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. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

February 8, 2014. More snow.

Last night's somewhat unexpected inch of snow kept me home from a tourism conference where I was supposed to help promote this beautiful, wonderful land that we live in.

We live in the Arkansas Ozarks. The northern edge of the south, the western edge of the east. Usually a moderate climate with four distinct seasons. This winter is a real, solid winter.

We had our first snow storm the first week in December. We've now had snow covering the ground for most of two months. But it's just winter, and spring is on the way.
Today I went out to take pics so that I could look at them to cool off this summer. 

Tillie is due to kid next week. She'd like to go up in the woods.

My sweet potato slips have been too cold to do much.

The non-breeder pen likes their shelter.

Pequena and the angoras have trouble walking on the ice crust over the snow.

The yearlings are loving playing in the snow.

The Alpine dairy goats are hoping for some sun.

The Lamancha dairy goats prefer to stay near the shelter.

The bred ewes hang out in their shelter, but they do have to
walk down the hill for water. They need the exercise.

Boomer and George keep an eye on the western front.

Durfria was born in 1982. She's seen plenty of snow.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

It's been a winter

Right now, it's 13 degrees outside. There are 5 inches of old snow under an inch thick crust of ice that has been there for two days. The sky is low and gray, but there is no more snow predicted for a few days. However, the high is not supposed to hit freezing until the next snow arrives. I'm not complaining.

Old Durfria and the dairy goats share a comfy shelter.
Nestled in for winter at Havencroft Farm
I've said many times that this has been a perfect weather year - with four clearly defined seasons. Spring sprung wet and warm and bountiful; summer sizzled and allowed a good harvest of hay and crops; fall was glorious and winter has been WINTER. We live on the borderlands between the north and south and east and west of the US. Part of the reason we chose to settle here in the Ozarks is the four seasons and moderate weather. It's been a wintery winter, but so far, we've only had two days of below 0 temps, the snows have not been over a foot and the ice has stayed less than an inch. Moderate. We need winter to keep the parasite and insect populations at bay, to give the trees and other beings some rest and to encourage the sheep to grow thick wooly coats.

This winter did start right on schedule - the first week in December - with a big winter storm that cancelled our biggest craft show of the year, the one where many Arkansas artisans make most of our winter income. That has made the rest of the winter challenging in our community. Now, several storms later, propane prices are sky rocketing. At least many folks in our area still burn wood for heat.

The ewe flock 
The last two nights, I've been out checking on my Tillie angora goat doe, who was bred early. She's due in the next week. We don't start lambing or kidding for real until March 1. We have 11 ewes due this year and 8 does. We won't start shearing until the 10 day forecast stays above freezing.

The ice hasn't gotten too thick, and it is pretty.

And it is still only the first week in February, so we should have some winter yet to come. I'm not complaining, just observing and documenting and being thankful that I raise sheep and have lots of wool clothing. I'm just hoping that Spring puts in her appearance on schedule and I can plant my peas and potatoes on St. Patty's day, like normal.