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Thursday, April 21, 2011

llama fiber

Last trip up, my Mum picked up our dehaired llama fiber from Zeilingers (thanks again Mom!).  I'm really happy the way it turned out.  It is super soft!!!  They also sent us the hair from the dehair and I guess that will be used as mulch in the garden...unless we want to make some rope from it!  It is pretty coarse stuff.
Pikachu's fiber was really full of VM and most of it came out.  There is a little bit of small VM in it but it is definitely workable!
"Ha!  I'll be rolling in the dirt, hay and llama poo before you know it!"

This is Igraine's fiber.  It is a rich reddish brown.  For some reason the photos made it look a wee bit orange.

This is Igraine when she was just a few days old with her mother Llilith.  This next shearing we will have double the amount of brown fiber since all of Llilith's manky coat was removed last year (and composted).  The old broken down log pig barn in the back was pulled down a couple of years ago before we put up the new barn.  It was very cool looking but not useful at all unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stone Soup

The kids in Grades K-3 put on a production of "Stone Soup" for the community last Friday.
It was pretty impressive and we were amazed they'd only spent five days rehearsing some long lines and several songs.
Sam was soldier number one.
  Duncan was storyteller number seven dressed as a farmer.  I have a hard time taking pictures at the Erickson Center...they all turn out dark even with the flash on!

Think I could get a straight face?

Monday, April 18, 2011

April Showers?

Saturday morning looked like this.  Fortunately, the roads were okay to go to Spinning and Art Class.
Sunday morning looked like THIS!!!  That is the ground behind the shrubbery, not the sky.  Sheesh.  All week this is supposed to go on...Fortunately we changed sheep coats on Friday!
Nonetheless, Spring must go on and so we colored eggs in an ancient fertility ritual.
These are bantam eggs from our chickens.  The dye took differently on the eggs that had natural warty type spotting.
Coolest Easter Eggs we've done yet!
Lila experimented with taping.....
....and finished her first knitting project ever!  I'm still working on my sock...getting to the heel flap now.  Life will become more complicated I think!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stealing from the Trees time

The past few weeks we've been stealing from the trees....
Note the serious lack of snow on the ground!

It has been a rather short sap season for us.  Few warm super sunny days and the nights have been too warm.  Just sort of grey....

It's always fun to get a drink of cold sweet sap out of the buckets.
The ride back and forth to the tapped trees is fun too.  Dad is a good rickshaw driver.

Everyone helps collect sap.  Even me, sometimes when I'm not taking pictures.  Will does most of the work though.
It's all about the ride...

Will has been busy these past couple of days boiling sap down, when it hasn't rained. We probably won't collect much more sap though the buckets are still on the trees...potentially another run at the end of the week (which means the weather will be getting worse).  Many people who have boiled down are saying the sugar content of the sap is higher which means a higher yield on the regular 40:1 ratio.  We shall see!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Temporary Visitor

Two weeks ago I had a phone call at work that someone was bringing in a Snowy Owl that wasn't doing well.  I had gone away from the office and when I got back there was a small box on my chair containing this wee Saw Whet Owl (hard to confuse with a Snowy).  He was quite emaciated and couldn't use his legs very well, which are both common side effects of West Nile Virus.  However, I thought it was worth a go to give him the benefit of the doubt and get some food into him.
He came home with me into a smallish kennel on top of the bunny cage in the bathroom.  Several people wondered if the bunny, a Jersey Wooly, felt intimidated by the owl but I reassured them that the rabbit was at least six times larger than the owl.  Neither of them seemed to care much about the other.  See, this owl is small enough to fit into the palm of my hand.

"Morpork", the saw whet owl, enjoys a close familial relationship with the Boreal Owl on the label of Bell's Best Brown Ale (Will's favorite beer), a Michigan crafted ale.

He seemingly enjoyed having his head stroked, and went into a trancelike state!

The first few times he was fed I had to open his beak and push little bits of raw beef partly into his throat, but after a few days he eagerly grabbed them. Still, after a week he was not able to stand up on his own legs so he remained propped up in a slipper. After the 10th day he decided to start grabbing at the meat with his feet and use his legs more often and took a few test flights in the house!

We finally felt that he would be able to be released at the end of last weeks...15 days after we started feeding him.  He made a brief appearance in the fouth and fifth grade classrooms at the Three Lakes Academy where we talked about owl biology (asymetrical skulls, zygodactic feet, silent flight feathers etc...) and the importance of maintaining dead/declining trees in the forest for cavity nesting birds.

We had a couple of Kestrel boxes and decided to put one up in the woods behind the house just in case he wanted or needed to come back.  It is also nice to think it could be used by other cavity nesters.

So about twenty feet up into the air on a sugar maple went the box, and Will gently placed Morpork inside.
He stayed in the box about 5 minutes before popping into the hole (click on the picture to biggify), and after a short tumble and recovery he flew off deeper into the cover of some cedar and hemlock.  I hope he is going to be able to hunt on his own and recover fully, but if not, it is a more dignified death for an owl to die in the woods and we did what we could to help him and he enriched our lives for the few days he was here. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Breeding Bunnies

After what seemed to be along and painful decision about what bunnies to breed I finally did it.  For some reason, I needed to see visually what my options were so I did Punnet Squares (remember Genetics?) for my possible pairs and made a decision that way.  The lovely Dalilah (the black bunny below) was paired with the equally black Blackberry Jellybean. 
I haven't bred Jellybean before, though his brother Bigwig was paired with Dalilah last year and they had a litter of 8 lovely kits!  I found out that both Dalilah and Bigwig carry the vienna gene (though they aren't marked which is "supposed to be" unusual) through that breeding.  I guess we'll find out if Jellybean carries it as well!  Part of the reason I chose blackberry to sire this litter was to hopefully find out what some of the genes he carries.  Dalilah is aa Bb C_  Dd E_ Vv.  Jellybean is aa Bb C_D_E_V_.  It would be nice to find out if they both carry dilute or an extension.  I'm still kinda fuzzy on the vienna gene (Vv) and my understanding of it is that you don't have to have cc in order to exhibit the gene and get a blue eyed white bunny.  If anyone knows, please clue me in!
Blackberry, of course, was quite happy to be of service.

Mocha (aa bb Cc D_ E_ VV) was paired up with Bigwig (Aa Bb C_ D_ E_ Vv) for a line breeding and again to smoke out some very likely recessive d's and e's.  I'm primarily breeding for a heavy wool coat (I just took five ounces off of Mocha in one clipping) and temperament (Bigwig is a sweetie). I wanted some agouti babies too!  It was a most enthusiastic breeding.

Buffy (aa B_ Cc Dd ee Vv) will be paired with Butterbur (aa bb chl_ Dd ee VV).  I'm especially eager to see what this pair produces and maybe solve some mysteries with their genes as well.  I'm still not really sure if Butterbur is ch or chl!

Everyone is due May 4th or 5th.
  I haven't been able to post because I misplaced my download cord for the camera...lots of other things to report on including a visitor we had living with us for two weeks!  I need a faster download connection for that though....just a teaser.