Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Congrats to my sister!

WooHoo - as of today, my sister is a homeowner! Her fiance will be added to the title just as soon as they are in the same state; it was just easier for Kristine to sign all those papers in Texas by herself while Phil is still in Oregon. I think it is so commendable that these two young people have worked hard, saved money, waited for the right person to come along to whom they could be "equally yoked" (2 Corinthians 6:14), and are starting out their married life as homeowners. Of course, that probably couldn't have happened around here; our property values are too high. (Sheep, do you hear that? You're standing around on mighty expensive ground!)

Next up on the sister-front: a wedding!

That's it for now from . . .

Musings on Boulderneigh's evolution

My flock and my goals have changed rather dramatically in the four short years since I was introduced to Shetlands. Will this evolution continue apace, or have I arrived in the general vicinity of my long-term shepherding destiny?

My journey as a shepherd has been detailed in this blog, so I won't repeat all the twists and turns in this post. Suffice it to say that what started as a small farm deferral project that I thought I could live with (meaning not raising animals primarily for slaughter or taking land out of pasture for a crop of some kind) has turned into a passion for friendly, fine-fleeced, well-conformed Shetlands that carry the genetics to produce polled rams. This passion must be contained in a very small flock, because I love and live with a man who does not share my passion, nor understand it.

It is strange how things develop. When I bought Stonehaven Valeria (Valentine) to add to my three ewes (my original two plus Bella, the first lamb born here), I thought I wanted a black ewe, but fell in love with the friendly fawn instead of the black Lois brought to OFFF for me to look at in 2006. Then I got interested in polled genetics, and bought a half-poll ram lamb and a probable half- or full-poll ewe lamb from Beryl Baker in AZ. Eventually I DID get my black, an F2 Holly ewe from Susan Kimball. Now I've sold my beloved Valentine to buy Owl Hill Butter, a ewe lamb with more than 67% UK (and hopefully polled) genetics!

Eventually, I would like to have a multi-colored flock of all or mostly Boulderneigh-bred sheep that are fully polled with fine, lustrous fleece of good length for handspinning. How long it will take me to get there, I have no idea. But considering how quickly I have gone from a clueless beginner with no interest in fiber arts to a breeder with definite goals and at least some knowledge who spins and knits, maybe it will be sooner rather than later. At any rate, I will continue to enjoy the journey as long as God allows. How could I not?"Butter Bliss"

Yes, my Butter is softening to the joys of her new shepherd's fingers. This in turn creates "Shepherd Bliss." Life is good.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, September 29, 2008

Welsie holds her own

This afternoon I threw out some overripe tomatoes, trimmed the feathers on one of Welsie's wings and let her loose with the other chickens. That's her on the left, between two of the Rhodies. I don't know if the Rhodies first thought she was one of them and then realized their error or what, but shortly after I took the photo below, one of the Rhodies attacked Welsie; it looked like a cock fight for a moment!
But Welsie is not a small or timid hen; no, she is a statuesque and self-possessed lady, and doesn't take guff from anyone (okay; except for Tawny once in awhile). Isn't she striking?As you can see, she has a myriad of brown tones over her body, and the feathers on her neck and back are beautifully etched. Is this called a partridge-type pattern?

And tell Guerdon not to worry, Tammy; there have been no chocolate eggs yet. (He told her that if that hen laid an egg on the trip to bring her back home, as they haven't seen a Welsummer egg yet. Either her free-range chickens have been hiding them, or the Welsummer pullets are slow to start producing!)

That's it for now from . . .

OFFF, the show

Good morning! To answer Pamela's question, the photo heading yesterday's post was not taken from our house, but from our mailbox at the beginning of the gravel road that leads to our house, just 2/10ths of a mile north. The photo above was taken over our barn on my way down to do chores this morning. Trees block our view of the named peaks except at strategic points on our property; Rick threatens to take out some of the Douglasfirs so we can see Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson better. I'd rather have the trees....

The Shetland classes at OFFF were large, as usual. In the past there was no limit on the number of entries per exhibitor; this year there was a limit of two - allowing everyone to fit in the ring. The judge was Kiwi Ian Stewart, an interesting and entertaining character!

This was the yearling ram class. The two rams closest to the camera were Wally Rutledge's, and took first and second. I bought my first two Shetlands from Wally at WhiteOak Shetland Ranch, and was glad to see him do so well.

Above was the ram lamb class, and the first and second place lambs. That's Suzie Sizemore of Misty View Farm with her winning lamb and Tom Deschler of Cedar Haven Farm with the second place finisher. The third photo shows a notable presence in the ring, Martin Daily of Top Ram "fame" presenting a ram lamb for a client. I was asked to run an errand during the champion ram class, so didn't get a photo or a report on who won Champion and Reserve Champion honors.

Above are the yearling ewe class, the ewe lamb class, and Champion and Reserve Champion ewes. Congratulations to Sandy Lyda of Honey Lane Farm, whose lovely Champion Ewe lamb also went on to win Best Fleece (below)!

This was the Young Flock class. I didn't catch who won (I just know it wasn't the group I helped handle). Thanks to Tammy for taking photos when I had to be in the ring helping!

That's the report from . . .

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OFFF, the personal side

This morning I left bright and early for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival after staying up late teasing my last fleece. There was low-lying fog and clear skies with Mt. Hood in the background, creating one of my favorite scenes from our hill.By the time I drove through Newberg, the hot-air balloons were rising.
When I got to OFFF I looked up my new flock member. I had told Susan Kimball to register this little girl as Buffy after seeing her photos, but when I got my hands on her, I immediately thought, "Butter!" If her papers haven't been sent in yet, I'm going to change her name to that, for she is as soft as. And look at that tiny crimp!
Next I looked up Tammy and met our new Welsummer hen, who I had already dubbed "Welsie." Welsie makes seven feathered females for Boulderneigh. I think seven is a nice number, and I LOVE the variety of colors (hens AND eggs) we have collected! Below is Welsie at home in her cage within the coop. Tomorrow I will put out some produce distractions and let everyone run together.
After connecting with Tammy, there were sheep to help prepare and show for other breeders, lots of ring photos to take, fleece to deliver to the processor, and herding demonstrations to watch. I didn't do ANY shopping - unless you count buying four bottles of Hotlips Soda. These lightly carbonated, Portland-made, real-fruit-flavored sodas got a rave review from Tammy, and the one I sampled was mighty tasty. The other three I brought home for us to enjoy here.

Tammy and I were on the road by 1:00, me in my car and her following in her truck and trailer with my two new flock members (one feathered, one fleeced) and one of her own. We off-loaded mine, reluctantly loaded up Valentine, and off Tammy drove to hopefully get home before dark. I did a major sheep shuffle, putting a now-clean-nosed Inky and two of the wether boys in with Dinah and Brava, leaving Blizz to keep Buffy company during quarantine. I think Inky was happy to be out with everyone, and introductions seemed to be going okay.
Stay tuned for more from OFFF at . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Positive developments

This week, Brian had a trial lesson with a new violin teacher. This one also teaches "fiddle," and can commit to a much more regular schedule. Brian likes his old teacher and didn't think he would like a new one, but he changed his mind after meeting her and getting assigned two fiddle tunes along with his scales, etude and hymns. This morning he woke up early so he could play those two new tunes for his daddy (Rick has been getting home late this week). It is so cool when a youngster gets excited about music! Rick had to pull out his guitar and play bluegrass with his boy; I had to capture it on camera. No, neither of them bothered getting dressed first. :-)
Another positive development around here regards Brian's horse Oliver. Ollie was professionally started, but neither Rick nor I have put the "wet saddle blanket" time in on him that he needs to make him a solid mount. As a result, Brian doesn't want to ride much, and has had his confidence shaken when he does ride. A new friend of ours has offered to put some training time in on Oliver when he's here (his wife just moved here to teach at our church school but he still lives in Tonasket, WA for now and comes down once a month). Oliver has been making dramatic progress this week, so today Rob gave Brian a lesson on his horse, showing him what he's been doing and expecting so Brian can start riding his horse correctly and with confidence.(Oreo thought it all rather boring.)
Remember the "sheep wheelings and dealings" I referred to in an earlier post? Well, there are positive developments there as well. It means giving up my "Shetland Ambassador" Valentine, something I never could have imagined doing before focusing my breeding goals on polled Shetland sheep, but Tammy has agreed to take her so I know she is going to one of the best homes possible. (Yes, this means Tammy will have TWO mother/daughter pairs from me!) Taking Valentine's place at Boulderneigh is a lovely, likely poll-carrier ewe lamb. Meet Owl Hill Buffy (registration pending): The "sheep shuffle" will take place this weekend around the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.

Lastly, we have proof that both of our newest hens are "carrying their weight" around here. Ebony's green eggs are an easy "tell," but I wasn't sure if Tawny's eggs would be distinguishable from the Rhodies'. Then yesterday Brian saw her in a nest box, and guarded the doorway to the henhouse until she laid her egg, which is a slightly lighter brown than the Rhodie eggs. The last hen to join our little flock, a Welsummer, is coming down to OFFF with Tammy; her eggs will be a distinctive dark reddish brown. How fun!

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boys will be boys

Ah, how sweet. A boy and his dog.

But if you take a closer look, their true natures are revealed. A goose egg and bruise on Brian's forehead:(from careening through the house in stocking feet, slipping and crashing forehead first into a door frame); a stitch holding together a little gash on Jackson's cheek:
(from chasing a squirrel and crashing face first into a metal t-post).

It kind of adds to Jackson's rakish look, don't you think? Poor guy; he isn't even completely healed up from his recent dining room table surgery!

Here's praying they both make it to adulthood at . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Henhouse drama

Brian or I have been checking for eggs often to help prevent any more "casualties." Yesterday Brian came to the house with two eggs, complaining that they were "icky." Looked like yolk smeared on them to me, but he said there were no shells or wetness in the nest box. I went down later to see for myself, and found a puddle of egg white in the bottom of the nest box - but no egg shell in sight. I cleaned up the mess, added more shavings, and when my tired DH got home asked him to add another piece of trim per Suzanne's suggestion so the hens couldn't kick out the shavings as easily. He obliged this morning before leaving for work. Morgan immediately availed herself of the amended accommodations.While I was snapping pictures of her and the new waterer and feeder Rick bought and installed before we left to go camping last Friday,Ebony entered the henhouse.She seemed inordinately interested in Morgan's business - and then pecked her in the bottom! Morgan left the box with a squawk and a flutter, showering the witchy woman with shavings.Soon Morgan returned to the nesting box, followed closely by Ebony. Not one to let nature take its sometimes-cruel course, I parked myself at the doorway of the henhouse so Morgan could lay her egg in peace. The Rhodies went in and out of the henhouse at will, but the newcomers are still much too leery of me to venture that close. The results of my "mother hen" efforts were some decent chicken portraits - and the freshest egg possible.
Later in the day when I checked for eggs again, TWO Rhode Island Reds were in the same nestbox! By the end of today we had four intact eggs for the first time, and the nest boxes remained well padded.

That's it for now at . . .