Welcome to Hobbyknob Farm Blog!

I look forward to introducing you to the wonderful world of sheep, chickens, llamas, nigerian dwarf dairy goats and sebastopol geese. And any other little critters that happen to show up or live around here. Livestock keep us connected to our agricultural history, the land and the cycle of life.

Monday, March 7, 2011


After months of anticipation (about 5mo) the lambs are arriving. Although I remain a small breeder with only 6 ewes bred, lambing time is no less exciting than if I were a large breeder. Small is good! This year I bred my 4 Jacob ewes, a Border Leceister and a Moorit Corrieadale cross. Of course the Jacobs were bred with the Jacob ram Blue Ewe Expresso, co-owned with Elke Spirakis of Wellspring Farm and the other ewes were bred with my Cotswold ram lamb who is currently hanging out at Barbara Ruehl's farm. As mentioned in a previous blog, Jacob sheep have intense mothering instincts. The difference in breeds was clearly evident with the birth of my Border Leiceister cross lamb. Carly, the mom, was just not as attentive to her baby as the Jacob's. Oh, sure she licked her in between eating hay and made her unique mother sounds every now and then. But when you watch the Jacob's, they do not stop caring for that baby until they have it clean and up. Carly could have cared less when that lamb got up! I am sure it would have all worked out fine, but I am glad I got her in the lambing pen and payed attention to what was happening. You really want to own sheep that can take care of things on their own. That is what I love about the Jacob's. No dumbing down on this breed to suit our human needs! Oh and the little BL lamb is doing just fine. Getting fat on momma's milk.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jacob Sheep-raise a conservation breed

JACOB SHEEP-hardy, excellent mothers, thrive on forage, talkative, interesting personalities, reasonable size, good meat at any age, on the ALBC conservation list, lovely wool, unusual markings. All words I use to describe this incredible breed of sheep. They have a long history but for this blog you just need to know that they are a conservation breed. There is great information through the Jacob Sheep Breeders (http://www.jsba.org/) and the Jacob Sheep Conservancy and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. As our agricultural system turned to only the breeds of sheep that could fatten up nicely on corn or fast enough to go to market to make a profit, other breeds of sheep were left behind and numbers dwindled. Not a good idea if we want to keep a good supply of genetics out there in case there is some type of disaster. Luckily, there were people out there that didn't agree with this system and are working to keep many breeds alive. If you have a few acres and want to keep the grass down and feed your family and maybe some friends, breeds like the Jacob fit the bill. Although I would never not worm, these sheep seem to have the best immunity when it comes to parasites. I know because sometimes I can't catch them all when it is time to check eyes and they have to go longer. So far, so good and been at it 10 years! Jacob sheep are extrememtly aware of when something is up. They know NOT to come into the stall even though there might be some tasty grain in there. They know NOT to come in when the strange truck and the stranger shows up (the shearer) All these tasks have to be taken on with planning on my part. Jacob sheep will even challenge dogs. BUT, this is what makes these sheep fun and interesting. Definately not dumb! Stuborn maybe, not dumb. So the sheep in the picture are now in the maternity ward. I expect these 2 to lamb within the next 2 weeks. Watching these sheep mother their lambs is a true experience. They often lamb in the pasture, usually without trouble and immediately clean the lambs. Each mom makes a unique sound and they start as they are cleaning the lambs.They are fiercely protective of their young. Moreso than my other breeds. And the lambs are the cutest babies you will ever see!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Yes it is January 12th and the pullets have started to lay! Who would have thought this would be something I could get excited about! Raising chickens has been such a great farm adventure. When you nurture the little 2 day old chicks to the productive point of laying eggs, it is just very gratifying. And when you start enjoying the rich orange yoked eggs from your very own chickens it is hard pressed to ever buy a store egg again. Just do some research about the production egg business. The next thing you learn is about mothering. If you keep a rooster and you have a hen that likes to set on eggs, you learn that chickens have an incredible mothering instinct. Ever heard the term "mother hen". Well, I can see where that came from. These moms are fiercly protective of their young. As soon as they come out of the nest mom is gathering bits of food and dropping it in front of them until the little peeps learn to scratch for food themselves. When cold they huddle under moms warm downy feathers. It is truly a joy to watch them use their natural instincts. And as you can see from the pictures, eggs come in many colors. There is actually no nutritional difference based on color. Just makes them look more interesting. Who in the world decided that we only needed white eggs? How boring! So even though we have just come off a 5 day snow and some pretty cold temps, the 5 month old pullets are doing what they are programed to do-lay eggs. I can't wait til the days get a little longer and the older girls crank up again!

Monday, December 13, 2010


According to the calender it is not officially winter yet but mother nature does not live by the calender. We have had snow either coming from the sky or on the ground for a week now. And living in the south, the schools shut down. It can be quite different though depending on where you are in the mountains. The other side of Asheville may not have much or vice versa.That is what I love about living here. Nothing is ever predictible! Makes life interesting. Today though it is a bit colder than I like. 12 degrees and blustery. Too cold for me to go out and take a walk in the snow or sled.  Most of my walking consists of carrying hot water to the barn and throwing hay out to the animals. Good thing I've got those heated buckets! Obviously I still have a couple of buckets that aren't heated. Even the geese don't want to be out in the snow. The chickens are too busy using their energy to stay warm so they aren't laying any eggs this week. I know I will get cabin fever but we will get a break. It never lasts quite as long as it does in other parts of the country. Just get above freezing and I will be able to put on the thick fleece and go for a jog. I love Winter though. It gets dark sooner which gives me more time for spinning! I sleep so much better too!

In just about 8 weeks there might be some lambs! February will be here before we know it. Got to keep those ewes full of good hay. Still hoping to get one of my Nigerians bred!

Wishing that all will be able to keep the hope of the season alive in them throughout the new year. Jesus brings Christmas to us every day! Not just at Christmas.


Although Thanksgiving has past I finally have time to put some thoughts down. We enjoyed a turkey raised by a local farmer (Hickory Nut Gap Farm). I continually feel thankful that I live in Western North Carolina where there is such an interest in raising food. I know the farmer by name, I know how the turkey lived and was fed. It may cost a little more than a Butterball but the money stayed right here in my community and went directly to the farmer. My sweet potatoes came from North Carolina.The eggs for my dressing came from my own hens. Getting close to keeping it all local or regional but not quite there yet.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Isn't October Grand!

The month started with a refresher course in CamelidDynamics llama handling with Marty McGee Bennett. I attended my first clinic in 2001 and found that I was backsliding in my behavoir with my llamas. Marty is inspiring and entertaining and I feel empowered once again to be the best that I can be with my llamas. My goal is to be better equipped to help those new to llamas or alpacas especially those that adopt or foster SELR llamas. SELR stands for SOUTHEAST LLAMA RESCUE and you can view our website at http://www.southeastllamarescue.org/. More about that some day when there isn't much else to write about.

This weekend was one of my all time favorite events of the fall-SAFF!(Southeastern Animal and Fiber Fair) Saff is heaven on earth for the fiber enthusiast. Not quite like Maryland Sheep and Wool but for the south this is a darn good fiber event. And what a dedicated group of men and women that work year round to come up with all the workshops and logistics of running an event like this. Not only can you take workshops and shop till you drop for 3 days but you can also TOUCH and FEEL and experience the world of fiber animals-sheep, angora goats, llamas, alpacas, angora rabbits! That is what I do. My sheep get to have a spend the night with other sheep at the ag center (I know, some cringe at this thought) and my daughter and I show them on saturday and sunday. This year it was only Sunday since I helped with the llama show on Saturday. Breeds represented this year were Border Leicester, Romney, Cotswold, Shetland, Jacob. Fine wool classes featured Merino, Tunis, Montadale and Corriedale and other cross bred sheep. Long wool classes featured cotswold/Wensleydale cross and other Cotswold crosses, Linclon and Leicester Longwool. I probably left something out but for the south, we have a darn good variety of sheep breeds. The hills and valleys are ideal for raising sheep particularly hardy breeds like Jacob and Cotswolds. Breeds that can thrive on forage and have good feet to withstand wet or dry conditions. We took our Cotswold ram lamb, Cotswold/BL crosses (see the picture of Daisy), BL, Moorit corrieadale cross and Jacob ewe. Daisy placed 2nd in the fleece class and it was a large class so I was pleased as she is one of my favorites. My Jacob ewe yearling was breed class champion. The fleece on my ram lamb is too stuck together-either fine or too much hot weather this year so I will hang on to him until next year and see how he develops size and fleece wise. Meanshile the lucky guy gets to hang out with a few girls. I also take as many fleeces as I can get skirted to the awesome fleece show and sale. Once again, Marly, my Cotswold/BL wether placed first in the natural colored long wool division and Stella, my Moorit Coriedale cross placed first in the natural colored fine wool division. That is in the fleece show not the sheep show. I love it that someone buys the fleece and turns it in to something yummy to wear. You just never know where they may end up. So, winding down on October and heading into the shorter days which means more time for spinning!!! The leaves have peaked but there are still beautiful fall colors to enjoy. Get out and take a walk and enjoy the beauty of the fall. We are so blessed to live here!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall is finally in the air, the ram is in with the ewes and the new chicks are growing fast. Spring fleeces will be heading to the Southeastern Animal and Fiber Fair (SAFF) later in October. This year I am breeding 4 Jacob ewes with my new ram. Looking forward to Jacob lambs again next spring. I hope to breed Daisy the white cots/BL cross and Carly my registered  natural colored Border Leicester. I primarily raise colored sheep. Don't ask me why, just like to be different. Having an interest in rare breeds I just believe that with so much emphasis on white sheep we need to keep the color genetics out there. Rovings and handspun yarn are always available.