Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another B at Boulderneigh

Last night Rick and Brian picked up Breezy, the 24-year-old pony that we looked at on Sunday. I rode her then and was not impressed (and was even less impressed when I realized this is the same pony one of my former students rode in lessons and had a tough time with), Brian rode her then and has been campaigning hard for her ever since, Rick and I have discussed the pros (none that I could see) and the cons (her age, her stubbornness, our lack of space for both another horse and the additional hay we'll need to buy, our son's decided lack of interest in all things horsey), and Rick made the decision to get her anyway. So now he's off getting shoes on her so she can go horse-camping with us(!); when we come back he gets to figure out where he's going to put her so she can have shelter from months of rain this coming winter. I predict extra work and expense for the adults, about 72 hours of excitement and interest on Brian's part, and a lot of lip-biting on my part to keep from saying "I told you so" ad nauseum.

At least I will have these to work on for awhile yet to help keep my frustration under control. I haven't had a lot of knitting time lately, so it will be nice to make some progress on this trip.

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Here and there

Today we went and looked at a pony for Brian, and a couple I met at Black Sheep Gathering came to Boulderneigh to look at sheep and my sheep set-up (humble though it is). Neither we nor they took home any animals, but both visits were enjoyable and may yet "bear fruit."

Look who's getting bolder at Boulderneigh! Lucy 2 is now crowding right in there in the mornings to snitch her share of the lambs' grain. So intent is she that I was able to reach over a lamb and grab her this morning. She was pretty calm, and I put her in the sheepfold to forage in the dirty bedding a bit (she was able to leave of her own accord when she chose).
We are working hard at getting ready to go, and tomorrow is going to be jam-packed with more of the same, plus Brian's violin lesson, payroll for Rick's clinic, and grocery shopping for the trip. So in case I don't get another chance, let me wish all of you an early happy Fourth of July! I hope you take some time to appreciate all the blessings we enjoy in this great country of ours. Flawed though it is, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cool-hand Ham, er - Luke, uh - Brian

I don't know what inspired Brian while getting dressed this morning; perhaps it's our upcoming horse-camping trip where he'll get to see his best cowboys-and-Indians friends. He even ASKED if he could help clean stalls at the barn this morning! Then he had to walk out into the pasture to hug his horse. Even though Oliver has ruined Brian's confidence in the saddle with some of the stunts he's pulled, Brian is fiercely loyal to him. We're talking about going to look at a pony that might be a better mount for him, even though I don't know that that would improve matters and would just be another (expensive) mouth to feed.
Meanwhile, Lucy 2 (remember, everybody has to have a name around here) seems to be making herself more and more at home. I have no plans to try and catch her; it's fun having a "chicken at large" (Bronwen seem to think so, too!).

The concert yesterday was good! The man in the green suit had a jazzy style with the sax, harmonica and his tap-dancing, percussion feet. Jackson even got to go since it was a cool, cloudy day. He needs more outings like that to learn to "chill."
That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Hey, it's good to be back home again"

Home sweet home.

My morning chores buddy.

Another "loose wheel" (Lucille) - an escapee from the neighbor's chicken quarters. She's been hanging out in the wooded lot with the lambs, drinking from their water bucket and cleaning up stray bits of grain. Guess we have a free-range chicken to eat bugs now!

Dinah, you're missing something!

Where did your ear tag go? And how?

The lambs seem to think I should sit and snuggle with them as much now that we're home as I did at the show. I obliged them for awhile the other day. This isn't a particularly flattering shot of Blackberry, but I love it still. He has such a beautiful head, with his dam's dark, expressive eyes.

Here he is doing his best bull elk imitation.

The McMinnville Downtown Association's Summer Brown Bag Series has started again; today we're going to see a tap-dancing sax player. (What? You think I made that up?) Next week is our biggest horse-camping trip of the year. The garden is growing and we're eating strawberries and raspberries from it now.

Enjoying everyday pleasures at . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends...

(Actually, I got by with a LOT of help from my friends!)

Before I started showing my own little sheep, I enjoyed watching and learning and taking photos and lending a hand when needed. Now I must depend on those who are there to watch and learn and take photos, and who are willing to lend a hand when needed!

Since I had two ewe lambs and two ram lambs to show, I needed help in all the classes I entered. Shannon was going to help me, but with the Jacob show following on the heels of the Shetlands AND a booth to keep manned, she had to back out. Enter blogpal Denise!Denise and her husband came all the way down from Skagit Co., WA to take in the show. It is always great fun to meet blogpals in person, and Denise was no exception. And when Shannon told me she couldn't help and I asked Denise if she would be willing, she responded enthusiastically!
I couldn't have done it without you, friend! (Shannon may not have been able to help me show lambs, but she was a huge help by picking up some local second cutting orchard grass hay and bringing it to the show for me. Now I have enough, hopefully, to tide me over until I can get this year's crop in the barn.)

As I said in Monday's post, we didn't win any ribbons. The judge hardly glanced at Beau, Blackberry, and Bramble, but he seemed more impressed with Bronwen (above). She survived his cuts until she was in the top third of the class. Interestingly enough, another Shetland breeder told me that my sheep would do very well if I show at OFFF in September, where Rena Douglas will be judging. Since Rena is a well-known Shetland breeder and the judge at BSG admitted he sees very few Shetlands and is into "big" sheep, that made me feel pretty good! I'm not planning to show at OFFF, though, so will have to take her word for it. My sheep do look quite a bit different from the rest that were exhibited at BSG, probably because theirs are all basically from the same stock, while I have some AI genetics in my flock. Specifically, my lambs' fleeces are shorter (as are their "horns"!). But again, based on the compliments from the processor and the warm reception buyers gave my fleeces and rovings, I am happy with the direction I am going, even if it doesn't earn my sheep any ribbons.

Another blogpal I got to meet for the first time is this lovely lady:That's the talented Joan from Mud Ranch's Real Dirt. I saw her daughter first, and recognizing her from Joan's blog I called out, "Annie!" Isn't the internet a strange and wonderful thing? (And yes, even a little scary!)

Win, lose or draw, the group of Shetland breeders at these shows are a friendly - and helpful! - bunch. Little Boo (shown above with an admirer) got sick, and one of the other Shetland breeders helped me give him shots and even gave me a tube of Probios for him (Rick was supposed to bring home a tube for me the day I left, but forgot). Thanks a ton, Sandy!

The fun part about camping there was that I got in on more of the Shetland socializing.
Lois, the best mentor a Shetland breeder could ever have and a dear friend, wasn't able to bring her lovely sheep this year, but she and Brook did stop by on Sunday to say hi.

That's it on BSG '09 from . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Creative inspiration at BSG

While waiting for a few photos of showing Shetlands (I couldn't take them myself because I was, well, showing), I thought I'd share one of the highlights of Black Sheep Gathering - the Spinner's Lead class. This was held Saturday night and emceed by a crazy-funny lady who I think could make it in stand-up; what a hoot! This was my first opportunity to attend such an event, and I must say I have a new goal in life: to someday be a participant myself!

Here is the emcee with one of the entries. The mother of one of the girls knitted this shawl out of mohair, and it turned out gianormous - big enough for two! Note that the angora goat is also wearing a shawl; it was normal-sized, and stunning.

A great "Aaaah!" erupted from the spectators when this lady entered the ring carrying her bunny. It's a good thing it was cool that night, or that lovely sweater may have caused heat stroke!

This lady came all the way from PA with her lovely shawl, made out of Shetland and Blue-Faced Leicester. She should have borrowed one of our polite little Shetlands to lead in the class; this sheep wasn't the easiest to manage.

This lady utilized the natural colors of her sheep, making the shaped poncho from the lighter back wool and the scarf from the darker side wool.

These two were the comic relief (not that we needed it with the emcee cracking us up!). The man is none other than Ace, of Ace in the Hole Romneys and Yahoo Spinning list fame. His bag contained a wine bottle in a bottle "cozy" and three empty wine glasses, which he proceeded to fill for each of the judges. Bribery? The lady's entries were not spun, or really even fiber. The necklace is made from a "little package" found in the pasture after banding, and the little bag is made from a BIG package, apparently harvested from butchering and then tanned!

This vest was one of the most stunning pieces in the ring. She created this stranded design from a photo of her livestock guardian dog and sheep in her pasture.

This lady spun and knit a simple, undyed sweater; something that perhaps I could aspire to.

This is one of the Shetland breeders, modeling a natural-color Shetland cardigan she designed herself. I would have bought the pattern from her if she had one; I LOVE this feminine sweater!

Here are two entries shown together. I wish I had taken a photo of the BACK of the young teen's felted shawl; it had a beautiful purple flower in the center.

This lady sported a handfelted hat and a natural-color, asymmetric cardigan she designed herself.

This entry was by far the most elegant in the ring, and I loved the colors of her mohair scarf and hat.

I loved this pair's ensemble; classy and coordinated!

Another talented teen shows off her colorful felted vest.

This lovely lady is Shannon, who created my custom bag. As you can see, she is an artist with felt! Her young son Theron was also entered in Spinner's Lead with a felted scarf he made himself, but unfortunately the only photo I took of him turned out blurry.

Finally, another of our Northwest Shetland breeders and her lovely self-designed cardigan in both natural and dyed Shetland.

Inspired? Me, too! I think I'll go spin for a bit!

That's it for now from . . .