Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Animal behavior

Is this hen broody, or bonkers? She acts broody, except that she never sits on eggs. She's not laying, of course, but a few of the other girls are. If she's truly broody, wouldn't she choose a nest box in which other hens have made deposits?

Blake, outstanding in his "field" on a foggy morning. He's lost interest in his girls; hopefully they are both bred. I will leave the breeding group together until the end of November just in case, then do another sheep shuffle. I will not put this guy in with Blake, though:
That's Barbados, taken later the same day I took the foggy photo of Blake. They spend much of their standing at their respective fence lines staring at each other, the flock sire and the young wannabe. No, they can live with separate groups of fiber wethers, and the girls will be put back together. (Inserting a plug here: fine-fleeced Barbados is for sale as a flock sire, and I could put together a nice pair or trio of wethers for someone interested in their own fine-fleeced fiber flock.)

Annabelle is getting special treatment. Recently I caught Benny hassling his old dam, mounting her and pushing her around. Hmm; that may have been what got her cast the other day. So when the ladies and lambs are in the fold, Annabelle gets the corner lambing pen with her own hay and water, plus a handful of Lamb Chow laced with MSM and kelp meal once a day. Everyone else is jealous, of course; it can be a job wading through the woollies to give Annabelle her goodies. That's why I don't feed treats or grain as a general rule; it makes most sheep too pushy!

Jackson, jealous of my computer time
Last night our dogs started acting strangely. Dozer, sitting in the recliner with Rick, starting shivering,  then jumped down and hid behind my chair. Jackson started panting nervously and tried to become one with my legs everywhere I went. They had been outside shortly before so Rick and I wondered aloud if something had scared them, but when we mentioned "outside," they rushed to the door. Nope; obviously no boogy men out there!

Their nervousness went on until bedtime, to our consternation. All I could think of was, "Do they sense seismic activity?" Blame my recent focus on preparedness, but animals DO sense these things when humans cannot. Thankfully everything stayed quiet – until an impressive rumbling of thunder awoke me this morning. I'll take that. ;-)

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, October 27, 2014


Fall is the best time of year for sky-watching. What a start to the day!

Yesterday I put up another seven quarts of applesauce, then we unloaded the two cords of oak Rick and Brian cut and brought home recently. Our woodshed is full, so Rick built a pallet platform to keep it all together and off the ground. We don't need it for this winter, but it is as good as money in the bank for later.

Some poor squirrel lost the "money in the bank" s/he stashed, though. Look at all the acorns in the wood!

A couple weeks ago, representatives from the American Red Cross gave a presentation on disaster preparedness at our church. I'm glad I attended; my knowledge was reinforced, refreshed, revamped, and amped up. We are more prepared than most for disasters by virtue of our lifestyle, but I need to put together what we have in a "go pack."

Although house fires are by far the most common "disaster," when someone says that word around here they are usually talking about  The Big One, a massive earthquake from a shifting of the Cascadia subduction zone. (I encourage you to follow the link; the Cascadia fault, and its history, are fairly recent discoveries.) Personally, I'm not sure it's possible to be prepared for a disaster of that magnitude, but neither do I think we should stick our heads in the sand and our fingers in our ears. My biggest concern is having enough water on hand for all the critters that depend on us in the event of an extended power outage/infrastructure failure. I've long dreamed of having a man-powered system – like a stationary bicycle device under a simple shed roof – to run our well pump. We do have a generator, but that would help us only as long as we had fuel. Things to think about, but not to stress over.

Thankful for my Father at . . .

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fresh on Friday!

This tree on the way to my MIL's is FAR more glorious IRL!

It's full-on fall here, which means we are getting the kind of weather some people think we have year-round. (That's fine; they can just keep thinking that. Keeps the riffraff out. ;-)

Today I headed into the garden to pick rhubarb. Its time is limited; might as well use it up for a crisp for potluck. While there, I looked around. The garden looks pretty sad right now, with weeds burgeoning and vegetables languishing. I noticed some nice tomatoes (Rick picked them "all" last Sunday, so I don't know where these came from), so I went exploring to see what else I could find. My hands were soon full, and I had to go to the house for a big bowl! Besides tomatoes, there were a couple jalapeƱos and several small bell peppers, a couple summer squash, a wee winter squash, and a bunch of Japanese eggplant that have turned golden instead of purple. No matter; they will make good filler in the dinner cobbler I'm also making for potluck.
That's a lot of "fresh" for this Friday; what a blessing!

This girl is still broody. She kept her "broody 'do" even when I picked her up and put her outside to get some of the alfalfa leaves I scattered this morning.

When I looked in on the sheep in the fold this morning, I thought I'd lost Annabelle. She was stretched out on her side, not moving. I froze – then saw her side moving and dashed in to see what was wrong and what I could do to help. She had gotten cast between some odd humps that have developed in the (desperately needing to be stripped) bedding. At first she was only able to stand with my support and sounded pretty gurgly; but by the time I dashed up to get Rick and came back, she had managed to get up on her own, and soon started nibbling hay. These Shetlands; they're tough!

I've finished the first repeat on my Artesian. I've still amazed by the perfection of the yarn's color, even though knitting with a superwash single is a new and interesting experience.

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One, two, buckle my shoe...

Blake's got his eye on his other ewe!
Fine by me; I'd be delighted if both ewes lambed in the same week.

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Undamped ardor

Our weather today fits the stereotype of the Pacific Northwest – windy, rainy, gray and dreary. But it hasn't diminished this Buff Orpington's desire to brood,

or Blake's eagerness to take advantage of Vienna's willingness. One of these scenarios is much more likely to be successful than the other!

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marking the calendar

Wouldn't Spring Break be a lovely time to visit some European cities, such as Berlin, Bergen, Bristol, Brighton, Bremen, Belgrade, Budapest, Birmingham, or Bezau? Hee; those are the names I have on tap for Blake+Vienna lambs, and it looks like I'll get to use one or more of those names around March 21.

(After a lot of "action," Vienna made it clear to Blake that she was ready for a break.)

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, October 17, 2014

Follow-up Friday

From oldest to newest, are updates on various topics.

My frozen shoulder and bum knee: I don't even notice my shoulder any more (unless I try to reach up my back with my left arm), and my knee is good for everything but jogging or extended standing. The road to recovery for both started with a good physical therapist, who not only treated both but gave me exercises to do at home and showed me how to tape them for support. Doing things that abruptly challenged my shoulder's limited range of motion hurt like the dickens but always resulted in improvement. I also took naproxen sodium preemptively as well as remedially. For the last month or so, our family has been playing volleyball or basketball every Saturday night, and it feels great to be that active again!

Horse health (even though I keep most of my horsey news on my horse blog): After two different ligament injuries, I am back to riding my mustang Lance several times a week at all three gaits. Our show season was a wash, but as long as he's sound and we can still school dressage, I'm happy. The news about Brian's old pony Breezy (above) is not so positive. As I mentioned on my horse blog, she has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. The first chemotherapy Rick tried made things worse instead of better; this week he injected the tumors with a different drug. If treatment #2 isn't effective, there probably isn't anything more we can do for her.

Fencing: Brian continues to learn – and love – fencing. He started with four weeks of "Learning to Fence;" now he's taking four weeks of Beginning Foil and Beginning EpeĆ©. We picked up a used underarm protector, his first piece of fencing gear, at the urging of the salle; Brian was so excited I think he wore it to bed.  ;-)

Vienna's lameness: She is still a little off on that left hind leg, but it's much improved. I think I must have strained it in putting on her coat.  :-/

Artesian: I didn't get far before I realized I'd really messed up the set-up row. Unfortunately, I had to throw it in the frog pond; fortunately there wasn't much to rip out. I hope to cast on again tonight.

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The post I was going to do...

...before sheep maintenance barged in!

Tuesday evening I finally faced my "fear of fiddly" and tackled the thumbs on my nephew's wee mittens. As with most things, the dread was worse than the deed, and I had both done in short order.

Now to get these washed, dried and in the mail. I knit them as a Christmas present, but would rather my nephew stay warm during his first Nebraska fall and winter than stand on ceremony and wait for an event.

For once I avoided the post-FO slump that is the downside to being a monogamous knitter – I actually cast on Artesian before Tuesday night. Love this color; it is exactly what I imagined for this pattern!

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Curve balls

Earlier this week, life gave us grapes so we made grape juice, putting the apples on hold. Today, when I had just enough time to help Brian get through his schoolwork and practices before heading to town for our homeschool co-op, life moved something from my need-to-do list to the top of my MUST-DO-NOW list.

This morning I headed to the barn to do chores. The wethers were hunkered down under the trees to get out of the weather. Wait, what is that patch of white?
Uh oh; a clean patch of Bart's MVP (Most Valuable Pelt Fleece) was showing. I carried hay to the boys' feeder and they all came running, letting me see the full extent of Bart's coat's failure.
If I wanted Bart's fleece to stay as clean and marketable as possible,  I needed to get a coat back on it, STAT. That meant running all five of the boys into the sheepfold, because Bart is my big scaredy-cat. So the girls in the fold got shoved into the small corner pen, Rick (who just happened to be at this barn this morning) and Brian were recruited to help direct traffic, the sheepfold door was propped open, and the cue was given. To my relief, the boys actually went where they were supposed to on the first pass (thanks, I think, to Barbados, to whom the fold was a familiar hang-out).

Once the boys were contained, I couldn't not take advantage of the situation. Three of the boys (including Bart) needed bigger coats, Barbados needed to be covered, several needed pedicures, and most importantly, Bart and Browning had very close-growing scurs that needed to be trimmed back. Rick helped me with the scurs, then headed to work, leaving me to wrestle wet woollies by myself. The light was abysmal, but I still tried to capture some of the fruits of my labors. Bart's MVF that initiated it all:

Jet-black Bing, another amazing fleece worth covering:

I got all the sheep maintenance done and all the sheep back in their respective spaces, then took my wet and filthy self back to the house to clean up. Amazingly enough, Brian still got all his schoolwork and practices done and I got a double batch of cookies made for co-op before we had to leave! I'd say I got a home run out of that curve ball, and it feels good. ;-)

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fully fall

My view of the house this morning while doing chores:

Wet leaves, green grass, gray skies; my soul finds the change refreshing.

With wet weather in the forecast, I had my guys fill two five-gallon buckets with apples yesterday so I could can applesauce and prep apple pie filling today. But the approaching rain gave Rick his own ideas; yesterday afternoon he visited the vineyard owner to see if harvest was over. It is, not because the grapes are all picked, but because the winery is at capacity! Rick got permission to glean, and came home with a mess of muscats,

and a pail of pinot gris.
Since apples keep better than ripe grapes, we're canning grape juice today instead of applesauce. Fortunately, I found a box of recycled jars; they don't fit well in my water-bath canner, but they work fine for open-kettle steamed juice.

That's it for today, from . . .

Monday, October 13, 2014

My long and lovely lady-sheep

Two weeks ago:

This Sunday:
(I do believe she's filled out!) It was high time to clean up Vienna and get a coat on her. I enjoyed spending more time with this sweet girl, and admiring her many good qualities. She isn't quite as tall as Sarai, but needed a size F(!) coat to accommodate her nice, long body. Her fleece is very soft, with a different crimp structure than any of my other sheep.

She has such a pretty head.

When I put her back in the breeding pen,

Blake thought I'd brought him a NEW lady – "Hey, baby!"

"Oh brother; can you believe that guy?" Sarai didn't settle to Blake the other time I tried to breed them; I hope she is more accommodating this year. And I hope Blake appreciates the beautiful girls he gets to consort with this year!

Vienna was favoring her left hind leg after I put her back in the breeding pen. I don't know if I strained it getting her leg through the strap, or she had been lame before and I just hadn't noticed. This morning she didn't want to put weight on it. I'll be keeping a close eye on her.

That's it for now from . . .