Sunday, October 30, 2016


It is never fun to wait except perhaps for the lingering anticipation of something good about to happen. I have had hundreds of kids born over the years and logic dictates  along with good budgeting that they all can't stay. So I have kissed goodbye a good number of goat kids over the years and a lesser number of adults. I have listened to my heart and my head when placing my animals and I have done well for the most part. 

Today  Onyx came home. Onyx was born in 2011 and was one of many bottle babies that year. But she was a sweet kid with a calm disposition and her Dam (mother for non goat types) was a lovely doe name Walnetto Farm Katz's Pajamas. PJ gave copious amounts of lovely milk and I was happy to have a daughter from her. Time marched on as it does and in July of 2012 just 8 short months after moving onto our 42 Acres of Paradise Geoffrey became ill with a life threatening disease. That was a game changer and of the 23 LaMancha's that made the move with us over the next 2 years the herd was reduced to only 8 total. Sweet Onyx was sold to a friend and two years later was sold to another friend. 

But today Walnetto Farm Black Onyx came home. Sweet and calm as ever she jumped down from her cage in the back of the pickup and entered the barn she had spent  her last year with us in as a two year old

 Hi Mom it has been awhile. We had hugs and pets I fed her peanuts , a goat favorite around here and she ate them happily from my hand.

 Onyx came on a mission however not to live her life out here but to have a meet and greet with this handsome fellow. Walnetto Farm LB Jamboree.

 And then she will return to her home with my second set of friends who bought her from my first set of friends. She will undoubtedly steal my heart again while she is with us. But she is well cared for and loved by her new people . So I will enjoy Onyx while she is here and then send her back down the road home. 

 While speaking of critters I am so excited to share with you my new find. I recently discovered the world of e-books. Yup I am old school and love the feel of a book in hand and the scent of a new book is a comfort moment from many years before. But this e-book thing certainly has a place in the world and will reach many in a quick fashion.

 I have enjoyed  Leigh Tate's blog for a long time. And the frosting on the cake is Leigh has published multiple e-books about just almost every homesteading topic under the sun.

 Her Critter Tales has been reintroduced as individual volumes. That way you can conveniently order all or  only the individual e-books pertaining to the particular critter you are interested in.  The e-book pertaining to bees "Honey Bee Tales and Postscript"

 caught my eye right off . I am most impressed at the thoroughness of  Leigh's research on her topic. And all the practical information on how to order or make your equipment , information on the equipment and color photo's . So with that said I am having my very first giveaway! For everyone who comments on this post with the words "honey bee" in their comment by Friday November 4th no later than midnight  PDT you will be entered into the drawing for a copy of this e-book.  Winner to be announced on Saturday November 5th. With this being an e-book this giveaway is open to the world.
I am obligated to keep this honest to share that I am compensated with product for having this giveaway to share Leigh's wonderful work. But I want to also be clear that I am so impressed with the amount of information shared I would have done this giveaway  to help out a fellow blogger get the word out so everyone has a chance to benefit from it.

And a last tidbit for you all is that even if you aren't the lucky winner you can go to Leigh's blog and check out her e-books .  While there you can pick up a copy of Concerning Critters for FREE! Yes that is correct a free download that lets you get to know Leigh, husband Dan and what makes their homestead tick !


Friday, October 28, 2016


Being a good Californian requires one to greet rain in any way shape or form with open arms. And we do! With the current storm we have picked up almost 2 inches which is sorely needed.

With as much as we love rain and as much as we need rain it can bring some trying times on the farm. Take Libbie for example who is giving us a stare down  yes please take her!

Goats don't like water except in a bucket. What we have here folks is the caprine equivalent to cabin fever. What do you get when you put 6 does in a pen , yes more then enough room for them, for 6 days of rain? Cranky goats! Being "house" bound is as hard on the critters as it can be on us. Libbie however has taken it to new heights today.

When I finally emerged from the log house to go feed this morning my ears picked up. "What is going on?" The closer I got to the barn my brain realized it knew that sound.A doe in heat. Ahhhhh yes music to the ears well at least to the bucks ears.
 End of October and finally heat cycles have commenced! Not to be outdone Libbie's daughter Twist joined in a few hours later and I am imagining that the other 6 does will join in soon. Should be a very noisy end to one of my favorite months.

 For you non goat types female goats "sing" loosely used term and wag their tails vigorously in the direction of the scent of their suitors. Singing can be defined as a come hither song to a ranging , caging Janis Joplin epic performance.

 Not to imply that Janis Joplin aka Pearl and a personal favorite of mine sounds like a doe goat in heat. Just that my girls seem to project at about the decibel level Pearl does when she hits those high notes on "take a little bit of my heart now baby".   

It is a happy home coming after 5 days away in Fresno/Madera area. Got a good deal of visiting done including one with my son and his family. Had the pleasure of watching my youngest grand girl play in her district division at volleyball. And she and the team picked up the second place ranking "Go Falcons!" 

Also got a nice load of alfalfa from Brett the number one hay guy in my 31 years of raising goats. I am not sure how it works do I go to the Central Valley for hay and get to visit friends and family or vice versa? However it works I enjoy myself to the fullest coming home always low on sleep and stuffed with great food. Food for the heart too love those grand girls!



Thursday, October 20, 2016


The Hunter moon is still hanging in the sky beginning around nine in the evening and staying until early morning competing with the sun rising in the  late October sky for attention. 

I was up late last night. I am working on a pair of fingerless mittens to keep my hands warm and functional during chores and milking on cold winter mornings. We have been in the low 40's and danced briefly this morning with the high 30's. I have finished one mitt and am about 30% done on the left hand. 

By eleven it was time to tuck in the cats and head for bed. As I settled down our newest wildlife additions started chatting. Owls we have owls. One was in the pine or oak trees just outside our bedroom and the other was a bit further down the line in the area to the south west of the doe barn. They had different voices so perhaps we have different breeds or genders of the same? Is it owl breeding season in the southern Cascades?

I am very happy to have them. Great rodent control and lovely songs. I finally fell asleep to the owl lullaby and with the exception of waking a few hours later to owl songs again slept well. Too well as I didn't get to the barns until about half an hour late of the usual time. Goats are funny they look at you with amazement if you show up before sun up and toss alfalfa at them as if to say "we are sleeping go away!" But if you have the audacity to show up even five minutes late there is a lot of hoof tapping and eye rolling to say " you over here with that hay where have you been?!"

So this morning I was greeted by the hoof tapping and eye rolling. All the chickens were off their roost waiting to be let out to spend their day scouting out goodies in the now wet soil after our inch plus of rain over the weekend.

I will be not posting for about a week as I am headed down to the valley again for the winter hay run. We go through about 400 bales of alfalfa a year give or take. Not close to what we used when we had numbers in the 40's and up. My pocket book is grateful for that but I often miss those days and the pace it set. I do appreciate the slowness of less critters and giving those I have more individual attention and love.

I will leave you with a remnant of the last post on dying. This is the roving that was dyed after it was put through the drum carder and fluffed.  I love the colors and am amazed at the tones of gold that are in it. Again all from the pokeberry (pokeweed) plant. Have a gentle weekend and see you soon.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wednesday was a wonderful day to d-y-e!

 The pots to the left have 5 ounces each of Angora(goat) roving in them. They also have 1/2 cup of white vinegar and water to cover them. The thermometer is to keep the temperature at the level needed to  get the PH level to make the roving able to absorb the dye we will use and hold it for a 90 minute period to create a permanent color change.

The colander below holds a skein of yarn that has just been taken out of the pot in that it had its mordant set. Note that it is a brown tone and will be over dyed by this process. Meaning that the color will be a permanent change to another color. But remember these fibers and their color. So in the later photos you can appreciate the different colors they become. Influenced not only by the dye but the shade of color or in the case of the white roving no color at all. And a  lot of natural dyes are enhanced by this and become more permanent using mordants. They help set the pigment improving color and light fastness.* The word comes from the Latin word "mordere" meaning "to bite". The ratio for a vinegar mordant is 1/2 cup of white vinegar for every 4 ounces of fiber with water to cover in an enamel or stainless steel pot over 160-180 degree heat for 60 - 90 minutes.
*Light fastness means when the yarn is finished with the entire process there is  less chance of loss of depth of color to exposure of light over time.

 How much fun is this? Those are my hands and in them and on them is our dye source pokeberry aka pokeweed. 

Debbie is squeezing the juice out of the berries that we have stripped from the stems and mashed. Once the juice is squeezed out it will be placed in a large enamel container (in real life a water bath canner) with enough water to cover with vinegar added to it in a ratio of 1/2 cup to 1 gallon of water and heated to 160-180 degrees. The amount of berries we collected was about 25 pounds and the ratio is 25:1 pokeberry to fiber weight. After an hour we strained the mushed berries out leaving a nice amount of dye liquid for dipping our fiber into.

Putting the roving into the dye pot. A quick lift up after only a few seconds and look at that dye 
already being absorbed by the roving! We finished filling the pot and brought the temperature to 60-180 degrees for a two hour rest in the "dye spa". No boiling allowed or the dye will fail and one would have to start all over. So we cleaned up the berry smushing mess and brought our spinning wheel and knitting projects out to relax a bit while the fiber steeped its way to perfection. Sorry no photos we were ready to relax and forgot the photo opportunity. We then topped the lid after the two hour period and let the fiber continue to take up the goodness of a lovely dye vat over night. 

The next day when I returned Debbie had done some rinsing of yarns and had them hanging in the carport to dry. These two were the white skeins. The one in the back is the Angora goat seen on the stove in the first part of this post.The fiber in the front is a Targhee  
                                                                                        The single skein is the yarn that was an over dye.  Remember the skein that was a brown shade in the colander above draining after its trip to the mordant pot.
 The single skein is the yarn that was an over dye . Remember the skein that was a shade of brown in the colander draining at beginning  of  this post ? Look carefully at it and note the difference between it and the two hanging together. The Angora and Targhee are a deeper more gemstone shade than the over dyed skein is.

The roving below is also Angora goat. It went home with me to get several serious rinses in cool water to remove almost all the excess color. All of the fiber involved also sat for 20 minutes or more before rinsing. 

The roving will be washed with a fiber friendly product as I wasn't completed happy with the odor it retained after the process. Since the yarn skeins also retained the same odor I believe it is from the pokeberry plant itself. It wasn't an offensive odor just not pleasant to my way of sniffing. 

All things considered this was a very successful process. I have done a bit of previous dying including lichen , red beet and indigo. I would do the poke berry again with no hesitation. I would like to give a shout out to Rebecca Burgess and her Harvesting Color How to find Plants and make natural dyes . It is a great book and we will most certainly use it again in our dye adventures. Also a big thank you to my partner in dye adventure Debbie. See you next time girl!


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Stormy Saturday in the Pacific Northwest Mini Post

Oatmeal, raisin, cranberry, walnut, pecan, chocolate chip cookies on board today. Good storm line coming through and it is a'blowing and rain is coming down.

 With a hot cuppa and finished product keeps you warm. While watching the action off the deck.

 Fireplace in use today and I got the flannel sheets on the bed. Color me happy winter is headed our way!!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016 Fiber Fusion

What could tickle a fiber junkie's heart more than a fiber gathering. The possibilities  er piles of fiber in all stages and colors are enough to set one's heart a thumping. And the fiber toys spindles, looms, vendors in mass. Does it get any better than that? 

The first exhibit that greeted us on Saturday October 8th was this genius animated project from the 1930's . 

And read here about this great exhibit and how it got its start.

Then we were greeted by this cutie who was stylish attired in a pink ball cap and body paint. A real kid (the two legged kind) magnet and adults enjoyed her attire also.

A left turn took us to the exhibit hall and who greeted us at the door ?  Dresses for success was the"Fiber Filly" and a box on the table with signage asking passerby's to submit their favorite name for this gal.   

Then came the eye candy with the winners of the "Yarn and Textile Competition". There are a lot of very talented spinners, weavers, knitters, dyers and felters in our mist. Not to forget those hardworking livestock folks who raise the goats, sheep, alpaca, llamas and yaks yes yaks who provide us with the material it takes to make our projects a reality.

There were a good number of vendors on hand this year and they were both inside and out. Row after row of fiber roving, yarn, silk caps, batts from every fiber producing species in you can name. 

Cute display in the Mt. Lassen Fiber  Guild booth. This is an enlarged version of the signage below the the tub of Local Yarn Natural Dyes.

The North Valley Woodturners were an entertaining bunch to watch. And although these totem poles and carving were not of their doing they were pretty amazing.

We left the event early afternoon after both myself and my friend purchased a couple of lovely raw fleeces  (meaning they came direct off the sheep and hadn't been processed at all yet) which I will get some photos of and include in another post. We went up the hill to Paradise and stopped at  leaving after samples each with a bag or box full of yummy apples. 

I have photos of the almost finished greenhouse and the doe barn. Plus a few  thoughts for a post on other topics. We have storms moving into our area with rain YIPPEE! But  I have been very busy getting the barns ready for the weather with a few events in between . Preparing for a hay trip down to the valley in about a week. So if I am slow forgive me and I will get more post up as extra time (is that like discretionary money ?) allows. 


Thursday, October 6, 2016


Saturday at the Manton Apple Festival was a lovely day for a carriage ride. Geoffrey and I hopped on in the far back seat and enjoyed the ride round the assorted vendors located in the inside grass area of the school track. This was the view from our back seat with the other occupants enjoying the cool mid morning temperatures on a lovely autumn day.
And if you look close enough to this photo below you can see in the distance just to the right of the carriage post the Black Butte and our homestead is on the north side of the Butte out of sight.

 There were vendors aplenty. Everything from apple burritos, apple cobbler cooked in cast iron dutch ovens over coals , jams , jellies, soaps, fiber and more.   


 One of the highlights for me is a visit to the old Manton school building that is now the Museum.
The side on the left is the housing for the schoolmarm at the time and the right is the classroom. The schoolmarm's side is furnished with some of the authentic items both in kitchen and bedroom. Unfortunately it was very crowded inside when we were there so I didn't photos of it. But I did get photos of the school room and some of the displays. 


It is always fun to see history face to face. And this sad old loom is no exception . I had a brief conversation with the museum director about the possibility of getting some of the ladies from our weaving guild together to give this old girl a new dress at some future date. Pretty her up so folks who see her on display can at least see what she looked like when cleaned up . Although it appears on closer inspection that she has all her parts and may be a working loom at some point. I do love all the old calendars on the wall behind the loom.

This photo is on display in the classroom. Sadly there is no information about the age of it nor which tribe this young mother and child were part of.

The plaque below gives a bit of history of the school system and the people who were part of Manton in the days gone by.

We ended our morning at the festival in one the tents listening to some wonderful Bluegrass bands. 
October is still young and there are festivals of this nature across our county. You may be surprised at what you will find if you take the time to locate them and spend some time at one close by your home. Next post will finish out the weekend with the road trip to Lambtown in Dixon this fiber festivals 30th year.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016


We have been under the weather literally and figuratively since our weekend of festival fun. But on the farm chores go on and errands also. Toss in a few in town trips to the Chiropractor to fix what I managed to put out of place while dancing with goats and bingo! The post that you were supposed to see Monday is just now getting underway. So stay tuned, don't give up and all the apple and fiber festival fun is heading your way at a phone or computer near you!