Thursday, June 30, 2011

Almost ready for le Tour

An assemblage of the logos for the Tour and the teams I've joined.

My fiber goals for the Tour. Yes, it is that dark! The braids are 50/50 camel/silk (oooh, aaah; EEEK!), and the black roving they are resting on is from old Inky. I am shooting for two-ply sock weight for all of it. We're supposed to challenge ourselves for le Tour de Fleece, and this should do it. I've never spun anything like camel/silk, or this much black fiber. Since I think I can get two ounces on my Jenkins standard, I plan to spindle-spin the camel/silk, and spin Inky with my miniSpinner. But first, I've got to clear the miniSpinner for take-off:
Plying the superwash merino singles. I was aiming for - you guessed it - sockweight, but I think this three-ply is going to end up finer than that. I'll see how it looks after I wash and whack it.

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Under suspicion

This is Lucille, the first of two Red Sex-Link hens that sought refuge at Boulderneigh from the neighbor's insufficient coop. (They were granted citizenship status with permission of said neighbor.) This morning when I opened the henhouse door to open the pop-door, I noticed an egg on the floor under the roosts, which is an occasional occurrence. After I pushed open the pop-door, I turned to pick up the egg, and Lucille was eating it! I swatted her away and picked up the remains. The question is: was it already broken and she just stumbled upon it? Or is she a dreaded egg-eater? The latter might explain why I only got two eggs on Monday.... I will be collecting eggs more frequently and keeping my eye on her. If she ends up being guilty, she's outta here!

In other chicken news, remember this pretty Easter Egger? She went down the hill when she stopped laying last year to live in happy retirement with some people we know. We got hay from those folks on Sunday, and I asked about Ebony. She's gone broody! Nancy said she's quite aggressive about it, too, "growling" at anyone, fowl or human, who comes near her nest. None of our chickens have ever gone broody here - but then again, we don't have a rooster, so what would be the point?

This morning Rick and Brian took off with the pick-up and camper to spend a couple days at Cowboy Campmeeting, sans horses (Rick has to be back for emergency duty over the holiday weekend). Brian was dancing jigs he was so happy to be going camping with dad, and I'm just as happy to stay here and hold down the fort. Of course I have a to-do list while they're gone, but there's some fun stuff on the list - like prepping for Le Tour de Fleece (a spinning 'event' on Ravelry that corresponds with the Tour de France). It starts Saturday, and I'm on four 'teams' - Team Footloose (for Hansen miniSpinner owners), Team Spindlers (for those spinning on spindles of any kind), Team Corgi (for those spinning fibers purchased from Corgi Hill Farm), and Team My Favorite Sheep (started by blogpal Sara for 'anyone who has a favorite sheep, wishes they had a favorite sheep or didn’t even know you could have a favorite sheep'). I plan to spin on either or both my mS and my Jenkins spindles every day, spinning up the Corgi Hill fibers I bought for Taygete, and some as yet to be determined roving from one or more of my own sheep. I'm thinking of spinning either a grey (from Rechel or Bella) or black (from Blackberry or Inky) for yet another of Romi's shawls; I tell you, those things are like potato chips!

Off to work on my list at . . .

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Melting point

Sarai reached it last night.

After doing evening chores, I sat down in Sarai's and Marta's pen for our daily "getting to know you" session. Sarai frisked me for grain and I haltered her, then caught and haltered Marta. They both got their taste of grain once haltered. Marta is definitely the more skittish of the two, but she fights the halter less once caught. Anyway, I talked to them and rubbed their chests and necks. I haven't found a sweet spot on Marta yet, but I noticed Sarai starting to go "weak in the knees" (hocks, actually) when I rubbed her brisket. All of a sudden, she just folded up and laid down!
I slipped her halter off while continuing to pet both of them.
Finally, I slipped Marta's halter off and let her "escape," devoting myself fully to the one who had become putty in my hands.
I declare, it looks like Sarai is smiling in that last photo! (Click to biggify.) Hmmm, just who is training who here? Ha!

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, June 27, 2011

News from Black Sheep; random photos

Yesterday I got an email from the lady who purchased Barrister. Her grandson showed Katie's handsome ramling in the Youth Show on Sunday, and they took Registered Medium/Fine Wool Breeds Champion Ram! Woot!

Encouraging progress in The Taming of the Ewe(s). Sarai (katmoget) practically frisks me for grain now, and Marta (gulmoget) has discovered the tastiness of grain as well (they get very little; it is a taming treat, not a dietary staple). This morning Marta ate a few crumbles from the pan while I restrained her with my arms; major progress for her. I've had halters on both of them, and will continue to work with them until they approach me willingly and lead politely.

Handsome rams Bunker and Blake. (Cadbury will not be turned out with these big bruisers!)

Working on a two-egg omelet?

Oreo has a major sweet tooth. She snitches the horses' or sheep's sweet feed whenever she can; here she is licking watermelon juice off a plate!

The sign of a happy woman. This weekend Rick gave the okay to start hand-walking Russell again. But after stacking six tons of local grass hay in the barn yesterday afternoon/evening and doing chores, my knees were too achy to face it. Rick told me to get on, and he watched how Russell moved. The verdict? He is moving normally, so I can RIDE Russell for his short daily constitutional! Another woot!

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A day at Black Sheep

After looking over all my sheep and moving Blake and Bunker into a grassy lot, Garrett and I moved my new sheep to the Ram-ada Inn-turned-quarantine-quarters Thursday night. Then we went inside to visit and spend some quality time with the three Cardigan Welsh Corgis Garrett brought along. This was my first opportunity to get acquainted with this breed, and I was delightfully surprised! Zoe did her best to win Rick over to the "Cardi side." :-)

The alarm rang early Friday morning so we could leave for the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene by 6:00. I drove my car and led the way; Garrett was kind enough to transport Barrister in the back of his truck (along with two ram lambs from MN). After we got the ram lambs to their respective owners, I grabbed my spindle box and set off to find the Jenkins. I had gotten a lovely lilac Lark from them, but decided I wanted something noticeably different in weight from what I already had. It was still early Friday morning, but the Jenkins booth was already buzzing with eager shoppers. I test-spun several before choosing this Standard in tulipwood:
At 43 grams, she is my heaviest Jenkins and will hopefully encourage me to spin a thicker single.

Then it was back to the sheep barn to visit with friends and watch the Shetland show. As expected, the classes were huge and the smallest lambs weren't given any consideration. You have to lamb early (and raise big Shetlands) to do well at this show!

After the Shetlands were finished in the ring, Garrett went to meet up with a couple other Cardi breeders to have them evaluate the two youngsters he had with him. I went along to watch and learn more about the breed. I had been teasing Garrett that I hoped the breeders hated one of his dogs so I could give it a good pet home, but alas, both were deemed show quality. ;-)

I was anticipating a good hug and visit with Sharon, but when I called she said they weren't planning to come to the fairgrounds until Saturday. Laura was around, so I found her at her travel trailer and hung out with her for a bit. She's got big changes brewing in her life and it was good to see her and talk. She also plied me with L-Lysine, cold medicine and water; by this point the cold I was battling was getting the better of me. I decided to bid her and Black Sheep Gathering 2011 adieu and point my car towards . . .

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The wonderful work of wooing

This morning, Sarai eagerly ate grain out of my hand. This afternoon, I fed her some more by hand, then offered her the crumbs in a pan while reaching out to touch her. She wasn't sure about the hand, but did let me make contact several times. Then she tried to go around behind me where there wasn't really room (I was sitting on a little stool with my back at their gate). The opportunity to catch her was just too easy to pass up, so I put my arms around her chest and hindquarters and held her for awhile, indulging in the chance to fondle her fleece. She feels stupendously soft, too, with a more distinct crimp than Marta or Cadbury (you can click to biggify):
Then I haltered her and spent some time letting her figure out that the contraption on her head wasn't going to kill her, talking to her and petting her all the while. I don't think this will take long!

Next, I caught Marta. She scraped her right front leg somewhere in the quarantine pen, so I just held her quietly instead of haltering her - I didn't want her bracing with her sore leg.
As you can see on her neck, she is rooing. I might just work on rooing her the rest of the way instead of shearing her; we'll see. I did pull off some loose wool from her hindquarters; it was hanging down between her legs and getting wet when she urinated. I do believe Marta's "waste wool" is softer than what the rest of my sheep produce mid-side - maybe even on their necks!

Cadbury, being a ram, won't get wooing work. I will work with him a bit so I can move him on a lead when necessary, and change coats without a panic attack.

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, June 24, 2011

The reveal

After two long days of driving, Garrett Ramsay pulled into Boulderneigh just before 8:00 last night. He was on his way to Black Sheep Gathering, but stopped here first to make a very special delivery (and spend the night). WhitePine Sarai is a yearling katmoget ewe I almost bought last year as a lamb, but decided against it for lack of space and finances. Garrett made her available to me again this year and I've sold several sheep, so I didn't let her slip by a second time! She has fine, soft, crimpy fleece; straight, square conformation; and is hopefully a poll-carrier.
She's not tame, but is calm and inquisitive. As you can see, I've already started wooing her with a little grain. :-)

But who is that shaggy shape in the background of photo #2? Why, that's Kimberwood Marta!
Kim Nikolai knew I was looking for fine-fleeced poll-carriers, and contacted me about a scurred ram she had. I told her I had no need of another ram; I was looking for a ewe. She told me about Marta, and then sent me fleece samples from both her and the ram. (That's what you saw in the earlier post.) Oh.My. Marta's had already been micron tested; I shipped the ram's sample off to Texas A&M the day I got it and called in to get the results. WOW.
Yeah; you guessed it. I now have three rams again! Meet Kimberwood Cadbury, a moorit gulmoget half-brother to Marta, a black gulmoget (same sire). Both are so soft it nearly took my breath away when I first laid my hands on them. And lucky me; neither have been sheared yet!

I think all three of these yearlings will add great things to my breeding program, and I shall be forever grateful to Garrett and Kim for making it possible to add them to my little flock!

That's the big news from . . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sheep and cows and goats - oh my(lk)!

This morning Brian and I had a wonderful "field trip" to Cast Iron Dairy, the new home of Bronwen and Blackberry, and soon, little Birdie. Christine held up milking for us so before unloading sheep, we hustled off to the barn to relieve two Nubians, a Shetland and two Milking Shorthorns of their creamy bounty. Christine's two little cherubs are already wonderful farm hands, eagerly helping feed and milk. Brian and I got to try our hand at milking all three species with varying amounts of success, even though we've both had a wee bit of experience before.

After milking I unloaded Blackberry and Bronwen and got them settled in. Bronwen was immediately introduced to Christine's other ewe, which was the one we milked. She wasn't sure why she was in this strange place, but I know she'll get lots of love and attention from Christine and her kids (the tot in overalls is a friend).

After taking care of the sheep, we all trooped to the kitchen for a fascinating tutorial on cheesemaking. Christine helped us whip up a batch of 30-Minute Mozzerella (curds forming below) while answering all manner of questions about making cheese.

Meanwhile, back at home:

Actually, I left the sheep in the fold until I got home, then turned the ewes, lambs and Browning, who had been keeping Blackberry company, out in the arena. It is getting overgrown from disuse while Russell is laid up, so I decided the sheep could help out. Poor Bonny can't figure out where her mama went!

Looking for the earplugs at . . .