Homesteading Diary, Monday October 21

Husband and I: both tired from having to unload hay, straw and cattle panels this weekend since the co-op’s delivery truck broke down and we had to pick everything up ourselves.  This meant we couldn’t put up as much fencing and do as much patching as we wanted.  We’ve made some good plans though, and we appear to be getting physically stronger anyhow.

Goats: STILL ALIVE…for a little longer.  We have to do a bunch of maintenance with the sheep, so the goats get to stay alive probably another 2-3 weeks.  We will try to time butchering them so they don’t get any of the hay, but they might get some, since it’s getting towards that time of year.  They are giving less trouble, mostly eating a lot of grass and hanging out near the sheep.  Not so bad right now.

Sheep:  We have six now instead of four, and the new sheep have wandering feet.  Their bloodlines are IIRC from the original Icelandic imports, before Icelanders started altering their breed for maximum meat production, tameness and white wool output.  Our new sheep are named Bucky (white badgerface) and Shaft (moorit).  So there is a lot of curiosity in the new guys and a certain amount of skittishness that isn’t present in the other four, who are more mellow and happy to respect nearly any kind of fencing with or without electricity/hotwire.

I’m currently on sheep patrol, until we can patch enough boundary fence to let them roam during the day and not wander into the front yard.  Gotta round the little guys up every few hours until evening, when the whole flock gathers near the barn to eat.  Predation is not an issue right now (thankfully), but we do need to set a real boundary fence line, our current one fizzles out halfway across our back woods.  Shaft, the most wanderlusty of the two new guys, got tangled in some bramble yesterday and then decided to compound the problem by getting tangled in the SmartFence today, bramble, legs, head and all.  He ran away yesterday before I could really tell how bad the bramble situation was, but today I was able to use the tangled fencing to catch him and keep him from strangling himself and a lot has shed off or fallen off, but there’s still one clump we’ll have to hack out tomorrow, maybe today if I can do it by myself.  His fleece is pretty thick and awesome and low-lanolin, a shame I’ll have to hack it up.

Ducks: Still laying pretty steady, but we’re seeing the winter slowdown.  Will probably put them in the barn next month and possibly use a lamp, haven’t decided yet.

Kids: The eldest loves to spend her days as a ballerina alicorn princess and the youngest has decided crawling is not the only way to get around and is walking more than two steps AT LONG LAST.  And both kids love oatmeal and duck eggs, just not together.

General local stuff:  We made it to Fiber Fusion Northwest over the weekend.  I got to untangle the mysteries of how thread is made, and feel a bunch of raw fleeces.  I ended up with a light coat of lanolin for my troubles, but it was good to sample how a variety of other breeds’ raw fleeces feel after being sheared and minimally processed (quick rinse, trimming of poop and burrs/etc).  Eldest child was quite delighted at the fiber animals on display, especially the ultra-tame alpacas, freshly sheared and ready for treats from anyone.  Also got some information about machinery for fiber processing.  Nice little informative festival, hope to spend a lot longer there next year!

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