Thursday, August 28, 2008

Casting on before taking off

As Sharon said in the comments, choosing one's traveling knitting is at least as important as packing. Here is mine:It's the beginning of the coin lace and cable wrap in two strands of Becky's beautiful purple yarn. I hope I can do something this complicated while traveling with my family (I already messed up in my first attempt to get through one pattern repeat and had to rip completely; this is my second attempt). If not, I am also taking my laptop and have three clients' jobs to work on; fun, huh?

I have so much more to blog about but don't know when I'll find the time. Last night Rick and I enjoyed three hours of the incomparable Garrison Keillor live at the Oregon State Fair. This morning I had to do a WWF Smackdown of Braveheart (only realizing after the adrenaline rush that I got a couple of good scratches out of the deal). And it sounds like "Holly" is going to be "Inky" again.

That's all I have time for now at . . .

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just like Christmas morning

We have "holly"...
...and the joy and wonder on a child's face at the sight of a new toy!My sister's fiance is packing up his stuff to move to Texas (after getting married in Hereford, they are moving to the Dallas area for my sister's new job) and ran across his childhood electric train set. He asked us if Brian would like it. Would Brian LIKE it? Brian has been obsessed with his dad's old set that doesn't work, and we KNEW he would be thrilled to have a set of his own. Kristine brought it up with her after her last visit in Medford, and it's been in hiding until Rick had time to set it up and make sure it ran before springing the big surprise on Brian. He set it up last night; we had a happy little boy this morning!

Back to Holly:After spending Monday in the weaning/quarantine stall while the mud from another good rain dried some, I put her and the little boys out in the weaning/quarantine paddock this morning. After exploring the boundaries (and letting Jackson sniff where dogs like to sniff), she set to eating hay. You'll notice from the arrangement of bodies that she has quickly taken her place as boss ewe!

Later, while sitting at my computer near the open window, I heard Holly's voice much too close. I dashed out and sure enough, she was out of the quarantine paddock and fraternizing through the fence with the three ewes! It was my fault; I forget to latch the gate of the paddock. I think this makes my record 100% for failing to keep new sheep completely quarantined for the duration. (Apparently I need a steady diet of humble pie.) She was also COVERED with little burrs from the weeds around the manure pile; sigh. I was thinking about shearing her so I could start fresh with her fleece covered (she came with a fair amount of VM, and has a very strong, rank lanolin smell); the burrs may be the deciding factor. I just wish I had the equipment to shear her myself, since she is used to a milking stand and I hate to have the old girl manhandled in the usual fashion by my farrier/shearer. Anyway, she's back in with the boys for the rest of the quarantine period and I pray there are no ill effects from the very brief contact with the rest of the girls.

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Introducing Holly (nee Inky)

"There's a new kid in town (everybody's talkin' 'bout), the new kid in town...." At seven, my new ewe is certainly no kid, and she doesn't act like one, either. For all the changes in her life in the last two weeks, she is quite calm, taking in everything around her carefully. Susan Kimball called this ewe Inky, but since Holly is what comes to mind when I think of her (her polled genetics from grandsire Greenholme Holly and sire Spin Web Holly Boy is why I got her), I think I'm going to just go with it. Besides, her registered name IS Kaleidoscope Holly Orchid.

My first glimpse of her in Tammy's trailer revealed a beautiful Shetland head with large, expressive eyes. Wool on the poll, too. Since I like to spend a lot of "face time" with my sheep, I am thrilled. Certainly there are many more important qualities to look for in a breeding animal, but I want to enjoy what I'm looking at, too.
I haltered Holly and put her in the stall where the lambs have been spending the night while Tammy and I loaded her new sheep and Brian did his best to put on a one-boy variety show. After Tammy pulled out, I went in and sat with Holly for awhile, looking her over and getting acquainted. She came up readily to eat grain from my hand, but didn't want to stick around for scritches. I decided to put the halter back on and take her for a little walk-about to stretch her legs and eat a bit of grass. Brian held the lead so I could get a good photo of her "rear view," since that area is a known weakness in some Holly descendants. She is rather narrow, but I don't see what I would call "cow hocks," and she has a wonderful tail (a weakness in my ewe flock but fortunately not in my prepotent ram). She has good body length and nice, strong pasterns, too. Her fleece is still quite black, a different type than my others; I can't wait to see how she crosses with Braveheart.

Tonight she'll meet the wether boys, and hang out with them until quarantine is over. She's got a snotty nose that hasn't proved contagious so far, but I'd like to get it cleared up.

That's it for now at . . .

The Good-bye Girl(s)

"Well, look who's comin' through the door; I think we've met somewhere before..." That would be Tammy Knight of Wrensong Farm, who I met at Black Sheep Gathering. She loaded up Bella in that very rig, and is coming to get two more of my sheep as well as to deliver Inky - bless her heart!

After the initial paranoid Aussie barking spate, Jackson clearly approved of Rechel's and Bevin's new owner. He also liked Tammy's dog Kyllie, a Belgian Tervuren with as much or more energy than he has!
Tammy makes me sound like the shepherd equivalent of an aggressive drug pusher on her blog, but I think Bella, not me, sold Tammy on her first Shetland. Well, OBVIOUSLY it wasn't me, because in the two short months since BSG, Tammy has gone on to accumulate quite the colorful flock of Shetlands all on her own! Rechel and Bevin are supposedly the last additions for awhile, although I have heard rumors about spots being added later....

Brian didn't want me to sell Rechel and Bevin, and had to hug little Bev good-bye. Then Bev and Rechel joined the two Jacob sheep in Tammy's trailer (a new ewe for Tammy and a new ram for someone else) for the trip north to Wrensong. Good-bye girls, and be good!
Next up: the newest addition to my ewe flock!

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Garden harvest still life

On the menu this weekend: chili/rice casserole with zucchini added, zucchini/squash/tomato toss, and rhubarb crisp - in honor of Prairie Home Companion's Rhubarb Tour, which we are going to see at the State Fair Wednesday night!

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The finish line

Today I finally finished the sporadic, grueling marathon that was the Scarf of Miserable Yarn. I could have made it wider; it must be at least nine feet long. We were on the way to the airport when I bound off, and Brian wanted to put it around his neck. This often rude, rough, rowdy boy loves soft and pretty!

Tonight, with Rick off to San Francisco for a veterinary symposium, I wound the dark brown Shetland singles off into a center-pull ball - nearly 10 ounces (282g) of it! I've found I can get a lot on my little ballwinder if I wind under tension. I was going to start plying it right away, but got caught up taking pictures.

Here's the lovely purple yarn that Becky surprised me with (along with some dark purply brown yarn), all wound into center-pull balls and ready to knit. It's destined to become the coin lace & cables wrap, keeping my fingers and mind busy on our upcoming trip.

I noticed that the Scarf of Miserable Yarn looked very pretty with the lustrous purple cakes - AND with the big, dark brown cake. All together, kind of like "sugarplums." Hmmm, maybe I'll have visions of sugarplums dancing in my head tonight . . . if I ever go to bed and fall asleep!

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another gold medal... the zucchini recipe event! Last night I made zucchini bread from a friend's recipe. When I had hers at a potluck, it was the most wonderful zucchini bread I had ever tasted, so I asked for her recipe. She brought it - and another loaf - to my sister's bridal shower. Unfortunately, the loaf she brought to the shower had raisins in it, as well as chocolate chips (the first batch I tasted had ALL chocolate chips - YUM), and I saw the recipe calls for a cup of each. I am not a big fan of raisins in any setting, so I was tempted to use all chocolate chips in my first attempt, but my desire for greater nutritional content won out. So instead of raisins I used a cup of our dried cherries, and I have to say this stuff is even better than my friend's all-chocolate-chip version!
Below is the recipe, with my modifications in parentheses and italics.

Zucchini Bread
3 packed cups grated zucchini (I use the big suckers for this, grating skins, seeds and all. But use right after picking, or the skin gets hard.)
3 eggs
1 cup oil (I used a bit less, between 3/4 and 7/8 of a cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (which I totally forgot and left out!)
1 cup raisins (I used home-dried Royal Anne cherries, which got plump and juicy, adding the perfect tangy zing)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups sugar
Mix the above together thoroughly; set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together:
3 cups flour (I used one cup unbleached and two cups whole wheat, and you'd never guess it)
1 teaspoon each: salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine thoroughly. Pour into two greased loaf pans and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes (mine took 65 minutes to be done in the middle). Cool on a rack for five minutes before turning loaves out of pans. Cool completely before slicing (if you can). Try not to pig out!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Branson or bust

My DH insisted we take a trip over Labor Day. I balked, as I really am a homebody, but now that everything is purchased I'm adjusting to the idea. We honeymooned in Branson, MO and always said we wanted to go back. Sooo, after more than 24 years, with a six-year-old in tow, we're doing it. I've got to do some serious selecting and swatching so I have a project to work on; otherwise all that travel time seems like such a waste. Stash, here I come!

This is what I'm leaning towards. I think it's beautiful and intricate, yet not too delicate and lacy (I'm not really a "delicate and lacy" sort of gal). It would also be my first cable project. Am I crazy to attempt something like this on a trip with a very active six-year-old? There are going to be times when I can concentrate and count, right? RIGHT? (And my husband wonders why I think "vacations" are so exhausting.)

By the way, not only are we flying into Kansas City, driving south, taking in the Passion Play, Silver Dollar City, and the Shepherd of the Hills play, we are visiting my husband's uncle, aunt, two cousins and their families (one has one child, one has FIVE - including triplets young than my son). Did I mention I find "vacations" exhausting?

I know, I know, I need to start counting my blessings here at . . .

Monday, August 18, 2008

The sounds of pain and rain

Emotional pain, that is. I took Bevin from the ewe group and put her in with her brothers this morning; she's going to her new home at Wrensong Farm next Sunday so she needed to be weaned. The poor, pathetic baby! "BAAAaaaAAAaaa!" she cries. Valentine doesn't answer her often, which is good; when Valentine does say something, Bevin really wails. It doesn't help that the "nutlessteers" aren't being very nice to her. I've never seen them butt one another, but they all pushed her out of the hay and rammed her if she got too close (don't worry; I put out a second flake).
I know, the photo of Bevin is dark - but hurray, it's because of a weather change!Yes, that is a WET deck; we're getting showers on and off and it could continue for days. We sorely need it, and the cooler temps are a welcome relief. I'm one of those who would much rather add a layer than swelter in the heat!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend snapshots

Breakfast for two at the Sunflower Cafe.

Saturday morning stick.

"Fire in the sky" (the McMinnville Antique Airplane Fly-in's mini-airshow).

The picture of innocence (only when asleep!).

Sunday morning sticks.

The three "nutlessteers."

Rechel, putting on her "dark face."

Filling our buckets on the last open day at the blueberry farm.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Swingin', sweatin' and spinnin'

Yesterday was the first day of a three-day stretch slapped with an "extreme heat warning." Brian and I sat in the shade to enjoy the last Brown Bag Concert of the season, Dave Holmes & Tropical Breeze. Their Calypso beat had most of the audience at the least tapping their toes; some of the kids and a few of the adults did more than that. The gal in the white shorts has been at most of the concerts, off to the side, dancing her heart out to whatever the style is for the whole hour and a half.

This evening I finished up the dark brown Shetland roving that's been on my wheel for awhile. After plying it, I'll see if there's enough for the Talia vest. If not, I have a pound of black domestic wool roving waiting in the stash, purchased at OFFF last year.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another blistering triple-digit day, followed by a chance of thunderstorms (and slightly cooler weather). I actually hope we get some, as thunder and lightning are rather rare around here and I miss the meteorologic displays we got in the Midwest. Don't miss the tornadoes, though!

That's it for not at . . .