Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Fiber Friends and Back on the Band wagon...

I'm so so excited about the new sheep on the farm!! and the new alpacas!!! and the new baby lambs due next month to one of my very favorite girls! Not to mention getting that yummy sheep milk!! 

Very busy couple of weeks here..I've been working to get caught up on soap and lotion inventory before spring gets here,,, and trying to get lots of spinning done..use up some of this wool I have before shearing! 
and the garden... things are going to be different this year with the garden! It has to be, its wearing me out!

Anyways... meet the new sheepies and other fiber friends!

Cotswold lamb wether, Hegai , and dairy ewe Chablis
I was starting to think I would never get Suris... but thanks to a wonderful lady in PA who put me in contact with another wonderful lady in WV, I have these 2 beauties... and The Bald Man doesn't know it... but IF I can find more I would love to have more when we get the new pastures fenced.
I love all my Pacas...I love the way they hummmmm when I feed them... I like the way they make the 'clear my throat' noise to let me know to duck because someone is about to be spit on! and I don't want to be caught in the crossfire of that!!!
 theres just something about the Suris... they look so 'neat' and exotic.. where the Huacaya alpacas look like foofy teddy bear like creatures!!
and I look working with the Suris unique fiber! and those locks!!!! soooo beautiful!
Suri Boys, Hercules and Fable!! So SO happy to have these guys ,, I can't even tell you!

Same with this guy... SO thrilled to have him... Wensleydale wether Odin... the farm he cam from called him Henry.. but he just doesn't look like a henry to me..
I was also beginning to think I'd never have Wensleydales.... so hard to find!! But thanks to another kind & sweet person who told me about another .. I have 3 now!!! and that lovely little Cotswold guy above...also not an easy sheep to find... but way easier than a wensleydale,,
So LONG!!!! can you say EXTREME Tailspinning! I can!
This guys a baby, but he's going to have some awesome curls too! and soft,,,so soft!
Sweet wensleydale lamb wether, Duke, he has a twin sister we named Duchess.
Heres what I mean by back on the band wagon...
I need to lose 10 lbs ... I have been incredibly lazy this last year...and I admit...I've ate like a piggie the last year too.... and I'm not telling you how much I gained... but we'll just say I got 10 more to go and leave it at that!!!!

Hope y'all have a wonderful blessed week... I've got soap to cut and lotions to bottle... then off to the barn yarn!

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 & the Homestead

 2013 was a very very hard year here!  Nothing seemed to work! Failures out weighted the successes.... but the successes were really good :-)

This year alot of MAJOR changes have to happen...

First thing that has to change is the chickens...
our chickens are free ranged over where ever they feel like going on our 25 acres! (now 37 acres)

Good for the chickens... bad for egg production of an already very expensive part of our farm!
 and my losses of birds ofcourse is a factor if our stupid neighbor decides to get a dog to turn loose and not feed it again!
Chickens are expensive to keep.... seriously... they are!  It would be way way cheaper to buy organic eggs than to keep chickens... esp. the true dual purpose type breeds. Their feed to egg ratio is not economical at all... but they tend to have nicer carcasses for meat... but raising dual purpose chickens for meat is not economical either... nothing beats a cornish cross for chicken meat.. but I refuse to raise them! They are just sad little creatures I can't stomach seeing them...
the 'egg layers' have a better egg ratio but then when you have to cull them , their meat is scarce and not real good...
I love having chickens though.... I enjoy watching them..and the very fresh eggs are truly better than store bought.

So we have come up with a new plan... we call it "the affordable chicken act" lol!
and we hope it will be more successful than the 'other' affordable act taking place in America!

Another major change is the dairy animal we are now raising... dairy sheep... which are no easier than a dairy goat health wise... but they are less expensive to feed, easier on the barns and fencing... don't fight like goats,thus much lower stress for me to manage them! So I'm all in with the sheep... out with goats.. but will get fresh goats milk from a neighbor for my goats milk soap and lotions... though I will probably cut back on them and expand the sheep milk products as I have more sheep milk available.
Plus from a business stand point the sheep milk can be frozen with no loss of quality , important for lotion making and for a personal reason, important for winter cheese making!

the dairy sheep have the same parasite problems & same typical dairy animal problems...
and I may have said this before but ....They have good tasting milk and incredible high cheese yields! And their fleece is nice to spin for yarns... and sell to other spinners for extra feed money!
Extra rams are good for the freezer and tastier than extra goat bucks... plus more meat in a shorter amount of time with sheep.
Making the dairy sheep way more economical for us than dairy goats...
maybe....time will tell....
If our homestead is going to work, the numbers have to make sense...

Fiber is a big change too! With the sheep , alpacas and angoras I have farm raised fibers and handspun yarns to add to our farm business!!!
Which I'm so excited about!!!

Heres a lovely art yarn below... made with East Friesian dairy sheep wool (dyed with food grade dyes), bamboo and fancy gold thread!

 From there the yarn can be sold... or I can crochet it into other things to add to the farm store...and my closet ;-)

This is alpaca and ribbon yarn... I did not handspin this yarn but its one of my favorite pieces! Pattern from an old 1970's oop crochet book.. I like finer yarns even before I raised them myself!
Handspun art yarns using alpaca (the black) Friesian (the blue) and Cotswold cross locks (the purple & aqua)
This is my own hat pattern and will be available in a kit with the art yarn to make it..coming soon!

Suri Alpaca blended with yellow bamboo
Other changes... More PIGS! My husband 'the bald man' is ALL in with the pigs! The American Guinea Hog herd is growing here since we've added another 12 acres.
It has been a challenge for him to find bloodlines to grow the herd... they are very rare
and we have thought about switching breeds...but after looking at larger breeds and actually buying 2 to try..
its all AGH for us! Theres no nicer hog to keep... and no easier hog to keep that doesn't tear up the land or fences!

So with all this going on... I should probably get to work :-)

Blessing this weekend!