Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So the world didn't end

I understand that the title of this post is a bit outdated if you consider all of the crazy news that has happened in the last week and a half. Horrible shootings, fiscal cliffs, Les Mis is out in theaters, Big Shark Attacks Little Shark (That made CNN's front page), and in spite of all of the pandemonium in the world, things here at the farm are surprisingly. . . well, normal.

This first day of the year was a bit chillier than we have seen in a bit. The sheep seem none too disturbed. They were running and prancing and chasing the crazy farm hands who were carrying  bales of hay out. The poultry are little put out by all the snow. Even after we shoveled out a path from the chicken coop to the barn they refuse to leave the relative safety of the coop. Only the ducks are desperate enough to make the journey from their coop to the barn where they then hide out in the deep hay of the sheep stall.

There is a little news to speak of happening. We had some students out on Monday to take fecal samples from the sheep (doesn't that sound like fun?). Lambing is right around the corner and we are continuing to take parasite data to help us make informed decisions about who to breed in the future and who, well, not to breed. Our end goal is a flock that is more naturally parasite resistant so that we can produce a better product without reliance on chemicals and medications.

Some skeins of yarn washed and spun by Mary Eckstein of Standish.
Speaking of lambing, we had a local woman who had come out to the farm with a girl scout field trip offer to experiment with our wool after last years shearing. She washed, carded, and did all of those other very technical things that are required to turn wool into yarn and then she spun it. The project which will hopefully lead to new farm based revenue opportunities, though yet still in it's infancy, has helped us to understand what we must do if we want to offer yarn in the future. What was returned is alright. A little dirty, and not quite up to knitter's specs, but alright. We learned that we sheared the sheep at the wrong time of year for a higher quality yarn and that we need to keep our sheep out of the hay and nasty weeds. This experiment is already helping to guide us to better management practices that will lead to a higher quality wool harvest and hopefully yarn production in the coming years. . .

On the other side of the barn, our rabbits failed to deliver when expected so we have re-bred them and are now expecting our next litter of kits in about thirty days. A little set back for our senior research project but better timing for the students who like to swing by and play with the 'baby things'.

Callie our Boki goat.
The biggest news comes from Brandy and Callie our doe goats who are due to deliver in just a couple of weeks. They have started to 'bag up' (meaning their udders are beginning to swell with milk) which is an early sign of impending kidding. Soon we will have little goatlets (that sounds way more fun than 'kids') running around the barn. For those of you who are under the impression that the farmer views all of the newborn critters as "meals on wheels", let it be known that I actually have much more sinister plans for this year's goat kids. . . less morbid, but more sinister. . .

Brandi the herd queen.

We will continue to be in 'maintenance mode' at the farm until the 14th of January. That means that we are spending a lot more time in the office attempting to catch up on end of the year paperwork and less time loafing around the barn.
Starting the 14th we will have an adjusted (but regular) winter schedule for those of you wanting to come out and visit. We will get that posted just as soon as we have our staff scheduling taken care of (student schedules are all changing. . .). In the meantime, stay warm!!!

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