Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ramadamadingdongs

Last Thursday was blessedly cooler than we had been experiencing, but at evening chore time the lambs and two young ewes in the Sheep Sheraton were breathing heavily. My nagging subconscious jumped out on one shoulder and fairly shouted at me, "You KNOW you've needed to get those ram lambs separated from the ewes!" I hadn't witnessed any interest in the girls from Bogie and Butler (not that I've been around much) but the older ewes in the Ram-ada lot have been bonking heads, as has Blake with his wether buds; it is the season when Shetlands' instincts start turning to sheepy shagging. 😍

I promptly snagged Bogie and hauled his substantial self to Nightcap's old quarters in one-half of the Ram-ada Inn. Upon returning to the Sheep Sheraton for Butler, I found him pursuing one of the ewe lambs and making awfully 'adult' faces for my littlest lamb. 😳 He quickly joined his uncle in the bachelor pad, although not without drama. It was, after all, his first time to be haltered:
Pretty effective "leaf camo"!
The next morning dawned quietly; Bogie has been weaned for awhile and I think Bree was happy to see Butler go (I haven't seen the three youngest lambs nurse from Bree or Babette in quite some time). But I soon found out another reason things were so quiet – the boys had managed to squeeze through the boards of their gate and were quite happy mingling with three willing "women"! 😱

This was NOT good. There was to be NO BREEDING this fall, and now I could be dealing with lots of bred ewes, uncertain male parentage, and extreme inbreeding (Sarai is the only ewe not related to either of them). I cornered everyone, caught and haltered the naughty little boys, and pondered my next move.
Putting them in with a mature ram was too risky; reinforcing the Ram-ada Inn's divider and gate would take time and materials. The quickest solution was to set up the lambing jug, since Rick hadn't totally removed it when he and Brian last cleaned out the fold. That done, I figured I might as well give them needed pedicures and take their photos for advertising purposes before putting them away.

I have asked Rick numerous times to help me wether Bogie, as his longish tail is set low, making it look even longer. And when I had looked at his fleece earlier in the year, I wasn't that impressed. Must not have been wearing my glasses then, because now I realize that he has very finely crimped fine fleece. He also has a different male tail line (through his sire Blake) than the vast majority of polled fine-fleeced Shetlands in the U.S., so he just might be attractive to some breeders.
Butler, on the other hand, has impressed me from the git-go. He is the smallest of my lambs, being a late twin out of a first-time mother, but he is well-conformed, typey and sweet. He is the last ram lamb by Lil'Country Nightcap whose fleece at nine years of age was Superfine Grade 1; his dam Bree is Superfine Premium. I'd love to keep him, but only one of my ewes is not related to him. He's definitely worth overwintering, though, if no one is interested in him this fall.
As I worked with the boys, Brigitte slipped out. She's our loud, demanding, needy girl (supplemented with a bottle after birth), so she is easy to catch and lead. Might as well trim her toes and get photos....
Under all that wool her tail IS fluke-shaped
By then I figured I was in for a penny, might as well be in for a pound and take care of the whole lot. So I haltered Bardot, Brigitte's twin, for her pedicure and photo shoot. This square, typey, black-based daughter of Sarai has been on my keeper list since birth. Although Ag like the muskets, her fleece has kept a lot of color along with lovely crimp, luster, and handle. As a bonus she carries spots!
The last "big" ewe lamb to trim and photograph was Bacall, Bogie's moon-spotted twin out of Vienna. Bacall has always been "under the radar," not attracting much attention, but she really is a lovely girl.
Moon-spot fleece
Next it was the two little girls' turns. Like their brother/half-brother Butler, Bette and Bernadette have looked good since birth. I dreamed of the cross that produced them, Nightcap over Blake daughters, for four years, and the results were all that I hoped for. Too bad I only got the chance to do it one season – but at least I have three stunning lambs as a result!

Bette's fleece has had the softest handle of any of the lambs since birth. Among her other virtues is a nice long topline and a beautiful head.
Bernadette is my dark chocolate beauty, the only non-Ag lamb of the last two seasons. (I think she knows she's special. ;-)

Now to advertise some of them, and get as much of that VM picked out of all the fleeces so I can cover them!!!

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Noteworthy

September 17, 2017: We had our first eight-egg day in I-don't-know-how-long (more than a year?), and rain! Hip-hip, hooray!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Prizes and surprises

Last month our local feed store announced a contest for best "favorite dog" photo.

I sent in one of each of our dogs – and Dozer's won the grand prize! (I sent in a full-color version.)

Since our dogs don't sleep outside, I asked if I could trade the dog house for a dog bed, and the store agreed. Look at this beauty!

Yesterday I invited Dozer to try it out:


Today he decided he likes it:


I got an unexpected package in the mail today. Theresa sent me three skeins of absolutely gorgeous handspun, and a pattern book:
for no reason other than she is an incredibly thoughtful and generous blogpal friend.

Love the fog in this morning's valley view, a sign of the changing seasons:

And look at this fluffy blue butt!

(The sheep adventures of the last 24 hours will have to wait for another post.)

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bloggy blessings

I've been missing out on some of the blessings of blogging lately due to not having time or mental energy to post. I know I'm not the only one for whom blogging – not just reading others' blogs, but posting to my own – is a blessing, because one of my blogpals told me so just yesterday! That blogpal is at the heart of a sweet little story....

Wednesday afternoon our internet went down. After trying various fixes to no avail (turned out a brief power outage fried our antenna's power receptor), I started getting frantic. I was in the middle of essential communications with attorneys in my dad's case . . . and my supper plans were built around a recipe Mama Pea had posted. (I don't commit recipes to a written card until I know they are keepers.) Yeah, I could have made a menu U-turn, but I really wanted to try those cornmeal muffins, and had some thawed pumpkin in the frig that was singing "It's now or never" – loudly. I don't have Mama Pea's phone number . . . but I did have Susan's. Feeling self-conscious about calling someone I've never met or even talked to on the phone before, I dialed her number. When Susan answered, I introduced myself as Michelle from Boulderneigh – and instantly could have been talking to any one of my few dear IRL (in real life) friends. Because you know what? She IS a dear IRL friend! Through our words, our photos, our stories, we have bonded over shared interests, passions, convictions. We could have gabbed for hours but for poor cell service; transported to a common location we would have, I'm sure. This is true of most of the bloggers I follow. That is why I follow them; the bonding is real and deep. One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, said in The Four Loves: "Friendship . . . is born at the moment when one man says to another 'What! You, too? I thought that no one but myself....'"

********************************************
Last night I slept better than anytime in recent memory. Crisp night air wafted through my wide-open window; burrowing into the covers felt delicious. We've had very few of those formerly-typical cool summer nights; on the news last night, the meteorologist said that this month is the first September on record that nighttime temperatures have stayed above 64° – and we've had five nights so far that have. That's only one of many extreme weather records we've smashed this year, but relief is in sight. This weekend Oregon is supposed to see the first real rainfall in months, followed by much-moderated temperatures. I think all living things will be singing hallelujah over that – especially the firefighters working hard all over our parched state and beyond. Summer, don't let the door hit you on the bum on the way out! Yes, I'm missing the late-evening daylight, but I'm loving the glorious morning light (biggify to see the wonderful detail down in the valley):


Last Friday I was laid low by some strange ailment. On our way home from Brian's violin lesson, I felt a wave of sleepiness. When I got out of the the car at home, I felt strangely light-headed, so I decided to lay down for a few minutes. I dozed briefly, then jumped up to tackle the many things that still needed doing before the Sabbath began – only to feel seriously dizzy, to the point of nauseous. Back to bed I went, and there I mostly stayed until Sunday morning. For the first few hours, only laying on my left side kept my world from spinning out of control (when I tried to change positions, I lost everything else to the point of dry heaves); after that, I could move some but remained miserable. By the end of Saturday, my pillow and bed felt like torture devices, so I moved to the couch for the night.

By Sunday morning I felt fragile but better – to my great relief, not only because I don't "do" sick, but because I had promised to take a dear friend to a Renaissance festival as a belated birthday present. I got up to see how I fared doing chores . . . and found Blake ailing again:

What is it about me taking a time-out from chores that makes my ram-man ill? Actually, I think it's just that my recent absences have coincided with leaf drop. Our long, hot, dry summer has stressed the trees into prematurely shedding their leaves, and Blake has been busy hoovering them up. We confirmed that he's urinating just fine, so no blockages, and he's bounced back without intervention. Hopefully he doesn't cause himself more problems....
Maple leaves cover the Ram-ada Inn

Anyway, I fared okay with morning chores, so off to the RenFaire my friend and I went:






We saw everything we wanted to see except a couple vendors missing from last year and made a short day of it; the only thing I purchased was some heavenly honey lavender gelato.

Speaking of only buying edibles, I'm pleased to say that my "non-acquisition year" is going well. I think all I've bought for myself is a shirt and a pair of used jeans plus a couple things to make my horse more comfortable; all my other purchases have been consumables, gifts, or things my guys needed. It has been surprisingly easy; I just don't look at ads and sales racks and remind myself that I'm in need of nothing – good habits to continue.

Back to the homefront. The New York asters in front of Brian's bedroom window are in full bloom now, one of the few colorful highlights in our current landscape.

My urn of red Calibrachoa was a bright spot – until something came along and ate off all the flowers!

For weeks the swallows have been gathering, busily catching bugs in the late afternoon, then collecting on the power lines.
I don't think you could extrapolate any music from their positions on the wires, but I found this little piece rather lovely:


Wishing you sweet songs, from . . .