Friday, July 21, 2023

Christmas in July

Yesterday morning during chores Bauble's pretty little face made me melt, so I tried to get a good photo of her. That led me to photograph ALL the lambs' faces (except for Bridger's, since he's leaving soon), and then Blaise's for good measure, because she's  a pretty girl, too – I just love her tiny ears (which Bauble didn't inherit :-).

Then after work and before agility class, I went down to check everyone's water and hay, and saw this:

Uh-oh; I must not have securely latched the boys' gate after refilling their water bucket yesterday morning. I didn't have time to get the boys back in their quarters and figured a few more hours wasn't going to change anything, so Sanson and Bridger got to hang out with Boop and Broadway until last night. Hopefully they were all 'just friends.' I'm not too worried; Shetlands are seasonal breeders, and I've never had one settle earlier than mid-September. But in those photos above, they look a little too . . . 'intimate.' Later, when I went down to do chores and segregate the "young people,' big mouth Broadway (seriously, the LOUDEST sheep I've ever had) was uncharacteristically quiet. Hmmm....

This morning Bridger, usually skittish and hyper-alert, was lying there like a man reclining in his smoking jacket. 😳 When I checked water buckets at midday? Boop and Broadway were schmoozing around in the Ram-ada Inn when they are usually out in the wooded lot.

Okay, so maybe I'm just a bit worried that 'shepherd's Christmas' and actual Christmas could both occur in December this year. If Sanson had been the only frat boy, it wouldn't be an issue; he was going  to be introduced to one or both of these girls in a few months. But Bridger is their half-brother, and a second possible sire (who is bigger and more mature) means genetic testing to determine parentage. Oh well; I'll cross that bridge (heh) if I come to it.

The Tour de France/Fleece ends Sunday, and I think I'll finish the last of Rechel's roving by the end of that day. I've spun six 'turtles' of singles on my two Larks, and have 57g to go. That's too much to fit on a Lark (its toes were perilously close to disappearing with 50g), so I switched to my first Aegean for the final stretch.

We're still having assorted mechanical problems here. Our worn-out Kubota tractor is still dead in the driveway, Rick's vet truck was in the shop a couple days this week, and now Brian's car is dead at his place of employment. Rick is fabricating ramps so he can haul it home on our trailer, although I'm not sure why he doesn't haul it to a pick-&-pull place if Brian's assessment is accurate. That situation adds layers of complications and possible conflict to our lives, but I'm trying not to borrow trouble. "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof," the good Lord said. And every day brings blessings as well. Like abundant cucumbers and zucchini from a neighbor's garden, a bouquet of roses from my sweetheart, and two sweet dogs to share our lives and provide entertainment:

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, July 14, 2023

Water and wool

Except for a Tuesday evening visit from an old friend now living on the other side of the country and his new(ish) wife, life has been quiet here. Lucky me; I like quiet – no, I need quiet.

Everyday constants are watering and spinning more Rechel roving. The round stock tank's tomatoes are looking happy, with little green fruit on three of the four. I'm not really sure what the ground cherries are supposed to do; the two little peppers in the middle are just sitting there, doing nothing.
The sheep tank container garden is booming, with thriving tomatoes, happy basil, and ecstatic eggplant. One has three little fruits already; the other has more blooms on it than I've ever seen on one plant:
Until this week, I've mostly been watering pots and tanks. Now I'm moving hoses around to water landscape plants as well, trying to keep things going through an already long, dry, hot summer. We're sweating through a three-day weekend of high daytime and nighttime temps right now. The dogs still play hard for periods, but then do a lot of napping:

I noticed that our white flowering plum has a lot of fruit on it this year. When ripe these are good-sized and very tasty, but there have never been many of them. This year, I think I'll get a ladder out and harvest them when the time comes. Without a garden proper, I'm more motivated than usual to utilize as much of our tree fruit as I can. I defrosted our 'fruit freezer' this week, sad at our dwindling supply of caneberries and strawberries that we've grown in the past. We'll buy and freeze peaches as usual, and I might try freezing our Brooks prunes in the same way. I still have canned spiced prunes and prune sauce in the pantry, and dehydrated prunes in the freezer.
One of our neighbors shared a bounty of small, tender zucchini with us this week. Then they left for 10 days, and I have permission to go over and pick whatever I want; there will be lots more zucchini and some cucumbers in our near future. Monday is supposed to be the coolest day of the foreseeable future, so that would be a good time to use the oven to bake off some muffins, cakes and burgers to store in the freezer. I still have some rhubarb from that same neighbor, so I should bake off some rhubarb goodies, too.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, July 06, 2023


Thanks to the Jenkins group on Ravelry, I spin regularly using my treasured Jenkins spindles. Every month there are challenges and it's fun to participate. July ramps that up because I usually participate on more than one forum for the Tour de Fleece.

I am back to plying white suri alpaca and dyed Wensleydale after spinning another 76g of suri to finish (I hope!) the job. This morning I added a spinning project to my plying project, because the Punkin's Patch forum (run by my friend Sara at Equinox Farm in KY) has been hijacked 😉 by Shetland spinners for this TdF. Even though I sell most of my fleeces I do have a few choices, and when I opened my roving bin and saw a small bag of Rechel's cloud/roving, I couldn't resist.

Yes, that is Rechel in both photos above. Ag grey Shetlands can show dramatic seasonal color shifts in their haired areas (face, legs), getting darker in fall and fading in summer.

Rechel was one of the first two Shetland sheep I bought way back in 2005. Rechel was my second pick, a companion for the ewe I fell in love with at the Oregon State Fair. It took a couple years and lots of education to realize that Rechel was the far better breed representative of the two, with decent crimp and softness compared to the other ewe, who could have passed for an Icelandic. Glad I still have a few ounces of Rechel's fleece left to spin, because life has come full circle. Bred to my first polled ram, Rechel produced Boulderneigh Bluster in 2008. Since Bluster was horned he was sold, and eventually produced 67 registered offspring for seven different breeders over six seasons. Now, one of his great-grandsons (and Rechel's great-great-grandson) is my newest flock sire prospect! I think that's pretty cool, and it was fun to dig up and look at all these old photos.

Below are photos of Bluster (brown-based) and his twin Bliz (black-based).

And here is Sanson, the heir apparent:

We've had a couple tough days of heat this week. Before it got terribly hot the morning of the 4th, Rick and Brian stacked our third load of first cutting hay in the barn. Things are looking much better in there then they did this time last year!

That night we drove to Salem to watch fireworks with Rick's mom:

I think the heat contributed to the death of one of our old hens, my last remaining Australorp, that I found dead in the hen house yesterday morning. That leaves us with these nine:

That's plenty, as long as we can continue to keep them safe from raccoons!

That's it for now from . . .