The time has come for us to make sure we are ready for winter. In the past week the animal’s water tanks have been freezing over, and it was a sign to get going on winterizing the pens and the water troughs.
We had a new and larger tarp on order from our local farm and feed store, and today it arrived. We are lucky that it was a very lovely day, and we got that puppy on this afternoon. Yesterday we ended up replacing a stock tank with a floating heater with another kind of heated 16 gallon bucket. It is different than our other heated stock tanks, but I hope it will be just as good.
And so we move into the winter, whether it is officially here or not. The goats are all putting on their furry best, and we are adding straw in to their sleeping quarters regularly (those little buggers eat quite a bit of the straw, so it’s difficult to keep the amount we want available to them!). The dreaded Polar Vortex is scheduled to arrive for a quick showing this weekend, and then again in a more serious way toward the end of next week. Brr. I don’t feel quite ready, but it doesn’t matter. We will see it in. And the countdown to the shortest day of the year is on! Totally looking forward to the Solstice :*)
It was a quiet Armistice/Veteran’s Day yesterday, but by noontime the wind had tuned itself up out of the NW and I thought we might be having a windy power outage at some point. The lights flickered many times, and a big piece exploded out of our elderly birch tree at the top of the driveway, but nothing serious came down near the house. Last night the King Moon shone brightly and, very uncharacteristically, I went to bed close to midnight so I had a few hours to enjoy it.
Animal-wise, things have been quiet on the farm. (With the exception of the day that we went out to do afternoon chores and found that Oreo the Buck had done a Houdini from the buck pen and was trying to bash his way into the breeding group’s area. He wasn’t hard to catch and he went back in with Jingle the Donkey, pouting all the way, with a bleeding headbone).
The tentative news is that all 4 does have been bred! At least I believe that all 4 girls came into heat, and each one was courted in her turn by Reddog the Stinky Boy. (The Guernsey girls do not show their heats as clearly as the Lamanchas, don’t know if it is a breed characteristic or not. I know they are 100 times more laid back than the Lamanchas, who are pretty laid back to begin with).
So now we just have to sit back and count the days until each doe should come back into heat if Reddog is not fertile. But if he has done his job, we will have a nice little cluster of kids at the end of March/beginning of April. (March 27th to April 3 or so). It would be perfect. Just hope that the predicted Polar Vortex isn’t howling then!
It’s been quite a month for fiber activities. It finally cooled down, although the autumn continues to actually be warmer than usual. Much nicer to work with wool when it’s not humid and hot!
I have had a list of fiber projects as long as my arm for many years. Some of them on the list are knitting projects, but many more are spinning projects (I am not going into the weaving project list right now, that would be embarrassing!). And so I have begun to prioritize them. (Of course, spinning projects turn into knitting or weaving projects in the final analysis…)
First on my spinning list has been to finish a beautiful 50/50 mohair/wool blend from Friends Folly Farm. Last week I finished spinning up the pound of singles, now it’s in the queue for plying.
Second on the spinning list is to card and spin the beautiful Jacob lamb’s fleece that I split with a friend 2 years ago. As soon as we received it from our friend Debbie at Hearts of the Meadow Farm in West Virginia, I washed it and carefully put it away. It has been floating around in the back of my mind for quite awhile, and I am very excited to say that I have begun to process it. (Although, true to form, when I broke out my drum carder, it turned out to be so dirty that it took about a week to finally get it cleaned out. My husband took it to work and used an industrial grade compressor to blow out all the little bits that were lurking in there for quite a few years. So that put me back a little on the project).
Project three in the spinning department is the Shetland fleece that came home with me from NYS&Wool this year. Yum! I can hardly wait. That is definitely #3 in line.
And number 4: the lovely Romney/silk roving that I brought home from Rhinebeck. Two pounds of it means that I really need to hunker down and commit to the project, and I feel like that will be a very good mid-winter project. Particularly if The Polar Vortex returns to darken the doorstep!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!