Sunday, November 30, 2008

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

"everywhere you go."

At the gate:
On the deck:
In the corner by the door (not really, but it almost rhymed):
Rick has been a busy little elf this season. Before his mother arrived for an early Thanksgiving visit, he put lights on our gate and deck. While she was here we went shopping, and I picked up a new tree skirt. I've always used a white sheet, because the tree skirt my mother-in-law made for us is too small for the trees we cut, and none of the ones I've seen in stores were a good match for our house's colors and decor - until I saw the one above. It's not a "match," but it's not a "clash," either. I think it will work nicely.

On Friday Rick put lights along the eaves on the front of the house. The blue lights are on the dormer window of my office, which is the nook where I keep my neglected spinning wheel. At night they cast a blue glow inside as well as out.

I think Rick and Brian are going down the hill to cut a Christmas tree before dark. Rick says he's tired of the noble firs I love, so I told him to just go choose what he wants this time. He doesn't need me along, because it's not my choice this year. I might just let him and Brian decorate it by themselves, too; much less stressful that way.

If you are wondering where the zoo pictures are, none of them turned out well. The animals cooperated delightfully, but the light was low (read cloudy and misting) and flash was either not allowed or ineffective. I wish I could show you Samudra, the precious three-month old elephant calf, or the polar bear bouncing on his plastic barrel, or the bald eagle that flew to a perch very close to us, or the fat and ponderous black bears, but alas, I can't. We had a good time, though - along with a LOT of other people! Who knew so many would head out in wet weather on Turkey Day? The free admission was probably the big draw. I gathered that the zoo did that to thank its public for passing a bond measure to renovate several key exhibits.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

While there is lots to love about this holiday (good food, no gifts, family gatherings and a needed reminder to be thankful), it has been a mostly untraditional one for us. And I'm not referring to the fact that we're vegetarians! With no in-state family, holiday airfare at a premium, and emergency duty interfering some years, we rarely get to celebrate Thanksgiving with relatives. Instead, we have often celebrated with members of our church family. The last few years, though, the families we used to gather with have moved away or are no longer involved in our church, so we have been pretty much on our own. A quiet day at home is fine with me, but my husband feels deprived without the big gathering and loaded table. This week I suggested we volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen and think more about others for a change. But when I called around, places had all the volunteers they needed. So it was back to spending a quiet day at home. Figured I'd at least better work on the "loaded table" part of it, so started preparations last night. I made our favorite cranberry dish (strawberry gelatin, whole-berry cranberry sauce, non-fat sour cream or yogurt, walnuts), and mixed up a batch of delicious refrigerator bran crescent rolls, with plans to roll out and bake them just in time to serve warm from the oven - mmm! Then, on last night's news after showing the special treats zookeepers serve up to the animals, the anchor mentioned that the Oregon Zoo is open and FREE today! So, it is off to the zoo for us (you KNOW photos will follow!), and I'll whip of the rest of our Thanksgiving dinner when we get home.

Hope your Thanksgiving is warm and sincere, however and with whomever you spend it!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Calendar and NaKniSweMo updates

I have designed and ordered a chicken calendar for myself, and will let you know if it is "purchase-worthy." The program says that most of my digital images are too low-res for good print quality, but Nancy K of "Real Sheep Wear Shetland Wool" calendar fame told me that her program said the same thing and her calendars turned out fine. I am using a site that "prints on demand," so you order directly from the publisher, and I don't pay for unwanted inventory. I think that's pretty cool! If the photos turn out satisfactorily I will let you know, and also put together a Boulderneigh Shetland Sheep calendar. Hopefully it is not too late in the year! Oh well, at any rate I will have my chicken calendar....

My NaKniSweMo project hit a big road bump. Halfway through the second sleeve, it became obvious that I did not have enough of the red to finish. The yarn, BIG Berella Bulky, is discontinued, so I contacted a friend who is on Ravelry and asked her to check there. No luck. Then A:-) pointed out the obvious solution - rip the sleeves and swap the colors, using grey for the main color and red for the stripes. Oh, how I hated to visit the frog pond, but could think up no other solution. So here is the first sleeve I am reworking next to the finished sleeve in the original pattern.I'll still get this done for Brian's birthday, but NOT by the end of November.

I'll close with a gratuitous sheep shot of Dinah and her son Browning (standing oddly; he is not humpbacked), taken today. Can't wait to spin his fleece, and see what she gives me from Franjean next spring!

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chick pix - and an idea

The other morning I was thinking I should look for a 2009 chicken calendar, so I can keep track of number of eggs laid and sold, how much feed the girls are eating, etc. I use calendars to keep track of info like that; I have one for the sheep (this year it happens to be an Aussie calendar; last year it was one of Nancy K's) and one for my horse. Then I got to thinking, "Why not make my own?" So I've done a little investigating, and I just might do it! I may also create my own sheep calendar for the coming year. Would anyone else be interested? Since I haven't nailed down which site to use yet, I'm not sure of cost, but it would be less than $20. Let me know, as the end of the year approacheth post haste!

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, November 24, 2008

Interesting pastimes

When I brought Braveheart in for the night recently, I noticed some loose tufts of wool on his neck. He has snagged his coat on the fence running up and down pining for girls, so I figured he caught his fleece in the same way. Isn't it lovely stuff? I'm saving it to send in next spring along with everyone's midside samples. It will be interesting to compare samples from Braveheart's neck and side, because he looks and feels so absolutely consistent from stem to stern.

Then a day or so later when I was cleaning horse apples out of the arena, I noticed this:What are tufts of Braveheart's fleece doing INSIDE the arena?

Remember this? I think Russell has been engaging in "reciprocal grooming," only Braveheart isn't big enough to return the favor! From the number of tufts I've found since, Braveheart is obviously sticking around for this strange interaction!
That's it for now from . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008


I am ram-weary, or at least breeding-season-weary. Breeding season means no snuggle-time with my girls, finding the spot that makes each one go into that trance-like state of delight. Breeding season means pervasive smell of ram - something never before experienced here, as ram lambs apparently don't stink (much like boy-children vs. men). And this breeding season means one ram is getting no action, and is, therefore, VERY frustrated.
I've started turning Russell out into the arena when he's done with his hay and it's not pouring, hoping the sand and additional exercise will help combat his white-line disease. I don't know if Braveheart is just glad for the company, or hopes to romance that long-legged beauty!

I have to say, the camera I had waiting in the wings is a doozy! I'm beginning to feel blessed by the disappearance of my old camera, because it forced me to get this one out and try it. It takes such great stills that I'm actually getting a bit excited about taking some video!

That's it for now at . . .

NaKniSweMo progress

(Hurray, the "new" camera WORKS! Just needed fresh batteries. I am not by any means up to speed on all its functions, though, so don't be expecting videos on the blog anything soon!)

As of last night, four of the five pieces of Brian's cardigan are knit; all that's left is one sleeve - and of course the dreaded knitting in of ends and seaming. Still, I plan to finish this by the end of the month for NaKniSweMo, with a week to spare for Brian's birthday. He hasn't seen this project, so it should be a nice surprise.

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I could be a collector

I've said it before: I adore Japanese maples. I have the "bible" - J.D. Vertrees' Japanese Maples, and have spent hours drooling over its colored photos and making wish lists from the hundreds of cultivars available. It doesn't help my passion that there is a nearby nursery that carries the biggest variety of Japanese maples I've seen in one location - although they no longer allow walk-in traffic. Of course, the "meadow rats" love Japanese maples, too; that's certainly a disincentive for spending money on edible treasures. So for now I enjoy the ones I have.

The current star of Boulderneigh continues to be the grafted tree near our front door. I took these photos during our recent dry (and sometimes foggy) stretch - which had decidedly ended when we woke up this morning. It's a good day to be cameraless!

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pigging and picking

Hello again. My computer went to visit a tech overnight; it got defragged, a BIG memory boost, and a software upgrade. In the meantime, my digital camera has disappeared. I had it with me when I went to town yesterday, and I don't have it now. I don't know if someone snatched it out of the side pocket of my purse, it fell out somewhere, or I've misplaced it around here. I am suspecting the first ugly option, since I've looked everywhere, including where it could have fallen out, with no luck. The post below was conceived before computer and camera went on hiatus, and may be the last for awhile....

When I turn the breeding group+wether out in the mornings, this is a common sight: Dinah, bellied up to the hay bar, while everyone else walks around checking out the freshest fallen leaves. Dinah has always been my "Miss Piggy," but produces nice lambs and a BIG, lustrous white fleece that is a joy to spin, so I guess she makes good use of the groceries!

One morning Rick stayed home to clean out gutters before the rains return (tomorrow). When he came in to change and head to the clinic, Brian was getting ready for violin practice. Brian jumped at the chance to show Daddy how well he's playing his bluegrass tunes. Rick couldn't resist; he grabbed his guitar to play along. (Don't worry; they're both clothed this time. In fact, Brian looks quite the part in his overalls and straw hat!)They are going to play Cripple Creek together at a youth group fundraiser this Sunday; I think the crowd is in for a treat!

That's it for now at from . . .

Saturday, November 15, 2008


As in the act of giving thanks, not the holiday. :-)

Sue, all the way down in Australia, gave me an award! It is a beautiful award and doesn't even have any rules attached; I am truly honored. Thank-you, Sue!

Back in September I entered a contest on one of Loren's blogs for an MP3 player - and I won! The player didn't arrive until today, and as a peace offering for the time it took and for having to change the model awarded to something different, the company sent along a $15 iTunes gift card. My sister sent me an iTunes gift card for my birthday, so I get to have lots of fun shopping for songs!

Franjean did come in sound last night, so this morning I turned everyone (but Braveheart) out together again. For reasons known only to rutting rams, all was calm today - no frantic chasing with panicked fleeing. No "activity" was observed, so we'll have to wait for spring to see what Franjean produces with whom. More of THIS -along with her fabulous fleece, is what I hope for from Butter. She is just so wide and square in back! Franjean has been ordered to pass on nice, long toplines, polled genetics, and that captivating gulmoget pattern. What lambs are dancing in your dreams?

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Friday "manna"

I just got back from shutting in the sheep for the night and checking for eggs one last time. I didn't really expect any more, since Brian collected six earlier in the day, so I was delighted to see an intact #7 - the first time we've collected that many - sitting in a nest box. But it was not JUST an egg - it was another giant, double-yoked Welsie egg! Does that make today an eight-egg day? :-) Funny how none of the other hens, though all the same age (this spring's hatch), have given us any double-yokers. Anyway, it felt a bit like getting the special Friday blessing the Israelites got when collecting manna in the wilderness (see Exodus chapter 16).

Here is Welsie's special gift to us, along with the egg Tawnie was laying in the earlier post. (Note: I have LARGE hands; I wear a men's medium glove!)

That's it for now at . . .

Sun, sheep, socks

I have learned that yesterday's rays were not a fluke; since the last time I watched the weather forecast (days can go by without TV around here) it changed from rain all this week to a nice stretch of sunny days through at least half of next week. Of course, that could change again, so I try to make hay - or rather, take photos - while the sun shines. Below are some of the shots I took while out and about yesterday.
This morning I turned everyone but Braveheart out together. Franjean was so excited by the access to Butter that he barely stopped for a bite of grain and some posturing - the rest of the time he was chasing her at a gallop.Butter was obviously not interested in being romanced (frankly, he is NOT a smooth operator) and I was afraid that he would re-injure himself and maybe her with his blind passion, so I took Butter back to the fold. If Franjean comes in sound this evening, I will turn them all out together again tomorrow and hope for the best.

After Butter left, Franjean took his frustrated ramhood out on the rope swing and small twigs in the sheep lot. Actually, he does this on a regular basis, so it wasn't really out of "frustration of the moment." Still photos don't capture the humor of a he-ram sparring with a dangling rope and head-wrestling spindly shoots!

Lest anyone getting overly excited at the prospect of seeing handknit socks, I must tell you that is not a pond into which I've dipped my toe. Don't know that I ever will, either, as long as there are wonderful socks available like these I got for my birthday. First, my mom put two pair of SmartWool running socks in my birthday package. (My sister introduced me to SmartWool socks, and they have TOTALLY spoiled me - LOVE 'em!) My mother-in-law sent me the pair decorated with little Jacksons; aren't they great?

Finally, a shot of Tawnie in the nest box this morning. She is such a beautifully marked hen, and I haven't gotten very many good photos of her.
That's it for now at . . .