Thursday, May 31, 2018

Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!

Yesterday I had time to shear a sheep or start planting our garden, and food won over fleece. But I spun my wheels for awhile, dithering about what to plant where; Rick and I usually confer on that and he wasn't home. Finally, clarity. Watering is always my biggest challenge, so why not lay out the available soaker hoses and drip lines and plant around them? I laid out the soaker hoses, planted a double row of bush beans (Blue Lake type) and a double row of sugar pod peas around them while giving the neglected strawberries and good soaking, and then watered the seeds. I had to work at the office job today, so this evening I laid out the drip lines and got all my starts in the ground, as well as planting a hill each of zucchini and yellow straightneck squash, and got all of that watered. There's room and drip nozzles for a few more plants – I want parsley, basil, one more tomato, and another trio of sweet peppers – and I need one more soaker hose to plant a row of beets, but I'm feeling good about having the majority of our little garden in. I 'celebrated' by pulling enough rhubarb (from the other side of the berries) to make a crisp for potluck Sabbath! Here's a panorama of our annual bed, with a numbered legend so I can remember what varieties I planted where . . . I've learned my memory can't be trusted. 😒

1) "Meatball" eggplant
2) "Gretel White" eggplant
3) "Sweet Million" cherry tomato
4) "Better Boy VFN" tomato
5) "First Lady" tomato
6) "Super Fantastic VF" tomato
7) "Willamette" tomato
8) two of my four rhubarb plants, looking tough after tilling
9) a trio of sweet peppers from my MiL
10) yellow crookneck squash start
11) several looseleaf lettuce plants
12) double row of "Melting Sugar" peas
13) double row of "Bush Blue Lake 274" beans
14) our strawberry patch
15) a hill of "Early Prolific Straightneck" squash
16) a hill of "Black Beauty" zucchini
17) two hills of "Bush Crop" cucumbers

And as I finished, this sky:

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Galloping into summer

There is so much for show-and-tell today! Since my last post, we went on an abbreviated horse-camping trip to our favorite location, Rick got the garden prepped for planting, and I sheared another sheep. Triple-woot!
Mt. Adams coming into Trout Lake, WA – a town I'd happily move to!

Our Christian trail-riding club gathered at Mt. Adams Horse Camp over Memorial Day weekend. We planned to leave on Friday after Brian got out of school at noon, but Rick had a couple emergencies thrown in on top of his morning calls so there went the afternoon.... Rather than  get in at o'dark thirty, we left Saturday morning and arrived in time to set up our camp, join our group for Sabbath potluck, and then go for a family trail ride.
Rick borrowed a client's horse for the weekend so we could all ride together, which was really nice.

That evening while the lovely light waned, we enjoyed socializing around the campfire.

The next morning we went for another family ride, then relaxed with our ponies.

Two shining peaks! ;-)
While we were letting the horses graze I thought of all I had to do and casually said to Rick, "We've had two nice days; I guess we could go home and get more done there." He said, sounding hopeful, "You want to?" Then we found out that everyone else in our group was pulling out that day (one party had already left), which settled it.

So Monday was a bonus day! Rick tilled the garden (he had already mowed, raked, and burned all the weeds and cleared out a cherry tree that was growing in the middle of it). Brian did homework (he hadn't owned up to how much he had to do; he would have been even farther behind if we'd camped through Monday!). I sheared Vienna and then got busy in the kitchen, because we invited the friends who did chores for us to join us for dinner and a movie – Fiddler on the Roof. (Which brought to mind the old adage, "The more things change, the more they stay the same. Oy.)
Ewe's not fat, ewe's fluffy – wait; I think ewe IS fat!
Yesterday after work, I stopped by my MIL's for three little pepper plants she had for us, then went to my favorite store for garden starts and picked up tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant, as well as seeds for bush beans, sugar pea pods, and beets (I had zucchini seeds at home). I still need basil and parsley starts; those staples slipped my mind.

This lovely was just outside the store; swoon.

So now the pressure is really on – to get seeds and plants in the ground and three last fleeces off woolly yearlings!

Getting off my duff at . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Butler Boudini

Butler slips out of the Ram-ada Inn paddock several times a day. I have no idea how; I've plugged all the obvious "holes." Problem is, he can't figure out how to get back in! Bogie tattles on him, I go down and usher Boudini back into the lot, and peace reigns for awhile. I'd love to put them both in with the big boys (more secure fencing, more room, simpler chores), but Butler is such a little squirt that I'm afraid he'd get his neck broke trying to take on the big guys. I've had a couple parties express interest in him as a flock sire; that would be wonderful for all.

The iris parade continues. The first three are peeking out of the tall pasture grass out by our entrance gate.

More of the odd hybrid iris are blooming:

Tucked in the shade of an oak tree is this stunning royal beauty:
I think that's the best photo of this iris' actual color I've ever captured; go iPhone 8!

I keep forgetting to post this, but I did finish a little hat to go with the "old man cardigan" I knit for my niece's baby. I need to get everything washed and mailed in time for her upcoming baby shower. Nothing else on the needles right now; all my fiber focus has been on fleeces!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Woot! I see a light and don't think it's a train!

Sunday I rooed Blake and Butler; today I sheared and skirted Bing. That makes 11 down and four to go, but since Bing's was the last reserved fleece, the outside pressure is off. (The inside pressure remains; I want to have everyone done before June.) Once Vienna, Bogie, Bridget, and Bernadette are sheared, I will advertise on Ravelry again and expect that the ready fleeces will fly out the door.

My gentleman ram Blake has many excellent qualities, which is why he is still here eight years after Brava gave birth to him (and then left him an orphan at five weeks of age). But his roo-able fleece has a heavy grease line at the rise and smells very rammy, so I decided to have his 2017 and 2018 fleeces processed. A fleece client asked me to ship her purchases to Columbia Custom Carding, which she praised highly, so I put Blake's fleeces in the box, too. In a few months I will have some pin-drafted roving available for sale.

Here are the three sheep before and after shearing:

Blake's greasy fleece

Lotsa wool left after rooing!

Rooing little man Butler
Lotsa wool left here, too (I scissor-sheared his neck and rump)

Wonderful waves of crimpy wool
And here are three of my FIVE musket girls thanks to Blake (two daughters and a granddaughter):

On Sunday, Rick finally started prepping our garden space and mowed the half of the middle pasture containing the most foxtail. Now the sheep can safely graze again; the girls approved:

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sitting duck

This afternoon after we finally got home from church, potluck, and a concert, I let Red out, led the horses to the upper pasture, and loved on some sheep. Then we played a family game of Frisbee "monkey in the middle," with Brian as the monkey on the trampoline. An hour later, when it was time to unplug the hay steamer, I decided to leave Red out because she was enjoying basking in the sun by the barn. After another hour it was time to take the horses back to the barn. As we walked down the driveway, I saw bits of white on the gravel in the distance – and immediately feared the worst. Sure enough, they turned out to be feathers. I put the horses in their stalls and followed the trail of feathers across the driveway, around the manure pile, and through the weeds, hoping against hope I might find Red just frightened or injured. But the sweet and friendly hen that had survived a mink attack at my friend's place would not be so lucky here; my lapse was her demise. I was gutted over letting her down. She's been my shearing buddy, my one pet chicken; this week I've even been hand-feeding her a daily antibiotic tablet mixed with treats in hopes of reversing her painful foot condition.
If I had any doubts about who dined on Red, they were erased when I went back to the barn to give the horses their concentrates.
See the small galvanized pail on the left edge of the photo? That's the cat food bin. It was on its side at the base of the stairs just visible on the right edge of the photo, although the raccoon that dragged it around hadn't been able to open the lid. That's because I had pulled the bail up to secure it after finding it on its side and open this morning. If only I had secured my chicken....

That's the sad ending to an otherwise good day at . . .