Monday, July 30, 2007

A Not Quite As Soft, But Much More Exciting Place To Sit

Today was final exam day for Woodstock. I waited for all the cats to crash out (not a long wait), took a chair, bottle of water, my knitting basket and camera and parked under the coolest shade tree I could find. I opened the door to Woodstock's pen and sat back to watch.

I don't often take time to just sit outside. I should. It is a beautiful place, full of all sorts of interesting sights and sounds - birds, bugs, breezes (thankfully) and blooms. This Praying Mantis was quite charming.

While I'm normally complaining that these characters are not pulling their weight, today their sleep was just what I wanted. Perfect for a young bird taking his first steps into the big world.

Iris is, of course, always watchful.

He waited a bit to start exploring, but you could tell he was intrigued. He then spent an hour or so walking around flexing his muscles and then at 3:15 he took flight. I continued to sit and wait to see if he would find his way back so I could run interference if anyone woke up - no worries there. He did return after about an hour and seemed to have found a buddy. My luck, this is his mother and she will have decided sending her teenager off to boarding school has worked out just fine.

He came back to the feeder a couple more times and by 7:30 he was obviously exhausted, so I decided to put him back in his cage for the night. At first he was happy to be there - got a big drink, ate some special Woodstock food, sat on his favorite perch, but by 9:00 he was agitated and wanted to go back out. I handed down some 'tough love' though and tried to explain that he'd be safer his first night out if he wasn't so tired and that tomorrow he could do what he wished. I'm proud of him, but kind of sad, too.

A Soft Place To Sit

Over the weekend I took a class at Stone's Throw Artisans. Ann Brown came in to teach how to make her wonderful braided roving rugs. Our class project was a chair pad and we could either bring our own roving (clean wool combed into long rope-like strips) or purchase some from her or Stone's Throw. I brought Emily's fleece.

While the Jacob's look like they are brown and white at shearing time, they are actually black and white under the sun bleached tips. By combining different amounts of each color, you can create a wide range of beautiful silvers to dark pewter and, of course, black or white.

In the morning we prepared our braids. Ann worked some felting magic during the lunch break and we returned to assemble our mini rugs that afternoon. Everyones rug turned out just perfect and it was fun to see how the colors played out in each design.

Ann and her friend Letty Klein have written a wonderful book "The Shepherd's Rug, A Braided Wool Rug from Roving" (sorry - can't figure out how to underline :-/). Not only do they teach their techniques, but also provide good general information and beautiful color photographs of rugs made from several different types of wool for inspiration. I'm sure you can find it on Amazon, but remember to always look first at your local yarn store. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Flight School

Woodstock has matriculated into bird high school. His new "school" is 6' long and about 4' tall and wide. I set it up with branches from three different trees or shrubs he will find throughout the yard plus his favorite perch from his grade school cage and also a bird bath, if he's so inspired. Graduation day can't be too far away.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Potato Chips

Sheep are like potato chips - you can't stop at just one. We recently traveled to Nistock Farms in New York to pick up a Cotswold lamb. Luckily we didn't bring the truck and trailer and a fat checkbook... and we never even made it to the ewe field. The plan was simple - one lamb, large dog crate, small SUV with air conditioning - everyone travels in safety, comfort and style. In reality? The Beverly Hillbillies.

He was just so pretty. I couldn't help myself. Beside, they travel better in pairs (wink, wink, nod, nod).

The Woodstock update is good. He's definitely a dove and growing up fast. He's been learning all his lessons in bird school and I'm starting to plan for his safe release. Maybe this weekend when we are all here to keep an eye on everyone.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bird School

This is Woodstock. In our short time together, we've made quite a few memories. Most he (or she) does not appreciate.

I found this bird on Thursday morning in Miss Tilly's mouth - no obvious injuries, but covered in dog saliva - not good for birds. Put him in a bucket and then hid him in some bushes after the cat's nap time began. Hoped for the best, but realistic. Friday evening, I ran over him out in the yard with the lawnmower :-/. Assumed he was (already) dead, but amazingly still hanging on even though he was very cold and surely now scared half to death. Back to the bucket and placed in the sun to warm up. At this point I feel obligated to at least make sure his life ended peacefully and not full of trauma or starvation.

My best guess was that he was a starling (not the sort of bird a rescue organization is going to take in) and looked up food substitutes - luckily they recommended the very kind of dog food we feed. Very messy eater though - not a starling, but something that wants to eat out of his momma's mouth, not by having food placed into his open mouth - possibly a dove? Now, three days later, he is growing like a weed, getting lots of feathers, eating the heck out of the dog food, moved into a bigger cage and having a big time at bird school.

In an effort to get him out of the "nest" a little quicker, I put the cage out under the bird feeder this morning so he could watch the other birds eat. Not only has he practiced hopping/flying up on the branch perch and grooming, but he has at least looked at the water and food bowls. Moving to the head of the class!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Barn Quilt

There are painted quilt squares popping up on barns all over the central United States. We have several now in Harrison County and Equinox Farm has just added to the "Clothesline". It still needs to be sealed, so it's not quite ready to hang (the local power company is handling that, thank goodness), but the painting part is finished and I wanted to share.

The appliqued design was inspired by our native plant pond, aka The Frog Pond, which is surrounded by goldenrod (our state flower), iron weed, joe pye weed, cattails, sedges, cardinal flower, purple coneflower and brown eyed susans. There are many more native plants around the actual pond, but those are some of our favorites and lent themselves well to the design. We included a frog (naturally) and a viceroy butterfly (our state butterfly) and a honey bee, as those are some of the many gifts that native plants bring.

Ewenice was good company. Ewen got fired his second day on the job. Apparently painting itself is not nearly as fun as destroying the painting supplies. He was pretty cute with white (primer) lipstick, but cute only gets you so far.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fourth Of July

Thanks to all the men and women who have and are still serving our country, I was able to take a break from mowing the back field this afternoon to catch a picture of our flag flying proud. We have our problems for sure, but as a country we still have so much to be thankful for. Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Enough With The Stupid Cats

All I'm going to say is if I have to constantly trip over your sleeping body as I go about my WORK during the day, if I get a chance to post an embarrassing picture of you on the WORLD WIDE WEB, I'm doing it.

At least you managed to finally get yourself off the floor.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

How Very, Very Sad

Poor Little Claire-Bear. How awful of me to take away your hay bed. Thankfully a clump of wool fell off the wool dryer so you could at least have a small pillow. I just don't know how you stand it sometimes.

I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon chopping thistles out of our neighbor's fence line. Not even a good fence will make a good neighbor sometimes. You would think a good farm dog, or at very least, Brushy, would come along to help. There seemed to be more pressing business up on the porch...ahem. Ewen McTeagle to the rescue! He happily followed me all the way out to the far corner and even ate some weeds as we worked our way back to the barn.

Now, he's not always so helpful. Tim was hauling one of five huge trailer loads of tree damage back to the large pond the other day. We decided to leave several piles of brush back there to help provide habitat for birds and other small critters. He didn't want the dogs following, so he latched the mesh gate at the end of the barn. Iris tried to jump over, didn't clear it and got her leg hung. Tim heard her screaming and ran back to grab her, but couldn't get her leg free. I was up at the house and couldn't hear him yelling for help, so he decided to let Ewen and Ewenice out thinking that Ewen would run to the porch and get my attention. This "looks good on paper", but those two ran past him and ducked right into the open hay stall. I can so see this happening - poor Tim.

All's well that ends well though. He was able to somehow get the entire gate off the hinges and carry it, with Iris attached, to the front of the barn. Luckily I soon stepped out on the porch and heard him yelling. Iris, unbelievably, was fine after we cut her loose. No thanks to the anti-Lassies.


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