Thursday, September 21, 2017

A good day from beginning to end

Brian's violin teacher tells him often that the beginning and ending are the most important part of a piece. If the same is true of seasons, summer could almost be forgiven its terrible performance by the way it ended today!

It started with fog that lasted just long enough for lovely atmosphere, before giving way to magnificent thunderheads illuminated by the morning sun.



Clouds of many kinds created beautiful skyscapes all day long,
coloring up for a grand finale at sunset. I thought about hurrying up the hill for the best view of the show, but chose to keep getting my horse tacked and warmed up for a ride. My reward for heading for the arena instead of up the hill?
And looking up towards our house:
Summer, you almost redeemed yourself – almost. ;-)

SO ready for fall at . . .

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ramadamadingdongs

Last Thursday was blessedly cooler than we had been experiencing, but at evening chore time the lambs and two young ewes in the Sheep Sheraton were breathing heavily. My nagging subconscious jumped out on one shoulder and fairly shouted at me, "You KNOW you've needed to get those ram lambs separated from the ewes!" I hadn't witnessed any interest in the girls from Bogie and Butler (not that I've been around much) but the older ewes in the Ram-ada lot have been bonking heads, as has Blake with his wether buds; it is the season when Shetlands' instincts start turning to sheepy shagging. 😍

I promptly snagged Bogie and hauled his substantial self to Nightcap's old quarters in one-half of the Ram-ada Inn. Upon returning to the Sheep Sheraton for Butler, I found him pursuing one of the ewe lambs and making awfully 'adult' faces for my littlest lamb. 😳 He quickly joined his uncle in the bachelor pad, although not without drama. It was, after all, his first time to be haltered:
Pretty effective "leaf camo"!
The next morning dawned quietly; Bogie has been weaned for awhile and I think Bree was happy to see Butler go (I haven't seen the three youngest lambs nurse from Bree or Babette in quite some time). But I soon found out another reason things were so quiet – the boys had managed to squeeze through the boards of their gate and were quite happy mingling with three willing "women"! 😱

This was NOT good. There was to be NO BREEDING this fall, and now I could be dealing with lots of bred ewes, uncertain male parentage, and extreme inbreeding (Sarai is the only ewe not related to either of them). I cornered everyone, caught and haltered the naughty little boys, and pondered my next move.
Putting them in with a mature ram was too risky; reinforcing the Ram-ada Inn's divider and gate would take time and materials. The quickest solution was to set up the lambing jug, since Rick hadn't totally removed it when he and Brian last cleaned out the fold. That done, I figured I might as well give them needed pedicures and take their photos for advertising purposes before putting them away.

I have asked Rick numerous times to help me wether Bogie, as his longish tail is set low, making it look even longer. And when I had looked at his fleece earlier in the year, I wasn't that impressed. Must not have been wearing my glasses then, because now I realize that he has very finely crimped fine fleece. He also has a different male tail line (through his sire Blake) than the vast majority of polled fine-fleeced Shetlands in the U.S., so he just might be attractive to some breeders.
Butler, on the other hand, has impressed me from the git-go. He is the smallest of my lambs, being a late twin out of a first-time mother, but he is well-conformed, typey and sweet. He is the last ram lamb by Lil'Country Nightcap whose fleece at nine years of age was Superfine Grade 1; his dam Bree is Superfine Premium. I'd love to keep him, but only one of my ewes is not related to him. He's definitely worth overwintering, though, if no one is interested in him this fall.
As I worked with the boys, Brigitte slipped out. She's our loud, demanding, needy girl (supplemented with a bottle after birth), so she is easy to catch and lead. Might as well trim her toes and get photos....
Under all that wool her tail IS fluke-shaped
By then I figured I was in for a penny, might as well be in for a pound and take care of the whole lot. So I haltered Bardot, Brigitte's twin, for her pedicure and photo shoot. This square, typey, black-based daughter of Sarai has been on my keeper list since birth. Although Ag like the muskets, her fleece has kept a lot of color along with lovely crimp, luster, and handle. As a bonus she carries spots!
The last "big" ewe lamb to trim and photograph was Bacall, Bogie's moon-spotted twin out of Vienna. Bacall has always been "under the radar," not attracting much attention, but she really is a lovely girl.
Moon-spot fleece
Next it was the two little girls' turns. Like their brother/half-brother Butler, Bette and Bernadette have looked good since birth. I dreamed of the cross that produced them, Nightcap over Blake daughters, for four years, and the results were all that I hoped for. Too bad I only got the chance to do it one season – but at least I have three stunning lambs as a result!

Bette's fleece has had the softest handle of any of the lambs since birth. Among her other virtues is a nice long topline and a beautiful head.
Bernadette is my dark chocolate beauty, the only non-Ag lamb of the last two seasons. (I think she knows she's special. ;-)

Now to advertise some of them, and get as much of that VM picked out of all the fleeces so I can cover them!!!

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Noteworthy

September 17, 2017: We had our first eight-egg day in I-don't-know-how-long (more than a year?), and rain! Hip-hip, hooray!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Prizes and surprises

Last month our local feed store announced a contest for best "favorite dog" photo.

I sent in one of each of our dogs – and Dozer's won the grand prize! (I sent in a full-color version.)

Since our dogs don't sleep outside, I asked if I could trade the dog house for a dog bed, and the store agreed. Look at this beauty!

Yesterday I invited Dozer to try it out:


Today he decided he likes it:


I got an unexpected package in the mail today. Theresa sent me three skeins of absolutely gorgeous handspun, and a pattern book:
for no reason other than she is an incredibly thoughtful and generous blogpal friend.

Love the fog in this morning's valley view, a sign of the changing seasons:

And look at this fluffy blue butt!

(The sheep adventures of the last 24 hours will have to wait for another post.)

That's it for now from . . .