Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cumberland Fall Festival

I am excited to tell you that I've been invited to demonstrate spinning at the Cumberland Fall Festival in Middlesboro, KY this weekend, October 2-4. My booth is going to be in the "big tent" with the other demonstrators. We'll have a goat kid or 2 and an angora rabbit available for petting and I will be giving introductory lessons for knitting, crochet and spinning.

For more information about the festival, visit http://www.thefallfestival.com/

Please stop by and say hi. I'd love to see you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Favorite Cleaner Gone Awry

Yesterday when I needed to clean the chicken nest boxes, I decided to use my favorite cleaning solution: a bucket of hot water with dish detergent and bleach. The dish detergent cuts the grease and grime and the bleach kills all the nasties.

Instead of lugging a bucket of hot water from the house out to the coop, I decided to use the hose, so I mixed up some concentrated bleach and dish detergent in an old squirt bottle. That was a mistake! The bleach caused the dish detergent to foam up, right out of the top of the bottle. And the bottle got hot. Hmmmm…. It would have been a cool science experiment if it didn’t stink so badly.

Apparently, Palmolive has ammonia in it. Upon further inspection, I discovered that there is fine print (which I can barely see) on the back of the bottle stating “Do not use with chlorine bleach to avoid irritating fumes”. I guess when you mix them in a big bucket of water, they are diluted enough to avoid this reaction. Still, I think I’ll look for another dish detergent that would be safer to use.

I hate to switch from Palmolive; it really is “soft on hands”. In fact, I often use it to wash my hands because it leaves my skin softer than most soaps – even the expensive ones. If I can find a dish detergent that’ll work, I’ll use it for cleaning but Palmolive will always be my kitchen sink dish detergent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Woo-Hoo & Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!

Our chickens started laying eggs. So, this morning I put aside my carefully planned to-do list and cleaned the nest boxes. I fed these 4 eggs to the dogs since I wasn't sure they were laid today. The dogs loved them!

We have 10 hens – and, unlike last year, we know they are all hens. Therefore, we will have more eggs than we can use. If you’d like to buy delicious farm-fresh brown eggs, let me know. We will sell them for $2 per dozen.

I ate grocery store eggs my whole life until last year. I was pleasantly surprised at how much better farm-fresh eggs looked and tasted. So, if you prefer grocery store eggs, I won’t hold it against you – especially if you give me your empty cartons. However, for you locals who have never tried fresh eggs and would like to, I'll give you 1/2 dozen for free. Just tell me you read it on my blog.

To read about last year's chicken experience and how we made sure to get all hens this year, click here.

This photo is of the back end of the chicken coop (or poultry palace). The drop-down door gives us easy access to the nest boxes. We hung the solar light there but it doesn't give much light, which is OK since we don't usually visit the coop at night. For a side view of the coop, click here.

Wow, writing this post is making me hungry. I can't wait till morning. Hopefully we'll have some eggs to fry!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Save the Puppies

Someone abandoned 4 adorable puppies in our pasture. We already have 5 dogs, of which 3 were similarly abandoned, so we can't keep them. We need your help to find them good homes. If we don't find homes for them by Monday, we will take them to the Bell County Animal Shelter where they will face near certain death.

Please forward this to everyone you know. Use email, facebook , twitter, blogs - any method you can. If we spread the message to enough people, we can find them good homes. Paste the link to this page into your message: http://www.mountainhollowfarm.blogspot.com/
The puppies are very friendly and well-behaved. They look like a german shepherd mix, so they will be medium to large sized. They have short hair.
I really don't want to take them to the shelter. Please help! If you'd like to adopt one of these puppies, contact us at (423) 869-8927 or beth@mtnhollow.com.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Show Season

I've just sent 4 cashmere fleeces off to the Eastern Cashmere Association Cashmere Goat Show. The show is in Richmond, VA the end of September. It is an interesting event. The fleeces are submitted in 2 gallon ziploc bags. When they are judged, they are taken out of the bag and the judge examines the fleece for the characteristics listed below.

As you read this consider that in order to be considered cashmere, the goat's down has to be less than 18.5 microns. A micron is one millionth of a meter or one thousandth of a millimeter. It is really small so the judge has to have an exceptionally well-trained eye to judge cashmere. That is also why cashmere is so soft. Wool is itchy because the fibers are thicker, and consequently stiffer, so they jag the skin. Cashmere is so fine that it bends rather than jag.

Cashmere fleeces are judged on:

Fiber diameter is defined as Mean Fiber Diameter (MFD). Fiber must be fine, with a histogram MFD of 18.5 microns or less.

Style is defined as the crimp or curvature of the individual fibers, and is represented on the histogram as deg/mm (degrees of circular arc per mm). Individual fibers should exhibit three dimensional, irregular crimp along their entire length. Mean style measurements on the histogram should be no less than 45 deg/mm.

Fiber length is measured in its relaxed (crimpy) state, and must be no less than 1.25 inches (32 mm).

Fiber diameter should exhibit minimal variation in a given sample or “swatch,” and transitional fibers should not be present. Uniformity is represented on the histogram as Coefficient of Variation (CV) and must be no greater than 24%.

Guard hair should be coarse enough to be easily differentiated from down fibers.

Total Down Weight (TDW)
The total amount of cashmere down that is obtained from the fleece of a single goat. Represented as Total Down Weight (TDW), it is measured after cleaning and processing, and should be no less than 2 ounces (60 grams).

For the complete North American Cashmere Goat Breed Standard, visit

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Old Store

We have an old country store next to our house. It was THE store to go to many years ago but has since fallen into disrepair. When we bought the property, it was just a shell and the rock pillars that formed the foundation were sinking.

We had contractors rip off an addition that was falling down, shore up the foundation, put on a new roof, install stairs, a wall, electric and lights. We refinished the original wood floor and painted the interior. The back part of the store will be a wood turning shop for Brett and the front part will be a store and fiber studio where I can do my spinning, knitting and other fiber-related crafts.

I was hoping to open our store on September 1st, but that didn’t happen. It is all fixed up and I’ve moved all my knitting and spinning stuff in. I’d been praying about what to do because I’ve been very stressed out lately. I had been putting so much effort into getting the store done that I was neglecting other things that needed to be done around the farm.

Last week, I finally got an answer… Wait. I sense that God is saying, “Why are you rushing this? The store will open and it will be great; just not yet”. I hate waiting! So that fact that I am at peace with this means it has to be a “God thing”.

In the meantime, it is going to be a fiber studio. It is wonderful to have the space to set up my spinning and knitting equipment and not be tripping over it all the time! I can’t wait to get caught up on the chores I was neglecting so I can spend more time knitting and spinning.