Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making Paddocks, Part 2

I am very excited that our new pasture is almost ready for the goats. We hired professionals to do the boundary fence and watering system and we did the interior fencing today. Now we just have to hook up the energizer and clean up some leftover fencing materials. If all goes well, we'll get the goats moved in later this week.

The hardest part will be moving the goats. That pasture is about a quarter mile from where they are now so we'll probably load them into the livestock trailer to haul them down there.
I'm sure it will be easier than loading the pigs. That was a fiasco! You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a pig into a trailer. After many failed attempts, including chasing pigs down our road and falling in the poopy end of the pig pen, we finally left the trailer set up with their food in it overnight so if they wanted to eat they had to go into the trailer. It worked and we just closed the door behind them. Why didn't we think of that first?!? But I digress...

We now have 4 paddocks in the pasture so we will be able to rotate the does in 2 paddocks and the bucks in the other 2, and still have an empty paddock between them at all times. That's a good thing since we don't want any accidental breedings. We should really have about 3 times as many paddocks, but the pasture is not big enough. We have plans to add more pastures.

I am a little nervous about having the goats so far away from the house, but we have a neighbor whose house overlooks the pasture and I'm sure he will let us know if there is any trouble. Not only that, we installed a 4' high 4" wire mesh boundary fence that has barbed wire underneath it and 3 strands of electric offset to the inside. Our fencing contractors thought I was a little crazy to put in such an expensive fence but at least I won't be up at night worrying about our goats. Besides, if it prevents even one coyote attack it will have been worth it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Making Paddocks, Part 1

Farming in the rain is not fun. Though if you have good rain gear and can connect with your inner child, it's not too bad. It has been raining a lot here lately but today it is sunny and we are going to install semi-permanent fencing in our new pasture to divide it into paddocks to facilitate rotational grazing.

Rotational grazing is used to maximize food production and minimize parasite problems. Basically, you do a multivariable calculation involving the number of goats (or other livestock) you have, the size of the pasture, how long it takes the grass to grow, and the life cycle of parasites to determine the size of the paddocks, how many you need, and how long the animals should remain in each paddock before moving to the next. Ahhh... the simple life; who knew I'd be able to put my math degree to such good use as a farmer!

If we were living in a perfect world, I would calculate all that and have a perfect pasture with perfect animals and a perfect life. But we don't live in a perfect world and the reality is that our herd has grown faster than our pastures. So, we are going to use the less scientific method and wing it. Since we are using semi-permanent fencing for the paddocks, it will be easy to adjust them as we fence in more pasture area.

Tomorrow I’ll post the results with photos.

(Side note: if you are looking for a farm, it is a REALLY, REALLY good idea to purchase one with good fencing or expect to spend a ton of money installing it.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rabbit Food Everywhere

This is what a 50 lb bag of rabbit food looks like when it is dumped on the floor. Not pretty! Apparently the bag had a tear in it and when Brett slung it over his shoulder it ripped apart.

Brett was a really good sports about cleaning it up (and me and Ryan laughing at him). He used a dust pan as a shovel and Ryan helped to vacuumed up the stray pieces. I took pictures and snickered ;o)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cumberland Fall Festival

I was invited to demonstrate spinning at the Cumberland Fall Festival last weekend. They also let us set up a booth about our farm. It was the perfect opportunity to publicize our farm and upcoming knitting, spinning and crochet lessons. We took a cashmere goat kid and Angora rabbit.

It was a lot of work and some very long days but we had a great time. People were more interested in the animals than in spinning, especially the Angora rabbit. I think I could have sold 10 of them if I'd have had them. I'll be more prepared next year!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Join us for classes to learn how to knit, crochet or spin, or to improve upon your existing skills. For more information, to request a specific class, or to schedule private lessons, contact Beth at (423) 869-8927 or

Stitch & Spin
Saturdays 10 am – Noon
Tuesdays 6 pm – 8 pm
Bring your current knitting, crochet or spinning project to stitch or spin as you make new friends in an inviting community of yarn lovers. Relax, be inspired by other participants, and enjoy great conversation! Sessions are free and open to everyone. No reservations required.

Block of the Month Club
First Tuesday of each month 6 pm – 8 pm
Complete a beautiful knit or crochet afghan one block at a time. Two blocks for each afghan will be offered each month. You decide whether to do one or two blocks per month. Just buy the pattern book and yarn and knit or crochet along with us. Join any month. Participants must have basic knitting or crochet skills.

Beginner Knitting Series
Thursdays, February 10th & 24th
6 pm – 8 pm
$60, includes 2 classes, tools & materials
Make a felted purse while learning the basics of knitting, including how to cast on, knit, purl, bind off, felt, and read a simple pattern. When you are finished with this class, you will have the skills and confidence you need to begin a new project.

Beginner Crochet Series
Thursdays, February 17th & March 3rd
6 pm – 8 pm
$60, includes 2 classes, tools & materials
Make a felted purse while learning the basics of crochet, including the chain stitch, single crochet, double crochet, felting and simple pattern reading. You’ll walk away from this class with the confidence you need to begin a new project.

Knitting Cables
Thursday, March 10th
6 – 8 pm
$15, includes the class & pattern. You will also need yarn, cable needle, & appropriate size knitting needles.
If you’ve admired cabled garments but you’ve been intimidated to try them, this class is for you! You’ll get the hang of cables while knitting a beautiful cabled scarf – and you’ll be surprised how easy it is. Participants must know how to knit & purl prior to attending this class.

Crochet Hats
Thursday, March 17th
6-8 pm
$15, includes the class & pattern. You will also need yarn & the appropriate size hook.
Crochet hats are very popular right now. This is a great class to learn how to crochet in the round. Participants must know how to chain, single crochet and double crochet prior to attending this class.

Knit Hats
Thursday, March 24th
6 – 8 pm
$15, includes the class & pattern. You will also need yarn, circular needle, & a blunt yarn needle.
Knit hats are fun and fashionable. You will learn the Magic Loop method of knitting in the round. Participants must know how to knit and purl prior to attending this class.

Private Lessons
Individual lessons and customized classes are available to anyone who wants to polish their skills at knitting, crocheting, or spinning. Contact us to make arrangements.

Basic Supplies
Students should bring these items to every class:

Class Registration & Policies
Beginner classes normally have 3-6 students. Advanced classes may be larger.

Please register in advance. Classes that do not meet the minimum enrollment requirements 3 days before the first class may be rescheduled.

If homework is required for class, please complete it prior to class. Contact us if you need help.

Please purchase class materials at Mountain Hollow Farm.

No refund or credit will be given for cancellations or no-shows on the day of the class.