Sunday, September 30, 2012

As the whorl turns

Boulderneigh Bing
Time to focus again on sheep and fiber, the impetus for starting this blog in the first place. The sheep are all fat (except Annabelle, who is nine) and happy, eating and growing wool. The rams look and smell ready for breeding season, but haven't been acting out in any way. Good thing, as it still looks as though they will be sitting this one out.
Capable, beautiful Olive, with 2 oz. of singles
I've been spinning up the two Gotland bumps Franna gave me awhile back on my olive Jenkins Aegean spindle. I was torn between plying them together for a tweedy yarn or separately to use in colorwork, but the grey singles decided that for me – I can't find the starting end of the yarn to ply with! It's just as well; the white Gotland is much softer and shorter than the grey, and plying each on itself would have given me two small skeins of very different yarns. Better to ply them together for decent yardage (I'm thinking cabled fingerless mitts).

I have my next two knitting projects figured out, I just haven't pulled the patterns and wound the yarn. I still need to wash and block three finished projects, too. Now is the time to do those, while it is still extraordinarily dry here and moisture evaporates quickly. That will change soon enough!

That's it for today from . . .

Saturday, September 29, 2012

As the feather turns

This afternoon I took a bucket and sat in the chicken yard to play warden while Miss Nasty got another chance at parole. Good thing, too, because she isn't ready for a new nickname yet. While all of the Golden Girls occasionally draw fire, Goldilocks is far and away her – and others' – most frequent target. Poor Goldilocks seemed to realize I was protecting her, and often drew somewhat near to regard me thoughtfully. It was easy to reach out and catch her, so I held her for a bit, gently stroking her beautiful feathers. I think she liked it!

The SS enjoy an overripe tomato the Golden Girls were unsure of
After awhile, the Golden Girls ventured timidly into the empty henhouse so I gently closed the pop door to let them have a little peace. They bedded down just inside the opening as if grateful for the chance to dust themselves and rest. Interestingly enough, some of the older hens also took the opportunity to chill out.

I think this integration thing is wearing on both groups!

It's just us chickens, at . . .

Friday, September 28, 2012

Order of the day

Pecking order, that is. (Talk about my posts ranging from the magnificent to the mundane!)

It was high time to start integrating the Golden Girls into the flock. I was worried, because at least one of the Speckled Sussex has taken every opportunity to attack the pullets through the wire of their protective pen, bloodying Brassy's comb. So I did things in stages. Late yesterday afternoon, I shut the pop door with the Golden Girls inside and the rest outside so the GGs could explore the coop, check out the nest boxes, and find their roosts. After dark I put the rest of the hens in.
This morning bright and early, I dumped a bunch of very ripe pears in the hen yard and opened the pop door, hoping the goodies would keep everyone too busy to fight.

Unfortunately, one Speckled Sussex was bound and determined to make like a fighting cock and put the newcomers in their place, so she got put in a cage to cool her heels while everyone else got acquainted.
The guilty party is easily distinguished by her white stand-up tail feathers
Look at all the pretty colors in my little flock now!
I ended up putting Buffy, the white Easter Egger, in with the nasty SS as well, because she had it in for Goldilocks – and only Goldilocks. Interesting, that.

Periodically I sent Brian out to free the prisoners and watch over the interactions. Miss Nasty isn't getting any nicer. I'm thinking she may need a falconry hood!

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Faith and beauty

Sunrise this morning – the second anniversary of Rick's heart attack
An oldie but goodie to make my dad smile; he called Russell "one in 20,000"
Taken Monday, my mom's birthday – happy birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sundry photos; focused prayers

A pullet bullet this is not; the bigger egg was found in the pullet pen this morning!
Grow, basil, grow! Mama wants more fresh tomato pasta sauce!
Glorious geranium
Preparing for winter
I could develop a grudge against September. Two days from now is the second anniversary of Rick's heart attack. This morning my dad – Brian's beloved Texan grandpa – got a cancer diagnosis. Add him – and my whole family – to your prayer list, would you?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Look what followed me home from OFFF!

First-place photos and roving from Laura
Garrett, not the ram; I have plenty of rams already, thankeweverymuch!
And what didn't follow me home from OFFF:
Bloom, ready to head north to her new home
 I drove back to OFFF on Sunday afternoon to pick up my photos, deliver Bloom to her ride north to her new home, help a vendor break down her booth, and connect with friends. Then I headed home with Garrett in tow. He is such a fun, positive guy to have around – and it's always great to have someone with whom to talk shop sheep!

This morning we looked at every single member of my flock, discussing fleeces, colors and other characteristics. It's amazing how much better my fleece shots turn out with an extra set of (big) hands. :-)   Below is yummy Bittersweet, twin wethered brother of the sweet little Bloom above:

And below are two shots of my handsome homebred smooth-polled ram Blake, who, interestingly enough, has gotten darker since his spring shearing, when his fleece was nearly white.
I also have to show what came in the mail on Saturday:
I submitted a photo to the Midwest Shetland Sheep Breeders Association show's photo contest this summer, and it won its division and placed third overall. Besides the cute sheepy barnwood frame, I got $25!

That's it for my "sheep" showing this year, from . . .

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Claiming and naming

Brian met the Golden Girls for the first time yesterday afternoon, and immediately latched on to the Easter Egger. He wanted to name her Morgan – after his favorite who died. I encouraged him to give this one her own special name, so he decided on Goldilocks. I like it! I didn't like his choices for the Buffs, so I helped a little there; they are now christened Gilda and Brassy (the latter has the bigger comb). Brian graciously said they could be mine. :-)

And look at yesterday's haul (minus one I picked up later)! The upper left egg was in the pullet's "protective custody" pen . . . maybe the other girls were inspired to keep up appearances?

That's it for yesterday from . . .

Friday, September 21, 2012

Immeasurable moisture

The marine layer was a little more substantial this morning. It wouldn't have made a mark in a rain gauge, but it did make for some pretty pictures and a refreshing feeling in the air!

This afternoon I ran over to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. Got to enjoy my newly finished scarf/neckwarmer since it never got above the mid-60s today; got lots of compliments on it, too. (It is very gratifying to wear handknits to fiber events!) Turned in my photos, helped Laura set up her booth for awhile, and then headed home with our new flock members, three beautiful Golden Girls (one Easter Egger and two Buff Orpingtons). Now it's time to hit the hay; too many late nights are catching up with me!

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sea change

This morning didn't dawn, it "lightened." Last night as predicted, a deliciously cool front pushed in from the ocean, covering us with a marine layer this morning. I slept so well! That may have had something to do with how late (early?) I stayed up finishing my Melpomene....
Unblocked, but very wearable!

When I near the end of a knitting project, I become rather obsessed with getting it off the needles, and this project was particularly compelling. I spun the yarn (superfine Merino) during Tour de Fleece and I think it is my favorite and best handspun yet. The pattern is engaging and knit from end to end, so no interminably long rows to bog you down. Finally, you can knit the increase side until you've used half your yarn, then start the decrease side and knit to the end of the pattern – perfect for non-standard amounts of yarn like mine.

My Mel ended up asymmetrical; when I reached the end of the pattern, I still had a significant little ball of yarn remaining. So I just kept knitting the decreases and was able to add several inches to what I knew was going to be more of a neckwarmer than a scarf. When it is wrapped around my neck and fastened with a pin, no one will know but me, and I actually like the tapered tip. In fact, if I knit this pattern again, I will start with fewer stitches to make both ends more tapered!

In the meantime, this forecast spell of cool, cloudy mornings (followed by warm, sunny afternoons) will give me the perfect opportunity to enjoy my Mel and hot drinks in the morning, and good sleeping weather at night. Color me happy!

That's it for today from . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Busy and preoccupied

I am spread pretty thin these days between homeschooling, clients' jobs, dealing with garden and orchard bounty, schooling the horse I have here in training, and getting ready for a frenetic weekend. On top of all that, a certain something has my heart and mind occupied and has taken some time as well . . . but talking about that will have to wait awhile longer.

This weekend is the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. Since the sheep show is on Sabbath I'm not involved with that, but I have to run over on Friday to deliver some photographs for the photo contest, help a friend set up her booth, and pick up three pullets from her to bring back to Boulderneigh, and again on Sunday to deliver a ewe lamb to the person who is transporting her north to Franna's, pick up Browning's roving and my photos, and help someone else break down their booth. With all that, I should have lots of blog fodder in the near future!

For now I'd better get back to the salt mines. I'm headed outside to ride before dark, then will come back in to tackle the big bowl of prunes waiting on my kitchen counter. If I get done with those before bedtime, I have three photos to mount for the OFFF photo contest!

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Perfect timing

On Sunday, Farmgirl posted this recipe.

Yesterday I harvested this:
Today I made this:

Tonight we feast!

I don't have kalamata olives, but I do have a giant jar of green olives thanks to my mom. I walked out the front door and picked a handful of basil from my potted plants, and added a can of garbanzo beans to up the nutritional content and because they sounded good, and then learned they are a suggested substitute for capers, which I also don't have.

Tomorrow night's feast will feature the zucchini and yellow straightneck squash and peppers. I just love eating from the garden!

I also love the cool coast breeze that's blowing away the heat of the day. Aaahhhh.

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, September 17, 2012

One last summer Monday

 I thought I'd be showing off my own – not this dame's – FO (finished object) today, but my latest knitting project has hit a couple snags. Ripped back a couple inches to fix one, then saw another problem last night and gave up. Temporarily, of course. It's not like I'll be wearing wool anytime soon! Nor is there a shortage of flies to feed this fine fiber artist in my barn. Love the overlapping structures of web and rafters.

Still feels like summer at . . .

Friday, September 14, 2012


We're getting rather a slow start on that here at Boulderneigh. I just finished bagging the third batch of dehydrated prunes (LOTS more on the two trees to do) and haven't even started on apples; Sunday is "Applesauce or Bust" day. I need to can some tomatoes and chiles then, too. Our woodshed is almost empty and we have yet to locate firewood for this year. However, Rick has been doing a little logging here at home, which will provide a little of what we need this year and next. The stand of Douglas fir in the lower pasture is too crowded (we think they were originally planted as a small Christmas tree lot); some had died and others were struggling. Thinning out the dead and weak ones will let the others grow better.

As you can see, we are very dry here; the pastures are toast and everything is thirsty and dusty. My eyes, nose and skin are complaining; it will be a palpable relief when the rains start. Yes, the resulting mud can be annoying and occasionally the rain curtails outside activities, but I love the resulting green and cooler temps. In other words, I am ready for full-on fall!

Bring it on, at . . .

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Oregon gardens

Yesterday was Homeschool Day at the Oregon Garden, so Brian and I went on a field trip. It was bright and beautiful with a cool breeze – perfect weather. While visiting each of the nine activity stations, Brian ran into a couple of his friends from our homeschool co-op and had a great time playing with them when the activities were done.

The bright noonday sun was not a photographer's friend, but you know I had to try anyway....
The grand entrance
The ubiquitous slug, crafted into an elegant drinking fountain, overlooks beauty
Brian on a giant compass, under a weeping blue atlas cedar (I think)
"Sunflower, good morning, you sure do make it like a sunny day..."

Water features and kids, what can I say?

I need some of these morning glories!


Gordon House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building in Oregon
Oh look, a spindle!

Of course I took something to keep my hands busy while waiting on Brian! My olivewood Jenkins Aegean Turkish spindle and some Gotland roving from Franna on my wrist distaff from Carolina Homespun did the trick nicely.

My gardens at home are not nearly so scenic right now. The grass is crunchy and brown, we have no water features (except when someone forgets to turn off the water and a stock tank runs over), no historic structures or sculptures, and no morning glories (sniff). But if you look closely (and crop judiciously), there are still some pretty pictures to be captured:
This potted chrysanthemum comes back every year

Apple Blossom geranium

One of the dahlias I managed to save

We're in the pink at . . .