Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eat A Peach!

So, we've established that there are good days and there are bad days, but I'm pretty sure that no day is ever so bad that it can't be helped by a fresh, sweet, juicy, right off the tree, peach.

The hardest working little peach tree has just outdone herself this summer. We've eaten sink peaches (where you have to eat them over the sink to keep the juice that runs down your arm off the floor), peach fritters, peach cobbler and my mother even taught me to make peach jam last weekend. This evening neighbor Stella is making homemade peach ice cream.

I cannot wait!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Living The Dream...Or How I Regularly Get Beat Up By A Little Old Lady

Two things I regularly hear: "You know, you are living my dream life" and "Wow, your barn is cleaner than my house." First of all, frequently my barn is cleaner than my house, and secondly, days like today make that commute to the big city look not so bad.

In less than four hours I was attacked not once, but twice by our new rooster (drew blood both times), wrestled 16 sheep so that I could trim their hooves and check for any more (hopefully not) unplanned pregnancies, nicked my thumb with the hoof trimmers (the third time I bled today), was gored (by accident) twice and (not by accident) once. And even though it was fairly cool in the barn, by the time I came in for lunch, I was so sweaty and dirty that I had to take a shower just so I could go cool off in the pool.

So who is this little old lady?

Crazy Esther.

We don't know for sure how old she is, but she looks ancient. Her teeth are still pretty good, but she's shrunken down to an almost frail size, hobbles around on arthritic legs and her face is covered in gray. Esther has been with us for many years now and I'm no longer surprised at her behavior. In fact, she's made the blog at least once before showcasing her craziness. While I'd prefer she just go along with whatever I'm trying to do, there is a little part of me that admires her tenacity and we enjoy her presence in our family.

The rooster? He'd better watch his back because he's gonna' be looking for a "nice farm in the country" that ain't ours!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I've Created A Monster

How about a little Sunshine video :-D.

To set the scene, she and Caspar Belly (aka Spooky Tooth - Saint Tim always comes up with better names) are hiding out in Woolliam and Petunia's stall after breakfast. Woolliam, Petunia and the mommas have all headed on out to the front field. Quickly though they realize the kids aren't following, so they come back to hurry them along.

Now, you'll see Spooky knows better than to push it with momma Emily, but sweet little Sunshine? She doesn't show her face and you can see momma Heidi start to panic and go look elsewhere while Sunshine peaks out and snickers. She does eventually follow Spooky out, but then turns around and lolly gags for a bit before finally "straightening up and flying right".

The end is a gift of a few seconds of morning farm time. Make sure your volume is turned up.

Stupid Woolliam Tricks

We have to separate everyone at feeding time so no one gets too much or too little to eat or the wrong type of food or gets bullied, etc. Woolliam has figured out how to open his gate when he's finished. Now this might seem really simple, but in reality it's fairly impressive. An animal's natural instinct is to push things, not pull them towards themselves.

Now, I like the first clip because you can see how Petunia takes advantage of big brother Woolliam (why learn to do it yourself, eh?), but I don't like the extra couple of seconds at the end and Woolliam doesn't look as slick getting through the gate himself. So, for a few extra cookies, he'll willingly go back in and do it over. And over. And over. Quite the professional movie star.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I'm Sure There's A Simple Explanation

I looked down from my office computer a little while ago and saw this.

Now, most of you will see this and say "um, looks like a bunch of silly stuffed sheep and a guardian burro." I see a bunch of silly stuffed sheep with a guardian burro...and one sheep out front, facing/addressing the others. While I'm not really one to interfere, I do have to admit there is a tiny part of me that is a teeny bit concerned.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back In The Saddle Again

On this final weekend of the Tour de Fleece, I took a break from knitting and decided to sample a couple fleeces for my next, next sweater.

The white (it really is :-/) yarn on the right is Cotswold Buddy's 2nd shearing and the yarn on the left was spun from a beautiful crossbred fleece purchased from a friend (that in addition won a ribbon at Maryland this year :-).

Interestingly, both were spun at about the same thickness (there's probably a scientific term for that), but the dark yarn "puffed" (another proper term for ya') whereas the Cotswold didn't, but has such a nice halo, that so far it's the winner. I've woven with yarn like that, but never knitted anything fuzzy...

There's always something new to look forward to on my never ending Tour de Fleece!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nine Lives?

Well, using my best Jethro cipherin' skills, I figger that Sunshine has to have used up at least four of her lives so far. Between nearly dying when she was first born, two bouts of pneumonia and yesterday wedging herself somewhere that no lamb should possibly been able to go and getting stuck in the blazing sun in the middle of the afternoon next to a black barn, it's a miracle she's still with us...and ornery as ever - probably the only thing that has kept her going.

Her latest crisis du jour (see, I'm still speaking french ;-) is that between her being weak and sickly so much of her almost three weeks, her momma has stopped producing tons of milk. Heidi's doing the best she can, but I can tell Sunshine's hungry - she tries to nurse anything that she can put in her mouth. The logical thing would be to get her started on a supplementary bottle, so I headed over to a friends to get some goat milk.

First off though, let me tell you this story. I built a small creep feeder in her ICU stall last week. She went in there immediately (her own idea) and started munching lamb feed. Oh good I thought, this will work perfect. Later in the day when I was making yet another check on her, I stuck her in there myself. Oh brother. "Don't you tell me what to do!" and she hasn't gone back in since.

So, I've made three or four attempts on the bottle over a couple days. Tried different bottles, nipples, buckets... Again with the attitude - ears back, head up, defiant tilt to the jaw.

Interestingly, I've only had one other sheep that belligerent - Punkin - and he too was a sickly lamb with at least nine lives who probably should never have lived to maturity. Here she is (via camera phone) taking a nap in one of her other feed tubs this morning.

Her idea...obviously.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Why must I always end up being the good example for how not to do something. Sigh.

To give myself a little credit, I did do a couple things right. I did measure the yardage of my Tour de Fleece spinning and compare it to the pattern I had picked before I started knitting. Well, maybe that's the only thing I did right. This is where I discovered the flat tire, broken spoke, or possibly the wheel fell straight off the bicycle - a major wreck. I was 180 yards short. I measured it twice. 180 yard short. I'm still a beginning knitter, but yikes, that seems pretty much way. too. short.

I had spun by weight and assumed that would be fine - lesson one. And yes, I did a sample yarn, liked it and kept it by my wheel for the entire time I spun. All I can guess is that maybe one shouldn't be spinning for specifics when one is either worrying about sick lambs or listening to coverage of the Brett Favre un-retirement saga - lesson two. The yarn is too short because I spun it too thick and tight - my worsted is more like heavy worsted. It took a couple days to fully embrace the "opportunities" this has created.

While I do have a little of those fleeces left and could get some more of that blend mixed and carded, I would be nervous about not exactly matching the color. Also, there is the weight issue and not ending up with exactly what I wanted. So, luckily the second favorite pattern in A Fine Fleece is a vest that calls for heavy worsted. Perfect. Also, the advice that a textured or cable pattern would be better for that darker yarn anyway is correct and the trinity stitch is dead easy and almost mindless, which at this point can only be a plus.

So, I'm not sure how I finish for the Tour de Fleece, but I did spin up the entire amount I'd pulled out of my stash for the challenge. I did not get the yarn I wanted for the pattern I had picked though. I did, as always, learn a lot, and I did get a pretty yarn that will work just fine for another project that I'll enjoy working on...and again, most likely, learn a lot.

And, as the Wednesday Is Knit Night ladies have finally instilled in me, "It's only knitting."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stop, Drop And Roll

What do you do when it's so hot and humid that your panty hose are melting and your hair's all afrizz?




Meet Attie, Aria's new buddy. In all her life, Aria's only had one other girlfriend, Indy. The rest of the time she has either lived by herself or with the Ass Brothers, who boss her around and pick on her unmercifully. We are happy to welcome Attie to the farm and if she never pulls a carriage, she's earned her keep by being kind.

You gotta' stick by your girlfriends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

'Round The Orchard

Definitely the hardest working peach tree. Brushy and Weaslie? Not so much.

Plum beautiful.

Apple pie anyone?

And what do we have here?

The end of Stage Two of the Tour de Fleece :-D.

Branching Out

Yes, the white stuff all over Sunshine's little bottom is diaper rash cream. She's still having some urinary issues and we are trying to keep her skin protected. However, this is not just any diaper rash cream. This is....

There is no telling what else that boy is up to, and only Saint Tim could come home from the grocery with a find like this.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Pretty little Sunshine had a couple bad days, but has rallied over the weekend and even got to join a play group this evening and meet her cousins.

"My name is Sunshine. What's yours?"

"Wheeeeeeeee!" I wish this picture wasn't blurry, but it made me so happy to see her playing with Caspar Belly I wanted to share. I also like the two moms staying close behind when you know they'd much rather be relaxing.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tour de Fleece - Stage Two

I don't really follow the actual Tour de France, but as I understand it, the race is done in "stages".

So, stage one of my Tour de Fleece being the trip across the river to have my "stash" prepared for spinning, stage two must follow as some actual spinning, and look, I am well underway.

I have four bobbins of about 4 1/4 oz singles that I have wound off into center pull balls.

My spinning is not as consistent as I'd like, and I've decided I am going to match each ball up with an appropriate plying partner -say one too skinny with one too fat - when I'm done so that each skein should be just about the same. I hope. Currently 1 and 3 and 2 and 4 are paired, but the standings might change as the race continues.

And, since I am still a learning spinner, here are some observations along route so far.

1. Nice commercially prepared roving is sweet.

2. When it's nine million degrees and so humid you want to kill yourself, no one can spin perfect. Turn the AC up or wait until nightfall.

3. If you are exhausted and bleary eyed from caring for and crying about a sick lamb, for God's sake go make one last check of the barn and go to bed!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Babies Everywhere

As rough a go as little Sunshine and Heidi had, Emily and her new baby hit the other end of the spectrum yesterday. Saint Tim checked her at 7:00 p.m. and saw no signs of impending babies, and in true Jacob fashion, by 8:00 she'd had her baby (a single thank goodness), had her all cleaned and up and nursing and they were both headed back outside when we got there.

"Can I go play with my cousin Clover Belly?"

"Okay, let's play!"

Down for a nap.

And look who's up and running here! Our little Sunshine is getting stronger every day.

And She's Off!

Not "off" off (take it easy!), but off to the races. I signed up for the 2008 Tour de Fleece. My challenge is to spin the B&B yarn for the sweater I picked out from the new A Fine Fleece, knitting with handspun yarns. If you already have the book, it's the "Harriet" pattern. If you don't already have the book, run out to your local yarn shop and grab one. It's fabulous!

I realize I'm starting from behind the pack, but I already had the appointment at Ohio Valley Natural Fibers on the 8th, so I decided I'd just have to work hard to come back from behind. We had a great time running up there and Saint Tim aka Two Sheds and aka mapboy even came up with a route that involved taking the ferry across the river at Augusta!

The folks at OVNF were fabulous to work with and were kind enough to let me go back and watch some of our fleeces being processed while we waited. The two colored wool in these pictures is the B&B mix - 75% Boudreaux (black with the faded tips snipped off) and 25% Buddy (white Cotswold). I'd saved Buddy's lamb fleece from his first shearing back in the early summer last year to go with Boudreaux's lamb fleece shorn this spring. The solid white in the other pictures is the rest of Buddy's lamb fleece combined with Woolliam's lamb fleece shorn a couple weeks ago.

So, in 25 words or less, you blend in the appropriate ratios of colored wool and put it in the magic cave,

it picks it's way up the spikes,

into the next bin,

onto the carding rollers

and then out the side

where it's hand stuffed into a box, taped up and then practically explodes when you open it when you get home. It just does not get any better than this!

I'm going to spin this on my Jensen Production wheel,

and if I didn't have a new baby last night (oops, spoiler for the next blog entry ;-), I'd already have my first 2 ounces spun. At this rate Saint Tim thinks I'm going to need some performance enhancing drugs. Can't figure out if that would be wine, coffee or good chocolate.

I might use the "shotgun" approach and try all three.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


This sweet little lamb is the newest character in our story.

She's had a rough go of it, but is doing us quite proud and when I went out this morning to check on her, she was already standing up, ready to face the day. This is a big improvement from her first 36 hours when she was so weak we had to help her up to nurse.

This is not her or her mother Heidi's fault. Completely ours. We should never have trusted that the 1/2 ram who is her father - and also her older brother (!) - was safe to leave in with the ewes. According to the books, and even our vet, under normal conditions, he should not have been able to get anyone bred. Things are never normal around here.

So, Heidi and I are working hard to give her the best chance we can, but she has a spinal issue and possibly a urinary problem as well. However, when I saw her standing up looking at me as I walked into the barn this morning, I couldn't help but smile and say...

"Good morning Sunshine!"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

B & B

After last night's storms and through-the-night lambing checks, I could really use some bed and breakfast, but around here, B & B is known as Buddy and Boudreaux.

I just love this picture, with Buddy showing off his "hops".

I trimmed off the brown ends of Boudreaux's fleece, and spun by itself it was surprisingly matte and, of course, dark. So much so that it was hard to even see the stitches enough to knit a sample, much less to go to the trouble of adding any design elements. I wanted something more interesting than a straight knit sweater, so back to the drawing board.

I blended in some of Buddy's shiny Cotswold curls and bingo.

This is the sample swatch with a portion of the test pattern. Here is the delimma. While held up to the light, the pattern shows quite nicely.

Here it is on the off-white carpet, closer to what it would look like worn over a white turtleneck. Still too dark?

Friday, July 4, 2008

See What I Have To Live With?

I'm not going to bother with a time line. Just suffice to say that this lasted ALL DAY. No, we do not have a hundred cats. These are all the same cats. They just staggered into new places and positions ALL DAY.

That would be Comby, the new cat, sleeping on his back. I told you he'd settled right in. Good grief.

I, at least, finally caught up on some spinning. Two of the small black sample skeins (that you can't really see, I know) are a blend of Boudreaux and Buddy's lamb fleeces. I knit a swatch last night for the sweater I want to make and it was beautiful and measured dead on. I'm so excited!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin