June 2 was the Full Strawberry Moon, called that according to Algonquin tribes in North America, because it was an indicator of the ripening of the fruit. That was well over a week ago and I wished I’d had time to savor the evening, to toast to it’s beauty. I paid a little bit of attention to it, but truth be told, I paid more attention to preparing a brooder for 40 turkey poults and cutting rhubarb into bits for pies, soaking rhubarb leaves for mordanting wool to be dyed. The past month has had us fully immersed in raising kid goats, lambs, putting in gardens, finishing up processing of fiber, baking pies, picking rhubarb, foraging for dyeing materials, hosting events & cleaning out. Some of the highlights:
10 New Yarnbabies
In the month of May, all of the lambs and kids were born, each with their own stories, concluding with last weekend’s Angora kid, born to the most clueless mom we have ever seen here. Alls’ well that ends well. After an intense first 27-hours, mama and baby are bonded and we don’t have to trek to the barn every hour to get milk in the kid.
We now have 7 new lambs and 3 new kid goats. One little lamb, stillborn, lies beneath a new apple tree that we put in for a memorial. Poor Padme lost him, full term, her first lamb. She is happily playing auntie to the rest of the lambs, though, and fortunately she is as healthy as can be. The vet had to be called on 2 different occasions during birthing – a first on our farm in the many lambs and kids that have been born here. The vet had to be called one time for an accidental overdose of vitamins to one of the kids. It all worked out after a few days. Two new goat mamas had to learn the ropes with nursing, all with happy endings.
None of the Cotswold ewes took. But MAYBE Mocha took. She is in a stall with Mister K, our bottle baby that thinks he is human, for companionship and to be under watch. She’s got quite the udder. And she’s round as round can be. It’s possible she’s just fat. In which case, our ram, Neptune, did not do his job. We’ll see.
The largest newborn was “Lilac”, our Merino ewe Laurel’s 13-lb lamb and the smallest was “Blossom”, Brigid’s 4-lb kid.
The babies are bouncy & fluffy and have distinctive personalities already. There is one couple of twins that are masters at escape. They love to lead the others in shenanigans. The little goatsies are fantastic acrobats, so soon, and are astounding now that they’re turned out. I’ve got kid goat playground ideas pinging around in my head.
We picked/announced a winner of our pie giveaway re:LambCam LIVE Chat of a few weeks ago. The winner is Lorrie Nyland 🙂 Congratulations, Lorrie!
A couple of ducklings hatched from a tiny clutch of eggs I decided to incubate. They are healthy and beautiful, much less wary than their parents.
The last batch of chicks that we hatched are a little over a month old, feathered out and living in the little coop out back. There are 20 of them, for sale should anyone you know be looking, $20 each.
The turkey poults for Thanksgiving arrived and are beautiful and hardy. There are Chocolates & White Midgets, offering an array of sizes from 8 – 33 lb birds at maturity in November.
Mr. Fox has been visiting the farm over the last 6 weeks and has scored 3 ducks, 4 hens, & 1 rooster. The local chat is that he’s also made off with a neighbor’s hen & two guinea fowl from another neighbor. Therefore, the hens & roos on our farm are under lockdown until the fox starts shopping elsewhere. It’s breaking my heart to leave the poultry to the (squalor) of confinement as opposed to allowing them the beauty and healthy living that freeranging offers them. If this week is quieter, as in that Nessie our Border Collie doesn’t incessantly bark out the door at all hours trying to scare off the fox, then I may resume turning them out to the fields and woods again. But, sadly, confined hens and roos are better than free-ranged dead ones. At long last the coop has been cleaned, so at least their quarters are tidy.
It’s high-pie-time here now, with crust being concocted, fruits being turned into fillings, ovens on.
Final fleeces are gone to the mill to be spun into our fall yarns. We are going to have the most wonderful yarns – all Shetland, Merino, blends with mohair and alpaca. A Mohair-Cormo blend with our Angora Goat’s fiber & Kat Smith’s (Stones Throw Farm) Cormo fleece from her ram “Smorg.” Oh boy.
We’re down to 3 skeins of mill-spun yarn in our shop and SJ is hand-spinning like the dickens to help put more on the shelves.
Two new ewes are coming to the farm in a couple of weeks – Martha & Bonnie. They are Cormo X Corriedale ewes, a mother & child, that belong to Katie Sullivan at Sheep & Pickle Farm. After they arrive, we’ll have our own Cormo fleeces to mix in with our Mohair. What’s better than buying a fleece to blend with your own fleeces? Yes, of course it is to own the sheep too!
Pasture fencing is complete. Jim hung the last, new gate. The paddock fencing around the barnyard is reinforced, re-installed and the mamas and babies are all out enjoying fresh air & sunshine. No more rigged panels & escape-gaps. Hallelujah, thine the glory as one of the old anthems goes. And I mean it. The flocks were really ready to find new, more and better forage. The paddocks got pretty beat over this past winter and we are just about out of hay. I was standing in the loft yesterday, surveying the emptiness, thinking about filling it up again. This spring has been dryer than usual and the harvest of first cut is small. We’re hoping for some good rain to fill up the barn with second cut.
The Boy Band(wethers and rams) are out to pasture now by the pond and they love getting lost in the plentiful forage there. We’ve put bells on them this spring so that though they are farther out, I can still hear them and also, they are raucous-sounding if a predator should attack. I’ve heard it can be a defense. I wouldn’t bank on it if a hungry coyote wanted sheep for dinner, but it is at least something which could buy me some time.
The Open Studio/Open Farm event which we hosted on Memorial Day Weekend was extremely well attended. An estimated 400 people came through to visit our farm, check out the babies and learn about natural dyeing and fiber farming.
During that weekend we also hosted our friends from out of town. They were brave souls to come visiting when this place was so hopping. But they were good sports and brought us delicious treats and pitched in wherever we needed it. And if the days weren’t full enough, friend Hazel gave me a midnight lesson in macaron-making.
The past 2 weekends we hosted Vermont Getaway guests for pie-making demos & farm visits. The guests come from all points North, South, East & West and settle in for 4 days of art & food, shopping & soaking in the Vermont sights. The loveliest folk I’ve gotten to know, the nicest surprises when you leave yourself open to new friendships. We were included in their shenanigans and celebrations and got to make a gorgeous cake for Mary‘s birthday. Also, the Getaway-guests really like our pies.
We sold the natural dyed yarn we’ve been working on around here as well as offering other fantastic things in our shop. Kristen Blaker’s art, Matt Bittel’s hand turned rolling pins, Wing Farm’s maple syrup, Bob’s Maple Shop’s maple syrup and now Jessica Putnam Phillip’s gorgeous ceramic yarn bowls.
Our next upcoming event is the “Petals & Pie” workshop that we just posted for June 19th. If you know of anyone interested in blossoms, bouquets, farm-to-florist style of flower-work, and pie, please share this information.
Looking ahead to July & August, we’ll have Friday night summertime clay-workshops here on the farm with the talented and local artist, Kristen Blaker, of Kristenbstudio.com. I am so looking forward to her teachings. Her art is inspired, humorous, colorful and perfectly captures moments and expressions. I think that learning about clay and herbs with her will be pure fun. You can sign up for one or all of the 3 workshops she is offering through her website.
I’m hoping that by the “Full Buck Moon”, or “Thunder Moon” or best yet, “Hay Moon” of July 2, that we will have had a chance to catch our breath a little, put in a full garden, and have put up plenty of rhubarb in the freezer.
Peace, love, lambs & pies,