Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Disbudding, DONE!

It's that time for everyones least favorite farm chore, disbudding goats.

In case you don't know what that is, it is removing the horn buds to prevent the horns from growing.
We dislike the procedure but feel it is a necessary part of raising dairy goats. We would not want our goats to hurt themselves, other animals or humans while in our care.

Thankfully the kids bounce back quickly and act like nothing happened seconds after being put back with mom. The goat kids that is, this is one chore our twins choose to sit out. They are just too tender hearted to be involved. They like to do the spoiling after it is all over!

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Monday, April 29, 2013

What Do You Do With All Of That Wool? Washing

Washing wool is usually a job that I take on, but to be honest Mike has been doing all of the wool work lately. He has worked so hard all winter trying to get the mill put together, which includes washing facilities. Did I ever mention that my husband is a hard worker and one amazing guy?

The wool goes into a mesh bag after it is picked and is ready to be washed. It keeps the fleece in one place and makes it easier to work with.

It then gets put in the wash sink full of hot water to soak for about 20 minutes. The water needs to be hot (we use about 160 degrees) to get the grease out of the wool (also known as lanolin). You do not agitate the wool as it is being washed. Hot water and agitation cause the wool to felt.
No fancy soap needed. When I did a survey of wool washing most people used used  Dawn Dish detergent. Whatever soap you use the PH level should be between 7-9

After it has soaked, the bag gets put into an extractor. After the water is spun out we put it in a sink of hot water for the rinse.

This process is repeated twice. Our fleeces are generally pretty clean and the Border Leicester wool does not contain a lot of grease so two washings is more than enough.

The fleeces are laid out on tables to dry. Mike has been working on some drying racks to save on space.

You can see the bleached tips on the dark wool

The next steps are picking and carding.  I had a table sized picker and hand carder that we have used to make small batts. Now, we have this large intimidating machinery. Well intimidating to me, Mike being a machinery kind of guy, is not intimidated at all. He is the reason the mill is happening in the first place.  I look forward to when things are finally up and running smoothly. Mike has been pretty much on his own through this whole process. Eventually, I will be "trained" on how to use the machinery but until then I am just the "cheerleader" trying to give encouragement to the guy who has been working non stop to make this whole thing a reality!

When we get to that point I will add some more post about picking and carding the wool...
Wish us luck!

**After washing a lot of fleeces, I find that I like to wash twice and then rinse twice. Just a preference.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What Do You Do With All Of That Wool? Skirting

What do you do with all of that wool?

We get asked that question a lot. In the past we have sold raw fleeces after they are skirted.
This year we are doing something different. We are going to take it from raw fleece to a roving (which is processed wool that is ready to spin, felt, etc.)

The first thing we do is take a fleece and skirt it. Skirting is the process in which VM(vegetable matter) or other debris is taken out of the wool along with wool that is stained, matted, or is inconsistent with the bulk of the fleece.  Belly, head, and leg wool has already been discarded at the time of shearing.

Removing a burr found in the fleece

Removing Short pieces of wool not consistent with fleece

We use a table to skirt the fleeces on. We would like to build a skirting table which is designed with just the right spacing for second cuts, dirt, and VM to fall to the floor. That is on the to do list...

After a fleece has been skirted it is ready for washing.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pasture Happenings


They are growing so fast

Smiley Lambs

Pasture visitors enjoying the Spring Pond. There are usually sheep grazing here.

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2013 Kidding Season-Done!

Recital's buck

Ce Ce had her baby this morning so we are offiically done with our 2013 Kidding Season. Short and Sweet!

The only big difference this year than years past is they all had singles. We typically have twins and an occasional single.
Wasn't to be this year. Not sure what the causing factors were but they were all healthy so I am not going to complain.

Delilah's buck (toggenburg/oberhasli cross)

Soapapilla and her doe Sophie


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Soggy Sheep

I think the only one that is enjoying the wet, cold spring are the ducks and geese that have been swimming in our pond. A pond that shouldn't even be there!

Well I am glad that someone is enjoying it! As for the rest of us we are getting tired of the rain, snow and cold.

I am not going to   rant complain about the house only being 61 degrees because the fire went out. Or the cold, soggy sheep and goats that are stuck behind the barn being fed our last round bale of hay. Or the absence of any kind of garden in our yard, Or that we have snow in the forecast for the next two days. No, I am going to focus on the benefits of this cold spring....hmmmm.....still thinking...I will get back with you!  Feel free to chime in and share why your grateful for this lovely weather we have been having. I could really use a positive outlook!
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Young Lambs

Wait for Me!

Young Lambs
by John Clare (1920)
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The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two—till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead—and lets me go
Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise

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Delaney went out and took pictures of the sheep and lambs yesterday. Not bad for a 12 year old!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Lambing Comes to an End

Two Peas in a Pod!

The last ewe had her lambs yesterday morning. It has been a cold Spring and it made for some complications for our lambing season. We had to treat two lambs for hypothermia including one of the lambs that was born yesterday morning.  So much for lambing on pasture, that didn't happen this year! Most ewes and lambs had to be brought in and put in make-shift lambing pens for the first few days.

We had a lot of twins this year which is always a good thing. We also had quite a few ewe lambs which makes me happy since we were hoping to add to our numbers and ewe lambs is the easiest to do that.

Other than the cold weather and a couple of losses I think overall 2013 was a good lambing year.

I look forward to the coming days of watching lambs out on pasture. There is nothing as cute as bouncing lambs, one of the highlights of  sheep farming!

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Accepted After All

Soapapilla is just full of surprises. First, with a doe kid (now named Sophie) which we didn' t expect.
I mentioned that she was indifferent and was not letting her kid nurse so the girls started feeding her bottles, which she readily accepted.  So our first bottle baby this year, or so I thought...

Today, Regan came in and said that Soapapilla was letting Sophie eat. It took her two days but she decided she wanted to be a mother after all. Happy Day! Yes, I am thrilled that she is taking care of her baby and we do not have to.

Oh, and did I mention that Sophie is an absolute sweetheart :)

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Rains


It finally stopped raining! It has just poured and poured the last two days. Last night I was worried about everyone outside as the rains continued and the temperatures started dropping.

The goats came in the barnyard so they had some cover but the sheep wouldn't come in. I found them this morning out in the far corner of the pasture, same place they were  yesterday but the view was quite different today. Looked more like a pond than a pasture. In the Spring we always get some standing water but not this much!  They had found the driest spot with the most wind break to hunker down.  Walking out there put them on the run but  I managed to do a lamb count and everyone was accounted for. It is windy, damp and cold. Plans were cancelled so we can stay home and keep an eye on everyone.

Last night there were flood warnings. Some roads have been closed and some basements are flooded.  Thankfully, the only thing with standing water here is the fields.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Doe Kid and Mothering Instinct

We had a new doe kid this evening. Delaney was going out to bring everyone in for the night and found this little girl by the fence. It was obvious who had just given birth, Soapapilla, which was a big surprise. I didn't expect her to have kids. We got her a couple of years ago and she has never kidded for us. We knew she had kidded for her previous owners but couldn't figure out why she had not kidded here.

I am not sure if she had her kids taken away at birth at her previous homestead but she definitely comes across as clueless!
She acted like she didn't even realize that she gave birth and though she isn't aggressive toward her doe kid she acts indifferent. We bought them both inside and put them in a stall, the girls helped dry her off since she was very wet. (Born in a torrential downpour) She is very active and very interested in nursing.

We tried to get Soapapilla to let her nurse but she did the typical kicking, walking away, I am not interested behavior. We gave her some grain and while she was eating I was able to get the doe to nurse. We will go out in a couple of hours and do it again.  If  Soapapilla doesn't get a clue after being stalled with her baby, and having been coerced to nurse,  we will have a bottle fed goat and a Doe that needs milked twice a day. I know that is typical for some Dairy Goats, but not mine.

Mothering instinct, some have it and some just plain don't.
I am not sure why some bond with their kids or lambs and some act like they didn't even notice they gave birth.

Some are fierce mothers who would challenge a threatening dog to protect her young and others barely take care of their babies. We tend to be pretty impatient with those who will not take care of their own. I really don't have time to do their job for them. Sometimes if there are extenuating circumstances, we will give the Doe/Ewe a second year to prove themselves but normally, if they do not have good mothering instincts, we do not  keep them.

We care about our sheep and goats but they are livestock, not pets, typically! Unfortunately, Soapapilla is more of a pet. If she wasn't, we wouldn't have kept her after her second year of not kidding for us. We will have to wait and see how this all turns out. I know what I am hoping for... Some mothering instinct to kick in!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pasture Walk


This morning was perfect outside weather so I went on a pasture walk. The Tunis greeted me when I made my way out to where the sheep were spending their morning. Have I mentioned how much I like these girls? The Border Leicesters act like I am invading their space, no welcome wagon from that group!

I love watching the ewes grazing and the lambs playing. I did manage to get a few pictures of lambs. but it is not easy since they do not spend much time standing still.  I didn't get any pictures of the goats, they were off browsing in another part of the pasture. I have to say I am surprised that they have not had their kids yet. They waddle around and look like they could kid  any day but I have been thinking that for weeks.

I did make a mental list of what needs to be done while I was out looking around.
-A small tree is down on the fence.
-Brush needs cut back.
-Cross sections of fencing need put up so we can do rotational grazing this summer.
-We need to rid our pastures of Thistle and Burdock (not a friend to wool) .

I will have to add it to the master list of things to do this Spring. It amazes me how fast the work adds up. Anyone else have an ever growing list of things to do this Spring?

These girls didn't  mind a visit!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Confused Mother, New Ewe Lamb, and Moochers

This has been a weird lambing year. We have had several "first times".

Today was no exception. I noticed a ewe in the pasture and it looked like she was in labor, but she had two lambs that were nursing. What??

 How could a ewe be giving birth when she already had two lambs that looked to be several days old? I got a closer look and they had docked tails.

Okay, what was going on?

I watched for a few minutes and heard another ewe calling for her lambs, these two skedaddled over and started nursing . I figured out what was going on, these lambs were mooching off the ewe in labor. Unfortunately, this ewe was convinced they were her lambs.  I had a situation- I had a ewe that needed to give birth to a lamb, but  was too busy chasing these lambs all over the field.

She would stop to lay down but she was not making any progress. She was too worried about these lambs that were perfectly content with their own mother!

We finally caught her and was able to assess the situation, assistance was needed.

 One very large, single ewe lamb.  We had her in the barnyard with her new lamb which she did accept and was cleaning off. But as she was cleaning her lamb, she kept  calling to the twin lambs, who were happy to make their way into the barnyard and nurse! Their mom would notice they were gone and would call out for them,   they would run back to their own mother, and this ewe would try to follow them.  It was crazy.

Thankfully, she accepted her own lamb and was doing what needed to be done,  but she was still so caught up with these other lambs, she was convinced she had  three lambs and not one. It was so distracting to her. We finally bought her in the barn and put her in a pen with her lamb. Hopefully, a couple of days in the barn will help her get over her confusion.

I have seen these lambs trying to nurse off other ewes. They are the biggest moochers I have ever seen.  I have had lambs who have tried to mooch off another ewe in the past,  but I have never had a ewe let them and definitely never had one  convinced that they were hers!

This ewe is sharing the barn with the other ewe that still is not thrilled about her ewe lamb. We have tried giving the ewe lamb a bottle but she will not take it. She seems to be getting milk. She sneaks in there when her brother is nursing.

Only one more ewe to go. I am hoping for a normal textbook lambing experience!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

A Small Getaway

My daughter had to attend a class in the Detroit area and the worrier that I am, I didn't want her to go there alone so me and the twins tagged along.

We left behind our petting zoo and where did we end up? Visiting the Detroit Zoo! Much bigger than ours and more on the wild side. It was our first visit and we had a great time. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was a beautiful Spring day, one of the warmest we have had. As you can see in the photos the animals were enjoying the warm weather as much as we were!

It was nice to get a day away!

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