Pine Needle Farm

  (Kila, Montana)
The adventures of raising cashmere goats.
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Happy New Year!

Happy New year!  2012 is going to be an interesting, fast paced year.

We are having a very mild winter so far.  Our road is pretty icy now, a couple of sections you could go ice skating on.  The scariest parts are down to the bare gravel, thank heavens!  there isn't very much snow up here at all.  The hill behind the house is bare, along with under the trees.  Where there is snow, it's only about 5 inches deep.  It's got a crust hard enough for me to walk on, and I'm no lightweight!

  The goats are all doing well.  The does are starting to look pregnant now.  Miss Astrid stuck her head through the fence again yesterday and got beat up pretty good.  She's got the goat equivalent of two black eyes.  Will she ever learn?  She is always the one to get in trouble, get in places she shouldn't be and get stuck, wherever there is trouble, there she is.  Her kids from last year, Socks and Oksana are the same way.  I'm in the process of getting all of the goats' hooves trimmed, and those two are right there getting in the way all the time.  The goats get a little treat while they are standing in the grooming stand to help keep them standing still and Socks and Oksana have discovered that, so every time a goat gets up there they try to get up on the stand with whoever is on it at the time to get at the treats.  The little piglets! lol  They are a fat little set, but they are so cute, I just have to laugh at them. 

   I am about to start dehairing all of my own cashmere now!  I am really excited to get at it again.  I did some of it for the CSA shares, but there is still about 5 shares worth of the 2010 harvest left, plus all of 2011 to do.  Then it will be time to comb the goats for this year.  Time flies!      


Winter is here, and came with a bang!

    Winter is here, and it sure came in fast!  We got 16 inches of snow in about 12 hours.  Spent two days digging out, then got 9 more inches!  Thank heavens most of it melted this last week, down to 5 inches.  Friday morning we had a raging blizzard that dumped 3 more inches.  I woke up at 4:30am, looked out the door and couldn't even see the deck railing, it was a white-out!  Went back to bed again, got up at 5:30am, looked out again, a deeper white-out!  When I got up again after daylight, it had let up a bit, but the wind was still howling.  We usually don't get hard winds up here, being tucked up against the south side of a hill, but it sure has been windy the last week or so.  Today was finally a still day.  Cloudy, but no wind.

  I'm almost done with dehairing outside cashmere for the year!  Then I can get mine all done finally and spend the rest of the winter spinning and crocheting nothing but cashmere.  What a life of luxury. lol !!

   I think all the does are bred now, except for Bridget.  She's going to visit Rusty on Dec 1st and stay there till the deed is done.  I've somehow missed two of her last heat cycles, so this time I'm just putting her in a few days early and hope it happens.

   Hunting season is over tomorrow!  I will be so glad to have the road to ourselves again.  No annoying road hunters creeping along, not pulling off till one honks at them.  Road hunting is illegal, too! 


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! 




End of the Year already!

It's hard to believe it's almost Christmas already!  This year has gone by so fast.  I'm busy dehairing cashmere now.  I've been doing this for two months now.  It is literally the slowest process on the planet, but I am thoroughly enjoying doing it.  Watching a clump of cashmere go into the machine and come out the other end a nice soft cloud is really neat!

  We started out with a bang in the snow department this year.  We had almost 18 inches, then it rained hard for two days.  Now we have half as much snow and the road is ice and frozen slush.  Just lovely.  I expect we will get hard again in January.  We are supposed to get between 36 and 46 inches of snow this winter, so we have a ways to go yet.

  The goats are all doing fine.  The three does that I wanted to breed this year are now pregnant.  Everybody else gets to wait till next year.  Until I know exactly how the dehairing business is going to go, I didn't want to have a bunch of new kids to deal with in the spring.  There should be 5 or 6, which will be a good number.

    We are getting out of the turkey raising segment of our lives.  I want to concentrate on the fiber, so I don't have time to deal with all the other things around here.  Time to focus.

  Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas/Holiday season!

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