Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap lambs!

We awoke to a couple inches of snow this morning, and it has continued to snow heavily all day. Thankfully, we were just “warm” enough for a net loss of the white stuff, and wet instead of slippery roads on which to drive to our homeschool co-op.

Of course, Annabelle waited until this morning to go into labor. I got a second maternity ward prepared, and ushered her in. She hadn't made any visible progress by the time we had to leave, so I hoped for the best and asked Rick to come home and check on her if he could. He stopped by about 2:30 and there was still nothing showing, although he said she was fully dilated. As soon as co-op was over, Brian and I scooted home. By the time I changed and got to the sheepfold shortly after 4:00, Annabelle was cleaning up beautiful twins, a supercrimp moorit ram and a moorit gulmoget ewe, both with whispers of white on their heads, just like Bing. Since both are brown, I just had to go with chocolate names; meet Bloom and Bittersweet!

These lambs complete Annabelle's genotype for me. Last year she produced fading black-based lambs when bred to Blake, a musket, proving that she carries black and solid. By producing brown lambs this year, she has demonstrated that she also carries brown. So Annabelle is Awt/Aa, BB/Bb. Genetics are so fun!

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blustery day and more Bing

It is cold, windy, wet and sometimes even a little snowy here today - a good day for Annabelle to lamb, right? (Right, Annabelle?) I have my heart set on giving her lambs (surely she's carrying twins) chocolate names since their sire is Cadbury, but "Leap lambs" would seem to require names befitting their rare and auspicious birthdate. So I'm rooting for today....

Meanwhile, Bing has me wrapped around his tiny, shiny black hoof:
There is nothing - nothing - sweeter than a newborn who already melts or wags his tail at the touch of your fingers!

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meet Boulderneigh BING!

Bings are a "black" cherry, so I thought Bing an appropriate name for this tall, dark and handsome ramling. Color me excited to learn that Bunker is Awt/Aa (he's white but carries solid)!

Just before noon Marta had a string of mucous, so I put everyone back in the fold where the lamb would have a dry place to land. Figuring she could still take awhile, I decided to give her some privacy and ride Larry. An hour later, a vigorous 7 1/3 lb. lamb was getting his first bath and looking for his first meal - badda bing badda boom! I made sure he found the faucets and then took Brian to his science class. Saw this on our way home -
and this when we got home.
Dry and spry, a few white hairs but no horn buds on his noggin, and sooo soft.

One down, one to go at . . .

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Maybe today?

When I awoke to surprisingly cold temps Saturday morning and then it started to snow while I did chores, I thought, "Today is probably the day Marta is going to lamb." After all, don't animals love to wait until the worst weather to drop their babies?

When I turned the sheep out Sunday morning and everyone set to grazing together except Marta, who acted restless and reclusive, I thought, "Today is definitely the day Marta is going to lamb."

This morning before I turned the sheep out I caught Marta and felt around her tailhead, and for the first time I comprehended what people mean when they say a sheep's or goat's ligaments are "gone." There was nothing there. Do I dare say, "Today IS the day!"?

Meanwhile, Annabelle continues to act like a perfectly normal sheep, instead of the blimp she more closely resembles.


Before this blog becomes "Lamb Central," I have some assorted photos to share from the weekend. Saturday night Rick and I went to a concert by Robert Michaels; it was perfect for a "date night"! Fantastic acoustic guitar, with a few numbers adorned by the flamenco-style dancing of his beautiful daughter:

Yesterday as I was driving home from an errand, I noticed these unusual clouds to the east:
I don't think I've ever seen clouds like those before. Anyone know what they are called, or how they are formed?

Here and there, I steal moments with my Jenkins Lark:
That's the Kool-Aid-dyed Romney left over from my Textiles' students' spinning. I had noticed that it and the burgundy/purple I dyed complemented each other beautifully, and decided to spin up the leftovers to use together in a two-color project. I'm hoping to have enough yardage to make one of Romi's two-color shawlettes; she just released two new two-color patterns!

Speaking of my class, I've got almost all of the card looms warped with white homespun longwool so they can start weaving this Wednesday. If I've calculated correctly, each student has enough of their homespun for the weft. (Did I use those terms correctly, my weaver friends?)

Off to check on Marta again at . . .

Friday, February 24, 2012


Bramble and bark; wood and wool.

No signs of imminent lambing. Annabelle's udder still has room for expansion. Could both ewes possibly have settled on the second cycle, and not be due for seventeen more days? ARGH!

Waiting impatiently at . . .

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The big-belly club

It was a beautiful day here, whatever your condition!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Based on an October 2 breeding date and a gestation period of 147 days, Annabelle and Marta are due Saturday, February 25 - in other words, any day now! Figured I'd better take advantage of a relatively easy schedule today and get them crutched for the big event. While I had them restrained, I took advantage of admiring their other crop - fleece!
Both feel wonderfully soft, although I expect Marta's fleece to test out finer than Annabelle's. Annabelle has consistent, organized crimp; Marta's crimp is disorganized. I can hardly wait to see what these girls are incubating!

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Today was cleaning day. With lambs due from this one
and this one
(but unfortunately not from this one)
next weekend, the sheepfold had to be stripped and rebedded, and with Rick's back in spasms, I knew I was facing the job alone. So I turned out the sheep, backed the pick-up into position, and proceeded with the heavy lifting.

Occasionally I would pause to remind myself why I was expending all available energy:
Inky was off by herself like that most of the day; uncomfortable; not grazing. Rick noticed it, too, and quietly went about preparing a final resting place.

For awhile, Inky's daughter Bramble stood near her.
Now Bramble calls, and I cry.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On to brighter subjects

Thanks to those who commented on yesterday's post about Inky (Kaleidoscope Holly Orchid). She's 11 years old, not ancient for a Shetland, but she wears her years hard. She was thin when she arrived 3 1/2 years ago, and I haven't been able to improve her condition no matter what I tried. She has the knobby, swollen joints of arthritis, which may well be her neck problem. When it is time, I will not shear her; I won't leave her cold at the end and couldn't bear to shear her lifeless body. She has given me four healthy, beautiful lambs and jet black fleece; there is nothing more to ask of her. She will ever dwell in my heart, my photo files, and in Sara's wonderful "cartoon" of Boulderneigh.

So. Brighter subjects. How about these?
Those are the students' spindles from my Textiles class. The class is going great; the last three Wednesdays the kids have been enthusiastically spinning singles (first white, then yesterday using dyed wool). I have some cute photos of the kids using their spindles, but am reluctant to put photos of other people's children on the internet without permission.

Since class yesterday I've been spinning more of the dyed wool on each child's spindle so there will be enough for plying a barberpole yarn. When the spinning is done, I'll wind each spindle's singles into a centerpull ball so the kids can start plying next Wednesday (I have a feeling I might be finishing that up for them after class as well). That leaves two weeks; I'd originally thought we would card-weave (with their homespun) during one and finger-knit (with commercial yarn) during the other, but if necessary, we'll use both classes to finish weaving. The rectangles they end up with will make dandy hot pads/trivets, and I think they will be thrilled with the work of their hands. I know I am so far!

That's it for today from . . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


This evening as I snapped a couple photos of the sunset, it reminded me of a parallel I am facing. When someone gets old, they are said to be in their "sunset years." Dear old Inky is definitely in hers. Truth be told, I thought we'd need to put her down before this winter got underway, but for the most part she has remained mobile, eating, and interested in flock life.

Yesterday morning I found her flat out on her side in her protected corner of the fold. I tried to help her get up, but she couldn't even maintain a sternal position on her own. I propped her up against my leg and administered sheep drench and Banamine, then busied myself with other tasks to give the stuff time to work. When I came back, she was on her other side. Assuming she had tried to get up on her own, I went it and helped her again, this time successfully. Although none too steady on her feet, she tottered right over to her hay feeder and started to eat.

This morning I turned the sheep out to graze. Inky didn't look very comfortable from the start; she often appears to have a neck problem or neurological issue, standing with her head held oddly. So I gave her another dose of Banamine this evening, which always seems to help. But Rick thinks the time is approaching to put her down, maybe before lambs arrive and the need for jugs would necessitate her being jostled in the shared fold space at night. Perhaps this is why lambing isn't generating the usual anticipation in me. It's hard to get excited about new additions when you are facing farewells.

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day to me!

(click to biggify)

How cool is this??? Sara did such a great job on capturing the characters of the critters here, you'd think she jetted out here to meet them herself! I just love what she created for me, and am busy thinking up all kinds of ways to utilize it.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, February 13, 2012


It was a five-egg day, our first in months.

We're also a four-horse family again, although the newest addition is leased. I am tickled to have a "dancing partner" again, a horse with which to enjoy dressage.

And soon, Boulderneigh will be immortalized in original artwork! Sara sent me a draft of what she's designed, and I love it! But then, I knew I would. :-)

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spring tastes wet and grey

While I was gone, the weather here was mild, sunny, beautiful. When I arrived at the Portland airport, it was raining. It was been grey and raining off and on ever since, with more in the forecast. But spring is coming; I see it in the burgeoning bulbs of the island bed
and the occasional robin redbreast.

I also see it in the swelling bellies of Annabelle and Marta, who are due to lamb in two weeks. I missed my chance to have them sheared pre-lambing while I was in Texas (my shearer/farrier came while I was gone), so I need to get them crutched soon - and snip mid-side/last rib samples from everyone for micron testing. I got a good look at Bart's fleece last night, and it's still exquisite in its color, crimp and handle.

That's it for now from . . .