Monday, September 30, 2019

Scrambling to the end of September

It's been an eventful end to the month of September. With full-on fall weather arriving early this year, we've been scrambling to get a few essential things done. There was the last of the firewood to pick up from Rick's client and get undercover:
(Yes, our woodshed is in serious need of rebuilding/replacing.)

The middle and upper pastures desperately needed mowing:

(It looks so much better without the long, scraggly, dead stalks! The sheep will be able to go back out and eat green, green grass again. 😍)

There's been produce to pick/purchase and prepare:
I picked one last big bowl of tomatoes-traded-for-eggs and made two more batches of condensed tomato soup, picked more garden produce at home, and picked up a locally grown 11# cabbage for a nice price. Needless to say, cabbage has been featuring in many of our meals since then. 😉

And Brian has had two more soccer games, one of them in Salem (above) and one almost three hours away in Redmond. The drive up the Cascades for the second one was stunning, with blue skies overhead and red Vine Maples glowing like wildfire under the conifers. Not being able to stop for pictures was so hard, but I had three players in my car that needed to get to the game on time. The best I could do was hand my iPhone to  Brian so he could snap one through the windshield:

Last Friday Rick brought home two heaping boxes of apples from his mother's trees; for some reason hers produced this year when ours didn't. I was planning to turn them into sauce and pie filling on Sunday, but a messy, ongoing washing machine crisis sucked up all my time and energy.

Saturday night we lit the first fire in our insert; the temps have gotten downright brisk! I kept it going through this morning; the dogs seemed to enjoy it. Of course, laying around is what both of them do most of the time anymore anyway. I have to coax them to go outside, and coax them to eat. 😔

When petting Jackson I stumbled upon what felt like a crusty scab on his neck just about his chest. That's where his fur is the thickest, so it took some work to get at it and finally remove both the crusty scab and what caused it.
Ugh; one of those NASTY foxtail awns had imbedded itself in my poor dog! I feel so bad that Jackson was dealing with that along with the discomfort and decreased mobility from his arthritis. Glad I found and removed it, so the festering hole in his neck could heal up!

This is pretty long already, so I'll try to do a colorful post tomorrow to welcome October.

Sayonara September, from . . .

Friday, September 27, 2019

Something to look at while you're waiting....

After four and a half months, I finally got my horse/dressage blog updated. There are a few new photos from the State Fair, plus lots of Lance, some of which I may have included here already. It's the last thing listed over there on the right under "LINKS."

Will have an update here as soon as I can find the time to put a post together.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Cloudscapes, pupdate

The showers and clouds we've had this month are greening up our world seemingly overnight. And while there are touches of fall color here and there, most of the deciduous leaves are still green, like fall took the trees by surprise.

I am always looking up at the gorgeous clouds – they turn a plain, blue sky into a skyscape, or cloudscape. Add a touch of color from rising or setting sun, and I swoon.

I haven't said anything about the dogs lately. After encouraging improvement, Jackson plateaued a few weeks ago, and since then has slowed down again, moving less and laying down more. Strangely enough, he hardly ever chooses a soft spot. I watch him, trying to evaluate how he's dealing with the arthritis in his spine, and love on him often.

Dozer, the 'king of cush,' is also slowing down – which, given his usual state of animation means that he's basically comatose. It's difficult to rouse him to go outside or go to bed, and he's not even that inspired by mealtimes, even though both dogs are still getting their kibble top-dressed with canned food and a little hot water, stirred in to make an appetizing gravy. I half-expect Dozer to die in his sleep; Jackson will probably force a much more difficult decision.

I have window-shopped for dogs and puppies as a way of looking beyond the coming heartbreak. I wouldn't subject our old men to a new dog but couldn't face a dogless home for very long. I've wanted to adopt a retired racing greyhound since my early 20s, but they are getting harder to find. While looking I got interested in Windsprites, which are basically long-haired whippets so very similar in type. I found a breeder not too far away and even got approved for one of the puppies she had available, but like I said, that's not fair to the old men . . . and I couldn't afford one anyway. I tracked down the breeder of a neighbor's Decker rat terrier brothers; they are planning a winter litter and I asked them to contact me if that happens. (Help with ground squirrels and mice would be much appreciated!) I contacted the bulldog rescue from which we got Dozer, and right now they have quite a few available, including puppies. Then I found some retired racers and sent in an application to be approved for one of them, just to keep my options open. Who knows what we'll end up with, and when!

After a soggy couple of weeks I wasn't sure there would be anything left in my garden, but actually there is quite a bit. Yesterday afternoon I harvested tomatoes, kale and basil for a FAB vegetable stew I made for supper. Today I picked rhubarb, the last of the onions, cucumbers, and zucchini, some sweet peppers, yellow pear tomatoes, more basil and volunteer parsley, most of which is slated for tomorrow's potluck contributions. There's still sweet peppers, eggplant, beets, basil, and tomatoes left to pick, so there'll be more good eating from the garden for awhile yet.

Today my farrier came to trim the horses and we talked sheep, as we often do (he and his wife raise Border Leicesters and Texels, and he used to shear my Shetlands). He gave me two skeins of yarn from their flock, one from each breed. They passed the 'neck test' for me; I think I'll knit them each a hat!

The plan to send Blaise (front right, first photo) and Sarai (front, second photo) off on a honeymoon with a handsome Shetland man is firming up. The ram is a polled, fine-fleeced black gulmoget who won Champion Ram honors under a visiting Scottish judge a few years ago, so I have high hopes for black-based patterned lambs from these two. Sarai is my oldest ewe and losing her incisors, so this will likely be her last breeding; crossing my fingers for two keepers from her. This will be five-year-old Blaise's first breeding (not for lack of desire on her part!); the ram's owner wants Blaise or a gulmoget ewe lamb from her so hopefully she'll oblige with a girl or two.

Have a great weekend!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

More stashing, crashing, and dashing

Most of my haul, including some hot peppers

Weekend before last I did some minimal chores for friends while they were out of town. I noticed they have a LOT of tomatoes in their lovely garden, so I asked if they sell them. The wife offered to barter some for eggs, so last Friday morning I went over and picked four small buckets and started processing. I canned seven quarts of tomatoes and a batch of condensed tomato soup (four quarts and two pints), and set the rest aside for Sunday.

Sunday morning we picked up another load of firewood. One of Rick's clients is moving and offered us a good deal on ~3 cords of dry, seasoned wood they had stored inside; couldn't pass that up, even though the woodshed is full! Then while Brian started stacking it, I made another batch of soup (got four quarts and three pints that time) and canned another six pints of tomatoes, using both the fresh ones from our friends and a couple gallon bags I had stashed in the freezer from our garden a couple or more years ago; I also filled a few dehydrator trays with small halves. Sometime in there I 'stashed' some more yarn, finishing this pretty 2-ply spun for yet another Ravelry challenge:

Rick took over stacking wood Sunday evening when Brian left to go to a friend's for a couple hours. When Brian called just a few minutes after he left, I wondered what was up. Well, that would be the passenger side of the Ranger he was driving:

By morning's light. Drivable, but mashed.
Sigh. Yes, this is the second time in one year he's wrecked a vehicle. No, he didn't get hurt (again). The jury is still out on whether or not he's learned anything (yet), if he'll be driving again before the end of his senior year, and if all of us will survive until he GROWS UP. 🙄

Still, life goes on; he had another soccer game last night so of course we went to cheer on him and his team . . . and drive him home.

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Hip-hip, hoo-rain!

Sunday's load of firewood before the showers started

Monday's sunrise

Monday morning rainbow

My view from work during a downpour Monday

Ahhh; EVERYthing is breathing a sigh of relief. We're on our third day of cool temps and on-and-off showers. The dust of summer has been rinsed off, the air is clean and fresh, the plants have all perked up – fall is on its way. And the clouds – oh, the clouds!

With this respite, we can endure whatever summer has left up its sweaty sleeve.

Brian is playing soccer this year and has had two games (one away, one home) so far. He hasn't played since his freshman year and the improvement is remarkable. It's not like he's been practicing, so chalk it up to greater confidence, coordination and strength (I'm sure being on the basketball team every year hasn't hurt).

Today I had a sheep visitor. It looks like my ram Blake will get some action this fall, which I'm sure he will appreciate. A couple nearby vineyard owners use Babydoll Southdowns to prune their lower grape leaves and graze the grass and weeds, and are interested seeing if Shetland crosses would do as good a job with better wool. The plan is for them to 'rent' Blake to cover three of their ewes. We chatted about whether purebred Shetlands would be even better suited to the job, since they are smaller and already have the better wool, but a concern arose – literally. While we visited next to the Sheep Sheraton, Bridget put her front feet up in the feeder (the better for us to reach her to pet, of course!),
something the stubby-legged, heavy-bodied Babydolls wouldn't think of attempting. By keeping all four of their short legs on the ground, they eat just the lower leaves the vineyards want cleared from around the fruit. (Shetlands just might eat the fruit, too; hmmm.) So first things first; they are going to experiment with the cross this fall.

And if it all works out, maybe a couple of my girls will be off on a honeymoon at another fine-fleeced Shetland breeder's farm at the same time. The pitter-patter of little lambie hooves again next spring, anyone?

That's all for now from . . .