Pine Needle Farm

  (Kila, Montana)
The adventures of raising cashmere goats.
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Getting Ready for Winter

Winter is coming, ready or not!  We've already had a brief dusting of snow.  I'm not ready yet! 

  Having help around here is a wonderful thing!  The goat pens are now cleaned, we are working on making some nice houses for them this week.  These goats will be living in style this winter!  Deluxe goat condos for all. ? 

   The Bucks are having a grand time with the ladies now.  All the dairy goats are bred, now it's the cashmere's turn.  There will be lots of babies come Spring if all goes well.

   Finally got the dairy goats' hay in their barn.  That is a relief!  It is a grass/alfalfa mix that is pretty stemmy, so they aren't eating the stems.  You would think that since they eat tree branches a little hay stem would be tasty, but, no, they pick through that and go for the leaves, dropping the stems on the floor.  Luckily the  mini horses like the stems, so about every other day I gather the wasted hay and take it to the horses.

   The greenhouse is still staying above freezing.  This is good since there are a lot of tomatoes still ripening and there is no room in the house to spread them out to ripen.  Cashmere has taken over the house!  It's everywhere!  Pretty soon I'll be asking dinner guests if they'd like some real food with their cashmere, or just cashmere for the main course.  It's a good thing I love working with cashmere!  Although even I draw the line at eating the stuff.

   It's hunting season now.  I haven't heard very many gun shots up in this area.  There aren't many bucks up here any more.  I haven't seen any since early July and that is rather odd.  They are always around all summer.  The mountain lions worked them over pretty heavily this last winter.  About every three days another deer out of the bunch that lives here was gone.  Better the deer than the goats!  Especially since the deer keep getting in the garden and in my flowers around the house.  I swear if I left the door open, they'd walk right in!  Brave little buggers.

  The dehairing is going well.  A slow process for sure.  I'm almost done with the last batch of cashmere, then it's on to individual fleeces!  That is my new direction with this machine.  I didn't make enough money dehairing other people's cashmere to make it worth while to do.  And, since I never intended to do a lot of other people's fiber, just my own and a few others, this is the way I'm heading now.  Dehair my own fiber and spin it and crochet with it has always been my plan.  I got pushed into doing other people's cashmere when I first got the machine and have been going that route for a year.  A learning year, for sure!  Now I know what doesn't work, so I'm ready to do what does work from now on.

   Lessons learned-- 1. shearing is a waste of money.  The amount one loses in the dehairing process is just not worth it. 2. a cashmere fleece turns out better if dehaired separately as individual fleeces, than when all combined.  Each goat has slightly different hair, just like each human has a different head of hair.  3. this is the slowest process in the whole fiber processing operation!  I love doing it, the time goes by quickly, and when it's time to quit, I look at the amount that got done, and I say to myself, this is all I got done today?

  I do still love everything about cashmere, from the goat to the finished product, it's just very labor intensive.  It's all good though! 




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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