Monday, July 27, 2015


Liddy hangs out used to hang out with her aunties almost all the time. She'd come out into the aisleway to eat lamb cereal twice a day and hang out with me while I did  morning and evening chores, but she'd been happy to go back to her endless salad bar and cushy fence plank bed.

Saturday morning I was putting together a metal stand that I could set the Del Boca Vista Annex fan up on to maybe get a little more air flowing into the rest of the barn aisle.  I asked Liddy if she'd like to come out and help.  She did.

Halfway through I had to make a quick run to the house help a friend with something on the computer.  While I was there I decided to grab some lunch.  As I walked back to the barn almost an hour later...I remembered that Liddy was loose in the barn!  I took off running, fearing the worst - pillaged bags of wool, chewed off flowers, lamb level electric cords :-o.

Not to worry I got lucky.  Most sheep would have ransacked the entire place.  Liddy?

"I love when the fan blows my ears back!"

She spent the rest of the afternoon there, cuddled up next to her favorite bag of hay.  I had to use a Cheerio bribe to get her back to Blossom and Lila.  Now every time I'm in the barn, she's yelling to come out - not to see me, but her beloved fan.

This might be my toughest weaning yet!

In case you missed these on Twitter:

Spud is feeling much better.  Whew!  We sheared the bellies of Hershey, Woolliam and Murphy over the weekend and that seems to be helping them.  We added another fan to the middle stall and the open aisleway and extra water tank has been a popular addition.  Other than keeping plenty of salt set out, there's not much else we can do.  I hate summer :-/.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hay There!

After almost two months now of hearing nothing but farm ATVs buzzing around, the tractors are all out in full force.  It's a great sound.  We have finally had a couple days of sunny, dry weather and everyone's helping everyone get their mostly first cutting of hay off the fields.  What a crazy summer!

Our back field is approximately five acres.  We've kept it mowed regularly since we moved here and other than a small rocky drainage area, it's become a beautiful, nearly weed free field.  Now that we only have two horses, it's mostly sitting idle until it cools off enough that Kate and I can put the sheep on a forced march out there.  We offered it to a neighbor up the road.

This is how things work around here, and why we love being part of our really nice neighborhood. Kurt cut the hay (he's the one with the cows who are going to eat the hay).  Stella's grandson Matthew is tedding for him in this picture and another neighbor, Phillip, came later in the afternoon yesterday to bale.  Maisie watched from the shady barn ;-).

"I wonder if that's all for me?"

It looks like they got at least 16 or so big rolls.  So pretty.  They won't be here long.  Someone, maybe Kent, will come pick them up before they kill the grass underneath them.  I'll enjoy them while they are here.  The best part will be this winter when it's cold and snowy and we see his cows enjoying a little taste of summer and we'll enjoy knowing we, too, played a part in the neighborhood.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Baker's Dozen - Fresh From The Oven...Or At Least It Feels That Way

I've spent quite a bit of time in the barn this last week because the weather has been so hot and sooo humid that the sheep are not just miserable, but a couple are really struggling.  Sheep handle cold just fine.  It's the heat that will kill them, especially if they are a little, um, well padded insulated fat.

There are fans in all three areas, but the big barrel fan in the outside stall is the most popular.  And whoever manages to stake their claim to the primo spot in front of it (blocking all the air for everyone else) seems to keep it for the whole summer.  One year it was Graham.  Last year it was Daniel.  This year it's Hershey.

Emily and Casper Belly

Renny, dreaming of being a Liddy babysitter so she could get at all that crazy lush grass.

And look who's out with "the main prison population".  Yep, that's Jester.  What a funny old guy. Occasionally he asks to go out, so I let him out.  This time he walked up to Woolliam, punched him in the head (I think they are actually friends, so more of a "guy thing") and then over to say hello to Emily, his adopted daughter.  Very sweet.  Now he's listening to Rebecca Boone go on and on about something and he's probably wishing he was back in the retirement paddock ;-).

Maisie is not one of the sheep that I'm most worried about (for a change!).  She seems to be handling the heat okay.  Part of that might be because her tummy is hairy, not woolly.  Bill, the sheep shearer, told me the best way to cool a sheep down is shear off their belly wool and wool around their neck. And if they are in real, immediate trouble, pour cool water over the back of their neck before you do anything else.

"That's nice, but I'd prefer just to drink my water."

Daniel is very hot, but he's trying to sleep it off.

B. Willard is sleeping like a beached whale.  He always does that.

He gave me a scare the other afternoon when I thought he wasn't breathing.  This is not the first time he's done that!

"Yeesh, lady, I keep telling you I'm fine!"

Poor Spud, stuck back there in the corner, has had the most trouble with the heat.  Since Jester seemed to be so much better just moving into the aisleway, I tried that with Spud.  I should have sheared him right then. I thought he seemed better in there, but the second day I realized he wasn't. By that point, even after I sheared him, he was not "right".

He was laying down too much and at odd times, walking stiff legged behind, keeping his back legs close together, having trouble getting his legs in position to lay down.  Luckily I have good sheep gurus and vets to call on and a quick diagnosis of heat stress was made.  

I didn't realize their muscles would "tie up" like a horse in situations like that.  We treated pretty aggressively with IV fluids, vitamins and minerals and anti-inflammatories and I think he's going to be okay.  He's still not 100%, but we have a cool(ish) day predicted for today and I'm hoping that will help.  I'm sorry, Spud :-/.

Baaxter's hot too, but he likes the opened up aisleway.  He's the one who'd been hogging the inside stall's fan, so everyone else likes that he's enjoying the open aisleway, too ;-).

I like this picture of PPPP...

...but I like the story in this one better - her head on the gate, the motion of the shade cloth.  Sadly, I let her be overexposed and by the time I fixed that the breeze disappeared.  The story of summer.  At least the rain has stopped for a few days.  Farmers all over are cutting and baling hay like mad!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Hard Life

"I remember when I used to sleep on the bed or the couch or at least on some nice fluffy towels."

"Maybe this board would be more comfortable."

"Remind me again why I have to sleep out here..."

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's An Epidemic!

Or maybe it's just cats ;-).

Raise your hand if you'd like to run out there and give him a tummy rub :-).

Miss B came over and we dyed half of the rest of Renny's light gray fleece yesterday.  In between laughing at silly Eli.

"It's not nice to laugh at cats."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

If You're Having Trouble With Your Camera

The first thing I'm going to tell you to do is...all together now..."Read your owner's manual!"

What was the last thing I did today?  Yep...  


Actually, sweet Kate would never laugh at me.  She's had plenty of opportunity, but I really don't think it's ever crossed her mind.  I think she's just yawning.  Or panting hard.  We are all panting hard.  It is way too hot and humid :-(.

I've moved the Del Boca Vista annex into the front half of the barn, opened up the back half of the barn aisleway to provide a little more shade and breeze for the rest of the sheep.  Several, especially Spud, are way too hot and I'm worried about them.

I also took quite a few really awful pictures this afternoon.  In fact, I've had a lot of frustrating camera shoots lately.  I FINALLY thought to look on a Nikon forum to see if anyone else had ever had their camera randomly change shutter speeds every freakin' shot.  They sure did!  And it was an easy fix...aka operator error.  Sigh...

Try to stay cool!

Friday, July 17, 2015

How To Get Removed From My "Client" List

If I make two custom projects for you and inexplicably and coincidentally and through no fault of your own, with both I end up in brutal dental appointments, I'm probably never answering the phone when you call again.  Just saying!  Your sheep is pretty cute though :-).

I haven't made any felted sheep in forever.  They take a lot of time, are hard on my hands and I (kind of crazily not crazily) find it hard to adopt them out because I worry that they'll end up in someone's dog's mouth or kicked into bits by someone's cat (yes, both have happened and not just once :-/).  

When I make them, each one turns out exactly how they want to and it's usually never exactly what I had in mind when I started.  I've had laying down sheep that refuse to lay down, sheep I want to be looking to the right that only want to look left, one ewe refused to be posed with her lamb even!  

I used Blossom's wool for this sheep and guess what...she ended up looking exactly like fluffy (not fat!) Blossom :-).  I think that's pretty interesting.

I had some fun trying to figure out how to pose her on the porch railing.  I wanted to see the sheep in the background so played around with my aperture setting so they would be clearer (small aperture, long depth of field, say f18) or blurrier (wide open aperture, short depth of field, maybe f3.2).

Sheep only tend to cooperate for so long though and I could see her starting to look off longingly towards the barn.

And then out to all the crazy green grass that we never have in the middle of July.  Being Blossom, that grass is sure tempting!  Which is maybe why she's ;-).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Yarn Along - A Sheep Of A Different Color

You should probably sit down.  I know I did several times ;-).

Sheepmom was here over the weekend.  Julie, too!  She didn't fill her truck with sheep this time, but she did fill it with pots, pans, miscellaneous supplies and...jars of wool dye.  Yeah, I know.  I told you to sit down ;-).  Somehow I got talked into adding a little bright color to my life.

I have a couple of white fleeces left from this year and surprisingly, Renny's fleece is still here.  I always hate to see her (or any of them, honestly) go each year (but I can't spin them all) and took this as a sign that this was my year.  I decided we would dye part of her fleece.  

I want to try a cardigan with steeking, or cutting your knitting to add a button band.  Yes, that's scary for sure, but oh so brave Renny will be a perfect partner!  I always check Kate Davies patterns first, especially for colorwork, and something like this is at the front so far.  I'm envisioning a light gray (natural) body and colorful yoke.

I picked colors that I liked but also meant something to Renny's story.  Green for her coats she used to wear, rose for her best friend Miss Ewenice.  The yellow was just to add a bright pop if needed and blue as a possible background color.  Let's see how it turned out! 

We sorted out the darkest of the grays for the darkest color, hunter green (8 oz).  The next darkest went for a medium blue (12 oz) somewhere between the two bottles set out.  The lightest gray went for the bright yellow (6 oz).  A darker gray would have made it look pretty dull and dark I think.  The remaining was divided between light green (8 oz) and rose (12 oz).  This is about 1/3 of her total fleece.  The rest was left natural.

Robin uses Jacquard dyes and I was very happy with them as well.  After we had all the fleece divided, we filled a couple stainless steel pans, heated the water to 160 degrees, carefully added a small amount of dye, a goodly amount of vinegar and then the fleece.

Using insulated gloves, we slowly pushed the wool into the dye pot and then put the pot into the oven, set at 200 degrees.  I do realize that technically we should not have been doing this in the kitchen, but we did almost everything outside except the oven...and everyone knows how much little that oven gets used for food around here anyway ;-).

We monitored the pots carefully, watching to make sure the colors were looking the way we wanted and also if the dye had "exhausted" or was completely absorbed so the water remaining was clear.  

Some things we did to tweak the colors was to add some yellow to the greens to keep them from looking too blue.  We also ended up adding some black to the pot of dark green to make sure it was dark enough.  I didn't have to breathe into a paper bag even once and I have to admit it was even pretty fun ;-).

Since we only had a few pots, we transferred the finished dye pots to roasting pans to cool so we could start the next color.  It looks like I could make Kate a new rope toy with these two pans. Speaking of dogs, Kate and Weaslie spent the afternoon in the house so they wouldn't get into anything dangerous.  Betsy spent the entire day sleeping in various rotating positions under the same table so was therefore in no danger ;-).

Here are the colors we used.

And here's how they turned out.  I think we nailed them!

Interestingly, each lock took up the colors differently.  I noticed it first with the rose and when I pointed it out to Robin she explained that sometimes the tips will take up more than the cut end. The blue color apparently didn't get that memo as it's the reverse.  I'm sure there's a scientific reason for that.  Anyone?

And here she is!

I think this is going to be fun.  I can't wait for it to dry (surely by today, although with all this rain, nothing's really drying :-o).  Obviously there is way more here than I need to make a sweater, so I hope I have it planned out so I can divide everything in half and maybe sell the second half to someone else who'd like to spin and knit a fun (and colorful :-D) Renny project.  

On the reading front, I'm listening to Go Set A Watchman, the sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I just started it yesterday (the release day so many of us have been counting down to) so am only a few chapters in. I have a feeling even if it's awful, we'll all enjoy it regardless.

Joining in with Ginny...


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