Salute to FIBER GOATS!

It’s about time I paid a little attention to all my WOOLY friends and fiber goats…

Hmmm…

…or is it… to my friends and their WOOLY goats??

Either way… I love my friends, my friends with WOOLY goats and my WOOLY goat friends! I think that about covers it.

…two are better than one.

The more, the merrier!

Black mohair on silver/gray Shetland.

I wet-felted the natural black mohair right onto the Shetland, and then top-dressed with a few staples of additional mohair.

I used the same technique with the white goat… a little disappointed. There isn’t as much contrast between the white Pygora and silver Shetland. Would have been better to have a darker background for contrast.

Yes, I used my Brutus, Pygora (Type B) raw staples. They’re lovely and lustrous.

But, my hubby said it’s like looking for a polar bear in a snow storm! Geeeesh! What do guys know????

Happy fiber’n… with GOATS too!!!!

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Brutus gets the royal treatment.

Brutus is my registered Pygora wether…a fiber goat…a cross between an Angora goat and a Pygmy goat. Normally, Brutus, who has Type B fleece (a combo of lustrous ‘locks’ and downy cashmere) is sheared twice a year (Fall and Spring).

But, this summer-time weather has been anything but normal! It’s been hot and humid for long stretches at a time, with not much relief during the night…and it’s hard on our pets including the barnyard menagerie!

Brutus seemed so uncomfortable in his unusually tangled matted fleece, that we decided to give him the royal treatment…haircut, bath, pedicure, massage and lots of animal crackers! Even my killer electric shears wouldn’t tackle his matted fleece! YIKES!

Ahhh…

So, Katie and I used good old-fashioned hand-shears and we each worked on one side of Brutus! He was soooo patient and tolerant of our ‘primping’.

Brutus is showing-off his new ‘do’ to our Pygmy, Oreo, who doesn’t seem impressed!

Say ‘cheeeeese’ for the camera, Brutus! Hmmm…I forgot to brush his teeth?!!?

So much better (even if it’s a bit ‘choppy’). Love you, boyfriend!

 

Spring has sprung…

Spring is right around the corner and we’ve been enjoying unusually warm (and sunny) weather here in Michigan the past two weeks or so! What better place to celebrate Spring than on a farm? My sheepies have all been sheared in preparation for lambing – several ewes have been bred and will begin to lamb April 1 through May. Katie has been taking the yearling goat kids for ‘walks’ as she prepares them for the 4-H show at our local Armada Fair in August www.armadafair.org . My does, Schaherezade and Nelly are due to kid later April/early May. They’re enjoying leisurely strolls in the garden with me ~ helping me ‘weed’ and ‘fertilize’ ! Aahhhh…life is good! 

Yesterday, Katie and I decided to shear our new yearling wether Pygora, Brutus. His fleece was a little better than 3-inches long. This was a first for us, but Brutus behaved beautifully while on the stanchion. Pygora as well as Angora goats are typically sheared twice  a year, Spring and Fall. 

Brutus before...

Brutus during...

Brutus after...

Three things: 1) I nearly forgot Brutus had wattles! Katie and I almost had a HEART ATTACK when I barely knicked one wattle as I sheared him – from his scream, WE  thought I slit his throat!!!!!!!!  The big baby…poor thing! BTW, that was the only little knick he suffered!  

2) However, I sliced MY finger open with the shears – YIKES, they’re very sharp, but better ME than my goatie! Only problem was the paper towel I wrapped around my finger quickly became saturated as I continued to bleed all over Brutus (and the barn floor). 

3) We very quickly discovered poor Brutus had lice! EEEEKKKKKK!!!!! Thankfully it was warm enough to give Brutus a nice warm bath with some ‘medicated’ goat shampoo I had on hand from Hoegger’s (www.thegoatstore.com). I also promptly ran up to TSC for livestock/goat dust which we sprinkled down along his back. ‘Ya might say Brutus had a day at the spa? I promptly inspected the rest of my herd for lice, but didn’t SEE any…which I thought odd. Wouldn’t they ALL have lice??? Well, we’ll have to see how this progresses. As usual, always a new learning experience down on the farm!

Speaking of shearing, this Saturday, March 20, Katie and I will be at Metropark’s Wolcott Farm Learning Center for their annual ‘Sheep Shearing Saturday’ . We’ll be dyeing wool fleece with Kool-Aid all day (from 10 AM to 3 PM) ~~~ or until the fleece runs out! There will be plenty of family activities, so come on out and say ‘hello’. 

Have a blessed day!

Never Enough Hours in a Day…

Why is it that the older I get, it seems as if I’m always running out of time?

Speaking of time, did you know…it’s Daylight Saving Time NOT Daylight SavingS Time?

The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin during his sojourn as an American delegate in Paris in 1784, in an essay, “An Economical Project.” At the age of 78, in a moment of whimsy and to amuse his friends, Benjamin Franklin wrote a discourse on the thrift of natural versus artificial lighting and the amount of oil used in relation to the quantity of light produced… after attending a demonstration of a new oil lamp the previous evening. Over two centuries later, nations around the world use a variation of his concept to conserve energy and more fully enjoy the benefits of daylight. Read more here  http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/index.html  So, remember, ‘Spring ahead’ and turn your clock ahead one hour this Saturday March 13 before you go to bed.

Well, it has been an incredibly busy weekend. I’m happy to report that all nine of my Shetland sheep were sheared this past Saturday. Normally, I have the girls sheared nearer to the first of April, but since one of my ewes (Hildy) is due to lamb sooner than much later, I thought it would be safest for her and the unborn lamb(s) to be sheared now. Normally, I like to shear the pregnant ewes at least 1-month before lambing if possible…and if you saw my ‘wooly beasties’ you would understand why. It’s easier to see what’s going on at the rear-end, bagging, etc. It’s also easier for the lambs to nurse and find their mom’s teat (instead of suckling on a wool tag). They look soooo NAKED without their wooly fleece! So for now, I have 9 bags of fleece to skirt, sort, wash, etc. I’ll ‘process’ much of it myself, but perhaps that’s a subject for another post: “How to skirt and wash your fleece.”

Three out of five of my ‘girls’ that I bred are definitely pregnant. ‘Snowy’ is too early to be showing any signs…and Tinkerbell??? Well, even though she was in the breeding pen (last year she didn’t get pregnant either), I think she just eats more than her fair share.

BTW, I still have to shear my Pygora wether ‘Brutus’; I’ll shear him on the stanchion when his fleece is just a bit longer, approx 3-inches.

The weather has been sunny and unusually warm-er (near 50 degrees F), so I’m glad my sheepies can adjust over the next few days. However, the down side of the warm-er weather comes boot  suck’N muck season. YUK!!! I can hardly wait for the melting snow water to recede and the ‘greening’ of the earth to begin! YEAH!

Well, I’m also happy to report that we finished painting OUR bedroom. We all agreed (kids included) on a color, but when I opened the paint can lid…eewwwwwww! What is this…pea soup? This isn’t the paint chip we selected!!!!??? Katie was a bit more kind with her choice of words and described the new paint color as ‘green olives’. Why did I enlist hubby for an opinion…he’s color-blind!!! (Really!)

I have to admit, I was sceptical at first, but, now that the room is finished and the paint has DRIED, I’m kind of getting used to it. The ACE Hardware paint color is called ‘PRIMORDIAL’. Perhaps that should have been a clue? This is a color that looks different in natural light, artificial light, whether the sun is shining, the angle at which you’re standing…and so on. We have Shaker furniture (beautiful curly maple – ‘cherry’) and a few painted (blue over black) pieces and it kind of looks nice. Believe it or not?

I’ve been having fun scrubbing, buffing and polishing, RECYCLING collectibles and re-decorating! I purchased new bed pillows and haven’t had a good night’s sleep yet. I believe pillows are like an old pair of jeans…all broken in and comfortable!

Oh ya, my 21-year old Magic Chef stove OVEN went ‘kaput’ over the weekend! As far as I can tell, the bottom heating element blew out! I don’t know about replacement cost/repairs, but, I soooooooo want a NEW stove!!!! I was baking a batch of cookies for Matt ~~~~~ wouldn’t ya know it~~~~~Thank goodness Grandma’s just down the road! We took a look at a few GE electric stainless steel stoves with a glass top, etc. Yikes!!! $$$$$

Last, I’m happy to report, I finally finished another ‘little book’ I’ve been working on entitled “Felting and Needle Felting Tutorial”. YIPPI! It combines hints and how-to’s of both wet felting and needle felting. I’ll probably list it for sale in my ETSY shop.

Happy ~Middle of the Week Already~ Day!

A welcome addition to my fiber ‘stash’…

What happens when you love F I B E R and G O A T S ??? You get a goat that’s reputed for its fiber and hardiness, in this case, a P Y G O R  A, which is a breed purposely bred and registered to produce fine fiber for hand spinning. Pygoras are a cross between an ANGORA goat (who produces mohair – a long silky fleece) and a Pygmy goat (often producing short, soft down). You can learn more about Pygoras at www.pba-pygora.com

I’d love for you to meet Brutus, the latest addition to my fiber ‘stash’ and barnyard menagerie. My husband and I drove out to meet Pygora breeder and owner, Allison, at Great Lakes Pygora. Anyone interested in learning more about Allison can visit her at http://www.greatlakespygora.com

Brutus is a Pygora wether (castrated male) and is about eight months old. He has a Type B fleece (that is, Blend-type: a blend of the Pygmy goat undercoat, which is cashmere, and the longer Angora mohair. It is 3 – 6 inches long and has a nice crimp (curl). The second coat is usually obscured by the longer coat.) I fell in love with Angora goats and cashmere ever since I read an article in Wild Fibers Spring 2008 and Fall 2008 issues, respectively. Then, another article appearing in Spin-Off magazine entitled Fiber Basics: Pygora captured my interest!  But, the most recent clincher came when a friend was spinning locks of hand-dyed mohair during our last spinning guild meeting…I was smitten and knew I had to have some of that beeeeeautiful fiber!  

So, I asked hubby if I could have a Pygora for my birthday (mid-November) and he said YES! Welcome dearest Brutus! Ain’t he handsome!!!???   Pics courtesy of Allison…

brutus_1

brutus_2

brutus_3

Brutus is a quick learner. He knows that all of my goats are fed and ‘managed’ on the stanchion twice per day, where they get individual daily attention – cuz I love my critters! He’s already warming up to me and the rest of the flock/herd. The sheepies don’t pay him much attention and the goats are all ‘into’ checking each other out and establishing a ‘heirarchy’ amongst them. Brutus doesn’t know what to make of Bo, our Great Pyrenees? But, he’s got  lots of company and is making new friends and exploring his new home!

Happy fiber’n!