Friday, November 29, 2013

Feeling virtuous

I got up this morning and worked off Thanksgiving dinner with a two-mile walk/jog – and I really didn't overindulge as it was! I was rewarded with a lovely sunrise . . .
Returning, with fog rising along with the sun

and apparently inspired my husband as well, who got up and worked on one of the machines in the basement when I got home.

This weekend is the beginning of our Christmas season, so today I did my first holiday baking: Drop Sugar Cookies with Mint Chocolate Chips. They will be part of our contribution to our Christian trailriding club's Christmas party Saturday night. On Sunday morning, Rick's mom is coming out to help us decorate our Christmas tree, which we will cut from a neighbor's lot.

One of the things Rick and Brian did today was to move some furniture. My MIL moved it here from AZ but did not have room for it in her new house, and she wanted it out of her home before her house-warming tomorrow afternoon. Brian got the desk and chair that goes with the bunkbed he got from grandma earlier, and we got the pie safe that was my husband's great-great-grandma's wedding present. This family heirloom now graces our dining area:

Don't forget to leave a comment on Thursday's blog post if you want a chance to win a Jacquie Lawson Edwardian Advent Calendar. If more than 20 people leave comments, I'm giving away two!

That's it for today, from . . .

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving thanks

If the only prayer you ever said was "thank you," it would be enough. 
~ Mesiter Eckhart

One of the things I am thankful for is the interaction I get from you on this blog, so I have decided to hold a little Thanksgiving giveaway. Jacquie Lawson and team create the most wonderful e-cards and Advent Calendars; this year's calendar theme is "Edwardian." (I already have it on my computer thanks to the generosity of a friend, and discovered an addictive little marble game in the pavilion; there are several activities available before December 1.)

To encourage more of you who visit to leave a comment, here's the deal: I will give away one Jacquie Lawson 2013 Edwardian Advent Calendar if up to 20 people comment on this post; if more than 20 leave a comment, I will draw two names to receive calendars. Just tell me one thing for which you are thankful in the comments below before I go to bed on December 1. (I will need an email address to send your calendar, and you need to have a computer on which you can download the app.)

Counting blessings instead of sheep at . . .

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Messy little details, and dogs

One the of blogs I follow participates in a series called Messy Little Details. I thought of that theme when I took the following three photos yesterday morning:
Freezing nights have finished off the dahlias, but this spot of color lingers

Ivy claims two unused doghouses

It's been a looong time since any dog of ours needed a doghouse. For the last 20 years, our dogs have been part of the family, and we enjoy having their companionship wherever we are, inside or out. Earlier today Dozer lay at my feet,

while Jackson lay at the foot of the stairs waiting for Brian to finish his keyboard practice on the old computer up in the bonus room.

I can't imagine a life without the companionship of dogs!

That's it for Thanksgiving Eve at . . .

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A thaw would be welcome

Morning light reveals frost from nightly freezing temps
Lately, the sun's weak rays haven't been able to thaw the ground on our east-facing hillside, so my riding has been limited and careful. When it's cold like this, Dozer appreciates a warm coat when he's out for any length of time, even if it is too big (it was Rosie's).

The sheep probably appreciate their coats (the fleecy ones, not the sheep suits which just keep their wool cleaner), too!
Who SAYS polled rams aren't majestic?
Bashful wether Browning

We are seeing a gradual change in our weather, though, as evidenced by the high clouds that added drama to this morning's sunrise:

Fortunately – finally! – I'm also experiencing a gradual improvement in my frozen shoulder. The stretches prescribed by the physical therapist weren't helping; in fact, the pain from trying to stretch or use my arm in certain ways would nearly drop me to my knees. So when a friend personally recommended this product, I trotted right over to a local feed store to get it. That same day, my personal veterinarian brought home this, so we gave my shoulder a one-two punch the first two days, followed by the Cetyl-M cream alone ever since. I'm sold – and thankful for better living through modern (veterinary) pharmacology! ;-)

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why my camera case smells funky

Today was a perfect fall day to work around the place, so it was "all hands on deck." Brian would rather have run off to play with friends, but we're mean, old-fashioned parents who think that teaching a kid how to work is one of the more important jobs God gave us. ;-)

We already had a brush pile started in the upper pasture, so we lit that and added to it. The flowering plum in the island was in need of thinning, so I did what I could with the little chainsaw from the ground, then Rick climbed up in it to do some more. Brian used the little tractor to haul branches to the fire.

Then we moved to the sheep lot, which has been accumulating deadwood faster than I can clean it out. Rick cut out some of the clumps and I hauled branches into piles, then Rick used the tractor to transport them to the burn pile while I manned the gate and Brian pushed branches into the fire as needed. It looks SO much better in there now, and is safer for the sheep as well. Unfortunately, it also took out some of the screen between us and the neighbors on our south property line, making their house more visible. I planted two giant sequoias a few years ago (protected from the sheep by pallet enclosures, third photo below), but it's going to be awhile before they are big enough to provide some privacy. (You can click to biggify photos.)

Bramble and the wethers were pretty freaked out by the tractor's coming and going. When Rick was up the burn pile they would come up to me for reassurance. I took note that Bramble's backside needed trimming, Bart's coat had a busted leg strap, and Bing and Bittersweet were in desperate need of bigger coats.
Four scaredy-cat Shetlands at the back of the lot!

So when Rick was done hauling branches, I haltered and moved Blake and Browning out of the fold and ran the  four above into the fold for maintenance.

You know what changing coats means . . . fleece fantasizing! All three of these wethers are related, and while each of their fleeces shows a different style of crimp, all three are crimpy, as well as soft, fine, dense, consistent and of GREAT length. I just love 'em!

Bramble is going to need treatment for urine scald (an issue she's had off and on, perhaps from being a freemartin), so I gave Blake and Browning long-overdue pedicures and turned them out in the wooded lot. I left them happily rubbing heads on trees,

and headed to the house to take a shower. I was decorated with bits of sawdust, hay, twigs, wool and leaves, and smelled of forest duff, diesel exhaust, smoke, and eau de lanolin/ram/sheep pee. Did I mention I carry my camera in a case slung over my shoulder pretty much everywhere I go?

Yeah, that would it explain it . . .

Friday, November 22, 2013

That was abrupt!

Looking towards the SW corner of our property
We went from first frost to dead of winter in 24 hours. And not Willamette Valley winter (mild and wet), but what I think of as Midwest winter – clear, sunny, breezy, and COLD. It's beautiful, and nice for a change, but does limit my riding; when mud freezes (nice), so does our arena footing (not nice).

Jackson hoarding toys by the hearth
Dozer and friend napping

Right now the dogs prefer to be inside near the warmth of the woodstove, and frankly, so do we.


Our fall term of homeschool co-op is over; we (the co-op, not Brian and me) are on winter break until the end of January. After helping my students learn some fiber arts, I look forward to having more time to do them myself! Here are some glimpses of my 5th grade Textiles 101 class:

That's it for a winter day at . . .

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

First frost!

There's nothing like some colorful, sparkly decorations to get one in the mood for Christmas! ;-)   Last night we had our first obvious frost, and are predicted to have below-freezing lows for several nights in a row. I should have harvested the re-emerged red lettuce on Sunday....

WIPS (works in progress):

SIP (spinning in progress) close-up:
Another WIP (wool in progress) and hopefully LIP (lambs in progress)!

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Picking up speed with no brakes

That's what life feels like right now. We are entering the holiday season, and the older I get, the less time there seems to be between all the activities that go with it. I mean, I used to look forward these events; now it seems I don't have a chance to catch my breath between them, much less enjoy them! (The addition of my MIL to the equation this year doesn't help matters.)

Last year I was so busy I didn't get a Christmas letter written or cards sent out, for the first time in I don't know HOW long. I'm determined not to let it fall through the cracks this year . . . somehow . . . .

ANYway, I promised to show you what I made for our Sunday supper. First I harvested this from our garden and herb barrel:
kale, a "green" whose name I've forgotten, Swiss chard, bell peppers, parsley

Then I made this recipe (x 1 1/2) using brown rice, carrots and tomatoes previously harvested from our garden (I picked the tomatoes green and let them ripen in the kitchen), and added fat-free feta to make it a main dish.

For dessert I made an apple crisp using my home-canned apple pie filling; we polished off EVERYthing with relish!

Our homeschool co-op's annual talent show was last night, and of course I signed up a reluctant Brian to do a number (thankfully his violin teacher backs me up). There were 19 great acts and lots of variety (including a bagpiper, Adrienne); it was a great show! Below, for your viewing pleasure, are three videos, showing some of that variety.

That's it for today from . . .