Just a little check-in to show you all what’s up around Windy Oaks Farm.
The animal residents of the farm have all settled in very well. We’ve now got eight sheep, four alpacas (one more coming), and a llama, plus a barn cat (we had two, but Moira has decided barn life isn’t for her 🙁 I see her around from time to time and hope she’s found someone else to feed and spoil her).
The sheep are doing well! I am loving being a shepherdess. The girls all come out to greet me any time I go out and I get swarmed when I bend down to pet any of them. Ms. Demeter is my best buddy, though, as she’ll follow me around demanding scritches and will put herself between me and the other sheep if she feels she’s not getting enough love. I’ve found that although these girls will do anything for grain, they go nuts for unshelled peanuts! Their fleece is already getting long and fluffy – I’m wondering if the speed at which they got fluffy indicates we’re going to have a bad winter.
The rams are, for the most part, more standoffish. Castor started out very cuddly, but I had to nip that in the bud. As adorable as it is when he weighs less than 30 pounds, when he’s full grown that will turn to aggression. A few smacks on his nose when he got too close or tried to climb on me and now he’s much more respectful. It’s soooooo hard to do the tough love thing, but it may save him from freezer camp. Peregrine is the complete opposite end of the spectrum – I can’t get my hands on him without a struggle! But I’m ok with that as I’d rather he not get too comfortable with me. Osprey, our wether (castrated male) is the perfect mix of both. He will come up for scritches, but stops a good foot away and waits for me to hold my hand out. I’ll put Peregrine in with the girls this in about two months. (Castor still has a bit of growing to do before he’s ready to jump in the game.) Knock wood and the crick don’t rise, we’ll have lambs in the spring!
The alpacas and llama are all doing well. They’re perfectly charming (as long as your don’t try to touch them) and are curious little bugs. Fancy likes to scare the bejeebers out of me by coming up behind me after I’ve entered the paddock to give them all supper. A nearly black llama in the foggy darkness is a spooky thing. I think she gets a kick out of the little “ahhhh” I give when I see her loom out of the dark.
The chickens are doing well. The two littles I let a broody hatch are out and about in the coop with everyone else. I did make a strategic error. These hens should have gone to the butcher this month and I should have started a new batch this past spring. I have 16 laying hens and I’m lucky to get five or six eggs a day. As the days get shorter, I expect that number to drop. Oh, well. I’m considering sending most of them to the butcher anyway and just keeping those actually laying through winter. Of course, they must have known I was using the “b” word because last night I got ten eggs!
I have made serious progress with Serena Joy – not only will she eat within a foot of me, she now lets me play with her and has rubbed my hand (very briefly) twice now! The house cats are slowly learning to tolerate each other (or more accurately, two years in Marty is finally tolerating Jack). The Wonder Dog is doing his thing. He is my dedicated weaving buddy because any time I go downstairs to the loom he gets a treat-filled bone to keep him entertained. He’s the only other critter in the house that likes it when I abandon the upstairs-folks to go weave.
Speaking of fiber arts – that’s going pretty well, too! I’ve done several projects on the Loomcraft loom I restored. The project on which I’m working right now – a scarf for Mr. WPW – has been dubbed “the scarf that contains every weaving error known plus a few I’ve invented”. However, I have learned so much from all my mistakes! I’m certain – well, pretty certain… well, hopeful anyway – the next project will have far fewer errors. The funny thing is that the scarf before this turned out amazing. I think I got cocky. Also, never thread the loom when you’re tired. Just don’t do it. Save yourself the heartache. I had to redo it twice and as you can see I still messed up.
My next fiber adventure is taking the two bags of walnuts I gathered and using them to dye some fiber. This means that I need to get cracking on prepping the fiber (Aphrodite’s [sheep] fleece and Ambrosious’ fleece [alpaca] need to be washed and then carded together) so I can dye it. I thought it was funny when I went to gather these from the woman who kindly shared them. I walked past them at first – I’d never seen walnuts in the husk before. At least I hadn’t recognized them as such. It reminds me of something Mr. WPW always says: “Most people would starve as they walked past Bossy in the pasture and corn in the field.” Folks don’t know what food is unless it’s wrapped in plastic at the grocery store!
Well, that’s today’s check-in! What are you up to? Any preparations for winter going on?