Friday, July 19, 2019

Old Friends And Family

"Hi, my name is Salt.  I don't know why I'm here. I miss my old farm and my old family.  I'd been there a long time, almost 14 years.  This farm is okay though.  At least there are sheep here.  The other flock dog is nice to me and I've known the shepherd since she came over to my old farm and picked up a lamb named Keebler."

Salt was one of the guardians at the "big farm", where the Final Frontier Farm mommas and babies live after they leave the lambing barn.  She worked there with Old Zee and Brick and the job they did there was epic...yet standard as good flock dogs go.  

Old Zee passed away last year.  The summer farm help ran over Brick a couple weeks ago.  Taking care of hundreds of lambs was a big job for three dogs.  It would be impossible for one very old one.  The scramble to find a replacement was on.  

Guardian dogs are bred to do a job and that job is what they want to do.  The instinct even in puppies is incredibly strong, but they need many months of on the job experience with guidance and supervision before they fully ready to work a big farm with freshly weaned lambs.  Kathy needed to quickly find an adult dog, not an easy task.

Her best option was a female with four puppies on her.  She could borrow the mother until she found something else, but the puppies would obviously come with her.   Putting two females together safely would have been incredibly hard.  A female with puppies...would have undoubtedly killed Salt.

Stella, at the lambing farm, made it perfectly clear that Salt was not welcome there either. They know each other from some past incidents.  Those instincts that make them good guardians are the same instincts that get them into trouble sometimes.  Flock dogs can be complicated. 

Salt's only safe option would be living in a kennel run. Nobody wanted that.  Guardian dogs are bred to do a job and that job is what they want to do.  We offered to try her here.  Our farm is well fenced, Hank, a male, is as laid back as they come and there are sheep.  Several sheep she even already knew.

The first night was terrible.  She was horribly confused and upset.  I slept in the barn with her and neither of us got much sleep.  The next day she relaxed a little, but as evening came she got very agitated again.   Maybe she was thinking she needed to be out working her old farm. The stormy weather wasn't helping anything either.

As the days have progressed, she's seeming happier.  She likes the barn with the cool, dark feed and tack rooms.  Tim moved the trailer (aka spaceship) next to the barn, but she prefers to sleep out in the driveway under the truck.  She hasn't made any patrols yet that I'm aware of, but she does like hanging out with the sheep.  

Hank is fine :-). 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Shouldn't You Be Spinning?

"Yes.  Yes I should.  I'll get right on that, ma'am."

The Tour de Fleece continues.  I have 12 ounces spun so far.  I'm hoping to hit the one pound mark this evening.  

I'm not sure why Maisie was the only sheep up and moving around when I peeked into the barn a few minutes ago.  Everyone else is miserable and cashed out.  The weather is hotter than H-E-double hockey sticks. I get it...

Just kidding, cute little devil ;-D.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Other Frog Pond

For the last maybe 12 years now (?) I've had a small swimming pool in the orchard.  I may have mentioned before how much I hate summer?  Yeah... Well, the pool really helped...until the last two years.  

As the orchard grew and the trees got taller, the pool became more and more shaded.  Shaded to the point that the pool didn't heat up enough during the day to be comfortable enough to jump in at will.  Sure, you could 'woman up' and get in and then it did cool you down, but it wasn't always easy to talk myself into it.

At the end of the summer last year I decided the pool dream was officially over.  Even a solar cover didn't help enough to justify the work and expense of a pool that I only used for a couple super hot days here and there.  I'd turn it over to the frogs.

Fast forward to the brutally hot summer we are having this year.  In an effort to stay out of the papers...and prison...I decided I'd try one last pool.  If I switched the deeper pool for a shallower pool, there'd be less water to heat up each day.  Maybe that would work?

In the meantime, the old pool was now full of tadpoles.  It wasn't their fault that I'd changed my mind.  I toyed with scooping them out and taking them out to the farm ponds, but I love my yard frogs.  Maybe I could create a little habitat for them and they could safely stay?

All of our sheep (except Ewen McTeagle...who knows...) seem to prefer to drink from a galvanized tank, so I had an extra 50 gallon water Rubbermaid tank with shade cover stored at the barn. I hauled it down, added some sand and pond/pool water, some leaves and tree limbs and then scooped out and relocated as many tadpoles and water bugs as I could.

I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting out there watching them and listening to them as I go to sleep at night.  I cover them up during the heat of the day, because yes, a short tank will heat up much faster than a deep tank ;-).  

I forgot to uncover them last night, but remembered as I was listening to them calling.  I walked out in the bright moonlight to set the top aside and everyone got very quiet.  I hoped they'd eventually start back up, but..."crickets".  

I'd recorded a short video just a few minutes earlier, so I played it back to them and soon all was back well (and loud :-) in frog land and I drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Busy As A Butterfly

My Tour de Fleece spinning the first four days was...a bit disappointing. I did spin every day, but not the two ounces I'd "budgeted" for each day and I was slipping way behind.  After some encouragement from the Wool House Crafters last night, I put my "butt in seat" this afternoon and got quite a bit done.  The "butt in seat" principle may apply to other aspects of life, but I haven't fully researched that ;-).

As I worked, I watched a beautiful butterfly working the Blanket Flowers outside the front windows. I now know it's a Red Admiral.  I've seen one Monarch so far, but haven't started looking for eggs and caterpillars yet.  I've also seen a couple Swallowtails.  I planted parsley and dill to encourage more of them and milkweed for the Monarchs.  Fingers crossed :-).

Click to biggify this picture :-).

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Start Of The 2019 Tour De Fleece

As I posted last week, our team captain this year is Maisie.  She's let it go to her head just a little, but so far, so good...unless something has happened late today and I haven't heard yet.  I happen to have a small sheep in my "inside flock" that reminds me of Maisie, so I've picked her to be my spinning mascot.

She's wearing a warm jacket because I have turned the air conditioner in the Wool House on high :-o.

I'm spinning something pretty neat this year.  17 years ago, when I was just getting started with our wool flock, we were gifted five Jacob sheep from a kind shepherdess in Indiana.  I really didn't know what to do with So Much Wool (hahahahaha), so I had some processed into roving and some into quilt batts.  

I think I must have divided up the black and white wools because I remember having some light gray batts and one dark one that I kept for myself in hopes I could find someone to make a real quilt from our barn quilt. Sigh...

You know...I thought this spring...rather than just sitting in the loft, that dark batt could be re-run as roving.  Roving from our very first five Jacob sheep.  Wouldn't that be neat?  Like an historical do-over now that I'm a better spinner...and those sheep are no longer with us.

This year for the Tour I'm spinning Elizabeth, Esther, Jester, Joshua and Jacob :-).  There are 2.5 pounds of dark gray roving.  I'd like to spin all of that, but I'm off to a slow start, so I may not be able to reach that goal...but I'm going to try.

So what is Mini Maisie looking at in the picture above?

The legacy of those five Jacobs :-).

And we're off!

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Post You've Been Waiting For

Yes, Big Moose and Mini Moose now live with us :-).  Also Big Moose's mom and one of her friends.  We are still playing around with names for everyone.  Big Moose probably works, but Mini Moose seems like a name you might not want to live with for the rest of your life.  

Big Moose

I was worried that he wouldn't "tame down" very well as he's always been a bit bug eyed and flighty, but he was the first to succumb to cookies and scratches :-).

Big Moose's mom.  Also known as the "smiley ewe" from a post from last year.  She and I partnered up last year after I took her picture out in the field.  Interestingly, I have a file picture of her saved from 2014, so I must have always liked her.  I need to pull out an old Lamb Camp calendar and see if she was featured in there.

The two boys are best buds.  That's Big Moose on the left and Mini Moose on the right.  I love that he still has his distinct stripe.

We have had just miserable hot and humid weather for over a week now.  Just. Miserable.  In order to quarantine the new sheep, we had to put them in Del Boca Vista...which is really nice in the winter...and miserably hot in the summer.  I try to never put sheep in there when it's hot.

The two tents set up between the DBV shed and the barn are an attempt to add some shade for them.  The front gets blazing sun in the morning and the back/side gets cooked in the afternoon.  Everyone seems to be getting along okay, but we all wish the weather would break :-(.

Mini Moose.  I love his coloring.  It's almost like he waded in a black stream that came up to his belly while his top coloring is silvery light gray.  Both boys have lovely fleeces :-).

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Yarn Along - A Barnyard Scarf

One of my favorite things to do is to sit down and spin yarn from our flock.  I have a big plan for the Tour de Fleece this year involving spinning enough yarn for a sweater, but mostly I only get allow myself an hour or so here and there and then I end up with baskets full of small amounts of yarn...that just sit there.  

I do enjoy the baskets of yarn.  There's something joyful about all the different colors, textures, weights and especially all the individual sheep tucked in there, but I've been trying to think of something special to make that would utilize those small skeins.

I decided to try weaving a multi-yarn scarf.  I used my handspun bits and bobs for the warp (the up and down threads) and some Nistock Farms Golden Fleece Cotswold singles for the weft (the side to side threads).  

Since the warp threads were all different thicknesses, I used a reed that would accommodate the thickest yarns.  Actually, I started with a 6 dent reed (6 ends per inch) but didn't like it and, you know, ripped it out ;-).  The 8 dent reed worked reasonably well, but a 10 would have been better.

I wanted to showcase the individual handspun yarns rather than the solid color weft, so I worked for a warp faced weave (more warp showing than weft).  I know who most of the yarns are.  The white Cotswold is Keebler, the warm brown is Petunia, the thinner white is Peabody, the too thick for the 10 dent reed gray is Rebecca Boone, the medium weight gray is probably Jester...

And it's too hot to even ask 20 to model it, so I hung it on the barn ladder.  Next to the fire extinguisher :-o.  

Some day it will cool down enough to wear.

Regarding books...I have lost the energy to listen to "grown up" books and after Thoroughly Enjoying the Terry Prachett young adult books last year, decided to delve into the Newbery Medal Winners list this year.  I may just stay there.  I've listened to The Girl Who Drank the Moon, The One and Only Ivan, Moon Over Manifest, Walk Two Moons and Bridge to Terabithia.  I've also listened to Some Kind of Courage and The Last Bus to Wisdom: A Novel.

I highly recommend them all :-).

Monday, July 1, 2019

Excuse Me?!?

"I ain't riding a bike nowhere in this heat!"

...and the 2019 Tour de Fleece is already heading off the rails ;-D.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Are You Ready To Treadle?

The 2019 Tour de France/Tour de Fleece starts next Saturday, July 6.  As always, the Punkin's Patch team will be loosely following the schedule of the actual race and the primary purpose of this world wide spinning challenge is to have fun learning something new or doing something challenging, but mostly to Just Sit Down And Spin.  

Maisie is going to be our team captain this year.  Yes, Maisie :-o.  We would normally never put her in any position of leadership or authority, but she's been exceptionally agreeable lately so I think our wheels, spindles and wool should be safe...mostly ;-).

The main group will be checking in and cheerleading here (the best fun), but you can spin along with us without joining the online group and just shoot me an email to let me know you are spinning and what your goal is and how well you complete it by the end.  There will be prizes :-).

Ready to start peddling/treadling?

*     *     *     *     *

Challenge Yourself.  
Have fun.
This year, the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday July 6 and runs until Sunday July 28th, 2019.
Guidelines (NOT RULES):
Spin every day the Tour rides, if 
possible. Saturday July 6 through 
Sunday July 28th. Days of rest: 
Tuesday, July 16th and Monday, July 
22nd. (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 12, on Thursday July 18, when, Following the start in Toulouse the route travels flat to rolling roads for more than 120 kilometres before the first mountain appears. The Col de Peyresourde (15.2 kilometres at 6.1%) is crested at kilometre 138 and the riders plunge down to the valley. Up next is La Hourquette d’Ancizan, which is a 9.9 kilometres climb at 7.5%. . The second is stage 19, on Friday, July 26th, when the riders leave for Tignes on a short yet demanding route. Basically, the road goes up once the flag is dropped – not dramatically, but stoically. On rolling and constantly sloping terrain the riders reach Montée d’Aussois after almost 40 kilometres and following a short drop it continues like before. The route moves through Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis and tackles the Col d’Iseran, a climb of 32.9 kilometres with an average gradient of 4.2%. Sure, the sheer distance is a killer, but even more so are the last 3 kilometres with double digit ramps
Wear yellow on Sunday July 28th 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).

Friday, June 28, 2019

Gone To The Birds

"This place has completely gone to the birds."

In "25 words or less" I've been watching out for two barn swallow fledglings that left the nest too early and ended up on the barn floor and driveway.  Yesterday was a day of learning.  Today I felt like I had things much more under control.  Crazy birds.

I couldn't get to their actual nest to try to stick them back in.  It's somewhere above the roll up door.  Turns out both babies and parents seem to prefer this much roomier basket.  The babies had "so much more room for activities", the parents swooped in and out feeding them, sometimes perching on the handle and even carried droppings out to keep it clean.  

When the shade ran out this afternoon I tried to move the basket into the barn and the older fledgling flew away.  The younger one should be gone tomorrow.  In the meantime, I'm kind of enjoying having them around.

Note:  There are two videos below that will probably not show up if you are receiving the blog via email.  You will need to go to the actual site to view them.  I think.



P.S. This is one of my better baskets, not one I'd normally use to hold something messy like baby birds.  However, I couldn't get to my more everyday baskets in the garage...because a Carolina wren has nested on the basket shelf, yes, using one of my baskets.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Nothing To See Here

"Cheep, cheep. Nothing to see here."

"Nope, nothing at all."

"Nothing to see except maybe these pretty flowers.  Aren't they pretty?"

"I SAID...nothing to see here!"

I'm guessing by now you've seen it ;-).  This was the first of the Wool House robins to fledge.  The second one went yesterday late afternoon and the third this morning.  They always look to me like they should have waited one more day.  

I was worried these babies wouldn't make it.  The momma kept getting so stressed about people up around the Wool House and garage that I thought on two occasions she'd abandoned the nest.  I'd have thought after her first set of babies that she'd be used to us by now.

Surely she's done for the summer.  Right?  

There's a new puzzle for you :-).  Enjoy!


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