Friday, July 30, 2010

To catch a thief

First, bait the trap:

In this case, give the chickens some nice juicy watermelon.

Step 2:  Lie in wait.  Do not look at the newfie.  Pointedly talk about other things, like the weather.

Step 3:  Catch the newfie trying to crawl under the fence:

Foiled!  Now, whether this is the usual way, we don't know.  This time she pushed up the fence at the bottom, leaving a hole big enough for the chickens to escape from.  Previously there was no hole.  So we'll be keeping an eye out for any other sneaky manuevers. 

Don't feel too badly for Thora though.  We baked homemade doggie biscuits today.  I think she'll manage without watermelon just fine.


7 am this morning.

How?!  And why?

But most importantly, HOW?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Plucking Bunnies

When I started researching angora rabbits, I found that one of the questions that comes up the most amongst newbie bun owners is: How do I know when it's time to pluck them?
See some angora rabbits have to be shorn like sheep.  For those of us who shudder at the thought of trying to wrangle a squirmy bunny and a sharp pair of scissors, there are the buns that need to be plucked.  Essentially, the bunnies shed their hair and you pull it out.  As weird as that sounds, it doesn't hurt the rabbit and it has to be done to prevent mats. 
But when you first get your rabbit, all you can think of is "should I be plucking now?  How about now?  Is this blowing coat or just normal shedding?"  And the response from the pros is always, when they're ready, you'll know. 
I never believed this.  I'm always paranoid I won't know and then I'll come out some morning and the buns will have somehow overnight transformed into giant mats with ears.
However, I went out to the hutch this week and knew. There was shed hair everywhere. It was clearly time for the outer coat to go.  So yes, you really do know.

Storm was the first girl to be plucked and she was a trooper for the process.
Storm with her new short 'do. 

We got just under 2 ounces of beautiful angora fluff off of her, which I can't wait to spin.

And of course, one much cooler bunny. 

Next up is Nimbus.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coming Together

Over the weekend, Adam opened the gate between the two pastures.  And we waited.  And waited.  We waited for the Great Meeting of the Yaks.  Adam was waiting for the Great Bull Rumble of 2010 as the boys established who was dominant.  We waited quite a bit.

And then we got bored and went inside and a friend came over to visit and said "Did you mean to have all your yaks in the same pasture?"

Frantically we rushed outside.  They met!  We missed it!  They were all together on one side and....
nothing was happening. 

Apparently in the short span that we decided not to pay attention, Pullo and Vorenus worked out any differences.  Actually, my personal theory is that Pullo worked out the difference between how much bigger Vorenus is up close versus 50 feet away and decided that the much-planned pissing match simply wasn't worth it.  Now they spend most of the time pretty much ignoring each other.

The girls, however, have had a few shoving matches.  Some were even instigated by Gaia, who we figured would have been firmly established at the very bottom of the ladder.  The girls seem to have gotten themselves sorted out though, and now the whole herd travels from one pasture to the other, depending on how hot it is, where the best shade trees are and how much greener the other side looks.

Even though they've been working their way across the fields like a small army of eating machines, the grass is still really tall.  Tall enough that if they lie down, you lose them, which is hard to do with animals this big.  That's a little nerve wracking for Adam, since the gut reaction to empty-looking fields is "The yaks escaped!"  No escapees yet though, and everyone seems to be doing just fine. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Yesterday the fences were finished, the gates were opened, and the yaks were set free.

Unfortunately, no one told the yaks.  That would be Adam, standing in the rain, looking at an empty field.  The yaks are dry, inside the barn, refusing to come out. 

Finally, the sun came out

and so did Gaia

Soon joined by the others

That's Pullo with weeds up over his head.

Vorenus and his girls

Friday, July 16, 2010


This has been a very exciting week on the farm.  We finally, finally have fences.

This is a big deal because we've been buying hay to feed the yaks, and that is pretty ridiculous when you realize that we have acres of grass.  Acres.  Just growing.  Free. 

The yaks apparently also think this is pretty ridiculous because Gaia has gotten her head stuck three times already trying to get to the grass on the other side of the corral.

To be fair, the farm came with already established "fences."  Northeastern Pennsylvania is full of these really awesome rock walls, because if there's one resource PA will never lack, it's rocks.  We're filthy with rocks.

Rock walls do not impress the yaks.

We hired someone to come in and put in electric fences for us.  Adam tried to put down the posts for these fences himself, but discovered that we have four inches of top soil and about fourteen feet of solid shale.  See note above about PA and rocks.

This guy has a machine that fixes that problem.

This thing pounds the fence posts into the ground, condensing three weeks of work into three days.

Today he's stringing the wire and has to hook up the power to the electric and then the yaks can have their freedom.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Great Bread and Chicken Caper

This is not a recipe (although breaded chicken with capers would probably be pretty good).  This is a story of a dog and a passion for carbs that would drive her to do strange and unthinkable things.

Here at Skirted Fleece, we love bread.  A lot.  At least one day a week there's fresh bread in the oven, and today's choice was a Russian Black Bread.  However, due to the fickleness of yeast, we screwed up today's loaves and ended up with brownie-esque lumps.  As everything has a purpose, even accidents, a quarter of the bread went to Thora.  The rest went to the chickens.

Thora loves bread.  Probably more than any of the rest of us put together.  Her nickname is actually "The Breadator" because she's been known to steal multiple loaves of uncooked dough off the counter.  Any bread baking endeavors require constant vigilance these days if the humans want to get any bread at all.  So needless to say, Thora was less than thrilled with her measly quarter of the bounty.  In her newfie mind, she should get all the bread.  All the time.  But once it was over the fence and into the chicken coop, we figured she would realize that it was lost forever and move on.

We were so very wrong.

This would be a picture of our Newfoundland inside the chicken coop.  And 26 very confused and agitated chickens.  And Adam trying to figure out what on Earth is going on. 
See, Thora somehow managed to get inside the chicken coop without in any way disturbing the fence (the chickens are another story).  The wire is totally intact.  It wasn't bent, lifted or otherwise moved.  No trenches were dug.  And as newfies are not known for their majestic flying abilities, we have no idea how she got in there.  Seriously, we're stumped.  This dog is 111 pounds.  Dainty she is not. 

Needless to say, all the bread was devoured. Apparently, the chickens didn't eat fast enough and Thora decided to teach them a lesson in true bread appreciation.

So we don't know how she got in, but she also didn't know how to get out.  Adam had to open a section of the fence and lift her butt over.

That is one dedicated carb hound.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Small Visitor

Last weekend, we had a very small visitor to the farm:
This is Owen, our nephew, who will be one year old in a few weeks. 

Owen likes chickens:

A lot.

He was less interested in Octavia.

We also introduced Owen to yarn, which I'm sure will result in a long and glorious crafting career.

Or maybe not.

The Perils of Junk

It is the undeniable truth of farm life that farms are not...clean.  Charlotte's Web?  A lie.  All those children's books with the fluffy sheep and beautiful horses and shiny pink pigs?  Lies.  Farms have manure and flies and mud and muck.  They also usually have an odd assortment of stuff, usually kept around because someone, someday might have a purpose for it.  I credit this to the old farms, when people were just getting settled out in the more rural areas of the country and if you ran out of a part it might take three weeks to get it on horseback.  Everything was kept, just in case it might be the one thing that got the tractor up and running and saved haying for that year. 

So farms generally have a least a little of what I'll politely call "junk."  Ours in no different, but the situation was only compounded by the home renovations.  We're slowly sifting through all the stuff that was pulled out of the new house and moved from the old house and slowly filtering into the weekly garbage, but that still leaves a lot of junk. 

Junk and wheelchairs do not mix.  This is also an undeniable truth.  Primarily this is because wheelchairs, by their very nature, have wheels.  Wheels have tires.  Tires, in order to retain air, do not like sharp and pointy things.  Junk is often full of sharp and pointy things. 

Which brings me to this morning.
While out to feed the rabbits, I found this stuck in my right tire.
Now, if you are asking yourself, "What on earth is that?" please know that you are not alone.  That would be a rusty nail stuck into a two inch piece of wood.  Why are we saving such a treasure?  I have no idea.  I can only guess that it was part of the wood paneling that was ripped out of our bedroom and was not swept up in the initial five or six cleanings and somehow made it to under my rabbit hutch. 

If you should ever come across a situation where you find something odd, like the aforementioned, sticking out of a tire, it is imperative that in your curiosity you do not pull it out of the tire.  As tempting as that might be, in that pinnacle moment, it may be the only thing holding air in your tire.  Once removed, that will no longer be the case.  Also, putting your thumb over the hole solves nothing except makes it harder to push the wheelchair.  Also, one deflated tire gives the chair an interesting but ultimately uncomfortable slant and makes your butt perpetually slide to the right. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

On the Wheel

As we are a fiber farm, I thought that I might actually show some fiber once in awhile.  Some that isn't, you know, on the hoof. 

Recently off the wheel: 
4 ounces of Merino, Cloverleaf Farm
Color:  Cranberry Bog

Newly finished:
4 ounces Mountain Colors Targhee Top, spun single (sport weight)
Color:  Alpine

I have to say, I'm madly in love with this yarn.  I know that everyone touts merino as the be all and end all of wools, but I was pretty impressed by the targhee.  It spun up very evenly; making a nice yarn with a little bit of "crunch."  Now if I could just figure out what to do with it.