Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Purple rain

When I get stuck behind a backlog of photos and blog fodder, I have to think of a title or theme to jump-start the post. So I give you a mostly Purple Rain of flowers, since we are getting way too little of the real kind:

We are dry, dry, dry. April was the driest on record, and May isn't looking like it will rectify the problem. Hay should be ready a lot earlier this year; I wouldn't be surprised if our favorite hay guy is putting up his first cutting right now. We won't be needing as much this year.... (See next paragraph.) This was our upper pasture last week, when the 'neighbor boy' came over to play with Poppy:

Today I plan to lead Lance and Oliver up there to graze for a bit. With Lance's metabolic disease, I have to be very careful with fresh forage; if I just turn them loose, I might not catch Lance again before he gets too much! Oliver, on the hand, would probably be easy to catch . . . and can probably enjoy as much green grass as he wants right now. His front legs are shot, and it has been plain to Brian and me for months that he is miserable. Rick finally came to the same conclusion after taking the time to examine him more closely last Sunday; now the only question is when Rick is going to put him down. It is sad, but Ollie's had 20 more years of life than he would have had with his breeder, and 21 more years than it appeared he'd have when he almost died of sepsis as a foal. 

On the other end of the spectrum of age and vitality, little Berlin goes out to pasture with the big girls every day now and loves it, although she and her dam Vienna still go in their own enclosure when in the fold. (I just need to take the time to break down the lambing jug panels and open up the space.) She still looks tiny to me, but I realized when she stood next to the little water bucket last night that she has grown quite a bit. Here she is at two days old, followed by the photo I took last night:

It's hard to get good photos of her; I need to try harder because she is quite the looker. Definitely feminine with a pretty little head and properly pert Shetland ears; excellent conformation; and lovely, crimpy chocolate fleece all over. I sent in fleece samples on all my breeding animals except Bridget (shepherd oversight), and am very happy with the results. Seeing Vienna's and Spot's fleece data on paper along with their offspring in the flesh makes me want to see if I can help Vienna stay in good flesh to breed again this fall, as she is my finest-fleeced sheep even at ten years of age:

Vienna is still wearing her fleece, as is Bittersweet. I had hoped to have everyone sheared by the end of April, but my plans were overwhelmed by family drama and stress. In fact, I even started on Bittersweet on April 20 – and got interrupted by some of said family drama. Here he is as I prepared to start:

And here is Bette before I sheared her on April 21 (my iPhone battery was dead by the time I finished), and her mother Bree after I sheared her on April 27. Obviously both are in fine flesh.

I don't feel too bad about the two still in full fleece; Bittersweet is very thin and our weather is see-sawing between hot and cool, and Vienna has a lamb with pointy little hooves. So I am working on skirting the other eight fleeces for now. 

All our 'gardens,' flower beds and food-growing alike, are frustratingly overgrown and unkempt. Even if I was able-bodied, I can't do it all alone. I finally went to my favorite physical therapist for some help with my right shoulder and elbow; I've been struggling with a frozen shoulder for over a year now and I think that has contributed to developing tendonitis in my elbow. That leaves me without much grip in my right hand; I feel like I'm practically one-armed. Rick finally did a little work in the vegetable garden, weeding in and around the strawberries so I can at least water them and hope for a little harvest. I bought three pots of basil and may have to stick them in a pot on the deck; I'm having doubts that the rest of the garden will get prepped for planting anything. I am working hard to "let it go, let it go-o" and be at peace. Fortunately I can still spin and knit. Last month I spun up some homegrown Dorset/Merino cross roving I got from a blogpal years ago, then knit up some fingerless mitts from my go-to pattern. This month I'm working on pink BFL roving gifted to me by a different blogpal. (I didn't provide links because neither of them blog anymore.)

Spinning, reading blogs, snuggling a lamb, working Stella, and taking Poppy to agility class are good distractions in this crazy life.

That's it for now from . . .


wyomingheart said...

That little lamb is certainly adorable! Do you put the sheep in at night, or do they stay in the pasture? Have you ever done anything with the hair from hair sheep? Just wondered if their wool, or hair can be roved. Have a good week!

Michelle said...

I put the ewes (and lambs, if I have them) in at night, wyomingheart, and do have the facilities to lock up the boys, too, if I deem necessary. We do have bobcats, coyotes, and possibly cougars in the area, so it is a safety precaution. I've never done anything with what hair sheep produce; I think some have a woolly undercoat that they shed, but the staple length is very short and possibly 'contaminated' with the coarse hairs?

Retired Knitter said...

You know Michelle, as I was reading your post it was made very clear that taking care of all the living things that reside on your property is more than a full time job - and you work outside the home and you have added “drama” to manage. Its no wonder you have a some physical ailments. You are simply one hard working human being. That new life is adorable. The flowers are beautiful. The spinning like normal is exceedingly well done. Oliver (not sure I ever saw him before) has been lucky to have a life with you - painful as the last months have been. And that Poppy and her buddy made me smile.

You have the full scope of joy and sadness of a good life well lived. Thank you for sharing it.

Tim B. Inman said...

Your world is fascinating to me, and on a number of levels. First, the wool. Wow! Who woulda known there is so much to know about wool? Of course in my professional world, who woulda known there is so much to know about simple things like varnish and glue! But there is. I use wool fleece along with a patch of linen cloth to make a French polishing pad. Nothing takes it's place. Wool loves to soak up alcohol and oil in the shellac so I can squeeze it out through the linen as I rub, and the linen stays slick and clean throughout the process of polishing. But for me, any chunk of fleece is OK.

Gardening should be a source of pleasure. It can be a pain, too. Might I suggest you look at gardening in Dutch buckets instead of out in the ground? I have been doing this for several years, and the production is amazing. Plus, very little work or effort required. Being an Iowa Cheap Guy, I have figured out how to do it with very little cost. Tips available on request. Your actual mileage may vary. Hang in there!

Michelle said...

Elaine, caring for all the living things is more pleasure than pain (at least when I'm able-bodied), and definitely my work of choice. A homebody (just not all inside, please) I am!

Tim, as an adult my eyes have slowly opened to to the fact that there are worlds upon worlds of interests/professions/hobbies, and each of them have enough vocabulary and details to boggle the mind of the uninitiated! I will look up Dutch buckets and let you know if I decide to try it (because I'm sure I'd need tips). And hanging in there is the only option!

A :-) said...

I am so sorry about Ollie, his front legs do look swollen and sore :-( So glad that Berlin is bringing you some joy in the midst of everything else. I am reminded again and again that the world keeps turning . . .

Jeanne said...

Little Berlin is such a beauty! I love those long legs!

The flowers are beautiful, too. We don't have many this year. What are the ones in the first photo? I don't recognize them. - The situation I've been through has put a damper on things for me. I do hope to get a few going, though.

I'm so sorry for Oliver. It's no fun trying to live in pain. It will be hard to have to have him put down, I know.

The video of Poppy and her little buddy is just so much fun to watch! I'll go back and view it again!

Your yarn is so lovely! I especially like the pink! I've never had any fingerless mitts. Do you like to wear them?

Michelle said...

A, Ollie's knees are bone on bone, and one of his suspensory ligaments is disintegrating; it's bad.

Jeanne, you have HAD to focus on your health! So glad to hear that it's better now! I do like fingerless mitts. They keep your hands warmer while leaving fingers free; when I have to wear work gloves at the barn I'm constantly having to pull them off for dexterity and put them back on.

Michelle said...

Jeanne, I forgot to say that the first photo shows a variety of lavender; I call it 'rabbit-ear' lavender but I think it is a variety of "Lavandula stoechas," or Spanish lavender.

thecrazysheeplady said...

So sorry :-(.

Your spinning and knitting is lovely!