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As part of our 2010 cyber-reorganization, we are moving and consolidating our cyberhomes.  You can get to our website at http://www.fancyfibers.com or just http://fancyfibers.com.

Our Farm Blog is now on that site instead of in a separate place! 

Please continue to follow the news from the farm by going to our newly designed website (on a different hosting service), click on the latest blog post, and SUBSCRIBE!  There is an RSS feed link down at the bottom.  When I figure out how to add other feed readers, I’ll do that, too!

We hope you’ll check it out and watch our new site grow!

It’s been a great week to be outside. Right now I’m looking at a cow who has wandered over from the pasture next door into the not-yet-being-used part of our land. That’s okay by me. Cows gotta eat, too. Here are a few other things I have seen in the last week.

My Blooming Peach Tree

Big Bertha, Before

Big Bertha, After

Bees Buzzing in the Willows

 If you stand underneath the willow tree in our front yard, it sounds like you are in the middle of a bee colony!

There is one more day of spring break, plus a weekend, and then it’s back to the school house until June. It can’t come soon enough for me! I have fiber in the barn that is calling my name!

Mandy & Bo

Yesterday afternoon Amanda (DD#1), Bo (her husband), and Lizzie, Ally, & Georgia (The Grandgirls) came out to the farm, their pop-up camper in tow.  We’ve had a great two days with them with the camper set up beside the house and the girls playing rotating beds between the camper and the house.  Part of what makes it so great to have Mandy and family visiting is that Mandy cooks! We’ve had Italian, and Mexican, plus a little American macaroni and hot dogs. To make things easier for her, I even dusted off the stove!

Granny & The Grandgirls

It happened that I needed to be in Dallas on Tuesday mid-day as well, so I brought Granny (my mother) back to the farm with me. And to top it off, Jamie (DD#2) drove up for the afternoon today!

What do we do in the country with everyone here?  Let’s see…. Clean rabbit cages, drive the golf cart, shear a bunny, drive the golf cart, gather eggs (11 today!), drive the golf cart (get the picture about the Grandgirls and the golf cart?). We also did some weaving of mug rugs (each Grandgirl has her own mini loom), some knitting of rope on a Knitting Nancy (again, each Grandgirl has her own), and I taught Lizzie how to spindle spin!  Lizzie is 9 years old. We got a bit of yarn spun and plied on the spindle I bought for her last weekend at the Wildflower Retreat. She’s bored with the white, however, and is ready to dye some roving blue!  More on Lizzie and her spinning in another post.

Bennett fixes the hay feeder

We couldn’t have a family thing going on here without my brother The Welder. His other half was working today, so he drove over to see what projects I had lined up for him (isn’t there always something that needs to be done on a farm?).

Sure enough, he ended up modifying a hay feeder for me, and this is one of my “lessons learned.” Although the hay feeder I bought was great for the alpacas, it held the hay so far off the ground that the goats could get under it. What do you get when you have goats under a hay feeder full of coastal? Hay in your fiber! Not good!

Well the Welder was able to fix that problem for me in short order by reconfiguring the feeder’s legs so that the entire structure is closer to the ground!

Ken watches his Girls

Meanwhile, Ken decided to let the chickens out, and here is where another lesson was learned:  Where something can go out (such as the chickens), something else can come in (such as the goats). 

Although the chickens loved their newly found freedom and grass and bugs, once the goats discovered the gate was open, they were making their way into the barn to eat the chicken feed!  Little Blackie was especially annoying, I’m told, because even though Ken tried to close the metal door from which the chickens make their exit, Little Blackie was able to get one horn, then the other, into the tiniest of spaces. 

Next thing Ken knew, the goats had opened the door!

All in all, I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to have most of the close family here. Yes, we missed Jamie’s other half (Bryan), and Bennett’s other half (Dawn). This description just scratches the surface of all that went on, and leaves out multiple trips to multiple farm and ranch stores, Ally backing the golf cart into its parking space as if she’d been driving all of her 7 years, a last minute trip to the copy shop and a whirlwind delivery to Dallas, Buddha escaping out the gate temporarily, Bo attending a meeting via computer hookup, and my two daughters breaking into song at the mention of the word “north” (you had to be there). 
This, my friends, is real happiness.

WOW! I don’t even know where to start because today has been SUCH a whirlwind day!

Dalton and Daniel were here bright and early at 0645 this morning to set up our triangular-shaped catch pen for the large pasture gang.  This little bit of construction turned out to be so handy that we’re going to keep it intact for a while. When the time came, this catch pen made it easy for us to lead the move the animals a few at a time into the staging area, on to the barn, and then back out into the large pasture.  I should take pictures of this thing (something that I did not think to do when they were here before my first cup of coffee this morning).

Once Daniel and Dalton had gone on to school, and Ken and I had drank a couple of cups of ambition, the real work of getting ready began.  I cleaned out the Suburban and ran up to Farmersville Feed to buy some playwood. 

In the meantime, Ken moved some of the hay and straw from the barn into the muddy patches in the catch pen to try to keep the goats’ feet from getting so messed up.  Once the plywood was set down over it, it made a perfectly great pen!

Once Danny-the-shearer arrived, things really started to rock.  I was impressed just by his equipment! Dalton and Daniel arrived around 1:00, and our new friends Denise and Diane found their way back to the barn just as the shearing began!  [Are you picking up on all these “D” names? This is a total coincidence! Ken and I felt like we were temporarily in the wrong universe!]

Ken had already penned up the small pasture animals so we started with them. We even sheared our Nigerian Dwarf  so he would be nice and cool for our hot Texas summer!

It is an understatement to say it, but Danny made short work of shearing our 25 sheep and goats.  He sat them back on their hind ends, tossed them right and left and took off their fleece without even breathing hard. Before he let them go, he trimmed their hooves.

Daniel and Dalton were our animal wranglers for the day.

Denise and Diane bagged fiber, administered shots, and weighed the animals.

Ken fretted over the animals — I think the shearing and the shots and the man-handling was too much for him. 

I filled the syringes and tried to keep things running smoothly.

By 3:30, Danny had sheared our entire sheep and goat herd and trimmed all of their hooves.  It was a fantastically exciting day!

Be sure and check my Flickr account for all the photos!

Well, almost.

Tonight was Cassie’s night “in the barrel” so to speak. She needed to have what was left of her fur after her January litter clipped off.

For those of you who’ve never seen the rabbits, this is not your basic cute Easter bunny. Cassie is a German/Satin cross. The first thing you notice about her is that she’s BIG, If you put this rabbit’s front paws on your shoulder, her hind end is down at your waist. Carrying Cassie resembles carrying a good sized baby!

For the most part, she was cooperative. As long as she could lay on my lap and watch baseball, she was fine. However, this rabbit, more than any of my others, HATES to be on her back so I can clip her belly! She’s strong, and she can flip like an Olympic gymnast!

Eventually, she wore me out and I gave up. I put her back in her cage until tomorrow when I’ll start fresh and finish her off.

After Cassie come the two Royals I haven’t done yet, Queen Anne and Earl Gray, and Mercy (not necessarily in that order). For my spinning friends, there will be lots of angora here for the spinning by the end of the week!

It was another busy day on the farm today, but the results were worth it.  I cleaned bunny cages. No pictures of that. Just use your imagination!

Daniel and Dalton, both seniors at Farmersville High School, joined us about 11:30. I hired these boys with a few specific tasks in mind. They blew through those, and then did even more! And they said “Yes, ma’am” to me all day. I sure wish I was spoken to so well by the freshmen I teach! I was very impressed with these young men overall, and their work ethic in particular, and I would recommend them to anyone.

They put up my shelves.

They cleaned up a very disorganized stall in the barn, including moving in a new cabinet (donated by The Welder), and securing it so the goats couldn’t knock it over.

They dug a trench to drain off some water, which also involved busting up some concrete that was in the way.

They also made a new door for the young chickens’ coop, and helped me clean out the shed (which included moving 2 pieces of furniture and my stainless steel dye sink)!

The Welder was here, too, doing his roofer impersonation. I still have a roof leak, but it’s moved to another part of the roof. I’m afraid this is one of those times when I should have just replaced the roof in the beginning instead of trying to patch it. Live and learn.

Dudley looked on, nonplussed, and a couple of cows dropped by to see what the activity was all about.

Mom was here, and even she worked, bless her heart.  Between the cats snuggling in them and the dust, my sock yarn was being used and abused. Rack by rack, she got it all organized into plastic bags for me. Stanley still managed to get himself in the basket, but I think he found it was not quite as comfortable as it had been! Do you suppose this might convince them to use the high dollar cat tower I bought them?

Of course, Ken worked with us too, supervising, fetching tools, and keeping everything running smoothly. My heartfelt thanks go out to Ken, my Mom (who thought she was going to get to rest and relax), and particularly to my brother Bennett (The Welder), and the team of Daniel & Dalton who all even worked outside in the rain.

We’re getting there!

We love, love, love sunny Saturdays on the farm.  The animals wander around the pasture munching on the new green grass (weeds), and the sunshine just calls to us to come outside.  Mother is here for the weekend, and we all made good progress on our various chore lists.

Tomorrow we have strong, able-bodied help coming, so there will be LOTS of good work done.  Our new friend Daniel, a local high school boy, is bringing one of his friends to be  “hired hands” and earn money for their upcoming mission trip in June. I’m excited to have such good (and polite) help, and I’m pleased to be supporting these young men’s mission trip.

Why isn’t Ge’mar here this weekend, you ask? He had to take a trip to Oklahoma with his grandmother to visit a sick relative. We miss having him here with us this weekend, and hope he’ll spend some time with us during his spring break!

The Welder will also be back tomorrow. He will decide whether it’s time for the next step of his roofing project, and he and I are going to have a serious discussion about fencing options.  I would really like to fence in an additional chunk of the acreage we own farther back from our existing fenced area, but the cost may be too much right now.

Back to today, we started early by taking Ken’s car in for an oil change and tire rotation. Then it was off to the vet to get the CD&T vaccine that we will need on Friday for the animals’ annual vaccinations, and some B-Complex Injectable for a goat with a runny nose.

Then there was a $$$ trip to the feed store.

The Barn Cats ladies brought us 3 new cats that really will live outside in the barns (if they ever come out of their little house).

Ken moved the winter alpaca poop from the barn to his newest garden bed.

Mom and I worked on organizing my gigantic pile of receipts into files for the tax guy.

I took some eggs across the street to the neighbors’ house and tried out my new grooming brushes on a few of the goats. They are actually special brushes for the Suri alpacas, and I hope to work on them during spring break. Then, to be honest, my headache and I took a nap! Tomorrow will be my day to pitch in 110%.

Ken put the perfect end on a perfect day by making sure we were all fed well with some vegetable soup and cornbread muffins.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

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