I've had some emails asking about ordering Christmas cards as the Etsy shop is empty... Sigh. That's a goal for the new year, but in the meantime, if you would like to order Christmas cards this year, just drop me an email with what you'd like and I'll get them shipped out right away. As I have just gotten the sketch of this year's card put to paper, I don't think it's too late. Right?
Here is a link to all the designs from the past. Another goal for the new year is updating our website. That's an old computer running an old operating system that can't be replaced...and can't be turned on anymore situation...
Sunday Stills is a great photography group. I'd have to look back to see when I started participating, but it's been awhile for sure. I remember seeing Sunday Stills posts on some of my favorite blogs and I'd think, wow, I'd sure like to join in, but thought you probably had to be some fancy photographer and get invited or something. No so!
Everyone is not only welcomed, but encouraged to join - just go to the Sunday Stills site and post your entry in the comments. There are photographers of all sorts and focus and the challenges Ed posts each week range from easy to difficult, but are always do-able, and as with most things, the more you try to get out of it, the more you do. I've learned a lot. Thanks, Ed!
The challenge for this week is pets. So...an easy one. Or is it? I'd already set my own personal challenge for the upcoming year to get better pictures of Iris, Weaslie and Claire Bear. I've put together several calendars now and if you've noticed, there are never any big pictures of any of them. Why? Because they are black and black is a tough color to photograph. Some pictures of black pets for Ed's anniversary would be a fun learning experience.
This is usually what I end up with. Cute, sure, but the black shows no texture, shape or definition. Claire Bear is a black blob with two yellow dots for eyes. This was taken with my favorite go to lens, the 18-200mm. It's a great everyday, all purpose lens and there are shots I quickly capture with it that I'd never be able to get with a fixed length lens. The trade off is a little loss in clarity sometimes.
The rest of these pictures were taken with my macro lens, probably my
second favorite lens. Second only because it's a fixed 100mm and there are times when you just can't walk backwards far enough. It's a
great lens for close up detail, but I think it also makes a really nice
portrait lens. Ed helped Saint Tim pick it out for me for my birthday a couple years ago :-D.
You still have to think about what you are doing and I have no idea what I was thinking with my aperture setting here. Well, I know what I was thinking...nothing. Sigh. There's so much more to a good photograph than a "fancy" lens. If I'd opened up my aperture and blurred out the distracting tree in the background, this would be a much better portrait. At least you can now see Iris has hair ;-).
"And I have a snow flake on my nose."
"See? Right there on the tip."
"I have snowflakes on my whole body!"
White can be just as hard to capture as black. However, as you can see by the snow, the camera and lens had no problem picking up the detail and color. Weaslie's "white" tummy? Headed straight for the bath tub!
...because it was light enough that no one got terribly hurt. One of the old guys (white pines by the house) lost a limb, but he's still standing tall. Whew. Much of the rest of Kentucky was not so lucky and we have another storm heading our way tomorrow. Stay warm and bring out your wool!
I am done with morning chores and had come back to the house for a second cup of coffee. Now it's time to head back to the Wool House and it's gotten so dark out the window that I'm guessing a huge black cloud is sitting over me. And now it's dumping rain. So while I wait it out I'll tell you a funnysadinterestingamazing story. Wait, let me go shut the doors. It's raining in. It's December 5th and it's so warm I have the doors open. Never a good sign.
After dinner a couple nights ago I walked back up to the Wool House, planning to get a little more weaving done. I decided to fix myself a cup of hot chocolate, which is a pretty odd thing for me to do when it's this warm. I turned on the faucet and the water pressure was really low. Even though it's 50 degrees, in the winter my first thought goes to frozen water pipes. Well, that can't be...
NOOOOOO!!!! I'd left the water running in the barn, filling up the sheep tank out back. I raced over there - I guess thinking if I ran, the couple seconds I saved would help counteract the hour or so it had been running (?!?). I hate to waste water. Argh.
After I shut off the hydrant I made a quick barn check. Everyone was resting but awake, except Woolliam. Woolliam is the highlight of nighttime barn checks. He goes to bed early, sleeps in pretty much the same place every night and when he goes to sleep, he's asleep. He's just so darn cute I almost can't stand it :-).
You can turn on lights, open doors, talk to Hank...pretty much anything shy of rustling a cookie box. He sleeps like a worn out little kid. And he frequently uses this old feed trough as a pillow :-).
As I was watching him, taking his picture with my iPhone, I heard Miss Maisie's quiet little voice "Mom?"
The sound was coming from the outer shed.
"Oh Maisie, I'm so proud of you! Sleeping in the big stall with all the other sheep like a big girl!" She usually sleeps in the small stall during the day or out in the barn lot at night, following her beloved Hank throughout the day and night.
I couldn't figure out why she hadn't come running out to see me. Oh no. Have the big kids got her boxed in over there? I opened the door and peaked in. She wasn't there.
It sounded like she was outside. She was!
Maisie's good at fighting her way to the food bowls when it's just her and the three (little) boys, but she's still nervous about jumping into a hay battle with the big kids. I'm guessing she'd gotten scared off and jumped out there and I'd not noticed (!) when I shut the gate for the night.
"Maisie! I'm so sorry!!!" I opened the gate and she raced in... once again looking up at me saying "I just don't know how this stuff keeps happening to me!"
Poor Maisie. So I was mad about the water until I realized that if I hadn't have gone back to work, wanted hot cocoa, found the water pressure low, I wouldn't have found the hydrant left on (all night)...and wouldn't have found Maisie, outside by herself (all night). Once again her guardian angel took good care of her. I'm glad she's got a good one!
Okay, it's done raining (for now) and I need to get to work.
I had hoped to finish this throw by the end of November for the Wovember Wool Along, but...you know... I debated letting myself get stressed over it and push on with some sort of Herculean effort, but decided to take a step back and let it go. It's more important to clerk a stock dog trial that you look forward to all year, go to dinner with friends, get some sleep... A gentle reminder for the holiday season life as well.
I love weaving - the yarns, the tools, the click clack...
THIS is the true color of the yarn - almost black. The lights over the loom and clamped to the loom and shining through the window behind the loom...throw everything off. I've tried a blue zillion white balance settings and nothing is good so...we'll just pretend all the chocolate brown is chocolate black.
The reason this yarn is laying on the floor, not being woven, is because I decided in the first few inches that I was not woman enough to reach the full 48". I pulled off one inch on each side. Another thing I like about weaving. It's all fixable...at least so far (not to jinx anything ;-).
The loose tags of yarn are where I added in fresh yarn, letting the loom "weave in my ends" for me :-).
I'm using a simple straight twill pattern because the chocolate BLACK of this particular sheep (a Jacob/Texel cross) has a sort of matte finish that I didn't want competing with a pattern. The medium GRAY in the stripes is some of our Jacob. I'll definitely take some natural light pictures when I finish, hopefully tomorrow!
If you look closely out the window, you can see the chickens are headed to bed. That's my cue to swap off with 20 and start the evening chores. Maybe tomorrow I can talk him into doing some spinning for me, too. I think we are going to come up a few many yards short.
As I left, he told me I could turn off the book. He thinks Carl Hiaasen is too silly and Sue Grafton makes him nervous. We both liked the Fannie Flagg book from last week ;-). I always listen to books on tape while I weave. And not while I knit. I'm not sure why.
I call Petunia my little buffalo. She doesn't really look like one...I don't guess...but when I look at her I always think buffalo. She's not that big, but her fleece is big? Maybe it's the horns? Or the ears? Renny's another buffalo gal.
Baba (Blossom) too!
"I am NOT a gal! I don't know WHY you've included me in this post!"
This past weekend was the Turkey Trot Benefit Stock Dog Trial at The Training Center. If Maisie had had a different upbringing, she could have been out there with all the other kids, but a. she hates being told what to do and b. would have made a big mess of everything, running around causing trouble for everyone else...with that big tail whirling like a torpedo ;-).
I clerked on Saturday (wrote scores down for the judges) and stopped by Sunday afternoon to take some pictures. I have no interest in learning to to do all this, but I thoroughly enjoy watching everyone else. Actually, I like to watch everything - the dogs, the sheep, the set out horse, the camp fires...
The following is a mix of a few handlers and dogs and a few (reasonably accurate...I think) notes about what's going on.
I think these four were getting ready to cause some trouble...without Maisie's help ;-).
Waiting at the post. Once the sheep get set on the far end, the handlers send their dogs to fetch them.
They head out to the right like they've been shot from a gun and, guided by whistles, make a big loop all the way back to the second hill. If you look closely you can see the dog - it's the black dot up racing in front of the tree line.
They come up from behind the sheep to pick them up and start bringing them back to their handler, waiting at the post. They need to come through this "gate".
Once they've brought the sheep up, they push them back out and cross the field, working through two more sets of panels.
One on the left and one on the right.
They also have to help put the sheep in the pen.
And divide the group and also separate out one sheep (much harder than it looks here!).
And all the while, there is another hard working dog (and horse) up on the far hill always bringing out the next set of sheep.
I think it's all fascinating and it's one of my favorite weekends of the year.
I tried to pick my favorite baby Maisie picture for today, but I just couldn't. It's fun to scroll back through them all. Here are a couple you may not have seen - from her actual birth day.
Tucked in Annmarie's coveralls. Loved from the start :-).
Her first bottle. She'd been tube fed all day, but figured out that bottle in no time ;-).
Maisie's always been a good eater. She knows more than most how important it is for kids to get the good food they need. For lambs in the past we've done Happy Birthdays that have benefited Best Friends and the local humane societies. For Maisie's birthday, we'd like to feed some hungry children.
I learned about the Feeding America BackPack Program as an outreach from the Bluegrass Beekeepers club. I'd never even dreamed that there were kids in America who didn't have enough to eat. It's true, and right in our own backyards :-/.
are children in America that rely on resources such as free or
reduced-priced school lunch during the school year. The BackPack Program
is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other
resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations."
Backpacks are filled with food that children take home on weekends.
All of the food is child-friendly, nonperishable, easily consumed and vitamin fortified.
Backpacks are discreetly distributed to children on the last day before the weekend or vacation
In addition to providing nutritious food to school children in
need, some BackPack Programs provide extra food for younger siblings at
home. Others operate during the summer when children are out of school
and have limited access to free or reduced-priced lunches.
The BackPack Program became a pilot program in 1995. Feeding America
approved the BackPack Program as an official national program of the
network in 2006.
More than 145 Feeding America members operate more than 3,600
BackPack Programs and collectively serve more than 190,000 children each
In FY 2011, God’s Pantry Food Bank (our local food bank) worked with 12 BackPack partner
schools, distributing more than 15,700 packs to children in need.
"I could fill a back pack!"
"I'd put in some Cheerios and some cookies and dog biscuits."
"And hay too, 'cause it's nutritious and yummy."
What's actually the most helpful is money. That way your food bank can buy in bulk and get exactly what they need throughout the year. We can all do that. Even a little bit can help. Today, for everyone who leaves a comment wishing her a happy birthday, we'll donate a dollar to Maisie's local BackPack Program.
I've missed participating in Sunday Stills. What a crazy year. I couldn't pass up this challenge though. Thanks, Ed!
Simple yet challenging, find the ONE pic that shows your favorite subject to photograph.
Remember a week or so ago when I was sitting out with the sheep and the sun was shining warm and it wasn't 13 degrees? Yeah...a perfect day :-). When Hershey got up, the first thing he did was go over and see what Hank was up to. He was taking a nap. Trying to take a nap.
"Whatchu doin', Hank?"
"Takin' a nap."
"Whatchu doin', Hank?"
"Taking a nap!!!"
"Whatchu doin', Hank?"
And this is where Hank finally had enough and reached up and let Hershey know he was TAKING A NAP!!!
This was a couple of seconds before that. Hank is covering his face, hoping Hershey will go away. We've all been there with Hershey on occasion ;-). It's a simple photo, not super interesting to anyone but probably me. However, it has one of my favorite sheep, one of my favorite dogs, on one of my favorite farms, at one of my favorite times of the day, during one of my favorite times of the year and it tells me one of my favorite stories - friendship. It would be hard to pick my favorite, favorite subject...but this gets it pretty close ;-).
Maisie's birthday is Monday! We have something special planned, so make sure you check in that day, especially if you are an "email subscriber" as I think your posts show up a day late. Here is a sneak peak, behind the scenes. Thanks, Uncle John. You captured a little bit of all sorts of silly fun and friends :-).
A couple things to note, Maisie is perfectly happy to wear a PINK backpack. If we'd have just made her a pink wizard costume for Halloween...
Watch Chocula climbing up on the gate in the background. That's his special talent and is going to show up again somewhere else I'm pretty sure ;-).
While the chickens were busy out front the other morning, here's what was happening on the other side of the barn. What happens every morning on the other side of the barn ;-). Coincidentally, a couple of these nappers have had their baby pictures featured in the last few posts. I've had fun looking back through those old photographs.
Wouldn't it be fun to do a then and now feature for all our lambs? Would you believe Ewen McTeagle was a speckled lambie? That B. Willard was solid black? And of course there's Keebs, who even I might have to admit was possibly the cutest lamb in the entire world. It's worth scrolling way back through his (all the lamb's) labeled posts (on the right side of the blog). What a little
turkey ;-). If I'd known a little lot more about photography
In the meantime, here are some recently featured lambs (and Woolliam ;-), all grown up.
PPPP (Popcorn Pee Pee Pants) chewing cud in her sleep :-).
Emily and Casper Belly
Woolliam, President of the Cool Hair Club
"Hey, how come you don't have any lamb pictures of me?"
"I'm still a lamb, right?"
Yes, Maisie, you still are for a couple more days....but you'll always be my baby girl :-).