Friday, February 28, 2014

Bad beavers!

This post has been brewing for awhile – since the last sheep shuffle. Nightcap went home, the girls moved into the fold (with daily pasture visits for exercise, fresh air and forage), and the "woolgrowers" – Bramble, Bart, Bing and Bittersweet – went to the Ram-ada Inn lot. They went on a hay strike. I was getting concerned, because sheep need to keep their guts working to stay healthy. Then I noticed something. There are three big Douglasfirs in their lot, which you have seen as backdrops to photos of the breeding group.
Nightcap next to one of the big firs

All three of them – plus a slightly smaller one just outside the panel fence – were being gnawed on. Alarmed, I refilled the empty salt/mineral/kelp feeder; my poor woolgrowers must be desperately deficient in something as I have never had this problem before. They ate up the kelp and minerals, but continued to mostly ignore their hay and eat bark.

They had reached through and eaten a hole clear down to the sapwood on the tree outside their lot:

I found an old piece of chicken wire to wrap around one of the trees, and yesterday I picked up some deer-repellent spray to use on the others. If that doesn't work, we will figure out physical barriers for the rest of the trees.

Right now I am pretty exasperated with the wooly rodents. Even the "meadow rats" have never damaged mature trees! Anyone need some fiber pets?

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Little spinny thing

After the knitting flurry during the Winter Olympics, I found myself with nothing on the needles for Brian's violin lesson yesterday. No problem; it was a good opportunity to try out one of bubinga Jenkins Turkish spindles I got for Christmas! I grabbed the cutest one, a tiny, 10g Kuchulu, and some unidentified fiber that I'm pretty certain is alpaca.

By the end of Brian's lesson I had it dressed in white befitting its inaugural spin:

Here it is in my hand for scale:

What a lovely little tool! Not that I'm surprised; all the Jenkins' spindles are. But I was resisting this model, adorable as it is, because of its small capacity, quick backspin, and propensity for very fine yarns. The backspin and grist are no problem; the capacity remains to be measured.

For those of you still in the icy grip of winter, here is another breath of spring.
The crocuses obviously approve of today's sunshine!

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, February 24, 2014

Last day to enter!

My little lambing contest closes tonight at midnight, so if you'd like a chance at winning a photo print or a small handknit, go to this post and leave a comment (make sure I have a way to contact you!). I think only nine people have entered so far, which means the odds are pretty good – or my prizes are pretty bad. ;-)  (I'm still searching for the magic formula that inspires more visitors to comment!)

We had sun over the weekend (although clouds and showers returned yesterday) so the "ladies, in I'm waiting" got some pasture time. It was limited – don't want anyone getting grass tetani – so they didn't want to go back to the fold. Good thing I had two energetic lads to help herd them! The ewes are all doing well, although Annabelle is still the only one who is obviously pregnant. She gets extra groceries since she's 11 this year, which is getting up there for a sheep (although Sandra has had some who lived far longer!). I make her share the grain with Marta, since Marta was showing symptoms of possible toxemia a few weeks ago, which Annabelle does begrudgingly at best. The other morning she got down on her knees, a better position from which to hog the bowl!

It has been good to make up some of the winter's rainfall deficit this month.  We're still not up to "average" but the mountains finally have some snowpack. Without our "liquid sunshine" this area would cease to be "The Eden at the End of the (Oregon) Trail"!
Iris shoots and winter wood supply; I liked the juxtaposition
Daphne Odora will soon be perfuming the air
The daffodils are budding
Crocuses don't like rainy days!

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Surviving the weekend

Last Wednesday
This weekend – look at those daffs shooting up!

No challenges from the weather, unless you count cold nights and frosty mornings. Me, I sleep better when it's cold, which is why my bedroom window is always open at least a little at night . . . which led to the weekend's first challenge. At O'dark thirty Sabbath morning, Rick and I were both awakened by a ROOSTER. This has been a rooster-free zone for 18 years  . . . apparently our neighbor (of the free-breeding cats and free-ranging chickens across the lane) decided her girls needed a man. Sigh. Is it wrong to pray for hungry coyotes or raccoons?
Speaking of hungry raccoons, a sad case visited our bird feeder last night. The dogs saw him first, whining and dancing at the deck door to have at him. I flipped on the light, and there was Ol' Bobtail, so called because the striped part of his rear appendage is completely gone. He used to be a frequent visitor but it's been so long since I've seen him I'd forgotten about him! He was moving slowly, the thin, ratty-looking old creature. He didn't scamper off when the light came on; I'm not sure he could have. I left him to fill up on black oil sunflower seeds and creep back into the woods at his leisure.
The second challenge of the weekend is having a PAIR of excited, rambunctious adolescent boys around. =:-O  Brian has been begging to have a friend sleep over, and since we were going to let him stay up last night to watch the Olympics anyway, we figured we'd try it. Last night they were bouncing off the walls; now, fortunately, they are out in the woods at Brian's "campsite." (Oops; just saw smoke rising from the woods. Rick told the boys they couldn't start a fire unless he was there; intervention is in progress.)

I'll leave you with a couple photos I took on our Sabbath afternoon walk around my MIL's neighborhood yesterday, and my final Romilympics performance, bound off last night.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hats are like potato chips

No one can eat knit just one!

Debbie asked in the comments of my last post, "What's next on your knitting projects?" As you can see, I finished a second Elven Cloche, top, and last night I cast on a third! Blame it on the Olympics, and Romi's creative genius. A group of us on Ravelry who love Romi's designs are participating in the "Romilympics" just for fun, and I am nothing if not goal-oriented. I finished my handspun Toque, Yo faster than I thought I would, so I've been spending the rest of the Winter Olympics using up bulky yarn in my stash to knit Elven Cloches. The celery-green one will be my last; after all the quick, colorful gratification, I think I'll be ready to cast on Mr. Brownjeans.

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday miscellany and contest call-out

Some of this is snowmelt, but most is rain from the last week
Brian's latest project: campsite with firewood "shed"
Tonight's sunset on our way home

Now for the lambing contest. My lambing season could stretch out for four months or more; that's a looong time to wait for a contest to end. So instead of seeing who guesses most correctly the end stats, let's see who predicts the inaugural event most accurately. I think it's safe to say Annabelle is going to lamb first. So leave a comment on this post with your best guess as to when (the date) and what (number, sex and color) Annabelle will deliver. (I'll have Brian draw a name if there is more than one correct guess.) The winner can choose an 8"x10" print of the first photo in this post, or a hat, headband, or scarf knit by yours truly (your choice of item, not pattern; color preferences considered). ETA: Contest closes on February 24 at midnight.

Fair warning: if you correctly guess a boy or boys, I may include a rotten egg in your prize package!

It's high time for ewe lambs at . . .

Sunday, February 16, 2014

And a one and a two...

So goes the dance called The Sheep Shuffle. (What can I say? I watched Lawrence Welk with my grandma when I was a tot!  ;-)

Today I hauled Nightcap to Chehalis, WA to meet up with his owner. He was here for 5 1/2 months so "I've grown accustomed to his face;" easy to do with such a handsome, gentle ram. But with limited housing options and lambs on the way, Nightcap had to go home.

Rick was my hero; he stayed home to clean out the Sheep Sheraton, a BIG job. A wind and rain storm was forecast for this afternoon (so far, it's just wind) followed by a whole week of rain, so he decided to take advantage of dry weather while we had it. Bramble and the wethers enjoyed pasture time while Rick worked,

and went back in the Sheraton until tonight when I made them swap places with Nightcap's three "wives." The lambing jug in the corner is ready for occupancy; is anyone ready for a lambing contest???

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Speaking of heads,

I can't seem to stop making things to cover them!

That's it for a rainy day from . . .

Friday, February 14, 2014

Head and heart

Happy Valentine's Day, from . . .

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lambs are coming; a ram must go!

Things are moving right along. I felt a little swelling in Annabelle's udder back when I was treating Marta with Nutri-Drench; this morning she is bagged up enough for all the world to see.
Her sides aren't extended like they were with her other two pregnancies here; I'm wondering if she only has a singleton.

Whatever it is, it looks like it's high time to prepare. That means crutching Annabelle, stripping and re-bedding the Sheep Sheraton with its lambing jug in the corner, and shuffling everyone around. So where to put this guy?
Blake would no doubt try to kill him (Nightcap, after all, smells like girls, and he's also smaller and gentler), and Bramble doesn't need to be harassed. So back to Washington he goes on Sunday.

I sure hope these two girls are carrying Nightcap's lambs, too!

Getting excited for lambing at . . .

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A reason for snow

With snow, then rain, our greens are looking vibrant again (yes, even the weeds!).
The only snow remaining is in a few piles here and there.
Don't go, snow! I just finished a warm hat and need a reason to wear it!
My Toque,Yo! for Sochi in handspun Shetland (from Inky) and suri alpaca, another clever design from Romi Hill. I hate to wear hats but I love this hat. I'll have to hang onto it tightly if I want to keep it, because someone else wants to claim it!
The ham!

That's it for now from . . .