tame goats again!  The last three years the kids haven't been handled much, I haven't had the time, so there is almost half the herd that won't let me touch them easily.  Time to work on that!

I'm busy spinning and needle felting.   Today is a good day to be inside.  The goats are all staying under cover.  Most of them have a good cashmere coat growing already.  I love petting them now, they are so soft. ☺

We are having to run the generator today.  It hasn't been run for months, but it's been cloudy for a couple of days and lots of electricity has been used, so it needed to be started up.

We've started processing the young roosters from the batch of straight run laying chicks I got in May.  They sure are scrawny compared to the meat bird crosses!  A bit tougher, too.  But, they still taste good.  They are either Jersey Giants, or Buff Orpingtons.  So far we've done more of the Orps than Giants.  I was going to wait a few more weeks, but they are starting to fight a lot and harass the hens too much. So it's time to downsize the rooster crop.  I'm going to keep one of each breed and all the hens and go from there.  I'll let them hatch out their own chicks next year and keep the flock going now without buying more. I do think we will get some more meat birds.  They are easy to raise and it only takes 8 weeks.  It truly is only 8 weeks, too. 9 weeks or more and the quality goes down.  I kept two to them longer to see, and 8 weeks is the best time to process them.

I lucked out and got into a feed co-op here that buys organic feed at wholesale prices.  That has really helped with the feed bill on the birds.  The turkeys are eating us out of house and home.  They are getting huge, too.  The toms spend most of their time fanned out and strutting around.  The two hens stick to themselves most of the time.   It's funny how the toms gobble at any noise they hear.  Forget about trying to carry on a conversation with someone anywhere near them.  Every time a person starts to talk, they gobble.  Silly birds.

Well, that's all the news from here for now.  Time to get back to spinning....

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Another Chapter in the Book

Yesterday was a rather sad day around here.  At 1:30 am Angus died.  Nellie started barking quite fiercely over towards Angus' pen, so I went out there in my pjs and bathrobe with the flashlight and here was Angus upside down with his horn stuck in the ground.  He was making little grunt/groaning noises.  I ran over and got him upright, but it was too late, he died a couple minutes later.  He lived to be 16 years and three months old!  That's pretty old for a cashmere buck.  This picture was taken last year before I combed him out and got him all pretty looking, or I should say handsome looking.  For as old as he was, he still had some really nice fleece.  Lots of crimp, it was still very tight.  The microns were way over the limit to be cashmere I think, it didn't feel very soft anymore, but it sure had style!   I saved his horns, then we hauled him away.  The last of my original goats.  I have quite a few of his daughters, so the line will continue.  

Another big change is the dehairing machine is leaving any day now.  I have it all cleaned up and ready to go.  I have quit deluding myself into thinking that this was actually working.  The machine is just too big, takes too much electricity, and is too expensive to justify keeping it for personal use.  I don't want to do other people's cashmere, it's too slow of a process, and I have other things I want to be doing.  While I did like to dehair my own fleeces, they came out so much better, this machine is just too big, it needs to be in a mill, which is what it is designed for in the first place.  Now that I decided to let it go, I am so relieved!  Now I will have time to really take good care of my goats again, and take them out into the woods to eat the neighbor's places down for fire control and all of that good stuff.  

I also got a sizable grant to get out of debt with!  Now that the machine is going away, I am out of debt and back in the black instead of deeply in a financial hole I didn't see a way out of!  That is such a relief, my mind is working much clearer and I can think properly again.  Which is why the machine is leaving, I admitted it wasn't working the way I envisioned it would be when it first came.
Now I'll be sending my cashmere out to mills to be dehaired like I used to before the machine came along.  I'll just be picking out the remaining guard hairs with tweezers before I sell or use the fleeces.  I'll still know what goats the cashmere comes off of, if the mills run it through like I will be asking for, they will just be in combinations instead of individual.  So, it will still be basically the same good stuff my customers are used to.  I probably won't have it back as early in the year as when I was doing my own, but since it took me a long time to get mine done anyway, it might not be all that different.  We'll see.   A little course correction on the path of life.  It's all good!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Last kid of the season

 Here's Ivory, the last kid to be born for the year.  She was born on Thursday at 11:55 am.  A nice, mid-day birth on a warm sunny day.  She is less than an hour old in this photo.  She is Lupine's first kid.  Lupine is a great mom, has plenty of milk, and keeps Ivory super clean.  I think Ivory is the cleanest baby out there.  She has a tiny brown spot on her left back leg, and I think Lupine thought it was dirt for a long time, it was wet from her licking it after everything else was dry. :-)   Now the kidding is all done and I can just enjoy playing with them.

I'm half-way done with the chicken butchering.  There is only so much killing I can do in a day.  I do have the entire process down to 20 minutes from start to finish.   I did an experiment with the meat, too.  I have discovered that chilling the meat for 12 or more hours does make a difference on tenderness.  I've had two of the breasts, and I chilled one for 24 hours, and the other one I ate a couple of hours after butchering.  The chilled one was much more tender.  I cooked them the same way and everything, so the chilling does make a difference.

It sure would be nice to get some rain!  Today was supposed to be numerous showers and thunderstorms, but nothing is happening.  It's cloudy, but there aren't any storms happening.  It's after noon now, too, so it's time.  If it's going to be cloudy, it needs to rain, otherwise it needs to be sunny so I can run the dehairing machine.  Since I'm having to water the garden every morning, if there isn't any sun, the batteries don't get charged fast enough to run the machine, too.  Oh well, I'll do some spinning and needle felting I guess.

Time to get to work.  Have a good day!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Butchering the meat birds

I did it, I butchered one of the meat birds this afternoon all by myself, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I used the killing cone Colin made when they were here three years ago, a razor blade to slit the throat, and it was all over and in the fridge cooling in 45 minutes.  I watched a few youtube videos on how to humanely kill a chicken and went from there.  I thanked the bird for providing it's meat for me, and that was it.  I don't have a really sharp knife around here, I don't seem to be able to get them sharp to save myself, so I used a straight edge razor blade, the kind that goes in paint scrapers, and that made it quite easy and probably pretty painless for the bird.  It didn't struggle or squawk or anything.  It was all over in less than a minute.  One down, 11 to go.  It is nice being able to raise one's own meat.  They have a good life here, free ranging all over, eating organic food, and enjoying the great outdoors all day, every day.  So much better than the factory farms!!!

We went from record setting heat on the 4th to cool, somewhat rainy weather today.  I actually have the wood stove going!!  It was just a little too chilly in here today without the sun shining and temps in the high 40's this morning.  It never did warm up in here till I started the stove.  First I cleaned it out thoroughly, cleaning the chimney, then under the stove part, and then the fire box.  Now it's totally safe again.  The soot was starting to build up in the chimney, and the ash was getting somewhat deep everywhere, so I did a good cleaning on it.  Now it will be good till this fall.

I am on baby watch now.  Lupine is due any day.  She is my unplanned pregnancy this year.  I wasn't planning on breeding her till this fall, along with the other does her age, but she squeezed through the fence and got in with Spot 5 months ago, and now is about to be a mom.  I hope she does okay with it!
  The other kids are doing great.  I'll post a picture or two one of these days.

Have a great day!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Heat Wave

  It was hot out today! 98 degrees in the shade behind the house.  That is a new all-time record high temperature for June.  We haven't had a good rain in almost two months now, and this is our rainy season.  The West is way too dry.  The East coast is getting lots of rain I hear.  Must be nice, you can send some this way, please. :-)  

The goats don't seem to be minding the heat.  There are a few that are even laying out in it!  It was way too hot to be in the dehairing room today, so I did some needle felting instead.  I sure enjoy doing that.  The dehairing is going well, albeit slowly.  I still have over 20 fleeces to go.   This year I am going to spin up more yarn so the non-spinners out there can enjoy the luxury of American hand spun Cashmere.  I probably won't have any ready to sell till Fall, it takes a while to spin.  I have to get it dehaired first.  So far I'm working on orders already placed.  If you want some cloud to spin, please let me know soon.  I'm only offering a limited amount this year,  I have a lot of cream colored cashmere this year, not so much in the aspen colors.  There was a lower yield all the way around this year.  What I did get is really nice, though!  

The turkeys and meat birds are not enjoying this heat.  They are laying around panting, not moving around much.  I've been carrying buckets of cold water out to them every few hours so they can at least get a cold drink of water to cool off a little.  If they wouldn't lay in a tight bunch under the trees, they might be a bit cooler.  They all lay together in a bunch, putting off a lot of body heat into each other.  There is a lot of shade out there, so it's not like they don't have the room.  I hope all the free ranging they are doing isn't going to make the meat tough to eat!  I'm feeding them organic food, and they are running around all over the place eating all kinds of goodies out there.  The bugs don't stand a chance!  I'd rather have happy birds that might be a bit tough, than unhappy ones stuck in a little pen not moving much and not enjoying life.  I haven't had any of the leg problems with the meat birds that I've heard they get.  These cornish cross birds are built rather strangely with huge legs and breasts, but they can move good and are cute and friendly in a chicken kind of way.  They sure eat a lot!  I'll be glad when they are in the freezer, but it's going to be hard to process them, I've grown somewhat fond of them and their cute weirdness.  I'll just have to think about how good they will taste, and the good life they've had up till that time.  With the bird flu epidemic wiping out millions of birds, I'm sure glad I got these this year!  I know what they've been eating, where they are from, and that they've had a wonderful life and they are healthy.  It's good to grow your own food!

The garden is doing okay.  The peas are growing slowly.  The broccoli is forming heads without stalks, which is strange.  The cabbage is starting to form.  I planted some beets and carrots last week and they are starting to come up.  I planted some zucchini last week, and tomorrow morning I'm planting some green beans.  The onions and garlic are growing well.  The spinach all bolted, so I'll pull that up and plant beans in there.  

I got Cloud spayed last week.  She weighs 86 pounds at 8 months of age!  Rocky is bigger than her, so he's probably over a hundred pounds!  I sure am happy with these two.  Third time is the charm in the LGD realm.  They have bonded with the goats, they don't bark nearly as much as Nellie, who barks at every noise she hears, no matter where it's at.   They mind fairly well, although if they don't think what I'm asking them to do is a good thing at the moment, they ignore me.  They do come when I call them, which is the most important thing.  They know what NO means, too.  Right now Cloud is a yard dog till she heals up from her surgery.  Her and Rocky visit through the fence for now.  I will be glad when she's back out with the goats.  She gets into everything!  With her size, I keep forgetting there is a puppy brain in there still.  
  If I had to choose another LGD now, between the Great Pyrenees and Turkish Akbash, I'd pick the Akbash hands down.  Nellie is great, but she has always barked way too much.  Every time a neighbor makes a noise, she's barking.  The pups ignore most things unless it's on our property, then they bark and howl and yip.  All kinds of strange noises come out of them.  But, I know there is something out there on our place anyway.  They have shorter hair that is much easier to deal with than Nellie's.  Nellie is 10 years old in a few days!  Time flies.  It seems she was just a little white snowball not too long ago.  Dani is still going strong at 16, despite being almost killed three different times by Nellie the last few years.  When Nellie is anywhere near a bone, nobody can come within 20 feet of her without risking serious bodily injury.  Dani has all kinds of lumps and bumps on her, but she's doing well.  Can't hear or see very well, but she's still walking and trotting all over the place.  Her back legs get weak and she needs help going up steps sometimes, but other than that, she's good to go.  

Well, it's cooled off enough to go out and do the evening chores.  Hope this hot spell ends soon!  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My New Fiber Adventure, Needle Felting

   I have got back into needle felting animals, and am having a blast doing it!  For some reason I got it into me to start doing this again, and they are turning out waay better than the first time I did them a few years ago.  It's amazing!
  These are just two of the critters I've done so far.  A Boer goat and a Moose.  The moose is quite involved, there are a lot of interesting body parts on him.  After studying a lot of pictures online, I have come to the conclusion that there are no two moose that look the same, and even on the same moose, the antlers aren't symmetrical.  It took many hours to make him.  The goats don't take quite so long to do.  

    I am also in the middle of dehairing my cashmere fleeces.  I do have  some outstanding cashmere coming off my goats!  A smaller yield this year, I only have about half the number of goats that I had the year before, and they started shedding out a lot earlier this year, but didn't let loose of all of it, so there just isn't as much as I was anticipating.  When I went back to do the second combings on them, the cashmere wasn't  as good as the first combing, so I just threw most of it away.  I only want to sell and work with the very best of it, even for felting.  Luckily there wasn't very much that I needed to throw out.  Most of it did come off with the first combing. 

  The baby chicks and turkeys are all growing well.  The meat birds are almost big enough to process already.  I'm going to have a hard time doing them in, though.  They are somewhat friendly and are cute!  When I let them out of the "chicken tractor" to run around more, they just go bonkers at first, running around and flapping their wings.  Then they run over to me looking for their food, and I end up tripping over them trying to get to their feeder.  Good thing there are only 12 of them! 
  The 8 turklets are getting big.  There are 5 toms and three hens.  One of the hens gives new meaning to the term "bird brain".  She is always on the wrong side of the fence when the rest of them are going to new areas and can't seem to figure out how they got to where they are. ☺  I usually have to go herd her around the end of the gate, she gets within a foot of it when she's trying to join the others, then turns around and paces back the other way!  Going back and forth, so close, yet so far away...  Silly bird. 
 We have had record heat the beginning of the week, and then last night and today, it's cold enough I have the wood stove going!  Our usual June cold front is going through.  After this is gone, then I can plant the warm weather garden veggies.  At least we didn't get any snow this year!  There have been years when we got 8 inches of wet heavy snow that did quite a big of damage to trees and my flowers, etc.  
  All my peonies are blooming now, and the irises, too.  The yard looks rather pretty.    It smells quite nice out there with all the perfume from the flowers.  
  After the apple trees budded out way too early and froze in April, they are coming back with leaves now.  There isn't going to be much of a harvest this year, but at least the trees are still alive, and there is always next year.  

  The 5 kids are growing fast!  They are so cute, out there bouncing around and playing.  When I let the herd out into the woods to eat, they are tearing around out there jumping up and down on the stumps, logs and rocks.  There are two more Does that will have kids, one sometime this coming week, and one around the 10th of July. 
  I'm going to sell Spot, the white buck I have, pretty soon.  He's 5 years old, throws beautiful kids with excellent fleece, and he's related to too many of the does now.  Time for him to go to a new home and a new group of girls. I've got most of his doe kids, and they are some of the best looking ones out there.  
  Speaking of goats, I'd better get out there and let them out into the pasture/woods for the afternoon so I don't have to feed them any hay this evening.  
                                                            Have a great day!!    

Sunday, April 12, 2015

First Kid

  Here is Cherokee, the first kid born this year.  She is out of Zindy Lou, my only gray colored goat.  She was born April 6th.  I missed the whole thing.  I went out to feed in the evening, and here she was up and mostly cleaned off,  nursing away.  Zindy is a good mom.  I'm spending time with Cherokee every day getting her to be nice and tame.  No more wild goats on this farm!

  I've got back into needle felting.  This is the first horse I've done.  The legs aren't quite right, but other than that, I think it looks like a horse!  I've made some goats, too, but for some reason, the horse has more detail than the goats do.  Maybe that's because I've been around horses since I was 12 years old and goats only 14 years?  I used some mohair for the mane and tail, and wool for the rest of it. I used thin electric fencing wire in the legs to get them sturdy enough to hold up. I really enjoy the felting.  It is fun and it's neat to see what all can come out of stabbing fiber with a barbed needle. :-)

  For yet another year, no babies were born on my birthday.  I was really thinking one would be this year, but it didn't happen.  Oh well, maybe next year....

  The wind has really been blowing the last couple of days.  It's a cold wind, too.  Probably a good thing no babies were born, they'd either blow away or freeze!  There were snowflakes in the air again today, too.  At least the sun is shining so I don't have to run the generator to charge the batteries.

I'm washing more fleeces.  I do a couple every day.  I'm almost half way through them.  I almost cried the other day.  The Akbashes got into 6 bags of fleece and scattered the fiber all over the ground in the combing room, mixing them all up and getting them full of junk, straw, manure, etc.  I saved most of it, but it's all jumbled up now.  The machine is going to really have to work to get this batch cleaned up!  I decided to just mix these fleeces together, they are all similar in color, and since I had to throw away some of it, there wasn't enough left to do individually, so I'm mixing these.  At least I know which goats the fiber came from.  Dang puppies!

Well, it's time to go feed everyone their dinner.  Hope the hay doesn't blow away in the wind when I put it out for them to eat!    

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What a Month!!

   This month has been one heck of a wild ride!  It started out good, my goats are going to be on TV in a reality show around the holidays this fall/winter!  The filming went good, the goats behaved, and all was well till it was time to load them up to come home.  The two wildest goats, Barney and Cleo, both two year olds, made a break for it and headed into the woods.  I wasn't right there when that happened, I was on the other side of the barn, someone came and told me they had escaped.  I guess three of the guys working on the set chased after them, which made them run faster.  They disappeared in the thick woods on the other side of the road and were only seen off and on after that.   That was on the 4th, a Wednesday.  Cleo made it till Sunday night, then she wasn't seen again.  On Tuesday I was over in that area in a huge 1000 acre tract of land following a goat track, so Cleo got ate by something out in there, probably a mountain lion.  I never did see Barney that day. It was BArney's track I was following.  Barney was seen a few times that week, but he was so wild that as soon as someone even started to open their door, he was gone like a shot.  I went on a couple of wild goose chases when I'd get a call saying he'd been seen.  I drove over there as fast as I could, but he was long gone each time.  The last sighting of him was on the 13th.  He probably got ate by a lion, too, or a wolf.  That area on the East side of Flathead Valley has more predators than we do over here!   So that was sad, they both had nice yields of beautiful cashmere!  I'm glad I got them combed before the filming, so I at least have their fleeces from this year.  I have their parents and sisters, so I can make more, but those two will be missed.  Barney had a cute little white dot on his nose, and Cleo was a badger color, which I only have one other goat that color.
  The film crew was a fun group of people to work with.  Except for losing the two goats, I had a great time doing that whole thing.  Bart the goat was a hit, he had to be right in the middle of things seeing what was happening at all times.

  Then on the 7th, Dottie, my little 5 month old Russell Terrier puppy got picked off by a coyote just on the other side of the fence behind the goat pens!  It was just about dark and I was putting up my game camera out there so I could hopefully get a picture of what the dogs had been barking at for the last few nights.  She had been staying close to me, but I turned my back to hook the camera to a tree, and she ran off.  I called and called, and pretty soon I hear a startled yippy bark, then three short shrieks, then nothing.  I ran over there  where I heard her with Nellie following me, but I couldn't find her.  It was all but dark out by then.  Nellie started barking at a thicket of little trees, but wouldn't go in there, and I didn't want to get too close since I could barely see anyway.  The next morning we went over there again, and Nellie found two little pools of blood on a trail, and that was it.  I searched in a wide area around those pools and didn't even find Dottie's collar.   That was really sad.  I only had her for two and a half months, but she had wormed her way into my heart pretty good.   I must admit, it's a lot quieter around here without her.  Reggie the cat misses her the most.  They were best buddies and played together all the time.  I have decided that I won't ever get a tiny dog again, this just isn't the right setting for one.  I'm sticking with the big dogs like the Akbashes, they are huge and they are only 5 months old now.
  So in the space of 4 days, I lost three animals!  

  I have all the goats combed already!  They all shed early this year, even Mandy, who normally doesn't even start to let loose of her fleece till May.  Now I am in the process of washing the fleeces, then I'll get the machine up and running and get it all dehaired.  I should have it all done by the end of May, which will be the earliest that has ever happened.   I'll have time to do other people's cashmere this year,  and they will get their fiber back before October!

  This has been the strangest winter/spring, weather-wise we've ever had, at least that I remember.  The flowers are blooming, the grass is green and there isn't a speck of snow anywhere!  The garlic is coming up, too.  Usually at this time we are still buried in snow!  Many a year we've had more snow fall in March than the rest of the whole winter, but not this year.  I just hope it rains on a regular basis all summer!

   I signed up for another two acres of thinning to do.  I'm doing out behind the goat pens, and then down at the bottom of our property.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of little "pencil" trees that need to be cut out of there.  They are so thick I can't walk through it, and it's perfect for predators hiding out, as evidenced by Dottie getting killed.  Although she was on the outside of the fence by a few feet.  It's a big fire hazard if a forest fire happens.  So, I'll be doing that along with all the other things around here.  I have a few helpxers coming, so they can help me with everything, thank heavens for them!  Thank-you Heidi for telling me about the HelpX site!

   Well, I think that's all that has happened this month.  A stressful one for sure.  Now I'm hoping for a goat kid to be born on my birthday in April.  There are two does that are due around that day, so maybe this will be the year I get a baby for my birthday!        

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter, or Not

   Are we all enjoying winter yet?  We've had warm, spring-like weather, the East is buried in snow and cold.  We did get just short of 2 inches of snow last night.  Today the sun is out with a few clouds.  There is a breeze, too.  Now it's more like a normal winter, at least for a few days.  The apple trees are starting to bud out, and there is a robin hanging around up here already!  
  I actually raked up the yard and burned the tall grass out of the iris bed on Thursday.  That is the earliest I've ever done that.  Now it's supposed to get into the single digits tonight, so I am really hoping the apple trees don't die.  At least the snow is covering the tender tiny spinach plants and flowers that are starting to come up.  
  I've got about half the goats combed, I hope the combed ones can stay warm enough tonight and over the next few days.  I'll be feeding extra hay to help keep them warm.  The act of digesting warms them up.  

  I've been driving up our road in 2 wheel drive, unheard of this time of year!  Usually it's either an ice skating rink, or almost blocked with snow.  I must admit, I've been enjoying it, I haven't had to shovel any snow for over a month, and there is little to no ice to break on all the water troughs and buckets for the animals.  

  The Akbash pups are growing up fast.  They are pretty tall already.  Dottie is still ruling the roost around here.  Now that the snow is mostly gone, she is venturing out far and wide if I'm not constantly watching her.  She's caught a mouse or two, along with Reggie the cat.  I'm thinking they are going to make a good rodent catching team this summer.  

  Today I am dyeinig two skeins of yarn.  One a solid blue, and the other a variegated blue, yellow and green.  I'm going to make me a nice hat out of them.  The cashmere is from Emma, who is getting up there in age and her fiber isn't quite in the micron range of true cashmere anymore.  Since this is probably the last fleece I get from her, I decided to make something for me.  It's still soft, and has incredible style, it's just a hair coarser than it should be for true cashmere.  (no pun intended)  The variegated one is mixed with silk.  A little over four ounces with both skeins, so that should make a nice hat.  

  I am out of last year's cashmere now.  At least the stuff I wanted to sell.  I saved the short stuff and coarser fiber to do some needle felting with.  I think I'll make some animals with it.   Someday I want to get a needle felting machine and make some vests and things with it.  

  Well, I'm out to trim the two dairy girl's hooves now.   I hope everyone that is in the cold regions stays warm, and everyone else enjoys the mild weather where you are!  Have a wonderful day!   


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Combing, dyeing and puppies

 Here are my favorite tools for combing my goats.  The brush has a nifty button that pushes the fiber to the end of the teeth, and the comb gets most of the cashmere off the goat pretty easily.  I use the comb first, then the brush to go over the goat a final time after I'm done combing.  I've tried lots of different combs over the years, and these two work the best.  I just got the brush the other day. I had one that didn't have the button on it, but the pups chewed the handle on that one pretty good, so I got this one at Petsmart.
 My dyeing didn't turn out quite like I was expecting, but they are pretty colors anyway.  I had a little too much water in the pan and the dyes kind of blended together.  I started out with a nice blue, peach, and canary yellow, and it's mostly green and tans.  Not what I was trying for, but it turned out good, maybe even better than my original plan. ☺
These are my three puppies, two Turkish Akbash livestock guardians, and a tiny Russell Terrier.  Cloud, Dottie and Rocky.  Cloud and Rocky are a brother sister team, and Dottie is my all around terrorist.  I've never had a dog this small before, always had medium to big ones.  She is the littlest creature on the place, and she's taken over the whole place.  She has a Great Dane attitude in that little body. She is fearless, even around the goats.  I got her to keep the rodents in check around here.  She is best buds with the cat, too.  Maybe they will team up and get the rats, too!  That's what I'm hoping for.   All three were born in October, 10 days apart.  The big pups are already barking at deer  and people that come around.  I think they will be great guardians of the goats.  They don't try to herd the goats, either.  Now I am set for dogs for the next 8 to 10 years!
  Our winter has been fairly mild, over all.  We've had a few cold snaps, but it's been above normal for a while now.  It's rainy today, and supposed to be for the rest of the week.  Last week we were a good 10° warmer than down in the valley, and sunny, too.  They were in a foggy inversion and we were in the sun.  It was nice!  I got a lot of the goats combed then.  I think I'm up to 19 that are done now.  There are 28 left to do.  They seem to be shedding earlier this year.  I've always had a few that started early, but this year everyone is.  Guess that means I'll get it all done and processed earlier, finally! There is less guard hair in it when it's combed out this early, too. That will give me time to get some other projects done around here that have been put off for too long.  Hope I get some helpxers here, especially late summer into fall.

  That's all the news for now.  More as it happens....  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy New Year!

 Well, winter didn't leave after all.  I am almost snowed it!  It is snowing again tonight.  Our new neighbor bought a plow this year so we wouldn't have to hire someone to do the plowing, but he doesn't quite know what he's doing, so now the road is an extremely narrow tunnel, with only a couple of turn-outs on the entire 4 mile stretch!  We are going to have to hire someone with a bulldozer to widen it.  Cha-ching!

  In a weak moment I got another puppy.  This time she's a tiny little Russell Terrier, which are smaller versions of the Jack Russell Terrier.  The cat is bigger than she is.  As you can see from the picture, Nellie isn't quite sure what to do with her.  I named her Dottie, she has one brown dot on her white back.  Since my dairy goat Dottie is deceased for two years now, I figured I could recycle the name.  RT Dottie is one feisty little girl!  She has a temper on her.  Reggie the cat and her play together, wrestling and rolling around on the floor.  Reggie either bit or clawed her a little too hard today and she went right after him, growling and biting.  They got into a fight that I had to break up!  Silly kids. :-)    
 Rocky is growing, and he likes to play with Dottie, too.  He's a bit rough with her sometimes, but she holds her own.  She goes out with me to do the chores and that's when I let Rocky out of his pen, so he can run around and come into the goat pens with me when I'm feeding.  Dottie just runs around in between and under the goats, and they pretty much ignore her.  Lupine butted her gently today, and Dottie went after her!  She does not take anything from anyone.
Dani is still hanging in there, she's getting weaker, her back legs don't work as good as they used to,  I have to help her up the stairs most of the time.  I got Dottie to replace Dani, and I was hoping Dani would teach Dottie some manners, but she pretty much avoids her.  Dottie is the littlest creature on the place, and she has pretty much taken over!

There are only 5 pregnant does out there this year.  It will be one of the smallest  kid crops I've ever had.  They aren't due till April and May.

I've been busy spinning and crocheting lately.  Almost done with all the cashmere that was left, which wasn't very much, actually.  Kits with patterns and the yarn to make them will be coming up soon. I've designed a couple of patterns that can either be a scarf or a cowl.  I'm also going to have some wrist warmers, too. I got a bit behind with it all, spending three days shoveling and plowing out the place from the last storm.  Hope this one doesn't drop as much snow!  I've barely recovered from the last one!  One thing about it, living up here I sure don't need to belong to a gym to get a good work-out.  ☺

I hope everyone has a wonderful, spectacular 2015!