Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Resting During The Heat Of The Day

The dog teams had more trouble with heat this year than cold and most mushers stopped during the heat of the day to rest.  Our freshly shorn sheep are actually enjoying the warm sun.  We've had a couple of chilly nights, but not terrible, and once the sun comes up, everyone is warm and comfy.  I glad we didn't shear the oldies though.

Hydration is important, too ;-).

Frankie lays down to sleep more than any horse I've ever known.  This is his outdoor bed.  He also sleeps in his run in stall sometimes, too, but this is where I most often see him.  Oh, and out on the hillside is another favorite.  He eat until he gets too sleepy and then just lays down.  Rough life :-).

Biscuit's "racing stripes" are from itching along the rusty gate.  That boy needs a bath, but I sure don't want to wish for rain :-o.

I've got the body basically finished (still deciding on final length and what sort of bottom edging I want) and both sleeves started, so I can almost see the lights of Nome off in the distance. Once I get finished, I'll get the official shearing post up and also some other fun pictures from before shearing.

In the meantime, enjoy sitting in the sun with everyone for a few minutes :-).

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Wherein We Finally Admit Maisie Has Been Possessed

We had our concerns after the Halloween debacle where/when she completely behaved herself out in public at the humane society fundraiser at the local Dairy Queen.  Still, Maisie is nothing if not a comedian and we decided she just had more fun making us look like fools walking around with our huge entourage of animal control experts.


As spring shearing approached, I once again got nervous about how we were going to handle her.  We don't tip her upside down like the rest of the sheep because we are still worried about her ingested ball of hay twine that we can only assume is still floating around in her rumen and could cause trouble if it got stirred around.  

Bill hates shearing her.  It takes at least two people.  She's obnoxious and fussy.  She bites, kicks, tries to knock you down (pretty much every day ;-).  She's also short and built like a rhinoceros and her belly is so close to the ground that you can't get to it without getting down on your knees.  

She spent all last year with belly wool hanging down like fuzzy dice from a rear view mirror.  Bill apologized, but said he was worried he would cut her and I could also tell that he'd had enough of her for one year.  I asked if raising her up on a shearing stand next year would help.  "It might, if she'll stand on it."

I pulled out the old shearing stand and cleaned it up and Tim made sure it was still in working order.  When we got ready to shear Maisie this year, Bill pulled it into the shearing area, next to his clippers.  We looked at each other, looked at Maisie, laughed a bit nervously, discussed how we'd get her up on there...

...and I don't know how it happened, but all of the sudden she was standing politely on the stand by herself with the white plastic chain behind her head and Bill was off and shearing.

Barely even a tail swish! :-o

At the very end, when we removed the chain so Bill could shear the last little bit where it was resting around her ears, she did eventually make a move and got away from us for a minute.  When it was all said and done though and she calmly trotted out of the barn with just barely a sassy glance over her shoulder, I still felt uneasy.

I think she's been possessed...by a good demon...and honestly...that's a bit frightening :-o.

*     *     *     *     *

Thank you for all the kind comments about sweet little Claire Bear.  I enjoyed scrolling back through years of blog posts trying to see if I had an actual gotcha date for her, but she was older than the blog.  Sadly, many of our beloved friends are as old or older than the blog now and we are going to have more sad days coming, but hopefully not soon.  Still, they will live on in our hearts and a bit on in the blog and for that I am thankful.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Claire Bear

Brushy was a very spooky feral cat who, years ago, would sneak up on the back porch late at night to eat cat food we'd set out for Eli.  I spent weeks trying to tame him down.  He was so hungry that he'd let me stand next to him while he ate, growling, but would never let me touch him.  

One night, instead of trying to touch his hip, I reached up and touched his head.  He immediately bumped his head up into my hand, as cats do, and from that second on was completely tame.  I took him to the vet for a check and 'tutering and when I brought him home the next day I didn't hesitate to turn him loose.  I knew he'd not run off.  

But he did...sort of.  He disappeared and then reappeared a couple days later with a small black kitten in tow.  Claire Bear was always Brushy's cat and she may have actually been one of his kittens as they had a similar body shape.  Where he was very friendly though, she preferred to be left alone and spent most of her life tucked away in the barn and most never saw her.

Oh, she'd come out and talk to us some, but if we tried to pet her or pick her up, she darted or squirmed away.  God forbid if you had to take her to the vet.  Yearly vaccinations became a farm call rather than an office visit.  She was an odd cat, but we didn't care.  She was Brushy's cat and that was enough.

And yet...as socially awkward as she was, if we left town for a couple days, she was always the very first cat to meet us at the gate when we got home.  We always had a farm sitter, so we knew it wasn't because the food bowl was empty.  She actually seemed excited and happy we were home and we knew, in her own way, Claire Bear loved us.

A couple weeks ago she started asking to come into the house.  She'd walk around the kitchen, eat some of Betsy's food and then curl up on one of the dog beds and go to sleep.  She'd lost a little weight and looked like her teeth might be causing her some trouble so I got up my nerve and took her to the vet.  

Yes, her teeth were bad, but her bigger issue was her kidneys.  She stayed in the ICU at the clinic for several days and we hoped when they sent her home that she was rehydrated and stabilized enough that she might have some good months left, but it was not to be.

Interestingly, for those last few days, Claire Bear loved to be petted, followed us around the house, slept on the bed one night, was really happy if I'd sit on the floor with her and once even crawled into my lap.  

Was she making up for lost time, both giving and receiving?  Was she just looking for some comfort because she didn't feel well?  I'm not sure.  What I do believe, as she sat watching at that gate one last time, that Claire Bear knew she was loved and knew we knew she loved us as well and I think that was important to her.

Claire Bear 

2005 - March 14, 2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

Welfare Check

When a musher gets stopped out on the trail and the GPS tracker doesn't move or moves in circles...they try to find someone in the area who can get out to them and do what's called a welfare check to make sure everyone is okay.  

One of the mushers I am following this year is Blair Braverman.  She appeared to be having trouble at a creek, or was maybe trying to get back to a cabin, or...  Her gazillion Twitter fans were all panicked.  I felt bad as well because I, too, feared the worst.  Turns out her GPS unit was  just malfunctioning and she was still on the trail.  

No such luck here.  I left "Unalakleet" in good spirits, knitting on strong.  I did my short rows, divided for the sleeves, added 8 or 9 inches to the body...started second guessing how it was going, hesitantly knit another inch or two...and stalled out.  

I needed a break anyway.  I'd knit to where my hands were sore.  Bill was in town so I was helping with shearing at Final Frontier Farm on Monday and then we sheared here Wednesday.  The Wool House Crafters met on Tuesday and I asked a couple folks for their opinion on the fabric I was getting and I think we all agreed that it was okay, but could be better.  

I ended up ripping it all back to "Unalakleet".  I figured if I was going to get stuck out on the trail making some necessary sled repairs, there'd be no better place than to hang out with fellow Iknitaroder knitski and eat sourdough pancakes ;-).  20 caught up with us there.

20:  Glad you've made it back here to Unalakleet and everything is okay.  Sounds like you've had some trouble this year.  What can you tell us about that?

TCSL: Well, the theme this year so far seems to be gauge.  Gauge too tight, gauge too loose, gauge not making sense, gauge inconsistencies due to sloppy or inattentive knitting on my part...  

20:  Why is gauge so important?

TCSL: Gauge affects how the fabric feels and how a garment fits.  If you knit it too loose it's "sleazy".  If you knit it too tight, it's feels stiff and harsh.  If your gauge doesn't work with the pattern size you've chosen, your sweater won't fit.  There are frequently gauge issues with stranded knitting versus straight stockinette as well.

20:  I thought you did some gauge samples before the race though.  Shouldn't that have helped?

TCSL:  Yes, absolutely.  My mistake was only swatching the plain knitting, not the colorful patterning as well.  I lost two days right off the bat because I didn't do that and had to restart 2-3 times.  After I finally felt like I was on the right track and finished the top section, I started down the body and all was okay for awhile and then I started knitting tighter for some reason and the fabric started feeling "off".

20:  So what are you going to do about that?

TCSL:  I did what Stella always says "Take it back out and do it right."  I unraveled it all the way back to the bottom of the yoke last night and I am going to go up a needle size which will make the stitches bigger and the fabric softer and smushy-er and I'm going to pay more attention this time.

20:  That sounds like a good plan.  So other than the sled runner issues, how have you enjoyed the trail so far?

TCSL:  Honestly, the trail this year has been one of the prettier ones.  We got all sorts of beautiful snow early on and Pip and I really enjoyed that.  I took a bunch of pictures of that and all the sheep and even did some videos that I just haven't had time to edit together.  

20:  I've noticed you've been knitting in the Wool House more this race.  What changed to encourage that?

TCSL:  I loved that cute little tan couch, but it wasn't the most comfortable sled ;-).

20:  It's been fun catching up on all the Iditarod race videos and interviews up there with you as well.  

TCSL: Yes!  I've really liked being able to run my iPad up there this year.  It's been fun to keep up with the race a little better while I'm knitting.  I've listened to some good books and podcasts as well and I like that better than trying to knit watching tv in the house.

20:  What's been your favorite? 

TCSL:  Ooh, hard to pick.  I really enjoyed Winterdance: the fine madness of running the Iditarod and Dogsong both by Gary Paulson.  I listened to Call of the Wild by Jack London as well.  I liked it...I mean it's a classic, but some of it was hard to listen to.  I'm going to look for another sled dog or Iditarod story to keep us company as we get back out on the trail.  I also have a few episodes of the Iditapod to listen to.  That's a really fun podcast.  And you know, the race isn't over so there will still be more race updates from the Iditarod Insider :-).

20:  Do you think there is any chance you could still get finished before the Red Lantern?

TCSL:  Not really.  I'd have to think we are mathematically out at this point, but I'm basically okay with that.  It's disappointing for sure, but I'd rather be disappointed by not finishing quickly than disappointed in the finished sweater.   My sheep team worked hard to get us all here and I want them to be happy and proud.  Sometimes what you learn out on the trail is more important than the race itself.  I'll come off this race a much more skilled knitter...and that will help me for next year!

Mushing on!


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