Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Archie's Big Adventure

Archie didn't come to the house for breakfast yesterday morning, but it was raining so I wasn't too worried.  When I got to the barn to help Spud get up I heard him in the loft, but it was too dark to see him.  He meowed to me and I greeted him back and didn't think anything about it.  The cats go up in the loft all the time and I figured it was a cozy place to nap away the rain.

When I got back to the barn a couple of hours later to do the morning chores he was meowing much louder.  I looked around and found him not in the loft, but waaay up in the rafters...and it was obvious that was not where he wanted to be.

"I'm stuck!"

It's a bit hard to see, but he's on the second rafter from the very top of the barn.  I'm guessing that's about 32' up.  We have a ladder that might reach that high, but I don't feel comfortable using it.  I ended up climbing up into the loft and making some straw bale stairs.  


I need to explain something about Archie.  While everyone on the internet thinks Archie's claim to fame is his epic napping, he's actually more famous in real life for his complete lack of any natural cat athletics.  We have never met a less coordinated cat.  This next step was going to be a doozy.

My straw steps were six bales high and yes, I knew that was dangerous, but that was the safest thing I could think of.  I texted my neighbor to let her know that I was getting ready to do something stupid and if I didn't text her back in five minutes to come looking for me.  

I got my head and shoulders to just a couple feet below him and he bravely stretched down and got a foothold and we both gave a big sigh of relief...and then he wouldn't move and just sat there shaking.  I ended up climbing back down with him on my shoulders and he finally jumped off.

After a bit of breakfast, Archie did what he does best and took a long nap.  It just looks like he's sucking his thumb ;-).

Monday, August 29, 2022

Hey, Lady!

"I'm cold blooded, not cold!  Let's save the sweater for later."

I made a frog!  And finished her sweater just in time for the temps to soar back into the 90s.  She's very cute wearing it, but being a frog, not a sheep who's used to wearing wool, Lilly wasn't too jazzed about wearing it for more than a quick snap.  I bet she'll change her mind this fall!

These sweet little frogs became IG celebrities over the summer.  The designer is Claire Garland and India Rose Crawford is the knitter and the stop motion video artist who made them super stars.  You should definitely check out her frog videos.  You too will fall in love with frogs.  I promise :-).

I started out by dyeing a speckled froggy colored yarn using the Lamb Camp Bottle Lamb yarn.  This was something new for me and I enjoyed playing around with the best way to make color spots on top of the custom base color.

I promptly underestimated how much yarn I'd need and ran short and had to dye more yarn.  I got it pretty close, but this is why they always say to buy enough yarn for your project so you aren't trying to find the exact same dye lot if you run out.

Since I knew they colors weren't exactly the same I decided to rip out the legs I'd already knitted so there wouldn't be a noticeable difference between them.

And we all had a good time trying to decide what to call ripping out an actual knitted frog.  Is it still "frogging" (rip it, rip it ;-) or would it be unfrogging, defrogging, refrogging?  :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

And That's A Wrap...For Now

This is the last fleece I'm washing for awhile! *

I actually thought I was finished yesterday.  I took down the pre-rinse table, swept the wash room floor, stacked up all the laundry baskets, went into the skirting area just to inventory what was left...and found one more fleece. 

I'd looked at it last week when I was gathering up Ewen McTeagle fleeces, but didn't see a card with it and thought it felt too soft to be Ewen, so I set it aside thinking it was probably Burrnie.  I still felt like it was not likely to be Ewen, but something made me pick the bag up once again and turn it over.  The tag had fallen to the bottom.

Since the tag has a question mark on it, it was obviously not his original tag from skirting.  The Ewen fleeces are old and after several years of cats and chickens climbing in them and wind blowing them around, it's not impossible to lose a tag. When I'd rebagged this fleece, I must have questioned the sheep just as I was again yesterday.

But then I saw this tiny cluster of dark hairs.  That's a great clue, but sometimes stray hairs get picked up from the shearing board.  I dug a little deeper...

...and found this.  If you click to biggify, you'll see a little gray wool with some dark hair mixed in.  It's Ewen McTeagle :-).  This wool and hair was shorn from just around his face, where the dark hair from his head turns into the white wool on his body.  If it had been Burrnie, the only other short wooled sheep here, the hair would have been red.  

As far as the extra softness, I'm guessing this was one of his earlier fleeces.  I sheared him myself in 2019 so I know I didn't save that fleece.  I sent the nicest one of his fleeces off for the Lamb Camp bottle lamb yarn.  There were five fleeces left here.  Counting back I think this might have been his 2013 shear when he was just six years old.  

So Ewen wasn't the softest sheep on the farm.  It sure didn't matter.  I loved that dear sheep just the way he was.  And while he might not make a fancy knitted garment, he's going to be great fluffed into a couple of cozy comforters that we can tuck around ourselves this winter. 

* * * * *

* Why does it sound like I'm tired of washing wool?  Because I might be a little tired of washing wool ;-).

Normally I try to sell as many raw fleeces after shearing as I can.  This brings in some quick cash to cover spring vet work and shearing bills and clears a shelf or two.  With Covid throwing a wrench into that plan, I had a huge stash of wool here.  Some sheep had three years of fleeces stockpiled.  

I knew I needed to do something and decided it would be much more fun to market fresh roving than raw wool so I started washing.  I have washed 34 fleeces this summer!  220 pounds of raw wool, averaging 6.47 pounds per sheep.  11 of the fleeces weighed at least 9.5 pounds.  

While they were all fun to handle, there were a few special treats.  I've never washed some of those sheep before...the ones who get snatched up right away at the festivals - Murphy, Spud, Levi, Rocky, Big Moose, Mini Moose...  I knew they were nice fleeces, but now I know exactly how nice they are.  

Big Moose was so beautiful I couldn't even bring myself to send him off to be processed into roving.  I'll just keep looking at and playing with those curls for a bit longer.  

Of the 34 fleeces, 28 are being processed.  The five Ewen fleeces are going into quilt batting and everyone else will be ready to spin roving.  That's a lot of roving, so if you are thinking about gearing up for some fall spinning, I hope you'll keep our flock in mind.  

I think a fall farm spinning day and sale (in person and virtual) would be fun.  Stay tuned :-).

Friday, August 26, 2022

Crawling Under A Leaf

I've seen way more monarch caterpillars this year than last...but I'm still not sure they are making it to the chrysalis stage.  I've yet to find a chrysalis in real life. This is not just for this year, but ever, so maybe they are just really good at hiding them.  I hope.  

I've toyed with collecting them and putting the porch nursery back in service.  I kept all my supplies.  Watching the caterpillars grow and change was really fun...but it was a lot of work keeping fresh food picked for them.  Providing habitat was my go forward plan, but if they aren't actually surviving, then it's still not a great plan.

While I'm stewing on what to do, here are some fun pictures from a couple of days ago.  The greens are turning brown rapidly, but there are a few younger plants that can hopefully keep everyone fed.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Porch Sitting

Porch sitting was one of his favorite things.  Some other stuff here was not.  For his own best interests, Amos has moved back to his original farm.  

Friday, August 19, 2022

The End Of An Era

Clover Belly got her name because I found a four leaf clover as I was taking pictures of her just after she was born.  The Belly part came from being Emily's granddaughter.  All of Emily's family got "belly" names after her first baby Annabelle became Annabelly after she got so chubby from all of Emily's good care.

That's Clover Belly next to the wall, sitting right with her momma, Baby Belly.  Emily is in the middle of the picture, tucked up with her last lamb, Casper Belly.  Those mother daughter connections were strong and Clover Belly was very lonely after Baby Belly passed.  When the five Ts got here, they let her hang with them and that helped, but I have to think she's happy to be back with her family.  

I hope that's what happens.

Clover Belly took over supervising the Sheep Chicken after her mother died.  I always thought that was interesting.  She was really too short to be much actual help, but I remember she was always there to help where she could.

This was Baby Belly with the Sheep Chicken many years ago.  Clover Belly is standing behind Spud.  I guess they were in training.  It was always a team effort.  These have been some grand old sheep.

Clover Belly

June 2008 - August 18, 2022

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Late Summer Blooms

The B Garden is in a yellow phase right now, but the zinneas and a volunteer cosmos are keeping things colorful.  I'm starting to see a few monarchs and and few swallowtails.  I haven't seen any caterpillar activity, but maybe soon.  

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the caterpillars this year.  I feel like most of them, maybe all of them, were predated last summer.  I'm thinking about putting the nursery back in play this year.  I'd rather they lived a natural life, but if they don't make it to maturity, that's not helping anything :-/.

While we think on things, here's a fun new puzzle :-).  

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Sweet Petunia

I had to make a hard, well, it wasn't hard...a sad call on Petunia today and here I sit trying to decide what I want to say about one of the very best sheep ever.  

I thought I knew what picture I wanted for this post, but as I scrolled through all the old blog posts looking for it, it became one of the nicest trips down memory lane and I could have easily pulled out 20 favorite pictures.

Her "Mug Shot"

She'd been here so long that I'd almost forgotten some of her stories.  I'd forgotten how she stepped up as lead ewe after Elizabeth had died.  I'd  forgotten how she was one of the main chicken sheep who helped the old hen get to her favorite high perch each night.  

Her official baby picture back in 2008.  She came from Nistock's along with Woolliam that year.

I remembered how much she enjoyed wearing the flowers for the 2012 Tour de Fleece.  I knew that she would be happy to wear the bell because of how she acted with the flowers.  I don't think she thought she was special, but she understood special and humbly accepted any great leader.

I'd forgotten about this sweet picture with 20. Almost every picture on the blog is captioned either "Pretty Petunia" or "Sweet Petunia".  

Checking in with me during a lunchtime nap last month.    

So many good pictures and great stories.  There will never be another like her. If you'd like to take a stroll, you can follow this link or any of the labels on the right side of the blog.  

Sweet, pretty Petunia

2008-August 10, 2022

Monday, August 8, 2022

A Mother's Love

Every afternoon around 2:30/3:00 Christopher leaves the barn by himself, walks past the sheep water tank, out and around the corner to the front field, gets a drink from the horse waterer and then returns to the rest of the sheep still sleeping in the barn.  

He may nose around a bit by the horse stalls, but mostly it's just to get a drink.  The water is from the same source.  The sheep tank is inside the barn, out of the sun.  The horse waterer is a smaller capacity tank and sits in full sun.  Both are cleaned regularly, but I know which one I'd drink from...and it's not the horse's water.

I drove Frankie in the arena the other day.  To get there we go through the gate at the front corner of the barn and past the horse stalls.  I leave that gate open until we drive back through when we are finished. Frankie and I drive into the barn to unhook and unharness and afterward back out front for a bath.

Along comes Christopher.  He gets a drink, sees the open gate and thinks there is no one around and decides to wander out into the yard driveway for a snack.  I started spraying Frankie down just as he got started eating and he saw us...and panicked.

"Oh no!  There's that stupid horse!  And there's water spraying everywhere!  Oh waily-waily!*"

He cried and cried and I tried to talk to him to get him to calm down and wait just a minute while I finished giving Frankie a quick bath and then could go help him find his way home, but nothing was helping.  

"Oh noooo!  Help me!" 

He was in zero danger ;-).  

"Momma!  MOMMA!  Help me, momma!"

"Hey!  Who's out here bothering my kid!"

He stopped screaming and started eating as soon as he saw her coming.

"Christopher?  You woke me up for this?"

"Well, I guess while I'm out here, is that grass any good?"

I'm not sure if Short Round would still come running if Ellie yelled for her.  I doubt I'll find out.  Ellie doesn't get herself in too many scary situations.  I bet Krista never stops taking care of Christopher and Maggie :-).

* "Oh waily-waily!" is from The Wee Free Men by Terry Prachett.  This is one of my very favorite case you are looking for a really good story.  I've lost track of how many times I've listened to it.  If you like audio books, the reader is perfect!



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