Pine Needle Farm

  (Kila, Montana)
The adventures of raising cashmere goats.
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A long time between writings!

  It's been a very long time since I've written in here!  A lot has happened in that time.  New neighbors, changes on the farm, and weird weather, to name a few.

  I have new neighbors all around the mountain.  Luckily they are all nice and easy to get along with, except for one.  The one is nice, just all over the place emotionally, so you never know how they will act that day.  I don't have much to do with them, just wave and be neighborly when I see them.  

  I've been getting quite a few helpxers through here.  They have all been wonderful people, very eager to learn and fun to be around.  It is so nice to have the help!  I've been able to get a lot done on the place that wouldn't have happened otherwise.  I think I'm pretty much ready for winter, there are just a couple of things left to do.  

   The goats are all doing well.  I have 73 right now!  I have all the cashmere sold from this year, after finally getting it all dehaired, finishing just this week!  Now I can do my outside customer's fleeces.  I should be all done and have the machine put to bed for the winter by the end of November.

 We got 5.5 acres of the place thinned out this summer.  It looks much different now!  The goats will have lots of grass and weeds to eat next summer!  It's so open in there now they won't know what to do.  They are used to the thick trees to have get through, so all this open area is quite strange to them.  Now I have tons of slash piles to burn.  Fun times...

 We've had quite a few bears around here this year.  One, or more, came into the lower pasture and got into the helpers dog food.  That was annoying, I haven't had any bear problems in the 19 years we've been up here, then these guys don't secure their feed and now there is a bear that knows the fence can be breached.  Luckily the dogs scare it away from the animals.  I saw four bears at once last week coming up our road!  That was pretty exciting.  Hadn't seen any all year, then 4 at once.  Pretty cool!

 The rats are taking over the place!  I've caught or shot, 16 so far!  A new record for sure.   I think we are going to have a very cold winter this year.  Coldest in years, with temps well below zero for a few days.  Not looking forward to that.  It's been years since we've had a really cold spell.  Oh well, it is Montana after all. :-)  


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... 

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