Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Kentucky Wool Week

Normally this week would be spent frantically getting everything finished and set up for the Kentucky Wool Festival.  We lost both the spring and fall festivals this year :-(.   We are all not only missing the income those festivals would generate, but also the social aspects of it as well.  Most of us don't get out much.  Those festivals are a fun way to catch up with each other.

The Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office, Kentucky Natural Fiber Center, Kentucky Fiber Trail and Kentucky Wool Festival got together to create Kentucky Wool Week as a fun way for us all to socialize a little on social media and at the same time help promote Kentucky wool and our small businesses.

This year everything is based around a photography challenge. I'm hoping things will be settled down next year and we can expand Kentucky Wool Week to include some educational classes, competitions and fiber gatherings throughout the state.

Today's challenge prompt is Color.  You know, my favorite topic ;-).  Just to throw everyone, I'm going to actually post a picture of a color besides white or gray today!  There is, of course, more to the story. 

Back in August 2018 (yes, you read that correctly) Miss B and I dyed some wool with marigolds.  We had a big bag of yellow and orange blooms and a big bag of yellow and burgundy blooms.  We dyed some white Border Cheviot (PPPP) and some light gray Jacob (Billy Belly and Allie).

I think we used Alum as our mordant.  I'm sure I took a bunch of fun and pretty pictures that would probably remind me, but without a deep dive into the archives, all I have is the above picture...which has been sitting on my desktop as a reminder that I needed to write up a full blog post about this...since 2018. 

We dyed both white and light gray wool in both marigold pots.  I remember that the yellow and burgundy marigolds provided a slightly darker, almost greener, yellow.  You can sort of see that in the picture above.  

I know that I combed all of my share and I believe I spun the brighter of the two yellows.  It's kind of hard to say at this point though because I kept everything in a cute basket on my workbench so I could enjoy looking at it...which I thoroughly did...until I realized the dark rich yellows were fading and I then packed them away :-(.

The marigolds are in full bloom in the dye garden right now and that combined with the color prompt inspired me to pull the still mostly slightly colorful yarn out and finally share some pictures.  I'm now sort of toying with picking some of the flowers and tossing everything back into the dye pot and restoring the yarns to full color. 

It makes me sad to pick flowers though.  I've got plenty of poke weed berries right now though and it wouldn't make me too sad to boil those before they end up all over my car ;-).  Maybe I'll see if Miss B is up for a new natural dyeing adventure.  If we do, I promise I'll post the pictures much quicker.

Regardless, I can now take the yellow pictures off my desktop because I finally did a 'sort of' post about a fun thing we did...a couple of years ago.  I also cleaned out my refrigerator the other day, so look out!

If you are interested in joining in with the Kentucky Wool Week photo challenge, jump in!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Nice Fence

I've actually been aware that this fence plank was down for most of the summer.  The sheep have been going out of their way to mock us by walking through there rather than the gate.  It's easier to forget about when you have so much else to look at...but hard to miss when you are making a new puzzle.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Things That Make You Go "Awwww"

 One day last week we had an impromptu "pony party" at the farm.  A neighbor came by with her three little girls and they wanted to meet the horses.  I've said all along that as long as Frankie had his grazing muzzle on (everything has to go in Frankie's mouth, especially fingers ;-) I'd trust him with a toddler hanging off his tail.  Frankie loves everyone and he's amazingly unflappable.

Lancelot is friendly to people that he knows...and likes...but he's big and not necessarily careful where he's stepping and I'm watchful with things like water hoses around his legs because he can get startled.  I was kind of glad I could expect him to stay down the hill, away from the little visitors. Oh, and he does not really like to have his face touched.  

Who was the first horse to walk up and greet the princess wearing a fancy dress?  And let her touch his face?

"Awwww :-)"

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Best. Anniversary. Ever.


I got up Sunday morning and went to Winchester to have breakfast with John and Auntie Reg.  I took Kate and Tilly with me because...they always go with me.  Kate went exploring around their yard like any other visit and I didn't think anything about it.  Kate doesn't get into trouble.  She never leaves me.  

9-14 year old Kate would never leave me.  15 year old Kate, now deaf and significantly vision impaired and while in good condition for a 15 year old dog, but not strong enough to venture into the woods...ventured into the woods.

I'm not sure if she fell, got disoriented because she doesn't see well or just wasn't strong enough to pull herself back up the hill.  Regardless, even though we realized pretty quickly that something wasn't right, we couldn't call her name and expect any response.

And she wasn't just off in any old woods.  She was on the "hillside" overlooking the Kentucky river.  We immediately starting searching, but I knew we were in trouble.  I called Tim and he came over and brought a neighbor with him.  

We searched and searched and I called a border collie friend who I knew could whistle really loudly in hopes that maybe Kate could still hear a herding whistle and find her way back.  She also brought two dogs with her in hopes they would stumble across her.  Nothing.

We searched the surrounding, very rugged, terrain for 11 hours.  The drive home that night was the worst thing I've ever experienced.  I went back over early the next morning and checked in with some near-ish cattle farms in hopes she'd smelled stock and gone to them.  

We got escorted into the nearby old stone quarry and searched for signs there.  We drove from road to road and house to house and Reg talked to anyone she could find and called so many people.  We re-walked and walked and walked all over the hillside, as far down as it was safe to go.  

This was not a "walk in the woods".  If she'd gone down, the elevation drop is 300' and at best maybe a 45 degree angle.  Much of it is a cliff...straight down.  The underbrush was thick and the area is full of old stone walls.  It was unlikely she could get past all that, but after searching along the upper side of the hill for two days and all the nearby open farm ground as best we could, Tim decided to climb down into the Lower Howard's Creek.

It was definitely worth a shot, heck, anything was, but by this point I had very little hope left.  It was getting dark and closing in on what would be her second cold night in the wilderness. A wilderness full of coyotes and bobcats and sometimes other predators.  

He called to let me know when he gotten down into the creek bed and I waited at John and Reg's.  I was exhausted.  I was broken.  Tilly was with me, but she, too, was upset and miserable.  She ate her dinner, but wouldn't stop walking around and kept sniffing pretty close to where I'd last seen Kate.  I decided to make one more trip down into the woods.

I once again crawled under, through and over and slipped and slid down loose rocks and dirt. I'd maybe made it a quarter of the way down, zig zagging left and right, when my phone dinged with a text message.  I pulled it out of my pocket...and there was the picture of Tim...with Kate.  She was still alive and he had her in his arms!  

I don't really remember scrambling up the hill or, honestly, even driving to the point where he was going to bring her out.  He ended up carrying her nearly a half mile, through water in some parts up to his chest.  When he'd try to set her down to walk, she'd turn around and try to go back where he'd found her. Definitely disoriented and maybe a little shocky.

The vet told us some things to immediately check and do for her before we got her to the clinic.  Luckily I hadn't given all the food I had packed for her to Tilly and she gobbled it up.  I'd assumed being next to the creek that she'd had plenty to drink, but when we got to the vet clinic, her blood work was not great and she needed IV fluids.  

She went back to the clinic this morning and stayed for several hours while they ran more fluids, but by mid afternoon they said she was in good shape and ready to come home.  She is laying at my feet as I type this.  It is truly a miracle. 

This is just the highlights of the story.  Don't try to imagine the rest or what she (and we) went through or what could have happened...  I've done enough of that for all of us and I've never cried so hard in my whole life.  

I want to offer up a huge thank you to everyone who helped bring Kate home, especially Auntie Reg and her friends and neighbors.  

Our friends who came from two counties away and gave up their entire Sunday to help search and then drive me home that night. 

The god of old dogs (and maybe sheep and cats) and their angels who I'm sure gave Kate a strong "lie down" so she stayed put when she hit the creek.  

And to 'the old man of the creek and rivers' who had the vision to go down the creek...and carry her back to me.  I guess all that fishing finally paid off ;-).  Today is our anniversary.  I'd like to say we make a good team, but honestly, Saint Tim is always carrying us all. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

My Pet Sunflower

A month or so ago I was pulling some weeds (well, unwanted weeds that is ;-) from the B Garden and accidentally pulled up a small sunflower.  She came up with very few roots and it was hot as the blazes and I knew if I tried to put her back in the ground she'd never make it.  

I stuck her in a leftover pot of old dirt I had stashed behind the Wool House and tucked her rapidly wilting body into the shade.  She lay collapsed, leaning on the side of my horse trailer for a couple of days, but I kept giving her a drink every time I walked past and she began to slowly perk up.

I staked her up using a dowel rod and some soft yarn and gradually moved her back into the hot sun.  Being a sunflower, she was happy to be back near her friends and she eventually began to grow again and one day I noticed a small bud forming on the top of her head.  

And then she bloomed :-).
Instagram followers may remember this video of the spider spinning the web from the corner of the garage roof down to a zinnias.

The sweet sunflower took over when she got big enough :-).

And look at all the pollen she's made for her bee friends.  They've been having quite a party!  

Her big golden petals are starting to fall off, but she has some new buds coming on so the party will continue a little while longer.  And once her blooms are all dried up, she'll have plenty of seeds to feed the birds this winter...but I'll save back a few to stick in her old pot next spring :-).

*   *   *   *   *

Thank you for all the kind words about Daniel.  I know he was as much a favorite on the blog as he was here on the farm.  I am so sorry.  I hate that most of the blog posts this summer seem to be obituaries.  Hopefully meeting the sunflower will help sway the balance.  

Deb, I have a question about the Ruminex B or D.  Could you please send me an email when you get a minute?

Thursday, September 17, 2020


One of my favorite things to do is stand in the barn lot in the evening while the sheep are milling around getting ready for bed. The best part of these nighttime sessions was standing with Daniel. Daniel was a hugger. When he saw the opportunity, he'd push his way in and then stand there next to me, leaning against my leg. 

My arm would instinctively wrap around his neck and I'd bury my fingers in the wool around his neck and shoulders, gently scratching, and he'd stand there like that with me forever. I know my sheep like me. Daniel loved me. If I'd known the other night that that was the last time we'd do that, I'd have stayed there forever, too. 

Daniel aka Big D

May 2013 – September 17, 2020

We've lost another good sheep to bladder stones.  We tried to get him unblocked surgically, but were unsuccessful.  The vet autopsied him and collected some sludge/sand to send off to be tested to determine the mineral make up of the stones.  I hope that tells us something.  Is it our grass, the water, the mineral mix...?  


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