Pine Needle Farm

  (Kila, Montana)
The adventures of raising cashmere goats.
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New Additions

Well, we have two new additions to the crew here.  This last week-end I went over to Spokane, WA and picked up two miniature horses!  One is a former show horse that has won everything there is to win her yearling year, and the other one is just a broodmare.  Now Rascal has some company of his own kind.  Although, he doesn't seem to be too excited about them.  He met them across the fence, and after going back and forth along the fencline for about 10 minutes, he walked away and started eating, then pretty much ignored them.  When it was time to go back to his pen, he came right up when I called him.

   I got to visit my friends and fellow cashmere raisers while I was over there.  That was fun.  It was a nice little get-away.

   I'm getting some calls on my goats that are for sale.  I might sell some of them yet.  Although I won't be too sad if none of them sell.  They are all my pets, and most of them have excellent fleece.  I just need more land to graze them on.  They have eaten our place down pretty good now.  I've been playing goatherder for a couple of hours most afternoons and taking them out into the forest to browse.  They fill up in a hurry and look like they will pop if you stick a pin in their sides.  They usually follow me around wherever I go.  Sometimes they take off on their own, and I have to follow them.  They sound like a herd of elephants out there stomping through the woods. 

   I  got some of my cashmere back from the mill, so now I can sell the cloud and also start spinning it up into yarn!  I have to hurry and get some done before the end of the Farmers' Market in October.  I'll be at the market for the next three Saturdays at least, maybe another week or two, depending on the weather, and all of that.

  Well, that's it for now.... 

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An interesting week-end

  I had an interesting week-end up at the Eureka!  Fiber Festival in Eureka, MT.  They have a nice, relaxed, laid-back atmosphere up there, and it is a fun festival to go to.  There are classes on most things fiber related.  Vendors to buy lovely fibery things from, contests to enter, and even things for kids to do.  I took a "Needlefelted Pixie" class form Laurel Orthmeyer that was fun, and my "pixie" turned out pretty good.  If I knew how to upload pictures on here, I'd put one up, but I don't .  I haven't figured that out yet. :-)  I entered a skein of handspun cashmere yarn that took second place, and a farm photo of my goats that got reserve grand champion, so that was a bonus.  I got to see my fibery friends that I only see at these events.  A fun time was had by all!

   Back on the homefront, everything is going pretty good.  Just waiting for my cashmere to be dehaired so I can get to spinning it up.  I have two local stores that want to carry it now!   All my hard work is finally starting to pay off.  This is exciting!

   The goats are all doing quite well.  Their cashmere is coming in pretty good on all but the does with kids on them still.  They won't sprout their cashmere till the kids are weaned in October.  Right now I have 61 goats.  There are 18 for sale on my website.  I don't really want to part with any of them, but I can't keep them all.  I don't have enough land for that.  There are some pet quality ones, and some breeding stock ones.

   The garden is doing pretty good.  The strawberries are all but done now, the zuchini is almost ready, and the beans and other veggies are growing.    We got such a late start to the season this year, I hope we get a good harvest.

   The four or five baby chicks are growing.  I'm not getting many eggs now since there are a few broody hens that insist on setting instead of laying.  There is one guinea setting on a nest, we'll see if anything hatches out of it.  There are still 5 baby turkeys, they are growing well.  Getting into the garden and eating bugs.

  

 
 

Critters all over the place

We have a lot of predators around here these days!  A Swainson's hawk has been eyeing the poultry.  I think it got one of the baby turkeys, there are only five of them now.  The bear has shredded every stump around the perimeter of the fence and every log that I see out in the woods.  There are plenty of ants for it to eat this year.  They are everywhere!  I think the mountain lion has moved on, the deer are back.  There are two bucks that are hanging out here now.  I haven't seen or heard the fox lately, nor the coyotes.

   Spunky is now 14 days old.  He is too little to go out in the pasture with the herd to eat, so I am babysitting him for a couple of hours while his mom goes out.  I did that for three days, then decided that was getting old and now I put Molly and him in the yard to eat while the rest of the herd goes out into the big world to eat.  The bucks are still in their pens, so she has some company in sight.  Spunky has fun jumping up on the big rocks and stump that are around.

   I did well at the fiber festival held at the fairgrounds this last week-end.  The skein of cashmere-silk yarn I entered got "best in show".  That was pretty neat!  It's for sale in the local harvest store.  And no, the price did not go up. ?  The Farmers' Market was pretty good, I sold a decent amount.  There weren't that many people wandering through this week.  Too many other things going on in the Valley.  The summers are short and jam-packed these days.

That's all for now...

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July babies!

   Today was a day full of new babies!  This morning at around 5am, Molly had her kid.  A little buckling I named Spunky.  I missed the birth!  At 6, I went out to check on her, and there was a little kid looking at me, all cleaned off and moving around eating, etc.  Molly is a good mom, very attentive.  This is her first kid and I was worried that she wouldn't take care of it, but I was worrying for nothing.  She is keeping him in the corner of their shed, out of the way of the other goats in there.  She's got plenty of milk for him, too.

   There were 4 baby turkeys that hatched out today, too.  Hope they have a better survival rate than the last ones.  There are only 2 that have survived out of the earlier hatches.  They are cute.  They are big enough to get up on the roosting pole, so the mama hen has one baby under each wing.

   I've almost got the garden beds re-done.  The veggies are starting to come up pretty good now.  This is a late year for gardening!  Hope we get a long fall so we can get a good harvest.  The flowers are looking really nice this year.  All the rain we had really did them good!

   There is a bear in the vicinity, and a mountain lion, too.  We heard the lion growling Sunday evening two different times.  The neighbor that has a vacation cabin close by is here for a couple of weeks and he must have disturbed the mountian lion when he came in on Sunday.  Hope the cat stays away from my goats!  There are plenty of deer for it to eat, so I think my goats are safe.  Last night the dogs barked at something most of the night.  I thought I heard a bear growl when I stepped outside once to see what was happening.  It was over on the other neighbors' place.  Glad we have the dogs!  Well that's it for now... 

      

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It's still raining!

It is still raining.  We did have two nice days over the week-end, especially Saturday.  The Farmers' Market went well.  I sold a couple of cashmere scarves, goat milk soap, and met some interesting people.  Lots of people were interested in my spinning.  I take my spinning wheel so I can get some spinning done, and it really helps pass the time between customers.  It also gives people the opportunity to see a spinning wheel in action.  Very few people have actually seen someone spinning.  They read about it in books, but never see a real one.  Hopefully I've inspired at least one child to take it up at some point in their life, and also to get an adult or two back into it. 

   While the sun was shining yesterday, I got the beans planted finally.  I'm re-doing all the garden beds into Square Foot beds.  It's amazing how much one can actually get into a four foot by four foot bed!  I planted 134 onions, and 38 carrots in one bed.  Since the soil is nice and fluffy, and you don't ever step in it, or compact it in any way, the plants can be put closer together.  It's easier to weed, water and take care of.

   We have had over four inches of rain in the last week or so.  The ground is saturated now.  The goats are in a mud pie in their pen, at least around the gate.  I'm finding big flat rocks and making a pathway for them, and me, to get through the mud.  At least with all the rain, I'm not having to water anything.  I'm also getting in some good spinning time in the house, since I can't be outside doing things.

 Well, back to work..... 

 
 

More rain

It just keeps on raining.  We have an inch now, and it's still coming down.  It let up for a couple of hours this afternoon, so I let the goats out for a while. 

   Since I was inside, I did some spinning, crocheting and cheese making.  It's good to have an "inside" day to get things done.

  Yesterday I was out in the garden most of the day.  The strawberry/asparagus bed is finally completely weeded, at least for the time being.  It was pretty bad.  There was enough vegetation that came out of it to feed all the goats a good amount.  They enjoyed that!

   We are getting a good amount of asparagus this year.  It is so good.  I made my first "cream of asparagus" soup tonight.  It was okay.  Next time I'm going to make my own version, now that I know the basics. 

  We are going back to the Square Foot gardening method.  I've made six beds so far.  Got 134 onions planted in one, plus two squares of carrots.  You can get a lot of veggies in one bed!  I planted potatoes in two others.  Peas along the back of three of them.  It will be interesting to see how it all goes this year.  This spring has been slow, so the garden is just now getting planted.  Thankfully, we usually have a late autumn, so we should still get a good harvest.

  Well, that's it for now.  More as it happens.....

 
 

Rain, rain and more rain

  It has been raining since Wednesday.  We now have a little over 3 inches, and it's still lightly raining off and on.  This should make the grass start growing, if it warms up, that is! 

   My tulips are still blooming and make a nice bright spot in all the cloudy weather.  There are over 100 blooms this year!

  The goats aren't overly thrilled with this weather.  The main pen is a mud bog, with just a few dry spots.  At least the back part of their pen is relatively dry.  They don't have to be in the mud all the time.  The kids can squirt through the fence, so they come out into the yard into the grass and eat.  My version of "creep" feeding.  They can eat whenever they want to. 

   I was making good progress on cleaning the pens, and re-doing the garden beds until I pulled a muscle in my back.  That slowed me down considerably.  At least it's been raining so I can't do much outside anyway.  I've been spinning, dyeing and crocheting, so that is keeping me busy. 

    I've also made a couple of batches of soap and figured out a new packaging idea.  I'll see how it does at the Farmers' Market next time I go.  I've only been to two markets so far this season.  The weather has not been cooperating.  Last week I listened to the weather forecast which said it would be rainy, so I didn't load up my stuff Friday night.  I woke up to clear skies!  So I missed that day, I didn't have enough time to get everything loaded and there in time.  This week it was raining, so I didn't go.  Hopefully next week I can get there.  I want to see how my new products do.

  Hopefully after this rain, it will warm up and everything will grow.  Then I can get the garden planted!  Good thing we have lettuce and spinach in the greenhouse.  This is the earliest we've ever had our own salads! Yum!  We planted potatoes about a month ago, and they all rotted in the ground.  The soil just isn't warming up very fast this year.  But, we've planted the whole garden as late as mid-June and still had a great harvest, so we shall see.  Life in Montana....  The weather is changing all over the planet, so we just have to be prepared for anything these days....

 
 

Kids are fun!

  All the kids are doing fine.  The 14 cashmere kids are always getting into mischief.  The 4 dairy kids are trying to, but they don't climb through the fence like the cashmeres do, so they can't get into much.

   I am getting plenty of milk now!  I've been making cheese, butter, ice cream and soap with it.  We drink quite a bit, too.  Good stuff!!

   I have two of the cashmere does for sale now.  I finally have enough does that I can sell some for breeding stock!  These two have longer guard hair than I want in my herd, so they are going to find new homes.  Each one has a new kid that comes with her, too.  I will miss them, but I can't keep every goat, and these two have good fleece, so they will make someone a nice little starter herd.  Bridget, one of the does, throws really nice kids.  Lucy, the other one threw a nice one, too.  This was her first one.  She is Bridget's daughter.  The buckling I sold two years ago out of Bridget is throwing some nice kids over by Spokane.  His micron count is 14.1!  He's got nice cashmere!!

   Bridget and her kid, a wether named Lucky are both black.  Lucky looks like he will have the shorter guard hair.  Lucy is black and her little kid, a doeling is a rich dark red.  She is cute!  Lucky comes right over to me for petting when he sees me come into the pen.  He's a very friendly little guy.    Carmel, the little girl is getting pretty friendly, too.  Both Bridget and Lucy are friendly and easy going.  There are pictures on my website of them on the goats for sale page.

 
 

Kidding is over

I think kidding season is now over.  Emily doesn't seem to be pregnant after all.  Cleo finally had hers on Monday morning.  One huge boy!  She pushed and I pulled really hard for about 20 minutes and he finally came out.  I thought I was going to have to call the vet, but we ended up getting the job done.  He's a nice looking kid, as big as Lucky and he's only one day old, and Lucky is almost a month old!  Poor Cleo really had a time getting him out.  She's a really good mom.  This is her first kid and she's acting like she's been doing this for years.

  So now there are 14 cashmere kids and 4 dairy kids.  10 boys and 8 girls.  That's more girls than I've had in years, if ever!  It's about time!  They are so cute and entertaining, better than TV any time.  Nice colors and good conformation on all of them.  This year I'm wetherizing all the boys. 

   I had a bit of a tragedy on Sunday.  I went out to check on things and here is Clyde laying there dead!  He was one of the yearling bucks.  One of the other bucks must have hooked their horn in his collar and choked him down.  They have such tender necks, it doesn't take much .  I was wondering what I was going to do with him, since he wasn't really buck quality, and the wethering job didn't go as well as it was supposed to so he was still a buck.  The Universe took it out of my hands and took care of the situation.  Not quite the way I would have done it, but it's done.

 With the kids, I'm back up to 61 goats now.  Lots of fun! 

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More Babies

We got 10 inches of snow on Tuesday!!  There were three kids born that day, too.  Yesterday there were two more born.  All are doing fine.  The snow has pretty much melted away again.  The main goat pen is a swamp with all the water in it now.  I hope it dries up quickly!  I am going to rent a tractor to clean out the pens this year. 

   There are 18 kids out there now.  One more boy than there are girls.  There are still two does left to kid, tho, so I'm hoping for more girls.  They are so cute and entertaining to watch.  Lucky is starting to jump up into my arms now.  He does it once, then forgets how he did it, and just jumps up and down instead of running up my leg.  He's such a funny little guy. 

  There is only one little guy that doesn't want to have anything to do with me.  The rest of the them are friendly and come up to get their daily body scratches.  I sit down and they are climbing all over me.  I'm their personal jungle gym. :-)

I'm starting to make butter and ice cream and all that good stuff from the goat's  milk now.  I'm getting 5 quarts a day with once a day milkings, and the kids getting their fair share.  Dottie has a ton of milk!  Her udder is huge.  Speckles isn't giving me all that much, and Belle is only giving me about 2 cups a day on her second year without kidding.  She will have kids again next year.

  I'll be posting some pictures of the new kids on my website one of these days.  I've taken a lot, so I need to sort through them to pick the best ones.

Well, that's all for now, more as it happens....

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Kids everywhere!

  Today there were three new kids born within an hour of each other.  Sara had twin girls and Camilla had one big boy!  They are all doing great.  All three of them are shades of brown.  Rusty is throwing some really nice kids this year.

   Tomorrow there should be at least two other does giving birth.  I hope it's not at the same time as the guy coming up to do the house appraisal is doing his thing!

   I am up to 56 goats already with these babies.  There are twelve new kids out there now.  The girl/boy ratio is improving a bit.  5 girls, 7 boys.  Hopefully there will be some girls born tomorrow.  It will be interesting to see what colors come out next.  So far Lucky is the only black one.  There are two cream colored ones, then the browns.

   When I was down on my hands and knees helping deliver the kids today, the other kids were jumping all over me and just generally getting in the way.  They would grab the paper towels, the bag I was putting the used paper towels in, and just being little pests.  The little varmits.  They are too cute!

   Well, that's the update for today.  More as it happens.... 

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Dottie's kids finally arrived

  Well, Dottie's kids finally arrived on Friday the 9th, at 11 am and 11:40 am.  Two huge boys!  Rusty throws some big stout kids!  Mom and kids are doing fine.  Now the boy/girl ratio is skewed towards the boys again.  Out of nine kids, only three are girls.  Hopefully the rest will be mostly girls. 

   I don't seem to be going to get a baby on my birthday like I was hoping to.  There is one doe that is getting ready, but I don't think it will happen tonight.  I was really hoping I would this year.  There are two does that are due now, but nothing is happening yet.  Probably tomorrow they will all come and I will be worn out trying to take care of them all.  The joys of kidding season!  They sure are cute, though.  It makes it all worthwhile.

   The mama chicken is now setting on 10 eggs, and it's taking two turkey hens to cover all the eggs in their nest.  By the end of the month, there will be babies of all kinds everywhere!  Springtime is in full force!  A fun time of year.

   Well, that's all that is happening around here for now.... 

     

 
 

Kids are arriving!

Wow, time goes by fast!  It's April already and the kids are popping out left and right.  There are seven so far, five cashmere and two dairy.  They are so cute!!!  It makes me happy watching them bouncing around without a care in the world.

  I'm waiting for Dottie, my oldest dairy doe to have her kids.  I was hoping for some Easter babies, but it's not to be.  Hopefully tomorrow she will have them mid-morning.  That would be the best time.

   The snow is all but gone now, even though we wake up to at least a dusting of it about every other day.  We had four inches on Wednesday morning!  Luckily it's spring, so it melts fairly fast.  The grass is starting to turn green, there are a few flowers that are starting to come up.  Pretty soon all the tulips and daffodils will be blooming.  I did notice some tiny purple crocuses starting to bloom this afternoon.

   The goats are starting to get antsy being in their pens all winter.  They want out.  As soon as there is something out there for them to eat, they will get to come out into the yard and driveway and eat there for a bit to get used to the grass.  Then pretty soon they will be out in the woods munching away on all the goodies.

   The cashmere harvest is over, for the most part.  It's looking good this year!  Since I didn't have quite as many goats to comb this spring, the harvest is smaller than it has been for a while, but that's okay.  What I do have is top quality. 

  I have come to the conclusion that I am going to stick with the goats I have now.  No more outside bucks for a few years, and no more outside does, either.  I've got a really good herd now,  and I'm going to build on that.  The fiber is easy to process, easy to spin, and really soft!  The majority of the herd tests under 16 microns, which is a really good number. The length of the fiber is between 2 and 3 inches long.  Wonderful stuff to handspin!

   The chickens are laying good now.  There is even a broody hen sitting on 5 eggs now.  The turkeys are laying eggs in a couple of different nesting sites.  Hopefully one of them will start setting pretty soon so we can have turkeys big enough to eat by Thanksgiving this year.  Since these are heritage breed turkeys, they grow a lot slower than commercial birds.  They sure do taste good!!

  Well, that's all for now, more as it happens.... 

 
 

Easy Winter...So Far

I haven't posted here in a long time!  We are having a pretty easy winter this year.  Not much in the way of snow, only about a foot, if that.  It's been above average temps for quite a while.  I am liking the lack of snow, it makes it much easier to take care of everyone.  We will be getting a lot of rain in May, so that will make up for the relative lack of snow now.

   I am in the middle of this year's cashmere harvest now.  I've combed a dozen or so of the the goats so far.  Their fleece is so incredibly soft, I love working with it.  This year the fleece is looking very good.  Not much vm, no dander, so it will be a great year for cashmere yarns!

   I've been spinning and dyeing a few skeins of yarn over the winter.  I also made an afghan for a lady that is a friend of a friend.  Nice and very bright primary colors.  It's for her grandchild.  I'm spinning some organic cotton now.  It's kind of hard to do, at least compared to other fibers.  I'm not sure what I will do with it once I'm done.  I'm spinning it very fine.  Maybe I'll crochet a doily out of it, we shall see.

   There have been a few wildlife incidents around here.  A mountain lion has been on the outside of the fence a couple of times.  Nellie our guard dog has kept it away from the domestic critters around here.  The deer haven't been so lucky.  The youngest one out of the 4 that call our place home is no longer among the living.  That was kind of sad.  Although I'm glad the lion is sticking to what it's supposed to eat, and not trying new things.  One less deer to get into the garden and my flowers.

  Well, that's about it for now... 

 
 

It's hay hauling time again

It's time to haul the rest of the hay for this year.  20 tons to go.  I call it my "concentrated strength training" for the year.  One thing about it, I sure don't need a gym membership!  I still use the small square bales.  Living on a hill and not having a big tractor to move the big round or square bales around, I like the small bales.  They are way more labor intensive than the big bales, but they sure are easier to feed when one has multiple pens of goats. 

  We now have a mini horse added to the crew.  I rescued him from some people up in the northern part of the valley who had no idea how to take care of one.  His feet were horribly over-grown.  It took me an hour just to do his back feet, and about an hour and a half to do his front.  They still aren't normal, but at least he's standing straight again.  I'm going to finish the trimming this week.  He's a really nice looking little guy.  If I had registration papers on him, I could show him. 

   We finally had a guinea hatch out a single baby.  It didn't last the day, once the parents left the nest and took it with them.  I found it dead laying in the buck pen.  He didn't kill it, the parents weren't keeping it warm enough, and expecting the little thing to go wherever they went, even though it's little legs were too short to follow them.  Guineas do not make good parents!  If any more hatch out anywhere, I am going to catch them and put them in a brooder till they are old enough to make it on their own.

   Well, that's it for now.... 

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