Welcome Finn Lambs!

Well, our Elyse has looked ready to lamb any time for the past three weeks. With the heat wave we had I felt concerned for her. Panting away, uncomfortable, humid air, her udder huge with milk supply. When it felt impossible for her to get any bigger, she continued to do just that.

Today though she was acting different. She went off alone and wasn’t interested in much of anything. I hung out with her all afternoon. Moved her inside to her stall and continued to wait.

Hours later it was clear she was trying to lamb, problem was though she wasn’t doing anything but straining. I tried reaching in for baby, but things just didn’t feel right. Thankfully Adam has experience in his department so when he realized baby was coming out backwards he knew what to do.

Elyse cleaned off her lamb and had another just minutes later. This little guy needed help getting out as he was jumbled up as well – and big! He is solid and longer and taller than his sister

Elyse got him cleaned up as well and we spent a good hour out with her and the lambs. The kids finally made their way out to excitedly greet them too.

Finally we made our way into the house. Gave the youngest kids baths, had showers ourselves, made snacks for everyone and put the kids to bed.

I decided to go check on the sheep, when I did was it ever a surprise! There were three! Thank goodness the last one must have presented properly. There was a large chunk of time in between the birth of the first two and the last, which I found very surprising.

Yay! Our lambs are here, healthy and well and finally I feel so much relief for Elyse. With this being our first lambing I really didn’t know completely what to expect. Can’t wait for tomorrow, fuzzy little lamb hugs!

Microwave Dyeing Hand Painted Locks of Wool or Mohair

This is a great method for relatively controlled results. No need for big batches and dye pots here, so this is favourable for small bits of fibre.

You can also dye batts, roving and spun yarn this way as well. It’s perfect!

You will need:

Clean locks (wool, roving or yarn)

Acid dyes

A number of small containers, one for each colour

Foam brushes, one for each colour, though it is possible to wash out the brush between colours if you’re short on brushes

Citric acid or vinegar

Synthropol or shampoo

Plastic wrap

Small towel

First step is to soak your locks, or whatever it is you are choosing to dye in water along with some synthropol. You could also use a drop of shampoo, jet dry or dawn. I let mine soak for about thirty minutes. Lots of time to gather up dyeing supplies.

I used my usual acid dyes for this project, Majic Carpet Dyes, they always give me vibrant results. Whatever it is you use, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing.

After the locks had a good soak, I removed them and rolled them in a small towel and gave them a squeeze to get most of the water out.

Next I laid out a large double layer of plastic wrap and set my locks down in the middle. Note that you might not want to start with a thick mass if you want consistent colour. If your pile of locks is too thick the top locks might be very bright and the ones on the bottom not so much. That said, it would be a nice effect if that’s what you want.

This is the time to add either vinegar or citric acid to your mixed colours.

Here comes the fun part, get creative!

Dip the foam brush into the colour you want to start with, go easy, you don’t want your brush dripping everywhere. Start with just a bit of colour and it is very easy to add more, but you cannot take it off once it’s on. Press the brush to the locks and you’ll see them soaking up the colour.

I left a small space between my colours so they wouldn’t bleed together. If you worked with colours that mix nicely, red next to yellow etc, it could turn out really nice.

Again, for this part there are really no rules, just a guideline how to method.

So once your locks are finished being painted, wrap them up in the plastic wrap. I wrapped two sides in, then the last two sides together and it created a handle to carry the packet by.

Place the little package in the microwave, either in a dish if you would like or right onto the turning plate which is what I chose to do.

Two to three minutes in the microwave is all it takes for a good steam to build up in the package and set the dye.

All microwaves are different. This is a hot project! Use extreme care when using your microwave and moving your hot lock package! Steam burns! Use oven mitts or other kitchen tools to safely move the hot package!

I began with two minutes set on my microwave. It seemed to look good and be going well. I heard some popping inside so I stopped the microwave to have a peek, all looked good so I let it continue. At the end of the two minutes, I set the microwave for an additional thirty seconds to be certain enough steam was in there to set the colour. You will see your package swell up while in the microwave.

Now to remove your package, it will be hot! Be careful! I used oven mitts, and carefully put my package on a towel on the counter. I let it sit for a few moments, then while still wearing my oven mitts I opened it up.

Once the locks were at a temperature safe to handle, put them into warm clean water to be certain the colour had set. Place them back into a towel, give them a good squeeze and ta-dah! Gorgeous painted locks!

I tried a few colour combinations, the possibilities are endless!

I am very happy with the results!

With my left over colours I dripped them onto a small pile of wool.

I went a bit over board, and the wool in the bottom of the package ended up quite muddy, but still interesting. This is how we learn!

Here is the nice top, it really didn’t turn out too bad!

This is a fun quick method for dyeing. Perfect for felters who need a little of this colour, a little of that. A wonderful way to get controlled results.

I would like to note I was able to use the same plastic wrap to dye all the locks above, reuse too if you can!

Happy dyeing!

A Tragedy, and a Hopeful Alternate Ending

Just this past Saturday we were shearing our goats. Got ready to take a break for lunch when we discovered our last doe to kid, was in fact having her kid – but with difficulty. Baby needed a hand being delivered, he was a big baby!

He did well though, his airway cleared out and he found his feet and nursed.

We had lunch and continued to shear. Penelope got to skip out on shearing that day.

On Monday after taking the big kids to school I took the smallest of the short ones to a nearby park, the sun was shining, we played with buckets in the water and had lots of fun.

Once we arrived home I went immediately to see the goats. I was not prepared for the horror that I found.

Poor Penelope’s baby in the water bucket, he was dead.

How horribly ironic. Devastating.

I immediately removed him and seen if there was any possible chance to save him.

It’s days like this I make a really sucky farmer. Penelope bleated and bawled, frantically searching for her kid and I cried along with her most of the day.

My heart crushed with hers. I turned to other angora loving group members and shared my grief. Turns out babies in buckets are too often a tragedy. I learned pans are the way to go in kidding season. Shallow water, things that tip. In hindsight it seems such a foolish error. But that’s the thing about hindsight, the 20/20.

I share this story also in hopes of making others aware. We had no idea. Now we do. Maybe this can help someone else.

Today, we’ve taken a chance, and acquired two orphan lambs. Well what really happened is we’d briefly discussed finding an orphan lamb to have live with Penelope. Then today when Adam returned home, I was playing in the living room with our children when I heard the door close and a short little baaaaah! Surprise!

Suddenly two little lambs. One who had just been born today and one who is one week old. The children were ecstatic – myself, a bit of a shock, but like with most creatures, my heart was theirs just moments later.

Penelope has no kid, the lambs no mother. It’s a leap but a hopeful one. It can work. It has in the past. Our cow was an orphan. At that time we found a sannan goat to mother her. They were a wonderful pair. She was our first goat, her name was Penelope. She was amazing!

Penelope in this story is named after her, she is actually Penelope II.

Hopefully with some time she will accept the lambs. If not, it was an attempt and we will raise them ourselves. Penelope has provided them though, especially the brand new baby, with colostrum. A solid start. We tied her to a gate with some grain for a treat while letting the lambs eat. She doesn’t love them, yet. I have my fingers crossed though. Orphans don’t always make it either. So this story could end in a double dose of hurt. It’s worth a shot though. Their bellies are currently full and they are enjoying time in their Hawaii hut, warm and happy.

Things don’t always turn out as you figured they might. But things do sort. Rainbows after the storm.

Lessons learned, never forgotten.

Rest In Peace our handsome Norbert.

Our Growing Family of Angora Goats

Well it’s been a few weeks now and our first two kids are growing like weeds! It was a surprise to be snuggling Gyda about a week and a half after she was born and feel tiny horns already sprouting. Astrid had her horns poking out just days later and weeds they have become! Growing so fast, jumping up and climbing on everything – baby goats are simply just so much fun!

We had two of our other does have their babies on the same day. Ranger, we woke up to find had twin bucks – coloured too!

Later that day after a trip to Wellington Fibres, a wonderful mill in beautiful Elora, we arrived home to find Marmalade had a gorgeous little buck, who is a beautiful colour as well.

Ranger we found the next day to not be doing so well. Sometimes being a mother is hard and she was quite unwell. We spent the entire evening helping her out, giving her molasses and warm water, and her mineral block, also getting her up to get her system going. During this time she was feeling quite terrible she had a hard time wanting to stand and feed her babies. We fed the baby who would accept it a bottle and all was good.

Thankfully the next morning was a brand new day and things have been perfect since. She has made a complete recovery and is also a wonderful mother.

Marmalade is our most shy angora goat and also the smallest in stature.She is enjoying a private pen with her buck still and doing great.

Our daily numerous visits with the goats is something we all enjoy. Goat hugs are amazing and their antics are truly hilarious.

Baby Angora Goats, Twin Girls!

A few days ago, on a very busy Monday evening , I arrived home to find Lagertha in labour. The telltale mucus plug having been dispelled, Lagertha standing or sitting and seemingly staring off into space were sure signs that her baby was soon on the way. After about an hour it was clear to see the contractions she was having. She settled herself down on the floor, cried out a few bleats and suddenly, a tiny white, nothing but legs baby was lying there! Being the cold night it was, we were prepared with some towels to dry baby off with. No sooner had I done so and set her baby down close to mother, that another baby arrived! It was still in the sac so I immediately broke it open and cleared the baby’s airway. Dried her off and set her down as well. Lagertha immediately began licking the babies and caring for them, this first time mommy is a pro!

We spent some more time drying them off, then put on their little coats and then we trailed off to bed. These types of events most often occur when you haven’t slept the night before, right?

I woke often, wondering if they were warm and fed and ok. Suddenly when morning was here I went to see, and all was wonderful. All three resting peacefully.

So a few days have now gone by, mommy and kids are doing great! It’s still cold, raining or snowing continuously it seems, but despite that the twins are staying warm and well. They have a small warming hut they can go into when they wish.

The first of the two born is completely white. We have named her Gyda. Her sister, who has a few brown hairs on her neck and back, we have named Astrid. They are so completely adorable and so much fun already. Gyda bleats and bleats if you handle her which sends our children into hysterics. Astrid on the other hand is a serious snuggle bug!

I have personally never seen an animal give birth, so being there for this was just amazing! Especially with my Lagertha – I love her so much!

We have some more kids expected soon, I can’t wait and hope I am lucky enough to be there for their birth too!