Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chickenless and a New Wheel!

First off, I want to say thanks to everyone for the comments on my last post. They were very much appreciated. I wish I could respond to them on the blog. I need to figure out that security glitch! Anyway, I'm not worried about the covenant issue or even the neighbor's dog, it's the zoning changes that scare me. Thanks to Sabrina for checking with Clancy on this too. We'll just have to wait and see what type of changes they propose and then proceed from there. So far I haven't heard anything more.

But the big news here is that we are chickenless for the first time in over 10 years! I sold all my chickens this morning and made out quite nicely. The decision to sell them all didn't have much to do with our neighbor dog situation, I've been toying with the idea since the price of corn and chicken feed went up so much. The girls cut way back on their egg production in September. So out egg sales were hardly paying for the chicken feed.


I put an ad in the paper and was very happy to see my 10 older hens go to a laying flock and my 8 surviving chicks went to a young family.
The four blue silkies were just gorgeous and turned out to be a rooster and three hens. A wonderful young lady rushed right out to get them this morning - no questions asked. So now I don't have to worry about feeding and watering poultry this winter.


In the spring I want to order some Shetland goslings from Holderread's in Oregon. Stan is very much against getting geese again, but I really want to try some of the Shetland geese. If anyone wants to go in on the order with me, let me know. I've ordered goslings from Holderread's before and I've been very happy with the condition of the birds when they arrive.

Shetland geese are still pretty rare in the US. They are autosexing, so you know at the hatch wether you've got males or females. And they are supposed to be a docile breed like Pilgrims.

Then I'd also like to get some heritage breed turkeys to raise.

Our kitten, Damian, turned one year old on the 23rd. His mom still licks his head like when he was little. They look so cute when they sleep together in "their chair". But they're not so cute when they tear around the house chasing each other.





Oh and I got a new spinning wheel yesterday! Stan can't understand the need for FOUR wheels, but this Louet S51DT will be used for plying. The regular Louet bobbins hold so much! Here is a Louet photo of the S51DT. I MIGHT sell my Victoria, but I really like it for taking to demos. Or maybe the Traveller, but I really like that because it's double drive. And my big saxony wheel isn't going anywhere, so I think we may have to put up with four wheels here. At least we don't have to feed them!


Now, on to BREEDING SEASON --- Kim threw a wrench in my plans when she said I could use Kimberwood Harrison, a polled black gulmoget ram lamb on my girls. I stopped over to check him out yesterday and now my head is swimming with all the possibilities. And now I'm thinking of putting Dougal (my white BFL) in with my two BFL ewes insteading of using the natural colored ram lamb on them. Dougal is a proven sire and I LOVE his fleece. Arghh!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Change is coming...and it doesn't look good

Well, the dog killing the chicks thing turned out to bring some bad news this way. My neighbor thinks it's my responsibility to keep my chickens penned (which I do, but the little chicks get out and then the mama hen flies over the fence) because hers is a hunting dog and killing birds is what he's supposed to do. Of course there is a law that dogs aren't supposed to run free, but that didn't phase her reasoning.
Anyway, being that she is related to the original owners of the property, she tried to tell me there is a covenant in this neighborhood and actually I'm not even supposed to have chickens or sheep. We built this house 20 years ago and there was never any mention of a covenant when we bought the land. I assured her that she was totally wrong and quoted her the township's zoning laws which state that we can have ten sheep per acre, so I could have 50 sheep here if I wanted.
Afterward, I called the township to see if they ever had a record of a covenant, of course they did not, BUT I was informed that the township is in the process of changing the zoning laws THIS FALL. They said the number of animals allowed will be decreased, but they didn't tell me any actual numbers per acre. I'd say we're well into the fall already and I deserve to know what they are thinking. I have to watch their website for further information.
That sent me into a depression thinking about who I could part with and re-examining my breeding plans. I have 30 sheep now, but three have been sold (Jake, Darcy and Grace) and I planned to reduce some ram numbers after breeding season - I may eliminate ALL my Shetland rams, so if anyone is interested in a nice ram, let me know before he becomes sausage. I'll be using Bombarde (RRAA poll carrying fawn katmoget) again and Boggart (mioget dual coat) unless he sells too. Eli is being leased out for breeding and so I think I can get down to 23 sheep fairly easily. I won't breed my ewe lambs except for the two Shetland Mules, I HAVE to see what they produce with my colored BFL ram.
But this turn of events has re-awakened the need to move out of here. Like our neighbors who live nextdoor to the dog owners, we may be putting our place on the market again.
If we could sell this place, we could build on our 40 acres or maybe just sell that too and buy an existing place on 20 acres that a friend of mine has for sale. It's only 6 miles away and it's all set up with a barn and pasture and hayfield.
In the meantime, I would think we should be grandfathered in when and if the zoning regulations change. But I can't get any straight answers about that from the township zoning administrator. Depressing! I guess I'm going to have to start attending the township meetings, arghhh.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spoke too Soon

Wouldn't you know as soon as I mentioned how the mother hen had kept all her babies safe, the very next morning our blasted neighbor dog came down and killed two of them. A third chick died later. Dang! I hate it when people don't control their dogs! I have told these people before to keep that darn thing home and yet, he's running around the neighborhood loose and they aren't even at home.

It's always eerily quiet after a dog attack. The chicks hide and stay totally silent. Most of them were hiding in trees, some flew up in the branches and some took cover inside the big blue spruce in our front yard. I had no idea how many were killed after I shooed that dog home.

I was so relieved that the mother hen made it through the ordeal with one chick at her side. After about an hour of silence, the surviving chicks slowly started peeping then began coming out of hiding. I really wish they would stay in their pen from now on because I know we can't trust the neighbors to keep their dog home.

Other than that, I've been on a creative bender. Our art ladies group is meeting on Monday mornings again and that gets the creative juices flowing again. I got out my watercolors and dabbled at some little sheep paintings. And I made some felted slippers. The cool thing about them is they are custom fitted to my feet. Felting takes a lot of elbow grease to get that wool to shrink down to size. Here's a photo of one finished slipper and another that still needed to be fulled down to size. It takes about 30 minutes of rubbing and dipping your slippered foot in water to get each one shrunk down (lots of bending over).

After experimenting with all kinds of layouts for needle felting on the slippers, I plied together two strands of handspun silk, one strand of recycled silk, and a strand of bulky yarn made with the roving used in the slippers. I cabled it and made a simple tie around the slipper which I can needle felt in. The comments from people here are to kept it simple so you can see the wet felted wool.
Thanks to all for the comments too. I wish I could post in my own comments section, but I seem to have some security blocker problem. I need to figure that out one of these days...
Garrett mentioned Eli's topline, Yes I did notice it looked bad in that photo. And yes, he is pretty plush, but I think it also has to do with how fat he's gotten lately. Here's another shot showing all three of our ram lambs. Look who has the straightest topline, it's Jake, the musket on the right. He's very nice, great fleece, horns looking very good, etc., too bad he's Ag. That's why I priced him at only $125.
Eli has the fleece type I'm breeding for, carries modified genetics, has a great back end and tail . So I'm retaining him and we'll see how he devlops.

I'm planning to use Boggart and Bombarde again this fall for my purebred Shetland breeding groups. I get a nice mix of lambs from them which can then be bred to each other. That's when I hope to see some real results.
Here's a shot of Lucy's fleece, she's the grey katmoget pictured in my last post. Unlike a lot of grey kamogets I've seen, she's very dark inside that creamy colored exterior. Unfortunately this photo isn't clear enough to really see her crimp.


And this is a shot of my white BFL ram, Dougal's fleece. This is the type of BFL fleece I love. My colored BFL ram lamb, Granite's fleece is very fine and crimpy, but it lacks the nice bouncy purls. Our natural colored BFL ewe lamb has fleece like Dougal's and our white yearling ewe has fine crimpy fleece like Granite. I will have two lines to work there too.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Growing up fast/fall photos

Here's a photo of Derra (front left), Lucy (center) and Dot (back). This photo will give you an idea of the size of the BFL crosses compared to the purebred Shetlands. Lucy, the purebred Shetland in the center, is one day younger than Derra and almost 6 weeks older than Dot. Here's a close up shot of Dot, isn't she cute? Her fleece is to die for too.


Here's a photo of Eli, I'm hoping his horns will be okay because I think he's a pretty nice ram lamb. His brother, Harley, has one fatal horn and I'm tempted to wether him for his great moorit fleece. But there's no need for so many wethers around here.


I had combed top made from my white and black fleeces this year. I was real happy with the fact that it's free of VM and noils. The white spins up really nice, but you need to wash it after spinning to remove the oils used in the combing process. The black is blended with 12% llama fiber (not real well blended) and it's a shorter staple than the white, not as easy to spin, but nice and soft and BLACK. I have about 7 pounds of white and 5 pounds of black, so I have some for sale.

And last but not least...

The chicks are roosting with their mom now! This is a big step for them, it means they'll soon be on their own within the flock. It's much warmer to roost than it is to sleep on the floor, so they should be okay when their adoptive mama decides to leave them on their own. They're already over 5 weeks old and she's still being a very good mother to them. So far she's done a great job and hasn't lost a single one to predators (knocking on wood). The poor Blue Silkies may never be able to roost... they just have fluff, no feathers. But they are still doing fine too.