I have to say that yesterday was probably the highlight of my school vacation. A group of Salt Bay Treadlers spent the day at our friend Chris’ house. Last year we took a field trip to Portland, had lunch and then went to a spin-in at the Portland Fiber Gallery. This year we stayed a little closer to home. What fun!
Chris cooked us a fabulous meal and then we went into her gorgeous fiber room and got down to spinning, knitting and chattering. I have to say that I have not been quite so spinningly productive in a long time, and I got almost two bobbins spun up of some amazing art yarn fiber that I had picked up at SOAR in October. Very glitzy! And so the day went swimmingly and we didn’t get home until the evening. Thanks to John, I didn’t have to hurry home to do chores. That was an added bonus treat.
And Bitsy, the very adorable Australian Terrier, helped out as well by giving us moral support, and by just being cute :*)
And so is nature trying show us that it really is winter, now that the solstice has passed? The scenery was beautiful today. Wet heavy snow fell during the night, and when I went out (in the blessed daylight!) to milk, everything was covered and very peaceful, quiet the way it is when it snows. I am always grateful that I have to get up and get out into the weather, even though I grumble sometimes. Once I am out, there are so many things to relish about the day and the closeness to the animals.
I am definitely going to savor the flavor of this holiday week ahead!
It’s finally here – the winter Solstice. What a relief! The shortest day was an icy and then a rainy one. As usual, it’s all about the light for me. I am not only enjoying the menorah, but I made another light cube. Holiday decoration, it’s a very simple thing that is very satisfying.
All you need is a pre-drilled glass construction cube, a string of lights (preferably LEDs as they don’t get hot), and if you want to make it fancy, wired ribbon and a bow. The one that I made for us is sans-ribbon and bow, and I used colored LEDs. Nifty and great fun. I am going to enjoy them while waiting for light to come back.
So last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Happy festival of lights! I had a very enjoyable evening watching the candles in the menorah burn down (the menorah is a little disabled… it lost one of it’s arms so it is actually two candles shy of a full deck. Hopefully John can mend the fallen arm before Friday when we need the first four candles to be lit on one side). The other long-awaited day on the calendar that we obsessively wait for is nearly here: the Solstice! I know that the sun is at a much lower angle now during the true winter, but when we have a few more minutes of daylight every few days it seems as though the darkness is being actively pushed aside. It definitely floats my boat to see the minutes of daylight increasing each day!
The goat breeding adventure went fairly smoothly today. John went down to observe our friends at Beau Chemin Preservation Farm prep their 3 does. So he came back with all the supplies and when Pam of Hatchtown Farm came over, we got our 4 does in order. Putting the CIDR insert in place was not as big a deal as I had expected it to be, so that was good, and then we just had to give each of them an estrogen shot. Two of the girls broke out of the holding pen, but they are very predictable and come for grain, so that didn’t end up being too much of a problem. And so it is the first step on the road to artificial insemination. I am pleased. Phew!
We are poised on the edge of the AI experience! Today we get the CIDR hormone inserts and the Folligen and Estrumate meds to begin the process of insemination. Our friends over at Beau Chemin Farm in Waldoboro are doing AI and they were instrumental in getting us connected to the AI vet in Maine. Our insemination date is January 4th, so we need to get them prepped for the timeline to work properly. Hatchtown Farm folk are hopefully joining us this afternoon and with any luck we will have photo or video documentation.
I have been moaning about not being able to get anyone to ship straws of goat semen during this holiday rush time. But I now have some call-backs from two sources and I don’t see why it won’t work. This is just a test of our resolve, I am sure, just what we need to add to the holiday ambiance :*)
Well, I knew it was too good to be true. We now have a schedule for our goat AI breeding and I can’t get semen shipped from the company that we had decided to buy it from. I know that the week before Christmas is a difficult one, but once we found a semen source I didn’t quite expect this! I guess I will have to try another source. Aargh!
With all this busy-ness around getting everyone off to the butcher and the winter setting in, I have been woefully lagging behind in the goat breeding department. I like to breed the does a little later than the sheep, but this is getting very late. I have to rectify that soon, but I have had a difficult time deciding how to deal with it. We aren’t keeping any 4-legged males on the farm anymore, so things get complicated!
Our sheep flock and our goat herd have been “closed” for quite awhile. When we bring animals in, we like to have certification that they are disease-free, or from other closed flocks that are disease-free. And then we like to quarantine them for awhile to make sure that things are really ok. We have had some seriously awful scares in the past, and after we had everyone tested for every scary disease known to the farm animal world, we knew that we couldn’t go through that again. So we have tried to create our own sires, but last summer we really needed to get everyone moved along and we divested of all of our buck kids.
As a result, I have been on the prowl for AI (artificial insemination) services. Not so easy to find. Stay tuned, I have a good lead!
Oh wow. I just came in from milking and morning chores. It is clear and cold. It’s the second time this week that I have been able to do chores totally by moonlight :*) I don’t know why that should make me smile, but it sure did!
Not to be maudlin, but we have another obituary for the record. This time for one of our all-time favorite ewes, Lupine. (She is in the header photo above, the white one with her eyes closed). She and Fuzzy Lumpkin were born the same year, both daughters of our Border Leicester ram Mr. Big. We never intended to keep two such white ewes as we really breed more for color. But they ended up being such spectacular girls, and BFFs, that we just kept them. They have given us some of the most beautiful lambs here.
Unfortunately, in the past few years, Lupine has begun to give us giant single lambs. Very difficult at lambing time. This past year she hit her high note: ewe lamb, 18 lbs. that was definitely not having an easy time coming into this world. I can’t imagine that Lupine appreciated the whole thing, either. So as we are downsizing, we made the decision to let go of her as well. As she is getting up there in age, if she goes on having humongous singles, it could end up killing her, especially if no one is around when she is lambing. So the decision was made and she went with the others. We have her last ewe lamb here, Etti, and hopefully she will keep her mother’s legacy going – without the giant single lambs. She is the last of Lupine’s and the only black ewe lamb that she ever had. Thank you Lupine, we will miss you!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!