Sunday, August 29, 2010

Frazzled. Fair. Fall fashions.

I am behind the eight-ball on several client projects but can't seem to make any headway. I am feeling fried, frazzled, and fraught with distractions. I've got to snap out of it and make some headway, or my boss will not let me off to go to the State Fair again on Thursday!

Speaking of the State Fair, we had a great time yesterday. I've got lots of fun photos to share; maybe tomorrow if I can get some of the above crossed off my list. In the meantime, here's a review of some new fall fashions (because I had this mostly composed on Sunday).

Katie, who remained virtually naked for months after shearing at the end of February, has finally started to grow some fleece - including an adorable triangle of light grey wool on her forehead. Of course, Katie is pretty adorable to start with . . . .

Russell is also showing evidence of his fall wardrobe. His coat is still sleek, but his body is turning from its golden bay of summer to a darker, richer bay - thanks to his winter coat growing in. (I'm getting a flurry of short hairs when I curry him - his shedding summer coat.)

That's it for now from . . .

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Yesterday I got my flower fix - we went to Swan Island Dahlias' annual festival! Fields of flowers, a barn full of bouquets, and a catalog of requests (to make gift shopping a little easier for the DH). I forgot my camera so had to use Rick's fancy new Pentax, and can you believe I didn't get a single photo that wowed me? Maybe I just don't know how to use a fancy SLR digital, but I definitely do a better job with my little secondhand Fujifilm!

Today I'm freezing peaches among other things; I picked up four lugs last week and have been freezing them as I have time and they have need (we like them frozen better than canned). Of course, we are also enjoying them fresh. I need put on my big-girl apron and face pie crust, because we NEED another fresh peach pie!

Tomorrow we are going to the State Fair, one of my favorite family activities. Rick is the horse vet for the day (he gets a small stipend for being there and free tickets for us) and again on Thursday, so we get a double dose of fun. Good thing, too, because after nearly two months of NO rain, showers look like a sure thing for the entire Willamette Valley tomorrow. We desperately need it so I'm willing to get wet tomorrow, but it will be nice to have a dry day to attend later in the week.

We're going to careen through the end of August and zoom through September with visits to the State Fair, a horse-camping trip next weekend followed by a visit from my folks followed by a trip to Kansas for my grandmother's 100th birthday followed by the beginning of our homeschooling co-op's fall term followed by the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. Sometime in there we need to locate and put by the rest of the hay that we need for the year, and get a long winter's supply of firewood. Dare I mention that breeding season begins shortly after OFFF? Oh dear, I think I'm feeling a bit faint. I'd better go focus on peaches. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Off to face my elephants at . . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dahlias, dogs and data

I haven't featured flowers much lately, because there aren't that many flowers to feature! The hanging basket of petunias is still a small bright spot, but the daylilies, species geranium and Goldmound spirea have mostly petered out. That leaves the dahlias to provide seasonal color, and they haven't filled in as I had hoped. Not all the tubers grew, and not all that are growing are blooming yet. But what is blooming is beautiful; here are the three latest varieties to open:
This time of year makes me thankful that only one of our two dogs has long hair (you can click, then click again to double-biggify the prickly buggers!):
I call him "Stickery-dickory dog" - and brush him several times daily....

As for data, I was studying last year's fleece test reports trying to make intelligent decisions about which ewe would pair best with which ram. A lot of numbers on my test results from Texas A&M mean nothing to me, so I finally emailed them to ask some questions. Lo and behold, they sent me a "glossary of abbreviations" (which should have been included with my report) that makes everything MUCH clearer! Not that all the information is good; but knowledge is power to make better decisions. I forgot to pull samples for testing this spring, so will have to wait until next spring to take another look at where my flock is. I am especially eager to see the results on my Boulderneigh prefix sheep - Bronwen (if she's still here; she's for sale), Bramble, Blackberry and Blake. My main goal for now is to get as much of the fibers in my flock as possible below 30 microns, as anything over 30µ results in significant "prickle factor" for a lot of people. In my opinion, the $2.00/sample is WELL worth the amount of data I receive (especially now that I know how to interpret it!).

That's it for today at . . .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Work it" Wednesday

Byzantine and Bardas, twins of McTavish Katie (born 5/30/10), commenced halter training this week. Decided to get a session in first thing this morning before it got too hot. Since they are both still available, I thought fresh photos were in order. Work it, boys!

"Hi, I'm Byzantine. The shepherd says I am showing no signs of fading, so am probably At/Aa like my handsome sire SheltrgPines Constantine. As you can see, I have gorgeous, sweeping horns, striking gulmoget markings, and wool on my poll and cheeks like a proper Shetland."
"Don't let the lighter wool on my upper tail, thanks to my gulmoget pattern, fool your eye. I have a proper fluke-shaped tail - and excellent 'equipment' below it!"

"Oh, hi; I'm Bardas! Sorry, I'm just a little distracted by this sheep trap on my head."

"My brother may have the flashy pattern, but I'm just as handsome and correct and I'm developing a lovely modified fawn at the roots of my fleece."
"Not to mention my tiny, perfect tail and hunky build!"

Both boys have soft, lustrous fleece and may carry spots as they were born with minor head spotting and still sport a few white hairs. They are available intact as potential flock sires, or can be wethered as fiber pets. I can deliver them to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR on Sunday, Sept. 26, and rides to other regions may be available from there. Priced to sell; I have no room for horned rams here!

That's it from the runway at . . .

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Picking up some supper...

...has an entirely different meaning here!

We do eat out occasionally, but getting take-out to eat at home is unheard of. If we're going to be home, why not make supper? It's fresher and healthier, not to mention cheaper, and doesn't have to take a lot of time or heat. Today is supposed to get in the high 90s. Supper will be a quick sauté of zucchini, yellow crookneck, onion and eggplant tossed with pasta and some pesto sauce and topped with a little grated cheese. Later in the week when the temps are supposed to drop off dramatically (we might even get SHOWERS!), I'll roast some potatoes and onions from the garden with garlic, rosemary and olive oil, and fry up some pattypan squash dipped in egg and flour.

Speaking of food, here's more for the four-leggeds:
That bale at the back is some regular valley hay, sole cutting. Rick picked it up to see if the horses will eat it. You can see how much more mature it is, without the green color and finer leaves of the second cutting. The horses tend to waste a lot of this kind of hay, while they clean up every bit of the second cutting. The sheep won't eat it at all. Can't say as I blame them - looks like bedding to me, too!

Last night I actually captured a good shot of the full moon rising over the Willamette Valley. Now if I could just manage a decent butterfly photo!

That's it for now . . .

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hens and hay

Yesterday morning after chores I checked for eggs on the way to the house. Morgan was sitting in a nesting box, so I sat on the henhouse threshold to wait for my breakfast. It was a good excuse to watch the other girls and take some pictures.
Lucille is one of the two red sexlink hens who defected from the neighbors' coop. Distinguishable from the remaining two Rhode Island Reds by their blond highlights and oversized brown eggs, they have been our most dependable layers this year.

Gold-laced Wyandotte Tawnie took the first half of the season off, but is back to semi-dependably laying pale beige torpedo eggs.

This Rhodie seems bent on passing as a rooster. We know she is not, but her large comb and developing spurs have fooled more than one visitor. I was calling her "Rhooda" as a nod to her masculinity, but Brian morphed that into "Roosty."

Easter Egger Ebony has become a total freeloader. Even though I see her in a nest box occasionally, she hasn't produced her signature green eggs in months.

What are we going to do with you, Ebony? You're too pretty to go into someone's stew pot!

Last night we put 95 bales of fresh second cutting orchard grass hay in the barn. Rick is bringing home another 60 bales tonight; that's all this grower will likely have for us this year and the other grower we buy from may not have any. It has been a bad year in the valley for growing hay; the single cutting crop got too mature for sheep and horses before it got warm and dry enough to put up, and very few in this area irrigate to get more cuttings. We need another 8-10 tons to feed the horses and sheep until next year's hay season; the horses may have to make do on too-mature stuff so I can save this for the sheep!

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I've done my part

"Each one teach one."
I taught one!

Last night we had some friends over for supper. After supper the boys played, the adults visited, and I spindled. The wife was openly interested in what I was doing, so I trotted off to get the spindle Brian made for me (with the help of our spindling teacher, Sara) and some longwool roving for her to try. She caught on quickly and did a great job, so either she's a great student or I'm a great teacher - ha!

I'm working on the reddish moorit Kara sent me, after plying and skeining the medium brown (82 yards) and skeining the black (70 yards). I still need to ply and skein the "mystery white" on Paisley, but have decided not to use it as the ground for my Fair Isle hat after all. I figured, why not make it 100% Shetland, as befits the design's origins? So I will spin up enough of one of my white or light-colored fleeces for the ground after finishing the four natural colors Kara sent me. Who knows? Maybe the resulting 100% spindle-spun, natural-colored Shetland Fair Isle hat will be good enough to enter in some events next year! Let's see, there's Black Sheep Gethering, the State Fair, Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival....

Dreaming big-for-me fiber arts dreams at . . .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sky show

Shortly before sundown last night, I walked outside to a stunning sky show:
(I encourage you to click to biggify)

Interestingly, the sky didn't get more dramatic as the sun set; this was the main attraction. It wasn't until the gloaming that some truly intriguing colors appeared in the sky - but me and my little Fujifilm were incapable of capturing the low-light loveliness.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, August 20, 2010

Brian's new home

Last night Rick got home in time to help Brian finish putting up the walls on the treehouse, the requisite step for Brian to be in the treehouse by himself. Oh, the joy! This morning he got up and requested breakfast to go, and told me I could bring lunch (pickle and honey sandwich again) down in four hours to eat with him. Until then, I wasn't supposed to see the changes, but I did snap the above photo from a distance while doing chores this morning. Notice the green bucket on the left, and the line of orange baling twine? That is his washer and dryer, already pressed into use earlier this week:
He told me he can "shower" in that bucket, too - and dig a hole in the woods if he needs a restroom. Tonight he wants to sleep up there, because this is, after all, "his house." It was nice having him at home for more than 8 1/2 years, but I guess I'm an empty-nester now. ;-)

Good thing I have my sheep to keep me occupied! The ram boys seem intent on bulking up for breeding season
but Barry has time for love:
He's still looking for someone to give him a forever home and enjoy all that wonderful white wavy wool!

And Katie?

This is morning FIVE of weaning. So much for the false hope that the noise would be over after two days!

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Swingin' and spinnin'

No time for the treehouse today; we had to get things done and head to town for the last Brown Bag concert of the summer!

Brian decided he'd rather go on a call with dad than listen to music with me, so lucky mom got to spindle and enjoy some smooth jazz all by herself. Got the medium brown Shetland sample finished, ate a pint of fresh strawberries and a cookie from the Farmer's Market for lunch, finished my errands and came home to unload groceries and 170 lbs. of animal feed, then enjoy a quiet house for awhile. Ah; quietness feeds my soul!

That's it for today from . . .