Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chicken Scratch--Now with More Fiber!

And it's because I need my head examined.

You know how these things go?  You say to yourself, "Self, I would really like this farm/homestead to also produce...milk/bread/pork/silkworms/peacock feathers someday".  You know, something like that.  Something you want to produce that you don't already produce?   With me, it's fiber.  We have NO fiber animals here at all.  And I am a fiber-aholic.  I love fabric, thread, ribbons, and yarn.  You name it, if I can touch it and feel it, I want to have it.  Yeah, it can be that bad.

Well, a couple of years ago, I went to a mill in a nearby town and bought a skein of locally grown alpaca yarn.  And let me just say, oh my gosh I NEVER knew how beautiful that stuff is!  I still haven't used it--I'm afraid to screw it up.  But I take it out every once in a while and feel it and squeeze it and say sweet nothings to it and so on.  Gorgeous stuff.  I knew from that point on that one day I would like to add a fiber animal to our homestead farm.  Just so I could roll in all the fleece, you know?

It went to the back of the brain box, that idea.  The key was to get us going food-wise before I even CONSIDERED fiber animals in any capacity.  And what a responsibility an alpaca would be.  I don't know about you all, but it seems to me that alpaca farmers are just a totally different breed of farmer.  I didn't think I would be ready for that, so I thought I would start smaller, just to get my feet wet.  This led me to thinking about sheep--but we have no pasture.  Then I thought about Angora rabbits.  They're hairy.  They're good for yarn.  They're also impossible to find around here.  So we were safe in the meantime, as I couldn't find any I could afford and wasn't ready for them anyway.

I'm still not ready for them, but they're here anyway.  I know that's happened to all of you at some point, so I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Meet Ygraine (Ee-grain):

and Philip Johnny Bob (tell me which book series that's from, and I'll send you a nickle):

Philip Johnny Bob enjoys organic green beans.  He says backyard beans are the best!

They are breeding pair of English Angora rabbits and another reason why I should not check Craigslist's Farm/Garden section anymore.  Ever.

A woman in the next county had these two for her daughter, a 4-H-er.  The daughter is tired of them and no longer does 4-H.  The woman doesn't want to keep them.  Need I say more?  Here they are, then.  I got them for a knock-down price, and Ygraine was supposedly Grand Champion at the fair back in her day.  She's 4 years old now, and Philip Johnny Bob is 2.  He's her son, so it'll be line breeding, but breed them I will, after I get them up to condition.  That way I won't have to worry that Ygraine is getting a little long in the tooth.

And no, their names weren't Ygraine and Philip Johnny Bob originally.  They were Cocoa (him) and Puff (her).  We don't name our animals things like that here, though, everyone gets a "real" name.  So the kids brainstormed in the car and that's how we got Ygraine.  Philip Johnny Bob was originally named Edward by the kids, but when we got him home, his name wasn't that.  He said so.  So I changed it.  He likes it, I think.

Anyway, I was glad Philip Johnny Bob is not named Edward because of this little one:

My daugher tells me her name is Bella.

I know, right?  What the hell is wrong with me?  The woman had this one as well, a New Jersey Wooly, also good for fiber.  She just wanted to get rid of her, so she asked if I would just take her.  This is why I did:

Up in these parts, there is a certain ethnicity of people that comes up to live in camps of a religious nature.  There are many kids, as it's all families.  The woman I got these rabbits from lives right in the middle of a bunch of these camps, and says that the families come up and buy their kids pets for the summer, to have as toys.  She says that after the summer is over, before they go home, they throw the pets away.   Yes, you read that right.  She says they throw the pet, the cage, the whole thing, right into the garbage, as they don't want to/can't take it home.  She learned this a few years ago, and now waits for the camps to be out to basically go dumpster diving.  This one was in the dumpster with 3 inches of manure in it's cage. 

We are a disgusting species, we really are.

So how could I not take her?  She's a total nut, and completely nervous, and who knows what she's been through, so I suggested we name her Psychotic Wackadoo, but that was vetoed.  Bella it is, and she'll need a lot of work.  I am glad the Edward name didn't stick, then.  I don't think I could have taken the Twilight references people would have thrown.  I've never even SEEN those stupid movies.

And that's my story.  Needless to say, I had nowhere to put them, and brought them home, and then had to run out and buy water bottles and two cages, because I was two cages short.  The bunnies are all residing in the living room in their houses until I can get them all cleaned up.  Then I'll figure it out from there. 

Ah, planning... who needs it??

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  1. UM I agree with you I love fiber!!! Never spun angora before. Just sheep wool!
    You go girl and keep it up! I think us farmers are a little the same in how we are a little crazy!!!
    I was busy spinning wool one day and a friend said "um don't you know they sell that stuff at the store."
    bhahahaha!!! Was my response!!

  2. Adorable bunnies! I am just starting out with fiber, and actually own 3 alpacas. I would agree that alpaca farmers are of a different type of farmer...and I am not sure I am of that breed. I am considering selling them and getting angora goats and sheep instead. I had a friend that raised angora rabbits- they were so soft!

  3. You are right, we are a disgusting species. How could anyone do such a thing!?!?! As a small scale farmer, I meet and spend time with people who share my ideas and that gives me hope that the future may not be too bad.
    But then I hear something like that and I realize that there will always be people who are pretty much just idiots.
    Good for that lady and for you for helping Bella.

    PS - Craigslist has a farm section??!!!???!!

  4. Sweetland--I am with you. Yeah, I can buy it in the store, but it's not the same. NOt at all.

    Sadie--the next step would be an angora goat. Yep, I've already thought that far ahead. I do like the alpacas, but I don't know that I'm the right "type" for them, if that makes sense. I know I can handle the goat, though, I love goats. For now, I figured I'd get my feet wet on a smaller scale.

    Meredith--Yes, it is depressing. I don't think that we'll ever win sometimes. There are too many people who just don't care. Oh, and Craigslist does have a farm section, at least in the Hudson Valley listings. Use it wisely!!! It can be dangerous!

  5. I find that I will plan things to death. I always feel that I need more information, need to talk to more people, need to do more research, need to think about it more, etc. DH and I just bought a 40 acre farm and we're hoping to start with chickens in the spring, and I already know how it will go: I'll say "well I want one more book, I need to read some more about them, I'd really like this breed, etc. etc." and one day DH and I will be out, or cruising our local Craigslist/Kijiji, and ta-da! we'll suddenly have chickens. This will likely be repeated for any further livestock, and each garden (this year I started my seedlings mid-May because I wanted to read more about container planting, and proceeded to kill most of them because I was worried it was to cool outside to start hardening. *sigh* This will make farming very interesting... but I pledge to start planning my garden in November this time!).

    Great job, and congrats on your new fiber producers!

  6. I knew a few people who have raised these for wool. It is sooooo soft! I got the same bug once and bought angora goats, but never got to the shearing point before we moved into town and I sold them. I am still working on my spinning skills with the drop spindle. It is one of the few things I love about winter (the time to do it) Bet your kids are just nuts about them!

  7. Woman after my own is so good to know you are out there. Really.....I'm crying over your story.....folks wonder why I'm not so keen on humans.

  8. Mandi--I'm normally an over-planner, too. But once you get your feet wet with one type of livestock, it's too easy to just jump in with many, many more. Be warned!

    Michaele--I'm hoping this works out for us. I love the idea of having fiber animals. So far they're settling in nicely and I like them very much. Philip Johnny Bob is the favorite right now--he's a pip!

    Yogini--Many humans stink. I've heard a lot of horrible stories, and this one still knocked me for a loop. Truly something.

  9. I love when I click on a link off Homestead Barn Hop, and it turns out to be an old friend! I had a Jersey Wooly for a while, too, but was too impatient to wait for the little handfuls of fluff for spinning. But I agree, alpacas or llamas are a whole different ball of wax!

  10. OOOOOOOh, angoras!! I used to have several and moved into town and had to get rid of them. Now I'm out again and have desperately been trying to find some and just can't seem to find any. Their wool is soooo soft and fun to spin. Enjoy them!

  11. Awwwwww! I'm a sucker for angora bunnies. They were my first fiber animals but sadly I had to find new homes for them for one of our long distance moves. A little high maintenance, but oh so worth it.


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