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Updated: 2017-12-12T21:39:29.804-05:00

 



Maryland Sheep & Wool Fest 2015!!

2015-04-30T14:43:44.567-04:00

I just found out a few weeks ago that I got a booth at this years MDSW festival. I'm still in the midst of a whirlwind of fiber and preparation, and it hasn't really entirely hit me yet that it's real, but I will be there this weekend! In booth B26 in the main barn. I will have lots of goodies from A Little Teapot Designs, including her handspun hand dyed wool and silk necklaces:Goat milk soaps made from scratch with all-natural ingredients, using milk from my own little goat herd:Some handspun yarn, not even close to as much as I would like due to time constraints:Lots of fiber! So much fiber. I normally don't sell fiber because my feeling is that if I'm going to do the work of washing, dyeing, and prepping, then I want to be the one who gets to spin it. But I just don't have time to spin everything, so I will have undyed combed top, little bits of fun add-ins like sari silk and angora bunny fluff, my hand dyed 32-color Yarnbow colorway dyed on minimally processed merino x wool, and the best part: Spin Your Own Adventure packs of loose locks and fiber. This is basically the base for most of my yarns, I pull together collections of colors and textures that I feel look good together and then card them into batts or just fluff them open and spin. They might contain combed top, carded roving, bits of batts, loose wool locks, mohair curls, tussah silk top, silk noil, recycled sari silk threads, banana fiber, bamboo, hand dyed firestar sparkle, angelina, angora bunny fluff, and a few other tidbits and surprises like some amazing llama locks and felt pieces.Oh, and a few sheep portrait necklaces, needle-felted from local wool locks and embroidered on a background of hand dyed wool felt.  [...]



What to Expect When Your Goat's Expecting: basic kidding supplies

2015-02-19T22:54:07.184-05:00

Ella has her fluffy winter coat onThis time of year is definitely my least favorite. Bitter cold, and although normally I'd just hide in the house under a pile of wool until it's over, I can't really do that when I have farm animals to take care of. My daily routine now involves many more layers of wool clothing, a few minutes of jumping jacks before going out to feed so that my fingers and toes stay warm (after having to very painfully thaw my fingers in warm water one day after chores), hauling 100lbs of hay about 500 ft in a wheelbarrow that does not want to wheel properly through the frozen ruts of snow, and knocking solid ice chunks out of all the water buckets before hauling 15 gallons of warm water from the house to the various goat pens. I have a collection of "ice sculptures" that are actually the frozen innards of water buckets in various stages of melting:Ugh. The good news is, the most awful time of the year is swiftly followed by the best time of year: kidding season. It is nearly as cold and a hundred times more exhausting, but - BABY GOATS. Enough said, right? My first goats are due within the next two weeks and I'm to the stage of frantic baby goat sweater knitting and triple- and quadruple-checking that I have everything I might need for my kidding kit. Now that I have been through a bunch of kiddings and have pretty much figured out my routine, I thought it might be useful/interesting for me to share what I put in my "kidding bucket", which is a big plastic tub that I keep at the ready to grab and take with me to the barn when a goat is in labor. My kidding bucket, only pictured half full because I usually stack a ton oftowels on top & you wouldn't be able to see anything.Here's what I keep in it, semi organized by what is most useful/used the most frequently.Basic items:-iodine (you want around 7%. The one I have is called "Triodine-7" and is meant for livestock)-dental floss and/or umbilical cord clips-scissors (mine are surgical/veterinary scissors, but any small scissors will do)-old towels, you can really never have too many-baby goat sweaters, mine are hand knit wool (pattern here)These are the bare minimal basics to have on hand. The first thing I do when a goat has kidded is make sure the kids are dry and warm. If I'm not there for the kidding, mom usually takes care of this part all on her own, but if I'm there I'll help dry the kids off with old towels. I can usually do this without really getting in the way because my goats often have multiple kids (usually twins) and mom can only clean one at a time. In cold weather, it's important to get them dry as soon as possible or they can get chilled. Then I take each kid and tie off/clip the umbilical cord with either dental floss or plastic umbilical cord clips, cut the cord about 1" away from their belly, and dip it in iodine. Each baby is given a wool sweater to keep them warm for the first few days since they can't really regulate their body temperature on their own right away. When that's done, I move on to giving everyone their supplements. Supplements:-Selenium & vitamin e paste (many people give BoSe shots, but I don't like to give shots if I can avoid it)-Vitamin A, D, E, & B12 paste (this is all in one paste)-Vitamin E gelcaps (for humans)-Jump Start Plus paste (not essential, but I'll give a little if I have it around) I give each kid a small amount of each vitamin paste and then squirt the contents of 1-2 vitamin e gelcaps into their mouths. If it's 1000 IU, I use one, if it's 400-500 IU, I use two. I usually see a noticeable difference in them afterwards, the vitamins and selenium help get them alert and up and moving faster. I want to get them on their feet and nursing, since kids are born without independently functioning immune systems and need the antibodies present in their dams colostrum (the thick, highly nutritious first milk a doe produces after kidding) to protect them. White Muscle Disease and selenium deficiencies are fairly common in goats, and usually the symptoms include weak or bent[...]



2014 Fiber Adventures Recap: Sheep to Shawl!

2014-11-21T13:35:16.722-05:00

This year, I joined a Sheep-to-Shawl team. Technically we started the team last fall, but I wasn't able to go to our first competition since it fell on the same weekend as the Crafty Bastards craft fair. So, my first ever sheep-to-shawl was at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this past may.My team with a llama, a donkey, and an emu. You know, a normal saturday.What's a Sheep-to-Shawl? Well, they vary a bit, but basically it's a timed competition. Each team has several spinners and a weaver, and you show up with a warped loom and a sheep. The clock starts when your shearer starts to shear the sheep, and you take the raw, right off the sheep fleece and turn it into a (usually about 6ft long) shawl in the span of about 3 hours. It's usually a bit of a race because you often get extra points for finishing first, second, third etc. Then the judges take the shawls away and score them on a huge list of different points, and everyone reconvenes for the judging announcement. Sometimes the shawls are auctioned off at the end. There are also Fleece-to-Shawl competitions, where you show up with a fleece (and you're usually allowed to wash it beforehand!) instead of a sheep.Honestly, it's not something I ever thought I'd be doing. I hadn't even watched a sheep-to-shawl before my first competition, I caught the end of the shawl auction once at MD Sheep & Wool but otherwise I was pretty clueless. But somehow I ended up competing at both Maryland Sheep & Wool AND Rhinebeck this year, the two biggest fiber festivals on the east coast!I'm in it 100% for my team and for my own enjoyment. I love my team, we work really well together and we have tons of fun in the process. I've also learned a lot, not an easy feat when you've been spinning for about 10 years. I mostly have a "been there, done that" attitude with most things fibery, and since I have enough experience to know what I like and dislike in term of fiber, I'm a bit set in my ways. So it's been very enjoyable to stretch myself and try new things. I might even be leaning towards picking up weaving...which is also something I did not expect to find myself doing.So, MD Sheep & Wool. Our teams sole experience to this point was the fleece to scarf (the finished product was smaller than a shawl) competition at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in VA last fall, which I didn't attend, and so my personal sheep-to-shawl experience was pretty close to zero. My only contribution was dyeing the yarn for the warp. Our team was the only team to sign up for the competition, although we didn't know that beforehand. They completed their scarf in the time limit, and won.About a month before MD Sheep & Wool, we all got together and sort of spontaneously made the decision to enter the sheep to shawl. I was both excited and nervous about it, since there are actually 'professional' sheep to shawl teams out there and MDSW seemed like the big leagues. We signed up our team, and then we realized everything that had to get done in the scant few weeks before the big day. We need a sheep, first of all. Where do you get a sheep? Do you just call up a random farmer and ask to borrow one? I know some local sheep farmers since I buy a lot of fleeces, but I wasn't sure those relationships were strong enough for me to ask out of the blue for permission take a sheep off their property. I didn't want just any sheep, since the texture, color, etc of the fleece would have a huge impact on the feel and look of our finished shawl. Then, we needed to practice. A lot. How thick would we need to spin the wool? How should we process it? Can we all match our spinning to produce consistant yarn? Can we actually even manage to make a huge shawl in 3 hours? We also needed to come up with team costumes and a display. Oh, and find someone to shear the sheep for us.Emily shearing one of Skip's Harlequin ewesWe got so very lucky. I was planning on going to the spring shearing at Pleasant Living Farm, my local harlequin sheep farm. Not only did Skip (the fa[...]



Volunteer Garlic

2014-11-05T12:35:48.648-05:00

We moved to our farm over 4 years ago. The year we moved in, the previous owners had a few long rows of garlic that had been planted the fall before, and it was written into our house buying contract that they'd be able to come back and harvest it that summer. I have never planted garlic in the garden, but we still get garlic every year, volunteers from that last crop.Last year was the first time we harvested any, mostly because it's scattered around in inconvenient areas and it just got scythed or ignored. Last fall we found some while scything the entire acre of garden to clear it of tall weeds. It was well after it should have been harvested so it wasn't pretty, but it still tasted great! I was amazed to find decent-sized bulbs, because I always thought that it would be difficult to grow garlic in our heavy, rocky clay soil. I'm not entirely sure what kind of garlic it is, but the Thornes have told me they planted a spicy red asian garlic. It's definitely not the white garlic they also grew. This year I've been regularly scything the garden to keep the weeds under control, so I noted where the garlic was, scythed around it, and kept an eye on it until it looked ready to pull. It's a hardneck variety and I didn't manage to pick all the scapes, so I also ended up with quite a few garlic bulbils, which is what the scapes turn into if you leave them alone. The bulbils are really just tiny cloves of garlic, and are part of the reason that we've still got a garlic crop coming up after several years.The bulbils take a few years to turn into full heads of garlic. The first year, they produce a "garlic round", which is a single round clove that will turn into a small head the next year.I sorted the garlic crop by size. Bulbils and rounds were kept to be re-planted this fall in neat rows, along with the largest cloves (which will produce full heads of garlic). I definitely want to expand my garlic crop, and the best part about using this variety is that it's had a few years to adapt to my specific garden environment, and it seems to be doing just fine since it managed to survive the weeds, weather, and animals all on its own. The biggest heads were cured and stored for cooking, and I pulled out the smallish heads of garlic to ferment into pickled garlic.I am a big fan of what I call "real pickles", which means that no vinegar is used, just brine and vegetables, and they get bubbly and fermented before being refrigerated. This is technically lacto-fermentation. It's the same way sauerkraut and kimchi are made. Ideally, it would be done in a crock with a weight on top to keep the garlic submerged and away from oxygen, but this is such a small batch I just stuck it in a jar. If the garlic had started to floated, I would have found something to weigh it down.First I separated out a bunch of cloves. Aren't they pretty? I prepared a clean glass jar with some herbs for a little extra flavor. They are pretty random, based on what I know I like and what I had around: fresh cilantro, a little fresh ginger root, mustard seeds, and black pepper.I peeled all the cloves and added them to the jar, then covered them in a brine made with 3 tbsp sea salt to a quart of well water.Then I covered the jar with butter muslin and let it sit for 1-2 weeks at room temperature before capping it and moving it to the refrigerator. I've been using it to cook with for some extra flavor, it did really well in a thai curry last week.Fall update: I found even more volunteer garlic that I missed back in july now that it's starting to sprout again and all the weeds have been eaten down by the goats. If a head of garlic is left in the ground, the entire thing will sprout, like so:You can see the dead center stalk of the head poking up in the middle. It was cut short, so it was probably hidden by tall weeds and I scythed it without noticing.  I carefully and gently separated the heads that I found and have been transplanting them into freshly turned 50 ft rows.&nbs[...]



DCF: Handspun Yarn Preview

2013-12-11T15:10:10.204-05:00

I'm down to my last day of crafting before the Degenerate Craft Fair this weekend in new york city. The weather suddenly took a steep dive into wintry this week, with not one but two days of heavy snow.Perfect spinning weather! I'm really into working with wool right now and I'm so happy with the yarns I'm making for this show. I'm incorporating lots of handmade, handdyed felt pieces:The leaves and feathers are freeform hand cut from sheets of wool felt before being dyed and then embroidered/sewn, and the mushrooms are each needle felted from wool.I love the little toadstools, but this time I felted a few baby portabella inspired mushrooms as well, with tan wool caps.The mushrooms are spun into my folksy, woodsy Mushroom Collector yarn: Today I'm spinning up two skeins of a brand new art yarn I'm calling Winter Garden, with felt feathers, frost-bitten brown leaves, and a few natural colored felt balls. Also on my plate today are a few skeins of Dark Forest, with deep dark greens, browns, gold, and felt leaves, and then some snowy white yarn with hand cut wool felt snowflakes spun in.I've also been spinning some colorful patchwork yarns for the show! And of course plenty of bulky single ply yarns from local wool locks carded up with bits of recycled fibers like bamboo and banana.I'm pretty excited for this craft show! If you're in the new york area, stop by this weekend and see my yarns in person. I'm sharing a booth with my friend Josie of Paper & Plow.The 2013 Degenerate Craft Fair The DCTV Firehouse87 Lafayette StreetNew York, NY(6,N,R,Q,J to Canal Street) December 14th: 12pm-8pmOpening night reception from 6pm to 8pmFeaturing music and free beer. December 15th: 11am-6pmFirst 50 guests get a free tote of goodies![...]



Degenerate Craft Fair in NYC

2013-12-04T10:41:50.917-05:00

I have a craft show coming up this month, and it's my first show outside of the MD/DC area! I will be at the Degenerate Craft Fair saturday December 14th and sunday December 15th in New York.From the press release: "Created for artists, by artists, the Degenerate Craft Fair is not your average craft fair. The DCF transcends the line between art and craft, showcasing artists selling affordable versions of their work, dedicated craftmakers who take unconventional approaches toward traditional techniques, and even small independent businesses that produce their own honey, lotions, and soaps."I will probably be bringing only handspun yarn due to space and travel constraints, and I'll be sharing a booth with my awesome friend Josie, of Paper & Plow.Josie makes soap, and we have eerily similar tastes in ingredients and essential oils so I love all of her stuff.She makes both vegan and goats milk soaps - and her goat milk soaps contain milk from my spoiled little herd of mini dairy goats. Oh, and she also makes lip balm. I am obsessed with her lip balm right now and I think I have one in every coat pocket and bag I own. It glides on beautifully, even in cold weather, and it's holding up well over time unlike many completely natural lip balms. What will I have at the show? I'm in the midst of spinning like crazy to bring as many awesome yarns as possible, but I will definitely have my 32 color hand dyed self-striping/color-changing Yarnbow:I will also have patchwork yarns. I just dyed up the very last of my amazing super crazy soft recycled sw merino/silk/cashmere blend fiber, plus I'm trying to finish some colorways on lovely pale natural grey rambouillet x farm wool. And lots of bulky single ply yarn and art yarns! Look for another post with yarn preview photos next week. I'm really happy with the yarns I'm producing for this show - as soon as cold weather hits, all I want to do is play with wool! [...]



Behind the scenes: designing a new patchwork colorway

2013-11-20T18:27:07.370-05:00

I just finished spinning a sweater's worth of patchwork yarn in a new/updated colorway that is a gift for a friend. Since I was working with her to pick the colors, this is the first time I've really documented the process and I thought others might find it interesting. This all started when my friend Josie and I decided that we both want to knit ourselves basic raglan sweaters from my handspun patchwork yarn. I already had a colorway picked out for me, but we looked through photos of my colorways and Josie was having a hard time picking one. I know her color sense pretty well and I suggested that we take a colorway of mine that I'm not completely happy with and tweak it by swapping out some colors to make it more "Josie". The colorway is Lumos, and I've only ever dyed it maybe 3 times, mostly because I'm not totally in love with it. Here is Lumos in it's original form:  When we started emailing about colors to change in this colorway, I realized that it might help to have a visual representation instead of just listing colors. I've been dyeing for so long that it's pretty easy for me to visualize things in my head when it comes to my patchwork yarns, but not everyone uses the same descriptive words for colors and I wanted to be sure we were on the same page, so I made this quick chart of the colors in Lumos:Each of my patchwork colorways has 16 different colors in it, 8 colors in each single ply. So one half of the colorway is on the top, and the other half is the bottom - these will be spun onto separate bobbins and then plied together. I try to keep similar colors (like pale yellow and dark yellow) in the same ply to create more contrast in the finished yarn. It's kind of a permanent barber pole effect, in that there are always two different colors plied together, and results in the tweedy overlapping stripes that I love. We emailed back and forth a bit, I suggested some colors I thought might be good to add and Josie told me which colors she liked the least so that I could remove or edit them. I made a new chart to show her my vision of our edited version of the colorway:I got rid of the white, pink, tan, and violet. The white was replaced with natural dark brown wool that I carded into batts from some fleeces I had on hand, and I moved the gold over to the other ply. I added a deep seafoam and spruce (kind of a smokey dark teal) and changed the violet to raspberry. The only other change I made that isn't reflected in this chart is that I dyed the blue-green shade more of a deep bright emerald, since that particular shade of green reminds me of Josie. Future dyelots might have more of a blue-green instead. Next, I dyed the fiber. I dyed 2.25 lbs total - 6 skeins (1.5 lbs) for Josie, one skein for a matching baby goat sweater so we can take awkward matching sweater photos with newborn baby goats, and two extra skeins for my etsy shop. I snapped quick photos with bad lighting to show Josie before I dove into prepping the fiber to spin, the colors aren't completely accurate. The red-orange in particular doesn't photograph well, my camera has issues with red tones and insists on turning it into a blazing neon. It's a much more earthy and normal orange in person. And finally, the moment of truth, the finished yarn. Since the colors are spun in two separate lots, I never completely find out what a colorway will look like until I finish spinning the singles and ply them together. I love it. Lumos was okay, and I do try to spin colors that I don't personally love because not everyone has the same tastes, but this is so much more aesthetically pleasing to me. I have named it Goldmine, after a silly moment/inside joke from when Josie and I were first getting to know each other. I tried to type out the story, but like most inside jokes, it doesn't really translate well. There are two skeins of Goldmine available in the shop, and I will hopefu[...]



Crafty Bastards,TOMORROW!

2013-09-27T20:18:10.069-04:00



Crafty Bastards really crept up on me this year! For the first time ever, it will be two days, this saturday and sunday. I would be perfectly thrilled with the amount of inventory I have if it was a one day show, but I'm super nervous about running out of yarn on sunday. I think it'll be okay, but I'd definitely recommend stopping by my booth on saturday for the best selection! I've spun multiples of many yarns this year in the hopes of having enough for both days and to give the option of buying more than one skein from the same dyelot for larger projects. For some reason, this year I'm really into natural colored wools and white/cream based yarns with pops of color & interest - I almost felt like I was putting together a 'collection' at one point.



 I will also have a small amount of goat milk soaps made with milk from my own little herd, and some hand dyed wool locks from local sheep.

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Crafty Bastards will be at Union Market in DC again this year - I really love this venue! I will be in booth #99 Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 from 10am-5pm. Click here to visit the Crafty Bastards website for more info, including a vendor map. I believe it's $5 to get in, or $10 for both days. It's totally worth it - 140 amazing vendors, really good food, and this year there will be beer.

Hope to see you there!



Hand processed farm wool & rare breed fleeces

2013-08-01T14:04:17.752-04:00

Every year in early spring, I start shopping around for local wool fleeces to use in my yarns. Finding farms with wool for sale can be difficult, since many farmers aren't great at advertising to potential buyers or even just getting their basic contact information out there. The farms that do have websites and market to spinners are often out of my price range, especially since I like to look for unusual and rare breeds. Sometimes I stumble across a new fleece source unexpectedly, like the time I answered a classified ad for someone looking for a person to shear their two angora goats in trade for the fleeces. "I've never shorn a goat before", I told her, "but I'm willing to buy some hand shears and give it a try." These things are always hit or miss, but that just makes it that much more elating when I find a truly good fiber source.This year, I stumbled across a farm only 15 minutes away from me that raises a rare breed of sheep called Harlequin. I wasn't looking for wool when I found them, I was researching breeds of miniature sheep because I am still considering adding sheep to my tiny farm and I was certain there had to be another mini breed out there besides the Babydoll Southdown sheep. The Harlequin breed was started about 30 years ago in the US by Kathleen Sterling, with the goal of producing a sheep similar in size to the Babydolls but with fleece that had more variations in color and texture. There are only 8 farms listed as breeders, and the farmer told me he has to regularly trade rams with the other farms because the gene pool is so small. All the Harlequins I've seen so far are spotted. The lambs start out black & white spotted, but the fleeces on the adult sheep can range through every shade of grey, cream, white, and browns - all in one fleece! Although it seems like white and brown spotted is the most common Harlequin coloring. And the texture variation is pretty wide too, from loose long silky longwool locks to short crimpy springy fine wool. I'm in love!I ended up splitting up the fleeces by color and carded up two pounds of natural gray batts, one pound of gray wool blended with 20% recycled soysilk, and two pounds of "almost white" (cream/white with hints of gray) wool. The natural browns will make their way into other yarns, but they don't need as much prep since they can't be overdyed. The gray and white batts don't feel like they are from the same breed of sheep, let alone the same fleece - the gray is silky and slightly drapey and reminds me of romney or a border leceister cross, while the white is much more springy, matte, and softer. The downside to working with lots of straight-from-the-farm raw wool is that it takes a ton of time to process. It has to be washed (I do a minimum of a long cold soak, two hot washes and two hot/warm rinses, but greasier fleeces can easily take twice as many washes), which involves lots of heavy lifting since I dump the water from the first two washes outside rather than down the drain. Then the fleece is carefully picked through by hand to fluff the locks open and remove any vegetable matter or second cuts, and then either dyed and run through the drum carder once (for chunky art yarns) or carefully run through the drum carder 2-3 times before being dyed (for patchwork yarns). It usually takes me at least a month, usually much longer, from buying a bunch of fleeces to having fiber ready to spin, because the washing, carding, and dyeing takes more time the more I'm trying to do at once. All that prep feels like it drags on forever, but at least there are many different steps. By the time I'm truly sick of one part of the process, it's time to move on to the next. It's worth it to me because I enjoy working with these fibers so much more than lifeless commercially prepared top and I feel an immense amount of pride in the finished yarn when[...]



Goodbye, Nymphie

2013-06-30T00:45:03.084-04:00

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A few weeks ago I lost Nymphie, our special favorite and the first kid born here. I always knew that I would lose a goat one day- after all, "if you have livestock, you will have dead stock". I thought that when it finally happened, it would be illness or kidding complications or injury or old age. But Nymphie went into anaphylactic shock after getting a shot of vitamins, and she went from happy and healthy to dead in seconds. I knew what had happened, it is a rare reaction but a tiny risk every time a shot is given to a goat although it happens most often with vaccines and antibiotics. The only way to save a goat in that situation is to already have a syringe of epinephrine (which is prescription, so you would have to have convinced a vet to sell you some) loaded and ready to go in order to be able to administer it in time. I haven't worried about it much because I've never had to use antibiotics and my goats get a bare minimum of shots - anything I can administer orally instead, I do. Now, I have a bottle of epinephrine on hand, for my own peace of mind.

Not only was it a shock to lose a goat like that, but Nymphie was my baby, the one goat that we would keep no matter what because she wasn't livestock, she was family. She didn't suffer, and she had a wonderful life, but it took a while for me to grasp the concept of a world without her. I was heartbroken. I still am.

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The thing I loved most about Nymphie was how joyful and in the moment she always was, and I am trying to take that lesson to heart. I have raised many goats at this point, and I am certain that there will be more goats but never another Nymphie. She was the best. 





Spring!

2013-03-08T18:16:51.306-05:00

It may seem premature, with bits of snow still lingering here and there, but spring is definitely here. Here's how I know:


My first kid of the year has arrived, a sweet little blue-eyed doeling.

Other signs of spring include: a yard covered in crocuses, planning fleece-buying trips to local farms, and the sudden crushing realization that I have one million things to get done, now. The rest of this month will be an absolute whirlwind as I finish getting ready for the Homespun Yarn Party, wait for Lilly to have her kids, and try to prepare to start the many farm projects that have been waiting for warmer weather.




I just listed some patchwork yarns in the shop - BFL, cormo, and four skeins of a dreamy recycled merino/cashmere/silk blend that I carded into fluffy batts before dyeing and spinning. I may squeeze a few more skeins in tomorrow morning, but there will probably only be one more mini update before Homespun Yarn Party on march 24th, and I may end up putting my shop on vacation before that. There will be more patchwork yarns (I can't wait to get to spinning more of the recycled cashmere blend and the local cormo wool), new colorways, and hopefully a LOT of new goats milk soaps coming to the shop in late march/early april!





New yarns & new spinning group

2013-01-23T18:03:33.629-05:00

A brand new spinning group just started up in westminster, MD! It takes place at the westminster senior center, 6-9pm, on the 1st and 3rd fridays of every month. I attended the very first meetup on the 18th, and I'm hoping to be able to make it regularly. If you are local and interested in stopping by, there is a ravelry group called Sykesville Spinners where the meetup started.I decided to card up some batts from my large stash of dyed fibers that got sort of out-of-control during the process of getting ready for shows in october-december so that I would have something to spin at the meetup, and I ended up carding a TON of batts. I just listed 12 new bulky art yarns in the shop, with more on the way probably by the end of the week.  I'm going to try to keep the shop stocked with yarns all the way up until show/kidding season begins (march). I'm dyeing my way through 10lbs of merino x wool in various patchwork colorways and hope to continue to conquer my stash by getting it carded and spun. It's almost shearing season, which means I need to organize my fiber and free up space for brand new wool - my own version of spring cleaning![...]



MD Hand Dyers Guild Yarn Crawl

2012-12-06T13:32:21.198-05:00

The past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind of fluff! Crafty Bastards completely wiped me out - I sold all the soap I brought and came home with only 6 skeins of yarn, so I had to start again from scratch building inventory for a holiday yarn crawl this weekend. I'm going to be selling my yarn & soap this weekend at the first annual Maryland Hand Dyers Guild Yarn Crawl! This saturday, December 8th, and sunday, December 9th, three MD hand dyers will be opening up their studios to sell their gorgeous hand dyed yarns. They just happen to also be my three favorite local hand dyers: Dragonfly Fibers, Neighborhood Fiber Co, and Cephalopod Yarns.

I will be at the Dragonfly Fibers studio (4104 Howard Ave Kensington, MD 20895) on saturday from 10am-5pm and at Cephalopod Yarns studio (1547B Ridgely, Baltimore, MD 21230) on sunday from 10am-5pm.

I'm bringing handspun yarn (mostly art yarns, only handful of patchwork yarns), goats milk soap made with milk from my own little herd, sheepy sachets, and some project bags.

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I made 8 batches of goats milk soap right after Crafty Bastards, including these new kinds (pictured above):

Chocolate Orange - sweet orange and blood orange essential oils with a bit of chocolate fragrance oil swirled through. Colored with tumeric, paprika, and cocoa powder.

Ginger, Sweet Orange, & Pink Grapefruit - with pink himalayan salt. Lightly colored with tumeric & paprika.

Lavender, Bergamot, & Juniper Berry - with poppy seeds & lavender buds.

Chai Latte - Cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg essential oils, with powdered cinnamon and nutmeg swirled through the soap.

Frosty Morning -Peppermint and fir needle (smells like a pine tree) essential oils, with powdered oatmeal and dill for color.

Any soaps left over after this weekend will be posted in my etsy shop.

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The kids are growing up, I can't believe it's already been 2 months since they were born! They are technically old enough to be weaned but I switched the triplets to being bottle fed because they're so much smaller than Tarot's buckling, who was getting three times as much milk since he had an entire udder to himself. It feels strange to be milking in december (brr), but I'm getting a half gallon a day from two mini goats. Most of my other girls should be bred (fingers crossed) for spring kids.



1 Comments

2012-10-17T09:06:01.590-04:00

We just finished up a mini kidding season here. Cameo had triplets, our first set of triplets ever. Two blue-eyed boys and a girl. It was a little chaotic at first, but it worked out well because Cameo is a super mom and well equipped to handle raising that many babies at once.I guessed that she was going to have triplets, based on the size of her udder and how incredibly wide she got in the last few weeks before kidding:Tarot had a single buckling, a funny laid back little guy.In other news, my goats milk soaps are now available in my etsy shop. I love them, I've had a long running obsession with handmade soap and it's pretty great being able to make my own. These soaps all suit my tastes: simple, natural, rustic. I will be a vendor at the Crafty Bastards craft fair in DC again this year, but it feels like a whole new show since it's going to be indoors for the first time (hurray! No worries about rain/cold!). For the first time, you will need to buy a ticket to get into the show -  it's $10 at the door, but you can order tickets online for half price here. It is totally worth it for all the awesome vendors at this show! The new location is Union Market, 1309 5th Street NE in Washington, D.C., and Crafty Bastards is Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 from 10am-7pm. [...]



Patchwork roundup

2012-09-04T10:44:28.597-04:00

It's been over 2 years since I last posted about projects made with my patchwork yarns, I think it's about time for a new post! There are now 5 pages of projects made with my patchwork handspun on ravelry (maybe more that aren't linked), so I picked some of my favorites to feature. I linked back to the ravelry project pages if you want to see more pictures & details of the original projects.Gnomey Pants, knit by knittingma from the Gnome colorway. These are beautiful. I don't even know how many times I've just looked at these pictures in my favorites on ravelry, this is one of those times when the yarn and project are perfect for each other and the finished item could not be better! The solid blue edging ties everything together and makes the colors pop. When I was designing this colorway, that shade of blue was one of the main colors it was centered around. And this only took one skein!Folktale Wristwarmers, knit by mindfulknitter from the Luned colorway. I feel like having happy-colored knits like these keeps me warmer, but that could just be me. A Thorpe For Mama, knit by Bertha out of the colorway Gypsy Boy. Thorpe is a free pattern, and I dearly love hats with earflaps and ties! I also love this colorway. If you go to the ravelry project page for this hat, you can zoom in on the picture to see more detail. f a r m e r ' s : t o a s t and g y p s y {mitts}, knit by GracieBelle of One Headlight Designs from the Farmers Market and Gypsy Boy colorways.One of the reasons patchwork yarns are excellent for hand coverings like mittens and fingerless gloves (besides just looking good) is that they tend to knit up into a really dense sturdy fabric. I can wear my patchwork mitts while doing farm chores in the winter and they hold up great. Folktale Socks, knit by EarthenKnit from the Rona colorway. Even though I like knitting socks from heavier yarns, it never occurred to me to knit a pair from my patchwork yarn. I bet they'd keep my feet toasty in this drafty little farmhouse in the winter! Pull on Hats, knit by my friend Josie from the Farmers Market colorway. She is awesome and grows food for a school in MD, you should check out their blog, Community Farm at Sandy Springs Friends School. The colors in this hat match all the vibrant produce pictures on the blog!Lirael fingerless mitts, knit by ME from the Lirael colorway. I came up with this pattern as a beginning knitter and have used it countless times over the years, but these are the first mitts I'm keeping for myself. They were SUCH a fast enjoyable knit, and very warm and comfy! I spun this yarn from squishy cormo farm wool, and it was irresistible.And, lastly - Folktale yoke sweater, knit by POWERPAW. She blogs at LIONHAIRS and also has an etsy shop with cure accessories (I like the collar necklaces). My heart went pitter-patter the first time I saw these pictures! I need a patchwork sweater now, and my goal this winter is to spin and knit myself a sweater entirely from patchwork yarns.I will be closing down the patchwork yarn sale tomorrow evening, so there is one more day left to place pre-orders. As of right now, the custom spots are just over half filled and I made enough to buy supplies to build nice new kidding pens for my goats so that each doe can have her own space. I'm hoping to get enough orders to be able to buy the supplies to build individual shelters for each pen too. The best part is that the pens will be moveable and can be taken apart and rearranged into different fencing configurations when I don't have any does ready to kid - so I will be able to use them for breeding pens and moveable pasture fencing too. Right now I have my nigerian dwarf does out in a small mov[...]



Patchwork yarn pre-order sale/fundraiser

2012-09-01T15:10:52.378-04:00

I know it can be hard to grab a skein of my patchwork handspun yarn, since it usually sells out within a few days of a shop update, and I don't usually update more than twice a month at best. I do take requests for colorways - if you contact me saying you want a specific patchwork colorway & how many skeins, I get back to you when I have that colorway ready to list again, with pictures and details, so that you can have them listed reserved for you if you'd like. However, this takes a while unless I happen to already have the fiber dyed and ready to go in that colorway, sometimes as much as a few months. Well, now's your chance: I've decided to offer custom requests for my patchwork yarns spun from lofty minimally processed merino cross wool at a really really good price, with the goal of fundraising money to get some farm projects done.You can pre-order any repeatable patchwork colorway or Yarnbow self-striping yarn for $30 per skein for the next few days (until wednesday Sept. 5th) OR until all custom spinning spots are full. I'm going to cut this off at a certain number of skeins in order to make sure I can get it done in a reasonable amount of time and don't get too overwhelmed - I do have a few pregnant goats due in a month, after all. I'm setting aside the month of september to spin these custom requests so that I can get them dyed, spun, and shipped before my goats kid. Shipping is a flat $4 per order, no matter how many skeins are in that order.The temporary pre-order shop is here. To order multiple skeins in one colorway, just add the colorway to your cart, click "go to cart", and then adjust the quantity there. If you'd prefer to order through etsy, you can contact me through my etsy shop and let me know which colorway(s) and how many skeins you want and I'll make you a reserved listing.Patchwork yarns are usually around 130-200 yds per 3.5-4 oz skein, worsted to bulky weight, and they are normally priced at $36-$42 per skein plus shipping. They will be spun from merino x wool from DHF farm in the falkland islands - their sheep are mostly merino with a small percentage of corriedale, so the wool is super soft and lofty but with a longer staple length for a sturdier, better wearing yarn. They don't use any herbicides, pesticides, dips, footbaths or regular injections on their sheep, and no bleach or other chemicals in the processing of the wool - so it is, according to them, some of the purest, cleanest wool you will find on the planet. There are 16 different colors in each patchwork colorway, and they knit up in tweedy stripes. You can see examples of how they knit either in my previous blog posts about them or on the Ravelry projects page for my patchwork yarns. I will also have a new blog post showcasing some of my favorite projects made from my patchwork yarns in a few days - I realized that it's been almost 3 YEARS since I posted finished object pictures, and there have been lots of awesome projects in the meantime, including these fingerless knits I knit for myself from the Lirael colorway:Also, for those who have been asking, my goats milk soaps made with milk from my little herd, essential oils, and herbs will be done curing in about a week, so I will be listing them on etsy soon. I think this may be my first official "farm product".[...]



New Stuff For Sale!

2012-07-20T12:16:53.642-04:00

I finally pulled off an etsy shop update! Let's start with the yarn. Back in May, I managed to buy a really amazing fleece at the MD Sheep & Wool Fest.It came from a Romeldale x sheep named Tofu. The "x" means that while the sheep is mostly Romeldale, it is crossbred rather than purebred ( I pronounce the "x" as "cross" when saying it aloud, so "Romeldale x" = "Romeldale cross"). This particular sheep was 37.5% Romeldale, 34.4% Romney, 12.5% Corriedale, 9.4% Border Leicester, and 6.2% Lincoln. Quite a mix! The many longwool breeds mixed in there made me nervous, since I definitely prefer a finer fleece, but based on feel and looks I probably would have guessed that this fleece was a fine corriedale or a rambouillet crossed with something with a longer staple length. It is REALLY nice. And unique - I've never worked with a fleece quite like this! I washed, picked, carded and re-carded the wool before spinning it. This always seems to take forever to me since the spinning is my favorite part, but I also greatly enjoy having a big pile of finished batts sitting around.Most of the batts are plain, but I blended some of the Romeldale x with dark brown CVM wool (CVM is the same breed as Romeldale, just a color variation) and some with 20% recycled soysilk. I started with a 7+ pound fleece, but after processing I ended up with about 4.5 pounds of batts. Then comes the dyeing - which also takes a while, at 16 colors per patchwork colorway! I write out detailed notes for myself before every batch that I dye. And finally, the first batch of finished yarns:These yarns are up in the shop now, and there will be more coming in the next update or two. I also listed some merino x patchwork yarns and a handful of novelty yarns, like an extreme tailspun lock yarn and a corespun yarn with my pygora goats fiber. I listed several of my fiber-animal themed small knitting project bags for the first time, one of the new products I mentioned in my last post. I've been sewing these since the beginning of this year and selling them at shows, and have made a few changes to my design. The changes are minor, mostly messing with the dimensions (they are all the same size, just with the width and height rearranged), but I decided to list my remaining bags at a reduced price so that I can start fresh with the next batch of bags I make. The price will go up by about $5 at the very least, since I'm using as much organic cotton fabric as possible, and I'm thinking of custom screenprinting my own fabric in the future. Here are two of the bags with a small turquoise GoKnit pouch for size comparison: The Go Knit pouch is about 6" wide and 8" tall, and my bags vary but are about 5.5" wide and 9" tall on average, with a square bottom. They can easily hold a small project - I photographed most of them holding a half knit sock with two balls of yarn:They are fully lined and can be reversed if you want, but really I think the fiber animal fabric on the outside is the best. I have two organic cotton sheep prints and one alpaca print fabric used on the bags in this update. Each bag is unique as the lining and accent fabrics are different. They are super useful, and can be used for things other than knitting - I've used mine to hold a spindle and fiber and embroidery projects.They also have a carry strap, which can be hung around your wrist if you want to knit and walk, and close with a drawstring made of super strong paracord. An important shipping note: for the first time in years, all items in this update have the option for international shipping! I finally figured out a way to allow me to ship international items both in a timely[...]



farm update

2012-07-15T03:05:01.619-04:00

The main reason I didn't breed most of my goats last fall was that we didn't have an unrelated buck and I couldn't find one I liked enough to buy. A buck is 50% of your herds genetics, so it pays to be picky. I finally bought my first adult buck this spring, a lovely amicable fellow with striking blue eyes.Three of my girls stayed in the brand new buck pen with him for a month, and I'm pretty sure all three are pregnant. They should be over 2 months along now, almost to the halfway point, due Sept 30 - Oct 4. They are just starting to look rounder to me, and I'm hoping to be able to feel the babies by the end of this month.I was so excited after breeding them that I made a quick kidding schedule. I'm already planning ahead for my fall breedings this year - I bought a second blue-eyed nigerian dwarf buckling to use in the fall, this handsome boy from Sunny Daze Farm:He is mostly cream, but I think he has some pale gold moonspots. It's hard to tell since he could also just be dirty, but they should darken over time and become more visible. I'm going to try to breed the pygoras this fall as well. I should have a bunch of kids for sale in the spring, and a few for sale this fall. Lily's kids went to their new home last month. I was sad to see them go, but I'm glad they went together, and they're going to be pets for a family of excited kids.                      bye, babies!  I also have quite a few broody hens right now. I was planning on ordering chicks this summer, but I ended up letting them sit on their eggs and I now have 18 chicks! They are mostly heritage breed mutts, since I have a mixed flock, but they're all 50% barred rock and look like my rooster. I don't mind that they're not purebred, since all my chickens are good egg laying breeds.   It seems a little bit like magic, hatching chicks. If I have the time in the next few weeks, I'd like to try and build a separate area for a few broody hens so I can buy some rare breed eggs for them to sit on. I've been working on a large batch of handspun yarns, and I will either have one huge update or two medium sized updates very soon. I will post here either before or right after I update my shop, since there will be at least one new product available, possibly two. [...]



New baby goats!

2012-03-12T12:08:36.390-04:00

I'm starting to think that every spring might start off with a surprise from the goats. No sooner were the words "I meant to breed for spring kids, but I'm kind of glad I didn't" out of my mouth than I realized that Cowalily was not only pregnant but due at any moment! I did breed her in the fall, once, on a complete whim, but I didn't think it 'took'. She was with the buck for maybe all of 2 minutes. I was trying to breed the pygoras around the same time, and they were with the buck for days and no one is bred so far. I think my pygora buck is more slow-maturing than the nigerian dwarves, though, so I'm going to try again soon. Anyway, Lily hasn't been looking or acting pregnant so I assumed she wasn't, as she was with a buck for 3 weeks along with the other girls last year and she was the only one who turned up not pregnant in the spring. On thursday when I was worming the goats, I noticed that she seemed oddly subdued so while I had her cornered I checked her udder. It was definitely squishy and more prominent! I ran to the house to check my calender for her due date, and I had it written down as March 6-11th. It was the 8th! I immediately separated her from the other goats and got ready for the official babywatch. I started doing barn checks every 1-2 hours, even through the night, an exhausting process. Thankfully she didn't hold out for too long, and on the saturday evening she went into labor around 10pm and produced two beautiful kids, one buck and one doe. It was a textbook perfect kidding, and Lily was a great mom, immediately getting to work cleaning off the kids and encouraging them to nurse. Even with me helping her clean the kids off, they started to get chilled before we could get them completely dry. The doeling was too cold to even try to nurse, so I brought everyone - Lily, too - into the house to get warm. It wasn't that cold out, but I knew that the doeling needed to get warm and dry before her body could handle a night outside. We didn't have anywhere to confine them in the house, so I just had goats loose in the living room. It's a good thing we have hardwood floors! I moved everyone back out the barn once it warmed up in the morning, and they've now spent a night out on their own just fine. The doeling likes to crawl under the milk stand and make herself little nests in the hay to sleep in, and she has a handknit wool sweater to help keep her warm. The buckling is very dark black, a surprise as neither of his parents are! He's vigorous and alert and already taking a few experimental hops here and there. Their sire is one of our kids from last year! Hard to believe one of those little fuzzballs is already a proud papa. I'm pretty thrilled that I'll have fresh milk again soon. And having ridiculously cute little goats to cuddle isn't too bad either.[...]



1 Comments

2012-01-21T18:30:56.720-05:00

In early december, my dog* suddenly and unexpected got really very sick. Sick to the point that I thought I might lose her. Long story short: she ended up having to be hospitalized for nearly a week, no one ever figured out what originally caused her to get sick, she got pneumonia on top of whatever it was she had first, and I'm now paying off huge vet bills. She's fine now, as far as I can tell, but since what she had seemed to be at least partly gastronomic in nature, I'm being super extra careful about what she eats. The vets bills mean that I have to find a way to make more money this year, but I'm trying to see that as a good thing. I have tons of ideas for ways to expand my fiber business and for actually making some money from farming, so hopefully this is just the kick in the pants I need to make things happen this year! I've been dutifully updating my etsy shop about every two weeks on the dot since December. I plan on continuing to update as often as possible, at least until craft show season starts. If you're dreaming of a particular patchwork colorway and haven't been able to grab it, let me know and I'll reserve it for you the next time I spin it. There have been new colorways & rare breed farm wools in the past few updates. I'm mostly putting up patchwork yarns, but there are more novelty yarns & striping yarns to come. And I'm busy sourcing millspun yarns made from small farm wool (and considering having a mill custom spin yarn for me) so that I can add hand-dyed breed-specific farm wool yarns to my lineup. I'd like to mix some sewing and felting in with my spinning and dyeing too, but I'm still working on dreaming up prototypes. I've also decided that I need to eat more eggs. My chickens started laying last fall (brown, white, and green eggs) and haven't stopped, and since I don't spend a lot of time cooking for myself I've just been eating plain fried eggs. But that gets old real fast! The first new thing I learned to make with eggs is custard. I used eggs from my chickens, milk from my goats, and whole vanilla beans. First I made baked custard (amazing), and then frozen custard (super amazing). But that was months ago, and I forgot about how fun it was to discover new egg recipes until today. I made shirred eggs, which I had never heard of before, thanks to this blog post from Juniper Moon Farm, where they seem to be having the same sort of egg 'problem' (not that all the free-range organic eggs you can eat can really be called a problem). Shirred eggs are eggs baked with tons of grated hard cheese (I used parmesan) and cream. The JMF recipe calls for infused olive oils, but I just put red chili pepper flakes right in the eggs and it was plenty flavorful. Creamy eggy cheesy goodness! This has reminded me that finding new ways to use eggs is always a good thing, and I want to try and find a new egg recipe at least once a month. Please drop me a note if you know of a good one! *I adopted a 9yr old welsh corgi last january. She's my first dog and she's awesome.[...]



Crafty Bastards yarn preview

2011-09-30T13:32:18.231-04:00

Crafty Bastards is tomorrow! Here is a preview of what I'll have for sale:Corespun yarns from my pygora goats fiberCherry Blossom yarnLeafy yarnsOne-of-a-kind patchwork scrap yarnsBrand new patchwork colorwaysYarnbow self-striping yarns. Lots of Yarnbow.Pick-your-own felty baublesSheepy sachets filled with organic dried lavender and cedar, now in mushroom and chicken editions[...]



Crafty Bastards

2011-09-25T23:16:17.735-04:00

All this month I've been busy getting ready for the Crafty Bastards craft show in DC on Oct 1st. My favorite craft show! It's always a ton of fun, but this year the DC state fair has been rescheduled to the same time & place as Crafty Bastards, plus there are handmade food vendors and contests. You can find me & my yarns in booth #40 - the map is right here.

Towards the beginning of this month, I had some interesting challenges while trying to prepare for this show. I lost electricity during the Hurricane Irene storm and we didn't get our power back until 5 days later, so I was spinning by candlelight. I was just starting to contemplate dyeing fiber over a campfire when the power came back on.

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The one thing I'm most excited about for this year's Crafty Bastards is that I will have yarn for sale from my very own pygora goats. Pygora goats are a breed that was started as a cross between angora and pygmy goats, and they can have 3 different types of fleeces, ranging from a curly shiny fiber similar to kid mohair to a super soft downy undercoat similar to cashmere. Most of the yarns I'll have for sale were spun from my goat Aoife's (her name is pronounced "Ee-fah") fiber.

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Aoife has type A fiber, which is closest to mohair. She produces the most fiber of all my goats and needs to be shorn twice yearly.

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Her curly locks look just like mohair, but the handle is different - I'd describe it as a cross between silk, angora bunny fluff, and kid mohair. It's drapy and silky feeling, with a hint of wooly fluffiness not found in mohair, but still develops a fuzzy halo. I've been spinning it up into bulky but airy corespun yarns.

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I will only have about 10 skeins of pygora yarn available, so I suggest coming early if you want one!

It's been too gloomy and rainy here to take many pictures, but I'm planning on posting a preview of all my Crafty Bastards wares towards the middle of this week.



Summer update

2011-07-25T20:11:07.888-04:00

It is HOT here, and everything seems to be thriving - goats, chickens, weeds. The baby goats are coming up on 6 months old and are looking leggy and tall to me. I need to finish up their paperwork, and then some of them will be put up for sale. I'm keeping Nymphadora, of course, my little shadow, and I'm holding onto Luna too because I'm hoping she'll inherit her mother's udder as well as her good looks.I was resigned to selling Cassie, since I can't keep all the babies, but her sweet demeanor, moonspots, and good genetics are all conspiring to make this a hard decision.My tiny little chicks are now pretty much full-grown chickens. I'm planning on sprucing up the coop & laying boxes for them this week in the hopes of encouraging them to start laying eggs. They were looking hot, so my mom talked me into getting them a watermelon as a treat. None of them had seen a watermelon before, and it was extremely entertaining watching them slowly edge closer and closer to these strange objects until one brave chicken took the first skeptical peck. They loved it! By that evening, all that was left was two hollowed-out rinds. I'm actively attempting to get more spinning done, despite the stifling heat, now that the animals are more independent and don't need to be watched as closely. I just listed a big batch of yarn in my etsy shop:I'm trying to spin down my stash, since my fiber room is overflowing, which means I should be able to update again in the next few weeks. Since I'm spinning stash fibers, there will be a wider range of wool breeds represented than usual - blue faced leicester, CVM, Warhill, and even some small farm merino that I just found hidden away.I've been MIA the last few weeks since I had a houseguest (hi mom!) and a 3 hour long daily class, but the one really silly vacationy thing we managed to do was attend the midnight premiere of the last harry potter movie. I think my costume turned out pretty well - I sewed the coat completely from scratch, and I didn't start it until 11pm the night before! I debated about my costume for a while, but Lucius and I ended up going as our goat's namesakes - I went as Nymphadora Tonks and he went as Luna Lovegood ;)(The coat is rather rumpled, but it was 114 degrees with the humidity when we took these pictures so I couldn't be bothered to fix it, I just wanted to hurry up and get it off. Ick.)[...]



Farm Update: Babies galore!

2011-03-30T02:05:10.234-04:00

A few weeks back, we had four baby goats and 50+ day old chicks arrive, all on the same day. I thought it was probably about time to at least introduce the goats! We named them all after Harry Potter characters this year, since I just finished listening to all 7 audiobooks. I grew up reading the books, but this was my first time listening to the (british version) audiobooks, and my first time reading all 7 in a row. First up is Nymphadora, or Nymphie for short, whom you have already met and who is now a big girl at 6 weeks old. Cameo and Tarot both had a set of boy/girl twins.Cassiopeia and Orion are names from the Black family tree, and I picked them because they are also constellations and both babies have black moonspots. I have been spending lots of quality time with the babies, especially Nymphie, who is my darling. Actually, it's really hard for me to take pictures of the goats right now, because my lap is usually full. 90% of my pictures look like this:(that's Nymphie, chewing on my scarf, which she is obsessed with - she has a terrible habit of either popping up into photos she was not meant to be in or knocking my camera hand just as I take a picture)Orion and his little sister are so sweet. They're super friendly, just like their mom, and they will both happily fall asleep in my arms.Draco and Luna on the other hand, are both a bit unique - like THEIR mom. They're friendly too, but much more independent. Luna is a perfect copy of her mother, she's similar both in looks and personality. I still call her Mini Tarot sometimes. Draco seems to think that Cameo is just as much his mom as Tarot, he is constantly following her around and trying to nurse from her. He is huge, by far the biggest baby.The chicks are also doing well. I picked out a mix of 13 different heritage breeds for our laying flock, so we have a wide variety. We will have multi-colored eggs too, green/blue, brown, and white. This is an old photo from their first week, they have now grown feathers, tripled in size, and look and act like mini chickens.I will get better pictures of them once they are moved outside. They're in our basement right now to keep them warm, but I'm building a chicken tractor so they can forage around the pastures and garden during the spring & summer. The kids are still nursing right now so I'm only milking once a day. But when they are weaned in about a month, I'll be milking twice a day. I am enjoying milking, it's very meditative for me, like spinning. A nice quiet moment to start the day. Although I am a novice milker, so it takes me about an hour to milk three goats and do a few other chores. The milk is amazing, so lovely and rich and sweet. I don't really drink milk except for a dash in my morning tea, so I'm learning to make cheese. And also yogurt, kefir, ice cream, sour cream, and buttermilk. I'm dreaming of wheels of cheese aging in the basement, hopefully I will learn quickly and not make too many mistakes! On the fiber front, I was a vendor at the Homespun Yarn Party this past sunday. It was super fun as usual, and I have some yarn left over so there will be a shop update soon! I have lots of fiber dyed for patchwork yarns, so expect to see a bunch of those popping up soon. I also have a few pygora goats that are about ready to be sheared. Stardust, the matriarch/queen of our herd, is starting to shed. She's going to be really happy to get all that fluff off and enjoy the warm spring air![...]



Well, hello!

2011-02-13T13:44:15.897-05:00

We weren't expecting any baby goats to be born for at least another few weeks to a month, and I had just checked out the pregnant girls while clipping hooves and decided that none of them looked ready to go yet, so I was very surprised to walk out to the barn on friday to find this: I hadn't built the kidding stalls yet (I was planning on building them this week), but the other goats were all giving Cowalick her space and she was by herself in a corner, calmly cleaning off her kids. She had a boy and a girl, but the boy didn't make it. I'm glad that I happened to go to the barn a bit earlier than usual, because it's entirely possible that if I had gone an hour later I would have found him dead and always wondered if I could have saved him had I found him earlier. We took him to the vet, and sadly they said there was nothing they could do. Luckily my friend Josie and her aunt were visiting that day, otherwise I can't imagine how panicked and scared I would have felt, but I'm very good at being calm under stress when there are other people around. What a day for them to pick to visit the goats! I threw together a quick little stall for mom and baby to hang out in until I get the official stalls built. After suddenly losing one baby, I was very worried about this little girl and drove Cowalick crazy because I checked on them every hour or two all night long the first night. I don't have any real reason to worry, and this little doeling looked much better than her brother from the start and is giving every indication of being a perfectly healthy baby goat, but so many things can go wrong with babies and she's my first! She seemed warm enough friday night, but I wanted to make sure, so I knit a tiny little wool sweater for her: She is so magical and perfect and sweet!Here's a little video of her trying to figure out what her mom is eating: [...]