So much for doubting that Baabs would cycle because she was too young. When I went into that pen yesterday to put in a new bale of hay, Miguel’s whole attitude was all rammy again. For the last couple of weeks, he and Minx were coming up to the gate to see what was up, clearly the joint captains in there. (That’s my leadersheep girl!) But now he’s all aggressive again, and was deliberately keeping between me and Baabs. I should have taken a picture yesterday — he was doing the upper-lip curling thing again. I guess he’s got all the other girls settled, and now it is Baabs turn. I almost forgot to worry about turning my back on him when I was loading up their feeder this morning. I turned around just in time to avoid being butted. He got me once last fall, smack on the base of my spine, and it really hurt.
So, 142-147 days gestation will make her the last one due, around the 4th of July, which is when she was born, I think. So, eh — lots of Icelandic breeders breed their ewe lambs, and she will be a year old when she lambs, so I guess that’s okay. Next year, we won’t have the problem of where to put a single ewe lamb and a single ram lamb during breeding season, thankfully.
I got a note from Mike Kelley about one of the lambs I’m getting in the spring. Evidently, the white one got the tip of her ear torn off. She’s healed well, and Mike wanted to be sure I still wanted her. I don’t mind a lop-sided ewe, from a milky friendly line, so it is not a problem for me. Besides, it will give her character. Maybe it will help me name her, except I can’t think of a famous woman known for her strange ear. How about Vinnie?
I accepted a small writing gig this week. I’ve been appointed the Dairy Editor for the ISBONA newsletter. I am doing so much research for my own purposes that sharing the knowledge just makes sense. I have committed to four articles a year, which sounds quite doable. I have been wanting to become more involved in the organization, and they needed an editor, serendipity. This will give me a great excuse to visit sheep dairies, and put me in touch with the crew in Iceland that is researching it again. Considering it was an article from the newsletter that got me so interested in a dairy myself, it will feel nice to give something back.
I spent most of yesterday fiddling with the rest of the fleece from one of the llamas. Man was it filthy. There was probably a third of it that I just wasn’t willing to pick at anymore, so it will go to waste, a pity. Maybe I will use it for mulch somewhere. The thought of another one to do makes me cringe, even though I really like the yarn that’s coming out of it. Incredibly soft, very pretty, and I like the tweed affect that it has. I am not willing to spend five hours picking hay out of it, however. I’ve been reading up on what other people do to keep them clean, including using a leaf blower on the llama before shearing. I can’t find anyone actually putting them in jackets like they do some sheep, and I am wondering why.
I separated out all of the guard hair, because I’m convinced I can make something out of it. I’m not sure what, though. I went googling around, and saw that someone made some leads out of them, which is cool. I was thinking about rope. I like rope. It should be nice and strong. I thought that the hairs would be wiry or tough, but they are really soft. I’ve got about half a plastic grocery bag full from one llama. Maybe I’ll just find someplace to store it, and add to it for a few years until I get enough to do something useful. Or perhaps I should spin it up and store that bobbin and just add to that instead? Hmmm.
Frank saw how frustrated I was getting with the dirty fleece, and started looking at processing costs at the various mills around. We have eight fleeces left over from last year. I think he found two mills that he wants to try, to see what their end product is like and how cost-effective it will be. I read something sort of gross about bigger mills, though. It’s not as if they have magic machines that get out all of that vegetable matter. It’s that they either use chemicals that make it dissolve, but can damage the fiber, or the VM just gets crushed up better and is still distributed all through the fiber. Ick. I’m not sure I needed to know that.
Spinning is addictive. I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing wrong with my posture, because my back aches after not that long and I have to quit. Maybe it’s just a matter of working up to longer periods, but for now, all I can do is about 45 minutes at a time. It’s quite pleasant to put some music on and spin, or listen to one of the Alton Brown DVDs I got for Christmas. It feels luxurious to have the time to devote to it.
We have a beekeeping club meeting tonight in town. We haven’t been to one of those in years, and are eager to get back into that community again. We’ve got four hives that didn’t make it through the winter last year, and have new bees ordered up for the spring for all of them. It’s time to start thinking about what else we need to do before they arrive.
I was looking at what’s on our plate this spring, and it is going to be quite hectic. In March, we have the trip up north, and will be bringing back Icelandic chickens and eggs. Then we go straight to Maine to drop off some of them, and get the Icelandic sheepdog. In April, we are getting six Tamworth pigs, and the bees. I’m taking a cheesemaking course that month as well. Somewhere in that timeframe I want to fit in puppy obedience school, too. May and June (and now July) will be all lambs all the time. I wonder what it’s going to be like to have all those first time mamas needing attention, during blackfly season. Oy.
The weatherman is saying we might actually get accumulating snow tonight and tomorrow. Here’s hoping! My garden needs some snow cover, please.