Archive for the ‘Goats’ Category

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!


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Danny-the-Shearer ROCKS!

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!

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For those of you not personally acquainted with us, we have three children (all girls) and four grandchildren (all girls).  Three of those four grandgirls are sisters who live within driving distance.  I refer to them as the Three Sisters.  This weekend, we were fortunate to have them come play with us here at the farm. 

The girls were able to do all of their favorite things!  They drove the golf cart, and drove the golf cart, and drove the golf cart… You get the picture!  Good thing they got that out of the way on Saturday because by Sunday, it was muddy……. again.

They ate their favorite foods, both at our house and at the Dairy Queen!  They went to the Farmersville feed store with Papa Ken, and to Atwoods with me where they got to play with (more) baby rabbits and hold the baby chicks.

Papa Ken and I started putting together the dog kennel (although the rain and the tangled arrangement of the chain link prevented us from finishing it).  This will be handy to keep Buddha and MudBud from going on unauthorized adventures outside the fence when we have workmen coming in and out.  The Welder is going to be starting a fence for me soon to make a place for the alpaca herd that will be increasing in size substantially this summer, and then he’ll be helping me build some new goat shelters.

I had to just shake my head at my poor dirty goats.  I think these animals roll in the dirt just for fun!

The girls and I also had some fun in the Bunny Barn.  It was a bunny free-for-all while I cleaned cages.  First we let all the girls out to run around; then we let all the boys out!

Finally, once it stopped raining on Sunday, we put away 30 bales of hay that we hope will get us through the rest of the winter. There was no prayer of getting Randy’s truck and trailer into the back pasture where our hay storage barn is, so we ended up loading it into our livestock trailer which we have parked in front of the house. Not much use having a building for hay storage when you can’t get to it, an issue we still have to work out!

All in all, I think the girls had a fun weekend in the country.  They took home a dozen fresh eggs they had gathered from the chickens, and a bag of rabbit poo for Ms. Patti’s garden. Mostly, they ran in the fields, tromped in the mud, played with the animals, ate lots of favorite foods, and provided lots of joy for their grandparents!

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Dryness comes!

Dryness comes!

Originally uploaded by Fancy Fibers Farm

It’s amazing what a difference even one day of sun and a strong wind can make. This was the scene as I left for work this morning. One big puddle in the front, but everything else was pretty much dried up!

Still, the goats opted to hang out in the dogs’ Quonset hut for a while before heading out to find some grass!

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It was another freezing, mud-sucking morning here on the farm when we ventured out this morning. (Note: Those of you tired of goat stories should skip to the bottom for a rabbit story.)

Ken had seen one of the goats limping, so we had to figure out the cause. Plus, in my optimism, hoping things would dry out some, I had neglected the hooves of the big pasture goats. It was time to see how many I could trim before my hands (or my shears) gave out. For the record, today it was the shears that gave out first!

And so the fun began…

We shook a feed bucket and out of the loafing shed they came, all but Breda, one of the older angoras, who was clearly limping. Ken snatched her up (it’s good to have animals that you can pick up if you have to) and brought her over. Yes, she had a nickle-sized gash on the side of one of her back legs just above the hoof. We had run out of Iodine, so we relied on a household favorite — Neosporin — and bandaged her leg.

Buddha and MudBud supervised the entire operation.

Interestingly enough, when I started trimming the hooves of the little angora doelings, MudBud growled at Buddha when he came around.  Those are MudBud’s doelings. They are the ones that curl up and sleep with him.  I guess he’s a little possessive about them!

Ken snatched Breda up again and carried her over the mud. She is now resting comfortably in the infirmary stall over in the main barn. 

In other farm news, that bit of brown fur sticking its head into Cassie’s feed container is Hercules! He is thriving, and continues to be adorable. He doesn’t need his own food container any more because he’s big enough to snatch a bite out of Mama’s! This morning we saw him checking out the water spigot also! He’s really good at watching and imitating Cassie!

This morning when we fed the rabbits, there was some evidence that Dudley and Squealer had ventured out of their cages at some point during the night.   Maybe by later today I’ll be able to pet them.

Finally, on a fiber note, I couldn’t sleep last night.  Wonder what this will turn out to be? Any ideas, anyone?

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It was a busy day on the farm on Sunday. Actually, most days are busy, but Sunday was busier than usual. I was glad to have Ge’mar here to help. He mentioned in passing that, compared to his suburbanite friends, he sure has had some strange experiences, and I guess that’s true!

He made short work in the morning of cleaning the rabbit cages. Then he helped Mr. Berry reshape the chicken pen. Thanks to the wonderful moveable fence panels The Welder made for us, we can move the chicken yard around some so that they can get out of the area they’ve already churned up and over to a little bit of grass (what little is left!). Ken just can’t quite bring himself to let the chickens out during the day even on the weekend. He’s afraid they’ll jump the fence into the pasture next door and get stranded. I’m going to keep working on him though.  Maybe in the spring he’ll relent.

Then it was time to get serious about the goat hoof trimming. Step one is to get your tools ready and sharp.  We disassembled the hoof trimmers and sharpened them on the handy dandy sharpener.  It was “okay” but in hindsight, I think we didn’t sharpen them enough.  Next time….

Then it was out to the barn. Goats are  very personable animals; they want to be around people. The small pasture goats were in the barn hanging out, eating hay, so it was fairly easy to snatch them up and put them in the spa chair. At least it was fairly easy to snatch the ones up that have horns! Ge’mar really came in handy here!  He and I could work together and get two feet on a goat at a time, reducing their time in the chair.

Even Ken got into the act. Some of the goats are a little small for the spa chair, so Ken helps them stay oriented correctly.

After about 8 goats, my right hand gave out. More next weekend!

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The word for today at our house was WATER!  As usual, it rained off and on. Enough said about that.

Of much more importance was that Larry Woods, owner of Trophy Plumbing, headquartered here in Farmersville, came out this Saturday morning to fix our latest water leak.  This leak was a particular nuisance because it was underground. Not only did Larry have to dig down to find it, he had to bail water out of the hole before he could fix it, all in a misting rain! Larry is nothing if not thorough, and he accomplished the task with dogged determination. We have come to rely not only on his straight-dealing in the area of plumbing, but also on his suggestions and shared hard-earned wisdom as a long-time resident in this area. He knows what works around here, and we appreciate his input.

So it was with a twinge of regret that we set him to work on fixing this leak because we knew it was going to be a messy, muddy, yucky job. Still, better him than us since we don’t know a thing about plumbing! Ken was quite happy when Larry was finished and we could turn the water on to the barns as this meant that Ken could quit hauling water in big red buckets. Hopefully, this is  the end of our plumbing problems for a while!

Also joining us today was Shane, a multi-talented fence builder, land-shaper, driveway builder and more. We walked around the property looking at all the areas where our drainage is less than stellar. Larry and Shane discussed the options, then Shane gave us an idea of what he could do to improve the situation.

Shane operates something called a Skid Steer (I had to Google it) which is a very interesting piece of heavy dirt moving equipment that costs absolutely buckets of money! With this piece of equipment, Shane can build “swells” which are rounded elevations of land (Yes, “swells” is a real term. I looked it up in the dictionary). Properly placed, these swells direct runoff water toward a particular direction and place, such as into a culvert. Since our entire place was apparently built in a hole, Shane will be able to direct the water off to the side and toward existing low places where it can naturally run off, rather than sitting around and becoming mud as it does now!

He will also be able to install some drains around the Bunny Barn which will keep water from seeping in on the north side. It may take a while to pull it all together, but just about everything takes a while when you live in the country, and you just have to get used to that fact!

Things I did not get pictures of today were Ken & Ge’mar working out in the misting rain to move the younger chicks in their A-frame coop into the Equipment Barn and cleaning out the barn coop area, including putting new straw in the nests.  We’re getting quite a few eggs now, and we would love to sell you some.  The three of us did move the chickens outdoor yard to a greener area which they chickens enjoyed this afternoon. There’s not much grass to be had this time of year!

Finally, just because it’s adorably cute, I want to share this picture I snapped this afternoon of our big pasture dogs, MudBud and Buddha taking a nap in their Quonset Hut. Notice that half of MudBud is laying outside the wall of the Hut in the rain and he doesn’t even seem to notice.  The cuteness, though, is the two angora doelings that decided to lay in the Hut with them.  These are two of the doe kids that we brought home in July – they are not even a year old yet – and they absolutely adore MudBud. One more than one occasion I’ve seen them literally cuddled up to him wherever he’s laying. I suppose if you’re potential coyote bait, being cuddled up to a big dog is a good place to be! I find it very endearing that even when all the other sheep and goats are in the loafing shed, these two are still at MudBud’s side!

Tomorrow: Goat hooves, bunny cage cleaning, and sock cranking! Oh my!

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