Friday, October 31, 2008


Eating like a queen tonight at . . .

Gearing up for NaKniSweMo

I learned from Chocolate Sheep that November is NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month). Great. I just happen to have two gift sweaters (cardigans) on my to-knit list, so I am taking this as a kick in the pants to get my rear in gear. One of the sweaters is for Brian, who has outgrown his modified Baby Surprise Jacket but still wants to wear it to church sometimes. He has a birthday coming up, and I have my eye on this pattern in red (his favorite color) with grey stripes (stash yarns) - modified, of course to fit a BIG boy!
Remember this? My dear friend, this little sweetheart's mother, would like a matching cardigan for herself. No problem; I have plenty more of the rose chenille and the side-to-side Sonnet pattern should work well. Now if only I didn't need to sleep - or could knit IN my sleep. Because I also need to keep working on thisand other gift knits for the holidays!

Off to knit while helping Brian with his reading and math at . . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thar's gold in them thar hills!

On a drive over the hill into Amity Tuesday, I had to stop and snap a couple of pictures. Between the vineyards below and the native maples above, the scene positively glowed!

By yesterday morning the weather was changing, but my big Japanese maple in the island bed made up for the lack of sunshine. This tree used to be outside our bedroom window in the old manufactured home (we moved it to the island when we built our house), and really did give the effect that the light was on in the room when it was in full fall foliage!

This morning we're socked in with fog, and Brava is acting friendlier toward Franjean. Could there be more March lambs?

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yippee! March lambs!

This morning Inky is receptive to Franjean! Based on this handy lambing date calculator, I'll be keeping watch towards the end of March 2009 for surprise packages. The offspring of these two will be F3 Holly, double F4 Roban Dillon; will I get a full-poll out of the match? Will they be black? Moorit? Modified? Gulmoget or solid? Oh, it's going to be a loooong five months. :-)

It is, indeed, breeding season, at . . .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The roving has landed!

Last night Rick was able to pick up my roving when he was near the processor's for a veterinary call. I love it all, especially Valentine's two colors, and will definitely save some of each to spin myself. SOMEday I'm going to knit myself a Fair Isle jacket out of homespun in natural colors!

Anyway, I'm sure you are wondering who the contest winner is! I am pleased to announce that Catskill Mountain Fibers gets to take her pick from the girls' roving shown and described below. She guessed I'd get back 19 1/4 pounds of roving from the processor, and she was only off by a few ounces. In case you are interested, I sent in 28.95 lbs. of fleece, so my return was 67% and some change. How does that compare with what other you other Shetland breeders have experienced in processing your own fleeces or sending them out?

Many thanks to all who entered my contest. If you see something below that you just have to try, it IS available for sale. :-)

Dinah, white (bump, long staple):
Rechel, light grey (loose roving, shorter staple):
Valentine, dark fawn (bump, long staple):
Valentine, light fawn (bump, long staple):
Bella, grey lamb (bump, long staple):
Bella, light grey adult (bump, long staple):
Proud to be grown in the U.S.A. at . . .

The sheep speak

"Hey Food Lady, what's the deal with the girls around here?"

"Rams! They are SOOO impressed with themselves, and think we should be, too. I wish he'd just leave me alone. You would think that having 15 lambs in seven years would be enough to earn me some peace."

"Just keep eating, Brava. Maybe he won't notice us."

"Oh shoot, he's coming this way!"

"Maybe that cute little Butter would be easier to woo."

"At least you're nice to me; I appreciate the chin scratch."

"Thanks; I feel better now. I know they can't resist my charms forever!"

That's it from the breeding group at . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lovely, lovely light

Morning light:
Evening light:
Midday light:
Cloudy bright:
ALL the light is lovely this glorious time of year! While we may not have as much color in our indigenous flora as the east does, I think the color in the agricultural crops (above you see cherry trees and blueberry bushes; the vineyards are turning gold) and landscaping plantings more than make up for it. And as my friend Kathleen says, the colors contrast so nicely with the ubiquitous Douglasfirs.

Of course, perfect Indian summer days increase the sensory pleasures a hundredfold. Today on the way home from Brian's violin lesson, we took the time to do something I've long wanted to do - follow the signs for "U-pick kiwis." We turned west in Dundee and headed up into the hills, past acres and acres of vineyards,to HB&K Farms (which stands for honey, bees and kiwis).While our eyes feasted on more fall color,Brian and I sampled our first "baby kiwis" - small fruits as soft and fuzz-free as a newborn baby's bottom. Yum! We headed into the trellised vines to pick - not these hard, fuzzy things- we want THESE tasty morsels!
Before leaving Dundee I pulled into a parking lot to confirm my suspicions. Indeed, the business that used to reside in the commercial space behind that brilliant young tree, Pacific Wool and Fiber, is gone. But I checked for a web presence when I got home and see that they have only moved to the next town, Newberg, so we haven't lost a local resource for fiber addicts. Whew!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The best-laid plans . . .

I got sick Friday, on top of my cold. Didn't pay much attention to the symptoms at first, as I was busy cleaning and preparing food for the next day, but by suppertime I didn't feel much like eating (you KNOW I don't feel good when I pass on the homemade German Chocolate Cake I made for Rick's birthday!), and went to bed shortly after that. Didn't sleep much from discomfort, and stayed home from church the next day. I rarely get sick and when I do, I'm usually over the worst of it in 24 hours, so I was hoping to bounce back in time for the barn party Saturday night. As the day dragged on (Rick was on call and had to go on several emergencies; he had Brian with him) it became clear that I was not going to be up for socializing, but Rick and Brian still planned to go to the party and pick up my roving, too. To Brian's great dismay (the barn party was held at his best friend's house), they didn't get home from the emergencies until nearly 7:30 p.m., way too late to drive over an hour to a party that started at 6:00. Obviously, the roving didn't wing its way here by itself, so the announcement of the contest winner must be delayed.

My typically cast-iron gut is still in turmoil, but I feel enough better today to be out of bed more often than in it. (I have no idea what I'm dealing with. No fever, so I think that rules out the flu. I've had food poisoning, and this isn't it.) When Rick and Brian left to pick grapes to juice, I decided to spin some more of the luscious batt Allena gave me in MO - and finished it!Not only was it good "fiber therapy," once I get it plied and skeined my wheel will be free to play with roving from my own sheep.

Speaking of fibery goodness, I so enjoyed the mohair yarn I made my moebius shawl from that last week I bought more - and in more colors! (Did I mention it's on sale?) This really is nice stuff, not at all itchy. If you want to buy some and pay the shipping I'd be happy to pick it up and send it to you. It's also available in dark eggplant and burgundy. Email me (link at right) for details.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

A successful experiment

Before we left for Texas, one of Rick's clients gave us a bunch of Asian pears. He pressed a lot of them into cider last week (unfortunately his little helper wasn't the best on quality assurance and some bad ones slipped through, resulting in some "off" batches), but there were still some left. Last night while Brian and I were on the "sheep run," Rick loaded our dehydrator with slices. Having never dried or tasted dried Asian pears before, we didn't know how they'd turn out. I am happy to report that they are DELICIOUS! There's a stockpot full of fresh ones left, so we'll dry those, too. They will join the dried cherries and dried prunes already in our freezer. Next week I need to start canning applesauce to join the tomatoes and condensed tomato soup in the pantry.

In other culinary news of the day, I made deviled eggs for potluck at church tomorrow. I set a dozen eggs aside at least two weeks ago (a couple may have only been a week and a half old), and most of them were STILL hard to peel. I am here to tell you that there is NO GOOD WAY to make fresh eggs easy to peel! Not salt in the water, not ice and or baking soda in the afterbath, not picking holes in both ends and blowing - NOTHING. Sure makes me wonder just how old those store-bought eggs are - you know, the ones that are easy to peel? Since I don't plan to buy eggs again in the foreseeable future, I'm just going to give up on hard-boiled eggs. No big deal.

I THINK that's the last post for today from . . .

Speaking of contests...

I got an email from the processor saying that I can pick up the rest of my fleeces Saturday night when we're in her area for a barn party. I asked her to weigh what she has there (she doesn't usually weigh the end product) and I'll add what I have here (plus what I've already sent to buyers) to come up with a total weight for the finished roving. Sunday morning I'll look through all your guesses and see who the lucky winner is! (If you haven't guessed yet and would like to a chance to win 8 ounces of Shetland roving - your choice of color, leave a comment here or on the original post by midnight Saturday night.) You also have until midnight Saturday to buy roving at the sale price of $2/ounce (I take PayPal); after that the price goes up. Many thanks to those who have already taken advantage of this offer so I can more easily pay the big bill come Saturday night!

That's it for now at . . .

A closer look at Franjean...

...after a clarification on poll/horn genetics. I erred in my comments two posts (can I claim jet lag and a head cold?) ago when I said that genetically both Braveheart and Franjean are the same (PP/pp). They ARE the same genetically, but it's written Pp, since they both carry one poll gene (P) and one horn gene (p). We know this because Franjean's sire is a full-poll (PP) - and Franjean has scurs; and Braveheart only has bone knobs but has thrown both scurs and full horns. There may be a gene locus that influences the size and type of scurs, but none of us know that for sure. Certainly Braveheart's little bone knobs are more visually appealing to those of us breeding for polled Shetlands, but both these rams can contribute to a polled breeding program. As Juliann said in her comment: "Us polled Shetland breeders are trying to breed for smooth polled rams, and we have to use 'half polled' (Pp) rams to get there. And many half polled rams have scurs of various shapes and sizes. Pp + Pp + 25% chance of getting PP. We need these scurred rams."

This morning I had a chance to take a closer look at Franjean. While his fleece is weathered and a bit harsh at the tips, the inside has a soft hand and the same lovely shade that Valentine used to be (and still is along her topline). Could he be a fawn gulmoget instead of a moorit gulmoget?

He has a very nice, typey tail - a big plus, but is not as wide or square in the rear as Braveheart - a bit of a minus. Braveheart has proven his ability to pass on good backends, though, so I'm not worried about getting off track there.

I'll have to run another contest next spring to see who comes closest to guessing correctly what this handsome ram gives me for lambs - that is, IF anyone lets him mount!

Inky says, "I'm not much impressed with him - yet."

That's it for now from . . .