Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Yikes; it's almost October! High time for a catch-up post; I've been BUSY.

Weatherwise we are still warm and very dry, even though the days are rapidly getting shorter and a bit of fog sometimes appears down in the valley. There is a good chance of rain in the next day or so, which would bring welcome dust relief at least. Then, after a couple cooler days the temps are to soar back into the 80s next week . . . in October. 🙄

Blog reader Tim commented that he'd like to see Poppy doing agility. Class members have switched around recently so it took a bit to find someone who would video us, but we did get some of our work recorded last Thursday night. This isn't our best run, but I'm really pleased with her willingness and attentiveness!

As home, as usual, it's easier to capture her in repose:

While Poppy and I only do agility class once a week with a smattering of training here and there at home, I've really been stepping up the frequency of Stella's training. In the middle of the month I signed up for an online training challenge because I hadn't been able to coordinate a lesson with my favorite trainer since January, so of course said trainer texted me the very next day with a date that did work. That's okay; the more help I can get with this hot little number, the better!  

I'm also getting training in a totally new direction – caring for and propagating African violets! Blogpal A noticed my mention of having my little plant repotted, and contacted me with some advice. Considering that she grows, shows, and is a judge of African violets, you could say she is eminently qualified. 😉 So I asked for her help with the African violets that live at the office (not mine), and have since collected the needed supplies to restart some crowns and start some leaves to try and save these. (The two with blooms were my boss' grandmother's and so have sentimental value.)

On Sabbaths, I've been picking up my dear 90+-year-old friends for church. The wife is now in a care home but the husband is still managing at home (but lonely); both are very frail so time together is precious.

I continue to find new ways to use my ever-growing rye sourdough starter. These cinnamon rolls turned out pretty but weren't good enough to repeat the effort; some other recipes definitely ARE keepers:
I have been harvesting our prunes over the last couple weeks. Some were shipped to Vermont as a house-warming present, some were shipped to my mom as a birthday present, and some went to my boss; the rest (of what I've picked) filled these two dehydrators:

The single red bell pepper I've gotten from my deck garden pot was harvested yesterday for stir fry; I don't know if the little ones still on the plant will have time to mature. Tomatoes are coming at a steady pace, and I continue to harvest basil as needed.

I'm still working on my big spin/ply project, combining colored singles with a fine black single:

Rick hauled home five more tons of second cutting orchardgrass hay today from central Oregon. We got the trailer unloaded (the bales are 100# so we're all bushed); the pick-up is backed under shelter so this "green gold" doesn't get rained on. We need at least another five tons before we're set for the year; not sure yet when and where we'll get it, but do have it sourced.
The Better Mousetraps are still doing their jobs well in the tackroom. I do feel bad for the cute little creatures, but can't have them destroying the tack and sheep suits in there.

Speaking of sheep (suits), BIG changes are coming for the flock. Recently someone contacted me about acquiring some fiber pets. Since Boomer wants to be friends and I haven't had any interest in him as a potential flock sire, castrating him so he can be someone's loving little fiber grower is the perfect solution. But who else could I part with? The buyer and I finally settled on yearling Berlin and retiree Sarai; I will be delivering the three of them in mid-October. Parting with some sheep means there is room for a few more, so I plan to put together a breeding group this Sunday. After Boomer leaves I will add his dam to the group; a friend is bringing over her dairy-cross ewe for Spot to serve then, too. Bridget won't have months to get around to breeding this year; Spot has reservations with another small breeding group in WA sometime in mid- to late November. He's going to be a busy ram!

Sayonara to September from . . .

Friday, September 09, 2022

In like a fish and out like a dragon

There was not another trip to the fair. And unlike my last chilly visit there, we are enduring one last blast of summer here in Oregon. This was the forecast on my iPhone from earlier this week:

What that doesn't show you is that along with today's and tomorrow's heat, we are also getting strong easterly winds that increase the risk of wildfire. Many areas of NW Oregon are enduring preemptive power outages to reduce that risk; fortunately that doesn't include us. Two years ago a similar weather pattern, albeit with much stronger winds, sparked devastating destructionIf we can make it through this weekend without a repeat, conditions look much better on the other side.

Late last night Rick and I took down our shade sail so it didn't get damaged. Hopefully these two 'blast furnace' days don't fry my geraniums; they've been SO happy this summer! I took this photo of Miss Apple Blossom yesterday:

Also yesterday, I got two new houseplants on sale at my favorite plant shop and had my happy little African violet repotted. Unfortunately, that means that my A. violet no longer fits in my handpainted pot; fortunately, my new tiny turtle vine (Callisia repens) does! They are now both ensconced atop the pie safe along with my Phalaenopsis orchids. I haven't yet decided where the Fittonia will reside; for now it is near the pie safe on top of the baker's rack that holds my cookbooks. Also in the top photo is  a peppermint I bought to replace the two nasty-tasting mints I have in pots outside the front door. (In the meantime, I ordered some dried mint from Penzeys Spices along with some other things I'm running low on.) Sunday may be repotting day. Along with composting old mint and planting the new one, I have two beautiful new pots for my largest houseplants – trees, really – that live in the corner of the living room. The pots they vacate will be used for other houseplants that need bigger pots. I'll probably need more potting soil....

But it's not all about flora around here; the fauna still feature prominently. Last night, after missing three weeks because of heat and the State Fair, Poppy did AWESOME in agility class! Hard to capture a terrier in motion, though; it's much easier when she's relaxing:

There has been some sheep shuffling, too. Bing, my last wether, is thin and weak, so I moved him into the corner "lambing jug" so he can get extra groceries and NOT get jostled. That meant letting Bridget and Boomer join the bigger group in the Sheep Sheraton, which Mr. Firecracker thought was GREAT – as in "let breeding season begin!!!" He's only nine weeks old and everyone seemed appalled by his intentions, so hopefully I don't get any little sparklers from him. If he doesn't find a breeding home soon, he'll need to be 'neutralized' or he'll have no one to hang out with. Spot will soon be busy with ewes, and I don't think Bing will hang on that much longer....

Even though our summer came in like a fish and seems to be going out like a fire-breathing dragon, there are signs of fall. The light is changing along with the angle of the sun,

the woodshed is filling up (the empty spot is reserved for some fir),

the woolly bears are out and about,

and we're seeing a few more clouds:
Fall is on the way at . . .

Monday, September 05, 2022

A frigid fourth taste of Fair

Well, maybe not frigid, but definitely cooler; hurray!

When I headed to the State Fair to be a spinning demonstrator Sunday afternoon, I dressed for the warm summer weather in a loose linen sleeveless top and skinny jeans. But the Creative Living exhibition hall is well air-conditioned and quickly had me wishing I'd brought another layer to don. A fellow demonstrator had just finished carding pounds of lovely alpaca/bunny batts that sure looked inviting, but only Coco got to cuddle in them – and he was already warmly dressed!

Previous dreams of one last Oregon Dairy Women milkshake were abandoned; instead on a break I bought (and quickly gobbled without a photo) a cherry hand-pie from Willamette Valley Pie Company. I also took a quick spin around the building again. Do the baking competitions bother anyone else?

All that time, effort, and expense mostly wasted; obviously my frugal immigrant roots run too close to the surface. I'd rather enjoy or bestow the fruits of my labor, not brag about the ribbon they won!

By the time my shift ended at 7:00 p.m. I was dreaming of walking out into a warm evening, but to my surprise a cool breeze was blowing – and the fairgrounds were packed with people enjoying the nice weather and last weekend of the Fair. I did a quick tour through another favorite exhibit, photography, calligraphy, and fine art,

this artwork caught my eye
a scenic and serene scene in the midst of it all

then threaded my way through the crowds to meet Rick at the Horse Show Stadium to catch the 6-up draft class. Three teams competed by weaving through closely-spaced cones and backing into an imaginary dock, then swinging the horses 90° both directions to demonstrate how these 18-wheelers of days gone by would have let traffic pass. The Percherons left one cone standing; the Clydesdales (actually, four Clydes and two Percherons) left three cones standing; only our friend and client driving his mostly homebred Shires left all cones standing to win the class. The final photo shows him taking the judge along for his victory lap.

After the class, Rick and I threaded our way back through the crowds so I could get my annual Fair treat of falafel – messy but delicious!

I'm not sure if I'll go along with Rick for his last walk-through as the livestock and equine exhibitors leave tonight or not. You'll just have to check back to see if there is a final taste of Fair!

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Third taste of Fair; it was hot-hot-hot!

Thursday's taste of Fair was almost a one-dish meal of 'horsing around,' but afterwards Rick did take me to a food vendor he had found that makes an amazing 'bowl' with brown rice, kale, roasted vegetables, roasted tofu, and great sauces. I was too hot and worn out to feel hunger but knew I needed nourishment, and my taste buds perked right up and I enjoyed every bite. I haven't yet had my annual falafel pita sandwich; maybe I'll get that today.

As for the horse show, it was an adventure. A rather harrowing one, but as we came out okay on the other side of it, one I'm glad to have had.

First, I will say it again; it was JUST. TOO. HOT. Sunny and sweltering, especially to be schlepping gear, spending any time in a stuffy stable or indoor arena, and riding a horse decked out in full regalia. Second, as is par for the course, my horse was HOT. HOT. HOT. It is her nature; Stella is high-energy and high-tension. Third, the environment was CRAZY. Instead of each breed team showing separately as I was led to believe, ALL SIX breed teams were in the show arena at the same time – five Morgans, four Clydesdales, four mules, three Saddlebreds, and I think four each of Drum Horses and Gypsy Vanners. It was trial by fire for my inexperienced mare, to be in the ring with all those horses and flags, and all those people sitting high above, sometimes shouting and applauding. But she didn't melt down, she stayed between me and the ground, and she didn't let Team Morgan down, so objectives achieved. As icing on the cake, Team Morgan won first place!

None of my DH's phone photos turned out all that well (too dark and far away), but they're at least proof of participation. If the official photographer captured something good, maybe I'll spring for a print or two; we'll see when he gets them uploaded. But here is your third taste of Fair:

That's it for now from . . .