Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flocks and Herds

If you've ever tried to move chickens or sheep from point A to point B, it's possible that you understand why these particular groups of animals are usually referred to as flocks and not herds. If you've learned the herd language first and try to practice that with a will undoubtedly not end well. If you're not a patient soul while learning the flock will also quite likely not end well. Moving flocks happens on a weekly basis here and for us it's been a learned art, once we learned to speak the language the flock has followed. It's a beautiful thing really and nothing compares to the satisfaction of a successful yet simple flock move.

No herding dogs needed here..we speak flock :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Felting Soap

 When you have a flock of wooly sheep, naturally there is going to be a fiber pile that is never ending. And since I hate to waste anything, I'm always looking for something to do with all the wool. If you don't have a flock of sheep to supply you with a pile of fiber, don't fret. There's plenty of shepherds and fiber folks out there that can supply it for you. And there are lots of fiber variety to boot..Navajo-Churro is by far my favorite wool to work with. But all of it seems to have it's place in the fiber world. Wool is wool and I love it all.

saving every fiber from Scarlet - her wool is gorgeous!

If you're looking for an easy felting's a couple of video's to get you started with soap. I made these bars of soap with sheep's milk but any old bar of soap will do. 
Roving, warm water and a cured bar of soap:



drying the soap
packaged & labeled
Happy Felting!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The season of chaos

Siddy telling Dolly who's boss today

A few very welcomed days of cooler weather and all the goat girls get excited. They know it's almost time to visit BamBam and there's not a moment of peace. Of course he is equally excited. BamBam is an exceptionally sweet and gentle buck. He was a bottle baby and still thinks he is one. On occasion I still sneak him some milk, I love making him happy. Especially when it's so easy.

BamBam the ladies man
The girls on the other hand..they're on edge, fidgety on the milk stand, pushing and shoving over who stands where at the hay rack and at any second a knock down drag out fight will break out if they even look at each other wrong. Not only is there chaos in the barn but as the girls' cycle their milk levels tend to drop too. And when a farm thrives on milk, the lower milk levels tend to put a wrench in everyone's day. But it's just another season..
and probably the hubby's least favorite season ;)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

And then there are the pigs..

Mama & piglets at Twin Gap Farm

Meet Pork & Beans
 I don't know how long I have wanted a couple of pigs..but it has been at least years of wait. We finally found a couple of Hampshire boys at Twin Gap Farm in Abingdon and our good friends, Pete & Karen picked them up for us. I don't know if I've ever seen a cuter piglet! And their happy snorting sounds are always putting a smile on my face. So far the boys are getting fed all the left over goats milk and whey. On occasion we've also thrown in a little cracked corn and sunflower seeds and of course veggie scraps from the kitchen. They're able to browse but their favorite is rootin'. They are without a doubt the happiest critters I've ever fed and are always ready to eat. What's not to love about that?!
It was a great day for watermelon
 We will not be breeding so castrating was necessary and both boys were castrated by hubby and son, Derek here at the farm. There's a short video if you're interested in watching and learning. The video does not show this but the area was scrubbed down with iodine before and after the castration - which is crucial if you plan to do this yourself. I'd also recommend gloves..but hubby does what he likes :) He did wash with iodine before cutting however. Thankfully castration is one of those things that when it's's done and doesn't have to be done again. Relief..for me and the boys!

 Here's a video of them having breakfast after the castration ordeal. Thankful for the fresh goats milk and that this morning is now behind them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

another love story

Flynn the sheep guardian

Now that we're entering into Fall it's time to start thinking about lambs. The ewes have had a fantastic Summer! We did things a little differently this Summer and the girls benefited well from the change. Even though the temporary net fencing is a pain to move around all the time - the poles also break after awhile and the netting gets torn. It's pretty high maintenance but it does work beautifully for temporary pastures. We purchased our fencing from Premier 1 and every 2-3 wks this Summer, the girls' paddock was picked up and moved. We rotated continuously and they did very well without shelters. If the girls are in a paddock that has a shelter, they tend to camp out in it which in a hot, damp climate it seemed to be doing them more harm than good. With a few shade trees and at one point we even moved the cattle trailer in for some extra shade, the girls only used the shade during the hottest times of the day - the rest of the time they grazed or sunbathed. And we have been completely impressed with their fecal counts and high immunity. No one has needed deworming or any other type of treatment over the Summer. A definite success!

 So we're entering into our breeding season this Fall with fat, healthy ewes - which makes the Shepherdess very happy :) Our 2 rams this year are Apollo and Gemini. This is our 2nd year using Apollo, his dam and sisters are heavy milkers so we are hopeful he will continue to add lots of creamy, delicious milk to the flock. He's also a small, snow white ram so he's easy on the girls but in no way is he passive. When Apollo is sent in to get a job done, we consider it done :) Gemini was born here this Spring, so he's brand new to this and is very gentle and shy. He's a lovely little spotted boy. His dam is the matriarch of the flock, so his future lambs will be carrying on her legacy as well. There's always a story behind every flock and in 5 short months the lambs will be here and there will be another chapter to add to the love story. Beautiful isn't it :)

the girls waiting for us to send in the boys
Gemini the ram lamb with his ladies