Thursday, November 27, 2014

A song of thanksgiving

(video from a year ago)

Living proof that there can be beauty in brokenness
"(S)he who plants a tree, plants a hope." – Lucy Larcom

When I think back over the last year, I get a little unsteady on my feet. So thankful we are NOT given the ability to see into the future. How many of us would have the courage to move forward if we saw the challenges ahead?

Not matter the circumstances, there are always blessings too numerous to count. It is a good faith-exercise to try, though. ;-)  Here, in no particular order, is a short list out of many.
  • Our little piece of heaven in the middle of the "Eden at the End of the Oregon Trail."
  • A pantry full of food, a barn full of hay, and a woodshed full of firewood. (That's three big ones!)
  • A little flock of sheep the quality of which I couldn't even dream of when I first got into Shetlands.
  • My mental-health mustang.
  • My parents – my biggest earthly blessing.
  • A handful of dear friends, and a bounty of blogpals.
  • A big yarn and fiber stash (maybe not SABLE, but close) from which to create gifts; who needs Black Friday?
  • A new job.

Yeah; still not sure how I'm to shoehorn that last one into my life, but as it is an answer to prayer I am trying to embrace it. Duties and hours are still undecided; posts here may needs be more sporadic.

Happy Thanksgiving from . . .

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?

Are these guys, with eyes left?
Nah. They're looking at Blake, who's looking at them – no doubt looking for greener pastures  fresh females.

How about the ewe group?
Nah. They're too busy stuffing their faces with forage. But do you see Annabelle off in the distance, next to our northern fence line against the neighboring trees? Every time I turn out the ewe group, Annabelle seems drawn to that fence line, and it makes me nervous. Our westerly neighbor has witnessed a big female coyote nabbing some of her free-ranging hens, and Brian has seen a big coyote trotting through those trees. Annabelle would make an easy target should a predator make a bold play; she would fall down if she tried to run. I usually turn the ewes out when I ride my horse, so I can keep an eye on them from the arena.

Barbados is still here, still intact, still for sale. Hopefully I can hang onto him for as long as it takes for his superlative quality to be recognized and desired by another Shetland shepherd.

Goldilocks, our Easter Egger, has joined the stubborn Buff still hanging out in a nest box. And yes, she insists on crowding into the same nest box.
The hens' egg production has dropped dramatically this month, as you can see by the sidebar tally. The youngest hens in our flock, the five Red Sex-links, have passed their peak production period, and the other eight haven't done a thing in months. I don't mind "carrying" non-productive hens, as long as they are good citizens. But the four Speckled Sussex hens – and I use that term loosely, as some of them seem to have "roosterized" – are mean. I'm tempted to turn them loose to free-range with the neighbor's hens – and keep the coyotes busy.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cheers and jeers

We are back from a quick trip to see my dad. Not only is he doing better, I finished knitting one Christmas present and started on another; "Yay!" for road trips! And "Yay!" for getting to pick up our excited dogs on our way home tonight; Rick's office manager was kind enough to dogsit them for us while we were gone, but I always miss them – and the rest of our critters. And a big "Whoop!" for learning upon our return that Brian has been awarded a generous partial scholarship by the salle; thanks to them he will be able to continue taking fencing lessons!

As for jeers, I just do not get why people destroy the very community infrastructure they need and depend on – businesses, public safety equipment, etc – when they get angry. What, pray tell, does destroying your own community do for you??? Tonight in Portland, someone went stall to stall, releasing five of the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol horses, possibly in response to the grand jury's decision regarding the Ferguson, MO case. Fortunately, the horses were recovered without sustaining – or causing – any major injuries, but it could have turned out much differently. Like so many others have quipped, the more I see of human nature, the more I like my dogs.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2014

As promised

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Light on the horizon...

. . . in more ways than one.

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pulling in my horns

Yesterday morning I captured four adult wethers and one ram lamb in lovely light. The mood? Not quite so bright. Earlier, Barbados was chasing Bart around, which was rather comical considering that Bart is the biggest and Barbados is the smallest in this group. But by the end of chores, when I took this photo, the it-boys seemed to be ganging up on the little he-man.

The big he-man is still with his ladies, a decision I'm regretting as our financial situation has been made clearer to me. I expect the resulting lambs to be nice – outstanding, even, but I haven't had much success in marketing fine-fleeced, poll-carrying Shetland sheep. Oh, my fleeces sell very well, but I don't have room or hay budget to keep an ever-growing fiber flock. The predominant preference for breeding stock out here in the Northwest is bigger, horned Shetlands with longer, straighter, coarser fleeces; there are plenty of fine-fleeced, poll-carrying Shetlands available in the Midwest from which interested breeders there can choose. So unless I can sell some sheep, and not just fleeces, I will not be breeding again for the foreseeable future. Here's hoping I don't have to resort to more drastic measures.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, November 17, 2014

My colors

Last week I noticed what I'd thrown on my bed – Polarfleece riding breeches (Kerrits, my favorite equestrian wear brand) and my handspun Melpomene scarf (I'd worn it to homeschool co-op on my birthday). My comforter (along with carpet and master bath counters) is blue, and everything coordinated nicely. Yep, you can tell what my colors are! (I have several tops in that light teal color that I could have added to the coordinating pile, too.)

I also wear a lot of black. Grey, not so much, but I couldn't get a certain color of grey out of my mind for Romi's Artesian, and found it at OFFF. I finished my silvery wing of a shawlette/scarf on Saturday night:
What a great pattern (as all of Romi's are). Now if only the blocking fairies would visit so I can wear it. (While they are here they could do my Red Rock Canyon shawl as well....)  :-/

I had my next project all lined up, and cast on immediately after finishing Artesian. No details, as it's a gift knit, except that I'm using a lovely skein of Madelintosh tosh dk in Alizarin. Yum.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oh, say can you see...

Seemed a fitting post title in a week that held Veterans Day, my birthday, and bombardment by weather. Unfortunately, my view by the dawn's early light was not as buoying to the spirits as was Francis Scott Key's.
The very first Japanese maple I bought after moving to Oregon and falling in love with them was laid low by its burden of ice.

The lovely, leafy arch over the sidewalk to our front door is no more. My heart is leaden.
Nightcicles by barn light

When we got home last night from errands and Brian's fencing class, there was more ice coating surfaces than there had been when we left. Part of the flowering plum tree in our island bed blocked one side of our circle driveway. I worried about what daylight would reveal.
The flowering plum could stand a good pruning, but please, not that maple, too
Rick made eight of these decorative plaques for my birthday surprise;
he used glow-in-the-dark paint and affixed them to posts along our driveway.

Since taking the photos above, the sun has come out. It didn't take long to start loosening icy fingers.
Icicles on the sunny side of the bird feeder disappeared first

I think I'll bolster my courage by riding my horse before trying to assess the full extent of the damage.

Not feeling very brave, at . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Frozen (updated)

We're not in the deep freeze like some, but we're getting more than forecast.
Waiting for the predicted rise in temps that will allow the overburdened foliage to "let it go" – hopefully before we lose any limbs. Sure is purdy, though.

Casualty update, from right outside our front door:
That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Music and mushrooms

It's been awhile since I've shared some of Brian's music with you. Here he is with his teacher at a recent lesson, playing some Telemann counterpoint.

Next week Brian is playing in the homeschool co-op talent show. His teacher has agreed to accompany him, not on this nifty little thing,
(that's an electric fiddle) but on his bouzouki. If musical number and video turn out well, I'll share that with you, too (like it or not).  ;-)

Dressed considerably warmer because of the weather, yesterday Brian mugged with mushrooms – just before he smashed them to smithereens. Boys!

Speaking of boys, here are two of Annabelle's.

Bittersweet (moorit) is Annabelle's son; Bing (black) is Annabelle's grandson. She has certainly given me a fine fleecy (and fine-fleeced!) legacy.

That's it for today from . . .