Tuesday, October 2, 2012

McLovin', Shearing Day and Milk

It is definitely fall on the farm. The leaves are turning such beautiful reds, golds, oranges and yellows. It seems that we just woke up one morning and fall was here. It's raining leaves as we drive through our country roads...the animals have spent more than one day this week in their pens because its been drizzly outside and they don't like the rain. I know this because as soon as the first drip falls from the sky, the animals would rather crowd in the 4ft. by 6ft. hallway of the barn, shoulder to shoulder, than to be outside cooling off. As soon as they know I'm heading to the barn, the bahs and mahs and hums get louder and louder. Just like my children, I recognize who is "talking" from their tone. It makes me feel loved and needed when I go out there. All the animals seem genuinely excited to see me when I come out...I'm sure it's because they associate me with food...but it still feels good.

Chip, the brown oberhasli goat (known by many of you as the man-whore), has been doing his job. I've witnessed the deed once, with Flora and I believe that he's gotten more lovin' from the other ladies in the barnyard. We'll keep him for another few weeks - to make sure that the pregnancy (pregnancies?) "takes". I'm really hoping that we'll have baby goats come spring. For the time being, we've stopped milking Mabel. One, because I've heard that having a male in with the dairy goats can make the milk taste "goaty" and I don't want to turn our kids away from the milk and two, I just think it'd be easier to get her pregnant if she wasn't being milked every morning and night. I have to say...this is a nice vacation...the commitment to a dairy goat is strong. Every morning and every evening we are required to make our way out to the barn and milk that goat...it's wonderful having fresh, raw, healthy milk to provide for us and our family, right from our backyard - but it's also wonderful to just worry about food, hay and water when we go out to the barn, it makes our time out there much shorter when it is cold or dark. I need to figure out the best way to store milk for times like this. I hated buying a gallon of milk from the store the other day.

In other farm news - the shearer came out and sheared the two angoras. Their beautiful fiber is waiting to be cleaned, carded and spun. I still haven't had the opportunity to have our friend come over and help me learn to spin (better) - I want to be better at spinning before we use "the good stuff" and ruin it. This is definitely a winter project.

Speaking of winter...we aren't much further along with our hay storage or finishing the barn. I'm worried that we won't be able to get things done in time. Mark has been starting to sub more often though and so we'll have extra money coming in - which will help. I will feel so much better when we have a finished barn and a hay loft filled with hay (and a tank, filled with oil, for our winter heat). It'll happen, I just have to believe that everything will work out for us.
Drake, he's getting so big and handsome. He's holding Runt and Lockhart, Captain's kittens from this Spring.
I love how the kittens follow Mark through the yard...too cute.
Runt just loves hay!
A lock of Frankie's hair.
Frankie's fiber all bagged up, ready to be cleaned.
Itty's fiber all bagged up.
Itty, wondering what just happened.
Frankie, just wishing she could go play in the pasture.
Frankie letting us know what she thinks of her new haircut.
Frankie, in midshear
Shearing day!
Frankie - getting sheared
Itty - getting sheared
Itty - getting sheared


  1. How truly cool to watch your own livestock being sheared. Goodness, much multiskilling going on there - can you put milking goats and spinning fibre down on your resume! Would truly show someone prepared to make a commitment. You'll get there Shelby - just keep on plodding. Maybe call a working bee and put on a BBQ and get all your family and friends to finish it off.

  2. The main thing is money - everything is more expensive this year...it's tough to get ahead. We are working so hard to take care of the day-to-day, it's hard to find the "look ahead into the future" money (extra hay, full oil tank, purchase the remaining siding etc.). With Mark working more sub jobs, that should help. He's doing a great job of staying ahead of the game and watching for the jobs to come available. He's mostly full time - which is great. He'll obviously make more with a full time career, but the sub work definitely is helping so much. I just need one good paycheck that can be dedicated to preparation (rather than all going to bills). I know that we'll be ok. We've always been ok. It's just always a bumpy road. If all else fails, we just go along as we have...get bits and pieces as we can afford it. It'll all work out.

  3. Funny how we just seem to scrape by, isnt it. Three years ago Rob was earning AUD50K more a year than he is no and we were no better off. I am actually saving more on the smaller income. Good news about Mark's work. The more sub work he does the better known his profile will be and then the work should just keep flowing. Teachers are always on leave it seems. Is he using an agency or is he just contacting the schools direct. Im sure if he were to incorporate some of the things he is doing on the farm into his work then the interest in him would increase - everyone is getting on the green sustainable bandwagon - or at least talking about it. As you are aware - its easier to talk about it than live it day to day. Hardwork homestead is back - are you following? I always feel rested after seeing how much she does in one day.