Monday, October 30, 2017

Washing the Fleece

I know a lot of people dread Mondays, but Sundays and Mondays are my days off from work, so I generally look forward to the start of the week.  Sundays are a mix of church and rest, and Mondays are the one day that I can have all day to get stuff done!

Of course...I often end up lazing away parts of the day...but oh well.  I usually get a few things done too, so I figure it evens out.  :P  

Today, I walked the dog (in the rain!), went with Dad and my older sister to look at the flooded Saco river, helped pile some firewood, ran some errands, and washed some fleece.  And swept and mopped the kitchen floor, because Thane + rain = muddy paw prints everywhere!!

(Here's the river...if I'm reading the data correctly, it peaked at about 4.5 feet above Flood Stage!!)

So anyway...while I was stacking firewood on the porch, I had to move a bunch of bags of my fleece...and I thought, "Wow, I really need to start processing this stuff!"  So I went and bought some buckets and some dish detergent and pulled off one small section of fleece to wash.  (Ignore the Collie nose...)

I probably did things all wrong...for example, I read later that you're not supposed to make the water're supposed to add the soap after you fill the bucket with water...oops.  

I also discovered why most of the articles recommend rubber gloves - that water is hot!  But possibly not hot enough...apparently, to dissolve the lanolin in the wool (which, if it's left behind, will make the wool sticky when it dries), you need temperatures of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit...and 140-160 is even better!  Yikes! gently dunk the wool in the soapy water (moving it around too much might make it felt, ie., turn into a solid, unusable mass) and leave it there for a half hour or forty-five minutes.  You can soak it in soapy water a couple times if it's really dirty, and then you put it into hot, clean water to soak again.  You can actually do all of this in your top-load washer, as long as you don't let it go to the agitator setting!

You have to keep moving it into clean water until the water runs clear...which took a while with this batch, because this was waste wool that I probably should have tossed, but saved in a rare fit of thriftiness.  We shall see if it's worth the effort, or if I should take up composting and add it to the pile...

It's drying now...I'll let you know how it goes.  :P  

Happy Monday!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Holbrook's Thea

Exciting news!!!

Butterscotch Farm's newest puppy was finally born yesterday morning!  Meet Holbrook's Thea:

In a few weeks, this shapeless little pup will probably look a lot like this ( <3 <3 <3 ): 

And I have high hopes that she'll grow up to look a lot like her mom, Bonnie:

I'm planning on driving from NH all the way down to SC the first week of January to pick Thea up...anyone else along the East Coast want a Bonnie pup?  Thea's two brothers are still available!  :D

Anyway...I'm sure I'll be bombarding you with photos...for now, here are just a couple more: 

*All photo credits go to Helen Holbrook.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Short, Random Story About Some Random Apples

We picked our apples more than a week and a half ago...and our first batch of applesauce burned, and was rather thick and almost dry in consistency.  The apples were okay to eat, but again, a little dry, very firm, and a bit tart.  I attributed it to the dry second half of our summer.

But then, after the apples had sat around for a few days, I grabbed one to eat - and it was delicious!  It was softer, and the perfect mix of sweet and tart!  The next couple batches of applesauce turned out much better, too.

I guess apples are one of those things that improve if you can just wait a little while!  

Anyway...anyone want to come over for some homemade applesauce?  :)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Breed Profile #7: Nubian Goats

It's occurred to me recently that not only am I behind on general blog posts, but I'm also behind on my breed profiles!  Lol, I really hope these aren't too boring...they're mostly meant to be my way of keeping track of the various farm animals I've met, researching them, and deciding whether they might be a good breed to raise on my little farm someday.  But I hope they're moderately interesting to read.

So...about Nubian goats, which are apparently America's most popular goat breed!

I visited some Nubian goats way back when, the same day I bought a ridiculous amount of Romney fleece at Paradise Farm in Southern NH.  I even bought some of their milk - it was great!  No "goaty" flavor at all; I couldn't tell the difference from the cow's milk I got from the grocery store.

As I was researching Nubians today, I learned one new thing right away - outside America, they're known as the Anglo-Nubian.  Another interesting tidbit is that their name comes from Nubia, Africa, but a far greater influence on the breed came from goats imported from India.  These African and Indian goats were bred to native British goats, and by the late 1800's, the Anglo-Nubian breed was consistent enough to form a breed registry in Great Britain.  Sometime after that, some Anglo-Nubians made their way to America, and the breed registry there began in the early 1900's.  The Americans pretty quickly dropped the "Anglo" off the front of the name, thus ending up with just "Nubian."  Why?  Who knows!  Maybe someone was lazy, and it just caught on.  :P

When I started researching Nubians this morning, I thought that they were on the higher end of milk production, but actually, they're not.  They're fairly good producers, but what makes them valuable as a dairy animal is the high butterfat content of their milk (4-5%), as well as the fact that their breeding cycle can enable them to produce milk all year long.  Interestingly, they're also valued for their meat and their hides.  

They're a fairly large goat, with the females weighing at least 135 pounds and the males at least 175 pounds.  They can be any color, and are known for a Roman nose and a rather noble appearance.  They also have ridiculously cool ears - check out the baby below: 

So...will there be Nubians on Butterscotch Farm someday?  I honestly don't know.  I can definitely see some pros and cons...I need to decide if I want a full-size dairy goat, or something a little bit smaller, like Oberhaslis.  As a popular goat, Nubians may be a bit easier to find...but having a more unique breed definitely appeals to some part of me.  

So, I guess I'll stick Nubians on the "Maybe" list for now.  Ultimately, it's not so much a matter of what I decide, but of figuring out what God's will is...and I'm confident that if He wants me to have goats, they'll be the perfect ones for me and my situation.  :)


Monday, September 25, 2017

The Little Plum Tree that Could

Fruits and veggies have done pretty well this year, despite my highly neglectful gardening style.  ;P  Tomatoes have come into their own:

Apples are about ready to be picked: 

And we've got plums!

Italian Prune Plums, to be specific, which is why they're so small.  This is the whole crop, except for a few that fell on the ground.  It's a pretty impressive crop, though, when you consider what the poor Plum tree has gone through - first, it was planted in a dry, sandy New Hampshire yard.  Second, I planted it right at the edge of the driveway, so it always ends up buried by the end of the snow plowing season.  Third, it has actually been run into by the plow truck before!!  Fourth, it got some sort of fungal growth the past couple years, so I had to prune off a few of its meager branches.

But it keeps on growing plums...go, little tree, go!!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

14 Months

It occurred to me at some point today that Thane is now 14 months old.  

He's continuing to mature...and he's come SO far!  He's gradually turning into a really great dog.  At this point, he's just got a couple annoying habits that I didn't correct enough when he was younger...I'm going to try to crack down on those before Puppy #2 comes along in a few months.

He's still a goofball most of the time, though.  I tossed a pine cone to try to get him into better lighting for some photos...well, here are the results:




His energy level isn't super high, but I think that if I worked on his stamina, he could go all day...and he'd probably LOVE activities like agility, herding, maybe lure coursing....maybe I'll try something with him sometime...though I ought to work on some "focus" training first - he can have rather selective hearing at times.  ;P

Aaaand...we got one nice pose:

Monday, September 18, 2017

An Update on Stuff!!

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted!  

I haven't done a ton of farm-related stuff lately...except for one thing - I'm beginning to collect ingredients and supplies for my first attempt at making goat milk soaps and lotions!

I visited a farm last week and purchased a couple gallons of goat milk, then portioned it out in baggies and froze it so that it's ready when I need it.

I'll be sure to take lots of photos once I get to the soap-making process, but in the meantime, enjoy a photo of this lovely Oberhasli goat, without whom my goat milk soap adventure would be a lot less successful: 

I'm very interested in this breed, by the way...I'll have to do a breed profile later, so you can impress your friends with random Oberhasli trivia.  :P

Anyway, happy Monday!!