In the winter and early spring, it’s foggy here a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t even lift during the day. What constructive can we do with fog? Peggy Clyne told me of a technique that she’d heard from Judith Mackenzie for puffing up wool for spinning.
I tested “fogging” using my Shetland roving. I put the roving or batt outside for a day or even just overnight and the wool absorbs moisture and expands. I hung some brown Shetland wool roving from the Christmas light hooks under the outdoor porch roof. Next morning I was surprised to find that the roving had expanded to at least double it’s pre-fog size!
However – I found I don’t have to wait for nature’s fog – I have lots of fog in the greenhouse on a regular basis. I tried some white batt that I carded in the greenhouse overnight with the same amazing result.
Goatmowers run quietly and use very little fuel. Unfortunately, repeat application is sometimes required: In April I noticed a rather nasty patch of blackberries and weeds behind my garden plot so I built a temporary electric fence and housed a few goats in the area for a month or so. When the patch was cleared, I moved the goats back to the main herd and took down the fence. I shouldn’t have taken down the fence as last week I noticed the blackberries had come back with a vengeance. So, I put back the fence and captured a few goats and put them in. This time, when the spot is cleared I will remove the goats, but not take down the fence!
It was a good kidding year – thanks to the help of family and friends. The final count was 23, 12 girls and 11 boys born February 22 – May 2, 2018. Have to see about grouping them up next year as it seemed like a long drawn out kidding season. I wean the last of them near the end of July. All are doing very well. All of the doe kids are sold, but there are a few wethers left not spoken for. If I end up keeping them, that’s OK too as I’m thinking of doing less breeding in the future. I still want to keep quite a few goats on the place as there is a ready market for their cashmere and I have a lot of brush and weeds around that isn’t getting eaten.
One of the seven wonders of the preserving world is Quince Jam (Preserves). It starts out as a beautiful, aromatic, inedible fruit. However, you can devote about 6 hours to it and turn it into something wonderful. Preserving books call is Quince Preserves. I call it Quince Jam. We have a small tree which lives in the temporary turkey pen and despite being roosted in by turkeys and occasionally nibbled on by goats, produces a bumper crop of quinces each year. This year was no different. To make the preserves, you peel and chunk up the creamy white quinces. You make a sugar syrup, add the chunks and then (patiently) boil it down for hours and hours. As the mixture boils down, it thickens and turn a lovely ruby shade.
We had a light kidding year this year – only 16 kids with the last born May 1st. In the past few years, we’ve had a high percentage of does vs. buck kids born. This is a good thing as we usually sell more does than buck kids and the bucks born are generally too related to our existing breeding stock for us to use. This year the count was 11 boys and 5 girls. Guess we were due. However, all are healthy and bouncy and we had no kidding problems, so we still count this as a good year.
We had a collection of old horse/cow feeders from over 20 years ago. They had never worked well for our sheep and goats as the animals pull the hay out on the floor and on themselves and get their heads stuck between the bars. Using discarded feed sacks and zip ties, we improved them. They seem to work well. We have less hay waste and fleece contamination and haven’t had to build/buy another option.
While packing the cat and spraying the dog, it’s a wonder I get time for garden watering at all!
We weaned the first group of cashmere kids (11) a week ago. Their home for 3 weeks away from their mothers is a small pasture across the fence from our early garden. They learn quickly that this is a very good deal as they get “throwovers”. Throwovers include weeds and other garden plant disposals thrown over the fence by the gardener. Here they are getting the lower leaves from the sunflowers and weeds. Recyclying at its finest!
This is a new yarn I just finished making from our Shetland sheep wool. I started with rovings of two colors (dark and white) and spun from each randomly. I plyed this with a white spun strand from my Shetland lamb Penelope. After washing (to set the twist), I hung it outside to dry yesterday; it dried in less than two hours. Guess 100 degree days are good for something. I knitted a swatch on size 5 needles. I love this yarn! I’m taking this yarn to a knitting guild next weekend where I’ve been invited to speak and bring product for sale. If it sells Saturday, I will make more. If it doesn’t, the new sweater gets started right away.
If you plant sunflowers, don’t plant them too close to the fence separating your garden from the goat herd. The north side of the sunflowers planted at the edge of the garden took some abuse. Goats were happy. If they could have just stretched their necks a bit further, I’d have no sunflowers left at all. I think these will recover; goats have been moved to a different pasture.