Breeze Hill Farm

  (Powhatan, Virginia)
Sheep, Goats, Alpacas, Llamas, Border Collies
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Stupid! But True Story

As you all know, Saturday we went to a Chicken Swap. What I didn’t mention was one pretty stupid thing that happened while we were there. Included in this Swap were all livestock..bunnies, goats, etc. One of the “so called” goat farmers in our area brought 2 of his goats to sell. The way he transported them was a recipe for disaster to begin with and if you can image this..that is exactly what happened.

Maybe some of you all have done this before but I found it to be terrible. He had strapped those poor goats into a flat equipment trailer (you know the kind the guys use to transport lawnmowers) with equipment straps. He took them out on a 55 mph 4 lane road to the Swap. Now if you can image this..one of them got loose, jumped out of the trailer and started the journey down the middle of on-coming traffic. The cops were there trying to stop traffic, the poor goat was running like hell and then it beared off into the woods. Now I happen to know this farmer (I’m sorry) and I know that his farm is about 5 miles from where the Swap took  place. He told the cops “don’t worry, he’s headed in the direction of home so he’ll get back there soon”. While all of the “whoha” was going on the other poor goat stayed strapped in the equipment trailer for a couple of hours in the pouring rain. 

I know I’m probably nuts, but to begin with I would never traumatize any animal like this..if you don’t have a livestock trailer, or sides on your pick up or a kennel carrier..buy one, build one or leave your poor animals at the farm. This guy not only put the animals life at risk but several hundred drivers and their passengers as well. As for the goat finding his way home! I have goats and yes I do find them to have some intelligence but if I took any of them 5 miles from here and dropped them, I would never expect to see them again..unless one of our neighbors found them and brought them back.

It just seems strange that the term “livestock” must mean trash to many people. I know that the way we coddle and baby our livestock is not really normal but I look at what I get in return for the way we take care of them..gorgeous fleeces from the sheep, goats, and llama, wonderful goats milk, fairly tame animals, which helps at shearing and milking time, minimal to no vet bills, just to name a few advantages. I am by no means saying that what we do is perfect nor that this is how everyone should treat their animals but come on, a little common sense is really worth it’s weight in gold!

Don’t know if the goat “found” it’s way home or not. Is it so hard to think about what you’re doing before you do it? It must be.

 
 

New Kid On The Farm


While out running the Border Collies, Monday morning, several weeks ago, we heard a Rooster crowing. Around here we have sheep, goats, cows, horses, dogs and cats..no chickens. That’s just not something anyone close by raises and after the fox killed our last hens, we had been chicken free for 4 years – which brings me back to the crowing Rooster. I started following the crow. Imagine my surprise when I found 2 beautiful Roosters pecking around in the cemetery at the church across the road from us.

These guys seemed very tame. Catching the first one was easy. The second one got very upset and confused. He took off into the woods and we couldn’t find him. Hubby had to go to work and I had early deliveries, so we brought Rooster #1 over to our place and said that we could get the other one when we got home. Also, as much noise as Rooster#1 was making, we felt confident that he would encourage Rooster #2 to come to him. Well that didn’t happen.

When we got home that night, we discovered Rooster #1 running around and crowing. Apparently, these guys had been pets..they didn’t even know how to roost. We went to the church to find the other boy but had no luck. At midnight, when we let the dogs out for the last time, we heard Rooster #2 crowing. We got the dogs in and headed for the church. By the time we got there all was quiet. We hung out for almost an hour and decided this Rooster quest would be easier in daylight. We never heard him again! Rooster #1 was just sad the next day perpetually crowing and running around but there was no response. I spent hours at the church and in the cemetery listening and looking for Rooster #2, but he was no where to be found. The following day, I found him dead in the cemetery. He had been slaughtered by what we assume was a weasel.

Thankfully, by day three Rooster #1 had acclimated to his new home and had stopped calling his brother. So now we have a new Rooster! He’s quite the cool little guy. He thinks his job is to tend the sheep. Where they go..he goes. We’ve worked with him a lot and now he knows how to roost, where to find his food (sheep and goats eat anything that hits the ground, so we had to put his food up) and that bugs are a good dietary supplement. He’s a good boy. We are now considering adding a few hens so he won’t be without his kind and hope that the fox families have moved on for now. We didn’t realize how much we missed having chickens in the barnyard.

This Blogger/farmers rant – With so many avenues to find homes for unwanted animals a story like this should never have happened. We live in the country, there are 3 feed stores within a 15 mile radius of us, they have bulletin boards. There, of course, is Craig’s List, a local paper and word of mouth. We would have gladly taken these two Rooster’s if the person who dropped them had simply turned up our driveway and asked. There is just no excuse for one of these beautiful animals being slaughtered! All of this being said, we are very happy to have our new Rooster..there is a new peaceful calamity on the farm now and he’s good for the soul…guess things really do happen for a reason.

We still haven’t named him though..got any ideas? Please share.

 
 

The Nutritional Benefits of Goat Milk

The following is a great article about the benefits of Goats Milk and I wanted to share it with you all. Click on the link to learn more….

 

Agoat

The Nutritional Benefits of Goat Milk by Miriah Reynolds from the July/August, 2009 issue of Dairy Goat Journal. Presenting information, ideas, and insights for everyone who raises, manages, or just loves goats..

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My Favorite Time Of Year


12797_Autumnview

This photo was taken at a friends farm in the Shenandoah Valley last year. I use it throughout the year as a screen saver..when it doesn’t look like this here. In a couple more weeks, I’ll have more photos of Fall to remind me of my favorite time of year. There is something so incredibly wonderful and exhilarating about Autumn. I remember as a child, sitting in the swing, on late afternoons during Fall days, marveling at the difference in lighting. It in itself was a paint scheme for the artist’s palette, then add the magnificent colors of the trees  and summer grasses and oh my, it made it even more breathtaking. The Indian Summer or the cool Fall crispness to the air all make this a beautiful and memorable time for me as I’m sure it does for many others. As I sit here and type, I can almost smell the wood and leaf burning wafting through the air and the taste of fresh apple cider with a short shot of bourbon teasing my tongue. Of course, as a child it was virgin apple cider! Ah, what a wonderful time!

With Autumn, at Breeze Hill Farm, comes the season for breeding and fiber growth. The goats are busy working on the babies that will come in Spring. The sheep and goats both are starting their heavy fiber growing season in anticipation of Winter. We are cleaning stalls, getting the pastures broken up and fertilized and cleaning up downed wood, acorns and leaves. There is always a lot to do…always and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Well, I’m making soap and lotion like crazy this week in anticipation of great sales this upcoming holiday season. I can’t wait to get back out to the markets and open houses. To see those friends that we only see once a year and to make new friends. I spend my days doing this and my nights knitting so there will be a good stock from both sides of the farm.

 
 

Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials

Yesterday we decided a day off from everything was necessary for mental and physical health. We got up early, took care of the livestock and headed for Montpelier in Orange county, VA, to the Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials.

What a beautiful day! We still can’t believe how clear the air was . It was a little cool when we left home but by the time we arrived, it was in the mid 70’s. An added benefit to the trip was the leaves are starting to turn. We took in everything – all 5 large tents with rows of vendors selling everything fiber – beautiful hand dyed silk and wool blend yarns and rovings – there was a lot of yarn. It seemed that the vendors choose to cater more to the hand worker than the spinner.

We passed by the outside tents and went over to the Livestock Exhibit tent. They had a good example of various different fiber producing animals – the Angora Rabbits, Llama and Alpaca were not represented very well in this exhibit but I later found more of them in the outside tents. After looking around we found our friends Magi & Jay from Magi’s Wood Farm, you know, where we just got our Icelandic’s from.

Magi & Me

Magi & Me

She was happy to see me because she had let a child play with her wheel and it wasn’t working. She’s been having a problem with it every since she got it but it was worse. Later in the day, hubby found the same wheel and discovered her problem is incorrect set up. Hopefully the pictures he took of the correct set up will fix her problem.

Hubby wanted to take in the sheep shearing demos and I really did want to check out those outside tens, so I left him. My first stop was the Fleece Sale tent. Lot’s of beauties in there.  I found a CVM Sheep fleece that was really beautiful – when I looked at the price, I came very close to passing out – 2.2 lbs./$102.00. Needless to say that didn’t come home with me.

As I walked by the outside tents – something caught my eye – A spinning wheel! It looked to be very much like an Ashford Traditional but then again..it didn’t. I’m not going to tell you the price yet. This wheel had suffered a child assult on Saturday and it was broken. I got a handful of roving and a chair and set out to fix this cool little wheel. Whatever this child had done to it, I don’t know but it would not spin at all. Hubby came to find me and got involved in the fixing process. An hour later, I walked away with a fixed $60.00 spinning wheel! It is a mystery wheel though. I’ve added a photo, maybe one of you may have an idea about who made it. It does need work but it will spin yarn.

The New Old Wheel

The New Old Wheel

Armed with mystery wheel, we set out for food and Sheepdog Trials. I was a bit disappointed in the food options. In years past there has been lamb chili and fruit plates. Not so this year, so we got a heavy BBQ, set up our chairs and became spectators. The dog trials were great! We stayed to the end and we got lots of photos.

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

At The Pen - Look real hard..see the green on her shoulder? It's a Parrot!

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

Trial Shot

"Nice Job"

"Nice Job"

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

This lady works without a crook or a whistle..she's amazing!

"The Shed"

"The Shed"

"The Pen"

"The Pen"

It’s so enjoyable watching a dog work..they take their job seriously. I am so happy we have 7 Border Collies of our own to work with.

We left the event feeling invigorated and hungry. In the town of Orange we went to a restaurant called the Silk Mill Grille. As you may have guessed from the name, it is an old Silk Mill and the place is decorated much of the old salvaged accessories and processing equipment. Had a great meal and we were home by 7:00.

I have a lot of readers that know very little about this side of my life – they know me for the goats and goats milk products. You see fiber and fiber arts is my true passion. Any opportunity I get to do a day like this, I will put all else aside to do it. My only regret – Didn’t go both days!

I’m going to add an events page to my Blog so everyone might have an opportunity to see and possibly attend what’s going on the rest of 2009. Some I will be a vendor..some I will just visit.

Parting comments and a little rant! Please, if you bring your children to events like the Fall Fiber Festival, try to pay attention to what they are doing. One of the wheels that was messed up yesterday is a several thousand dollar wheel. We want everyone to come to these events..especially children, they are the ones who will keep this going in the future but vendors and demonstrators put their life into this and it shouldn’t be destroyed by an adults carelessness of not watching their child. At this event, I saw big pulls of rovings run off with, a driveband ripped right off a spinning wheel, Angora bunnies being plucked through the sides of their cage by uncontrolled little fingers, hand crafted wooden knitting needles being used as swords and a grape snow cone dropped on a beautiful silk scarf. Please bring your children and please be good, aware parents! Rant is done.

Have a wonderful day!
 
 

Noil Silk – Fiber Arts Friday


IMG_1215

As most of you know the other side of my farm business is goats milk products. This time of year I am kicking it into high gear getting ready for Holiday Markets, Open Houses, and Shows. One item that I make (knit or crochet) is a big supply of wash cloths. Usually out of organic cotton. I keep them simple because the only time I can knit or crochet is late evening after chores and dinner.

This year I am changing up what the cloths are made from. I’ve noticed many specialty facial and body cloths are made from a dense over twisted cotton and are sold as exfoliating cloths. Not being a super cotton spinner and not liking any of the yarns I had found in cotton to try that would accomplish a cloth that would be exfoliating too, my search brought me to Noil Silk – raw rough spun silk.

I’ve made a dozen or so of them and used one as a test. So far, after using it in the shower and laundering it 6 times – it’s definitely a winner! The cloth keeps it shape, of course no shrinkage and it maintains its exfoliating quality. I am only using yarns that are natural colored or natural dyed and organic.

From my standpoint…I think their great!

To see what other are doing this Friday check out Fiber Arts Friday
 
 

I'm Easily Excited!

It's amazing how little it takes to excite me anymore. I just joined several Ravelry Groups in hopes of sharing some of what I do and make new friends in the fiber world. If you don't know what Ravelry is check out their website at Ravelry.com. It's pretty cool stuff! My screen name is "Breezhill" if you'd like to check out the Groups I've joined.

We have now determined that our Icelandic sheep are not that bright. Yesterday evening we were at the barn pulling a couple of sheep fleeces that are sold. We took a little time to just sit with the animals and visit. Apparently, Ricky and Holly didn't see any food in this visit so they went off on their own. The next thing we knew, they were on the other side of the fence looking at us. When they realized that we could see them, they leisurely walked back to the hole in the fence and stepped back in. Now maybe I'm not being 100% fair here..possibly they are not dumb but incredibly smart. Do you think they may have been trying to let us know there was another hole in the fence??  Can't wait to see what they come up with today. I swear they remind me more of goats than sheep.

Tomorrow is Fiber Arts Friday on Alpacafarmgirl.com. It's a lot of fun to see what's happening with others and their new creations. Come on over and join in.

I am working on our new goats milk soaps and fragrances for the Holiday's and would love some input from you all. Each year I try to come up with at least 2 special fragrances and a new mold for the season. Something to make the bath smell good and a gift that people will enjoy giving and receiving. Leave comments as to what you think would be nice. If I pick your idea, we'll send you a gift box with the new fragrance soap and some other goodies!

 
 

It's Been Awhile..Again

Good Morning Everyone! It's been awhile again since my last entry. If this happens again you will know that I have been too busy to Blog. Everything is going very well here. Business is great and we are adding more every day. All of the animals are surviving the high heat that we've had for the last few weeks and the first part of the garden all came in at one time. So, on top of making soaps and lotions, milking goats, going to markets, filling orders, etc., I had to roll up my sleeves and start canning and freezing. Occasionally, I get to sleep!

We were all kinds of excited Saturday when we finally had rain. Of course, we couldn't just have a normal rain, we had to be under a Tornado Warning for several hours and it ended up raining about 5 inches. Then last night before we went to bed we took a look at the weather radar and noticed that there was a storm right on top of us. Well, we got 3 more inches of rain from that. This morning, with the warm sun shining,  you can actually hear the grass growing! I am so thankful we finally got rain. Apparently, our geographic location has some kind of anomaly that makes weather patterns go around us. We can actually stand in our garden and watch storms divide and go to either side of us. My husband is a ham radio sky warn spotter and he says that he can't explain why this is, only that when we move again he is going to look at the weather history for an area before we move there.  Each summer we pump too much water from the well to keep the garden going. Save money on growing food so we can pay the power company for extra electrical usage. Catch 22 much?

We have added some new products, they are not on the website yet but keep checking back. We are in the process of revamping the site too. Busy, busy, busy. I think that once all of the work is done on the new site, people will find it a little less distressing to navigate.

 I asked this question a while back and didn't get a response from anyone,  but I am curious if anyone has any idea for what we can use on our tobacco plants that is safe and natural for eradicating Hornworms? Thank God, it's only 100 plants because our current approach is to pick the worms twice a day and as the plants are getting bigger, it's becoming a full time job. I'd appreciate it if anyone could make suggestions.

It's off to soap making! Have a wonderful day.

 

 
 

New Products

What a beautiful morning this is. It was 62 degrees at the farm when we got up, bright sun and almost no humidity. That’s really saying something for summer in Virginia. A morning like this made fixing a country breakfast mandatory. The most enjoyable part of it was including our first tomato of the season. It was nice finally getting something out of the garden that wasn’t zucchini! For the past month, it’s been nothing but zucchini bread, fried zucchini, sauteed zucchini, mock zucchini crab cakes (these are amazing!) and veggie mixes..with zucchini. The freezer is full of it, friends run when they see me coming, it’s a sad state! This is the down side of putting in a late garden, it's not easy being patient.

It’s been months in the fine tuning and testing and finally our new Jewelweed Products are ready for sale (they are not on the website yet so you will have to email me breezehillfarm@verizon.net  to order). For those who do not know the significance of Jewelweed, it is wonderful for shortening the duration of an out break of poison ivy and oak and in some cases stopping an outbreak from occurring.

The two new products are a Jewelweed Balm, which is made with all natural and organic ingredients and Jewelweed Soap. Not being a person who has bad reactions to poison ivy or oak, I had to take the product to quite a few people for testing. The positive results were 100%. Both products benefit from having a variety of oils that help clear up the problem and leave the skin feeling soft but the soap has an extra bonus of containing goat’s milk. These two items are a must have for the summer first aid kit!

Well I’m off to take a look at 3 possible new goat doelings that were born in March. Because of the increase in business, we need to add to our herd and these girls will make a wonderful addition. Then it's back to get the Co-op (www.farm2udirect.com) orders ready for delivery tomorrow. Busy day!

 
 

Wanted To Share

This is a continuation from Monday's bog, kind of. I've included a picture of "Baby", so everyone can see what a sweetie he is. You know, we have many more cats, sheep, goat's, llama, a PB pig and 7 Border Collies, you'd think I'd be too busy to get this involved with a kitten that was only here for 10 weeks. Well that simply isn't the case. There's always going to be that one that just pulls you in. Enjoy "Baby's" photo.

 

By the way, after the trauma of riding in a truck, having his first vet visit and moving into his new digs. He's doing just fine.

Thank you all for letting me share this with you.

 
 

The First Has Arrived

 

Well good rainy morning! Went to the barn around 5:00 a.m. and look what we found. This little "buck" is our first birth of 2009. We really thought our girls were just going to keep the babies this year. Apparently, our careful planned breeding didn't work our exactly as we had planned. Usually by now we are done with kidding for the year. This little guy will be a keeper. In an effort to grow the herd, we will make him a wither and enjoy years of wonderful fiber from him. His photo is not that great but when they are newborns you tend to get a lot of butt shots!

We haven't named him yet. Maybe some of you would like to do the honors. We did names with an Italian theme last year and have done the Irish and Scottish names for our sheep. Let's see what you come up with!


Saturday is our first event of the market season and I am sure, at this point, I'll be working the market event by myself. Someone will have to stay at the farm for continued birthing assistance if needed.


I promise I won't bore everyone with every birth but the first is just special.

 
 

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has definitely sprung here at the farm. Still no babies yet but our Mama's are about to burst. We spent the day shearing the goats yesterday. All of our Alpine x Angora's produce beautiful fiber that is blended with our sheep wool to make a glorious yarn for our knitting and crochet customers. When this blended fiber is dyed it is simply beautiful. Thursday will be Alpaca shearing day which will bring us about 150 fleeces and Saturday we'll shear the sheep. So much fiber! I love it. Within the next several weeks we will announce the details on our Fiber CSA. So far, just sharing this idea with our customers, we've sold several shares. Having been in the fiber business for since 1994, we've developed a good size customer base that is familiar with the quality fibers we offer. We love this time of year even though our aging backs don't!

Thanks to the fact that goat's milk can be frozen I've been hard at work making soap. With Farmer's Market season upon us, it's time to grow inventory. The selection of new Farmer's Markets in this area has grown unbelievably for 2009, so this year we are employing family and friends to help us out. This way we can be at more than just one or two markets. It is a good positive feeling to see so much interest in providing local grown to those who are seeking it. It is also good to see so many people adding vegetable plants to their landscaping..this is how it should be. We should know where our foods and yes, even our fiber and soaps come from. One of the sell points we use with our goat's milk products, that seems to really make a difference is, "we are trying to take care and put only the best there is in our body's but let's not neglect the largest organ we have..our skin". It's a great feeling to see that lightbulb go on when they get it.

Our new website is almost ready to launch. For those who have painfully looked at our existing site, I am so sorry you had to go through that. This has been an exciting task..though at times it has gotten tense. Having your husband as your web designer can prove to be, let's say annoying. After 30 years of marriage, I simply cannot understand why he can't read my mind! He's a great guy and he's doing a beautiful job on the new site. Can't wait!

Well that's it for our news from the farm. Until next time, take care.

 

 

 
 

My First Blog - It Snowed Today, Yeah!!!

This is my first Blog ever, so please excuse me if I get chatty. I promise I will get better.

Welcome to Breeze Hill Farm! We woke up to a beautiful 1" snowfall this morning. Still being a true kid at heart, I ran outside, took pictures, made a couple of snowballs to throw for the border collies and came back in to the woodstove. It always amazes me how just a light snow can make this farm look so beautiful. Aparently my craziness rubs off on the animals because everyone was frisky this morning. Our llama, Kosmo, was running all over the pasture, kicking up his toes, clucking and prancing. The sheep could have cared less about their breakfast, they just wanted to hoof around in the snow and lick the camera lense and the goats were all over the place. Many of our girls are pregnant now and tend to laze around but not today, they were full throttle. We love to watch the adults, both goats and sheep gamble. I think it suprises them as much as it does us. Our "Grand Dam", Barbie was spending more time on all 2's, dancing like a true clogger..she is 12, as best as we can judge..but never let her know she is getting old, she won't hear of it.

Once I finish getting my toe wet on the blog scene, I'll be off to making soap. Uusually, January is my dead season for sales but not this year, I have carry overs to start February off. It's been unusually busy. Also, joining a local co-op has made an amazing impact on orders. If anyone reads this blog, check out www.farm2Udirect.com. This is the site for the co-op and if you happen to be local to Goochland/Richmond, VA, it's well worth participating as a consumer and producer.

I've gotten a lot of emails over the last few days from people requesting information on raising livestock on small acreage. Mostly goats. I think that all of the hype about the bad economy is causing people to think more about what they can do to help themselves. I always welcome these requests because I think we should all, as farmers, do what we can to educate and assist anyone who is seeking a better more natual way of life.

Well, I guess that's about it for today. Before I get started, I think I will have to go outside again before the sun melts the snow away! Have a wonderful day and keep on the lookout for more entires in the future.

 
 
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