Chickens!!!

It’s a great Monday morning here at the farm. Everyone is content, settled, and happy. Just lounging in the barnyard. The view has changed over the weekend with the addition of some new girls…chickens to be specific. Every since “Beau Cocks” came here as a stray rooster we’ve discussed adding a few hens and this weekend was the right time. Saturday, we went to a Chicken Swap, something we’d never even heard of and found a couple of really nice girls. Also, we’re pretty much certain that Beau is a Welsumer Rooster. The Welsumer is the Kellogg’s Rooster, so he’s a real honor to have (when he’s not spurring and crowing constantly)..but back to the new girls. Our chicken collection now sports an adult Araucana hen, an Araucana Pullet, a Welsumer hen and an American Game Hen. Here are a few shots of them:

American Game Hen

Araucana Hen

Welsumer Hen

Something else we did was purchase fertile eggs from Araucana hens, several we’re not sure about and 6 Buff Orpington. Since the Game Hen is a huge success in her appearance and temperament, we’re saving her eggs to incubate too. Oh yes, we bought an Incubator! So we are definitely chicken ready now. How, you may ask, is Beau Cocks handling the new girls..well, if you remember from previous posts he thinks he’s a sheep..he still does! He is, however, starting to be protective of them. He’ll learn.

If anyone has checked out our website recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed what a mess it is. For now let’s just call it a work in progress. Just as I was getting the site ready and uploaded, Mom was released from Pulmonary Rehab and it’s been a new drama everyday which, once again, is taking me away from the farm and the business. I hope that very soon, I will announce the new website on the Blog and everyone will have something complete and professional to view. Until then..bear with me.

Have a wonderful day!!


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When Is It Too Much Rain?

This has been a burning question for days now. Every time we turn on the news, we see reports about flooding..every time we look out our door, we see flooding. There has to be a point where enough is enough. Our pastures are on the way to lush and green but any grass growth that happens to be under the taller stuff is rotting. Our garden spot is standing in water, not because the drainage is bad but because there is so much water it has no where to go. The sheep and goats are both looking for elevated surfaces to stand on..s.o.p. for a goat but sheep are typically ground dwellers.

On the plus side though, all of this moisture is making for an absolutely beautiful Spring. The herbs are growing by leaps and anything that could bloom, is blooming. There are many new Irises showing this year that we’ve never seen before..can’t wait to see what colors they are. For years we have only had one or two little Lilly of The Valley pop up and bloom. The year I’ve counted 68 individual plants coming up. So from the floral garden standpoint..the rains (and snows) have created a beautiful display.

Talked to my shearer yesterday and we’re scheduled for shearing in two weeks. I know my girls will be happy when that’s done. Two of my smaller (more Romney) girls were actually walking on their side fleece, so this weekend I trimmed up their sides..the fleeces are really nice. I still think that I’m going to do a “pool it all together” processing this year. Since the Alpaca fleeces that I have are so plentiful and our girls fleeces are looking so great, a blended fiber will be nice and something very different. The end result should give me a lot of fiber to dye, over-dye and leave natural, so keep a look out for those to be listed around May or June. I have several people on a waiting list to get samples and if any of our readers are interested in samples too, just email me or leave a comment. When they’re ready, I’ll email you to get your address.

While on the subject of fleeces, all of my little goat crosses (Angora x Alpine) blew their fleeces almost a month early. I wasn’t able to salvage any of it. The fleece that they produce is the equivalent of Cashmere with the luster of Mohair. It’s really pretty, takes dye very well and I love to blend it with my white sheep wool..but not this year.

Soap update..it’s curing nicely and I should be getting it out to my customers very soon. I have cut back on the variety of fragrances for the time being (until I get orders caught up) and am going to start a Garden Collection of fragrances later in the season. I am still experiencing a hold up on the lotions and butters but hope to get started on those soon.

Have a wonderful day and safe day!

Sorry I’ve Been Gone For Awhile

I’m sorry I keep sharing with everyone about my Mother. I know that it can become depressing after a while but she had taken a turn for the worst over the last couple of weeks and I’ve spent a lot of time with her and not much here at the farm. It is my pleasure to share with you that she is doing better. She has finally found a doctor that is very capable of reading her, reading test results and making diagnosis that are apparently correct. She seems to be on the fast track to recovery!

As you know, before this last bout with Mom’s illness, I had opened an Etsy Store. I am still very excited about that even though I have not experienced the joy of a first sale. Getting this Etsy thing right seems to be a full time job in itself but I think I’m getting there. Please, when you get a chance stop by and see what we have available. The plan, once I have everything moved over, is to eliminate our ProStores shopping cart and have our new website devoted solely to the Farm and our Etsy store devoted to all product sales. Here I thought farming was going to be about tending the livestock and gardens..ha!

Things here at the Farm have been fairly quiet. Everyone is enjoying this little heat wave (it’s suppose to be in the 60’s here today) and the sheep have made it their mission to seek out every new blade of grass and devourer it. We got a new round bale last week, so every time I look out the window there is a goat dancing around on top of it. Those girls are showing signs of being good and pregnant now..they’re not due to kid until the end of March, so my best guess is we are looking at a lot of twins (good work Antonio!). We didn’t breed the sheep this year, so their fleeces are to “dye” (hehe) for. Spring will bring a nice bounty. Even Kosmo’s fleece is much nicer than in past years. I can’t wait to have mounds of fluff to work with. We have a new processor in Virginia now and I’m definitely going to give them a try this year. The samples I’ve received have been first class.

Well it’s off to soap making! Got to get those Valentine orders out there on the shelves.

Until next time be safe.

It Always Seems Like I’m Getting Ready!

With the two events of last week behind me, I am getting ready for the first deliveries for the Co-op Winter Season. I’m also getting ready for a second attempt at the Fall Festival at Brookview Farm. Saturday’s event was rained out, so they are going to try again this coming Saturday. Several of my customers have placed sizable orders in anticipation of early Holiday shoppers..so I’m getting those ready too. Yes, I feel like I’m always getting ready! I’ve reduced my milkings to once a day now that the girls have been bred, so I’m only making soap and lotion every other day. Thankfully, I have a good bit of milk frozen, so we should make it through the season easily. Another words…order, order, order!

I feel so fortunate to have been part of the Wisteria Faire last week. There are so many nice things to say about the event starting with Mother and Daughters that put it together. They had done such a beautiful and efficient job in the planning stage that all went off without a hitch. This event was at two private homes which was really kind of neat. My booth was set up on the front porch of the daughters’ home..want to talk about a captive audience, everyone had to walk by me on the way into the house..so everyone saw me. We sold a nice mix of goats milk products and fiber items. It was so nice to see people buy yarn for Christmas gifts. The first day was a little slow, but that gave me time to work on a spinning order that I have. It was just wonderful and an email today let me know that there will probably be another in the Spring! Yeah!

You will notice that I have a new tab at the top of my Blog for the Co-op. My intention with this page is to list weekly, in detail, what we have listed on the Co-op. I think some of the reason why our sales are so very low may have to do with members not knowing exactly what it is they would be purchasing from us. Hopefully, this will help..we’ll see. Feedback on this will be appreciated, this is why I have left Comments open on the new page.

Well I must go do round two battle with Verizon (the phone Co.) over our internet. So far today they have eaten about 2 hours of my time with no resolution. Since I have nothing else to do today (HA) my patience is wearing mighty thin!

Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials

Yesterday we decided a day off from everything was necessary for mental and physical health. We got up early, took care of the livestock and headed for Montpelier in Orange county, VA, to the Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials.

What a beautiful day! We still can’t believe how clear the air was . It was a little cool when we left home but by the time we arrived, it was in the mid 70’s. An added benefit to the trip was the leaves are starting to turn. We took in everything – all 5 large tents with rows of vendors selling everything fiber – beautiful hand dyed silk and wool blend yarns and rovings – there was a lot of yarn. It seemed that the vendors choose to cater more to the hand worker than the spinner.

We passed by the outside tents and went over to the Livestock Exhibit tent. They had a good example of various different fiber producing animals – the Angora Rabbits, Llama and Alpaca were not represented very well in this exhibit but I later found more of them in the outside tents. After looking around we found our friends Magi & Jay from Magi’s Wood Farm, you know, where we just got our Icelandic’s from.

Magi & Me

Magi & Me

She was happy to see me because she had let a child play with her wheel and it wasn’t working. She’s been having a problem with it every since she got it but it was worse. Later in the day, hubby found the same wheel and discovered her problem is incorrect set up. Hopefully the pictures he took of the correct set up will fix her problem.

Hubby wanted to take in the sheep shearing demos and I really did want to check out those outside tens, so I left him. My first stop was the Fleece Sale tent. Lot’s of beauties in there.  I found a CVM Sheep fleece that was really beautiful – when I looked at the price, I came very close to passing out – 2.2 lbs./$102.00. Needless to say that didn’t come home with me.

As I walked by the outside tents – something caught my eye – A spinning wheel! It looked to be very much like an Ashford Traditional but then again..it didn’t. I’m not going to tell you the price yet. This wheel had suffered a child assult on Saturday and it was broken. I got a handful of roving and a chair and set out to fix this cool little wheel. Whatever this child had done to it, I don’t know but it would not spin at all. Hubby came to find me and got involved in the fixing process. An hour later, I walked away with a fixed $60.00 spinning wheel! It is a mystery wheel though. I’ve added a photo, maybe one of you may have an idea about who made it. It does need work but it will spin yarn.

The New Old Wheel

The New Old Wheel

Armed with mystery wheel, we set out for food and Sheepdog Trials. I was a bit disappointed in the food options. In years past there has been lamb chili and fruit plates. Not so this year, so we got a heavy BBQ, set up our chairs and became spectators. The dog trials were great! We stayed to the end and we got lots of photos.

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

"Nice Job"

"Nice Job"

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

"The Shed"

"The Shed"

"The Pen"

"The Pen"

It’s so enjoyable watching a dog work..they take their job seriously. I am so happy we have 7 Border Collies of our own to work with.

We left the event feeling invigorated and hungry. In the town of Orange we went to a restaurant called the Silk Mill Grille. As you may have guessed from the name, it is an old Silk Mill and the place is decorated much of the old salvaged accessories and processing equipment. Had a great meal and we were home by 7:00.

I have a lot of readers that know very little about this side of my life – they know me for the goats and goats milk products. You see fiber and fiber arts is my true passion. Any opportunity I get to do a day like this, I will put all else aside to do it. My only regret – Didn’t go both days!

I’m going to add an events page to my Blog so everyone might have an opportunity to see and possibly attend what’s going on the rest of 2009. Some I will be a vendor..some I will just visit.

Parting comments and a little rant! Please, if you bring your children to events like the Fall Fiber Festival, try to pay attention to what they are doing. One of the wheels that was messed up yesterday is a several thousand dollar wheel. We want everyone to come to these events..especially children, they are the ones who will keep this going in the future but vendors and demonstrators put their life into this and it shouldn’t be destroyed by an adults carelessness of not watching their child. At this event, I saw big pulls of rovings run off with, a driveband ripped right off a spinning wheel, Angora bunnies being plucked through the sides of their cage by uncontrolled little fingers, hand crafted wooden knitting needles being used as swords and a grape snow cone dropped on a beautiful silk scarf. Please bring your children and please be good, aware parents! Rant is done.

Have a wonderful day!