Worming Day!

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Just trying to catch up on a few collections of photos from around the homestead!

It was worming day awhile back…  Honestly, it was almost two weeks ago!  We like to worm when the grass just starts to get growing and the bugs just start to come out and all.  My thoughts are that anything that was growing in the sheepies and goats and such, needs to get flushed out while it’s still cold enough to kill the stuff out of the hosts.  Because wormers really don’t kill worms in livestock, they just flush them out of their system by paralyzing the little buggers and then they loosen their hold on the host.  Fun, eh?  The things you learn when you go rural!

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It’s a good idea as well to mix up your wormers, so that the little nasties don’t get resistant to your efforts.  Rotational grazing and pasture space helps as well.  With only three acres, however, we don’t have a ton of pasture space, so we make sure to keep a good eye on our critters.  There are several ways to know if your animals have a heavy parasite load.  Best way, a fecal test done by your vet.  We try and get those once a year if possible.  It can get a little pricey to do every single animal, so what I try and do is get sample from each group, sheep, goats, hogs and ponies and then have our vet do a random sampling of that poo and it gives me a good overall conditional of the animals.  If one or two sheep have them, it’s pretty much a given that the others do as well.  DSC_1048

Another way is to just score the overall conditional of the animals.  Thin, scraggly looking animals tend to have a higher worm load.  It robs the animal of good vitality.  Also, animals with high parasite loads are often anemic.  You can tell by looking at the membranes of their eyes and in their mouthes, their gums.  Super pale, white membranes means anemic animals and most likely parasites.

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We have been very lucky!  Our loads are very low…  and mostly, it is the goats.  I am convinced that goats are born with parasites and there is actually evidence that says so.  I am very careful to make sure the goats get regular wormings whether they need it or not!  (Well, I do check, but they just always seem to need it.)

We learned a very fun way to worm everyone!   We call it worming day, the animals call it weirdly tasting fig newton day!  They absolutely love fig newtons.  I guess it’s the fruit, the cookie, they are just yummy to everyone. So we give them out here and there.  But a time or two a year, they have a little extra special cream filling!  Yes, wormer.  I just push the nozzle in and wiggle it a bit to make a hole in the filling.  And then squeeze in the dose.  The hogs need two cookies for their doses, but everyone else just needs one.  DSC_1050 DSC_1051

Yum yum yum!!!  Everyone is so greedy to get their cookie, they don’t seem to mind the weird filling.  Or at least, those cookies disappear so fast, maybe they don’t even have time to know!  All I know is that it beats trying to shove the thing in their mouths while they protest loudly!   Works so much better for gal and beast!

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We prime the pump with a little free animal cracker treats and pretty much everyone is very ready for their dose!!!

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To make sure everyone gets their treat…  we make a list and my assistant, Jessy, she crossed off who gets theirs and who does not.  Everyone is on the list today.  DSC_1061

Iris thinks it’s lip licking good!  Yum!

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The ponies will take their dose as well with a cookie, but they also don’t mind just getting it shot into their mouth.  Their wormer is actually pretty good tasting, I guess, apple flavored.  They really don’t seem to mind it and would probably eat more if allowed.

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This is a pouty pony.  He is mad that he didn’t get more than 3 cookies.  (The wormer is by weight!  Ponies get three special creme cookies!)  He was very sad.  But then I broke out the animal crackers and offered the pouty pony a few and he was happy again.  Shadow is a big diva.  DSC_1067 DSC_1069

Kitties and doggies get wormed in the big house and they get it in their wet food so they never know!  Because no one loves a wormy pet!  Ugh!!!   Luna disapproves of this sneaky tactic, however.  No one should ever be allowed to compromise tuna.  Nope.  DSC_1071

Evee was very helpful in worming day, she is really trying to be a good farm doggie!  She’ll never compete in sheep trials, but it’s amazing how smart she is and how much she has just learned on her own.  Because you know, we are not sheep dog trainers!  It just must be some natural talent in these herding dogs…  they just have an idea and they go with it!  Fun stuff!

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Dying Mohair!

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I had a couple pounds of beautiful washed mohair locks and I thought it would be fun to try ombre dying or well, art dying of the fibers!  So I picked out three different dye colors that I wanted to work within.  Green, gold and purple.  And then I picked a few different dyes in that range.

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Dying is really quite easy and fun.  First you get some super hot, boiling water going in some nice old pots.  I find the old aluminum ones work best.  I got these two at a thrift store and they are my dedicated pots.  I would like to find a super nice big one, but so far…  it has alluded me!

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I use quart mason jars to mix my dyes in.  Just a teeny bit of dye goes a long way!  In fact, I had to buy a little teeny set of measuring spoons…  they go down to a 32th of a teaspoon!!!

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Just add a little of the boiling water and vinegar solution to the jars and stir well until the dye is dissolved.

Now to prepare my mohair fiber, I took a big cookie pan and laid a trashbag on it.  That way I could use the bag to do the final heat set and it would be very easy to lay the fiber out to mix the dyes on it.  You’ll see what I mean in the next photo…

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The fiber was damp, just wrung out lightly and quickly.  It’s super hot but I let it drip off most of the easy water.  Then I laid it all out.  With each dye mixture, I just swirled and poured it all over the mohair, being careful not to over lay the dyes too much.  I didn’t want them to muddy up.  I knew that some blending would happen and I wanted that, just not too much.  And I left some white because I knew it would soak up dye as it laid there.

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When it was almost done soaking, I used a big flat spoon to just press it all down into the dye completely, making it very completely saturated.  Then I just gathered up the sides of the bag and tied them in a loose knot.  After that, I popped it in the microwave for a few minutes.  I found that 4 to 5 minutes really steam set the fiber and all the water in the bottom was clear.  That’s a great sign that your dye has been completely absorbed.

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After heating in the microwave, you just rinse.  Nice warm water to begin with and then to cool.  If you did a pretty good job of matching your amount of dye with your fiber, it should rinse out very clear.  I had a wee bit of blues coming out, but the other two worked out perfect!   Just rinse until it’s all nice and clear!  Then I wring tightly to get as much water out and lay on some soft thick towels to wick out more dampness.

If I just lay the moahir on a towel, changing often, or drap over a screen to dry, it seems to take about two days.  It’s amazing just how much water the stuff will soak up!  But it’s so worth the wait.  Now, in the summer, you can lay it in the sun and it will take much less time.  I hope to make a little drying screen rack for my fiber this summer!  DSC_1097

This mohair turned out so deliciously!  The colors…  oh my!  Just want I hoped for.  A light variation throughout the locks, just stunning.  So pretty.  Can’t wait to get it in the Etsy shop and also to use some for my own spinning and blending projects!  Beautiful!

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You can see our homestead fibers in our Etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/WindhavenFiberTools?ref=hdr_shop_menu&section_id=17537963

 

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Change of Plans…

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It’s getting very hard to find shearers around here.  We’ve had four now and all four have either stopped servicing our area or have quit!  It’s tough work for sure…  problem is, if you have sheep, you have to shear them somehow!

Well, my friend Justin said he’d give it a try.  He’s got some clippers and has done a few larger sheep, just not Shetlands.  They are tiny in the sheep world.  So we planned for a day and got everything ready and said, let’s give it a try.

We picked Emma to start with.  She’s a sweet and patient little soul and has been sheared before and has always been very calm.  We thought that would be best.  And we started.  And stopped.  It was just not working out well.  She got a little nip and then another and that was it.  Sheep do get nicks while shearing sometimes, but it was just not right, we didn’t have the skill to do it without incurring any more nicks.  She didn’t seem to mind, we fussed over her and got some BagBalm and Blu-Koat on the boo boos and she got a big handful of animal crackers.  As you can see, she totally forgave us our inexperience and then even took the moment to watch a shearing video on Justin’s phone.  I guess she thought that sheep being sheared was cute.  She’s a goofball of a sheep. DSC_0104

Well, Justin and his son and a friend were here and said, hey, let us help you with something else!   I love friends like that!   And of course, we did have something that we dearly wanted to get done!  Mulch out our front beds!!!

Every year they get away from us. They just get all weedy and nasty looking.  I would love to plant some bushes and such up front, but we just don’t have the budget for it right now, so in the meanwhile, it would be nice if it was just HEAVILY mulched out, so that the weeds would not grow!  And the village over next to ours has huge free compost and mulch piles!  I asked and they said it would be fine for us to get a few truck loads.  Yippee!   So, off we went with shovels and a pitchfork!!!

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Three loads later, we have a LOVELY clean simple look around the house.  I wish I had taken a before shot, but well, we were all busy!  Just add a bunch of scraggly left over winter weeds and such…  we just tore it all out fast and then piled up a nice, big thick layer of mulch!  I think it looks so lovely.  It looks like a lot less work all summer long!!!  IMG_1747 IMG_6767

We even did the side here, which is always overgrown…  and then Maggie and I finished the last load in the courtyard!  It looks so nice.  Just love our truck and our friends!!!

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When we got all done, we had a nice big lunch of sticky chicken and potato salad and yummy cake that Jessy made for us.  I’m not sure what we will end up doing for shearing, but we will figure something out.  Still have a little time…

 

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