Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

This morning something woke me early, and I laid there a bit before Rick awoke to lead worship. What a blessing to have the priest of our home - home! As we were finishing up, we heard Brian coming in; he had set his alarm and gotten up early to do chores - what an unexpected (and highly unusual!) blessing to start the day. Since he didn't know what I do with the sheep, I went down after breakfast and took care of them, snapping pictures of the new additions. Since the Chastains assign numbers rather than names to their sheep, I got to give them monikers. The ewe's name came to me quickly yesterday - she is definitely Annabelle. She is seven years old and not used to having humans in close proximity, so I am working slowly to gain her trust. When I first saw her I have to admit I thought her head rather homely, but it's growing on me quickly.

The ram lamb shall henceforth be known as Bunker; to me it fits his tank-like physique. I was rather surprised to see that he really isn't bigger than Blake, just longer; and has an entirely different "look.” One of his little scurs was knocked loose some time ago, and hangs at a wonky angle; when I catch him again (which isn't going to be easy), we'll cut it off. I also want to get fleece shots of both of them; incredible crimp on these two!

Both sheep are used to being worked by dogs, so are very alert to Jackson. Too bad Jackson isn't interested in working sheep!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I weighed the possible ram-ifications...

...and still got a new ram. :-/

Actually a ram lamb and his dam.
(photos taken in July)

I only wanted that poll-carrying ewe, but it was a package deal. So I made plans to pick them up from the Chastains at Whistlestop Farm after OFFF - this week. Then Rick had a heart attack. I had to pause and reconsider my plans, given the three possibilities. 1) Rick and life will return to normal. 2) Rick will return changed and life will change. 3) Rick won't return and life will be turned on its ear. I decided that in each of these scenarios I still saw myself here, with sheep. And since I DID sell the sheep I needed to sell, and Rick and I had determined that Inky, my sole proven poll-carrier ewe, IS too thin to safely breed this year, I stuck to my plans. Only, how was I going to find the time to run up and get them? I have a set time frame in which to use Barish for breeding, so I was determined to find the time, somehow, this week. I called the Chastains on my way home from the hospital last night to see if there was any day this week they wouldn't be home, only to learn that they were making their own plans to deliver them! I was gobsmacked by their kindness, and thrilled they would be able to bring the sheep this morning.

New photos of the new sheep when I'm able. I'm off to pick up my husband!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beauty for ashes

Unnoticed before this morning, a glorious growth of golden, glowing beauty on an old cherry tree.

I think I shall pick a bouquet of dahlias for my husband's homecoming tomorrow - minus Mr. Bumble.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't have a coronary!

Men just don't listen. As evidenced by the fact that my husband went and did just that - had a coronary. Technically an "inferior myocardial infarction." But you know what? God has heard our prayers and is answering "Yes" to them so far, and Rick is resting comfortably in an excellent cardiac unit at a Portland-area hospital after having an angioplasty and getting a stent. After the fear and uncertainty of earlier in the day, I am practically giddy with relief. Still praying, though. Would appreciate yours, as well.

– Michelle

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The spinning stable is full

Just before we left for Kansas, look what arrived from Jenkins Woodworking:
I first saw their Turkish spindles at Black Sheep Gathering, and could finally resist them no longer. I got a Lark in Kingwood, along with a Bolivian Rosewood Jay shaft. Since Wanda was going to be at OFFF and told me I could exchange it then for something else if I didn't like it, I took it for a test-spin on Friday. Oh yeah. Both the Lark and the sample fiber (34% angora, 33% silk, 33% merino) are VERY nice! Can't imagine I'll like the Jay any less. There is just something about beautiful wood tools that work like a dream....

Feeling satisfied with my supply of spindles (um, unless I decide at some point to get a lightweight standard-size Turkish; just sayin'), I took another leap at OFFF. Meet spinning in the 21st century:
That little beauty is a Hansen miniSpinner in maple with a WooLee Winder. I tried one out at Black Sheep Gathering, and it was like getting behind the wheel of a Maserati. So smooth, so quiet, so FAST! I've been counting my pennies and marketing my sheep and fleeces ever since, and then my mom gave me some early birthday money. Even though all that didn't add up to the purchase price, I got one today anyway. Using this makes me feel like I'm in a Mazda commercial; "Zoom-zoom." heh

Thankfully, the sheep fold is less full tonight. Dinah and Barry headed north from OFFF to their new home, and Bardas went to Eugene to be a flock sire. Byzantine is also sold, but will remain here until Franna and I swap rams in October, when she will take him to his new home at Sleepy Hollow Shetlands. I am so very thankful for these placements! Here's a parting shot of Bardas, taken yesterday:

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Garden delights

We've had a couple of soft, warm days - the kind that only autumn can offer. The dust has been rinsed off all the foliage, the light is gentle, and flowers are treasured all the more because their season is reaching an end. Beauty quenches a thirst in my soul; I think we were created with that thirst and that God delights in filling our cups.

Happy Sabbath, from . . .

Friday, September 24, 2010

You've gotta love a kind-hearted man

News flash: there's a new cat at Boulderneigh! Rick and Brian brought him home tonight after rescuing him in a nearby town. His owners moved and left him behind, and he was surviving on the street. Rick said he couldn't leave him there to get run over, especially with his little boy pleading, "Please, Daddy; please!" He's a very friendly feline, eager to be a lap cat. We've dubbed him Tippy for his white tippy-toes. He's hungry, intact, has bumpy skin and ear mites, so he'll be a work in progress for awhile. We've got him settled in the tack room for now. I sure hope Oreo doesn't mind kitty company!

That's it for tonight from . . .


Most people, being far removed from any agricultural roots, think this derogatory term has something to do with part(s) of the human anatomy. But anyone who has sheep knows it is ovine in origin; sheep BUTT HEADS!

Ever since I started shearing Dinah, Katie has been a butthead. She has kept to herself ever since arriving here last winter, and other than protecting her lambs, has been a meek and mild member of my little flock. But Dinah's change in appearance, combined perhaps with surging hormones, has turned Katie into a mean, aggressive dominatrix! Since Wednesday evening I've locked her in the corner pen of the fold; today, since it is warmer and dry, they are all out in the sheep lot where Dinah has more room to run away. Unfortunately, she has to run a LOT, because Katie pursues her all over the place, and when chubby Dinah stops to catch her breath, Katie starts butting her again. Butthead.

This situation has aggravated the melancholy I feel over selling Dinah. She is the first Shetland I fell in love with, and the one-on-one time we've had together the last couple days while I sheared her has been special. But she is not "extra fine and soft" by any stretch, is down a bit in her rear pasterns, and does not carry polled, so a non-breeding home really is better for her. I hope she and Barry can live out the rest of their days together as loved and spoiled pets; that is my prayer.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The calendar now reflects our weather; Happy Autumn! While I am gleefully donning long sleeves and vests, poor Dinah is losing her woolens. She and her son Barry are going to their new home on Sunday, and since I've had Dinah covered since shearing seven months ago, I reserved the right to her pristine fleece. I could have had her sheared at OFFF but didn't want to take the chance that she would get nicked or cut, so I am scissor-shearing her. She is taking a LOT longer to do than Inky because of her much denser fleece. I thought I had plenty of time to do her yesterday evening, but ran out of light and had to leave her looking like an albino lion. I'll finish her today. Don't worry; I haven't seen her shiver once. She has plenty of insulation beneath her skin - as you can see!

I've had a flurry of interest in Byzantine and a bit in Bardas, so I am taking both of them to OFFF on Sunday as well. Hopefully they will both find new homes, too!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The title was on a custom license plate in Kansas; I love it! Kansas is awesome to me, because it is a part of my heritage and holds a big part of my heart. (John Denver's song "Matthew" chokes me up every single time.)

My German great-grandparents homesteaded there, and my uncle still farms the original land - plus more that he's added to his holdings. I lived in the farmhouse when I was a toddler, and visited my grandparents (who had moved to town) and my uncle and aunt (at the farm) many times over the years. I have a long-standing love affair with the old farmhouse, so grand in its day, and must admit that it breaks my heart to see it abandoned (my uncle has moved to another house a section away) and know it is destined for destruction eventually. One of my second cousins and I agreed that if we came into a fortune before that happens, we will completely rebuild and restore it and live there together - we'll figure out something in regards to our husbands. :-) We visited the homestead briefly one late afternoon on our way to my uncle and aunt's home, and I took some photos and shed a few tears.

On Friday afternoon, Brian got to ride in the combine while my uncle harvested soybeans; he was a happy boy. Of course, the best thing about farming is the big machines. :-)

Family and sometimes friends gathered every evening at my uncle's and aunt's home, where we enjoyed good food and fellowship. (The woman in the white shirt with pink flowers is the second cousin who loves the old farmhouse like I do.)

My uncle's home is on a Monarch butterfly migration route, and there were dozens of them flitting about their shelter belt. I was thrilled to get my first decent butterfly portrait!

Of course, the focus of our visit was Grandma, and we spent as much time with her as possible, making more memories.

What a picture-perfect Kansas sunset! (If you click to biggify it's even better.)

That's the report on the Land of Oz from . . .

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just add water

We pulled in our driveway last night at 10:15, and I could tell by the car's headlights that things had changed around here. It was raining when we left last Thursday, and apparently continued to do so, because dust was banished and someone had taken a big watercolor brush and swept the landscape with green.

This is the way things looked this morning:
(There are tender green shoots coming up in that brown pasture as well.)

All the plants looked happy:

And there are even RED tomatoes in the garden!
Don't ask me when I'll have time to deal with them, because there is so much to do this week my head is spinning.

Oh! Speaking of spinning, I did a little on the trip. I picked up an oversized eyeglasses case and stuffed it full of Braveheart roving along with my tiny Turkish spindle. When I couldn't knit, I spun, and came back with a full spindle and a lot less roving.

My current WIP was going swimmingly until time to turn the heel. Then I hit a wall, as I just could not figure out how I could do that two-at-a-time on Magic Loop. I did it once before, but that was a year ago, and the book I took (Socks from the Toe Up) doesn't address two-at-a-time. So I laid my knitting aside and spindled, figuring I would seek internet help when I got home. Then, as we arrived at the airport yesterday, the how-to hit me! So I dug my knitting out of the suitcase to be checked, and knit happily all the way to Portland. I'm on the ribbing now, so just have to knit until the yarn is gone (the beauty of toe-up socks!).

We had a wonderful time with all the family who gathered to celebrate my grandmother's 100th birthday. I'll share more of our trip in another post, but will leave you with this four-generation photo of my grandma, my dad, me and Brian:

That's it for now from . . .