Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I always debate about putting depressing things on my blog. Since I use it as a reminder, I have decided to include this episode. Maybe it will help someone else.

This evening I went out and picked up the grey angora rabbit doe, because she needed to be plucked. It is too hot and her wool is starting to shed. I realized that she was pregnant and thought I would lighten her coat a little. As I started carrying her back to the house, I felt something hit my leg. I looked down and saw a baby rabbit. It did not look like it was ready to be born, so I immediately took the doe back to her hutch. I was hoping that, if there were others, they might make it. I left her alone, since I was making her nervous and went back out an hour later. She had 9 more babies and only two of them were gasping for air. Alas, they did not make it either. Too depressing for words.

I have not figured out what to do with the rabbits. They do not do well with the heat and only once managed to carry a baby to term. I did not plan this breeding, so it should not depress me.

I am still waiting on two Shetland/Border Leicesters to deliver. They are now huge and starting to worry me. They were way too hot today and it cannot be good for them. Their sides have not really sunken in, but they are starting to dig in the ground to make themselves more comfortable. I have resigned myself to just discovering that they have given birth. I keep going out every two hours (except during the middle of the night, since they don't deliver then), but I can't predict what they are going to do. Based on sizes, I would say twins, if not triplets. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fire was arson

The police were all over this case and caught two 18 year old boys that had been partying at the established apartments. I figured arson when I saw it. Since there was life endangerment, as well as $4 million in damages, they have pretty much ruined their lives.

I am glad that the buildings near us were not set on fire. We could have lost our house. Two houses in the subdivision had heat damage.

The builders are aready back on the undamaged apartments.

Making choices

Since just about all of the kids have been born, I am starting to look at this year's batch and trying to decide, which to keep and which to sell. I have already decided to keep Precious's doe, Cinnamon's doe, Mint's doe, Palo Seco, Barbara's doe and one of each of Jalapeno, Absynthe, and Latte's does. I will need to sell a few yearling does, so if you are looking for show quality does and bucks, send me an email. I also want to sell Palo Seco's mother, Caramel. She has lovely hair, so I hate to send her off to auction. She will be priced as a pet and should not be bred, unless you want to bottle feed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fire just a little too close

I took this picture at 4:30 A.M. I got a call at 4 from a neighbor down the road telling me that the apartments across the street from me were on fire. I opened the front door and took one look and started to get Kyle up. Marc was still home, which I did not realize. You can see the height of the building on the right (which is the one still standing in the picture below.) There were 3 buildings that tall in the now open space. The second stories were still on the buildings that have been flattened and the flames were shooting really high into the air. It was really scary that in half an hour those buildings were just gone.
The two remaining buildings are too close for comfort, if you ask me.
The above apartment building was one of the already inhabited ones from 4 years ago. One whole end of it is burnt out. It looks like the fires started in the new construction and spread to the old building. I personally think the buildings are much too close together and too high. I did not realize how much of the view they had taken up.
The smell of smoke is everywhere, so I have the air conditioner on high to suck it out. I found large ashes in the animal area. Sure am glad the wind was not blowing. It would have hit us easily. Marc needs to check the roof tonight - just in case! It will make me feel better.

The animals were fine and none panicked. I figured that the llamas would scream, if they felt threatened.

The TUSD school group came out to drop spindle today. Of the eight, 4 were fairly good. I can always pick out the ones who are scientific/more precise! They will be back next week to wet felt. All of them will like that!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Challenge for THSG

We were challenged to create something that reflects the southwestern desert (Arizona). I chose to create a yarn that reflects the landscape. The above is one side of a batt that I used for a portion of the yarn.
This is the backside of the batt that was on the carder.The two sides of the batts show all of the colors that I used in different ways to create the final yarn.
A closeup of the yarn while still on the bobbin. I included cowboy boots and hats, beads, bows, and ribbons as well as varying textures to recreate the idea of southwestern themes.
The white coils are the clouds, the oranges and reds are the Birds of Paradise, the beads represent the mines, the hats and boots are for the cowboys, the purples, oranges, and blues are for the gorgeous sunsets.
I ended up with 148 yards and had a blast making it. Don't know, if I will be able to sell it, since it is truly one of a kind and fits in my Hidden Treasure series. You don't really know how much is in it until you start using it.

Koolaid dyeing

The kids from the local school came out and dyed these batches of wool and mohair locks. They will card them on Thursday and then use some for felting and some for drop spindling.

Baby Goslings

This is Ugly sitting on her nest. She had 4 babies at the time. She now has 6. Her daughter from two years ago is now sitting on a second nest next to her. They are downright nasty in their protection of the eggs and babies. They are turning out to be very good mothers. Fillip, the spitting llama is on the side of the fence and finds it very entertaining.
The other geese are keeping watch on the far side of the fence.You always know that a gosling is hatching, because all of the females are on the inside until it is done.

It is spring here and the palo verdes are in full bloom. So are my allergies!

More scrumbling

The above is Barbara's initial scrumble. Her yarn is the last picture of the post. Both she and Polly decided that they were going to make vests and they picked out enough yarn to make one.
Both Polly and Barbara picked cool textured yarns. Want to make a guess as to what the purple yarn is and what stitch Polly used?
Barbara's yarn selection.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Freeform spinning

It was busy today between preparing for the workshop that I am giving and carding for a customer/friend, who wants to felt a landscape 2 ft X 8ft. Since she plans to felt it here, I will get to check it out as she designs it.

The garage is almost done, so we are going to use it for the workshop tomorrow, unless it gets too hot. We will have room to spread out and a lot more light than in the studio. I started pulling out fibers and interesting bits to put into yarns. I need to spin more of the yarns myself, since I am now down to a total of one skein left. Someone bought the one I called "romantic." It had pink flowers, bows and beads with "red" kid mohair and white. It was gorgeous and the priciest in the shop. Definitely worth every penny of it. One of my friends told me that it would be twice the price where she lives. Checking around online, I know it is true, but I do like to sell to the locals also.

All of the moms and babies are content. Went out to lock the mom in, so her baby could drink, pop Palo Seco in with Dark Chocolate and then feed Desert his bottle. If it were not so dark out, I would have taken my camera out. All of the recently sheared moms were in the large shed with their kids. No room to walk! Those sheds have been worth every penny that was spent on them.

The Pima county fair spinning competition is about 1 P.M. on Sunday. Come out and visit, if you have time. I plan to help run it and provide fiber for the spinning and prizes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Garage almost done

The garage will be finished by Friday. It sure cuts down on the wind and will be kind of warm without an air conditioner. I can then expand my workshop area to accommodate more people. I plan to do felting in there. It has already gotten too hot to do it outside in the sun.
The doors and trim will be painted to match the rest of the house, but I was excited to see the doors up. They are going to put the studio and shop doors up tomorrow, or the next day. It will make a big difference in the shop, because there will be a lot more light, so the yarns will show better.
Of course, I will have to keep my clutter down, since it will all be on view!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I taught a scrumbling class this afternoon and each of the ladies did basically the same thing. I am always amazed at how cool they turn out and at how different they become due to yarns. Nancy made the scrumble above. She was a fast worker, so I had her crochet a corkscrew flower to go with hers. She was using yarn that I spun last weekend at the street fair. I did not plan that they would all go together, but they certainly do.
The above scrumble by Audrei was made using the exact same directions, which were not really specific, since scrumbling is meant to be freeform. We decided that her original garter stitch piece looked a lot like the state of Texas. She used more of the 4th Ave yarn.
Marcia used commercial yarns to knit and crochet her piece. The cool looking flower is nothing more than chains and single crochets. The yarn does the rest.

They were a good group. I am offering the class again as a freefrom knit and crochet class next Saturday from 1-4. I have decided to roll the instruction for both the scrumbling and the freeform into one session. Makes more sense and frees people up to go in either direction. See my website for details, or email me at jmarckathy@aol.com, if you are interested.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Today Kyle turned 19. Saw him to say hello this morning and he was gone to school and his girlfriend to celebrate. I don't rate. Marc is off to watch one of Kristie's doctoral recitals in Indiana. I think Penny and I are too beat to get into trouble. We got a total of 25 goats and sheep done. I still have about 6 goats, the llamas and the alpacas to get sheared.

As we were shearing, I was checking for signs of pregnancy. I only have two ewes left to deliver (the Border Leicester/Shetland Crosses) and 2 white does. At least 5 of the sheep did not get bred this year. Since they are mostly from one line, I am going to have to decide whether it is worth keeping them. $240 and fleeces only worth about $40 before washing, does not justify the expense. I have been selling their fiber as batts, but I really have to spin all of it to break even.

The cutest part of shearing was watching some of the kids trying to drink from their moms, while they were being sheared. I took a few photos with my phone and will try to figure how to send a few to the computer. A couple of goats had poor fleeces due to age, but the bulk were really nice. A few were on the verge of felting. Next year, I will shear myself, if Penny can't make it. The prime time for them was when I had her scheduled in March. A few weeks can really degrade their quality. I will end up using them myself, since they are not attractive enough to sell.

Now I am too beat to do anything else!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Busy morning

I had a group out from the TUSD come out to watch Penny shearing. She was late, so they got a tour of the animals and to hold a few of them. Palo Seco and Cinnamon's white eared buck are really tame, so got the most loving. They will be back next Thursday to do Koolaid dyeing and then the following week to drop spindle and finally to knit and felt. Five minutes before they arrived, Sweet had a kid buck. He is big and strong and was already on mom, when I finally made it back out to check on him.

I also had customers that came out and got lucky to arrive in time to see the shearing. Since they were not expecting it, I hope they enjoyed it. We only got 7 animals done today, since Penny was not feeling well. I sent her to bed. Hope she wakes up feeling better in the morning, since there were 32 to be sheared. I might have to get back into shearing myself. They needed to be sheared a month ago, when I scheduled Penny. She was sick and only managed a day then. The sheep are starting to roo (shed their fleeces) and the goats are looking ratty, so I will have to shear them myself, if she can't get them done. Since they will be sheared again in 6 months, I have to keep on a schedule or they won't be ready and then it will get too cold.

Lambing and kidding season is almost over. A Shetland that was in with the Cormo did not get bred, and I do not think that the other two did either. It would have been interesting to see what they came up with.

Going to spin and finish a season of the Medium. It is only average, but does keep my mind occupied!

Monday, April 7, 2008

4th Ave Street Fair

Sunday had lots of walkers, but I made enough to beat last year's total. My really cool yarns sold well, as did my patterns. I hope to see a lot of new faces for the felting.
I finished the shawl below the night before the wool festival. I sold patterns for it. I expect it will sell on my etsy store or at the Winter Street Fair, which I am applying for now. 80 degree weather is not conducive to buying or selling alpaca/wool shawls.
Sweet is standing around chewing on wood and wire. I expect her to deliver tomorrow, if not during the night. As soon as anyone or any animal gets near her, she is off to another spot. Very touchy!

Interested in milking?

Is he not cute? This is one of Garnet's rams. The other looks just like him, with slightly different markings.
This is the second ram. It was hard to pick out his coloring that early in the morning and he was still kind of wet.
Here are all three together with mom. The one closest to the Garnet's head is a lilac ewe. definitely a keeper.

Holly, our dairy goat delivered last night right before I got home from the fair. Her buck is huge and already the size of month old angora kids. Next year, I will be smarter and put her in for breeding a lot earlier. Almost all of the rest have delivered!

If any of you are hankering to have a try at milking a goat, you can meet me at the gate at 9:45 most mornings (not workshop days) and I will teach you how. Since she is also feeding her buck, I will let you off easy. You will only have to milk one teat. I got 1 quart out tonight and will start milking one side of her, since the kid is mostly drinking from the other. I wanted to get some colostrum, in the event that I might need it for another baby. A lot more work to milk, but it is a whole lot cheaper than buying milk replacer!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

4th Avenue and Garnet

Garnet delivered triplets all by herself, early this morning, so I had time to check them out before I left for the street fair. Two rams and an ewe. The ewe is a lilac, the rams look more chocolate, but they were still wet when I saw them and they were under a tree, so I won't know for sure until morning. I picked all of them up tonight and they seemed to be fine. They were already bigger than when I saw them this morning.

The 4th Avenue was a lot busier today and there were a lot of buyers. Yesterday seemed to be mostly people walking without a lot of interest. I had lots of friends stop by to say hello, which was nice. Some I had not seen in a while.

You can tell those who are truly addicted to fiber - they will buy yarn in 80 degree weather. I know I am one, because I just turn the air conditioning on at home and keep playing with fiber.

I had thought about going to the Fibers Through Time Convention and checking out the vendors, but knowing that I had new babies at home, my interest in staying out after dark died.

Unfortunately, I am at the point, where I am going to have to start deciding who to keep and who to sell. It is going to be hard, because even the older ones have very fine (although straight) hair. The older they are, the friendlier they are becoming. I gain their trust when I get their babies on them and grain does the rest. I went out with some as a treat tonight - a great way to tell who is close to delivering, because they hang back, so they won't get bumped, when the stampede starts. That is how I knew that Garnet was going to deliver. A Shetland/Border Leicester cross was hanging back tonight, so she is probably next. Hard to ever be sure, so don't quote me!

If you have not checked out the street fair, the weather is great and so is the music. I have some Native Americans playing Andean flute music across from me. They had their amplifiers blasting at me this morning and were really nice about reorienting them. Made a huge difference for me and my customers. We could hear each other again! I did buy two of their CDs. They will be playing a different one tomorrow.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I read my last blog and had to laugh. All of the goats that I had tried to let out of pens stayed in them voluntarily. I threw them out today, since a new batch will be going in really soon. I have the 4th Ave this weekend and they are all bound to pop just because I am not here. I thought all of the white goats had kidded, but the yearlings are now spreading wide. Sweet will likely deliver in the next two days. Her hair is gorgeous. Tor came over and sheared her udder area, so Marc will be able to get babies on her, if necessary. She looks like twins. She is not acting stressed, so she might be a few days out. Classy looks like twins, while Mini looks like a single.

Marc and I went and put the stuff in my booth this afternoon. I hung a bunch of yarn on racks to weight them down. The wind was really wicked, so we kept the booth closed while we were working. It got too hot, so we left and figured I would get up early in the morning to finish up. Kyle is going to go down with me and then go to class, after he helps me with a few things. If I am screaming in the morning, it will be due to his driving! Marc will walk the fair in the afternoon and then pick me up.

After pricing the last few items that did not have labels on them, I vacuumed the shop and moved things around. I have an order for a pound of batts, so I will work on them tomorrow evening, if I am not too beat. I hope to go to the Fibers Through Time and check out the vendors on Saturday night, assuming no babies are born. Then I am coming home!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


This is a work in progress of a scrumble, that I am planning to turn into a vest. It is a variation on three colors.
You need a basic knowledge of knit and crochet to do this. I am teaching it as a class on April 12, 2008, from 1-4 P.M. Cost is $40. You need to bring yarns, and needles and hooks that are the appropriate size for the yarns chosen. I cover the creation, assembly and embellishment ideas that will apply to anything that you decide to make as your finished project.

Cinnamon and Jalapeno

Cinnamon and her buck and doe kids. The buck has white ears. This was within an hour of birth.
Jalapeno with her two does. I am going to let them out this afternoon, since they seem to have bonded well.