Saturday, July 11, 2020

So Hot

Heat is much harder on sheep than cold. Yet another reason I know I'm a sheep.  We are all miserable...but hanging in there.




I made the mistake of sharing the following video with Saint Tim and a couple friends.  Now whenever I complain about the heat they all say (very melodramatically) "Oh, it's so hot.  So, so hot."  I'm glad I still think it's funny.  Mostly ;-).

Enjoy :-D

Friday, July 10, 2020


Well, one. One monarch. But more are surely coming!  

How could they resist this buffet :-D. 

Last year I planted milkweed seeds in two of the raised beds and my cousin and I transplanted 10 plants from the back field into the lavender garden.  Nine of the 10 plants came back this year with extras on the side and one of the raised beds is so packed with milkweed plants that I haven't even had to weed it all summer.

I also planted plenty of buckwheat and scattered several packets of seed mixes for butterflies, bees and birds.  There are still a few lavender plants left after three years of way too wet winters and a few volunteer sunflowers have popped up as well.  I'm just now seeing some mixed flowers and I can't wait until the whole garden is blooming!

This picture shows how many milkweeds are packed in the raised bed just outside the lavender, now known as the butterflies, birds and bees garden.

This picture maybe better shows how tall they are.

I tried (once again) to plant some vegetables this spring, Victory Garden style, and (once again) in the event of a zombie apocalypse, we're going to be some of the first folks out.  But, hey, we'll have lots of pretty flowers ;-).

Here's a new puzzle that ought to keep you busy for awhile.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tour de Fleece Check In

"You still spinning every day?"

I haven't missed a day of the Tour this year.  On a couple days I only spun for 10-15 minutes, but that's better than the zero minutes I was spinning before :-).  

I've got all the Tunis spun and am working on chain plying it.  Chain plying is taking your spun single and making a really long looped crochet stitch with it and then adding your ply twist and winding it on the bobbin.  Make a loop, add twist, wind on the bobbin.  Make a loop, add twist...  You start with one strand of yarn and end up with basically a three ply yarn.

I washed Kaala's fleece yesterday...and my washing machine died on the final rinse (thanks, 2020 :-/).  At least it was the final rinse.  I'm hoping it can be fixed because the newfangled washing machines are not useful for washing wool and the old ones are hard to find.  Kaala should be dry today and I'll start carding it.  I'm planning on spinning six ounces.

The Leicester Longwool curls are also sitting out ready for some attention.  I'm still trying to decide exactly what I want to do with them.  There are four ounces of curls.

There's still a decent risk of a photo finish for the end of the Tour, but I'm hopeful I can complete my challenge before the end.  

Keep spinning!

Monday, July 6, 2020

"Y'all Come!"

Summer is always trying. This summer seems to be trying extra hard.  

The latest trouble, skipping over several things, was a stray dog coming on the farm Saturday.  He made a run at the horses in the morning.  I chased him away.  He appeared back in the evening and came in on the sheep.  We tried to catch him that time, but he got spooked by some fireworks and bolted away.

Without a good guardian like Hank, we are going to have to take extra measures to try to keep our sheep safe until a time when we can find a new dog.  And finding a new dog may be nearly impossible because of a situation with the new house built right on our front field fence line.  I set up a camp.

The first thing we did was lock the sheep up in the secure paddocks near the barn.  A dog or coyote could still get in if they really worked at it, but hopefully it would be too much trouble or at least slow them down enough to give me a chance to intervene.  We put the tent on a clean(ish) patch of level gravel.

Big Moose was immediately involved so we moved the tent back  to straddle the short fence and took two jug panels and built a wall around the front half.

He is so silly.  I just love this sheep :-).

From there it deteriorated, because you can either laugh or cry, and Biscuit is ready to welcome everyone to the Equinox Farm Vacation B&B.  The sunsets over the barn roof are stunning!

You can have an up close and probably personal encounter with Maisie.  What a face, eh?  (Click to biggify)

You can watch the full moon rise and travel over the farm.  Definitely a highlight!

A slightly better picture, but not much.  The moon was so big and so bright.  A cell phone just can't capture it.  I never needed a flashlight and as it reached it's peak height over my tent, maybe 2:00, it was so bright that every time I woke up and looked across the barn lot, I could see everyone and everything.  So much better than fireworks.  

I thought of Hank off and on throughout the night.  He and I would often sit together on the hill and watch the farm on bright nights.  It was one of my very favorite things, even in the winter.  The last picture I took of him was him resting next to me under a bright full moon.  I wish I'd thought to camp out with him all night, even just once.

The next morning I woke to the sound of Petunia's bell and turned over to see the sheep grazing in the arena.  They'd quietly tiptoed past me and let me sleep in.

Good morning! (new puzzle :-)

I watched for the dog on Sunday and did not see him again.  That evening a neighbor found a promising post in the missing pets group on FB.  I contacted the owner to make sure it was indeed the same dog, now safely at home and back in his electric fenced yard.  It had been scared by fireworks.  Fingers crossed we never see him again.

Other than the gorgeous full moon and the fun of sleeping in the sheep yard (which was actually fun even with the bugs and hot weather), the best story from all of this was what Rocky and Jared did to try to protect their flock.  I told it on an IG video post last night.  You should be able to follow along.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Plan...There's Always A Plan

I am spinning three Shave 'Em to Save 'Em breed wools for my Tour de Fleece challenge this year.  

The Livestock Conservancy has a five breed incentive challenge that I am going to try to complete.  I've covered Jacob and Cotswold.  Kaala, as a Clun Forest, was an obvious next pick.  The Tunis roving came from Woolhalla Tunis and the Leicester Longwool locks came from Flock and Forge, fellow SESE farms I follow on Instagram.

I've started spinning the Tunis and it's lovely.  The Clun Forest needs to be washed and carded before spinning.  The Leicester locks...I'm going to comb some and maybe keep a few set aside to use as an edging or trim.  They are so pretty I'm enjoying just looking at them :-).   

Wool is beautiful.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Titan

There has been a group of sheep here over the years that I've considered titans.  Buddy, Woolliam, Ewen McTeagle, Jester, Marcel, Keebler, Graham Lamb...  Big in stature...and personality.  Count Chocula was The Titan.  

We've been trying to fight through a bladder stone attack for a week.  He patiently tolerated everything we tried and we tried pretty much everything.  I finally had to call it. 

I will sure miss seeing you standing in your doorway.  Thank you for one final classic picture last night.  You were a good sheep.  The bravest Titan of them all.

May 2013 - June 26, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The 2020 Tour de Fleece

The 2020 Tour de Fleece starts this Saturday.  I've had my plan set for months...but I'm not ready.  It's been a rough year.  It's been a rough week.  I'm going to need some cheerleaders to keep me in the race.  To get me to the starting line.

Obviously Early would have lead the Cheeto and B. Willard have stepped in.  They are wearing hand knit wool crowns that were gifted to me and Auntie Reg.  We had planned to wear them at the spring fiber festival...but Cheeto and B. Willard have stepped in.

For anyone not familiar with the Tour de Fleece, it is a spinning challenge that usually follows the Tour de France, but this year the actual bike race has been rescheduled to a later date I believe.  

Here are the specs from the main Tour de Fleece group on Ravelry

Challenge Yourself.
Have fun.
This year, the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday June 27 and runs until Sunday July 19, 2020.
Guidelines (NOT RULES):
Spin every day the Tour rides, if
possible. Saturday June 27 through
Sunday July 19th. Days of rest:
Monday, July 6th and Monday, July
13th. (Just like the actual tour.)
Spin something challenging on the challenge days (usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, the first one is Stage 9, on Sunday July 5, when the mountainous program of the day starts with the discovery of the Col de la Hourcère which will immediately precede the climb to the Col de Soudet. For the seventh time since the beginning of the Tour, the riders will ride at an altitude of over 1,500m. They will then battle it out on the extremely steep climb up to the Col de Marie Blanque before heading back down to Laruns. The second is stage 18, on Thursday, July 15th, when the course of the day is made for the most enduring climbers. Indeed over 4,000m of climbing will be on the menu. In the following order, the peloton will lead up to the Cormet de Roselend, then the Col des Saisies followed by Les Aravis and finally the Plateau des Glières, a key location of the French Resistance, before continuing towards La Roche-sur-Foron.
Wear yellow on Sunday July 19th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour - but here we are all ‘race leaders’) Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie).

You do not have to be a member of Ravelry to spin with the Punkin's Patch team.  That's where most of the daily fun happens, but feel free to spin on your own and challenge yourself.  Drop me an email or leave a comment if you'd like to keep us posted :-).

I'll try to get some fleece pictures tomorrow later today and outline my goal, but for now I'm headed to bed.  How did it get to be Wednesday already?!?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Good Morning!

We've had some beautifully cool weather the last few days.  Makes for a pretty, foggy sunrise.  This is a fun puzzle :-).

Monday, June 15, 2020


I opened the gate to let the main flock graze the side field over the weekend.  I do this fairly frequently.  We don't follow an actual rotational grazing plan, but when a paddock needs to be grazed down a little, the sheep are willing partners.

During an afternoon barn check I found Big Moose hanging out with his mom in the Easy Breezy stall.  He hasn't shown any interest in her in months.  I guess those were his independent teen age months.  Looks like they had a lot to catch up on.  She was really happy to see him :-).

Saturday, June 13, 2020

One Good Thing About The Pandemic

20's happy he doesn't have to worry about kids sticking their fingers up his nose anymore! Auntie Reg made him his own mask.  The store bought masks were just a little bit too small ;-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Sheep Treat

If you use Instagram and love sheep and aren't already following aswissshepherdswife, go give her a follow right now.  If you aren't on IG, this would be a great time to give it a try. This is a gorgeous feed throughout the year, but their spring and fall transhumance is an incredible treat. 

Transhumance is the seasonal moving of livestock, usually from low country to high and back again and again and again and is done many places in the world.  This family happens to be in the Swiss Alps.  It's even prettier than you could ever imagine.

While the still pictures are worth the visit on their own, what you really want to watch is her video"stories".  Once you follow her, you'll see any time she's posted a video update by watching the circles at the top of your own main page or by clicking the circle on the top left of her most recent post.

Remember that these stories only last 24 hours, so don't think "Oh, I'll catch up on this over the weekend."  You will miss out.  Some abbreviated stories will save on her main account page later, but you will want to watch them all, all the way through.  I promise.

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Fourth Picture

The first picture was good, but the fourth picture was better ;-).  Less distracting sunburst and better composition.

Evening light is my favorite.  Evening in general is my favorite.  Everything seems to take a deep breath and slowly exhale.  Some days it's the nice end to a good day.  Some days it's just a we made it to the end.  One of the few good parts of summer is the soft evening light after a long, too bright day.  

The trick to these pictures is waiting until the sunlight is perfect.  Or happening to notice the sun is perfect and grabbing your camera and running out.  It doesn't stay perfect for long.  The Golden Hour doesn't last quite an hour I've found.

Once the sunlight is perfect, you still need to work a bit.  It helps to filter the bright light through some trees.  Move around and watch how your camera reacts.  If it's too blown out, change your angle just a little.  Too dark?  Again, move around, put the sun behind a bigger tree...

If you want to get more technical, read up on metering so you'll better understand how your camera is thinking.  I also set my white balance to cloudy.  White balance and exposure compensation are two very basic camera tools everyone should learn to use.  Read your manual or look online.

The always photogenic Count Chocula.

This is too sunset-y, but I like the composition.  Daniel, Liddy, Kaala.

Muuufin :-)

This is Baaxter with the sun shining from the side...

...and now shining from behind.  I like the little bit more definition of the first picture, but the soft light of the second picture.  The background of the second picture is more interesting as well.

And this was my favorite picture of the evening.  Kaala with the light balanced just right behind the filtering trees.  It's also a new puzzle :-).

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The First Picture Tonight

I took a bunch of sunset picture this evening. This happens to be the first one. I like it. It might not be the best one...but it might be. I'll look at the rest tomorrow.  In the meantime, enjoy a new puzzle :-).

Friday, June 5, 2020

So Hot. So Humid.

It was this hot and humid yesterday.

It's going to be even hotter next week!

Big Moose has the craziest eyes.  Always perpetually startled.  They make him easy to spot, but you don't need to see his eyes to find him.  He's always right in front of you :-).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The First Picture

Just a random observation and probably of no interest to anyone but me, but it includes a sweet picture of Kate and B. Willard, so I'll share.  This is something that almost always happens and I think it's interesting.  

When I see something that is a potentially good photo, I take the picture and then take several more trying to make it a better picture.  I move around a little or adjust the aperture or exposure or what I'm focusing on...  I come in with a camera card full of pictures to choose from...and almost always pick the first shot I took.

I wish I'd had a different lens attached so I could have zoomed out a little more to include more of what Willard and Kate were looking at...but I probably would have still picked this one ;-).

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Captain Obvious

I've been trying to put up a blog post for a week.  I couldn't think of anything to write.  I couldn't find any pictures in any recent files that I wanted to share.  I actually looked at the camera (twice) and thought "I wish there was something good on there to download."  

Um, how about you try putting something ON the camera.

So I took a picture of Maisie.  She's always good for a photo op...and a new puzzle :-).

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

It Don't Do No Good To Get Angry

I went to the grocery yesterday to get some Epsom Salts and canned food for Comby...and I left my billfold at home.  I pulled out my car wash change stash and it looked like I had a little over $5.00.  Surely I could make that work.

Epsom Salts were more expensive than I thought, almost $5.00.  I added one can of cat food and headed to the cashier, hoping for the best.  "That will be $5.58, please."  Yikes, I might not have that much and I started counting, preparing to put the cat food back.  I had exactly, to the penny, $5.58. 

"Someone was looking out for you!"  Things like that happen to me frequently enough that while I have no actual idea how the universe works, I do feel like there could be "guardian angels" and usually I take a deep breath and say "Thank you." 

That was not what I was saying as I walked out to my car.  I felt like I was going to explode.  In my head I was yelling "You can count (blankety) change, but you can't watch out for a sweet little lamb?!?  I don't care about the (blankety) money!"  And I felt like an asshole.

Of course Auntie Reg got the brunt of all of this and the pretty well incoherent angry sobs of not only the meanness of the loss of Early on top of Abby, but of all those weeks of more great pictures and videos that I can now no longer bear to look at and how I don't remember...anything?...anymore about Abby and I already can no longer "see" Early out in the yard or in the barn with Willard and Cheeto  and all the people all over who who were now as heartbroken as me and how much extra I hurt for each person as I read so many kind, but sad words and maybe I shouldn't have posted so much and drug everyone in and then I said something about well maybe everyone else could still go back and look at the pictures and they wouldn't all have been for nothing...and as I was saying those words to Reg, amyfibre was typing "We will hold on to all the good memories for you until you can bear them again."
So my guardian angel, who, honestly, probably feels as bad as we do, couldn't save Early...but can count change...and send me an "Equinox Community of friends" who can all "sit with you on the porch, as the tears run down our cheeks. Imagining fetching you another beverage, patting a dog, looking out at the martins flying and the sheep grazing and the horses napping..."

I can't bear to look, but Early's probably out in the middle of the yard.  Or if he's not there, you might find him under the pine tree eating brambles.  Or checking on his chickens.  Maybe he's taking a nap with Cheeto or butting heads with Willard looking to see what he's eating.  Maybe he's strutting down the hill to go graze with the big boys or standing at the gate talking to the horses.  Maybe you'll get lucky and see him racing, leaping, skipping and spinning up the road.  And maybe one day I'll get brave enough to go back and watch the video of him jumping into the back of the car.  He was a wonder.

You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,Throw your hands in the air, say "; What does it matter?";But it don't do no good to get angry,So help me I know.    
John Prine, Bruised Orange

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Pieces Of My Heart

I slept in the kitchen with Abby because she was always so sick I was afraid to be in the other room and not know if she was in trouble.  It was one of the nicest parts, waking up with her right there every morning.  Or at least I remember that I loved that.

Because I remembered that I loved that part, I didn't hesitate to pull out my bedroll and sleep in the kitchen with Early his first couple of nights.  He'd had a stressful start to life.  Having his "mom" nearby all night would be a comfort.

Early never slept in his crate.  He'd go in there to hang out sometimes, but he always slept out in front of it with my bedroll and pillow flanking him.  When he got hungry, he'd wake me up.  We'd fix a baba, he'd go pee on a towel and then we'd lay back down in our beds and go right back to sleep. 

When he was little I'd wake up to find his tiny nose tucked in the corner of my blanket, next to my pillow.  As he got bigger, I'd wake to his sweet face up on my pillow.  And it seemed silly to sleep on the floor in the kitchen with a lamb, but it made me so very, very happy to wake up like that.  And even if the world hadn't gone crazy and scary and so incredibly sad, I'd have slept there. 

I tried several times to take pictures of his face tucked in with mine, but it was always too dark.  And one click of the camera would alert him to me being awake and he'd jump up, ready for a baba and then we'd hit the ground running. 

Two nights ago the weather finally broke enough that I decided we could both move out to the porch.  I rearranged the furniture, set up our beds.  It took him awhile to settle in and go to sleep.  So long that I almost gave up and moved us back inside, but with my hand resting on his back, he finally fell asleep.  We had a good night and I woke to find his head snuggled on my bedroll.  And I took a picture.

Our morning started like normal.  Baba, coffee, cereal on the sidewalk while he happily grazed in the yard.  By mid morning something was wrong and we headed to the vet.  By mid afternoon he was gone.  Autopsy showed a fast acting clostridial infection even though he'd been vaccinated against that. 

Was the vaccine bad?  Did he not get enough colostrum when he was born?  I try to be so incredibly careful feeding lambs because of this risk.  Is it our grass?  Did I stress him too much by making him sleep out on the porch?  I can't stop it.

It took months to get over losing Abby.  Many months.  Two years later, I still can't look back at her pictures and videos.  It's all I can do to post this last picture of Early today.  I am so angry.  And so hurt.  

"...the pieces of my heart that have been ripped away from me..."  Iris Dement

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Stand By Me

This might be my favorite horse picture to date.  At least the top five.  I wish Frankie didn't have his grazing muzzle on, but with all that green grass, it would be a death sentence if he didn't.  It sure is pretty, but it's not doing anyone any favors here...except a photographer.

Both this picture and yesterday's are new puzzles :-).  Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Early Foggy Morning

Or Early, Foggy Morning ;-).

We woke to heavy fog this morning.  A complete white out.  As I walked around the yard with Early while he did a little early morning grazing with Willard, I snapped some pictures with my phone...and thought to myself, "Sigh, I wish I had my big camera."  

Um, the big camera is just inside the house.  So I trekked All The Long Way Back In...which I can do without upsetting Early because he's just that good, and took some pretty pictures this morning.  I have a nice horse shot that I'll post tomorrow.

I've been wanting to do a blog all week, but thought I didn't have any new pictures to share and I feel a bit weird reposting Instagram pictures over here because I figure if anyone wanted to see Instagram pictures...they'd be following or at least watching the Instagram feed already.  Maybe that's not the case.  Let me know.

Anyway, as I was scrolling back through my phone last night looking for something, I found a whole series of pictures I took of a bee swarm Stella and I picked up a week or so ago and had already even forwarded them to my computer specifically for a blog post.  I can't get out of my own way sometimes.

Sorry for the long break in blog posts.  This is my diary.  I'm going to regret the missing posts.  I already do.  

Sunday, May 10, 2020


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