Saturday, October 17, 2020

Like a little gift from the dear departed

I found Blake dead in the Ram-ada Inn Tuesday morning. I was hurrying to get chores done so I could open Rick's clinic for the day, so all I could do was shut the gate so he wouldn't be disturbed.

Wednesday morning I was hurrying through chores again for the same reason. On my way back to the house I noticed something white at the sheep boys' fence line. A discarded plastic bag? No, a cluster of shaggy mane mushrooms was erupting in a spot I've never seen them before! I snapped a quick shot and went on my way.

That afternoon when I got home, an amazing sky show greeted me. The clouds, the clouds!

Rick didn't have a chance to dispose of Blake's body until Thursday morning. I've heard that animals come to terms with death if you give them time. Bing and Bittersweet had been able to see and even smell Blake for two days, but they still acted distressed when Rick took him away, baaing and running along the fence. That broke my heart all over again....
the lost boys

My friend Kate rode along with Poppy and me to agility class Thursday evening, and I told her about the mushrooms (she was the one who told me how good – and safe – shaggy manes are). She hoped I'd utilize them, reminding me they don't last long. But we got home after dark that night and I had to dash off to the clinic again Friday morning, so I mentally wrote them off.

Friday afternoon I was able to leave the clinic a little early while Rick stayed to man the phone. When I got home I turned the ewes out and worked with Stella, then decided to check the mushrooms. Amazingly, most of them were still in prime condition, and SO much bigger, more numerous, and cleaner than the ones that come up in our arena. I made a sling with my shirt and loaded it up. When I got to the house I weighed them – I had 2lbs 5oz!!! Before long they were simmering with butter, onion, garlic, and alderwood smoked sea salt. Today we had them mixed with whole wheat spaghetti for our Sabbath dinner; YUM. No, I don't believe Blake sent them, in spite of my title. They were more like a gesture from his Creator as well as mine, letting me know He cared about the hole in my flock and heart.

Thanks to a playdate at a friend's while I was at my regular part-time job on Monday, and getting to play with the neighbor dogs a couple times after working at clinic, Poppy survived her stint as 'office dog.' But she thought it was b-o-r-i-n-g.

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Good night, sweet prince

From orphaned lamb to gentleman – always the gentleman.

Boulderneigh Blake

Valiant Braveheart x Valiant Brava

3/29/10 - 10/13/20

Sunday, October 11, 2020

My latest interest

Seems I was spellbound by spider webs in my last post; now I've moved on to fungus fascination. Thursday morning I noticed a fat mushroom cap emerging from the leaves down by the Ram-ada Inn, so I took its picture. The next morning while feeding the boy sheep, I noticed it was twice as big; I took its picture again. Sabbath morning it had flared out dramatically, and this morning it looked ready to fly!

Fall being fungus season and all, I went to the arena in search of edible shaggy manes. Sure enough, I found a few emerging!

How about a mushroom-colored doggy?

Poppy doesn't have any extra insulation of her own, so when it turned cool and wet I dug out her coat.

Poppy has another tiny addition to her wardrobe. I mentioned to a friend that Poppy had disappeared into the dark one night and it was worrisome to not be able to see or hear her (she did come to the front door and ask to be let in before too long, thankfully). So my friend brought over a tiny bell, which Poppy now wears on her collar. Its sound is small and pleasant, but surprisingly trackable.

The pots on our deck are a pretty sight, a mix of flowers and fall foliage:

Rick has repaired the woodshed; there is dry wood, split and unspilt, that needs to be moved:

Our packed pantry shelves:

A 'houseplant tableau' atop our pie safe:

I had two orchids repotted at my favorite garden shop, so everything got moved, dusted and rearranged when they returned. Here's a close-up of that perfect purple spray on the far left plant:

This new Blogger platform is tedious to work with. I've been fighting with it for much too long tonight; I'm quitting and heading to bed.

Good-night from . . .

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Plowing through the to-do lists

My current favorite hot drink dispenser just happens to be...

...uncannily appropriate for this post!

Like every property owner, we have long mental lists of "things that need to be done." Let me clarify that: Rick and I have separate lists; we each think that our list is the most critical; and we each want the other's help on our projects. Cue the conflict. (Just kidding! Mostly....)

When you add in the rapidly approaching rainy season, Rick's secretary scheduling a week's vacation on short notice (guess who's the presumptive substitute), and an out-of-town trip (on which Rick insisted I join him), Getting Things Done becomes paramount. I'll spare you the timeline and most of the logistical challenges and just share some progress.

Rick was determined to get our manure pile dispersed before the wet season set in. Seemed counterproductive to me since most of it wasn't well composted, and our ancient mature spreader and our little Kubota both seemed to agree. But Rick managed to repair the spreader and rented a tractor to git 'er done. In the bit of time left over on the tractor rental, we removed enough of the embarrassingly deep hay pack (which he also insisted in spreading on the pasture) from the Sheep Sheraton so I can actually open and close the gate, while the ewes enjoyed their first pasture outing in months. (We went from relatively clear to very foggy pretty quickly that morning.)

a manure pile no more

trying not to covet

the neighbors' new house looms

Of course when you have livestock, the manure starts piling up again immediately:

You may recall that last winter our roof started to leak over the garage. We got three estimates in short order, and then . . . nothing. Rick wouldn't make a decision all spring, summer, and into fall, and I couldn't very well make one without him. He finally decided to have one more contractor, a client, out to look at it recently, and was told it didn't really need to be replaced, just repaired and maintained better. Mind you, all four of the contractors who looked at it gave us different causes for the problem, so I'm not at all confident that this last one knows better than the first three, but he did prompt Rick to get up there and do some long-neglected work. Let's just pray we're not being penny-wise but pound-foolish!

Our garden hasn't been a big contributor to our larder this year, unfortunately. My tomato plants are just starting to recover from what appeared to be herbicide carryover; I doubt all the blossoms and small green fruit now appearing will have time to mature. I need to check under the black plastic to see if my experimental sweet potato patch produced anything; looks like I'll have a total of three small Red Kuri winter squash. My most recent vegetable harvest included three different varieties of eggplant, two varieties of peppers, and two varieties of summer squash; I roasted all of them along with a big Walla Walla Sweet onion and a tired store-bought sweet potato.

The apple trees have produced well this year, with less pest damage than usual. These two buckets were emptied, filled, and emptied again,

resulting in 14 quarts of apple pie filling and 14 quarts of applesauce.

first batch of homemade apple pie filling (mostly used for apple crisp)

NO broken jars and NO unsealed jars this year – a first!
Since I'm almost out of regular mouth jars and wide mouth lids and have plenty of pints of apple butter, I might be done canning for the year. The dehydrator might see some use yet, though....

Last winter the south side of our wood shed failed, sending firewood tumbling out into the rain (we still had plenty under cover). This summer, the north side of the shed started to give way. Rick has wanted to replace the whole thing for years, but the main supports and roof are still good and there are higher priorities for any available funds, so he's been working on rebuilding it. Once that's done, we have a trailer load of oak to split and stack.

The henhouse was getting rank, so the girls got 'clean sheets' recently – along with a whole watermelon. They usually just get the rinds, but for the first time I picked a bad one, and I mean a BAD one. I hope they repay us in eggs; their production has really dropped off the last couple months.

one of our blue Wyandottes is out of frame

Who is going to wash windows???

Don't worry; it's not all work and no play around here. Poppy and I go to agility class once a week (over soon, sadly) and Stella and I get weekly lessons (plus near daily work on our own). I still twiddle my spindles when I can and even have a project on the needles plus another one to start ASAP.

But don't call me "busy as a bee;" this is spider season and their webs are everywhere, it seems. I think they are beautiful – I just don't like to find them with my face. 🙄

That's it for now from . . .