kadence blevins

pollinator
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since Dec 01, 2012
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goat rabbit books fiber arts sheep homestead
SE Ohio
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Recent posts by kadence blevins

Ok I have several thoughts and would like some feedback.

1) I want to build a little home. Ohio, think Pittsburgh pa but a bit west.

2) The land is very wooded and lots of hill and valley. I'm thinking wofati but not sure if the needed changes would qualify as that type building exactly. I am going to try and make: correct roof edge, two layers of membrane, uphill trench, inner pole structure of logs, no treated wood. What it might not have: uphill side has at least 5ft roof extended from outer wall, at least 8in of dirt between the membrane layers, at least 16in dirt on top of membrane, at least 35% windows on uphill and downhill sides. I think this will all be hand built and will probably be adding to the cover over time. I do have access to old windows and will be optimizing as much as I can.

3) The uphill side I'm considering adding a few clear panels and roofing it like a walipini. It could be a nice little porch or depending on how it goes insulation/temperature wise if it could be used like a greenhouse. It's not the most toxic free way to go but the way I'm picturing it I think it could work well.

4) I'm hoping to experiment with some variations on soil-cement and sawdust-concrete. Clay loam soil here. I have read pros and cons for them but hoping to use it for the uphill wall so it won't be open to the weather. And if it would work for the floor. Shall see how the experiments go.

5) There are two amish families who run saw mills close to me and I'm hoping to source the cut wood from them. I have some wooded area that will be thinned for silvopasture and hope to source a fair bit from that.

Emphasis on this will probably be entirely me and my two hands building this. I'm hoping by making this post I can get the gears moving and have things drawn up and planned out so that I can build next year.
1 month ago
YESSSSS the wool went to the mill!!! *Happy dance*
Last minute plans changed last night and I had my sister come pick me up and crammed 90# of wool into her little civic car. That was.. entertaining.. in the dark.. So I stayed at her house so it would be closer for my friend to pick me up and transfer the wool to her (larger) car and go. My house would be an hour+ out of the way. So whatever I crash at my sisters house and get scolded by her fat cat on my lap, quite upset that I was not sleeping and everyone else was in bed. But to no avail, and as usual I couldn't sleep and finally fell asleep around 5am.. And my sister woke me up while she was getting ready to go at 7:30am.. Ohhhh yesss 2.5 hours of sleep..

The rest of the day was great. It was 3.5 hour drive there. My 10 packed bags and my friends 2 only full enough bags. Of course we get to talking about wool and sheep. And me and my friend each is our own wool. Then hearing about their icelandics. Then of course covid and how it's affecting their businesses. Then into meat processors. I knew some people were planning way ahead just in case but wowww... Apparently a lot of places don't have openings for processing until mid 2022! So if anyone is planning on taking animals you better make sure there is spots. So an hour and a half later the lady says hey what's the time because she had something she had to go do and me and my friends stomachs were growling in complaint.

So about 7 hours driving time and lots of really cool conversation. Large part of it about wool and sheep. Wool is expected back after halloween! Yay I'm so excited! This also means I need to keep occupied with grazing and breeding plans so I don't start counting down.. (*cough* 101 days *cough*).. With all the other things I'm catching up on hopefully that won't be too hard to keep busy!

Breeding- I've scribbled and scribbled. I think I've come to the final, or close to final, version of breeding groups for fall. The proven ewes will be CIDRed and in with Benny (BL). Two of the proven ewes will be in with Chonk (mini cheviot). All the ewe lambs will be with 87 (half meat/club cross of somekind). After the decided amount of time for the proven ewes to all be bred (should be bred anyway), *then* all of the proven ewes will be with Chonk til the end for possible clean up breeding. When they are moved then also Benny will be added to the ewe lamb and 87 group. The idea being to have both rams to cover the ewe lambs and have the best chance of them getting bred. This also keeps the ewe lambs from being bred by Chonk who is like a brick with legs (in the best way of course haha). Chonk will have plenty of breeding in the future but not with ewe lambs. At least not with what I have now.

2020
Benny- proven ewes/ ewe lambs clean up.
Chonk- two proven ewes/ proven ewes clean up.
87- ewe lambs.

The idea is to do what's called rotational breeding. After this year the ewes will be sorted into groups A, B, C. The ewe lambs I keep will go into the next group with a different ram.
2021
Benny- group A
Chonk- group B
87- group C
So any ewe lambs I keep that are from group A get put into group B. Any kept from group B get put into group C. Any kept from group C get put into group A. This way if you follow offspring: 2022 Benny daughters, 2023 grand daughters, 2024 gr-grand, 2025 gr-gr-grand daughters moved to group A being bred to Benny. And the same goes for each ram. This way even if I kept and bred Benny for the next 12 years he would only have four cycles of his own gr-gr-grand daughters and they would only be 14.25% his genetics.

I'm also keeping 87 on as a 'to be determined' spot. He looks ok but I'm not real attached. I sold his dad and was really curious how he will turn out, and what his wool will look like. I also know next year and going forward growing the flock I need a certain amount of rams for an amount of ewes to get lambing to happen close together. We shall see how he fills out. If nothing else the neighbors are still bringing their couple ewes down to me for breeding so they go where I want. And next year I'd be real interested to put him to his mom and the other meat cross ewe. It'll also be a lot on how many ewe lambs he breeds and what those lambs look like. If it's a flop then he'll go to the freezer and I'll have got a fleece from him.

Speaking of.. I weighed all the sheep, all 30, on Sunday then Monday morning the 6 extra ram lambs plus 007 the yearling ram went to the auction. So I got fleece close ups and realized Midget, 99, and 79 (99s daughter) could all be shorn. Mid August will be the half way date between this year shearing early (jan 28) and next year probably shearing early to mid March. Midget and 99 have long, open fleeces. Midget does fine with a full year fleece. 99 however starts to become a mess and her fleece is either really tedious to work or a total loss. So given that 79 is long and open too, and also really soft, I'm going to plan on just doing those three myself. We will see how their fleeces are spring/summer versus summer/winter.

So now the flock is at 3 breeding rams and 20 ewes. Plus the late ram lamb who soon enough will be getting weaned from mom and put with the big boys. He will be my freezer lamb this year. I'm not sure if yall care about this stuff so feel free to let me know anything you'd like to hear more about.

Weights
Proven ewes:
Ayreshire 126#
Mary 121#
Kitty 83#
Lydia 78#
99 66#
184 108.4#
185 87.3#
Midget 88.5#
Ewe lambs:
72- 40.5#
74- 55.3#
75- 40.9#
79- 47.4#
80- 41.6#
84- 60.7#
89- 32.6#
225- 36.6#
228- 40.4#
229- 42.4#
230- 40.8#
231- 45.4#
Rams:
87- 50#
Chonk- 66.8#
Benny- 71#
88- 41#

Since I culled most of the shetlands and problem ewes, and my last weight for them was last year, the proven ewes average 95#. We shall see what the ewe lambs weights are in the spring after lambing. I hypothesize that 225-231 ewes will trend close to shetland weight because they look very shetland type. My ewe lambs I think will trend a higher adult weight like my current proven ewes.

Check came back for the rams I sold at the auction. Decent prices. Next year I will definitely be taking them to the bigger, farther away auction, better prices there. But not bad and with how things are we would not have made it to that auction on time for drop off and I didn't want to keep all of the extras until fall. This will make the rotational grazing simpler with just the breeding rams.
3 months ago
I've been working on tons of things but need pictures. I'm working on my handspun knee socks right now. Took ages to math up the pattern to fit my leg, which of course didn't then fit my leg. After restarting with less stitches, twice, then pulling back to the cuff three times to change the increase/decrease rate.. The first sock is finally cuff to ankle and ready for the foot. Now I'm hoping I can use this pattern I've figured out with this sock to make more.
I'll have to get pics of what I've been working on. I have a big bunch of handspun yarns that I'm compiling to weave some fabric to eventually be sewn into clothes for myself. We shall see.
What was that I said about being done washing wool? Last night I wasn't able to fall asleep, as usual, and my mind was circling the last bag of wool. Two fleeces from the neighbors commercial cross ewes. My best guess is dorset/hamp and probably some other cross, if not just totally a club lamb line that's had alot of different breeds crossed in. The wool is nice. The typical meat sheep wool I'd expect most larger scale flocks these days. The kind of wool people say "oh thats meat sheep wool, you don't want that". Well let me tell you those people have no idea about fiber. It's very useful wool. If the sheep are kept decently clean it's no different than the finest merino. Just a different wool suited for a different use.
Anyways.. Back at shearing time these two fleeces were bagged and I knew I wanted to spin some sock yarn for myself. Fast forward to this past few days I'd considered putting it with this brown alpaca I have. But that would make it about 50/50 wool alpaca which isn't suitable for the sock yarn I wanted. And I'm not set on the idea of how that wool would blend with alpaca. Hmm... So here I wonder at two in the morning when I should be sleeping... I have most of my stash going into these batches for processing, what the heck do I add to this wool? What would fit the same qualities and make a nice sock yarn? Better yet what the heck do I have left that isn't already in another batch of wool?!
........Eureka! I plod back down to the craft room, shuffling around nine bulging bags of wool nearly waist high in the dark to reach the light. More shuffling and ta-da there it is! The answer! I have a gulf coast native fleece I was going to spin when Shave 'em to Save 'em first came out. (See the american breed conservancy website for info about that I believe.) And a nice charcoal black border leicester fleece. It's real clean and the length isn't real long like longwool breeds can be. Probably a lamb fleece. These fleeces will blend nicely and make a nice sock yarn! I'll have to check after I skirt the cross fleeces and wash all of them but I think this will end up about 4# commercial cross, 2.5# gulf coast native, 2.5# border leicester.

Total for all the batches is 90# now. Then of course I realized I have a shetland fleece and a mutt half a fleece that would go really nice with the brown alpaca. I skirted and bagged it up too. That I won't wash. I haven't got the hang of alpaca yet. That batch will be 50/50 alpaca/wool but those fleeces will blend much better together.

Holy toledo you guys my craft room is going to be empty after this wool goes! Really really! I may reorganize... Maybe...
I'll have two fleeces left that are tagged for sale.. Two odd partial fleeces.. Two small bags of washed ready to process wool.. The last of the never ending scottish blackface roving for my eventual weaving a rug.. Two totes of yarn stash..
Geez how will I ever get by! Hahahaha...
I've just finished washing the cross fleece and the border leicester is soaking. Note to self, I need to try and get skirting done before it gets hot out. Blehhh. It's 88*F feels like 98*F. I have a box fan to blow across the wool drying rack so it should dry fine. It will be a little piled on more than I usually do, to get all three fleeces washed and out to dry today. Then I'll be done... With the wool anyway...
3 months ago
Ok tent update.. I setup the tent and slept in it for two weeks. Using folded pile of quilts and comforters as a bed. Then thy back doth protest too much... And since my grazing plan got thrown out the window, and the sheep have been rotating in the permanent fence paddocks still.. I've been sleeping in my regular old room about three weeks now. The tent is still set up on the hill and doing well. Been through a few storms and one night I was sleeping in it we got some rain overnight then a soft drizzle in the early morning.

I'd been waiting for a few things to line up and get paid so I could order the ticking for the bed. Finally go to order it and joann fabrics was out of stock and it wasn't available for pickup at the closest to me store. So I go searching around and find some at actually a little cheaper price, From a shop in a historical town only about half hour from me and they sell most things you need to have your own tick and rope bed. I guess they are only online and do tours during the towns living history events.. Darn, I couldn't go pick it up.. Shipping wasn't bad so it evens out to the same price as just the fabric cost if joanns would have had it. Except I waited and waited and it was nearly two weeks before I got an email that it was being shipped. Urgh but ok fine.. This darn fabric went from half hour away, clear up to Cleveland, and is coming all the way back here to get to me. Cue my thousand mile stare...
So finally after all of that shenanigans it should be delivered tomorrow and I can finally sew up my mattress! After thinking about it I realized I'm going to need to fill it with straw. For one it will be lighter to move it. Secondly, since it's going in a tent, heat, humidity, lots of changes in temperature every day/night... Straw is affordable and wool will mold in those conditions. So for now I buy some straw and we see how it goes, then in the future or maybe this winter I can order the wool and replace my 'regular' mattress with it in the house. I ordered a yard extra than how much I thought I needed so hope to make some matching pillows. I have access to free buckwheat hulls I just have to finish cleaning them myself.

Monday the local auction is having a sheep/goat emphasis sale. It's the usual sale day but they try to do these 'emphasis day' thing to get more of certain animals on the same day. Since it's a smaller auction it helps bring more people in who want to buy or sell something. Usually you never know if there will be any sheep or goats. Might be tons of rabbits.. or none. Might be lots of calves.. or three. Since it will make it easier to get there early for check in and I only have 7 to take I decided to just take them there. Sometime I want to get to the big auction and check it out. It's an hour away but it's the big place to go in Ohio. Best prices. Next year I'll definitely be taking my lambs there.
That will leave me with the base flock 20 ewes, 3 rams. And the late ram lamb to be butchered. I thought it over a lot and it just doesn't make sense to keep 007 with Chonk here now. There is one version of breeding groups I could do and use him on the ewe lambs. Which would be good. But it would mean I'd have to have three paddocks with groups, plus section off half the barn for a small group, plus section off half the shed for a small group. In reality that just does not make sense to do. I'd have sheep in almost every permanent paddock and have two groups stuck in pens that I'd need to keep up bedding and water and make temporary hay feeders... Nope, not workable. So 007 will leave with the other ram lambs and just the breeding boys will stay.

Wool!
Tonight I finished washing the last of the wool. There are 9 batches total, 4 of which I've washed the wool. Saving me about $200. I'd love to be able to wash all of it and be able to pay myself instead of adding to the processing cost. But with taking it this weekend I don't have time to wash another batch of wool, let alone five more batches of wool. So it is what it is. This has been two years in the making plus all my work to get this far to be able to do this. So I'm trying not to harp on myself too much about it. There will be more wool. It's kind of amusing because washing is not a step that I would say is of the most fun. But laying out that clean wool to dry.. And gathering up the dry sparkly clean wool.. *Swoons!* Where's my fainting couch* And honestly I would really like to be able to pay myself for washing the wool. The more steps I can do and pay myself for instead of eating into costs, the better.
When I talked to the woman at the booth last year's fiber show she said usually 12 week turn around for processing. That would put it at being shipped back to be as finished roving in early to mid October. It seems like a long wait on one hand but I also know time goes so fast. It's already July and it feels like last month was shearing and lambing. I've got so much to catch up on anyways I'm sure it will feel like plenty quick by the time it comes back.
3 months ago
You know what that means?... New lambs! I bought five ewe lambs from my friend. Same farm 184 & 185 are from (half border cheviot, half shetland). These ewe lambs were sired by a half brother to 184 & 185 bred back to shetland ewes, so these are 1/4 border cheviot 3/4 shetland. They've been here nearing a month now and seem to be doing well. The day they got here I weighed them. I was going to weigh my lambs next.. the first one I did the case of the scale popped apart.. Oops. It's supposed to go up to 50# but I guess that really means 40# and with no movement, let alone a kicking 40+lb lamb... Ooooops..
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBgi-VTpJCi/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CB52huTpBfl/

I did get the new ewes weights though so when I get to weigh them again I'll be able to get avg. daily gains for them and 87.
225- 41# moorit, small white spot, we shall see if she carries spotting.
228- 37# moorit, light katmoget, so her wool is a creamy color and her face markings are much lighter.
229- 42.5# white.
230- 37.5# black, odd grey patch on her right front leg so we shall see if she changes color at all and what she might carry pattern wise.
231- 41.5# white.

Did you scroll back and count? I had to recount.. This brings me to 8 proven ewes and 12 ewe lambs.. 20 ewes! I juggled pros and cons for a full day before settling on buying the new ewe lambs. The final decision came down to growing the flock and culling hard. But you ask, how the heck do you grow the flock and cull hard? If I have 10 ewes I really want to keep all the ewe lambs and all the ewes. If I have 20 ewes I'm already on the way to a larger flock more quickly. I have more ewes so it's easier to say, hey self!, I have a bigger flock and get rid of the worst 2 or 3 producing ewes every year.. I am making room for keeping more ewe lambs from the rest of the ewes who are doing better. This increases the flock size and keeps daughters only from ewes that are doing the best. Commercial farms it's a 'rule of thumb' to cull the bottom 15% of the flock each year and breed the top 30% ewes to your choice ram for replacement ewes selection. Just like you wouldn't coddle one plant through a year and keep seed from it. No, you plant a bunch and keep seed from the plants doing the best. Same idea here.

The math goes along the lines of...
-2020 cull down to 8 proven ewes, 12 ewe lambs.

-2021 est 22 lambs born. Cull 2 worst ewes. (125% lambing rate of proven ewes)
18 proven ewes, 8 ewe lambs.

-2022 est 33 lambs born. Cull 4 worst ewes. (140%)
22 proven, 10 ewe lambs.

-2023 est 43 lambs born. Cull 4 worst ewes (150%)
28 proven, 10 ewe lambs.

-2024 est 52 lambs born. Cull 4 worst ewes (150%)
34 ewes, 14 ewe lambs.

-2025 est 72 lambs born. Cull 8 worst ewes (160% proven. 125% first timers)
40 ewes, 20 ewe lambs.

-2026 est 88 lambs born. Cull 8 worst ewes (160%, 125%)
52 ewes.......

Of course this is all variables. I might end up that this spring all the ewes do great but 2 to cull. Might have several with issues that are known to repeat and there is 6 to cull. Leaving me with either 18 or 12 proven ewes that fall. Maybe one year is a ram year and keeping the best ewe lambs means only 4. Maybe it's a ewe year and they are pretty much all doing great and I keep 10. Maybe my lambing rates aren't as good? Maybe my lambing rates increase faster? You never know until it's all finished and you have all the numbers in. That's why I like to doodle out lots of possibilities. When things change I will already have thought about a lot of different options.


84 and her mom, Midget. 84 is 1/4 mini cheviot. She looks the most like Chonk, the new full mini cheviot ram.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBTpebkpIhf/
3 months ago
Gosh yall I promise I'm trying to keep updating here.. Bad me..
Ok so the following day of my last post Mary lambed: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAq6nM-pOc9/
Both definitely sired by 007 (half mini cheviot). Here they are June 3: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_RrGmJGmJ/
Here they are at 3wks old, June 16: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBgh3KWp-72/ They were 22# and 26# weighed that day.

Here is Benny the Border Leicester ram. Est 85# the day I picked him up, a month ago. I have to get the new platform scale useable, build a base for it so the sheep can actually stand on it. So no new weights til then.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBHM6wyJt0U/

Here is Chonk the mini cheviot ram. He is my new definition of meaty! And at 3 months old (month younger than my lambs) entirely on grass! Swoon!
https://www.instagram.com/p/CCRk7V6pzuE/

This is what I was doing tonight... https://www.instagram.com/p/CCUpRR8J2DH/
Washing wool! I got one fleece done and have one to do tomorrow evening. I was talking to a friend (also sheep farmer) about sending wool to the mill for processing and she said hey we ought to go together and make a trip of it, take both our wool and save cost that way. Heck yeah! So this last fleece to wash, then I have one bag with two fleeces in it to skirt and add to a bag of alpaca. Then it will all be ready for this weekend and our girls day trip to the wool mill drop off.
Mine will be about 80# total in 9 different batches. Estimating costs to finish about $650 for processing. Estimating 50-60# roving back.

"Talking with a friend yesterday we got on topic of sock yarn. I got quick pics of one of my handspun socks. These are my favorite pair yet.
This is the kind of yarn I'm aiming to create with my flock. Soft and durable. This yarn is a blend of border cheviot and shetland wools. Processing and spinning this was part of a fleece judging class I took as part of my guild.
I have two daughters of the ram the border cheviot fleece is from. Today I'm adding five granddaughters.
And on we go with another years work. Another years fleeces. Another years offspring. Another year closer to the goal."
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBgB0UHJrxN/
3 months ago
Flemish giant and other very big breeds grow skeleton first to support a larger maximum adult size. They don't fill out muscle (and ergo meat) until like a year or older. I had two Flemish does and sold them quick as I could. **They ate more than I was giving my two milk goats! ** And because they need to be most of their adult weight before breeding the first time, and they don't mature to be able to breed until later, I would have had to keep them nearly a year before even getting to breed them.

I have had good experience with two does that were 3/4 new Zealand and 1/4 Flemish giant. I have heard others say they have good producing does of that ratio of the cross. But you still get some pop up that are big and lanky throwback to the Flemish and just won't fillout in a timely manner which makes rabbit such good meat animals.

If you want efficiency find people actually breeding for meat and that cull for bad mothering etc. Show breeders may have that breed but they wont have the traits you want because they coddle them and keep show winners that are terrible moms or have litters of 3 and 4.

I always suggest to people New Zealand, Californian, florida white, or dutch. I have one mutt doe and I'd like to get a few going again I'd like to get a nice shaped dutch doe and a real nice new Zealand or Californian buck.
3 months ago
If you could go over 'weaving math'. I'm setting aside a bunch of my handspun to get back to weaving. I'm a newbie but I haven't had time to work on it in about a year.
Anyway, I'm trying to catch back up on sett and all that do be able to do the math for warp and how much I'll need for weft. I know I was beginning to get my mind around it when I had to put it aside! Argh.. Anyway I figure by the time I get a bunch more spun and by winter I'll have plenty enough aside to weave a decent stretch of fabric. I want to make some clothes for myself, haven't settled on specifics.
https://rustbeltfibershed.com/
The Rust Belt Fibershed consists of 250 mile radius outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
4 months ago