Fleece on the Hoof

We have our texel sheep shorn in the Feb/March timeframe.  We trailer them over to a neighbor’s farm for sheering day.  Our friends have a few hundred sheep, and hire a shearing team from Blacksburg, VA to come for the day.  We put our sheep up in the barn overnight to keep them warm before the trip over.  It helps get their lanolin flowing and makes the job easier.  We got between four and almost ten pounds of fleece per sheep this year.  If you are curious about what texel fleece looks like as yarn (I was), here’s a local fiber artist who was at shearing day with us last year.  She blogged about spinning it.  It’s pretty!  http://feelinfibers.blogspot.com/2009/02/new-fleece-what-is-it.html

You Can Teach an Old Dog

FiFi (Sophia) and her brother Milos spent their first four years guarding a few hundred Tennessee Fainting Goats before they came home to watch over our small flock and herd.  They didn’t get a lot of attention, being part of such a large operation.   Now that they’re our dogs, they get lots of love and attention.  I decided to try to teach them ‘sit’.  It took FiFi about a day to catch on.  Milos is still  working on it.  FiFi now runs up to me and sits when she sees me, hoping I have a biscuit in my pocket.  I usually do.  She’s 140 pounds of adorable.

A Little Bit of Everything

That’s what we entered in our county fair this year.  Garlic, sunflower head, sweet potato, soap,  honey, baked goods, some artwork, Grandma’s quilt and a ton of canned goods.  We ended up with 36 blue ribbons, 11 second place ribbons (including the big one for second place antique quilt) and 9 third place ribbons!  We earned the largest check of this year’s fair.  What should we spend it on??

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CoCo

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  CoCo is an oberhasli swiss dairy goat.  She came to us from a goat dairy earlier this year.  Did you know most dairies will practically give their kids away at one week old?  That’s all the time they are allowed with their moms.   Dairies want the milk, so the kids go to homes that will bottle feed them.   That’s what we did.  You can get powdered kid formula and nipples that will fit on top of a soda bottle at places like Tractor Supply.   She got her bottle every 4 hours, except for over night.  Because of this, she thinks I am her mommy.  Even though she’s long been weaned, every time I come into the pasture, she runs to greet me.  It makes getting a photo of her very challenging…  We have high hopes for good milk production from her down the road and wouldn’t hesitate to get another bottle oberhasli baby.

Cranberry

What else would you name a giant white chicken?   She’s an Americauna who give us lovely green eggs.  We got her last year from a local poultry guy.  We didn’t set out to buy a chick that day, we set out to buy 2 turkeys to raise for our holiday table.   The turkeys were just 12 hours old, and were running around with baby chicks.  The guy said you’d better buy one of the chicks, too.  Turkeys learn how to eat by watching chickens do it.  Turkeys are stupid.  Ours died within a week.  They starved to death.  We still have Cranberry, though.  What a perfect name for a turkey side!

Honey

We got 3/4 of a cup last year and then our bees died over the winter.  We did considerably better this year!  It’s all been sold, with the exception of some we’ve set aside for ourselves and family.   One of the guys in our bee club asked us if we had 5 extra gallons to sell him to meet one of his customer orders, so we’re still very small time (but it didn’t feel that way the day we extracted this in our kitchen!)

Who You Gonna Call?

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Evidently, us.  We had a call from our local Farm Service Agency.  Someone was cutting down a tree on their property and discovered it was full of honey bees and could we come get them?   This is our second year for beekeeping.  All of our bees died last winter, so we don’t exactly feel like experts and have never captured a wild hive, or seen it done.  But sure, we’ll take some free bees.   We spent $126 repopulating our two hives this past Spring.  Bees are expensive!  The tree was already down, with bees spilling out of a hole in the trunk.  We started by cutting the tree either side of the hole.  The bees were unbelievably calm, considering a chainsaw was used for this part.  The hole in the tree was much deeper than expected so we continued to make slices in the trunk.  These slices were manageable weight-wise, so we were able to dump the bees from each slice into a large cardboard box.  The homeowner was very excited to think she’d get some honey, but there was very little and the comb was infested with termites (which were probably in the tree before the bees arrived).   We loaded our cardboard box full of bees into the back of our pickup and dropped it off in our bee yard.  I need to run for a few hive supplies today.  We’ll start feeding them sugar water immediately and hope they survive our upcoming winter.  Today we’re officially ‘bee people’.  That’s who you call when you need bees removed and, evidently, we figured out how to do it!

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