Dancing Waters Farm aka Mostly Mohair
Living with chickens, goats, sheep and wildlife on a small central NJ farm
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Acupuncture is making it’s way into the tool set of livestock veterinarians! It’s especially useful for chronic conditions such as arthritis, disc disease, back pain and musculoskeletal injuries, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological problems, and respiratory issues. Check out the details in this May 2022 Lancaster Farming article.
It’s gotten increasingly difficult to find livestock veterinary services throughout NJ, so it was great to hear that Rowan University has announced the planned opening of the first school of Veterinary Medicine in NJ! It will be located in Sewell, NJ and plans an inaugural class of 60 students in Fall 2025 (pending approval by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education). Today there are only 33 USA accredited vet schools of which 5 are on the East Coast. With the addition of the new school, Rowan will become one of two universities in the nation to offer doctor of veterinary medicine, doctor of medicine and doctor of osteopathic medicine degrees. More details available in the January 2022 article listed below.
This fantastic group in their own words:
“is a Diné-led agricultural co-operative established to improve the financial sustainability and equitable market outcomes for the largest flocks of Dibé dits’ozí (Navajo-Churro sheep) remaining on the Navajo Nation. Our mission is to close the gap between rural Diné shepherds and an e-commerce driven marketplace for their wool. We are thrilled to announce that we have officially launched our online yarn shop!
Thanks to many generous donors we executed our first wool buy on the Navajo Nation in July 2021. We purchased approximately 3,200 pounds of Navajo-Churro wool from our shepherds. We paid a stipend for shearing help and a fair price for their wool by the pound. After skirting and sorting by color we transported the wool to Mora Valley Spinning Mill, a nonprofit community-based wool mill located in Mora, New Mexico, to produce an assortment of Navajo-style weaving yarns. In November of 2021 we began offering Diné-grown Navajo-Churro weaving yarns for sale online direct-to-customer. Sales dollars generated will be used to help fund the wool buy project again in 2022.
Most of the Navajo-Churro wool products available for sale online are from non-Diné shepherds. Diné shepherds are often told their wool is worthless or paid pennies per pound at mass wool buy events. Despite these challenges many shepherds create a market for themselves through hand spinning, weaving, and teaching weaving classes. This is difficult to do at scale and an unreliable source of income. In 2020 the pandemic brought marketing activities like farm visits, classes, art shows, and fiber events to a standstill. Several medium- to large-scale wool buys were completely canceled. These impacts have continued into 2021. We saw an opportunity to step up and do something to support these important flocks.”
Fibershed.org is helping them raise money to get their idea off the ground and their first run of yarn is now available on their website!
For more info: https://rainbowfibercoop.org/
2020 was a crazy year by any standards. A farm is a great place to be during a pandemic as there’s always lots to do, the scenery is great, and isolation is built in. Because of a more inward focus perhaps, there were far more wildlife encounters/ sightings than usual. Here are snapshots in time that capture the essence of 2020.
Highlights included: I lost James (15 year old Angora goat) to heart issues and gained a lot of Canada Goose friends (learned a lot about them – subject of another blog entry wip!). Re-did the pasture fences to fence out the areas now too wet for ruminants (meningeal worm) and began returning the soggy areas to wetland habitat for wildlife. Lots of fox, skunk family, and baby racoon interactions this year. Ghost (hen) got nabbed by a grey fox while out in the grass but I ran to the rescue and she put up a good fight. Once I found a specialty bandage she couldn’t pull off she healed up quickly and is no worse for wear!
|And then there was the time the red fox ran off with my mitten when I was standing less than 15 feet away!|
|Pine Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks are rarely seen in this region. They only show up here when there is a food shortage in their native region. First time I’ve seen Evening Grosbeaks here (23 years). There were crowds of both for a short time.||
I’ll be helping out and selling dyed and natural roving, tops and yarn at the up-coming up event. Love to see you there!
Need fiber? Join us in celebrating and supporting our local fiber farms! Items for sale will include: fleece, yarn, spinning fiber, and other farm products from local fiber farms.
For everyone’s safety masks are required. A limited number of timed-entry tickets will be used. With purchase of a ticket, you will receive a raffle ticket for our hourly drawing for a NJ Fibershed Tote Bag containing a NJ Fibershed magnet! Must be present during hour on your ticket to win. Tickets are available up to the day of the event or until sold out. Get your tickets now!
Children under 15 years of age may enter for free.
This is an outdoors event, with field shopping and pasture parking, which may have uneven footing and/or be muddy.
Hand washing stations will be available, but no public restroom facilities on site.
Windswept Acres Sheep Farm
173 Whitebridge Road
Pittstown (Franklin Township), NJ 08867
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 15th, 2020
I recently bought an antique Amish swift from my artist and fellow fiber friend Linda Czech. Sadly she is backing out of fiber pursuits because her cats are fixated on destroying anything fiber she creates.
I took it “for a spin” to skein a bobbin of 2 ply Jacob wool handspun I’d done for the Woolverton Inn. The swift works perfectly to wind directly from my spinning wheel without my having to lean over or stretch up and it also counts the yardage as it goes. Not to mention that it just looks really great sitting in the living room!
The Farm has always supported butterflies by keeping butterfly preferred flowers in the gardens and in particular looking out for Monarchs by raising them from caterpillars when their numbers are low. 2019 was the best Summer for Monarchs in quite a few years so I decided to start listing results for on-going comparison of years. But first a few pics….
15 caterpillars total
2 accidental deaths
0 disease issues
0 unexplained death
7 healthy males
6 healthy females
87% survival rate
Which far surpasses the 0% observed surviving in the garden.
2 fell – one was crushed while cleaning the cage as it wasn’t seen on the bottom after it had fallen. The other fell just after the chrysalis formed and it was still too wet to survive the fall. This was the last caterpillar raised (9/18/19) and it seemed to have a bad destiny from the start. It wanted to j on the test tube rack for holding the milkweed leaves, when relocated to the top then picked the zipper of the cage, etc.
A pair of bluebirds have nested in one of the front gate posts and had 3 nestlings they were feeding. Unfortunately a blue jay caught on and had been stalking the nest. The pair had been attacking the blue jay, taking it all the way to the ground until it would give up and take off.
Unfortunately on Father’s Day, the bluebird father was killed defending the nest. The blue jay was found eating the father in front of the nest. I don’t know that the blue jay directly killed the bluebird, it may have been an accident, but the outcome was the same. The mother now has sole responsibility for the the remaining two nestlings. Based on when I saw her incubating them (may not have been the 1st day) they could be ready to fledge as early as the June 23rd or it could be closer to July 1st.
After the body was removed, I made a predator guard for the nest using hardware cloth. [Plans for a Noel Guard can be found at various sites including Cornell’s NestWatch sites: https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/features-of-a-good-birdhouse/ or the VA Bluebird Society site: http://www.virginiabluebirds.org/about-bluebirds/nest-boxes-guards-signs/ ]
After watching for an hour, the mother still couldn’t figure out how to get into the house so I removed the guard. All I can do is keep the bird feeders behind the house well stocked and watch for any further attacks. There are lots of youngsters coming to the feeders with their parents right now including blue jays.
As of June 20th the mother is feeding them regularly and the nestlings look like they are doing well. Another pair of bluebirds has shown up in her area and I’m watching closely for any issues between them that would effect the nestlings.
Last updated: June 20, 2019