The Pemaquid Peninsula is home to our small goat farm. Our herd consists of Guernsey and LaMancha dairy goats. Up until a few years ago we raised Coopworth and Border Leicester sheep. I am a spinner, dyer, knitter, weaver and cheese and soap maker. I am a retired school librarian and John works as a truck driver.
Time is flying by as usual, and this past week has been a doozy. My husband had to travel down to NJ to help with some things and his 94 year old father, I have been weaving like a crazy person, and 5 of our 8 babies have moved off to their new homes.
It’s so nice to meet the new families that are taking on our little Guerseys, and I know they are all going to new adventures and great lives. Most of our Guernseys are unregistered, and almost all the families who are taking them are doing so for the same reasons I choose the goats I do: their temperament, their size and their nice milky butterfat.
Saffron’s girls went off to New Hampshire with a wonderful young family last weekend. Little Red and Blue are now called Lucy and Gidget! Great names for these sweet girls. (Gidget is the darker red girl whose ear tips were bent from birth, pretty perfect name!). It sounds like they are settling in well at their new farm.
Eleganza’s boys have gone off to different farms here in Maine. They are sweet guys as well, and I know they will have lots of girls to keep them busy in the future!
And the last to leave this week is our sweet little doeling, Pippi the Lamancha’s girl (Pippi is our Herd Queen). If I could have kept any of the babies from this year it would have been her. I am really happy, though, that she is going to a wonderful farm in Vermont, to a young family with whom we are acquainted. She will love her new friends there, some mini Nubians and some Nigerian dwarfs. Who knows, maybe she can aspire to being the new herd queen!
And so it goes. Spring is quickly turning to summer, and we only have three little ones left to move along to new homes. Things are much quieter already, it will be a real shock when these little ones leave! And now, on to serious milking and some cheese :*)
I have just finished week 13 of my weaving apprenticeship! I can’t believe that we have been going for this long already. I am having a great time and learning lots of good things, many of those things through mistakes, as is true of most learning experiences.
(Samples above on a straight draw threading)
In exploring weave structures I am working on things with Nancy at her studio, as well as doing things on my own at home. At the very beginning she reviewed efficient warp dressing methods on which I needed a refresher (every time I warped my loom I did it differently, which never helped me to get projects going). We very quickly moved to the study of weave structure, starting with a two-part sampler threaded with a straight draw. Very simple, but even with that there are a gazillion weaves you can achieve by simply using different treadling patterns. After I had experimented with that for half the warp, Nancy had me begin to use some of the treadling patterns I liked the most from the first half to experiment with weft texture and color(s). That was wild! Lots of very unexpected results from that. (It really helps that Nancy has a studio filled with amazing and crazy yarns of all unusual textures, colors and materials).
For my second sampler Nancy assigned me a project which I warped with 6 different wool color stripes. Some of the stripes are solid colors, and three of them are pairings of two alternate colors. Each stripe is threaded in different Rosepath twill patterns from p16-17, and a Goose Eye from p22. (I am using Marguerite Porter Davison’s book A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, revised edition, 1944). The results are mind-bogglingly fun, and again, having access to all of Nancy’s yarn collection has made this a great experiment. I have a lot of new ‘favorites’ in that sampler.
At home I began by using some of our farm yarn, a millspun Coopworth/Border Leicester cross, for a warp (hand dyed), and some hand spun and hand dyed silk/wool weft (mostly silk). It was a scarf I designed and wove off in March. Lots of fun, twill threading. colorful! (Although another lesson learned is that I made it wider than I really wanted it to be because I calculated take-up for when it came off the loom. With all the silk in the weft, it did not lose even a quarter of an inch!).
At the moment I am weaving a series of 5 cotton towels at home. I designed them as samplers using a 6 thread herringbone pattern (Davison, p25). I don’t have a huge supply of yarns at home, but I do have a nice range of 8/2 cottons. I used most of the colors I have to create warp stripes. As opposed to the 6 different threadings that I used for the sampler at Nancy’s studio, I simply used the one herringbone threading across the whole warp. My one mistake, that I did not see until I had woven quite a bit into the first towel, is that on one of the sections with two alternating colors, I accidentally placed two white threads next to each other, which switched the pattern of colors from white/turquoise, white/turquoise, to turquoise/white across. Which has managed to insert a white stripe down that section of warp. (There was no threading mistake, just a color bungle).
Despite the color placement mistake, I am loving the way the towels are shaping up! They are a lot of fun. So far I am in the middle of the third towel and have experimented with a lot of the different colors, and a lot of different treadlings. Turning the herringbone direction makes a nice effect, and I took one of the Rosepath treadlings and applied it to this threading and came out with a very nice turned twill pattern.
I am also working on a bit color interpretation project at Nancy’s, but more about that another time :*)
And today is an out of the ordinary one for Maine. 85 F here this afternoon, although we have a nice breeze so the bugs are not too big a problem.
The babies are growing like hotcakes, and the scrum around the feeder is incredible in the morning. We can barely get the hay in there before 3 or 4 not-so-little ones are jumping on and in. It’s nutty, but they are so much fun at this age. Everyone has cleared 35 lbs so far, and we are nearly ready to send some of our sweet ones out into the world with new families. Almost empty nest :*)
And so it goes. I will have to do a separate post to update my weaving apprenticeship. I have been very busy with that and have a lot of photos to share. Nothing earth shattering that any of you weavers out there couldn’t throw together in a jiffy, but the experimentation is teaching me a lot. And I am having a great time with it!
It’s that time of year when I try very hard to delight in the baby goats, and ever hopeful, delight in the weather as well. I have to say that nature has been more than cooperative, but the humans are not the only ones enjoying it… the black flies are as well. Gotta love May in New England!
All our babies are at least a month old now. They are a gang of very fast moving parts who are just delightful to sit with and to watch. They are a good tonic for the long winter and the crazy slow spring. I spend as much time as I can out there with them, and of course we also have bottle baby time which is fun as well.
We still have 4 babies that have not been spoken for, and I have them listed in the tab here on the blog – 2018 Babies for Sale. I have to get my baby time in as much as I can, because before too long they will move on or grow up. Ah, and so it goes.
Our girl Saffron, who had the mastitis, is doing quite well. Her girls, Little Red and Little Blue, are also doing well. As with all bottle babies, it’s very difficult to get a good photo of them because they are always crowded around the humans in the paddock, wanting to play and also check out why we are in there with them.
I am lucky to be getting about 3/4 of a gallon a day mostly from Battie, our doe who lost her babies. I am also milking Eleganza’s right side because her boys seem to think the milk bar is only on the left side. I am milking once a day in the afternoons, so things are pretty relaxed, and we are getting more than enough milk to feed our little Red and Blue. And my son has milk for his coffee.
And so it goes! Our two little bottle girls are already spoken for, and will be going to live with a lovely family in New Hampshire sometime in June. Our little girls are growing up!
It was such a treat to have some warmer temperatures, although the wind never seemed to let up. But the sun was marvelous, and all the mammals on the farm took advantage of it and played and sat in the sunshine.
Back into the colder and more dreary weather. Tomorrow we may see some snow. At any rate, it can’t hang around long, I hope!
I really appreciate the everyone’s concern over Saffron and her problem with lactation. It is now believed that she has a ‘sneaky’ form of mastitis that may have something to do with a slightly enlarged lymph node at the top of her udder near her tail. (She has had no fever at all). I’ve been massaging her udder right along, but we have added antibiotics now and I am hoping that it does the trick. The vet believes that if we can clear it up she will be fine for next year’s kidding, but little milk will be flowing this year. I am extremely glad that we have Battie’s milk for them!
I am also happy to have some kind of diagnosis. Hopefully the BioMycin will do the trick and we will have a much happier girl soon. We let her and the babies out of their pen on Friday morning, and as is true of most kids, on the first day of freedom they all did their own thing. Mama and babies went in opposite directions for part of the day, but by late afternoon they were checking in with her regularly. We call her babies Little Red and Little Blue because of the color of their felt coats, which will come off in the next day or so (when it will be difficult to differentiate them from the other girls!). They slept with Edna’s little butterballs over night, with Pippi and her babies a few feet away. All the other adults were in the other greenhouse close by.
The sun is shining now and even though the breeze is blowing and we had quite a bit of snow last night and this morning, they are all outside playing near the feeder. Maybe it will turn out to be a lovely weekend after all!
(I couldn’t get a photo of Little Red because she was playing in the greenhouse with Edna’s girl)
(I am a few days behind in blog posts. I keep starting them and running out of time to finish them. I should have posted this yesterday, Wednesday!)
And I am grateful for that! Eleganza had her two bucklings about noon time yesterday, which was very considerate of her! She was in the old greenhouse, which the boys and Jingle share with the girls (galvanized panels keeping the two groups separate). Jingle always has her eye out for what’s going on, and while I was having lunch, we heard her out there making a donkey racket, and knew just what had happened. She has given us the call for all the girls who have given birth in that greenhouse. What a good town crier :*) So even though I never got my little cameras installed, we have had a lot of information without ever seeing exactly what was going on!
And so we finally have Guernsey bucklings! Two beautiful boys, both weighing in at 8.3 and 8.4 lbs respectively. Eleganza made it look very easy, and they are all doing well. It was 50F around sunset last night and then the wind came up and the temperatures plummeted, so I put them in the woolly coats that my friend had made and given to us last year. I have my fingers crossed for warmer weather, but it sounds like we may have to wait until next Wednesday for temperatures near 50F. Ah well, when the sun is out, everyone enjoys it no matter what the thermometer says, even today when the wind was gusting.
Now we just have to make sure these little explorers don’t get up to too much trouble!
Both beautiful, both does. They were born on Saturday morning. Very nice of all the does to do these things during daylight hours! The reason I have not gotten around to telling Saffron’s story is that she is not making much milk, and we have been very busy trying to help her out, and also had to begin supplementing her babies with bottles. Everyone had very good feed all through the winter, and I am still not sure why Saffron is not producing much milk. She seemed to have quite a bit of colostrum on Saturday, but by Sunday morning her udder was deflating and it was obvious that the girls needed to be on the bottle while we figure this out.
Luckily, I am milking Battie (she who lost her bucklings), and I am also milking one of Pippi’s udder halves because her babies both favor one side, leaving the other to fill up to epic proportions. So I do have enough milk to feed these little girls, thankfully, and because they are so bonded with their mama (and she is a fantastic mother), I don’t have to have house goat babies this year. Yay! Feeding them out in the greenhouse is much nicer than having to deal with house goats (no slight to Peanut here!). And to give mama’s udder a break, we are penning the girls separately from early in the morning until the last bottle at night, and then letting them stay with her overnight. It got very cold last night after the torrential rains we had yesterday, so they are both coated and snuggling with Saffron at night.
This kidding season has been a strange one. I am working with a vet to get a handle on Saffron’s problem, but it may just come down to her nutrition. They have been eating second cut hay all winter, and their grain rations have been very balanced. I usually add alfalfa pellets sometime early in February, and this year I did not. If that is what tilted this balance, I just don’t know. All the other does are fine and making loads of milk. I hope we can get to the bottom of it, but it feels like one of those things where you never get a definitive answer.
Was last Friday, March 30th. Our little Peanut has really grown up! We had a tiny little birthday party for her, and even though I made a polenta cake that I thought she would like, she did not.
But, what would a party be without a birthday hat??? For Peanut, we couldn’t just use a regular old sparkly cone, we had to give her a princess tiara :*) Needless to say, she did not like it. So her photo with the tiara is under protest. She did enjoy the 4 of us having a lovely time out in the sun and showers.
We also tasted some of my homemade Limoncello, which went very nicely with the polenta cake. Then we had a wee visit with the Edna’s and Pippi’s babies. The mud was a challenge for us, but we managed.
I don’t think Peanut was very impressed!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!