Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I just found out yesterday that I have been accepted to the Indie Craft Parade here in Greenville in the fall. I am so excited but really need to kick things into gear to keep up with Saturday Market and still make a splash at this two-day event!

I awoke this morning knowing that I could stay home all day and get lots accomplished. I pulled out a pound of creamy white alpaca roving that I had in my fiber stash. I wanted to soak it so that I could dye it. I realized I needed a bucket so went out the downstairs door for one of the new goat milk replacer buckets. The supply of new buckets sort of takes the sting off of the cost of bottle feeding orphans. Well, I went out for a bucket and realized that I hadn't given Amy, our oldest Anatolian Shepherd, her arthritis meds yet. So I went back up the stairs for her Rimadyl, forgetting to take a bucket with me. As I was coming back down the stairs, I made a mental note to bring the pineapple in the outside refrigerator in to the kitchen so that I could clean it for afternoon snacking. I gave Amy her pills and realized her water dish needed rinsed and refilled.

I walked around to the hose at the side of the house and noticed the oxen standing next to their water trough and staring at me. That usually means their water is getting low so I turned on that hose. I used the other side of the tap to fill Amy's bowl and then returned it to her. I noticed a smidgen of beautiful gray fleece peeking out of a bag in the carport. It was a fleece that Al brought home from a spring shearing job when the farmer didn't want it. It was shiny with a fine crimp and lots of shades of gray. I unstuffed the bag and spread the fleece out on a six foot table that stays at the edge of the carport. I picked out a few locks to decide how dirty the fleece was and how I wanted to spin it when it dawned on me that the hose to the oxen was still running. I walked over to turn it off.

The geese followed me on their side of the fence so I decided to go around to the garden and trim some of the grass between the raised beds to treat them. The three bottle lambs saw me as I came through the gate and came bawling across the pasture. I managed to push their little heads away as I slid through the gate to the garden. They watched me for a few minutes as I trimmed grass but lost interest and the hope of another bottle so they wandered off. I dumped the grass in with the geese, snapped a long stem of basil off for the rabbit and went back to the fleece. I checked that I'd turned off the oxen water but got distracted by a volunteer squash plant growing up in the brick pile. It has been hot and dry so I decided to water that ambitious little squash. A moment later I was headed back to the fleece. I picked a few locks apart and began a pile of nicer wool to work with after I started a dye pot. I headed back in the house to soak the alpaca fiber so that I could lug it to the stable and start my dyeing before the day got hot.

On the way up the stairs, I realized I hadn't yet fed the outdoor cats. I headed to the back of the house for cat food and then dumped it on the front deck where the cats wait each morning. I went back to the kitchen to begin to soak the alpaca. The ball of alpaca roving was still on the counter where I'd left it when I went to get the bucket. That is good - often the cats help me with my fiber projects but I was lucky this time. I weighed the ball so that I could split it in halves. I then realized I had no bucket.

I very purposefully went back downstairs and made an effort to look at absolutely nothing as I walked to the pile of buckets. I grabbed the top bucket, turned and went back into the house and up the stairs. I managed to arrive at the kitchen with that bucket. I filled it with water and a smidgen of soap then gently tucked in the alpaca. I let it soak for a few minutes while I did a few fiddly things around the house. Then I headed to the stable to begin dyeing. I made it to my dyeing stall with only a few distractions. And right now I am waiting for the steaming to finish so that I can retrieve the roving, rinse it, hang it to dry and spin it by the end of the week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The growing kids now think anything in their yard and pasture is part of the playground equipment. Luckily, a little wear & tear on the tractor or the horse trailer is not the end of the world. At one point when, of course, I did not have a camera in hand, there were three goat kids in line to play on the horse trailer. They would jump up on the fender two at a time and then someone would get pushed off the opposite side. It looked like they were waiting at the top of a sliding board. We're just glad they are healthy and inquisitive!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Already

Baloo has a nice hole dug into the old barn so that he can hide from the heat by snuggling into the cool dirt floor inside. Baloo, our new Great Pyrenees, is the one who dug the whole but he and Gwen, one of the Anatolian pups, share it. When Allez, Gwen's sister, visits their pasture she slides in also. The dogs continue to enjoy a good romp and love to wrestle but they are doing that more in the early morning before the heat gets bad.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Well, no picture but plenty of words

I am in a school this week which is always lots of fun! I am teaching nutrition to small groups of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders. I started the day wanting to know a bit about my population so decided to ask lots of questions which they enthusiastically answered. One of my questions was, "what is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?". Somehow that question got turned around to, "What is the nastiest thing you've ever eaten?". Cooked carrots was a popular response. One child had eaten sushi and seemed less than thrilled about it. Someone said their aunt eats fruit salad with pineapple. Another piped up, "You can't eat them things 'cause all them pointy parts." Obviously, that led to an instant addition to lesson plans for our next time together - we will be dissecting a real pineapple.

They were asking me questions about what I did and I was explaining some of my farm duties. I told them of gathering eggs, washing, drying, weighing and packing them so that they could go to Saturday Market with me. One girl asked how I get the chickens out of the eggs so I can sell them. My first thought was that she was asking how I get the eggs out from under the chickens.... I asked if that is what she meant and she shook her head no and repeated the question. Then she added, "Chickens come out of eggs, right?" I pondered for a moment and realized she thought I had to get chickens out of the rest of the egg so that all I was selling was an egg. I explained the difference between a fresh egg and one that had been properly incubated for 21 days so that a chick could develop and hatch. Then I got a good chuckle envisioning myself standing at the kitchen sink, carefully breaking eggs and extracting chickens before sealing the eggs back up. When I told this to a friend, her comment was, "And you do it flawlessly, I've never noticed the seam."

School really was good but I did ask permission to change something. When the children first arrived, each was given a carton of grape juice and a packaged muffin. They picked at this as they watched a movie while waiting for camp to begin. When it was time to break into groups, each child carried their breakfast remains to the trash can. I watched as there were many muffins with barely a bite taken out of them pitched into the huge gray can. Some had never even been opened. I asked permission to bring a bucket today. All those blueberry muffins will be a nice little snack for some of our critters this afternoon.

Once school finished I had several errands to run. I had managed to felt a little soap-in-a-coat before I'd gone to the school but by the time I ran errands, gathered eggs and got them washed up for the day and did a few more routine chores around here, I had no gumption to do much else in the fiber department. Fortunately, Katy is here all day to gather the morning eggs and keep up with the babies. She'd already bottled the lambs so that I was not met by screaming wool balls when I arrived home.

Today I should be home shortly after noon. I have a gorgeous black fleece that Al sheared off of a pretty little sheep we call Baby Anise. I'd love to sit outside in dirty clothes with a big towel on my lap and just spin that up in the grease. I know with this heat that I'll get coated with greasy lanolin but the process is well worth it as the yarn is always so interesting once it is washed and dried. The heat really doesn't bother me and I enjoy the company of a few animals as I sit and spin.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where does a week go....

I realized it has been over a week since I've posted. Time has flown with mundane chores, a few simple errands and preparing for another Saturday Market. So I will give you just a few updates.

Baloo is fitting in so nicely. He and Gwen have become best of friends. Baloo also kindly spent a fair bit of time digging a hole under the back door of the old barn so that he and Gwen could hide in the dirt in the back stall. For now they both wiggle in and out of that hole which should work out just fine until either grows a bit. Baloo did have his first vet visit. At six months old he weighs 60 pounds. He is healthy and now has the first of his shots. He will get his booster shots in 3 weeks and will also be neutered.

Ravi, our male Anatolian, has decided that Baloo is just the greatest thing. I let them play together in the barnyard once or twice a day and they just roll around like fools. Gwen and Allez also think he's a special little buddy. It is such a relief that, unless it is feeding time, everyone is getting along nicely.

I still have three lambs on bottles but we are down to three bottles a day and I am going to cut that back again in the coming week. Carl, Lil and April are all growing out nicely. They've also figured out where the bottles come from - Carl and April slipped through a gate that was not tightly chained last week. I heard a noise at the front door and discovered the two of them standing on the steps waiting for me.

April is going to make her last appearance at Saturday Market this week. She is now old enough to stay home but I had one customer specifically ask if she could be there this week as she would have a grandchild in town.

I really have to spend more time at the spinning wheel. I did spin a sample of a friend's fleece earlier in the week. I spun it "in the grease" which means I did not wash the wool first. It was a nice Shetland fleece (speaking proudly as the sheep came originally from our farm) and the beautiful colors that showed up after I washed the yarn were so nice. I need to just sit down in the coming week and start spinning some of this year's fleeces.

The chickens and ducks are laying nicely. Some of the garlic needs to be dug. I weed at the garden a little each day, especially as the geese love the tender young weeds that I pull out. We have a hay delivery coming today or tomorrow depending on what the weather does. So basically all is well here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A New Fellow

We added another livestock guardian dog on Monday. Baloo is a 6 month old Pyrenees/Kangal cross who came from North Carolina. He was already working with goats, horses and chickens. He is a shy gentleman so we kept him in the house from Monday night until Wednesday morning so that he could warm up to us. We transferred him to the pasture Wednesday. He had apparently never seen a leash before and since it was a bit of a haul out to his pasture it seemed easier to plop him in the wheelbarrel for the trip. Ravi checked him out along the way and apparently gave his approval almost immediately.

Gwen was initially reluctant to accept him. She spent a good twenty minutes barking at him and making intimidating moves without injuring him. She even placed her mouth around his head a few times and also around his ears but never bit down. She was just letting him know that he was in her pasture. He just rolled over and grinned his typical Great Pyrenees grin. Within the hour the two of them were romping.

When I walked back out later, Baloo stood up and barked. As soon as I spoke his name his huge tail began to slowly wag back and forth. He then turned around, sauntered off and laid down in the shade of the tractor barn. Looks like his work skills transferred from North Carolina to our farm!