Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tricks Or Treats...Mostly Just Treats

After Maisie's, um, disappointing (?) debut as The Devil Went To Dairy Queen last year, we decided she would dress up as an angel this year.  An angel with a flowing robe, big feathered wings...and a halo...floating over her head.  Auntie Reg, Stella and I busted out the hot glue for our most elaborate costume yet.

As no one will ever forget her ripping off her fancy wizard hat and stomping it into the ground, we figured we'd have to duct tape the halo to her head.  Just kidding.  It only looks like it's duct taped ;-).  Turned out we didn't have anything to worry about.  

Except it's there was still a little bit of devil hiding underneath her angelic robe ;-D.  Great idea, Karen!

"What is happening to Maisie, Liddy?"

"She's getting all the Cheerios, that's what!"

"All. The. Cheerios."

I would love to know what was going through Cheeto's mind.

What a little angel :-).

The Dairy Queen Halloween fundraiser for the Harrison County Humane Society got rained out last Saturday, but they've rescheduled it for this Saturday (5:00) and Maisie will once again be going to do her part to help.  The Devil Goes Back To Dairy Queen :-D.  Maybe we'll go "live" on Instagram!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2019 Hug A Sheep Day

We ended up having a great farm party to celebrate (Inter)National Hug a Sheep Day this year.  Quite a few people braved the weather and while 20, warm and dry in the Wool House, got the most actual hugs, there were enough cookies flowing out in the barn so no sheep felt left out on their special day.

Amy (Auset Images) battled the dark barn and got so many great pictures that I couldn't narrow it down to just a few to share here, so what follows is picture heavy.  She's posted all of them to a gallery where you can not only view them, but if you'd like to purchase copies for yourself, it's quick and easy to do.  

The Fiber Pusher (aka Kaala's mom ;-) also took a bunch of pictures and some video and has shared those on her site as well.  The first part of her video is some footage of the sheep and sheep silliness and the second half of her video is a time lapse of the barn aisle throughout most of the afternoon and it's a hoot!

Woody kept everyone entertained with his obnoxious amazing gate climbing skills.

Look!  It's the lil' darlin' (Maisie ;-) politely begging for cookies.  Will wonders never cease...

Jared was once again the biggest fan of Feed A Sheep A Cookie Day.

He mugged worked the crowd the entire day and by the end was so jacked up on cookies and crackers that I wasn't sure he would ever leave the barn again to go out and eat healthy grass.  He was still wound up the next day!

Big Moose couldn't believe we would host a party just for him two weeks in a row.  I'm not sure what he's going to think this Saturday when no one comes to see him...and feed him cookies ;-).

Oh look, it's Jared, back for more "hugs" ;-D.

Auntie Reg stayed warm and dry in the Wool House and enjoyed visiting with everyone :-).

Murphy, Chocula and Woody run a racket where they come out to the gate, grab as many cookies as they can, then run around to the side wall and stick their noses through and swear they've not had any cookies yet ever and then go back out to the gate...

"Hey, mister?  Could you tell all the kids with cookies to come back, please?"

I periodically took cookies out to the shy sheep so no one got left out.  Muuuufin ;-).

Follow this link for even more pictures!

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Now here's where things get super awesome.  If you follow the hashtag #hugasheepday on IG or #hugasheepday on Twitter you are going to be AMAZED at how many folks around the world were hugging sheep with us!  And these were just the ones who used the hashtag.

Remember when we had our first Hug A Sheep Day here at our little farm nine years ago?  Seriously, go click those two links (you don't need an account).  You are going to be blown away!  

All from one little sheep...

Happy Hug A Sheep Day everybody!...everyday :-).

Monday, October 28, 2019

Good Morning!

During the shepherding workshop at the Rhinebeck Blues party two weeks ago I had a someone ask if I could describe my day. Fun question! The first thing I do is grab a cup of coffee and go out and check the barn. 

Sometimes I take a "Good morning!" picture from the porch as I'm heading out. This foggy morning everyone was sleeping in so there wasn't much to see other than fog.  Once I got to the barn though, there were more fun pictures than would be polite to post on IG, so I picked my favorites to share here.

Jared (aka Big J) and Cheeto, the "power couple".

Big J on my right...

...and Cheeto's lamb, Big Moose, on my left.  I'd like to say Jared has taken Big Moose under his wing like a kindly father figure, but in reality Jared caught Big Moose making googly eyes at Blossom last week and "set him straight" on who all the 'wimmens' belong to in this flock ;-).  Boys...

"Yeah, um, the last thing you need is some coffee!"

Good morning!

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We ended up having a really fun Hug a Sheep Day Party :-D.  Amy (Auset Images) came down and took a bunch of pictures which she is working to put into a gallery for us and Benita Story (The Fiber Pusher) took some fun video that I'll share as well, hopefully tomorrow.'s time to go back out to the barn and start morning chores.  From there the day frequently becomes a surprise ;-).

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Yesterday Was A Great Day For A Farm Party

Today is looking great as well!  Saturday?  Well...not so much :-/.  Blah, blah, blah...let's talk about yesterday!

After a thoroughly enjoying day that included a really good (carriage) driving lesson, some flower shopping, a short (car) driving tour of some of the fancier horse farms around Lexington and general relaxing in the finally enjoyable sunshine, Karen, Kate and I took a walk back to the pond.

And Hank went with us!  He hasn't done that since back in the spring.  That really made my day.

All the flowers have gone to seed, including the milkweed.  I am planning to harvest some seed pods to spread more plants along the wet weather creek for next year.  They are slowly making their way to the front field, but a little help wouldn't hurt I don't think.

Here's why Saturday's forecast of rain isn't really bringing me down.  Even with the recent rains, the pond level is still as low as I can ever remember.  The low growing brown plants headed up the bank are usually under water.  Yikes.

Our trees just turned brown this fall.  No good colors...except this little seedling I found near the pond bank.  We needed Saturday's predicted rain two months ago. 

Breathe in..............breathe out..............

And follow Hank back to the barn.

You've probably guessed that the forecast for this Saturday's farm party is not looking good.  We toyed with trying to reschedule for another weekend, but next Saturday is out and after that the weather in November gets dicey enough that even a good probably not a great day...unless you are a sheep or a shepherd.

It's a farm party.  Farms depend on rain.  After the hot dry summer we've had, we are still celebrating the rain.  Come January we might be tired of it, but at the end of October we aren't going to let rain keep us from enjoying what we do every day, rain or shine.

The National Hug A Sheep Day farm party is still on!  Dress accordingly and wear your rain gear...and a smile...because every day is a good day to hug a sheep, even a rainy day :-).  See you Saturday!  

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Special...But Not Really Wanted Guest

We've had a fox visiting our farm for the last couple of weeks.  With no lambs here, I'm not really worried about him or her bothering the sheep.  I do worry about the chickens though and I especially worry about Comby, who likes to hunt out in this same field.  

"Yeah, I see you, too.  I think you are beautiful, but you better beat feet before Hank sees you."

If the sheep are out grazing, Hank calls them in to safety.  Doing that usually frightens the fox away, but if not, he races out to escort him under the fence. 

Hank has been much happier since it's cooled down.  I think the fox is probably less happy ;-).

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The Rhinebeck Blues Party was really fun.  We had a great group of sheep and fiber enthusiasts, the weather was perfect and Auntie Reg nailed the Artichoke French!  The sheep all behaved (because we didn't use Maisie for any of the demonstrations ;-) and the only "workshop" we skipped was washing wool.  Karen taught wheel spinning and wool combing.  I taught shepherding, fleece judging and skirting.  Let's do it again next year!

The forecast for our Hug a Sheep Day farm party this Saturday isn't looking quite as good, but that's several days away.  Hopefully they are just wrong.  It will be fun, regardless :-).  Hope you can join us!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Looking Like A Busy Day!

I've had some fun RSVPs for the Rhinebeck Blues party this Saturday! There will be no shortage of entertainment and talent :-D.  And thanks for the good workshop suggestions!

Here is my tentative teaching schedule for the day:

10:00-12:00  SHEPHERDING.  Interested in getting some sheep and just have some basic questions?  Have a small flock and are having trouble getting your hands on them to "shepherd them"?  What do you do after you catch them up?  How to check eye scores, trim feet, give medications...?  Just want to hang out in the barn with a (mostly) well behaved flock of sheep?

12:00-1:00 LUNCH

1:00-2:00  FLEECE JUDGING.  What is a good handspinning fleece?  What is a bad one?  What do you do after your sheep are shorn?  I don't have many fleeces left, so please bring your own if you'd like some feedback.

2:00-3:00  FLEECE WASHING.  We'll actually wash a fleece using two different methods.

3:00-4:00  WOOL PROCESSING.  Drum carding, hand carding, flick carding, combing...  What tools are you interested in giving a try?  Which tools are better in different situations?  Which fiber prep is best for your intended project?

Here is the schedule for the Punkin's Patch "Upper Management":

I packed my schedule with (fun) sheep and wool stuff so Auntie Reg would have to handle all the (not fun) cooking stuff ;-).

Miss B is home on fall break (yay!) so will be running the gift shop if anyone would like to do some shopping.  The farm calendars are ready :-D.

Karen, another Rhinebeck (and Maryland) veteran, is stuffing her car with spinning tools and will be available all afternoon to answer questions and help you with your spinning, knitting and even weaving.

20 will be manning the book table.  These aren't books for sale, just for browsing, but who doesn't enjoy sitting around looking through wool books :-). 

20's still trying to decide which sweater he's wearing tomorrow.   It looks like we'll all be able to wear wool at least in the morning!

Your tentative schedule for the day:

Participate in however many "workshops" you'd like.  Or not.  Bring your wheel or current project and just enjoy sitting with everyone talking all things sheep and fiber all day long.  Or go sit under a tree by yourself and enjoy relaxing on the farm, watching the sheep.  If you've got a folding chair, you probably ought to bring it just in case we run short.

If you'd like to have your portrait taken with either your favorite project or your favorite sheep, I'll have my camera ready.  I'm better at sheep than people, but I'll do my best.

We'll have coffee and cider donuts (while they last) available throughout the day and make your own lemon shake ups.  Reg also thinks she has the artichoke french lined out after a trial run and consultation with a couple of Rhinebeck veterans.  

We are going to throw on a crockpot or two of soup and ShepherdPerson is bringing in some local apples and caramel dip.  Feel free to pack your own lunch or bring something to share if you'd like, but don't stress about it.  I've never known anyone to go hungry at a fiber gathering :-).

So it won't be actual Rhinebeck...but I think it's going to be a really fun day.  Hope to see you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Holy As The Day Is Spent

Today was a beautiful fall day, about as perfect as they come.  I started my day with a set plan...that got changed mid morning into something completely different.  You know...a normal day.    

I ended up driving to Mayslick, to Hinton Mills and talked to them about my feed requirements and even got to watch them mix it for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how they weigh out all the ingredients and watching the machine blend it all together.  

Loading up 450 pounds of wrong feed from the old mill and unloading 500 pound of fresh feed from the new mill along with 100 pounds of salt and minerals...was not really a bright spot, but having bins full of feed the sheep like and hearing Big Moose say "yum yum yum" while he was eating tonight, was :-)

Being able to scroll back through Instagram posts and re-watch that video...a definite bright spot :-D.

Around 7:00 I decided I was not going to let yet another day go by without trying out Frankie's new cart (I think I may not have posted that over here...sorry :-/) so I got him out as the sun was setting, hoping he still remembered how to drive after almost a month off (!) and both he and the cart got two thumbs up.  That was a really big bright spot :-D.

It's now 11:00 and I'm just in from my nightly barn check.  All the sheep are tucked in safely and Comby is cozy in his new condo for one.  I remembered to cover my still blooming flowers in hopes of making it through another frosty night.  Day is done.

As I reflect on the past few days and all the kind words I've read today, I am reminded of one of my favorite songs that came up on my playlist today as I drove up to the feed mill on a glorious fall afternoon with two good dogs sleeping in the back seat.  "Holy as the day is spent" by Carrie Newcomer.  

Holy is the place I stand
To give whatever small good I can
And the empty page, and the open book
Redemption everywhere I look
Unknowingly we slow our pace
In the shade of unexpected grace
And with grateful smiles and sad lament
As holy as a day is spent
And morning light sings 'providence'
As holy as a day is spent

And with grateful smiles and sad lament...  Here is a link to the song in entirety.  It's a good one.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Hershey had a lump on the side of his jaw.  It started small and we thought maybe a bad tooth.  It didn't respond to antibiotics and continued to grow so the vet came and drew off some fluid for a biopsy, but the results came back inconclusive.  

X-ray showed something that wasn't involving the jaw and as it was growing quickly and starting to affect his ability to eat, we decided to go in surgically in hopes it was just a weird pocket of infection...but knew that it was most likely not.

The surgery was scheduled for yesterday and luckily we were able to do it on the farm.  Shipping one sheep into a clinic is very stressful.  I'd told Hershey what we were going to do and that we were going to try to fix him but even if we couldn't, it would be okay.  

It was a very aggressive malignant tumor...and we did the hard right thing.  And it will be okay...eventually.  


May 2013 - October 2019

I picked this picture not only because it was one of my favorites, but also because it's been so long since he's been chocolate colored (his first shear only) that it's fun to remember why he was named Hershey.  There is a lot fun to remember about Hershey.

Now for a head's up.  The next two posts are not going to be any easier to read.  I'm posting them all in a row tonight and separately because they all deserve their own posts and I don't want to drag it out over three days.  

It will all be okay...eventually.


I've lost track of how many times I thought I'd be writing these words.  So many times that now that I'm actually having to write it...I don't know what to say.  

Renny probably should have died before she ever hit that muddy pond years ago.  She should have died in the pond.  She should have died at the animal shelter.  She should have died at the vet clinic.  She probably should have died even after she got to our farm.  There was never a tougher sheep.

I think she must have had a huge heart.  And a lion's share of courage.  So many of us worked together to care for her as she saved herself and I know none of us will ever be the same.   I know I never thought I'd be able to do the things I had to do to care for her in those early days. Roar!

I hope anyone who didn't know Renny will stumble across her for years to come and learn from her that we can live through and do way more than we think we can.  That if you can just hold on a little longer, you might get pulled out from the mud, your wounded legs heal and the rest of your life be spent surrounded by friends.

Renny had been declining all summer.  I knew it was coming.  Her body was worn out.  Still, I was not prepared for her collapse yesterday morning.  As I sat with her, her head on my lap, both PPPP and Billy Belly came over to see her.  They knew what was coming as well.

It will be okay...eventually.

If you need to stumble across Renny's story, here are a few links.

We Are All Just Walking Each Other Home

January 2003 - October 2019

It's almost midnight.  I've written two obituaries tonight.  This is the third.  Yesterday was a dumpster fire.  I'm exhausted and my eyes are almost swollen shut.  I really just need to go check the barn and go to bed.

I like to make one last barn check at night.  During the summer I'm usually still out at the barn at 10:30.  When the days get short though I have to walk back out.  I've never made that trek alone.  Of course Kate goes with me and the silly corgi, too, if I can wake her up, but my favorite walking buddy was Eli.

You expect your dogs to follow you around, but on a cold or rainy night it seems unlikely that a cat would leave his heated bed. During the Iknitarod when I'd stay out at the Wool House for an hour or two after dinner, I'd close up shop and Eli would bound down from the porch where he'd been huddled up waiting for me and he'd walk me home.

You know that old animals are not going to live forever or a sheep with an odd lump is probably not going to have a happy ending.  While it has always been one of our greatest fears, I never truly expected after 16 years of safely negotiating our country road...  What I wouldn't give for a 10th life.

Much of a farmer's (or anybody's) day is not "storybook", but if you look for them there are always bright spots in every day and that helps balance the scales.  Those nightly walks home were always bright spots.  I think they were special to Eli as well.  He never missed a night.

It will be okay...eventually.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Got The Rhinebeck Blues?

Next weekend is one of the country's best loved festivals, the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, more commonly known as "Rhinebeck".  I've been several times and it's always an amazingly good time.  Here's a fun link with a good short video.  Go watch!

This year a bunch of my long distance friends are going.  Robin and Julie will be there with the Nistock Farms booth (Building 22D) and a group from the Meridian Jacobs Farm Club are flying in from California.  

I really toyed with making the trip to meet up with everyone.  What fun that would be!  Leaving the farm though is very hard for me.  Even though we have great farm sitters, I worry about everyone, especially with so many oldies now.  Add in the 14 hour drive and how homesick I get...and I've decided to stay home.

That's not to say I'm not really sad about it though.  Rhinebeck is one giant party for sheep and wool people.  Everyone wears their best hand knits, there are sheep galore throughout the barns, the shopping can't be beat, you can learn so much in the workshops, the book signings, competitions and demonstrations are top notch...and there are cider donuts and artichoke french ;-).

If Auntie Reg didn't have such a loser friend who doesn't like to leave home, she'd be on her way to New York next week.  Everyone should go to Rhinebeck at least once.  Instead, we decided it could almost be as fun to have a stay at home Rhinebeck party here on the farm.

  • We have shopping in the Wool House.  There is some roving left from last weekend, plenty of gift items, hopefully the 2020 calendars will be finished!  
  • I can teach some informal workshops - maybe a beginning spinning class? Shepherding? Fleece washing?  Sheep to Sweater discussion?  I'm open to suggestions!
  • I've got lots of fiber related books I could set out for the "author area".
  • Everyone can wear (or cast on ;-) their Rhinebeck Sweaters and I will take the portrait pictures.  
  • Instead of a competition area, we can just show off our favorite yarns, shawls, sweaters, hats...
  • Reg will bring in cider donuts from that terrible (in a good way ;-) donut shop in Winchester.
  • And if we get really ambitious we Reg might even try to make the famous Artichoke French dish.
  • The best part?  No pan flute music ;-D.  If you've been to Rhinebeck, you know why that's funny.  I actually kind of like it...but maybe not all day ;-).

So if you've got the Rhinebeck Blues, come out to the farm next Saturday the 19th from 10:00 - 4:00.  If possible, please RSVP via email so we make sure we have enough donuts, goodie bags...  Also, let me know what sort of workshop you'd like.  Or just bring a current project and sit on the porch and [sheep] watch.

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NOT to confuse things, the 9th Annual National Hug A Sheep Day Farm Party is still on the schedule for the following weekend, the 26th.  Yes, that will be two farm parties in two weeks :-o.

Hey, any excuse for donuts ;-).

Thursday, October 10, 2019

All Together Now

Awwwww :-)

This is the first time I've seen Hank and Salt actually hanging out together.  The cooler weather has done everyone a world of good.  I feel almost human again and I think Hank feels almost...human as well.  I'm so glad to see him happier.

Thank you for all the good tips and things to check and think about with him.  Because I hadn't actually seen him limping or stiff, I hadn't considered arthritis pain causing him to lick his elbows.  Good point!  

We tried treating that first, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference.  Our next step will be an anti-anxiety medication, but I'm thinking/hoping we won't need to try that.  He's settled way down since the upper 90s broke at the end of last week.  That was making me pretty anxious as well :-(.

Have I mentioned how much Hank and I hate summer?  Oh...okay...sorry ;-).


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