127 Garage Sales!

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Every year during the first week or so of August, United States of America has a multi-state garage sale!   It’s called the 127 sale and it goes from Michigan, all the way down to Georgia or Alabama…  not totally sure.   It’s four days of crazy sales all up and down this rural highway.   And the best part?  It’s about a mile from our house!

We really look forward to it.  Some years we try and save up all summer so we have a few hundred dollars to really shop for great bargains.  Some years, well, it’s about all we do to scrap up twenty bucks, but we just can’t not go.   At least to a few of them.   We always do so well!  And this year was not a flush year, but nonetheless, we were happy with our hunt and the prizes we found!

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What’s really nice is that nearly everyone that has a sale is ready to wheel and deal!   I don’t think we got anything for the listed price.  Everything was a bit less or even half the cost!   That was fun.   We got some clothes, a pair of new shoes, several beautiful handwoven linens, books, a DVD, crafts and pottery!  And we only spent $23.   We packed a lunch, which was fun and headed out with some ice cold waters!

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My stash was mostly linens, books and a craft thing or two.   I got a whole box full of a couple books, tools and strips to use for paper quilling!   I’ve always wanted to give that a try and it was only fifty cents!   I love that.   Got a really beautiful hand thrown pottery bowl for mixing up eggs or pancake batter… with a cute little whisk for $3!  And I got a bowling ball for fifty cents that I want to mosaic and put in my garden!  (darn you Pinterest for so many fun ideas!)

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Maggie was very very happy… she got a cute new Bento family box!   She adores these lunch boxes from Japan and just can’t wait to make her lunch for work with this lovely red box she got for $1!   Add in a nice flannel shirt, a leather wallet from Mexico, an antique coin bank and a old tube radio and she is a happy girl!

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Jessy was the careful shopper and she scored a new pair of fun shoes for $2, originally marked $49!  And a few cute tops and her prize for the day…  a Princess Jewel Riders DVD…   Yes, she and her sister and friends ADORED Princess Gwenivere and the Jewel Riders as little girls.  She is a happy camper.

It’s a fun day out with my girls, driving around, looking at all the fun things!   They saw those huge video game sales characters for sale but it was a bit out of our range!  Still, fun to see all the neat things out there.

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I got three different sets of handwoven pieces from two different sales and to be honest, I think the same weaver made them!   Just little things, like how she sewed the edges and how she tucked her ends and such.   This one in particular is just stunning!   The colors are beautiful.  The seller said it came from an estate sale in town.   It’s a table runner, about 20 inches long.  Made from lovely soft yarn, almost like a pearl cotton.  The pattern is just amazing.   I’m not really sure how it was woven.  

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The front is beautiful, but so is the back!  Just a really neat piece to add to my little collection of handwoven projects.   I’m starting a little library, just of things I find and buy, to try and examine for my own weaving and just to save from laying around in some old box.  These pieces took a lot of time to create!   They are beautiful.   I guess I need to start a little library collection of handwoven pieces of northwestern Ohio!   Sounds like a plan to me!  

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New Ewes…

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Did you ever wonder how many adult ewes could fit comfortably into a 1990′s Ford conversion van?

Well, the answer is four.

Maybe five if you served snacks.

Actually, our new ewes rode very calmly and politely in the back of the van.  We did have to ask them nicely not to pull insulation from the back door panel and to leave the trash can alone.  Like, how were they to know van riding etiquette on their first ride?  And they were not very good at staying on the plastic tarp when nature called, but hey, they tried.  And it was a short ride.

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We welcomed four new ewes to our little flock this week.  Starting from the far left in the picture above…   Holly, Pearl, Cinnamon and Angel.

Kind of a fun little story.  See, our friends Bob, Terry and Stephen bought Holly and Pearl from us last year.  They wanted to start a little spinner’s flock of lawn mowers for their homestead.   They loved the Shetlands, and our Welsh Mountain Sheep crosses, so they bought two from us and two from a Shetland breeder a few miles down the road.  (Cinnamon and Angel)  Everything was going just fine and they had a very lovely life there with cookies and all the grass they could eat!  Holly was the herd queen and the three younger gals were all a perfect little flock.

After this super hard winter, Bob and Terry just decided, enough is enough.   They wanted to move down south to get away from these awful winters and to be closer to their family!  So, they began to pack up and get ready to auction off the things they were not taking, including their homestead!  They had the sheep up for sale as well, through our local homesteading clan, Craigslist and of course, just word of mouth and such.   Well, as time got closer…  they were not having any good bites on the sheep!  I would have loved to buy them in the first place, but just couldn’t swing it.

Well, rather than sell them through the auction process, where it could be not so advantageous…   we struck a deal and we are actually buying the four ewes on a payment plan.  :-)  IMG_3311

Cody and Shadow are annoyed that we have let EVEN more of these little hairy hay eaters into the homestead.  Don’t we have enough???

Yes, we do have enough, but I just didn’t want to see these lovely, special ewes get separated or sold to who knows who.  And they have such lovely fleeces…  the colors are very nice.   And I’ve seen some of their yearling fleeces being processed and they are very nice.

So…   we now have a few more ewes!

I don’t mind too much.   I know that before the snow flies we will be selling a few lambs and maybe a few sheep, just not totally sure yet.  My goal for the Windhaven flock is to have a lovely selection of colors as well as our own bred young ewes.  Right now, we will have 10 ewes that can be bred in the fall.  And we have 3 yearling ewes that we will wait until the fall of 2015 to breed.  I think I would like to give Momma Noel and Iris a break from babies.   Those ladies are excellent moms, but their age is unknown.  I know they are older, and have earned a break from lambs.  I may breed them once more in 2015, but that will probably be it.  I may consider selling off my Black Welsh Mountain sheep as I find that I really prefer spinning and working with the Shetland.   Just not totally sure of the group that will be available and not…   It’s sort of like Fantasy Football teams.   You need a while to consider, think, plan and decide for the future when you are a shepherd…

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Once we let them into the middle yard, they were funny to watch.   I wonder if Holly and Pearl remember the place.   Probably.   They walked around in their little sub herd group, checking this out and that out, visiting and meeting new friends.   Cinnamon and Pearl have never seen ponies or hogs or goats!   Perhaps a few chickens, but that was it.   They were all so pleasantly curious and not skittish or anything.  Terry, she knows how to gentle her sheep!   All it took was one or two good sniffings and a cookie and they were our pals in no time!

IMG_3325Shadow loves that the picket is missing from the courtyard gate.  It’s the perfect height for him to be a nosey old lady and watch what is going on.  He’s a funny little man.   He was interested in the sheep for about ten minutes, just watching and following them around, but then he gave up.  Sheep are not that interesting to him.  He wants a girl pony!  (hahaha….  no such luck, Buddy!)

Right now, four additional sheep equals about a bale of hay a week, or $4-$5, depending on where we get our hay.  That means overall, even at a bale a week, or 52 bales a year, a little over $230 a year to feed them.  There are other costs, such as worming and vaccines, but these are not expensive costs.  Sheep are relatively easy keepers!  Especially on good years when they can be raised mostly on grass and pasture!    With their fleece and lambs, they will more than earn their keep.  As our finishing process continues to improve we should see even more of a return on fleeces.  (Meaning, as we further process the fleece into more and more unique and advanced products, such as finished yarn and rugs, rather than just raw fleece, we should see a higher return on the actual keeping and raising of the animals.)

I feel as a breeder of animals, any animals, when your animals need to be rehomed and brought back into the fold, you should do what you can to help.  Sure, you can’t always do so, sometimes you are just not able to bring in more animals, or in some cases, you have a closed herd status where no new animals come in for health and medical reasons, but I do think you have a responsibility to at least try and help, to offer possible solutions other than auction or slaughter.  These are beautiful young ewes with a good future of lambs and fleeces ahead.   They will increase the value of our own herd and be a joy to include in our plans.

 

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Meet the Roosters of Windhaven…

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I thought I would introduce you all to the roosters that we have currently here at our little homestead.  Unfortunately, this last brutal winter led to the death of our beloved Bucka Roo.   He was our foundation rooster and our beloved spokesroo of the farm.   He fathered so many lovely chicks that now live all over the area!  He’s famous!   And thank goodness, we have several of his handsome sons still with us!  

The oldest of our roos is Copper.   He is pictured above.  His mother was Eleanor, one of our original hens, bless her little heart.   She was a Rhode Island Red and just the most personable hen around!   She took to us right away and was a sweetheart.   She passed away in her sleep this harsh winter.  Cooper was the very first chicken we ever hatched, from a homemade incubator in a Styrofoam cooler with just a regular old lightbulb.  We call him a French Red Marans.  (gg)  

 

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This is Bucka Too….   He really looks a lot like his father.   He had a Marans mother, Susanne, and he was born about two years ago this summer.   He will be working with all our new Marans hens to produce the next couple generations of Windhaven purebred Marans.  He is quite the ladies man and is very good with his hens.  

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This is Dammartin.   He is a French Wheaton Marans, with blue highlights.   He was raised by our friend Izzy for us.  She is a young lady that is a whiz with raising nice birds for us.  Her hens came from our farm and every so often one will go broody.  So we rush over a handful of eggs and once they hatch, Izzy takes over and raises them.  He had another name for awhile, but I’m sorry, I forgot it!   I think it was Martha for awhile…  We were all hoping that he was a she!  

He’s kind of a lone wolf, low roo on the totem pole around here.  He ranges about at the fringes, helpng to keep an eye out for hawks and such, but not getting too much lady time…   Such is the way when you have several free ranging roos!  

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Now, these last two fellows are my special new boys.   They are from new lines of feather footed Marans and I have some high hopes for them.   This is Renault, a lovely Black Copper Marans…   He is only six months old, but already, he is quite the handsome devil!  He was supposed to go to a friend’s farm but he just didn’t settle in there well and he came back to his homeplace.   He is hanging with his brother, Cunalt, a Blue Copper Maran and are the protectors of their seven sister hens.  Our plan is to remove Cunalt and Renault for a few weeks, and replace them with Bucka Too when the new girls start laying full sized eggs.   They just started this week laying little wee pullet eggs!   How cool!    But its best to give them a few weeks to lay a more mature egg before we select some for incubation.

If you try and hatch pullet eggs, you will often encounter low fertility as well as stunted chicks.   The egg space is much smaller and it just is not the best thing.  We’ll wait and see how the size of the eggs progress and when we start to see a much more uniform large egg, we will switch out the roosters for better bloodlines and then start to collect a few weeks after.

I’ve always wanted a lovely flock of purebred Marans and I finally have one!  Yeah!

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This is Cunault…  he is Renault’s brother!  I hope he gets his lovely copper mantle soon, but he’s only 6 months old and that can take time.   He’s a lovely blue boy and I just adore his blue feathered feet!   He’s a real sweety and the girls love him.  I can’t wait to see how nicely he matures!  

 

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Last but not least is Raven.   Raven is the second oldest rooster here on the farm.   He is a Maranacuna…  our made up breed of crossbred Marans with an Amerucana hen!   He is just beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful of our roos.  Our friend Trini and her family raised him from a chick and then discovered, he was not a she.  He had to come back to the fold.  He has the most beautiful iridescent feathers!  And little side muffs on his cheeks.  A teeny little rose comb completes the look.   I wish I could get a handful of Amerucana hens and start breeding the two together in hopes of getting more like Raven!  He’s beautiful!!!  He lives with the pigs and is not interested in perusing the ladies anymore.  He likes his hog friends better.

Rather, I think he loves their sloppy eating habits better.

We love our roosters here at the Windhaven Rooster Sanctuary!  (that is our fun name for all the roosters that come back from urban homes!)   We’ve rehomed a few that were not getting along with the gang, after all, having anywhere from 6 to 8 free rangings roosters can be a challenge.  But really, since all our birds are either Marans, or cross breeds, they seem gentle and very easy to get along with.  We absolutely adore our Marans…  I recommend them if you wish to have multiple roos and free ranging without difficulty or attack!   We don’t tolerate mean animals around here…  if you can’t get along, then you get moving along!  It just has to be that way.  One mean animal can just through everyone else off.   And it’s just not fun dealing with a nasty rooster!    Thank goodness, we’ve only had one or two!   And they just did not last long before they were packing their bags and heading out for someone that can tolerate them!

We love our friendly and cuddly boys!!!

 

 

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