Sunday, December 12, 2010
These are the newest feathered residents of the farm. They are a trio of French Toulouse geese acquired from ISeeSpots Farm in Greensboro. Their ancestors are French Toulouse geese imported by Metzer Farms (California) in 2006. They are a utility or production goose rather than an exhibition or show goose. We were very taken by the pretty contrast between their dark gray heads and intense orange eye rings. They seem to be very docile too.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
This is a new yarn for 2010. This 3-ply yarn is 80% soft wool and 20% strong, shiny mohair contributed by the Shetland sheep and Angora goats here at Avillion Farm. I have had quite a good time dyeing it (left), but have left some in the natural state (right). The idea behind using a 3-ply was to give the finished yarn added roundness, strength and comfort.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This year I've had 3 new runs of 80% wool/20% angora yarn spun up at Stonehedge Fiber Mill. These are all two-ply, approximately fingering weight yarn put up in 250 yard skeins. They are oh so soft and bloom beautifully (halo) as they are knitted up. The white is shetland wool blended with German angora, the dark gray is shetland wool with black German crossbred angora rabbit, and the blue-gray (my personal favorite) is Jacob wool blended with blue and lilac German crossbred angora rabbit. These yarns will soon be posted on the website and I'll have them with me at SAFF this year.
Friday, September 17, 2010
These two litters are high percentage German angora crossbreds, all sired by Wiley's Leo. Leo is black with deep brown eyes carrying fawn in his background. The first litter is from Avillion Blue Bayou, who is actually lilac, not blue, and has beautiful blue-gray eyes. There are 3 chocolates (2 bucks, 1 doe) and one black (does). The second litter is from Avillion Black Rainbow (black with deep brown eyes). There are two blues (doe, buck), a black (buck) and a blue tort (doe). These kits are exceptionally chunky and feel very solid when I pick them up. These litters are both exceptionally friendly as well and have been getting lots of attention and socialization.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
This house has a large basement which makes summer litters a possibility It is cool enough so that the bucks stay fertile and the does can complete pregnancies and raise healthy litters without heat stress. This picture is of a French angora litter sired by CC's Waldorf (chocolate) and Avillion Gillian (chocolate. They are very cute and fun to handle at this stage and stayed reasonably still and together for
their group photograph. There are 2 lilacs (does), 2 chocolates (doe, buck), 2 REWs (doe, buck) and a lilac tort (buck). If all goes according to plan, they will be at the NC State fair. These bunnies will be available for sale during the last week of October.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
No these aren't the equine kind of mule. In the fall of 2008, we started an experiment - the crossing of Shetland ewes and Jacob ewes with a Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) ram to produce a commercial style crossbred ewe that would hopefully have the vigor of their primitive breed dams and soft lusterous wool of their BFL sire (Longhope Lord Nelson). These crossbred ewes are called mules. The idea is to breed the mule ewes to a British style Suffolk or Texel as a terminal cross to produce lambs that will finish well and quickly on grass. This breeding scheme is popular in Britain and becoming more widely used in the U.S. You can read more about it at http://www.mulesheep.com.
The first 6 lambs we kept born in 2009 (4 jacob and 2 shetland mules) are now over a year old and ready to be bred. They are shown in the picture below with their Suffolk ram. They are about the same height as their dams, but broader and slightly longer. Based on my experience and reading, the BFL crossed with a Shetland produces colors such as black, white and various shades of gray. The Jacob cross surprised me in that we got some white and dark brown lambs in addition to the black lambs I expected. They seem to produce more wool on a weight-basis compared to their dams. Temperment wise the mules resemble their dams; in fact I often describe the Jacob mules as Jacobs wearing a BFL suit because they are definitely Jacob in behavior, but their wool and body type are more like their sire.
Friday, August 13, 2010
It seems like every year there is one particular creature that brings itself to my notice.
This can be beautiful and interesting (frogs, box turtles) or harrowing (snakes, opossums).
This year it is butterflys, which fall into the beautiful category. This year there are more butterflys and different types than I recall seeing in years past - most of which, with the exception of Monarch butterflys, I do not even know the names. There are lots of yellow ones with black markings and black ones with blue markings. I notice them in being especially attracted by the line of sunflowers on the edge of the garden. I don't know if there is any particular meaning to this and the farmer's almanac has nothing to say on the subject as far as I can tell.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Angora goats, much like cats, prefer not to get wet and have an eye for comfort. Since the goats (unlike the sheep) can be relied upon to stay in the yard (or at least close to home), they are often let loose to graze and browse in the yard. This has the added advantage of increasing the intervals between mowing and brush cutting. In the attached photograph the goats, along with their guardian Bonnie, have decided to wait out a summer storm on the front porch.
This is the first official farm blog entry. The farms are together since Gary and I (Elaina) got married in January of 2010. FCS originally stood for Forked Cedar & Scuppernog; unfortunately the forked cedar was lost in an ice storm several years ago and Gary’s Jacob sheep ate all the scuppernogs. The original fiber animals at Avillion Farm are angora rabbits, angora goats and Shetland sheep. The American buff geese, mallard ducks and peafowl supply entertainment and beauty, while the Great Pyrenees guardian dogs (Bonnie and Violet) provide predator protection for the whole farm. I will be using the farm blog to chronicle events on the farm and introduce new fibers, yarns and other farm products.