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!