Thursday, April 03, 2014

C is for Craft

Merriam Webster - Craft

 noun \ˈkraft\
: an activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands
: a job or activity that requires special skill
crafts : objects made by skillful use of the hands

My life is devoted to the perpetuation of the skills of creating things with your hands. I work with more than 50 independent craft artisans at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. When I'm not at work, I'm at home on our farm in the Arkansas Ozarks, spinning, weaving, dyeing, felting, crocheting and finding other ways to create beautiful things from the fleeces from my much loved angora goats and Jacob sheep.  

Crafting has always brought peace and relaxation to my life. And I've watched learning to create things with their hands light a spark in young people's eyes and lives. This is an idea that I'd love to develop into a full essay, but I need to go rinse the purple wool I have in the dye pot...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

B is for Boys

           B is for boy. Boy sheep and boy goats.

Lots of fuzzy little critters running around in the alleyways between the fences.

2014 has been a slightly boy-ish year here on  Havencroft Farm. 

Out of nine lambs on the ground, we have six boys. We only have four ewes left to lamb. A few if those boys look to be ram quality if you are looking for a new herd sire, let me know and I can send you pedigrees. 

Hester's lilac boy is very nice. We'll see how all their horns come in before we decide who remains a ram.  

Out of five angora goat kids, three are boys and we're done with babies in that flock. 

Happy B-day. April 2, 2014. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Blogging from A to Z - April Challenge - April, Angoras & Asparagus

I've joined the Blogging from A to Z - April Challenge to get me back to writing here. In the busy days of February and March I've found I do all my chronicling on Facebook, posting quick and easy pics and posts of new lambs and kids and happenings in the garden.

So each day in April, skipping Sunday, I'll do a post featuring the next letter in the alphabet. Today, April 1 is A.
A is for April, I love this month, with flowers and garden work and lots of baby lambs and kids to entertain us as we work.
A is for angora goats. I love their personalities - and their fiber. I've just finished a fantastic Fantasia rug and am working on a rug from Ishmael's fleece. I dyed more of Tillie's most recent clip in some pinks for spring.
A is for asparagus... I think that's what we'll have for dinner. Asparagus with goat cheese and fresh eggs from our wonderful hens.
Life on the farm is full of delights, from A to Z.

Jilly and Juxty, Tillie's new kids, love their mama Llama.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Wintery mix, again

Five degrees this morning, wind chill -17.

Yesterday started at 38 and rain. It changed to pellets of sleet after lunch at mom and dad's. We shoveled the heavy sticky ice off the shelters as we checked babies, bottle fed Julep (who was born a little early and her mama, Hailey is short on milk) and fed everybody some extra lunch hay. We listened to the thunder through the thick clouds and we're thankful the predicted winds didn't materialize. 

The ice was crusting everything at 4:00 pm and we broke it out of feed pans and off water troughs. Doing evening chores at sunset, we brushed the pelleted heavy ice off of everything, freezing our gloved hands in the process. 

Then at 10:00 pm, Boomer's shelter collapsed under the weight of all the new sleet. He and George were outside and fine. All four people went out and shoveled, heaved and propped the shelter up with pallets. It's standing fine this morning. Again, we shovel crispy ice off shelters and were very glad it was pellet stuff that didn't stick to trees so we kept our  electricity. 

The angoras shelter seemed to be collecting the greatest weight of ice, or maybe it was just because we cleared it last. 

Finally, about midnight, the precipitation change to a light and fluffy snow. 
We started morning chores about 6:30, doing them in shifts with the wind chill so low. The stuff covering the ground is crusted over, frozen hard and easy to walk on. There is ice covered with ice pellets, covered with ice and powdered with snow on top. It's not supposed to get above freezing for several days, so at least we have the current consolation that this stuff is easy to get feed through. 

Even though I had flipped the feed pans after last nights chores, I still had to chisel them out of the ice this morning. We've hauled buckets of hot water from the bathtub to everyone this morning and will start a new round of water buckets shortly. 

Now, all the sheep, goats, horse and llama are tucked into well bedded shelters out of the wind. The humans, dogs and cats are warming up inside the house. And I think we are all hoping this is the last round of "wintery mix" for this season. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Shearing 2014 begins

Today was in the 50's with snow melt running off the hill and covering the ground with water. The long range forecast looks clement, so, we started started shearing. 

Ishmael was our bell wether angora goat. Having been sheared in late July, his fleece was more than ready. It is so full of winter hay, I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to do with it. 

I trimmed up Tillie's tummy and checked Fantasia, who is due March 1. I'll let her fleece grow a bit more. 

Moving over to the Jacob sheep, we sheared Nessie, who is due March 1. She has a udder the size of a jersey cow. We also sheared Higgs, who is due to have her first lambs in March. 

Ishmael putting up with his hair cut. He was very happy to go scratch and soak up sunshine when we let him off the stand. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Havencroft Farm welcomes our first angora goat kids of 2014

This morning about 6 a.m., Chantilly Lace, the pretty angora goat doe on my signs and business cards, went into labor. Tillie's eight-years-old (a bit old for a goat), but she's never had kidding problems. However, things just haven't seemed right, so I've been checking on her at night for the last two weeks. Between the single digit temps, snow, ice and her not acting quite right, I just wanted to keep an eye on her.
Her water broke, but her labor just wasn't progressing. About 7:30, I checked and found feet facing the right way. We waited a bit more, but she wasn't pushing at all. I checked again, but things didn't feel right, so we headed to Doc Nixon's. 

Doc looked out the door at the two feet protruding from Tillie's birth canal, said "uh oh" and went back into the clinic. 
Not what you really want to hear your vet say. But he was back in a few minutes and shortly thereafter a little buck kid was born. We named him Juxtaposition. He didn't want to get born, so his head was turned back. Doc let Tillie rest about 1/2 an hour, but she still wasn't pushing, so he helped little Jilly-doe into the world. 

Tillie, Jux and Jilly are home in the barn with a heat lamp on them now. It only got up into the 20's today, and is forecast to be 11 degrees tonight. They may spend the night in my workshop. Luckily, it is supposed to get up to freezing tomorrow and climb steadily to stay above freezing at night by the weekend. I sure hope!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Havencroft Farm pic of the day

Nilly (Vanilla Bean), our 11-year-old Jacob sheep ewe, who was born blind, shares her breakfast with one of the silver-laced Wyandotte hens. 

Sheep to squirrel - a needle felting journey

This is Demi-sheep. She's our Iceladic x Corriedale ewe. Her mum was Chalcedony and her daddy was Homer. She loves her morning grain, especially in this winter snow. Demi grows the wool I'm using to needle felt the Arkansas gray squirrels I've been making. 

This squirrel is needle felted from Demi's wool over a wire armature. He's excited to be headed to the Arkansas Flower and Garden show where he'll be a part of the Ozark Folk Center secret garden.