It’s been a bit of a weird month around the place. Mostly due to my excessive medical issues in September and a bit of carry over into October, but it’s also that time of the year… autumn! When you stop planning projects and such, but start getting ready for winter and a time of hunkering down and getting ready to try and ride out the next couple months! I have two weeks before my surgery and I’m trying to use that time wisely… to get ready so that I can take it easy for a week or so afterwards. The girls agree, that will be a good goal and a great way to get a jump on the winter prep that is ahead of us.
One of the things I need to do is to give the Angora goats a trim up. Some folks like to just shear Angoras once a year, but I’ve been finding that if you give them a fall half trim, their fiber in the spring is just fantastic! If you don’t give them that fall trim, by spring, much of their lovely fiber starts getting matted and just nasty. And it’s harder on the animal to carry all that heavy fiber.
Ever since we made our milking stantion, I have been training Rana and Rafeka to hop up and get some goodies, too. At first they thought I was insane. But then all the sudden they realized there were good treats involved and now they fight with each other over who gets to be up there first!
I do have to halter and tie them, because they are just too fidgety without this precaution. Since I am working with very sharp scissors, I don’t want them to get hurt. They really don’t seem to mind at all. The time they will tolerate being on the stantion is getting better, but I can only get about a quarter of a goat done each clipping. I clip and save the lovely top fleece and then I trim off the lower, kind of yucky stuff, and let it fall to the ground. I can sweep it up after we are done. It’s really so much easier than how we’ve done it in the past… grabbing the goat, flopping them on a ground with someone trying to hold them down and another person trying to shear and not hurt them or the helpers… like a greased goat rodeo! This new way is just amazing. I find they are calm and I can really get a good clip without any stress and they love the snacks. And it’s great because I can inspect them, give a good hoof trim and worm check and no one is the wiser! I believe I need to train EVERYONE here to the stantion!
Although Cody Pony might look a little funny trying to balance up on the box!
I’m happy to report that our dairy plans are just coming right along! Loving it! Buttercup is an awesome milker and even though we are only milking once a day, she provides us with almost a half gallon each day! It’s just perfect. Right now, Blackjack is getting the lion’s share of her milk, but he’s doing great eating grass, hay and leaves right now, and even a little goat feed. We are starting to wean him off the bottle now… after all he’s almost 8 weeks old! Right now he’s on two feedings a day, but we are dropping the number of ounces with each feeding. In a week or two, we will probably start with one feeding a day, for a few weeks. Just to see him really develop nicely. He’s very strong and doing great. A tough little buckling for sure. And wow, can he jump! Haha…
I can’t wait till we are able to start using her milk a good deal more. I can’t wait to make my first batch of goat milk soft cheese! Soon! Her milk is so rich that often in the morning, there is a fine little cream layer on it! Most goat milk doesn’t do that, it’s naturally homogenized and doesn’t cream up easily. But part of the reason that I chose a La Mancha milk goat for our first goat is that their milk is one of the highest in butterfat and so, very much like cow milk. I thought it would go over much easier with my city girls!
Buttercup really only cares about the snacks. That is her foremost reason for gladly coming in and being milked. Snacks. Yummy dairy goat feed from our local feed store. Paul mixes up this blend that I swear, looks so good, I want to steal a bit. It’s got oats and crack corn, alfalfa pellets and a little soybean meal… and it’s dressed with a touch of molasses! It smells so good… it must be goat crack because all of them desire it… I have to watch, Miss Buttercup is getting to be a little stout! She can inhale her scoop in no time flat!
We still love using the little homemade milker. I believe Buttercup likes it as well. When we hand milk, she is so grumpy and just kicks and is sort of uncomfortable. She tolerates it, but it’s really night and day when we use the pump… she is calm and fine, and we get a good complete milking in much less time.
Buttercup showing off her mad skills as a spider goat. She is such a diva and just runs the show. She really does what she wants! Goofy goat…
This is what happens when you give a young pullet hen a chance to be a broody hen. I had this white splash Marans pullet and she decided she was going to be broody. And we took the eggs away from her for days, avoiding the demon fluffy hen and telling her no. Finally, two weeks ago, I thought, well, lets give her a try. She’s so persistent about it all. Well, we gave her six eggs. And she was doing pretty good, always on the next. And then we found this. Abandoned nest and the teenager out hanging with her friends. She had given up. And unfortunately, other hens were still laying in her broody nest and all of them were cold. There’s no real way to know which might have survived the last week or so… and then with the cold, having baby chicks now just didn’t seem to make good sense. So the whole batch were given to the hogs, because, well, hogs will eat just about anything. Eewww…
And here is the goofy girl… sitting in the middle of her homies, hanging out on the chicken deck. She’s the white one in the middle, looking at the camera. Perhaps in the spring, if she thinks she might like another try, we will give her a chance. For now, she’s just not interested…
We got a good deal on selling some sheep and went ahead with it. Since we were looking at going into the winter with the most livestock we’ve every had, it was really not a hard decision to reduce the flock by 11 animals. One ewe we sold about a week previous. And then this last weekend, we sold 9 more sheep and one goat.
It’s hard to make the cut on your livestock. Who stays and who goes. It’s like playing fantasy football, you go over the choices and cuts and plans for weeks! I have a very good idea of what my perfect spinner’s flock looks like. It’s all Shetland… and it’s variety of colors… so that I don’t just have white or cream. And unfortunately, it’s light on black sheep, because you can only have so much black fleece and suddenly you have too much.
We did sell most of our stock with the Welsh Black Mountain Sheep blood. It was a hard decision, because it meant selling Noel and Holly, my two Christmas sheep. But I was finding that their fleece is really not as nice as the Shetlands, and with their larger size, breeding them was creating too large lambs with sort of in between fleeces. I decided to keep the first two ewes, Pearl and Beulah, who still carry some of the Welsh blood, but only 1/4 from their mom, Holly, who was half Welsh and half Shetland. That gives me one black sheep and one dark steel gray. Perfect.
Most of the young lambs born this year have left. I retained one of the little girls, Galadriel. Partially because she is the daughter of Emma, who is a most beautiful chocolate brown ewe, and the daughter of Iris, my best breeding ewe. That is a line of ewes that I want to keep and continue with. Iris is a fantastic mother and throws beautiful twins each and every time. Emma has mature into a beautiful ewe, and it’s clear to see that Galadriel is right in their footsteps for beautiful and perfect Shetland wool. I just can’t wait to see what their fleeces will look like in the spring!
Perhaps the most startling sale for most would be to hear that I gave away Daisy, the goat. Yes, just gave her away. Buttercup’s buddy. It’s been on my mind for a good two months… trying to find her a good home. For two reasons. First, she was a dreadful milk goat. She did not produce much of an udder and the few times I tried to milk her, she was a demon about it. Just not a pleasant experience. But primarily, she was an escape artist. And she was being very bad and very dangerous. She would get loose no matter what we did. I swear, she was a goat ninja. She could squeeze through the weirdest places. And when she was in with the others, she was teaching them her errant ways. I knew we had a serious problem when she and her son Jelly Bean were caught stopping traffic on our road out front. We have a lot of big truck traffic on that road… folks are avoiding the turnpike just a few miles south and so, our road is very busy. I would be so upset if she was killed out there, or caused a serious accident and injured someone. It was just a problem in the making.
I was not about to just give her to anyone, and I tried, checking with all my goat friends, but could not make a connection for her. Unfortunately, she was just a little grade goat without many redeeming qualities. She was friendly, and that in the end, was her ticket to heaven!
When this little girl came with her grandfather to buy sheep from us, Daisy was right there in the thick of the visit, as she always is. And for whatever reason, this little girl and Daisy just hit it off. Daisy would not leave her alone! They were hugging and walking around and playing and just being so sweet. I quietly asked the grandfather… would he have room for a free goat? I explained that she was a craft little gal and an escape master… but the fellow just smiled as he watched his granddaughter play with this little goatie and said, sure. We have five others and 26 acres, no busy roads and i have lots of grandchildren that would adore a friendly goat. When he told the girl, she squeeled so loud, it was enough to make you cry! She hugged Daisy and I swear that goat was smiling from ear to ear. She loaded right up on that trailer like she KNEW she was going to the promised land. The girl stayed by her side the whole time, feeding her grass and hay whisps and talking to her through the trailer slats. She said thank you to us about 27 times. I knew we had found the perfect home for our little Daisy! And I hear she is doing fantastically!
With the smaller herd out back, we made the decision to move Dreamy and Blackjack in with the whole herd. I think it was a fantastic decision, because now they have two nice large warm barns to bunk down in and they will have the protection of the whole flock should any bad guys move in. We do have coyotes and they are mean critters. Having two little goat out front and alone, is not the best thing as the winter sets in and the coyotes get bolder and braver as their hunger builds. And the good thing is that is make chores a little easier on Maggie as well. Now she just has to feed the main paddock flock, and then the ponies and Harley the ram, out in the back. And the hogs. They are all in a little triangle and just easier. And the dogs like having their dog yard back to themselves!
Nothing like a good trash fire in the fall to give you a warm cosy feeling! Hahaha…
Actually, we are pretty good about trash, we really don’t make a lot of it. We had been paying a service to come and pick it up, but it was something we just kept forgetting about and then seemed kind of expensive. Everyone we know burns their own trash. It’s just what folks do. We save it up a week or two and then gather it up and burn it. Pretty simple. I save the ash for the garden compost areas and we get to sit around and warm up when it’s a little chilly out.
This is the year for evil nut balls. Yes, the black walnut tree is going nuts this year with walnuts. Our English walnut, not a single nut. So sad! I know some folks love black walnuts, but I have to tell you, they are nasty things. Takes forever to gather them up. They are wrapped in these nasty green husks and once they rot out, the nut is super hard to crack and retrieve. Most folks resort to rolling over them in their CAR! That is just more work than I care to have to do here on the homestead! So we just gather them up and dump them on our hedgerow for the squirrels to work on all winter long. Thank goodness we don’t get nuts off it every year. It really seems to be bi-annual, rather than annual. Last year, not a single nut off the black walnut.
While we were burning trash and some old boxes, Maggie helped me and we raked all around the firepit and all. Took us nearly an hour, there were SO MANY. Unfortunately, they are poisonous to horses, ponies and a lot of livestock. So we are always careful to clean them all up before we let the critters back in the middle for a little grazing. I have contacted a few tree buyers and they always seem interested in this tree, but then decide it’s not worth it to get just one. Oh well. Eventually, we might find someone who will give us a pretty penny for it. Black walnut is a highly prized hardwood and this one is old and tall and straight. I know someone would be interested in it!
And last, but not least… my little picture of whimsy.
In a bag of scraps for rug making, I found a few pieces of weird shaped kite fabric! So I cute it in long strips and made fun streamers to add to our clothes line for fun. Now I have little fluttering pennants to mark the low line and just let us know when the wind is blowing here at Windhaven. I thought they were kind of fun. The animals seem to think they are interesting. And it’s saved me a time or two from running into the line. It’s just a wee bit too low… And I forget about it… Not anymore!
Well, that’s the tales of what has been going on the last few days. Maggie is working hard to get her garage workshop finished and ready for business. Jessy has been learning to weave on our little 4 harness loom and taking care of her rock business… she’s getting ready for the crazy winter sales time! Me? I’m feeling awesome, actually better than I’ve felt in a good long time. I guess the meds and taking care of a few things that were bothering me, was a good thing. I’m really not looking forward to the surgery, but I’m looking forward to the time AFTER since everyone seems to feel it will be the best thing to happen to me in a long time! I’ll just be happy to be done and recovering… looking forward to the spring!