Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 - The Year of the Hog

Ok, so the Chinese Calendar calls it the year of the rat - but at a rare breed we had the year of the hog!

Heritage hogs that is.

We have run hogs on our property before, to help till up the underbrush. We used Tamworths. Nice taste to the meat, the hogs were not my cup of tea, and I wrote off doing pork, much to customer's dismay. After numerous requests, some verged on begging, we decided to chalk up our experience to the wild breed, and try try again.

I turned to my mentor, and hog guru, Kathy Ecker at Legacy Manor. She runs Berkshire, Large Blacks and Gloucester Old Spots (or is it Old Gloucester Spots, I never get it right), and hybrids of the three for feeders. My requirements - a) Piggies need to know pasture b) Piggies need to be docile and c)Piggies need to be lean.

Piggies on Pasture - believe it or not, a pig who is fed grain right from the get go is NOT going to be a good pasture hog. Mom teaches them how to eat (sound familiar?). So Kathy's hogs are burrowed neck deep in hay bales, out on the grass, and yes, occasionally in the hen house!

Docile - or is it lazy? The Tams were active critters, enough so that I had been bitten, and they were jumping 32" Electronet - enough times that hubby was ready to file for divorce after rounding them up and me saying I'm not quitting the farm! Truth be known, he was scared of them. Me too in a certain extent. Black Sheep the Movie meets Back Creek Valley Pigs in my memory. Then I remember Kathy's boar Bert. (Yes Bert is a Berkshire). I felt safe enough to put my then 2yo daughter on his back. A Boar. Only thing Bert got excited about was food. And even then, in slow motion.

Interestingly enough, this actually led me to think more about the Large Black and Berkshire breeds. Large Blacks have these tremendous ears, which are not only high on the cuteness factor, it makes them more deliberate about where they are going! Have I been nibbled on? Yup. And spit out when they realize it's my pant leg and not a yummy. Apparently though, rubber boots still taste good??

The Spots are DEAR - too adorable really. Can anyone imagine 4 800lb pet pigs? That would have been the case if I had brought spotted pigs home. There is also the matter of fat....which leads me to my last requirement -

LEAN. Yup. I want lean pig. Why? I hate paying for fat on my bacon. Hubby can't handle fat sausage. It's what I prefer, as well as my customers. Yes, the fat is good in pasture raised animals (CLA's etc) - but too much is just well, too much. Not to mention I'd rather have it in the muscles (marbling) than on the back of the animal.

So we chose 4 black gilts that are probably just a smidgen Berkshire to grow out. And I'm hooked. As are the customers. We are opening up new pasture for more - but for right now if you'd delight in some lean pork, take a visit to our friends at Panorama and order their pork sausage stuffed squash!

We are ecstatic to offer this unique product and we will be working to meet the outstanding demands without compromising the quality (the trees only shed their nuts once a year!)

Anyone up for nut raised pork?? (There is a marketing label/logo in there somewhere!)

As I thought - some search for needles in a hay stack - I've found mine! And it's a hog!

Yes, that is me with the piggies IN THE DRIVEWAY. Pet piggies anyone?

Thanks again to Kathy for getting me 'hooked on hogs'!


Friday, November 14, 2008

The 'Itty Bitty Gift Shop'

Today I added some of our Farm Raised/Spun items to the 'Itty Bitty Gift Shop' up at Panorama at the Peak. Boy say that 5 times fast!

Panorama is a restaurant I have the honor of working with up in Berkeley Springs WV - their goals as a restaurant align with mine as a producer - sustainability, respect for the environment and all life in general - so I'm always happy to help them out with their ideas and ventures!

Next time you are in Berkeley Springs, stop by and say 'hello' - sample the local fare, and check out our hats!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Special Etsy Announcement - My Shop is OPEN!

After hearing from everyone, "why aren't you on Etsy".....

Will be adding items as time permits!

Yarn - to mill or not?

I've been debating having some of my wool spun at the mill - I was able to handspin almost all my Black Welsh this year (minus one sold fleece), and four additional purchased fleeces - yet my 'stash' is still 4 boxes large! Considering all my wool I have hands on from start to finish, this is obviously going to be a huge leap of faith - or maybe just an exercise in 'can Andrea not micromanage'.

I've been 'collecting' samples from as many mills as I can get my hands on - and one of which is Zeilinger's. My friends at Rockbridge had their yarn blended with their Romney and it's a gorgeous menswear type color - I'm going to have a vest knitted up for my dh in this and some of my Black Welsh handspun.

I do have a bunch of this here on consignment -if you are interested in trying - it is a crisp worsted - 6 oz hanks, 220yards - $24.99 - Email me to order some and I can get you the correct shipping on it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


So apparently, I'm not the last person on the face of the earth that doesn't know how to knit :-) My mom has been taking some of the Black Welsh and other yarns that I spin and knitting them into hats for market. And people love 'em! We will have them in the Local Harvest Store (along with Black Welsh Sheep pet toys!), and I'm offering a few styles for purchase, right here from the blog -

This is 'a rare breed's' child apple design - available in red or green, with or without worm! Hat is 100% Wool - Stem and Worms are created with wool right from the farm that I have spun. Sizes are:
  • Infant (0-18 month)
  • Toddler (18-3 yr)
  • Child (3-7)

$25 each, shipping is only $2.50.


buy me!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

There is something incredibly satisfying about working with fleece from your own sheep. After shearing and washing, then carding, you get a good idea of what the fleece 'wants' and a lot of times the personality of the sheep plays in my mood when I spin.

Here is Sterling, in lace weight - actually over 18 Wraps Per Inch (hard to tell from this pic but that is pretty tiny!) This is 2-ply spun on one of my drop spindles - a Swan by Grafton Fibers. It turned out so well I am wrapping it up tomorrow to send out to the Fall Fiber Festival for the skein competitions.

Anyone have a good pattern for just over 100 yards of lace weight yarn??? This one will be hard to part with!


Monday, September 8, 2008

More BLUE!

Isn't she BLUE-TIFUL???? We have two BFL ewes now - I have learned this wonderful pattern is called 'English Blue' - teardrops, and then they have a silver saddle which in the goat world I'd call a 'belt'!

More on these girls as time permits!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Rooster Stolen

Well, not really a rooster, but a portrait of one -

Here is the link to Kat's Blog entry about her painting -


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Farmer's Market is FUN!

Yah, you heard me right - dragging an ez-up tent and cinder blocks around can be fun!

Well, thankfully, I have my dad (pictured here) doing the dragging for the most part ;-) But I'm meeting a bunch of folks up at the Berkeley Springs Farmer's Market (I'm there on Thursdays 2-5) - selling eggs, lamb and yarn - and my mom's really cool stuff made WITH my yarn!

You can check out the information on the market -

Or just come and visit me ;-) and shop a bit! I'll be the one wearing the shirt with the infamous rooster! (More about a STOLEN rooster art piece next blog entry)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spinning madness

When I started with sheep, I decided I wanted a wool breed (Black Welsh Mountain) - but I don't knit, crochet, hook, you name it - fiber arts were a deep unknown.

Last October, I walked into a fiber shop in Berkeley Springs - The Fiber Collage, and met Linda Lawhorne - and started taking spinning lessons. Now I'm hooked, err, spun? wrapped? warped? (no that would be weaving...)

I spin primarily on a drop spindle, portable, takes up very little space and always handy. I prefer to spin naturally colored wools, and am working my way through the breeds to try just a bit of everything! I have even gone as far as processing my own wool at home (from sheep, to washing, to carding, to spindle) into yarn that I will be selling at Farmer's Market later this month.

I entered two hanks of yarn in the skein competitions at Maryland Sheep and Wool - and both ribboned!

These are both primarily Black Welsh Mountain lamb fleeces that I hand carded with other purchased (but hand dyed by artisan) fleeces - I'll be recreating the first placed ribbon blend for some sale yarn!

At the farm we are now experiencing record high heat, so I've turned up the A/C and have been spending a lot of time spinning. Will have pictures to post soon, and links to the fiber shops I'm finding around here!


Friday, May 16, 2008

A logo, A logo!

Finally! We have a logo!

Doesn't seem like a big deal, but I've been struggling, or shall we say, been having an 'identity' crisis for about a year now.

Goat page has Amos and Andy, the farm has featured Chloe on the back hill. Great when I was just doing informational/resource and promotion. Now I'm selling stuff. And lots of different stuff.

So the question was, how do I represent everything I'm producing (lamb, yarn, eggs, pork, goat, website design) all in one logo?


We use a ROOSTER!

Thanks to my very talented neighbor...
we have Rowdy the Roo (well, a modern representation thereof)...struttin' his stuff...

More on where we are selling our products soon!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It followed me home, dear!

I've been researching and contemplating the implementation of a 'mule flock' here at the farm for about two years. Last October, at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, I met two wonderful ladies who are passionate about their Leicesters. Cathie Cody at Wit's End Farm, and Kelly Mansfield at Spring Breeze.

Since Kelly is right down the road from me, I took a trip on Tuesday to 'see what she had'. Specifically to put a down payment on a yearling she had available that I thought would be 'it'. I met the lambs and the yearling. Now don't get me wrong, he's incredible. His fleece is like SILK. His pedigree includes new lines from the UK that most breeders would go miles for. But then there was 'Titanium'. SIGH.

I'm not into white sheep. But the Blue Faced Leicesters are, well, not entirely 'white'. Their faces are blue! Well, Titanium IS BLUE! His fleece! Now of course, Kelly will probably move into the barn with the sheep before she'd consider selling the boy, and I'd have to off a few other breeders (including the lovely Miss Cathy!) to get a hold of him...

So I 'settled' for

one of his sons ;-)

I went for the length, since I'll be breeding him with my Black Welsh, a smaller hill breed. But his fleece is gorgeous, he has presence, and great growth.

Kudos to Kelly on a beautiful batch of lambs. I wish I had more time and money, or I'd have quite a few more here!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cub Scout Bluebird House Project on the farm

I am very thankful to Amanda and her Pack 120 of Hedgesville! Her boys dressed up our farm last week while providing secure nesting spots for bluebirds. Sustaining the habitat of the Eastern Bluebirds is a priority here, as they originally suffered a huge decline in the 70s. This beautiful chattery bird helps control the mosquito population (we have a pond right next to our house) and is a welcome sign of spring.

Not a day after the houses went up - I spotted a prospective resident!

More pictures will be added to the photo album as I have time.

Happy birdwatching!


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Catching up

Well, it's not as if I didn't have any profound thoughts to express this past winter - it was just that I was pretty busy.

Best laid plans failed - we ended up with a group winter kidding. From December 20th through January 2nd, my does gave us 14 kids. This year the bucks will be REMOVED from the fields and locked up with padlocks after August! I truly thought everyone was bred, so I let them run with their boys. Silly me. Don't I realize after 3 years that goats don't read your planners!

I'll leave you with a different kind of baby - Born a week ago here. He's our first lamb this year.