A Week of Temps ABOVE freezing!

hairpin lace

hairpin lace bulky weight Cheviot/alpaca earwarmer

The weather is changing! I can finally see grass in the pasture as the snow gradually leaves on the south facing slopes. What snow there is has gone through fluffy, granular, sugary, slush, back to ice and finally hard packed and slick on the paths. The goat and sheep tracks have broken through and gone to earth. Ground Hog’s Day has passed with Punxatauney Phil prognosticating an early spring and Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. The sun is shining, wind is picking up and spring is oh so close! Hay comes today and the barn cleaning is soon. The buds are starting on the apple trees. I can hardly wait!

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In the Dark of the Year

Howling wind, frigid temperatures and days since we’ve seen green pastures set the season. Evergreen boughs with twinkling lights and visits with family have encouraged us to continue. Rams and bucks are running with the ewes and does. Soon the seed catalogs will begin to arrive. Hot tea is the drink of choice. Wood smoke rides in the night air while I’m out filling stock tanks. It’s a quiet time spent in rest and preparation. Hope and continuity are the themes. A shawl is growing on my needles as I knit up the yarn from the flock. Grass to garment takes a year or more sometimes. ┬áIn being a shepherd one learns patience. Days grow longer ever so slowly.

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Rain is coming, by the inch

tropical storm image

Here comes the rain!

The spreading blue and red swath of tropical storm Nicole is bringing us what we’ve needed all summer- inches of rain to the Mid- Atlantic. The run in sheds and barn are all battened down for the night. Hay is piled under roof for through the next day or so until this clears. Hopefully our pasture will revive before the first freeze.
Last week ended with two thirds of our flock going to a new home in New York State.

Currently our flock consists of 7 rams awaiting dispersal, one registered Cheviot ewe and her BFL lamb and 11 other crossbreds of BFL and Leicester Longwool lineage that I’ve kept for wool.

The draught and the work of keeping 85 animals on the farm has gotten to be “whelming”. Cost for hay this winter will be high in our area. When the opportunity presented itself for moving on some of the flock to greener pastures in every sense, I had to sell.

cashmere goat


The goats are still “improving” the woods. Cashmere is coming on for the winter. I’m looking forward to seeing the new coats by mid winter. Hopefully the fiber will be fine enough to make a really nice cashmere scarf by next year this time.

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Water and Summer’s Dog Days

Today marked two hundred fifty gallons for the sheep, goat and alpaca. The temp reached 96 in the shade this afternoon. Even the cat just lay in the one spot with grass under the scrubby trees and didn’t move much. It was too much effort to chase anything. Shade uber alles.
Black walnut leaves are turning yellow. Corn has been stunted by the heat and lack of rain has forced many locally to start cutting haylage yesterday, quite early for this area. Feed supplies for this winter will be costly. Pasture is dormant and stick dry. Dust kicks up just from walking and your legs are dark with dirt from just doing a walk through the field to do chores.

Milking the doe got us a quart of white foamy delight. It will go into fudge later this week. It’s been too hot to get excited about milking her this summer. We let the kids take their fill and just separated the young bucks yesterday. Making cheese will be later this week too. Apples have started to fall so applesauce has priority.

 homestead apple harvest

FIrst apples of the season

If we get a repeat of last winter, it will take it’s toll on all of us. Right now though, cold weather would be welcome for a few days. The goats have started showing the undercoat of cashmere-also earlier than usual. Bucks are in rut. Their smell is “breath taking” in this heat, literally.

When the sun drops below the horizon, the temperature is bearable. Right after sunup is the best time to check stock, make a run through the garden to find tomatoes turning red and peaking though the green jungle of leaves. If the ground hog gets his fill on tender shoots elsewhere, he’ll let the larger ones alone. Two of the best Celebrity have been his choice this week. Well -he left half of each. Why can’t he finish the whole tomato? Another mystery…

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Hello world! Another tech option discovered…

Hand-dyed wools

In the realm of communication, blogging definitely has it’s place. Here I hope to share life on the farm, close to the land. If I give anyone an appreciation of what joy there is in living this way and perhaps insight into just how much work is involved in getting food to the table and fiber to the finished product, I’ll have success. Be it sweater or scarf or “warm woolen mitten,” lamb chop, elderberry jelly or goat milk cheese, all things we consume start with a producer. Welcome to that world.

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