Archive for May, 2008

Springtime on the farm…

May 27, 2008

It’s finally a Spring day out there, though it is threatening to thunder sometime this afternoon.  Humid, and glary out.  But a good day to walk around and look at what’s happening:

Violet and Rosie O’Goatie straining to get through the green gates to visit with Lizzie and me.  Soon they will be out on pasture…just as soon as I call Dave Kennard and get more fencing.

Four out of five of the month old American Buff Geese (fifth was a bit apart, and couldn’t get her/him into the photo) exploring their new digs, pastured geese!

Gloria and Evelyn (named after two of my mother’s cousins) waiting patiently to get into their pastured area…first, they have to come to me for scratchies, so I know that if they get out, they WILL come to me.

Last but certainly, not least, the sheep out on pasture, such as it is (Please, can we have some good rain!), mostly resting under the pine tree to get away from mosquitos and black flies.

I just transferred the turklets down to the shed in a bigger cage, where the goaties are checking them out.  Photos next time I’m down there, I guess.

Now, I have to dig more perennials.  A woman at John’s work wants an order of several.  I want to dig them now (those not already dug) to give them time to acclimate before delivery on Monday.

What a weekend!

May 26, 2008

Well, today I rest, after three days of intense sales.  Friday a.m. I went to neighbor, Dottie’s, at 7:30 with one last small load of stuff, including some chicks.  The sale was to start at 8 a.m.   When I arrived, there were five other cars there, and when they saw I was unloading, they pounced.  Luckily, I was able to look helpless and say, apologetically, “Oh, I’m sorry, this is Dottie’s sale and Dottie’s house, and I believe she will open the garage doors at 8 a.m. as advertised.  Until then, I can’t help you any.”  (It makes me crazy that there’s always people who insist on coming early and get very annoyed if you don’t let them in.  I once had a guy walk up my chained driveway and protest that there was a chain across it, at 8 a.m. for a 9 a.m. sale.  I simply explained that the chain would remain in place until the sale started, and he replied, suggesting I let him look through stuff at that time.  Nerve!

Well, anyway, business was brisk, we sold quite a few perennials on Friday.  I still haven’t been able to get in touch with Dottie about Saturday, since I was away Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.  This morning I’ll find out how we did on Saturday.

Meanwhile, I left here at 6 on Saturday a.m., picked up friend, Lucas, and we drove to Cummington, Mass, for the Mass. Sheep and Wool Festival, arriving at 8:20, with 40 minutes to unload the truck and set up.  Lucas was a big help.  Sue and Tom arrived about 8:45 with the rest of the stuff, and by 9, we were ready to smile and be helpful.  We had taken the measure of the crowds at the NH festival and prepared for this one better, taking advantage of the “sock-mania” which seems to be around. I had made lots of samples of socks, and written up patterns. Sue had done the same with scarves.  We brought lots of commercial sock yarns as well as handspun yarns, and fleeces and fibers.  And just a few ready to wear items we had knitted.  The Mass show is never very lucrative for us, but is always a lot of fun.  Never say never!  We made more than twice what we’ve ever made before, selling ready to wears as well as fibers and tons of sock and scarf yarns and patterns…and Sue sold five sheepskins!  A first!  On Sunday morning, I started out, and got four miles, about to go onto the interstate, when I had a blow out.  Luckily, I had my cell phone, and called John, who came with my Matrix, changed the tire, and took the truck home. I took the Matrix, hoping we’d sell enough so that when it came time to load up, we could fit everything in it and Sue’s van.  (Without the truck we were way down on hauling space.)  But we DID sell enough, and everything fit comfortably into the Matrix, with the added benefit of taking half the gas!

It was a good show, met a lot of nice people.  A little sadness: Josie’s daughter is dying of pancreatic cancer.  Josie is the vendor across from us each year.  She is holding up.  She also lost a son several years ago.  How sad it is to lose a child.  (Having lost one, I have personal experience here.)  The dying woman has two children, 9 and 15.  Luckily, they live nearby so Josie and Tom can be there for the children and grandchildren.  My heart goes out to them.

Well, the sheep are calling for breakfast, the pasture needs changing, and then, there is the mess at Dottie’s to clean up, the left over yard sale items and perennials to bring home and put in a pile.  Luckily, our church is having a yard sale in two weeks, so we are all prepared with donations for that!  Have a great day.

Another busy week…but, at least I found a truck!

May 15, 2008

My Toyota Tacoma was one of the 20,000 in New England reclaimed by Toyota a month or two ago.  I’ve been truckless ever since.  Doing the NH Festival with just a car to load up was difficult: not enough room, and I’ve been looking, but with all those Tacomas off the road and all those people looking for vehicles, it hasn’t been easy.  To make it even more interesting, all the American made trucks, given the lack of Tacomas, raised their prices to the level of used Tacomas (which keep their value longer!).  But I found one.  It is unfortunately red.  I hate red vehicles…but otherwise, it is nice.  It is a Ford Ranger.  Today we will go get a cap put on it.  Then, I’ll be all ready to load up for my yard sale/perennial sale with a neighbor this week, and early next week, and later next week, to load up for the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival on Memorial Day weekend as well. (I can’t bilocate, no, but I am at the plant sale on Friday, and Dottie does Saturday on her own.)  So far, I’ve dug about 90 plants.  I dig about 10 a day, beginning sometime in early May.  I dig small ones and larger ones, and we then try to charge about l/2 of what the local nurseries charge.  We’ve gotten quite a following over the years.  I take a portion of my profit and go to nurseries and buy new stock for the following year’s splitting, and to satisfy my perennial addiction.  (Both John and I have vowed NOT to have more than one perennial garden each, for othewise, like Dottie, we would be spending every day out there weeding and cultivating and such.  And there are many other things to do…like feeding the animals, fencing, spinning, knitting, visiting friends, walking, etc.  So, we are limiting our space.  You would be amazed at how many plants I can stuff into this garden!  And now, with “culling” and splitting every year, it keeps it all under control.

The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival was a joy, as always.  It is the first big show of the season, and there are so many people to visit  whom we haven’t seen since last Fall, news to catch up on, etc.  The sales were excellent on Saturday; on Sunday it was dead.  We didn’t sell but two pieces of “ready to wear” garments.  People were there for fiber, for yarn, for fleeces.  A lot of people were looking for patterns for items we had for sale.  We hadn’t made up patterns for them.  We didn’t bring any sock yarn, just handspun yarn, but Deb and company, from Maine, sold out of sock yarn, so to Massachusetts, we will bring a selection of sock yarns and PATTERNS: we’ve been busily making up samples and writing down the patterns in an easy to understand manner, with every row written down. (None of that, “continue in that manner until…” which stymies beginners.)  And we’ll bring the fleeces left unsold, the rovings we’ve dyed, handspun yarn, and a few wearables.  My theory this year is that winter was SO long and so snowy that people are just not wanting to look at or buy winter clothing right now.  We probably should have made up a bunch of summer weight wool clothing, shawls and socks, and short sleeved, fine, lightweight tops and such.  But we didn’t.  You live and learn.

The goslings are growing like weeds. (Why on earth I ever decided to buy geese I don’t know, but a friend, years ago, suggested that American Buff geese are not like other geese (i.e., nasty and aggressive) so I decided to find out.  I got someone to brood out the turkey poults for a couple of weeks for me, since I’ve run out of room.  The piglets arrived last Thursday.  They are LITTLE, smaller than last year.  Younger, I guess.  The grass is not growing fast enough to keep up with the sheep, and because it’s not high, I’ve had to change pastures, which means putting up fencing, and keep them in very small every other day paddocks, to let as much of the grass grow undisturbed as possible.  I probably should change them every day anyway, but I don’t have enough fencing to put it up and leave it up for daily paddocks, and frankly, spending an hour every day putting up fencing is just not high on my list of things to do every morning. Once a week works.  Until the grass really comes in, however, it is every day or every other day…which cuts into my time needed for other stuff.

This morning’s project will be to clean out the “under the loft stairs” potting mess.  I have tons of pots needed for the plant sale, and have just been throwing things in there all year.  It’s time to get them all out and get them organized into sizes, to facilitate the digging of plants for the sale.  I also have to buy more milk: those piglets go through a gallon a day.  Giving them milk with their food while they are young is a good thing.  Last year I got my milk from Lisa, the raw milk lady, who gave it to me at $3 a gallon, half the normal price, for animal feed.  And she never mentioned that it was something she didn’t want to do for long, until after three months…I feel like I took advantage of her, unwittingly, so this year, I am trying to not do so.  Hence, it’s commercial milk.  There are a few other people with raw milk around, but they don’t ship, and hence, are not subject to regular tests, and I’m a little nervous about drinking and feeding out milk that isn’t tested regularly.  So, it’s the local dairy, no BGH, but pasteurized.  I will look for other sources for raw milk when I have time.

Okay, it’s time to take LIzzie out (Do you know that adorable little puppy  had diarrhea for two days while I was at the festival…stress, my friends say, because mama isn’t there…and didn’t have ONE single accident in the house?  She called me at night if she had “emergency”.  She went out regularly and had her “squirts” until it was over and she was back to normal.  What a puppy-girl! (more than you wanted to know, right?)

And after taking Lizzie out, time to do morning chores.  Have a lovely weekend.  They are predicting some showers on four of the next five days, but the likelihood percentage isn’t that high.  We need rain.

Busy day in a busy week!

May 7, 2008

Today I have quilting in the a.m., home 15 minutes, then off to Lasell’s shearing.  She and I will then have yarn made from her fleeces.  Before I go, however, I have to put up more fencing and switch the sheep into new pasture.  Hopefully, from here on in, the grass will be growing more quickly and I won’t have to switch them around quite so quickly.  Tomorrow, the piglets come, and will start off in the winter ram pen, until they get used to me and come when called, which might take a week or so.  That gives me time to get fencing up behind the house for them and the goats.  And since they will be right next to the goats for that week, hopefully, they’ll also make friends with the goatie girls.  I’d like to keep them together; not sure how that will work out.  But at the least, they will be right next to each other.

This weekend is the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival, so I’ll be gone most of the time.  John will deal with the animals.  Before then, I have to get “playyard” (a small kenneled in area) fixed up for Lizzie, so she can have time outside without someone watching over her the whole time, so John can get some gardening done this weekend.  Right now, the playyard fencing is serving the winter quarters of the chickens, so they have to be moved as well before then.  This evening will be a good time to do that, if I can get their fencing and housing set up by then.  Otherwise tomorrow, I guess, and save the kennel fencing til Friday mid=day, between runs to Contoocook.  The festival is at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds, in Contoocook, N.H., just off exit 7 of I-89.  Hope to see you there.

Back to normal…well, as normal as I get!

May 3, 2008

Shiloh went home yesterday, so it’s just us now here on the farm.  Poor Shiloh.  The people who recently adopted her are totally overwhelmed with the whipworm dilemna: yes, Shiloh has whipworms.  I took a sample to the vet for analyzing after finding a particularly disturbing looking pile of diarrhea she had.  Whipworms are not fun.  The eggs from them live in the ground for five years, so until you get rid of the problem, you have to scoop up the poop, which means no outside without being on a leash…this is just not the way Shiloh’s adopted family operates.  Plus, they have a grand dog who frequents the place, which makes him susceptible.  Shiloh’s had her first series of meds, and is looking much happier. I think the poor girl’s had a belly ache for several months from infestation, and is probably somewhat anemic.  Meanwhile, around here, I was able to find 10 of the possibly 14 piles of poop that she deposited on the grounds in the 8 days or so she was here; I’ve cloroxed all the wood floors and vacuumed all the rugs.  Given that the mature worms lay eggs sporadically (to be declared negative, you need four negative fecal samples in a row.) the chances that Lizzie will walk through a pile and then lick her feet, when there are maybe 4 piles on 42 acres, or more realistically, on the about 4 acres we’ve been wandering around on, are slim.  But I’ll have her checked in the requisite 12 weeks it takes, and then regularly checked for five years.  I feel bad for Shiloh, who’s just gotten used to her new family, but there was a woman here last Tuesday, a spinning friend, and a dear heart, who would like Shiloh.  I have suggested she talk to her vet first to be absolutely sure.  She lives in a place where one can only have dogs on leashes, and must scoop poop anyway, so that eliminates the major difficulties of caring for a dog with this condition.  I hope her vet has no major issues and she will take Shiloh.  Shiloh spent a lot of time with her while she was here.  I think it is a good match, perhaps even a better one than her current family.  It means another adjustment for her, but she is very good natured, and I’m sure will do fine.

Meanwhile, this morning the sheep got their last hay.  This afternoon, hopefully when it is not raining, I will put them out on pasture by extending their winter pasture. Tomorrow, I will worm them and put them out on major pasture, and they will not return to the winter quarters until next November.  Somewhere in there I have to figure out what to do with the goats, where to put them where there’s some browse for them.  And I have to check with Walter about the piglets, which I thought would be here by now.  The cockerals in the barn are almost feathered out and ready to go to their new home.  The straight run chickens which will stay here will then go out in a large cage or two in chicken village, until they are a little older and able to run free, surrounded by poultry netting.  The geese are growing like weeds, and I will have to prop up their netting so they don’t get caught in it.  They still have another two weeks before they can go out, and will then go down behind the shed in the turkey pen.  And the turkey poults will be ready soon.  ARGH!  It will be busy around here starting next week.

To add to that, next weekend is the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival in Contoocook, N.H. at the Hopkinton State Fairgrounds.  It is always on Mother’s Day weekend.  I’ve done close to nothing in the way of handwork this last six months, between the healing wrist and hand, and the extra animals…but I do have 22 nice fleeces to sell, raw, clean, skirted.  I’m hoping that it will go well, and that people will like them and I’ll sell a lot.  A few I’ll give to Pogo at Friends’ Folly Farm to process into rovings.  Later I will be sending some to her to make into yarn.  Oh, wait, maybe I’ll be bringing them to the festival: the yarn is a combined project of myself and another jacob breeder, and her shearing is Wednesday.  So, I will be there helping with skirting and can bring home some of the fleeces which will be made into yarn.  That will save us some money on postage.  Good!

If you are of a mind to do so, please drop in at the festival on Mother’s Day weekend: it is a wondrous thing: over 100 vendors, I think, sheep dog demos, camelids as well, sheep show, mini courses, lots to do…and if you come, look for me at the HodgePodge Yarns and Fibers booth.  Sue and I share the booth.  Make yourself known to us.  Happy knitting and spinning!