Monday, June 26, 2017

Breathing room

This is my current earworm:

There have been a number of excellent songs like this that have been getting me through a most difficult year; I've shared some of them here. I know without a doubt that songs that praise God send the devil packing . . . or at least make him back up a few strides to give me some breathing room.

We're all breathing easier now that a three-day heat wave has been broken by a more normal Pacific NW weather pattern. The stiff coast breeze yesterday evening blew through all the windows and doors we had to keep closed, and we had our usual pleasant sleeping temperatures once again.


He wasn't this pleasant about helping stack all that hay....  ;-)

Yesterday's major task was putting 210 bales of first-cutting grass hay from our favorite supplier into the barn. We still have some of last year's assorted hay to use up (beyond the pole at the far end), but we'll need more – hopefully some green, leafy third-cutting from the same supplier. I'd also like to get some alfalfa for my rams and wethers. After losing another one (Benny) to urinary calculi, I'm looking ways to prevent this painful – and for us, 100% fatal – condition, and Sara at Punkin's Patch sent me a couple articles by Dr. Kennedy at Pipestone Vet saying to feed alfalfa to boys, and NOT give any mineral mix that contains phosphorus. (Nightcap should be in good shape, because I was giving him some soaked alfalfa pellets along with Bramble.) I am also wracking my brain on how to manage my sheep now that the foxtail makes the pastures dangerous for fleece and flock. The ewes and lambs can't stay locked up in the fold; I don't want to risk injury to either ram by putting them together (especially since Nightcap is nine years old); and worry about parasite load is giving me occasional nightmares. Sigh. Unless I can solve some/all of these problems (and I haven't had any real lightbulb moments), it would be irresponsible to breed again.

The intense heat may have fried our remaining strawberry crop, but all the garden starts and row crops loved it (with copious amounts of water, of course). Yesterday we went to the graduation party of a brand new veterinarian, a young man who worked for Rick over a decade ago. He and his wife live on her family's CSA farm, and she gave me a tour. Talk about a GARDEN! Every CSA box includes a bouquet of flowers, a bouquet of fresh herbs, veggies AND fruit (right now, various kinds of blackberries and raspberries; later blueberries, apples, figs, persimmons, pears, Asian pears....) It was impressive and inspiring, as her husband has always been to us as a hard worker full of integrity. Rick would have loved to have Scott work for him upon graduation, but there just isn't enough work in his practice for two vets.

I need to get ready to take my car to the dealer for a major repair, so sayonara for now. I'll leave you with some flower photos taken inside and out.
A leaky hose keeps the New York asters watered along with the garden

A new calibrachoa to enjoy all summer

First anniversary orchid buds are getting bigger

Second anniversary orchid's full and gorgeous spray

My "grandma" daylily, from the Kansas homestead

My large lemon daylily


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sucker punched









Good-bye, sweet Benny; we loved you so. May we meet again in heavenly pastures.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yesterday we had to put down this girl, the sheep in my header. She had ongoing health issues for years, and this winter/spring she got really thin. But I was supporting her with soaked alfalfa pellets top-dressed with rice bran pellets, and she was strong and interested in life. A totally unexpected crisis occurred, though, and there was no way around the inevitable. RIP, dear Bramble. Your shepherd will miss you.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Fluttering, fleeces, a fright, and Father's Day

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get – at least on my blog! As a result, you are going to get a several-course meal, should you choose to partake. I'm already losing track of what happened which day, so these are all from "recently."

A red-winged blackbird visited us! I've see them down in the valley but never before at our feeder, so I grabbed my camera to document it.

Oops.

I try to document my lambs' progress when I can. Friday I got photos of two ewe lambs I'd really like to keep, Bernadette and Bette. Bernadette is the moorit (dark); Bette is the musket (lighter). They are cousins and half-sisters, having the same sire and out of ewes who are full sisters. Bette has an incredibly soft fleece, plus a long topline, perfect tail, and "a leg in each corner." Bernadette isn't quite as soft but measures up everywhere else, with the bonus of not having the fading gene. She also has pizzaz. ;-)

Then there's Bogie. He is the biggest lamb by far, with tiny "chocolate chip" scurs and a lovely musket fleece (although he looks dark in the photo above). I'm undecided about his future. His tail is long; while he could yet grow into it, do I want to wait and see or just wether him now? Such are the decisions of a shepherd.... Anyway, as big as he is, he always seems to lead the charge of escapees. Does THIS look like a sheep pasture to you?

How about this? Little truants; they wander around sampling things they shouldn't and collecting trash in their beautiful baby fleeces. The only one who rarely leaves the pasture is Bacall; I guess she's a mama's girl.

My dahlias didn't survive our wet winter, which is giving my Stella D'Oro dallies room to shine in my island flower bed. The white flags are thick this year, and the spirea are blushing pink.

I saw the beauties below in someone else's yard over the weekend. I have no idea what they are; they look like exotic orchids!

Just in time for the official start of summer, our weather has turned hot. Sniff; I miss the cool temps and lovely clouds already.

The other night I headed out for evening chores and saw color in the west. We don't have an unobstructed view of sunsets from our house, so I hiked up our gravel road to get a better look.

Saturday night while we were brushing our teeth, the water in our faucets spit, sputtered – and QUIT. We figured that either our pump died (we haven't replaced it in the 22 years we've lived here) or our well dried up (a dread of mine; it only gives 4-5 gallons/minute but it's the sweetest water I've ever tasted). There was nothing that could be done about it then, so we went to bed and tried not to think about another big-ticket item to add to the list (our dishwasher is on the fritz, my car needs a new intake manifold, and $1k worth of hay is waiting for us to pick up next Sunday).

On Father's Day morning we assessed what we needed to get by until we could call a well service company Monday morning. Rick called our neighbor down the hill to see if we could fill a couple water barrels at their place, and Dennis offered to help Rick trouble-shoot a couple things. Six months ago he had to replace his pressure switch, and thought that might be our problem. Praise the Lord and our wonderful neighbor, it was! He sent Rick off to Lowe's for parts, then came back up to help Rick install them. When water began flowing through our pipes again, it was with better pressure than before. We are so, so thankful!

Rick picked strawberries from our patch for the first time last week. For Father's Day, I made some of his favorite foods for dinner, including a strawberry rhubarb pie. Last night, he and Brian picked strawberries again, and got four times as much as the first picking.
They picked, so I prepped. Twelve pints are now in the freezer.

When I finally fell into bed at midnight, fumes of freshly offended skunk wafted through my open window. At least our dogs were in for the night!

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, June 16, 2017

How I get my steps in

I think I've mentioned before that I have a FitBit activity tracker, a perk of my part-time job. I've seen articles questioning whether activity trackers actually prompt more activity; I know in my case it certainly does. Take yesterday, for example. It was windy and rained off and on, so I didn't go outside as much as usual. By the end of the day, I hadn't reached my 12,000-step daily goal. So when the nightly news came on, I grabbed my spindle, went to the basement, and walked on the treadmill while watching and spinning. I was going to watch news and spin anyway; why not walk instead of sitting on my patootie? (Did you know sitting is the new smoking?)

Usually I reach my daily goal like this:
After a few steps around the house in the morning, I head outside. I check the garden; sample some produce; start water lines if it's warm and dry.




The rampant weeds distract me, so I start pulling. When my back complains and I feel the pressure of hungry animals, I head down the driveway towards the barn. Flip open the top of the boys' hay feeder on my way by. Stop at the hen house to open the pop door and check food and water levels; throw them some grass and clover I plucked for them on the way down. Walk on to the Ram-ada Inn to pick up one of the two empty feed pans; use the pan to serve up Lance's antihistamine with rice bran pellets. Carry hay to both horses or put on their fly masks and lead them to pasture. Divvy up soaked alfalfa pellets with rice bran and carry to the Ram-ada Inn for Bramble and Nightcap; walk back to get hay and/or water as needed and carry it to the Ram-ada Inn. Carry hay to the ewes and lambs; remove their empty water buckets, scrub, refill, and deliver. Carry hay to the boys in the wooded lot; return to the barn for a small bucket of water to top off their big bucket. Head back to the house; stop by the hen house to collect any eggs. That's usually good for my first 3,000-4,000 steps; I retrace most of those during evening chores. In between I keep moving in various ways, depending on the demands of the day.

One of the current demands is tackling this:

That's our riding arena, growing a green carpet of weeds. Last year to my dismay, Rick sprayed it with RoundUp. Earlier this week he said he was going to do it again, and I begged for a reprieve. I have read enough research results to be convinced of the evils of glyphosate; I don't think being exposed to it can be good for ANY living creature, much less a horse with Inflammatory Airway Disease. Yesterday's rain made conditions perfect for weeding, so in between the cooking and cleaning that is always on Friday's agenda, I filled the manure cart with the tall weeds from two sides and the middle. (The rest is mostly what I call "wireweed;" I'm hoping to recruit Brian to operate the rocker hoe so I can rake it up.)



Today's total: 21,350 steps.

That's the fitness plan at . . .

Thursday, June 15, 2017

News from the hood wood wooded hood ;-)

This image of Benny against the big tree caught my eye this rainy morning.
Looking downhill from the Ram-ada Inn, I noticed what a jungle the SE corner of our property has become.
Years ago we tried turning the horses in there, but they got scraped up by fallen branches. Later I tried turning the Shetland boys in there, but their fleeces collected nasty weed seeds – and they chomped on the seedling Douglas firs. Brian has probably used this untamed space the most, which isn't saying much; he had more fun building the treehouse (with his dad) and setting up a "campsite" than he did actually using either of them. If I had my druthers, I'd get a couple Nigerian dwarf goats to eat the weeds!

The birds don't mind the rain too much,


and the pastures and garden are being blessed.

Hopefully our cool-season grass will keep growing for while!
(Yes, Vienna is in tatters and needs to be sheared/rooed.)

Rick is working on a really special piece of wood, a huge burl of some kind. This should become a spectacular bowl!

That's it for now from . . .