Category Archives: farm sheep

This Week In Farming

Busy, busy week at Tuppinz Farm. Here are some of the highlights…

The sheep and goats were finally shorn! They are so relieved to be nekkid, as the days are starting to get very warm. That’s “Fontina” (whom we call “Caribou” for obvious reasons) in the foreground. Need fleece? We have LOTS!

This year’s Largest Fleece award goes again to our Jacob ewe Montana. Jeff tells me the Shetland fleeces are again very nice and soft. I’m looking forward to keeping the two badger-faced Icelandics’ fleeces for my own use – they are identical in coloring so it will be nice to combine them and have enough matching wool for a big project.

I would have preferred that shearing not take place on the same day the farrier and vet were scheduled to attend to the donkeys, but on a farm, you have to roll with the punches. Farriers, farm vets, and sheep shearers are not as easy to coordinate as the business projects I was used to in my “former life”. There simply is no option to have a “Type A” personality on a farm.

Poor Michelle had to have her shearing appointment on a day when she couldn’t even be home! I hear her wether’s fleece is really nice…

Potatoes are up and growing nicely. We’re using this method.

My crazy junk garden is also doing well.

I tried to make raised beds using only materials I could scrounge up around here. I decorated with rusty bits of metal that were found on the property.

I’m growing lettuces, hot peppers, tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, basil, cilantrol, parsley, three pumpkins, and sunflowers. We had lots and lots of rain this past week and the plants loved it.

We moved about 100 iris plants from the area that became the veggie garden, and popped them in the beds in front of the house. Several of them flowered despite this insult. We have planted echinacea I started from seed, as well as rudbeckia, in one bed, and roses in the other; next year it should be very pretty – all purple and yellow.

Little goats are growing like weeds, too. Here are sisters Elfine and Daisy May, almost all grown up (but still very tiny!)

The purchased Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks have their wing feathers now. Soon they will no longer need a heat lamp. They enjoy the thinnings from the veggie garden – feeding them teaches the chicks to eat greens (which they won’t learn without parents to raise them) and it gets some good vitamins into them.

We had a lovely Wyandotte hen go broody. Unfortunately, before we realized she was nesting, we gathered the eggs she was laying each day for the refrigerator. We then noticed that she – and she alone – was hanging around with our single Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster… the two chickens we most hoped would reproduce. Hobby Farm Mistake #1027 – when the chickens you want to breed actually do, let the eggs turn into chicks!

So as not to waste her broodiness, we collected two days’ worth of eggs which will hopefully become mixed-breed chicks, and stuck them under her. She accepted them readily. Hobby Farm Mistake #1028 – when you have a hen that is broody and you want to hatch out chicks, consider the fact that she is nesting in front of hay bales you will need to access in the next month – not the best choice of locations for anyone involved.

Last Saturday, we went to the farmers market in Eau Claire, at Phoenix Park. It was raining and quite cold, but we had a great time. On our walk back, I saw this Labyrinth in the park – what a neat thing!

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of places to fish for a little bit. Did I mention it was rainy and cold? The only trophy was an ugly thing I caught called a river chub, which went gently right back into the water. We gave up on a fish dinner and went to Tep’s Drive-In in Augusta, for their amazing garlic fries. Got to love a place with carhops – especially in an Amish village.

I ended up the week with a meeting of my MaryJane’s Farmgirls group yesterday. We met at Dee Dee’s Diner in Northfield and had a great time chatting and knitting and sharing pictures.

Dianne, Kayley, Dawn, Michelle

We meet on the second Saturday of each month to just hang out and do whatever… we talk about animals, crafts, gardening, and end up laughing. One doesn’t have to be a “real” farmgirl to join; as MaryJane Butters says, “‘Farmgirl’ is a condition of the heart.” We’re just a bunch of gals out to learn new things and meet new friends.

The weather has turned glorious. First hay cutting this week. Crickets, junebugs, and moths abound (one notices this when one takes up fly fishing…) Baby squirrels exploring their world. The glow of light as the sun begins to cross the horizon is more amazing each and every evening. What a wonderful time of year.


Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm garden, farm goats, farm mistakes, farm sheep, fiberarts, fishing, flowers, gratitude, nature, positivity, weather

Ysolda at YDK Tonight!

The beautiful and talented knitting designer Ysolda Teague will be at Yellow Dog Knitting in Eau Claire, WI, tonight! Hope to see you there – Knit Night at The Dog is already fun, but tonight will be extra special.

Ysolda is on a US book tour for Whimsical Little Knits, which will be available at YDK tonight. It is the neatest little book – I just love it. Ysolda will have her samples along, and Dixie and Cindi have whipped some up in their fantastic Garnstudio Drops yarns for us to fondle.

Ysolda’s being hosted by our good friends at Kellane Farm, which means she gets to play with cute baby lambs during her visit. I’m jealous! Must get over there soon.


Filed under farm sheep, fiberarts, knit, yarn shop

Lots Of Fiber

I was in the fiber doldrums for some time. Just couldn’t get motivated. There were a couple of our raw Icelandic fleeces (from Asta and Birta) sitting in the entryway, which taunted me daily. I finally decided that, after two years, it was time to unpack the picker and carder that had been sitting in boxes while several house nightmares were endured.

Not having a decent fiber washing area has proven to be problematic, but I made do with many buckets in the kitchen over a period of days (Jeff was not allowed to make fragrant Indian food during my scouring!) The laundry room here doesn’t have a heat source, and though there is a tub on the first floor, it was never installed properly and doesn’t drain, so Jeff kindly carried all the dirty water outside for me.

I was really fearful to try the picker and carder but I needn’t have been – they both worked wonderfully and I was soon blessed with my first home-grown, home-scoured, home-picked and home-carded Icelandic lamb roving!

Because I wanted to spin a fine but soft yarn, it was time to re-acquaint myself with an old friend who has the necessary double drive talents:

We hadn’t been on speaking terms for several years due to a previous failure to communicate.

It turned out that this wasn’t due to my unfamiliarity with my friend, but rather an inherent problem in my friend’s physical makeup.

Once this was corrected (requiring minor surgery on my part and a trip to Montana and back for an amputated piece of my friend), my buddy wanted to “make nice” – but I wasn’t having any of it, due to the insults my friend had given me the last time we got together.

I am now willing to forgive and forget, and so is my friend, and we have been getting on famously in this new relationship.

As any fiberartist can tell you, once the floodgates have opened, creativity comes on like a tidal wave. Not only have I been spinning the Icelandic lamb, but also this lovely fiber (click for big to see the sparkly stuff!):

… as well as some home-grown Jacob wool (from Gruyere):

I even made significant progress on my “Dixie shawl“:

Like all lace, it looks like a damp mop and will until it is blocked. But believe me, it’s really pretty:

My good relationship with the Dundas wheel gave me the confidence to have a chat with the Ashford Table Loom as well, and it has been released from its undignified penance in the long barn.

Disclaimer: Seriously ugly wallpaper courtesy of previous homeowners.

I am not a big fan of anything other than rigid heddle (i.e., simple! Easy!) weaving, but it seems a shame not to give this gal a warm (comparatively-speaking), indoor home. We will try to get along better now, and hopefully she will not confuse me with mathematical equations this time around. I guess it’s not really her fault… she has always been a peach to use.

It’s freezing in here (perhaps not to looms but to us humans), and some woven wool blankets would come in handy, so I had better be polite to her.

Max is just meditating, and staying clear of all the fiber activity.

Other Happenings

Two photos from our farm are in the current issue of Hobby Farms magazine – yay!

There was a quote in this issue that I loved: “Hobby farming is like hobby coal mining.” Truer words have never been spoken… it’s still work! (But definitely worth it to have delicious organic eggs!!!)

And to reward myself for a consistent yoga practice, I asked this Etsy artisan to embroider some clips to keep my hair out of my face during downward dog – she put pink lotuses on them to match my Prana yoga outfit:

In upcoming excitement… what do you think of this handsome fellow, hmmm?

Hope your day is full of health and creativity!


Filed under animals, farm animals, farm chores, farm donkeys, farm knit, farm sheep, fiberarts, knit, pets, yoga

Finally Fiber

I finally have some fiber updates to share!

The lost silver Glitter has been found behind a bookcase! I can start on my blue DROPS shawl.

I’ve got a good amount of bulky handspun piling up from the fleece of our Jacob ewe Gruyere.

My progress thus far on the February Lady Sweater. I’m enjoying knitting this easy lace pattern.

In Farm News

We took advantage of yesterday’s warmer weather to do vaccinations, hoof trimming, and deworming on the 24 goats. I was dragging my heels, but we can’t procrastinate caring for our babies.

The left side has been trimmed, right side has not:

We clip hooves with a Felco trimmer – it is similar to their pruners. Great tool and worth the price.

The hoof in back has not been trimmed; the foot in front is almost finished:

Chef Jeff measures Dexter with a weight tape to calculate the amount of topical dewormer to apply. Dexter came to us as a buck but is now a very happy wether:

Since we rotate our goats’ pastures, we worm only twice a year, to ensure prevention of secondary health problems like anemia. We used an herbal dewormer and found it didn’t work well at all; recent scientific studies have corroborated our anecdotal discovery.

We now use Dectomax, which is not yet FDA-approved for goat use, but which our vet has prescribed to us for off-label use on goats and sheep at 1cc per 22 lbs. topically. It is safe, effective, and very easy to administer. It does not remain on our sheep fleeces, which is extremely important to me.

We could not do without our milking stand when taking care of the goats. Here is our massive two-year-old Boer/dairy doe, Frieda (the herd queen), weighing in at 180 pounds

… and here is our Nigerian Dwarf doeling, Sitka, at 78 pounds:

Little Elfine, born this spring, is our smallest goat; she is just 45 pounds, and too short for the stand!

Weather Update

I am seriously not liking this weather today.

My new jacket is awesome – I don’t get cold outside at all. The trouble is staying warm inside this drafty old firetrap!

Health Care – Skip At Will

I heard a great story on NPR a couple of days ago about knitting helping depression. For the life of me, I can’t find a link, though I’ve searched for way too long now. Keep your eyes peeled for it – I think it was on Talk Of The Nation, in their book discussion…?

NPR is doing a series comparing health care in America to that in other countries. It should be interesting.

Lael (and others), I’m grateful for your comments. If my friends didn’t feel comfortable having opinions that differed from mine, I would never learn anything new. (And Lael, I totally owe you an e-mail – I haven’t forgotten!)

I do feel that privatized health insurance buying pools, which would make coverage affordable to the self-employed and un- or under-insured, are a great idea. I’m all for coverage for everyone – just not overseen by the government (which will do everything possible to cut costs, and will likely make a mess of things), and not at a 50% or higher income tax rate.

Such pools would also encourage those who can work to work in order to afford such benefits, rather than encourage freeloading.

I certainly don’t want to be financially responsible for people who smoke, or don’t exercise, or otherwise don’t take care of themselves. If everyone buys their own insurance, I believe it will cost us each less than if the government “buys it for us” with our tax dollars. We can still achieve similar economies of scale in purchasing, while maintaining a competitive market where our doctors’ treatments are not dictated by governmental limitations on their services.

One significant reason people may live longer in some other countries is because (thus far) they have not had the sedentary lifestyle we Americans have “enjoyed”. Nor the fast food. Nor suburbs, which require the use of cars instead of feet in order to go shopping or to work. I lost a significant amount of weight when I lived abroad, only to gain it back upon returning to an American way of life.

I want name-brand drugs, not non-equivalent (see last post’s link – it is factual) generics. I want to spend an hour with my doctor if necessary, not 15 minutes; and I want to choose my doctor. If I need surgery, I do not want to wait a year to have it. If I need mental health care, or treatment for a syndrome which has not yet been defined as a “disease,” I don’t want it deemed as unnecessary by a bureaucrat. To provide care to those who don’t have it should not limit the care of those who can afford it. Socialized medicine has bankrupted the health care systems of some countries who have initiated it,; now everyone’s equal… in the lack of high quality (and not just minimal) health care.

Because of Jeff’s job in the health care industry, I have access to actual, concrete facts and statistics on these topics. From my personal experience with friends and family who are experiencing many problems with socialized medicine, I gain first-hand insight. I’m not forming my opinions based on information from the politicized media in the US, or based on my emotions. How I feel about what everyone should receive is very different from what I believe to be practical and in the country’s best interest.

A question I have asked myself is, if other countries’ socialized health care systems are so wonderful, why do many Canadians and Europeans choose to come to the United States, at their own out-of-pocket expense, for procedures?

Just because something is available doesn’t mean it should be “free to all.” How would we feel if the government decided that, because there is nice handspinning rare sheep wool available, they will make us sell it to them, at a deep discount with a loss of profit to wool growers, in order to provide free clothing to the masses… and by the way, they will increase our income taxes to 50% to cover the administration of the program? Would we continue to breed sheep?

Do I believe the government will fund the research and development of new medicines (a very expensive undertaking, which takes decades, the results of which maybe 10% or less of new medications will end up being feasible)? No way, José.

People don’t understand that when a company – any successful company – makes a profit, it is most often reinvested into company growth (= more jobs!) and research and development (= scientific advances! Potential cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s!) Profits don’t automatically get deposited in an executive’s bank account… if they did, the company would fail in no time.

Many folks also don’t understand that “evil corporate executives” and “evil corporations” donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities and the arts. “Evil drug companies” provide FREE medications to those in the U.S. who can’t afford them, as well as entire third-world countries! The government won’t foot the bill for that!

I suggest that if people want socialized medicine, they consider moving to a country that offers it. Personally, I want to continue to live in a country which offers the freedom to succeed or fail, to buy or do without, due to one’s own merits and abilities. With rights come responsibilities. And we can make modifications to the current system without going to an extreme.

I actually wish I lived back in the days when doctors made house calls and were paid in ham and eggs or good old-fashioned cash, and when we didn’t have the “benefit” of being kept alive after losing our physical or mental faculties just because it is possible to do so.

Complicated issues, for sure!

Hope you are staying cozy and comfortable today! Be well.


Filed under animals, farm animals, farm goats, farm knit, farm sheep, fiberarts, health, knit, weather, winter

Lovely Gloomy Day

It was a drizzly day, but still unusually warm. I had a wonderful afternoon with Michelle and Dianne (RaveLink). We met at Yellow Dog Knitting and then went across the street to the Acoustic Cafe for soup. Michelle and I also stopped at Dessert First for their famous cupcakes (holey moley!!!)

The gals introduced me to Melissa at the shop (hi, Melissa!) She also keeps sheep. It’s nice to live in a small town where everyone loves wool.

I was thrilled to find that Dixie (RaveLink) had set aside the latest Garnstudio Drops pattern booklet for me. I swear that lady must have ESP – I was on my way in to get it, and found that she’d saved the last copy with my name on it! Now that is service! (They are checking to see if they can get more copies in, as Michelle also wants this issue, so if you’re interested, feel free to give them a call.)

After seeing a sample shawl (RaveLink) that Dixie had knit from the book (#108-47 on the Garnstudio page), I knew I had to make it. Dixie used the Garnstudio Alpaca yarn with a thin thread of soft, silver, sparkly stuff. It gives the impression of beading without the work, and doesn’t alter the feel of the shawl in the least. So I purchased the yarn to shamelessly copy her efforts, as well as a skein of Kureyon sock yarn in greens and purples. I’m always a sucker for the Noro colors, and Cindi (RaveLink) said people are making nice little shawlettes with this, so I had no choice. Ahem.

I meant to take lots of pics but I was having so much fun gabbing that I forgot to take out my camera until I was on the way home and saw this leafless oak in a newly-harvested corn field. Hope that will give you a little taste of this fall day. I also intended to take a pic of my Turtle Turtle cupcake for you, but I ate it as soon as I got home – sorry.

The sun shone for a few moments today but for the most part, we had sprinkles, and then very high winds – I came home to find the lid of our grill blown clear across the yard, and many fallen branches (yay, kindling with no hard work.)

I also saw three redtail hawks gliding over the stubbly corn fields; no hiding places for rabbits, voles, and mice now that the stalks have been cut. And yesterday, I was lucky enough to see nine or ten wild turkeys in the field behind the donkeys’ pasture; if you look closely you may be able to make them out behind Tikki.

The Annie Modesitt Silk Corset has been driving me bananas. Below is yet another attempt – see how far I got this time before I realized I was reading the chart wrong for the wrong side? I simply can’t transpose lace charts when they use a “-” for purl on the right side, and the same symbol for knit on the wrong side – just can’t wrap my brain around it being a symbol for two different stitches, though I completely understand the fabric construction. Doesn’t make for “mindless” knitting (which I crave) at all.

Solution? Do it in the round! I should have listened to my instincts earlier and done it this way from the start.

Now we’re in business. No more chart mistakes.

But I’m thinking the variegated yarn is looking splotchy. I haven’t alternated two balls so far on this piece because I was having enough trouble with the pattern… I’m thinking I’ll start alternating now to break the colors up a bit, but will the splotchiness of this neckline section bug me later on? I wonder if I should put a lifeline in? Then, if it does look wonky later, would I be able to rip this part out, pick up from the top of the next section I’m about to do, and re-knit this part backwards?

I think I think too much.

Yoda thinks I should just have a little more coffee. I think she’s right. Nothing like friends, fiber, and a good cuppa’ Joe on a blustery fall day.


Filed under animals, fall, farm animals, farm donkeys, farm sheep, fiberarts, knit, nature, weather, yarn shop

Enough With Red And Blue – I Need Green?

You Need Some Green in Your Life

Green will make you feel alive, renewed, and balanced. And with a little green, you will project an aura of peacefulness and harmony. If you want stability, you’ve got to get a little green in your life!

For extra punch, combine green with blue or purple. The downside of green is that it can promote jealousy in yourself or others.

The consequences of more green in your life? You will be drawn to a new life path. You will feel free to pursue new ideas and interests, no matter how strange. You will be released from the demands and concerns of others.

What Color Do You Need?

The guilt won out and I voted. I forgot that I had one more choice. What a country! But I didn’t get cookies and I didn’t get a sticker – I was bummed.

Thought I’d show you the one-room schoolhouse that serves as our voting place. One booth. Five nice ladies who remember who owned our farm 25 years ago. No line. No other voters! But it had apparently been a busy morning, with 36 people voting before we did at 8 a.m. We didn’t have to present any identification – Otter Creek is a small community and as newbies, we kind of stand out (Jeff was voting in a suit in a community where most folks wear John Deere hats.)

Chef Jeff signed up to be a poll worker next year, as his company encourages employees to dedicate a day to volunteer work. The polling ladies were impressed with his Declaration of Independence Silk Tie.

Since there is only an old outhouse behind the “town hall” they have to rent a porta-potty for election day. Hee hee.

Another glorious day here in Wisconsin, so I took the dogs up to the playpen a little early and let them blow off some steam. If you need a quick dog pen, cattle panels and posts are inexpensive, and an easy way to go. I don’t know what I would do without an area where they could all safely romp and get out their P&V. Daily exercise makes them so much more well-behaved indoors, and being youngsters (except for Valentine), they really need to work off some adrenaline every day.

Exercise is a better option, I believe, than crating a dog who suffers from boredom when its “parents” are away. A crate is great for giving a dog a den for a feeling of security, or for playing a role in housebreaking a puppy in-between letting it out every three hours… but it’s no replacement for the daily workout that every healthy dog needs, and which will help prevent him from releasing his energy through chewing up your sofa cushions while you’re at work.

That being said, if you have a young dog, expect some household losses; despite all of Molly and Emma‘s exercise, they still destroyed a recliner in a single afternoon. God made puppies cute directly in proportion to their penchant for mischief.

Our dogs beg to be taken to the playpen at a set time every day. They have some kind of internal alarm clock that goes off (and which has not changed despite the Daylight Savings Time switch, throwing me off), and suddenly they are all jostling me, trying to lick my face, and panting vigorously. One word – “Playpen?” – sets off a frenzy of excited barking, and we are on our way up the hill to the little run. It’s shaded in summer by giant maple trees, and sunlit in winter, being on the south side of the apple orchard on the hill.

Want to see the Tuppinz Pups in action?

Molly is not supposed to dig in the pen but when she’s worn out from playing tug-of-octopus with Emma, she resorts to excavating tree roots. Don’t tell Chef Jeff, but I think it’s funny when she does it. He’s the one who fills in the holes so he doesn’t find it quite as humorous.

What a wonderful fall day! Now that the trees are a bit bare and the fields have been harvested, I can show you the layout of the farm. I took a couple of pics on my way back from voting.

The photo above is a view of our farm from the south:

A – the house amongst the old maple trees
B – the brooder house (chicken coop)
C – the goats’ barn
D – the “long barn”; it’s falling down so only the upstairs is used for light storage
E – the “big barn” which is being repaired; it’s a former dairy cow barn
F – the donkeys’ and sheeps’ current shelter (will eventually be the big barn)
G – Nellie The Tractor’s garage
H – hay storage
I – two more hay storage buildings
J – the neighbor’s cornfield
K – another neighbor’s land; we call this area “Dr. Zhivago-land” because it’s full of beatiful birch trees and looks like Russia.

In the picture above, A is Jazz, Tikki, and Eli; B is a Jacob sheep to the left of a little sheep shelter; C are the guinea fowl; and D is the “basement” of the chicken coop where the sheep have excavated a hole so that they can go under the building in the summer and stay cool. They have a large building and large trees in their pasture to provide shade, but apparently the walk is too far for them, or it is cooler lying next to the rock foundation. In any case, it’s quite a scene when they all decide to pop out from underneath the coop at once.

The white building is an ugly garage with a roof that leaks; it’s going to have to be torn down before it falls down. I will be glad when it is gone because it is hideous and useless, and blocks a beautiful view.

Right. Here we are looking towards the south. A is the road where I took the first photo, looking north. B marks two huge mounds of dirt – a new neighbor is putting up a tractor shed on that site, prior to building a house on that land. C is “Dr. Zhivago-land” along that same road, which curves east and then south from our property. And of course in front we have Tikki and Jazz.

The sumac berries are nice and red. The leaves are almost gone. I think this is the last day of Indian Summer. I’m off to enjoy the afternoon, and curiously await the outcome of the election tonight. Have a good one, and may the best candidate win!

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Filed under animals, fall, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm donkeys, farm goats, farm guineas, farm sheep, nature, pets, weather

Blogworthy Bs








Boris – Back!


Filed under animals, fall, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm donkeys, farm goats, farm guineas, farm sheep, pets, weather