Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Do We Really Know About Anyone Else?

Last evening, when I came home after dark, I stopped to close the chicken door. I found the chickens roosting on the chicken ladder-- somehow the door had gotten closed. I tried to open the door thinking then they would wake up and walk in and hop on their roost. They were tight up against the door and I had to take them one my one and put them in through the big door. Each one squawked loudly but didn't wake the others. I even had to pick up the rooster. Even when I put them in the coop they stood there half asleep trying to figure out what they were suppose to do. I didn't know chickens slept so soundly.

Most of the time, when I am anywhere near the barnyard, the sheep and Beau come to see what I am up to and try to psyche me into giving them treats-- or so it seems. Maybe they are just curious. It is amazing how well I have gotten to know them and how sometimes I think I know what they are thinking (or am I projecting, Karen). Maybe they really do live in the minute and are just looking my way.

Anyway, we have built a relationship where we interact (mostly peacefully) and anticipate each others moves and get to know what is desirable for the other. But then, we carry it further and think we know what is best for others and begin to "direct" the encounters. Or, we don't know WHY an animal, or person for that matter, does what they do and think only how that affects us.

O.K., this is where the kids would all be waving their hands wildly. I have worked many years with kids and I tell them up front that if I get to rambling and start philosophising to do something to bring me back.

Tomorrow, we are having a party here so I can watch interactions among people and try not to think I really know anything about them.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Home for Christmas

Just before the summit of Sandstone Mt.(almost 3000 ft.) on Interstate 64 Lyndy's car motor stopped. We got towed to Beckley WV where we spent about 3 hours figuring out our options. We ended up renting a car and driving the 2 hours back to Lexington. That was yesterday. Today we drove up to Beckley to return the car.

It took a few days to figure out who was going to feed the animals- when, while we were gone-- it took a few minutes to cancel all the plans. Again, I wonder what the animals thought with neighbors coming over to check out the routine and then we are back in a different car.

Oh well, we are home and happy and the animals seem a bit happier with some of the snow melted. They were able to journey to the far end of the pasture today. It is suppose to snow for the next 3 days so I hope they spend the night tonight roaming.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beau's Birthday and Thor Moves On


Yesterday was Beau's birthday. In the morning I was preoccupied getting Thor ready to go for a ride and getting all the others enough hay for the day since we have 5 inches of snow on the ground and I was going to be away all day. I forgot to wish Beau a happy birthday until I was headed back to the house around 9:30 last night after giving them more hay.

I think Beau got a pretty good birthday present though. Thor went back to the previous farm he had been living at.

Thor was a good breeder (or at least it seemed so-- we will see in April). After the excitement was over, and somewhat during, he became too dominant and began butting the ewes in a way that wasn't safe. He butted Beau but Beau learned to stay out of his way. He just didn't fit in here so I arranged for him to go back and received some fleece (CVM and Cormo) in exchange.

The woman at the other farm felt badly that it didn't work out and gave me the fleece and said she would rent me a smaller ram if I wished next fall. So all in all things worked out for the best if we get a few lambs next spring.

Lyndy asked if Thor seemed happy to see the other woman or sad to leave me. Well, I will put it this way--- The other woman offered him some grain and he didn't look back.

Last night, when I returned to my flock, I did notice Thor's absence. He had been separated for nearly two weeks but was always at the gate as in the picture. It seems so peaceful without him and definitely less to think about and less to feel guilty about because he could not go out with the girls and Beau.

Sheep are not pets--at least not mine. They are farm animals that go from here to there and probably don't mind in the least as long as there is plenty to eat. I will miss them I am sure but that is life on a farm.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Away in a Manger waiting for Baby Jesus

I put my manger up today, except for Baby Jesus who will be place in Christmas Day (or probably 2 days before since we are most likely going away for Christmas). Notice how many sheep in the scene. John says I need at least one more.

Sheep are really important to the Christmas story. I only added 3 in above -- the one on the far left with the black face Karen gave me a few weeks ago and the one on the far right my mother-in-law sent me about the same time. The one from John's mother has been in the family quite awhile ( I think it is from Aunt May). Anyway, like I said, one can never have too many sheep in the Christmas story.

I always loved the children's service on Christmas Eve in Chatham with half of the youngest children dressed up as sheep. It was always interesting to see how the moms made the costumes from year to year.

Not too far from here, there is a group that not only does a living manger but a whole town of Bethlehem. I haven't seen it yet but I am sure there are several sheep. I wonder what those sheep think of all that production.

I often wonder what the sheep and Beau think about things. They seem happy enough here. I can't imagine taking them places like to be in a play.

Anyway, however you look at it sheep are an important part of Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Blog Family

Two days short of a year of blogging!!! 136 blogs. Thanks Gail and Karen for talking me into this. It has been helpful looking back to see when something happened or when I did what or just for laughs and to see how much I have learned over the past year.

Many bloggers will tell you they do it to chronicle something; they are doing it for themselves. I am sure that is true but at some point I think most become curious about who reads their blog. Periodically, when talking to a good friend or family member, there will be a comment about how they are enjoying my blog. The first thought that comes to mind is "people are reading my blog".

Awhile back, Karen told me how to track readers so I know people are reading my blog but not who. I know that last month there were 360 hits from the United States, 19 from Israel, 5 from the UK, 5 from Russia, 3 from Germany, 2 from Canada, 2 from Latvia, 1 from the United Arab Emirates, 1 from Croatia, and 1 from India. I fantasize that there is a little old woman in Latvia who has been a sheep farmer all her life that has a great great grand daughter, who reads english, who reads her great great grandma my blog. I fantasize that they both laugh over my inexperienced farm techniques and they tell their neighbors and they all have a good laugh. If I start getting many more hits from Latvia, I will know it is true.

Often, when I google sheep topics, I will get a site that is in a foreign language but fortunately most are from Australia so I can mostly read them. Who knew that blogging would be a lesson in geography.

It is interesting to see which blogs get the most hits. I think the one about dyeing with pokeweed berries is the all time winner--followed by turkeys dancing and body language.

Anyway, to all of you out there, thanks for reading and thanks for your comments and especially to the farmers out there-- thanks for the tips.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fantasizing

I was remembering the TV show " The Price is Right" and how, at one time in the long running show, Bob Barker used to go into the audience and ask for people to come up with unusual items in their pockets or purses. If they could come up with, say a 1958 penny or a paperclip, or whatever, they got to be a contestant. I was fantasizing that I was in the audience and Bob was looking for an egg and of course I had one in my pocket so I was going to get to be a contestant.

I always have eggs in my pockets. By the time I get back from the barn or coop I have forgotten the egg(s) and later I will be walking in town or picking up groceries at Kroger and I will put my hands in my pockets and feel the egg(s). If it is at Kroger I sometimes fantasize that a security guard will walk up to me and ask me to empty my pockets and there will be the egg(s).

Last Sunday, I came in from the barn and slipped my green sweatshirt off over my head and plop plop two eggs hit the floor. Later in the day I did the same thing. Plop plop another 2 eggs almost in the same place on the floor. John's response was, "at least they didn't break in your pocket".

Today, I was wearing the same green sweatshirt and collected 2 eggs but this time one smooshed in my pocket before I got back to the house. I think it was probably when I was on the ladder putting the Christmas wreath on the barn.

It was a beautiful day, today; cool but sunny so I let the sheep out and watched them from my portable greenhouse with a Christmas tree in it. It isn't decorated, I just picked the Christmas tree up in the eurovan on Tuesday and it smells so good I can't bring myself to take it out so I drive around with it.

At home my greenhouse is a good place to knit or make Christmas lists or write Christmas cards. I was fantasizing all my friends opening Christmas cards with a picture of 6 sheep and a llama and 6 chickens and a ram on the front.

Not this year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snowman and Candy Canes





My friend Karen inspired me with her last blog. (see link to Holes in my Jeans) Here is my version of a cold day activity in the country. It is practice for using tools and techniques.

Who wants to come play?

Monday, December 6, 2010

BURRRR

when we lived in neW ENGLAND (HERE WE GO AGAIN) WE HAD A THERMOMETER OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN WINDOW THAT CALCULATED what THE TEMPERATURE felt like with wind chill taken into consideration. Today, I am glad we no longer have that thermometer.

It was O.K. this morning first thing when I donned my new insulated overalls and went out to the barn. Not so windy-- but now UGH!! I just thought I would replace the broken rail so the animals could go back over to the cabin. By the time I had finished I was REALLY cold and it only took me a few minutes. The animals all came down to the gate to watch me and wanted to come over to help but I told them, "not today". When I was at the grocery store earlier I didn't notice the wind but here, up in the hills, it is Howling!

So most of the day I spun until I ran out of prepared fleece. I knitted a bit too. I neglected all house work-- too cold.

I did send an email to my _______[promotion person](what is her title? I'll have to ask Jen, my business consultant). Anyway, a fairly productive day but hopefully tomorrow will be sunny and better.

At least no one escaped today (at least not yet) I still have to go close the chicken door.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It is going to be a long winter


"Aren't you glad you have sheep so you can spend a cold winter day getting hay instead of watching football?" That is what my hay dealer said after he threw 22 bales of hay down from the top of a huge barn onto John's truck. I rearranged them to get 22 on the truck and yes I am glad I have sheep.

I hauled the hay home, put the truck in the garage/barn, grabbed one of my spinning wheels, and headed off to the new fiber guild meeting still covered in hay. After the great meeting I came home to check on the animals, give them hay, break the ice on the water and close the chicken door before John and I went to a dinner at the local community center.

As I was hauling water, Mira slipped out using Charlotte's escape plan of yesterday (and they say sheep are stupid). Not my sheep. I am getting pretty good at getting stray sheep back but in all the excitement I almost forgot to close the chicken door.

Speaking of chickens---here are pictures of the chickens when I opened their door this morning.




This one is probably the one I had to carry home last night. She would not leave the coop until later in the day when most of the snow had melted. I think we should rename her "chicken chicken".

It is going to be a long winter.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wandering in the first Snow of the Year.

The first real snow of the year. It is so beautiful. The pasture is becoming covered and the animals are wandering about and turning white. Wish I had my camera but John took it today. A good day for a cup of hot chocolate.

Tomorrow I am suppose to pick up a load of hay. Guess we may need it soon. It is amazing how green the grass still is.

It is very quiet this afternoon (the snow I guess) as I wander about the house looking at the fluttering snow out every window. The snow now covers the ground at dusk and it is time to close the chicken door.

The only escapee today was Charlotte as I went through the gate with ACV (apple cider vinegar) and grain. Thor didn't like Charlotte being outside when he wasn't, and he tried to go over the big secure fence. I think it is time to put a caster or wheel on big red as I have been opening and closing that gate alot lately.

Just got back from a trip to the barn. It was time for the chickens to be in but they weren't. They were starting to roost on Beau's stanchion so I wondered if their door was closed. It was not but there was snow covering the chicken ladder so I brushed it off. Eventually, 5 went in but one stayed roosting outside. I wonder if this is the one who sticks around the barnyard when the others are out and about (a chicken- chicken)? I picked her up and carried her home. It is the chickens' first real snow so I guess they have to figure it out.

There is no walk more beautiful than the walk from the barn to the house on a quiet snowy evening when all the animals are in the right place.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"It Takes Half a Day to do Anything"

A friend of ours is always saying, "It takes half a day to do anything". When we have gotten a slow start to the day, John has taken up the expression. Lately, it has taken me a half day to move sheep.

At least I started earlier today. Here is how today went. Let Beau and the sheep out around 1:30. I let them go into the new area since I haven't fixed the broken rail yet. I was involved in a new fiber project and the new area is in good site from where I was working in the house. Five minutes after I went back in I looked out to see Amelia outside of the designated area. Not sure how she got out, but she is my wanderer/explorer. The rest of the sheep didn't seem to pay any attention except Thor. One sheep out will usually go back-- two sheep out constitutes a sub flock. Thor jumped the fence. When Amelia picked up her head from grazing and started wandering and Thor was heading her way I decided it was time to take action.

I tried to coax Amelia back to the flock but she wasn't ready to go back. I went down to get some grain and Sarah started to follow me along with Annie and Charlotte. When I looked back at the rest Amelia and Thor were back in with the rest of the sheep but I didn't see how they got there. When Sarah and her followers saw that I didn't have grain they decided to head back. When I got the grain they turned around, this time followed by Thor. They followed me into the little pasture so I dumped the grain in a bowl and hurried out closing the red gate behind me. Amelia and Mira decided to come see what was going on so I led them in through the barnyard gate and gave them a handful of grain. Hildegard and Beau were still out so I decided to open the gate between the two pastures and get them all in one or the other.

I guess sheep get smarter every day too. They made sure there was always sheep in both pastures or one in the middle of the gate so if Hildegard came in they would have a chance to get back out. I closed the gate with Thor, Charlotte, and the finns on one side and let Hildegard in the barnyard without Amelia or Mira leaving. That just left Beau who continued to graze nearby looking up occasionally to see how things were going. With all sheep in I opened the gate between the pastures again and waited for Thor and his group to join the others. I hid behind the garage again. Finally they all went off toward the barn and I closed the gate again and opened big red for Beau.

I feel like a football coach with a play book. Who's on the field-- what play shall we run. At least I got some good exercise but it took me half a day to move sheep and half a day to finish the fiber project.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It was Suppose to be Easy

This afternoon was suppose to be a short grazing time at the cabin for all the animals. The grass there is better than the pasture but if I leave both gates open they usually return to the big pasture on their own.

All went well for the first 3 minutes. Thor was a little rowdy but I thought he would settle down and graze peacefully. He didn't--he tried to go through the split rail fence that separates the cabin from the new area with the best grass, where they were a couple of days ago, but I knew he wouldn't fit. He wouldn't have if he hadn't broken the bottom rail.

After he went through, a few others followed so I opened the gate between the two areas so Beau wouldn't be separated from the sheep. Now in the lush grass area, I figured they wouldn't want to return to the big pasture but a little while later, as I was walking down to the lower gate, Sarah and Annie started to follow me and the rest of the sheep came along too. I led them through the barnyard to the gate into the little pasture (need a map yet?). And then everything stalled as one sheep stopped halfway through the gate. Thor started to come back so I closed the gate with 4 sheep in the little pasture and 3 in the big pasture. This would have been fine if Beau wasn't out running toward the house. After exploring a bit, he returned to the barnyard vicinity.

As dark approached, I thought Beau, being a guard llama, would want to be back in with the sheep but he was content just seeing them. I couldn't get close to him with a halter in my hand so that wasn't an option. Grain only worked until we got close to the gate. He wanted his freedom.

By this time it was really starting to get dark and cold was setting in. I was frazzled. And then it came to me. I would do what any smart farmer would do in my position-- I would call Karen (a warm and more experienced farmer).

I couldn't get all the sheep in the small pasture unless I got them into the big pasture and then got grain and put it all around in the bowls in the little pasture and then let them back in with chaos ensuing with Thor butting the other's and I was too tired for that. I would like to think that I would have thought of the obvious solution on my own if I had started the previous scenario, but I am not sure I would have.

The answer to the puzzler was--- to let the sheep from the little pasture into the big pasture now that the lower gate was closed. Then I could close that gate and open the big red gate for Beau to go into the little pasture on his own.

It also helped that once all the sheep were in big pasture I hid around the corner of the garage and they thought I had gone back to the house so they took off together back toward the barn. Once they were gone and the big red gate was wide open I got behind Beau and he ran through and then went back to the barn yard.

What's funny is-- I gave the chickens some grain and put them to bed a little early so I could go back to the house before dark and not have to come back out.

Can't wait until tomorrow now that I am just a little smarter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Focus Pocus

Today, was one of those hectic thought days. I experimented with all kinds of fiber arts; ripping out a knitting project, felting over a beachball (bouncing it in the shower), instructed John in the making of some weaving tools out of scrap cedar from the arbor project, carded some fiber for felting and stuffing, darned a hole in a favorite sock by needle felting and I did some preliminary layout for my future website. When my head was swimming I went down to visit the animals.

It was a quiet- rainy day. Good day for inside work but not to rainy to go down to the barn periodically. I realized today that I am spending more and more days here with no need to go to town. I love it. (saves money too) I am getting more done, even though my thoughts are scattered. There are still a few things I want to experiment with but I told myself last month I was going to focus on one thing. I think I picked the wrong thing. I guess I can change my mind-- will have to consider that and then refocus.

Tomorrow is December 1st-- 18 days until Beau's birthday. Last year it snowed around 20 inches on his birthday and the pasture was covered with snow for almost 2 months. What will this winter be like I wonder. At least this year I don't have anywhere I have to be-- though John does. I like working from home.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Individuality



Thanksgiving was wonderful! Lots of love, laughter, food, and fun. It is always interesting to see how the animals act around company and how company is around the animals.

Jen collected eggs and gave Beau treats. Jen was giving Beau some grain and was cornered by 7 sheep, which can be rather disconcerting, but she handled it well. Earlier, Beau didn't want Jen to let the chickens out of the coop for some reason. He took his guard pose and stayed between Jen and the coop. Jen gets the medal for courage. Lyndy was the most comfortable around the animals and was good at moving them with me which was great (could have used her today). Cal was not particularly captivated by the sheep or Beau even though Beau was affectionate with him. Cal was, however, an immense help with my computer. Individuality is what makes the world so interesting.

Individuality with farm animals can make life much more difficult. I let the animals out into a new area today. All was going well until it was time to go back. While they were grazing, I cleaned the barn and water buckets. Then I put grain out in bowls in the little pasture and opened the big red gate. I took one bowl with grain over to fetch the sheep and Beau and all came running as planned, or so I thought. When I closed the red gate I realized Beau had stayed behind. Llamas don't think like sheep and are not so easily swayed.

All the sheep went back to the big pasture and wondered why Beau wasn't with them.




Beau just kept grazing in peace until one of the sheep baaed. He looked up quickly, checked everything out, and went back to grazing. I brought some grain and peas to coax Beau back but realized when I opened the gate, the sheep were all going to come out again. If I had left all the sheep in the small pasture it would have made things much easier (next time). I coaxed Thor into the small pasture so at least I wouldn't have to deal with ram behavior. A couple of sheep got out as Beau was coming in but only into the transition area between two gates.

It really isn't that difficult moving sheep if you think like a sheep-- or a llama, if you think like a llama, but my thinking, as a human, always makes me want to take short cuts. Maybe some time (hopefully soon) I will start thinking like a sheep farmer and then, maybe, I will be able to move animals more easily.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Surprises

This gold, single ply, white cotswold yarn was dyed with bright orange marigolds using alum and cr of tarter as a mordant--not the color I expected. I later mixed an old, but brilliant, fuchsia dye bath (from poke weed / vinegar base) with the gold and got the orange loose fleece in the picture-- not the color I expected. I like them both anyway.

The white, double ply white cotswold has a little silk spun in. The coltswold is shiny, even without the silk, but I added the silk in to soften the yarn. It came out nice. My spinning is getting better (most of the time). I am having a little problem with the tension on the spinning wheel I used for this yarn.

It is nice to have beautiful things around to inspire me to do more. I am doing a few goofy things too-- just for fun, but must stop to clean and organize for Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, we had, as part of our church service, a procession to bring things we were thankful for, up to the front of the church. I brought locks from the animals. There were lots of pictures of family, as you would expect, but also pictures of new calves. Besides pictures there were shoes, deer antlers, favorite toys and an assortment of other things-- very interesting and moving.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Copying Bad Behavior

One of the hens pecks me hard occasionally when I am not expecting it. Today, I held her down and told her I would do so when ever she attacked me. Sweet little Amelia halfway butted me today and the others have recently shown acts of aggression. Are they angry at the rooster and Thor and taking it out on me or do they want to try it out to see what it feels like being mean and ornery?

I have learned to watch out for the males around here but the rest of the girls on the farm are not so careful. Thor butts anyone who tries to eat out of any bowl he wants for himself and he butts whoever is near the lower gate waiting for me to open it. He butts hard and sometimes on the side of the body (I am afraid for my pregnant ewes). I feel sorry for the other animals but I don't know what I can do.

It is one thing, holding a rooster or an ornery hen down, but quite another reprimanding a ram that weighs more than I do. I stay out of Thors way for safety sake and don't know why the ewes don't. Hildegard has tried to stand up to Thor a few times.

I feel badly sending Thor to his pasture since it may just be what rams do. I can understand the competition thing but just being rough because you want to be first makes me angry. I know sheep understand aggression as a way of establishing hierarchy but do they understand human punishment? Should I let them all work it out or should I intervene? I think I need advise from other shepherds.

Sometimes, it is so hard to figure out animal psychology. But, I am determined to learn what I need to for us all to live in peace.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Animals on Vacation

My sister, Gail, blogged about being on vacation (see Women of Great Taste link below) and thoughts and mindfulness and I decided Beau and the sheep could bennifit from a mini vacation today. They went to the cabin for a little R&R.

Most farmers would call it rotational grazing but I call it a mini vacation because they get way too excited about going- to call it rotational grazing. As I get out the orange fencing to connect the two gates they are on top of each other wanting to be the first out the gate.

They love being in a different place with new things to eat and explore. A few, especially, like to brouse on the forsythia and even the grass is better than in the pastures; longer and more lushous.


They also like to explore the wooden deck and the stone patio.


I told them they were on vacation and I wanted them to smile at the camera (a real sign of a vacation) but they didn't see the point.


Is Thor being thoughtful or mindful? Doesn't he look better for his mini vacation?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Toe Sweaters and Other Things Wool

Karen modeling a Beau/Mira/Finn hat


It always surprises me when I realize I haven't blogged in 5 days. I have been so busy doing all things fleecy and assume that I have been sharing them and then I look and realize it is not the case.

Karen and I trimmed hooves last Monday. I have been watching Thor try to convince his favorite gal of the day to stand on level ground--and we thought mowing and gardening, on the slopes, were difficult. And I have been learning more efficient ways to move animals.

I knit a hat with fleece from Beau, Mira, and Sarah or Annie (some of the Finn fleece is unmarked and Annie's and Sarah's fleece is very similar. Karen is testing it for quality control. I knit a toe sweater and felted a bracelet.

toe sweater modeled on my finger so I didn't have to wash my feet


beginning of a felt bracelet

The toe sweater is part of my therapeutic wool line. Wool is good for all kinds of things. The toe sweater is suppose to improve blood flow to an injured or ailing toe. More on the therapeutic qualities of wool in an upcoming blog.

I finally got some Alum so I am currently waiting for the mordant bath to simmer ( it takes forever to boil water at this altitude- it was easy at sea level). I am going to dye some yarn orange (I hope) from marigolds.

And now I am off to try to get some foam scraps for needle felting from a place near by.

Took all the animals to the cabin a few days ago and now if I go down that way Beau runs to the lower gate in hopes of joining me.

I love my new schedule-- things are really starting to come together. --FINALLY

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CSA or it takes a village to raise sheep

CSA (community supported agriculture) has made it to sheep farming.

Most of the CSA groups that most people know about are like the old co-ops except you know where the food is grown and you pay for it way before you get to eat it. Also you get to work a day or two on the farm during the growing season.

Here is how it works. People decide they want to eat better and decide they want to know where their food comes from and how it is grown. Then they find out that there is a farm near them (or at least somewhat near them) that they can support by buying a share of the crops that are going to be grown that year. You can usually buy a share or a half share. You write a check to the farmer in the spring along with others and the farmer uses this money to buy seed and whatever else he needs. During the growing season you pick up your share, usually once a week, at a convenient location. You are asked to help out a few days over the season by working at the farm or by putting shares together or delivering them. You get what ever is being harvested each week.

I like the concept but John and I don't eat enough fresh vegetables each week for it to work for us. I would be freezing stuff every week. If we didn't have a garden and two local farmer's markets I would do it though. Or maybe if we had 11 kids.

Last Saturday I went to a sheering party at a sheep farm that has a CSA group. A very good friend of mine sent me an email forwarding info on this farm so I went to check it out. This woman who has this farm is new to sheep, as I am, and has decided to offer shares of roving for spinning or skeins of yarn for money up front. Also for your $175.00 share you get to come to two shearing parties a year and read the woman's blog that updates you on what is happening on the farm.

I went to spy on her opporation so I casually wondered through the crowd (and what a crowd!). I overheard people saying they were so glad they knew where their yarn came from and they were so happy that they could have a close connection to a sheep farm and they felt like family--that kind of stuff. When I arrived she was giving away door prizes. She had a modern house with a two car garage with some yarn to buy in it that wasn't her yarn because that went to shareholders. She also had a calendar for sale. A young woman shearer was shearing Angora goats in a small barn. I saw some of her sheep in a pasture that surrounds her house but they didn't seem to be a focus of the day.

Seems like people want the clean peaceful side of farming not the down and dirty. I want to share my farm and the animals with people but I will do it differently. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roosters and Rams

Awhile back, I said that the rooster's orneriness behavior was to teach me something. Well, I now know what it was. He taught me to always know where he was in preparation for always knowing where the ram is. Unfortunately, I have been a little slow in learning the lesson.

Both the rooster and the ram are generally nice animals and in Thor's case, he can be a real sweetie; more affectionate than some of the ewes. So why does he butt me, seemingly, out of the blue? I think you have to attribute it to male hormones. Roosters and Rams have one thing on their mind and if anything remotely resembles competition they feel it is their right to attack.

Farming has taught me to look at things in a different way (more literally or basically). I believe it is their right to fight off competition, but what I want to know, IS, how can I appear less like competition.

Perhaps attitudes will change once we get breeding season behind us. It is interesting how males (at least intact ones) always tend to complicate things. A farm with all females or males that have been castrated, is such a peaceful place. Add any male animal and watch out. I am hoping it is all about a learning curve for the farmer.

It is a valuable lesson to learn-- to watch your back. The world is not a totally peaceful place. We have all tried to teach our children to be aware of their surrounds and know about the people they hang around with. I am getting to understand the animals who live here better everyday. At this point I think it is O.K. that they all live here but I know sometimes that isn't the case and there has to be some changes made.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orchestrating Animals

Beau concerned about his charges being outside the barnyard

This morning the arrangement went something like this--Fade out sheep and Beau through the red gate for a change of scene, a couple missed their cue. Two chickens followed, not in the score. The last two sheep finally caught up but two more chickens out of place. Beau and three sheep back to the barn for hay, a quiet measure. Mix up the grain with the herbal dewormer to distribute to all. Beau's goes in his bowl then off to the small pasture where all the sheep's bowls are from a few days previous. Sheep in the barn follow and all come running when they realize what is going on--a dramatic crescendo . Chickens come in and out and shift as the sheep indicate. Two chickens escape to the outside of the red gate. As the sheep finish they go back to the barnyard so I get some chicken feed to coax the stray chickens back. As I open the gate to let chickens in others want to go out. Throw the chicken feed further into the barnyard. As the chickens find the beat Hildegard slips out before my eyes to the wrong side of the red gate. Beau is watching all of this and gets concerned with this measure. Hildegard dismisses my offers of chicken food, to play out of place, but finally reenters and joins the rest of the orchestra.


chickens in the orchard yesterday

I Thought Beau was concerned about the chickens up near the house yesterday, but that was nothing compared to Hildegard being the only sheep outside the fence this morning. I wonder if he was concerned for safety or just want to be out too.

Karen once said you have to have chickens to be a farm, now she says the chickens here are not chickens and I am beginning to believe her. The chickens love to follow me, especially if I have a bucket of water to dump. Then they scratch in the wet dirt. They like to be on the other side of the fence but don't fly over or even roost on the fence. Two days ago the rooster jumped up on Hildegard who was near the gate and then onto the gate but seemed very uncomfortable up there and wasn't sure how to get down. He finally got the courage to fly down back to the barnyard. When the chickens do get out they come back on their own but wait by the gate until I come down and open it for them.

If they aren't chickens, does that change the status of the farm? I don't think so-- with the chaos of this morning it has to be a farm.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Body Language

The last couple of days, especially, I have been observing animal body language.

Beau likes to go over to the small pasture, sometimes for the different grass and perhaps sometimes to get some space away from all the girls. When I recently let him over, I made the mistake of giving him a handful of hay that was in the Barret Groc. garage/barn. Then all the animals were suddenly on the scene. Thor got upset that they were eating in his area and began showing that he could butt. He all out butted Beau. Beau stepped aside. Thor wouldn't share the hay with anyone so I let the others back in barnyard and closed the gate. Then Thor was mad he was all alone. He started pacing at the fence only taking a bite of hay occasionally. I gave the others hay in the barn. When they were almost done, I let Thor back over to join the others. He wasn't aggressive in the barn.

This morning, in the barnyard, I noticed Beau step aside when he felt Thor was too close. They were all at the gate so I tried to open it but Thor was in the way (he hasn't learned that it opens in, yet). When I finally got it open they were all squeezing in at the same time and Thor was getting pushy but Hildegard wouldn't put up with his rudeness and pushed him aside. Once in they all grazed peacefully.

Later, in the barn, there was alot of posturing going on (even with Thor and me). I just kept putting hay in different places and they all worked it out. It is funny how one minute it is fine that someone is eating next to someone else and the next minute it is no longer fine.

This afternoon, I looked out the upstairs window of the cabin and saw Beau chasing some of the sheep. He looked like he was herding them but it was just a few. They kept getting out of site so I couldn't tell what was going on. . When he got them where he wanted them he walked to a different area and began grazing. I just have so much to learn I guess.

I either need to spend more time watching when they can't see me or I need to put spy cameras all around.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Quiet Halloween

Not writing from my desk today. My computer crashed last night. It is harder to go through the process of posting from another computer so we will see how dedicated I am.

Life is quiet again after a 24 hour visit from great nieces, great nephew, nephew, and my oldest brother. My computer crashed just after I downloaded great Halloween pics.

They were a great help. Yesterday, we pulled the last tomatoes out of the garden, dug sweet potatoes, and picked and beheaded the last of the marigolds so I can use them for dye. They helped feed and water the animals and collected eggs while asking if there were baby chicks inside. I always love to see what young children will do with eggs in their hands. Some carry them as precious cargo and others put them in a feed bowl or under a pile of hay.

With the main gate open for awhile, the chickens took the opportunity to check out the smaller pasture and somehow 3 escaped into the wild.fringe of the woods. Usually they come running when they see me but not this afternoon. They are loving scratching in the leaves. I wonder if they will go back on their own.

Another quiet day for Thor. So far, to my knowledge, only two ewes have gone into heat. I thought it was going to be wild and crazy when they all got together but not so-- anyway not yet.

Plans for my fiber business are expanding and clarifing. I carded some wool with my new method and it came out much better. A friend helped me with the upper support on the north end of the arbor so now it is ready for stringing a Navaho type loom. And the cabin is clean and ready for me to transfer supplies and set up my studio down there. The woman I hope will be my apprentice, did a 2 day workshop with a weaver in the county so I am hoping she will get excited about production and find some time to come over this week. Maybe once I get started on new ideas I will be able to sleep better nights. Too many idea flowing in.

Friday, October 29, 2010

RIGHTING "WRONGS"


Last SuNDAY aT the SAFF WORKShoP I leARNED ALL ThE THINGS I was doinG wrONG in My fiBer PrOduction. -- my computer is really going nuts this morning except now it seems to have settled down. Actually, fiber instructors say "anything goes" but encourage fiber novices to try certain techniques to accomplish yarn that might have more the qualities they need for specific projects.

In the workshop, we talked about angle of yarn twist, twist direction, wheel ratios which accomplishes twists per inch, spinning to the crimp, wraps per inch and other things. We were shown how to measure all of these things and then we were shown how to observe the yarn and check for BALANCED yarn. That is what we are looking for in the end unless we are not. For the most part, knitters, weavers, and other fiber people work with balanced yarn unless they are trying to create something a little more unique.

I knew the above terms and knew how to observe some of them but did not know how to technically measure them- so that was important for me to learn. I think it is important to understand how to get different results and then we can make decisions about what we REALLY want to have in the end. Sometimes it takes hours of practice and disciple to accomplish a preferred outcome and other times we can choose to let go of control and see what comes out in the end.

The photo is taken from my desk where I write.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SARAH

SARAH is Thor's first love (at least at this farm). Sarah has been the ewe most interested in Thor since he arrived here so I am glad it worked out tHAt she is his first love.

Thor is so romantic. He makes sweet sounds and smooches and licks her neck. She loves all the attention. He went to check out the other sheep and Sarah followed him. Thor came a little close to Amelia and she told him to take off. He did.

It all started this morning when the girls went over to visit Thor and have a picnic. Most of the girls did't stay long and went back to their pasture. Even Sarah wanted to go back after awhile and Thor followed her back. Hildegard just kept eating, oblivious of everything else that was going on. Beau watched from a distance still wondering what is so special about Thor. Beau has accepted Thor but still hasn't gotten too close.

I have left the gate open between the pastures and Beau went over for awhile by himself. Later the chickens decided to explore the area.

Even with everyone changing places and moving around though, it has been a very quiet day. Not what I expected-- but I am glad.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off to SAFF

Headed down to Asheville for the Southeast Animal Fiber Fair. I am excited for many reasons.

First, the young woman who is considering being my apprentice is going down with me. I have only met her once so it will be good to get to know her better. We are going to camp in the van overnight tonight which I always love even when it is cold as it will probably be tonight (we had our first frost last night here).

It is always exhilarating meeting and being around fiber animals and fiber people. Very fun to pick up new supplies. And I got in to the workshop I was on the wait list for. It is a workshop that goes into more of the technical side of spinning.

We leave mid day so I am going to spend the morning organizing my fiber stuff here so that when I come back with new ideas and new knowledge I can take off running. Does that sound like me? Some things need to move at a slower pace with contemplation.

I am going to set up my fiber studio in the cabin. My equipment and fiber are taking over our house and it is time. Then I can go to work and get away from the distractions of the house.

Thor seems to fit the new ram so it is nice not to have to think about his name anymore. That wasn't so hard (thanks Lyndy - sorry Gail). If all goes well in the next few weeks there will be many names to think of for next Spring. I will let you know when to start submitting your ideas

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Formal Introductions

I will take a friend's lead and begin this blog before I forget what I was going to write about. Twice in 2 days that has happened.

The ram shelter (bachelor pad) is finished. Rams have many "relationships" but never really marry so I guess they are bachelors all their lives. What a tough life! A week and a half of the two week quarantine has passed and the next step is fast approaching. I technically know what the next step is but alas I am not sure of the best approach.

"The Introduction" As I mentioned before, the girls have been over to the fence and have been flirting and the ram has been making some interesting noises and running around alot so what next? Should the ram go visit Beau and the girls and hang out for a few days before the excitement begins? Should Beau and the girls go over to the ram's pasture for a picnic to get acquainted? Should I wait and let the girls visit individually when their turn comes? Their times should be starting around Oct. 29th.

The 2 things that enter in to the decision are both male related. I don't want Beau to confuse breeding with the ram hurting his girls so I was thinking he should see them together before things get hot and heavy. I want the girls to go over to the ram's pasture for breeding so the ram won't be running around over the big pasture wearing himself out. If he goes over to the bigger pasture now will it be harder to get the courting to take place in the smaller pasture?

I emailed the women, that lives where Beau used to live, for advice on llama psychology and I wonder, as I wait for a reply, if this is yet another example of me over thinking everything.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Refocussing with a little help from my friends


Today was one of those days my mind was spinning instead of of my hands. Too many things to think about and so many things I wanted to do. When I reached overload I headed for the barn. Animals definitely have a calming effect on me like millions of others.

First I encountered the new ram- Thor? He was relaxing in his new digs waiting for visitors. I tried on some new names for him.



Check out his shelter in progress.

I crimped an edge for a roof panel this morning so it should be done soon.

When I came upon the chickens they were intently looking for something.



A few minutes later two were strolling with Amelia while Beau looked stately except for that piece of hay hanging from his mouth like an old farmer.


I wish I knew which hen is still laying eggs in the nesting boxes in the chicken coop-- I 'd give her a medal. These I have to collect from the hay loft in the barn.


I think I liked it better when they were laying on top of the closet.

What a Beautiful Autumn day-- especially once I put the cluttered thoughts aside.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's in a Name?

"A Thousand Clowns" is one of my favorite classic movies. It stars Jason Robards, as an eccentric bachelor, raising his nephew, played by Barry Gordon, in New York City. I have been thinking about the movie a lot for the last couple of days. One of my favorite parts is that the nephew wants to change his name and tries different names every week until he finally decides on one at the end of the movie.

As I said in the last blog, I have been having a hard time deciding what to call the new ram that has come to live with us. The woman I got him from called him Rammy but said he would come to anything if food was involved. His official name on his registration is Teddy. I don't know how I feel about changing names but I didn't for Beau and Sarah, the only two here that came with names. None of them come to their names-- at least not yet-- so what is the big deal?

When Lyndy called to say she was coming for a visit on Sunday, I figured my problem was solved. Lyndy loves naming animals and other things. The new ram has a very deep voice and is a real stud so she said Rammy was out. Teddy isn't too studly either.

At lunch Lyndy came up with a list of suggestions with manliness taken into account. I decided to try Thor for this week. Teddy is short for Theodore so using a friend's logic Thor should be fine.

Anyway, he is a real sweetheart and I love him.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

He's Here

What a long day!!! It started with me realizing (20 minutes from my house) that I left the directions to where I was going at home. Also the woman's phone number. When I met my friend, who volunteered to go with me, in town, she somehow didn't seem too surprised.

It wasn't too difficult to get her number from information, so off we went with a new set of directions and a cell phone number scratched on the back of a check book. The first two hours of the trip went pretty well but then I made a right instead of a left and things went astray once more. Called the woman again, got straightened out, and retraced a few miles. This time we made it all the way to her road which we went down twice before calling again. I am surprised she let me take her beloved ram home with me. She probably thinks I am a total flake and is worried I will forget to feed him. We didn't get lost coming home but toooo long. Rammy Teddy didn't seem to mind.

Once home, we received a great reception from the sheep--Beau wasn't too sure what to think. The girls were flirting and R.T. or T.R. or Rammy or Teddy was eating it up. He was smooching through the fence. By the time I got my camera, a half hour later, the girls had headed across the pasture leaving the new guy at the fence. He seems O.K. being here--- now if I can just figure out what to call him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Visualizing


Weeks ago I looked out the south side windows of our home trying to visualize how the planned arbor would impact views. Is that weird?
Other than sleeping, a small portion of my day is spent inside, John also, yet I seriously considered how the arbor would look, particularly from our bed and John's desk. I have to admit, I did the same when it was necessary to change the location of an electric pole.

I do spend a few moments every morning gazing out-- thankful for a great, new, day--contemplating the plan for the day and noting the passage of the seasons. The rest of the day, when I am home, is outside working on various projects, hanging out with the animals, or working with fiber.

Yesterday, Karen and I sat in the arbor visualizing what it would become. We talked about future lunches (in the sun or dappled shade), gazing at the dyeing garden, harvesting grapes, and constructing tapestries. We did a little construction.

As far as construction goes, it is moving along at a nice slow pace. I see the project, as important in the visualizing and building stage as the finished stage. There is much to be learned in the process.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Moving Right Along

Tomorrow is suppose to be arbor day-(not Arbor Day). I am not planting trees, I am going to start erecting an arbor [for grapes, breakfast, weaving, and many other occasions] out of dead cedars from the woods on the property. (reminds me of a children's book)

I am very excited, even as it is raining now and is forecasted to tomorrow. The guy who is going to help me, just called and said if tomorrow doesn't work Friday is good for him. So it looks to happen soon. I have been visualizing the arbor for quite awhile, kind of like I used to visual the sheep in the pasture before they came. I look forward to the reality of the arbor.

Yesterday, a few women were over to do some fiber stuff. As one of them was leaving she told me how excited she was about the arbor and she wanted to help in some way. She may help with a table or some of the later detail on the structure. She seemed amazed that I thought I could do this and confided that she wanted to design a small space and build it or have it built.

I am SO thankful for all of the support I have received from many women in my community. I feel so blessed. A good friend of mine visiting this summer, asked me, when she was here, if I ever felt lonely. I never do. I miss my good friends and family that don't live near by-- different ones on different days-- but I never feel lonely. I have though, at different times in my life, I think I know what she was talking about.

The new fence is almost done. The last post is giving me a hard time ( eight holes and still no spot without hitting rock). I put in 8 or 9 posts and only had a problem with the last 2. Same with the arbor-- one corner is going to have to be drilled and pinned-- but my wonderful husband doesn't think that will be a problem.

Pictures of both coming soon.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Possibilities"


One of my all time favorite lessons to teach to kids is "possibilities" It is usually a Spring lesson using seeds or a fall lesson using three foot tall brussel sprout plants loaded with brussel sprouts. Ah, what one seed planted can bring forth.

Last year I wanted to have many Marigold plants in my new vegetable garden so I planted hundreds of seeds in cardboard flats; all kinds-- yellow, orange, variegated, tall, small, tiny.
The year before I had had problems growing Marigolds is three different places. Last year was a repeat. I think maybe 3 or 4 plants germinated. So I put those few plants in my garden and last fall I had a few large plants with an abundance of bright orange blossoms.

This Spring I planted summer annuals in large pots along the back of the house and included 3 large pots of Marigolds. Two of them did nothing but one came in thickly with few blossoms. I planted none in the vegetable garden this year but early summer, when Adam and I were weeding, we came across a few plants that came up on their own from the previous years seed. We made sure they had a little space and voila!


I am looking forward to dyeing with some of them. Possibly, a nice pair of orange socks.

Plant a seed and watch what grows. Think of all the seeds we have all planted (in the ground or in some one's mind). Sometimes we receive immediate gratification. Sometimes it takes a few years or more to see what develops. Sometimes, knockout ORANGE and other times a glint of green. Think of all the POSSIBILITIES and keep on planting.

Speaking of possibilities, the lady with the ram is back from vacation and I am going to bring a ram here to live. Stay tuned. I could possibly have 19 sheep and a llama come next Spring.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Life Easier?

It is a great feeling when you do something simple that makes your life SO much easier. Check out my new old gate. It used to reside at the end of our driveway doing nothing. Now look at it. And I gave it a new paint job.

Yesterday, I disassembled the chicken wire and step in post fence- gate. It was ridiculous, especially when it didn't rain for awhile and the ground got to hard to step it in. Mira got halfway under it grazing on the greener grass on the other side and Beau and Amelia stepped out when I forgot to close it.

This afternoon 20 corral panels should be delivered which will replace the temporary electric strand fencing which surrounded the extra grazing area behind the big red gate. This will be the new home for a ram or rental ram (still haven't heard back from the lady with the ram who was on vacation).

With the three days of soaking rain we got, my job of setting T-posts for the panels should not be too hard. I am really looking forward to it, I think.

If a ram comes to live here, he would stay in the new area and have the girls over for visits then he could be in with Beau and the girls until March. If babies start arriving in March he would have to go back to the new area until the lambs grow a bit (seems rams don't understand how to be around lambs). Then all depends on the sexes here next summer.

The next level in sheep farming--Sound like fun?


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boy Was I Wrong

I couldn't get the turkey "dance" of yesterday out of my head all day. So I googled turkeys dancing - nothing, turkeys wrapping necks- bunch of cooking stuff, and finally as I was reading more about turkeys it was mentioned that they wrap their necks sometimes when they are fighting over a lady or ladies. Fighting? Come on-- it was so graceful and it looked like they loved each other. Check it out.

Besides the two I was watching were the same size and no one was "winning". Neither were loosing feathers. And I could almost hear the song in the video.

Makes me wonder-- if these turkeys I saw yesterday were "fighting" maybe when John's chickens look like they are fighting they are really "dancing".

Give me sheep and a llama any day. Once in awhile Beau nibbles one of the sheep's ears a little to keep them in line and occasionally there is a little head butting amongst the sheep but all in all they are all pretty well behaved and get along well.




Friday, September 24, 2010

I am Scrambling while the Turkeys Dance

A few minutes ago, I was walking up from the barn with my head now contemplating whether I should ask John if we can eat his chickens when I heard a deep "cluck". I looked up and NO, I didn't see a giant chicken following me, I saw two huge wild turkeys over by the orchard "dancing".

I am not sure of the dance- it looked part waltz and part rumba. It was beautiful!!! They wrapped their necks first one way and then the other. They kissed a few times and moved their bodies as one. They could have won ANY dance contest with their grace.

I wished Karen was here with her video camera. I tried to quietly head to the house for my still camera but alas they slowly walked off toward the woods.

If one of them hadn't "clucked" I would have missed the whole dance with my head down- deep in thought. I usually make it a practice to walk between the house and barn with my pearl strand connected to the heavens holding my head high but the chickens are getting the best of me.

I know they are stressed out over the lack of rain, but I have been giving them plenty to drink and dumping the dirty water where they can scratch for bugs. They are being nasty to me and each other lunging out and pecking or sneaking up from behind. It is not just the rooster any more.

The other day I was telling Karen that there is a lesson in this for me. Something about being strong, brave and a protectorate like a shepherd while maintaining a peaceful nurturing calm. I hope I learn the lesson soon. The turkeys were probably a hint-- I will go look it up in my book.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weaving



Weaving is something I haven't done too much of but I appreciate it immensely. The reason I haven't is that it can be pretty complex and time consuming. I wonder how long the weaver of this web took to complete her masterpiece.

I have spent hours watching ants go from here to there but I haven't spent much time watching spiders build webs. There are probably videos to watch- maybe I will. I would love to understand how it all comes together.

A very good friend use to make things on a big loom. She still has the the loom but I don't think she has woven for a while. Most people I know who weave, weave rugs which aren't quite so time consuming. I weave very small items-- use to weave on an inkle loom back in the 70s. Now I weave even smaller and without a loom.

In a couple of weeks the grape arbor/ tapestry loom should be done. That should be fun.

One good thing about weaving is that you can easily weave with 1 ply yarn which saves a great deal of spinning time and usually saves on materials also. I believe that spiders weave with 1 ply but I am not certain. I think I really must take the time to watch.


I think if I were a spider my web would look more like this. I really appreciate the first one but it looks very delicate and intricate and I don't think I would have the patience. The second looks like it was thrown together but still remains magnificent. The first one actually looks more like it was crocheted or knitted.

At any rate it is always good to observe natural things when planning a piece of art like Andy Goldsworthy (see link on Andy Goldsworthy blog.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Looking for a "some other day"

.04 inches is what the Weather Channel website says we have had in precipitation for the month of September. No one is even thinking about rain or expecting rain for the rest of the month though the forecast shows a slight possibility. I went into the local grocery store for a few things, this afternoon, and thought as I came out "looks like rain". I was expecting to walk out into an oven but it was indeed raining and it felt a bit cooler than when I went in. As I took the cart down to the cart corral, I saw a woman come out of the store under an umbrella. I asked myself 2 questions-One, how did this woman have an umbrella with her and two, why was she under it. She must have a goat personality instead of a sheep personalty.

My good friend who raises goats said hers always take cover when it rains. I wonder if this applies even with .o4 of an inch. Today may have added .01 to that total for September, maybe less.

My least favorite job on the farm is filling water barrels when they don't get filled with rainwater. I have to use 4 hoses, push them through two fences, and then go through a gate around the corner of the pasture to pull all the hoses uphill to fill the 2 barrels. Another reason to love rain. At least it is not uphill both ways so reversing the process is not so bad when I am done. Actually I do have to haul one of the hoses uphill both ways because it is the hose I use for the vegetable garden (how many hoses can a person have?).

Today I was teaching 6th graders about the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We did an activity where we explore contaminants that get into our local creeks and rivers and end up in the Chesapeake Bay. One of the favorite topics, as you may have guessed, is cattle peeing and pooping in the creeks. How many hoses would you need to water 100 head of cattle? That's why farmers let their cattle in the rivers. The state of Virginia will pay farmers to fence their cattle out and also pay to pump water up to watering troughs and such from another water source on the property such as a well. That is what I need. Unfortunately, I don't have a creek on the property that has any water to fence the sheep out of.

It may be time for another RAIN DANCE!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rent a Ram

Gone are the days you need to have a lot of possessions. Now you can rent just about ANYTHING. Having a party--rent tables, plates and silverware. Turning over a garden--rent a rototiller. Many people rent skis, ice skates, and such. On vacation-- rent a car. If you want to race at Valley Slot Car you can rent a slot car. Yup, just about anything. You can even rent rams.

It is convenient to be able to rent when you just need something occasionally. Especially when you are not real particular about the size or condition of what you are renting. I am not sure a ram falls into this category.

I am not saying all rental stuff is of a lesser quality. Sometimes you get a rental car at an airport that has less than a hundred miles on it. It may not be your favorite color but it has all the necessities, usually GPS (which I don't have), and smells like a new car.

So if you are in the market for a ram (as I am) you might want to check out the rentals before you buy. That way you can save yourself quite a bit of trouble and send him home when you no longer need him. Only problem is you might have a hard time finding the breed you want, the color you want, the temperament you want, etc.etc. but you might get lucky.

A few days ago, I emailed a woman I know who has CVM sheep that I like the characteristics of. She is on vacation but emailed me back and said she has a ram for sale and will call me when she gets home. Will she rent me a ram? Don't know?

I am really getting excited about the next phase of sheep farming which is having lambs born on the farm but it is alot of responsibility. I am going to improve some of my fenceing and move a gate whether I rent a ram or bring one here to live so that will keep me busy until the woman gets back from vacation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

IT FEELS REALLY GOOD


I am back from a 4 day camping and beach trip and I have new energy. It feels really good.

Today, I made a felt ball and plied some yarn-- two things I have been wanting to do for a while. It feels really good. I had to find a couple of things but then I realized I now know where all my fiber tools are and it feels really good.

The day before I left, I spun at a grandparents day celebration at a local nursing home. It was a very windy day so spinning was challenging but I taught a bunch of kids how to spin on a drop spindle and that was fun. In order to have the fiber demonstration and leave 2 hours later to go camping, I had to find things and get myself organized. That felt good too.

I am basically a very disorganized person until I have to appear, and BE, somewhat professional for a specific event or occasion. People who see me at these times think I know what I am doing. I don't care so much about being organized most of the time but when I can't find something I want to use I go crazy. So having all my fiber tools where I know where they are feels really good. It is amazing how much more can be accomplished.

Camping in the eurovan is really nice because I have done it many times so I keep many things in specific places. Some things permanently reside in the van. This time seemed really easy but that might be because I was camping with Lyndy and she IS an organized person. That makes me want to try a little harder.

We had a wonderful time on our vacation. We got sand in our toes, did sun salutations at a spectacular sun rise, climbed the tallest light house in the U.S., went body surfing, took a nap on the beach, consumed some fabulous seafood (Lyndy really knows how to pick eating estabs.), and most importantly spent abundant quality time together. That feels really good -- and winning at cards isn't bad either.

We saw no sheep or llamas on our vacation but a friend did call me on my cell phone to inquire as to whether I might be interested in some sheep that needed a new home. Always good to know your friends are looking out for your interests= it feels really good. AND

John, the sheep, and Beau were glad to see me when I got home and that too feels really good!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ella



Ella was a local fiber person who died last year at a ripe old age. Today, her daughter had an estate sale at her home of Ella's fiber arts collection over years.

No notice in the paper- just word of mouth through the fiber community here, in the valley, and in a couple of cases out of state. The plan was to have some of the larger items like spinning wheels, looms, and a few other things bid on in silent auction fashion and the REST first come first dibs with donations accepted in a jar for what you thought things were worth.

I didn't know Ella so decided I should arrive a couple of hours after the sale began to let those who knew her collect special things that reminded them of their times with Ella. When I did arrive I meandered listening to the stories. I certainly wish I had known her.

So what was there? Ella was a spinner, a weaver- but it seemed in the casual sense ( rag rugs and such), and a felter to a lesser degree. What interested me most was her collection of samples of yarn she had dyed with native plants and some of her dyeing materials. And of course there were many books, magazines, and a file cabinet with patterns. All in all it was a little overwhelming.

I get overwhelmed easily so I made a series of trips through the room seeing what jumped out at me and others I knew and listening to the stories. Then, I would nibble on the snacks in another room, put my few treasures down, regroup and reenter the room containing Ella's life in fiber. One time through I found some rustic drop spindles, another time books and magazines, and then warp yarn and dyed bits of wool yarn.

The best part was people showing each other what they had collected and sharing and trading all around the stories. I think Ella would have loved to be there -- no rushing and squabbling, just wandering and exploring and wondering what some of the stuff was and how to use it.

One thing I learned about Ella was that she made notes about everything! All of her books or magazines had things underlined or written in the columns. All of her experimenting with colors were well documented ( plant material, mordant, time of year, location and more). I picked up pages of her notes.



I think her daughter was happy. Things went to people who knew her mom and shared the love of fiber for the most part. And those who didn't know her mom were excited about having the opportunity to know her through using her stuff. No dealers! And a gallon jar full of money.

I would have to live many many more years and devote my life to fiber to even get close to what Ella had collected. AND, I would have to have some place to keep things. Ella's studio was spacious and lovely and she had many friends who would spin and weave with her.

An exciting side is that people have gotten excited again about fiber and a list was started to form a fiber guild again or even play groups to dabble in fiber arts. I'm excited.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Chickens and the Eggs


I collected 10 eggs today and we only have 5 pullets. Look where I found 6 of them (age unknown so we had to toss them).



The others were under this gal.

I was afraid she was getting broody and she is so young. She was there for a long while but later was gone so I was able to collect the eggs. And then we find eggs like this.


Occasionally I find eggs with soft shells. No wonder free range eggs are so expensive.

On another gender, I am feeling much better about our resident rooster. I am following Richard Plamondons 3 rules (see Giving Peace a Chance). A couple of days ago I offered the chickens hands full of grain and was shocked at the reactions.

The first carefully took one piece of grain and ran off, the second would not eat out of my hand, the rooster looked me over top to bottom with much confusion and finally took one piece of grain and split. The second time I offered him some he declined. The chickens are afraid of me or at least don't trust me. I had no idea. But why shouldn't they feel that way after the way I have treated the rooster.

I have much to learn about chickens and eggs.