Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some Work

I had painted this wool roving before Christmas & had started to spin it up but then set it aside.  I pulled it out yesterday to finish but knew that, as pretty as it was on the bobbin, I really did not want it just aqua green.  I ended up plying it with some pretty light caramel alpaca.  The color is much more appealing to me now and the alpaca added even more softness and nice drape to the wool.  I'll finish the rest today but I am content with the first batch.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Ben, our 17 & 1/2 pound cat, lays in the middle of the floor with the dogs rather than up on a couch or windowsill like the other cats.  I noticed him snuggling with Sadie, the Anatolian pup.  I managed to get one picture before Sadie moved.  That irritated Ben who has a very short temper.  He gave Sadie a few good kicks in the head.  Sadie scooted over a few inches and was soon back to her nap.  Ben is now trying to force his way into my lap as I work on the computer.  I am gingerly keeping him at bay as he is a stinker when he doesn't get his own way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Bit of Snow

We did get snow for Christmas.  It is not going to last much longer and barely slowed anyone down around here.  The goats did stand under shelter and pout while it was snowing, the cats tiptoed a bit so as not to get wet feet but the sheep, cattle and donkeys pretty much ignored it all.  Their treks through the pasture have helped with the snow melt so that we now have snow in just the shadier spots.  Bitsy, one of the new gals from North Carolina, barely seemed to notice the whole production but did enjoy the extra hay that Al put out when the snow began.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Riff Raff

Each sheep in this little crew thinks it is special.  Only two in the picture were originally brought into the stable during our earlier bitter cold weather because we wanted to keep an eye on them.  Ally, who is at the top left, is a sweet little girl who just has never seemed to thrive but she's kept at it for 3 years now.  She was christened Ally a few years ago when one of the dogs played roughly with her and caused a few rough spots on her skin.  We sprayed her down with shiny bright silver Alu-Shield so that she would heal more quickly.  Some how we went from calling her the lamb with the Alu-Shield on her to just calling her Ally.  She is also the little gal who has a dark brown patch at the base of her spine where she laid up under the heat lamp and scorched her wool.  The burn got nowhere near her skin, just took the tips off in a perfect circular patch.  She seems to live a less-than-charmed life but is very friendly and content.

Since we never put an animal up without a companion, we let another sheep join her when she first went into the stable.  That little sheep had a little buddy who stood outside the stable door as the two of them baaaaed at each other.  We let that little one join its friend.  One of the older Shetland ewes (the darkest one in the crowd) realized that those sheep were getting special treatment so slipped in one of the times I opened the door to check on the first sheep.  She decided the indoor life wasn't so bad so began joining the others.  She attracted another hanger-on.

Yesterday was a pretty day so we threw everyone out for the afternoon.  When I went out at the end of the day to feed the dogs the sheep watched me open the barnyard gate and immediately ran to the stable door. I'm sure you can see the look of anticipation on their faces as they wait to be put in for the night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Bales

Everyone is thrilled with new round bales to tear into.  Al delivered bales in the terrible fog last night.  The Dexter cattle immediately tore their two bales into big piles and were having a big time wading through them this morning.
Gwen & Sadie were also enjoying a new bale but only as a piece of playground equipment.  Gwen jumps up without difficulty but Sadie needs to work a little harder at the feat.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Katy's Home

Katy is home for winter break & the pups were so glad to see her.  
She's also been great help in breaking the ice out of the water troughs.  It has been clear and cold here so we are spending a good bit of the day chipping out ice and refilling troughs.  The donkeys' trough had been cleaned the night before but our 15 degree temperature froze it enough that Katy had to jump in it to break up the ice.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This is the first thing I saw as I walked out to feed the geese this morning.  Upon closer inspection, I realized this little Angora doe had merely been romping through the poke berries.  Her stain was much too purple to be blood.

On a lighter note, the goats were thrilled with a delicious treat from the Hyatt.  We have an arrangement with the downtown Hyatt so that they save their kitchen prep scraps for us.  They keep them refrigerated in large cans in the walk-in cooler until Al picks them up.  He runs by at least every other day on his way home from work for these goodies.  Most often they are things like carrot peelings, romaine leaves, corn husks and cobs as well as any fresh produce that doesn't quite meet their chefs' high standards.  Al keeps a running account of the weight of what he brings home and some months it is as high as a ton of goodies that go to our creatures rather than into a dumpster.

I opened the can Saturday morning to find the entire top stuffed full of fennel!  Although that is something that doesn't much appeal to the chickens, the goats were simply thrilled.  Vincent, who is the old goat who can jump every fence on the farm, was such a nuisance that I had to close the can tightly between carrying loads to the other goats.  I carried five big arm loads to the pasture and it seems I made everyone's day with this high-class treat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Irksome Photo Session

This is why I don't do etsy - you have to photograph your work & I just have too much help here on the farm.  I just wanted a few quick pictures of the vases I'd felted last night but everyone had to see what I was doing.  Joey, the cat, kept casting shadows as he investigated.  A band of goats came around the corner when they heard the door open, convinced that I must be coming out with treats for them.  Vincent Van Goat, our LaMancha wether, felt obliged to "mark" me by rubbing his face all over my head as I squatted down to take a picture.  I don't believe I ever did get a decent picture but I certainly had a little quality time with the creatures.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Cold Day

Much of my day has been spent with extra chores because of the cold weather.  The water troughs all had a thick coat of ice.  I was able to remove one sheet in a single piece so I leaned it up against the edge of the trough to take a picture.  Sadie was excited about a drink that didn't have to be sucked from the edge of the ice.
One of the goats found a nice warm spot where the sun was reflecting off the end of the chicken shed.  As she warmed up, some little annoying bug must have gotten more active also as she was scratching with those wonderful horns.
So much of the interesting green things to eat have withered away for the winter so the chickens are even more excited about the prep scraps that the Hyatt saves for us.  Chickens are not known for their smarts but they sure have figured out that when one of us comes out with the big black can there will be good eats.   They follow from quite a distance and then can barely wait while we prepare to dump the can.  These are not hungry birds; they walked away from the full feeders to see what I might have.  This load was mostly melon rinds and some slightly wilted herbs.  That looks pretty good when the pastures are dry for winter.

The last thing I did before coming in at noon was to stuff a new bed to go into a dog house.  Mollie, our German Shorthaired Pointer, and Amanda, a cross-breed dog from the pound, share a large dog house that already had a nice blanket but I laid awake in bed last night wondering if the two old dogs were cold.  This morning I found an old sheet, filled it with one of the extra fleeces from the stable and tied it all into a cozy cushion.  I shoved it in the dog house to the delight of Mollie who was the first in.  Amanda waited patiently while Mollie sniffed and then began stomping the bed into place.  As I walked back to fill another trough, I noticed both snuggled down in their wooly new bed.

A cold day makes the simple outdoor chores longer but the sky is still a beautiful blue and it is hard to complain about much.  Especially when I can return to the house to curl up with my cup of tea and a little knitting.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yes, it is cold outside

If you look closely at the Shetland ram's nose, you will see a fly paralyzed there. I imagine it was still alive but chilled enough that it could not move on. I noticed it on the way out to gather eggs so stopped on the way back to see if it had taken off. It was still there even with the high winds. Apparently it was enjoying the nice wool carpeting!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Chilly Morning

The sun had come up enough to begin to warm the stable wall. The goats were enjoying the dry sidewalk as well as the heat radiating back from the stable siding. I can almost guess the morning temperature based on how desperately everyone is trying to find a sunny spot.
One little goat was in the stable under a heat lamp that is usually used for raising chicks. Al had felt sorry for the little goat and plugged in the lamp. It is a good thing the goat is covered in mohair and that mohair has a very high ignition temperature because the goat apparently got too close to the lamp. I found a charred brown spot on her back that smelled like burnt hair. It was just the very tips of her fiber so no injury but I would hate for a burning goat to torch the entire stable!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Winter Preparations

One of the buildings where the chickens like to hang out has a huge door at the side that we leave propped open all spring and summer. The door at the end of the building is much smaller and is used many times a day but this door has become more of a movable wall. The walls of the building are tin so it tends to heat up but leaving the big door open makes it a very comfortable place for the nesting birds. In the winter we close the door and the building stays pleasantly warm on the coldest of days, the tin walls radiating heat. Since chickens love to forage and move dirt around (as well as produce a bit of their own "dirt") the door gets stuck open. It was a nippy morning which reminded me that it is about time to shut the big door. But the big door doesn't shut without a little work on my part.... As I started to dig the chickens realized that I was literally mining all sorts of tasty bugs for them. I dug out half of the path of the door but will finish later once the snacking is over.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks for all the help....

Unloading feed can be a challenge. Vincent Van Goat, the light gray LaMancha, can jump every fence on the farm so he just follows the truck back to the stable. Kermit, our Nubian buck, happened to be in the barnyard this morning but didn't sneak around to the truck until we were almost done unloading. I held the goats back while Al got most of the chicken feed out but I got distracted by the dogs as he was almost finished so Vince and Kermit felt they could move on in. Boys!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The weather is just pleasantly mild so it seemed like a good day to pull out a few fleeces and begin some of my "winter" washing. I have to dye these two fleeces for my needle felting students. I've already got a dye pot of yellow and another of orange simmering as those are very popular with the children. Once I wash these fleeces I'll dye parts of them also.
The picker is a slightly intimidating but wonderful tool. It opens up the greasy locks so that some of the dirt falls out before I wash. Madison, the beagle, was bored with watching me work but I was pleased to get a fair bit finished.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

End of the Day

I love the end of a quiet day. The eggs have been gathered, everyone is fed and just winding down. I was returning from feeding the pasture dogs and decided to check the water trough in Oliver's pasture. These two kids were just getting cozy as the temperature was dropping for the evening. They are unrelated goats but were born about the same time and, at least for the evening, are very comfortable together.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Too much help.....

It is amazing how everything I do can attract attention here. This has been a particularly "busy" week for the cats who have helped me with both dyeing and spinning. Madison, the beagle, found a box of fleece that the donkey had knocked over so decided it was a good place to spend a chilly morning. That's why I hide my favorite fleeces until I have a chance to get them washed and spun up!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Little Modelling

I have been invited to do the Winter Art Market at Art Crossing at Riverplace. I am so excited! One of my tasks was to submit a brief bio & pictures of my work. Al drug out his good camera and we used Kelli, our beautiful daughter-in-law, as a scarf model. But just for laughs, we let Bart have his turn too.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Guts

I baked a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin and had lots of yummy guts, seeds and skin after cleaning out the meat. I decided to share it with the crew outside. I offered it to the first sheep I came across but they turned up their noses. They would ordinarily eat raw pumpkin but there was something about the cooked stuff that they found to be off-putting.

Eve,the little front yard donkey, took a taste but was not impressed so I carried the bucket to the back and set it down with some of the goats. They were much more enthused, licking it almost spotless. And that IS a sticky little goat nose in the final picture.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Speaking of Shelter

Regina is our oldest Anatolian so we let her train Allez,one of the sisters. Both dogs in that pasture have the entire woods and creek to play in and a nice barn to snuggle up in. But apparently that wasn't enough shelter or entertainment as someone decided to dig a burrow. It is one huge hole, so large that one of the one hundred pound pups can easily fit in it.