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Friday, December 24, 2010

Visions of Sugar Plums

After 3 weeks of constructing fruit baskets for the local orchard, visions of sugar plums instead of tumbling apples and pears are welcomed. Our tree is beautiful.... selected and decorated by Lillian and Molly. I rested my aching feet and legs and elected to put the hooks on the ornaments and hand them to the girls." Just like Grandma used to do", was Molly's comment. Just another family tradition I guess. Looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and lots of memories of Christmases past and those people that were part of them and made the holiday so happy.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas doing all the things that you love with those you love to be with.

Friday, December 10, 2010

HGTV

Who says watching TV is a waste! I love those do it yourself shows and today it paid off. I got a great deal on insulated blinds and brought several home. Bill tried to install them since he is the renovator of this old home and there is nothing he can't do..... well that was before Parkinsons. His hands shook so much that even with my trying to steady them the screwdriver couldn't connect with the screw head. We did find ourselves laughing in spite of the frustration. The thought of paying someone to install blinds made me determined to take all the knowledge gleaned from HGTV and get the job done. With Bill's guidance, I managed to get the insulated blinds up and working. I feel empowered!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BRRRR

The coldest December I can remember in a long time is upon us. Windy!!!! Frozen hoses in the barn, tank heaters plugged in and hands so cold that I injured one and don't know how or when I did it. The injury makes barn chores longer and I don't know if I will be able to continue my job at the local orchard building seasonal fruit baskets. Tomorrow will be the test.

The Bobcat and I have come to an agreement this year. It starts for me! Up until recently it never did but it seems to sense that I need all the help I can get moving the large bales purchased form a local dairy farmer from the pick up bed to the barn. It needed gas so I tried to pour what little was left in the can into the Bobcat in the wind and half the gas poured down my sleeve. BRRR. As long as no one strikes a match near me I'll be fine but the sheep wonder who I am. Sure don't smell like Mom.

I left for the barn this afternoon leaving Bill and the dog asleep on his chair. It's one of those chairs that lifts Bill to an almost vertical position. Well, while I was gone, the dog hit the button and Bill and Rusty rose from a comfortable reclined position to almost being catapulted out the window! When I came in Bill, was screaming in a half awake state while Rusty clung to Bill's shoulder fearfully. Katy Perry was warbling away on the Ellen Show. The other dogs, dozed through the whole ordeal without moving. The whole picture struck me funny and Bill even managed to laugh with me after he calmed down. Gotta love those dogs.

It's suppose to get colder but the winds will calm. At least we don't have snow like so much of the US. Molly says our temperature are balmy compared to what they have had in Utah. 2010 is going out with a BANG.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shades Of Shetland Shawl


I made this as a gift but since I've worn it several times so I'd better keep this one and make another! Don't want to give a used gift! It is handspun wool from the different colors of my Shetlands. It is so soft and warm and was so easy to make!

Today I got inspired to spin Shetland from several different fellow breeders and
call this shawl Friendly Shades of Shetland. I've got beautiful soft moorit roving from the Lloyds in Colorado, some soft white from Ramsay Farms in Minnesota and several colors from Celtic Herd right down the road. Along with my colors this shawl should be spectacular. Glad I've got tomorrow off so I can just sit and spin!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A PA Yankee Goes South



Collard greens,sweet potato pie,butter beans and a ride on my son in law's Harley. Not exactly a yankee celebration but soo much fun.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving




There's always that one rude relative who shows up for dinner!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Anne Priest

As I blogged yesterday about going from a city slicker to a shepherd I kept thinking about a dear friend who went from NY actress to shepherd. She sold her NYC loft to purchase her beautiful farm in the country. Several years ago she wrote "Trafficking In Sheep" an autobiography. It detailed yearly trips to Nova Scotia with her flock and her summers on Blue Island. At 83 she still did her chores and lived with her dogs and flock still taking those summer trips to Canada . We always met at the Rhinebeck NY show, often spending the evenings together at her beautiful home on the hill. She was a gracious hostess and such a delight to share hours with over a leg of lamb and Jack Daniels. Good times and conversation never to be forgotten.

Last night I got a call that Anne had died doing her chores. It makes me sad that we have lost a wonderful BFL breeder but I smile to think that her passing amidst her flock was the perfect ending to her life as a shepherd. She will live forever in my memory. She was one of those unforgettable people for good reasons.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Forgettable

This was a week of reunions. Running into my ex after 10 years, watching Lillian again after 5 weeks off, a spinning guild reunion and a high school reunion.

Meeting my ex reminded me that my second life full of kids, sheep and friends is the best of times. So different from what it would have been.

Having Lillian and the joy of 5 year old companionship for 3 days was exhausting but fun. She makes me laugh as we do things that you can only get away with when you have a little one with you.

The spinners reunion was great. This sheepy life has given me such good times and friends.

The HS reunion in NJ was fun and so thought provoking! I learned that I am forgettable! I am not the dork that I thought everyone would recall! It was fun watching everyone read my name tag and smile at me with total lack of recognition in their eyes. Having taught for 25 years, I know that there are more forgettable kids than unforgettable and the ones whose memories linger are there for good reason.... like the boy I had who could pop his glass eye out and laugh as it rolled under the surrounding desks causing general chaos and disruption. Now that's unforgettable! I was just another gray blazer and plaid skirt that dashed through the halls.
As I looked around the room, I felt removed from the women I saw. When asked what I did since retirement my tales of 76 sheep, truck trips to festivals and the wonderful smell of sheep fell on half listening ears and blank stares. I kept my hands in my lap to conceal my broken nails and lack of nail polish. I'd come a long way from the New York metropolitan area but no regrets. We had to sing the alma mater (good thing it was printed in the program) and a few women began to cry. My two companions and I rolled our eyes and passed notes just as we did in HS. Only this time the notes said,"Is the bar still open?"
My only regret was that the math teacher who threw erasers at me for being unable to solve for X and then gave me detention for chalkdust on my blazer wasn't there. I was looking for her. Wonder if she found me forgettable????

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The ID

At least that's how I think we'd spell this Muslim holiday in English. My Bosnian customers came to butcher rams today. They all had farms in Bosnia and are an education to watch. I learn something every time they butcher here. You should see the skins they took off. OOO lala. I already have them salted. One man and his son gave me fresh meat as a gift. Gifting some of the meat is part of the slaughter tradition. Never done anything with fresh lamb before so I asked them lots of questions and now have it slowly roasting with garden herbs. Smells good.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beautiful Day of Sheep Hauling

Can't pass up an opportunity to take a ride so yesterday and I agreed to do some ram hauling to West Virginia. Tim offered to ride along AND drive. The day was sunny but windy so the cover on the cage flapped violently most of the way. When we were headed in the correct direction, the flapping stopped, giving us a short bit of quiet, but we couldn't go south the whole trip! Words cannot describe how beautiful the scenery was as we sped through western MD and into WV. I cannot explain how mesmerized I become watching America out a car window. What a beautiful place to live! The foliage was a little past peak but still showing dynamic colors. No desire to doze with such beauty.

The day went perfectly, meeting everyone on time and at the right places. The Black Welsh ram hopped into his ride home only to keep hopping into the front seat. Thankfully Andrea brought her dog along to eye him into his correct riding position. Tim and I were worried but they arrived home with no broken windows. Our only regret was that we couldn't "sit a spell" and visit. That's the best part of this sheep business.... it's filled with the most wonderful people that you love to spend time with. We always leave with a "see you soon and hope to spend more time on the next trip." There are so many of those next trips that I want to take.

Tim and I stopped for dinner in Berkley Springs, WV. HAVE to get back there for some walking around. It's like Leesburg,VA. I whizz through often always saying "next time I'll stop for coffee." It's a cool little town too. Molly and I always stop in Georgetown, CO though. That place just sucks us right off the highway. So many great places and too little time. Why am I always in a hurry?

Rob, Dusty and Andrea...... hope your rams are happy and working in their new homes. We'll get together soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

When the phone rings at 2AM it either means that something terrible happened or the sheep are out! Thankfully it was the latter.
Off I went in my PJ's, flashlight in hand, looking for the escapee. All gates were closed so I had no idea which pasture was missing a sheep. After walking the road several times and finding nothing it was time to count sheep. Luckily, I hadn't counted many when I got to the ram lambs in the barnyard. Yup, one was missing. All gates were shut tightly and there were no holes????? At least now I knew I was looking for a white BFL, that's better than a dark wooled Shetland. How did he escape and why didn't the others go with him, as they usually do? Glad they didn't. Now in the car, I began driving up and down the road. Thankfully, the bridge has been repaired the our road is no longer a well travelled detour so there's no traffic. At this point it's getting cold and my flashlight is dimming. After an hour, he appeared ... right in the middle of the road like a four legged ghost that I was delighted to see. By this time, Tim had arrived to help. Our old house and barn are built right on the road so shuushing the big guy into the barnyard was easy but the mystery still remains unsolved. Did he close the gate when he left or was this a Halloween prank? Molly suggested that I check this particular sheep for opposable thumbs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tractors

Lancaster, PA is always beautiful so I jumped at the chance to drive there with Tim to look at mowers and tractors. Tim needs the mower and Bill and I need a smaller tractor. We have a huge Ford- New Holland that now longer pulls haybines and balers. All it does is bush hog and move manure. It's big and awkward for maneuvering in small spaces so Tim and I thought we'd trade it in for something a little more woman friendly . I'm the main operator now and have trouble hooking up to the PTO alone. Bill's knees wont allow him to get into the cab but he loves his tractor. Through my hours in the cab, I must have learned to talk tractor by "assmosis" because I could converse with the salesman relatively intelligently, or so I thought. (I'd like to hear the salesman's side of this story. He's probably still laughing. ) Home again with brochures in hand there's no response from Bill. Guess I'll be driving Big Blue for another season so I'd better get the AC fixed and learn how to hook up the mower. Guess I shouldn't interfere with a man and his tractor.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010 Continues.... Murphy's Law Prevails

Brew a pot of coffee for this blog. It's a doozie! Today I had my ewes artificially inseminated for the first time. I had purchased semen and was happy that it had arrived just in time for my date. Good luck there but it all goes downhill at this juncture. I borrowed a trailer from my friend so I could haul my 6 ewes to the procedure site. As long as I am going forward I can pull a trailer. The trailer was parked in mud this morning so Bill and were like hogs on ice getting the thing hooked up. Bill walks with a cane but his cane wasn't any help stabilizing him. Finally hooked, we pulled out onto our little country road which is now the detour for 2 main roads. It's rush hour and passing traffic is not happy that we had taken up on side of the road to load sheep. My ewes, not being halter broke , do not want to lead to the trailer but with the help of my friend Bev we get them loaded. At this point we notice that the jack on the trailer is only inches from the road surface. We need to switch hitch balls. Out comes the hydraulic jack, which has to be used from the road side of the trailer since the barnyard side isn't level. More comments from passing traffic but I didn't care since their traffic has been a pain for us for the last year. OK now we have the correct hitch ball and are off. Still time to get there on time. The garmin took us on the scenic route but Bev and I were enjoying the barn arcitecture as were traveled. 3 miles from our destination we come to a bridge that is closed with no prior warning. Did I mention that I can't back up a trailer. After trying my charm on the road workers to proceed ... they said I was too heavy for the bridge... add insult to injury guys! So much for charm, I made a U turn in the front yard of the house by the bridge. Good thing we had that jack raised or we would have made a huge divot in the grass. Bev was hiding under the dash waiting for incoming fire as we made our getaway. The DOT workers yelled something but feeling like Jesse James in Northfield I put the pedal down. Thankfully the garmin rerouted us to our destination but we were late and lost our turn. I enjoyed watching the procedure on all the sheep in front of us. I even helped. I was so stressed by this time that being "gas man" took my mind off the day. Finally... our turn. I found someone to back the trailer in and we got my ewes ready to go. OH NO.. my semen straws are not in their containers. Somehow they had been dumped into the bottom of the nitrogen tank and are irretrievable. Choices now are
1. go home 2. use semen from another ram in the tank which I will have to pay for 3. or use semen from another breed of sheep Choosing option 2 we now discover that there are only 4 straws of Bluefaced Leicester semen in the tank and I have 6 ewes. Splitting straws is now in my vocabulary because that is what we did on 4 ewes. Conception is not 100% under the best conditions so I'm not looking at good odds right now. I choose to be pessimistic because a pessimist can only be made happier,right? Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised when all 6 ewes conceive. Those 15 straws that I paid for are still in the tank but do I want to do this again? I don't think I can afford it financially or mentally. Bev and I did laugh all the way home. What else could we do? My Murphy's Law flag will be flying tonight.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rhinebeck

Rhinebeck was perfect. Usual Autumn weather, which I love, and a really well attended show. It was so much fun seeing other breeders from all over the country. Robina and Shirley were in from OR. I only wish I could have spent more time with them. Shirley was amazed at the size of the Rhinebeck show! It is a fabulous wool show for sure. Lisa and I were so busy in the booth that we couldn't escape to get food on Saturday....NO complaints tho.... busy is good. We didn't get to party as much this year since everyone was super tired at the end of the day. That's good too, I guess. Thanks to Bill's lighting purchases, our booth was well lit and beautiful this year. Sending that man to a hardware guarantees more than anyone could ever imagine.

Got home late late night and had to get up at 5 to give hormone shots to my ewes being inseminated this Wednesday. Everything has come at once. Maybe I can sleep after Wednesday???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pre Rhinebeck Fiber Frenzy

We leave for Rhinebeck NY show on Friday. Yesterday I got a wild idea to make Shetland roving with tencel and another batch of Shetland with silk to sell at Rhinebeck. Usually I have my roving done by professionals, but since this was last minute I fired up my Supercard. Now don't get me wrong, I like my supercard and it gives me the most wonderful batts to spin but it takes forever!!! Not getting empaled on the picker was a good start. But I could feel myself getting frustrated by the rate the carder was going, so I got a cup of coffee. This made me move faster but it didn't help the carder speed one bit. Tencel was in my coffee, my mouth and stuck to me everywhere. I was moving at the same rate of speed as I did when I took steroids a few years ago. Dinner thrown in the oven and I was and back to carding. By this time I had produced eight four ounce bags!! Don't know if I can take another day of this. From now on Biltmore Fiber Mill can do my carding and deliver it to my booth. So much for being cheap and trying to do it myself. My nerves can't take it! The only joy was spinning samples of the fibers. OOO La La. Dinner was so-so but each mouthful provided enough strands of tencil and silk to floss our teeth while chewing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rusty

Since Tim's last dog find was returned to his rightful home it was just a matter of Tim til he came home with a new adoptee. Here is is... Rusty a Cairn Terrier/Jack Russell. Molly's dog Judy just loves him. She and Rusty run around just like she did when Garrett came with Sadie. It's funny to see Judy the lump move so quickly. More doghair in the corners!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Facebook

OK.... Today I gave up the fight to protect my children's privacy and NOT join Facebook. For years now I have allowed Tim and Molly to be themselves on Facebook without my scrutiny . I thought they were happy with that decision. Today I finally caved in to friends and relatives denying me pictures unless I went to their Facebook site and secretly ( or so I thought ), set myself up on Facebook. It wasn't long before I got calls from both Molly and Tim berating me for not friending them . (Aside, spellcheck doesn't recognize the word friending.) Guess a mother just never does anything right!

With this new Facebook status, I have done something unheard of... posted pictures of myself on line. Usually I don't even agree to allowing a picture to be taken but I must finally be accepting the fact that I am who I am and there's a lot more of me. There's no hiding it anymore. Some people grow old gracefully but I'm going down in denial all the way. At least I can still find my way home.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shawls.... Love 'EM

I love shawls. When I taught first grade, I used to flap around the room in one like a giant crane, tickling the kids with the fringe. Many of those children are probably suffering from "shawlophobia" as adults and seeking professional help.

I still have the shawl I wore on my first Communion Day thousands of years ago. It was made by my Italian neighbor who taught me to knit in Italian. That's probably what I like best about my shawls.. .the memories they evoke. Every shawl in my collection reminds me of a the person who made it. One was made by my spinning guild for a demonstration. It is a conglomeration of thick and thin singles that would make a sheep to shawl judge cringe but it's made from the wool of my first sheep. I laugh to think of the day we made it. The bagpipe player began accompaniment, playing faster and faster. Of course, we spun faster and faster til someone screamed in a tangled mess of over spun yarn .

My Shetland sheep and a Scottish grandmother gave me the impetus to learn more about traditional Shetland knitting and try my hand at some shawls of my own. Not finely spun or well knit, they have made me feel connected to my sheep and my Grandmother' homeland. There is something special about knitting with wool from your own sheep and putting a name on the fiber.

This summer I fell in love with a shawl made by Tari Lohrey at the Wooster show. It was handspun BFL wool, dyed with natural dyes. The pattern was Irish, the other part of me. I couldn't believe that Tari agreed to trade her beautiful shawl for one of my sheep! It is in my collection and another treasured memory.

With Fall in the air, I'm anxious to get some of those shawls out and go swooping around again.(Get your children off the streets.) Elisabeth counts the sheep pictures in my house. Maybe I'll get her to count my shawls.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ramona aka Daisy

Remember Tim's canine stray Jack Russel who arrived while I was away? Well she became a member of the family. Tim named her Ramona but Dad kept calling her Magnolia. Tim bought her a new collar,special food, a bed etc.Romona went everywhere with Tim. She had moved in for sure, until last Friday. Tim had her out for their usual walk when a passing car stopped and the driver yelled "Daisy....you have my dog!" Tim was stunned as Ramona/Daisy happily hopped right in the car and never looked back. Not so much as a parting wave of the tail. (Sort of like the Irish kid we kept for the month of July.)
Well, Tim just showed me a picture of a dog at the shelter that he'd like to get. Just when I had just gotten used to being a 2 dog household again.

To be continued....I'm sure.

Rain It Is a Blessed Thing Beloved From Pole to Pole

At least I think that's how it goes in the Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner that I read in high school. Somehow that stuck in my ancient brain taking up brain space for more important thoughts. Oh well, hope Sister Noreen reads this blog and rewards me at my next high school reunion.

Anyway...it's raining! We have had so little rain this summer that it really is a blessed thing today. The formerly dingy BFL sheep looked so clean and white this morning when they came in to eat that I spent lots of time just looking through each fleece as they stood to eat. They made me all wet and sheepy smelling but it's a great smell!

Rainy days give me energy so I carded oodles of roving batts for Rhinebeck this morning. Usually I send my wool off to be carded and blended but today I just felt like blending funky different stuff...Shetland/BFL cross with glitz and silk, Shetland with dyed silk and BFL locks. Spinning the samples of each blend was such a joy.This day just keeps getting better! Hope it keeps raining.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Hokus Pokus Roving

When the last batch of roving came back from the mill I couldn't believe I had put such awful colors together. It looked like 2 batches of very uncoordinating colors were carded together.What was I thinking? Surely I mislabled the bags it in my haste to get it mailed to my processor. Christine and I sat for days pulling the roving apart into balls of 2 colors hoping to salvage some of the beautiful BFL fiber. We spun it and thought all was well til Christine washed hers!!! Seems the dark blue dye was not rinsed well and the blue ran through all the skeins creating entirely new colors. I had goofed again with that blue. (Thought I learned my lesson when I completely changed the colorway on Tim's Shetland vest that was a Christmas gift 3 years ago. Only I know what it was" suppose" to look like and how beautiful it "was".)

Well.....I've decided to call the roving Hokus Pokus and sell it as magic roving at Rhinebeck. All I need is PT Barnum to sell it. All the skeins in the picture came from the same roving. Some of them are funky and some kind of cool. Should make a novel display in my booth. What you see is not what you'll get! There might be an adventurous spinner or 2 that want to give magic a try.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Christine's Shawl

My friend Christine, who has been spinning for a whopping 4 years, was the Shetland customer who made me discover and love my Shetland fleeces. My original Shetland flock was dropped off on my lawn in 2001 by a disgruntled breeder. (Another breed I just happened into.) I enjoyed them but didn't get into the breed til Christine starting buying my fleeces at Maryland 4 years ago. She made this shawl and won a blue ribbon at the Maryland state Fair. It's made from one of my fleeces and is an original design. The best part is SHE GAVE IT TO ME!!!!! It is a treasure for which I am so grateful.

Apple Ball

The few trees left in our orchard that the Shetlands haven't killed have apples so Fall entertainment here on the farm is rolling the apples down the hill for the Shetlands to fight over and devour. (Who says farm life isn't exciting??) We have a new player this year though....Ruben. What used to be a simple ball game has now become a butt and tackle sport. It's more like football than baseball with the addition of Ruben. Great fun to watch giving me the opportunity to discover and use the SPORTS setting on my camera. Guess that technically makes it a sport!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Calamity Jane

I should write a book about this little ewe who just keeps going. Tiny at birth she hasn't grown much but what she doesn't lack is the spirit to survive. She has achieved the name Calamity Jane.


At two weeks, I found her stuck in a cinder block. Her whole body was jammed in so tightly that extracting her took time and manuvering. Her legs were lacerated and bent but she could walk a bit. Keeping up with mom for milk was difficult. she was treated for infection and pneumonia before finally becoming a real lamb again.
In August she got pneumonia again so I put her in the barnyard with the ram lambs while I went to Utah. Calamity managed to escape, injuring the first joint on her left leg. When I got home she was struggling to walk again. The "cast" in the picture is pipe insulation wrapped with vet wrap. She's running away from me now so she's healing. Calamity is proof that sheep don't just give up and die as some people believe.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Up until about 6 years ago we baled our own hay. The geriatric baling crew consisted of the 86 year old neighbor John, my husband Bill then in his mid seventies and myself. We Tom Sawyered any unsuspecting young kid into helping with the offer of a few dollars an hour. ( Only one ever returned the next year). Our ancient baler had no kicker but at the speed John drove the tractor, the bales weren't exactly flying out the chute. You could hook one and stack it on the wagon before the next bale appeared. We were the poster crew for "slow and steady wins the race." It like riding a lurching Zamboni, but my sheep ate the most beautiful hay and leafy alfalfa ever seen. I lament the day we retired from the business and sold our equipment to the Amish. That baler is now being pulled by horses and it is probably going faster.

Where am I going with this??? Well..... yesterday my purchased hay arrived. Made by a local farmer, it smells like stale cigars and looks like straw that was rained on! My comments were not appreciated by the farmer. I gave some to the Shetlands who quickly left the barn after one whiff. The first load I got from him was nice so I expected better than this! Mumbling under my breath while stacking the stuff in the barn, I managed to grab a handful of wasps nesting on a beam. My swollen hand took my mind off the disappointing bales. Passing the hay entries at the York Fair later that day, I saw what looked like my hay six years ago with a blue ribbon it. Fortunately, the sheep don't remember the good stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

York Fair

As always, I worked the Orchard booth at the York County Fair last weekend. I had to miss the BFL show in WI but I still haven't mastered the art of being 2 places at 1 time try as I might.

As Molly's mother, part of my duty at the fair is to attend the free country music shows after my shift and get autographs and pictures of the performers for Molly who can't be there. Tim says if I had a facebook, I'd have to list yelling at small children in my wool booth AND stalking performers as a hobby. Here's my latest victim...David Nail. Doesn't the look on his face say, "why do I have to put my arm around this old chick?" I'm sure Molly will photoshop me out of the picture. I can't wait til Molly can stalk for herself.

When friends were listening to the Beatles, I was into country music. My best friend Madeline got bamboozled into going to NYC to see Hank Williams JR.....I think, back when they wore lightning bolt suits and jazzed up western wear. Madeline was beautiful, blond and wanted to be a Rockette. When the show started the look on her face resembled that of David Nail in the picture..... "how did I get into this?" She never went with me again, but I appreciated her sacrifice that one time. Every beautiful girl needs a dorky friend to keep her humble, right? Sorry, Maddy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

RAMS IN PLACE

All the ewes were sorted and placed with their breeding ram last week! We should have babies on the ground by late January from the activity in the pastures. I am holding several ewes for AI with the semen purchased from rams selected by Jared on his trip to the UK. Altho apprehensive, I am excited about doing this procedure for the first time. I was really happy with the condition of my flock coming in from summer on pasture. All but 2 looked great! Worm resistance in the adult flock is very good. Some of the lambs have had problems but they usually gain resistance by age 1. No ewe lambs will be bred this year and I mean it this time!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sheep for Sale BFL and Shetland

Here are a few BFL rams for sale. The dark one OR22 Kyle is sired by R1/Blackmoor ram. Nicely pearled fleece.


Y19 is sired by a natural colored Titus ram with an F2 dam CH V2. Y19 has very dark pigment and a wide nose. His fleece is very dirty from our dry hot summer but it looks awesome when wet. $250. each

I can send better pictures if interested. Can't get them to pose for me!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Home Again

After getting Molly moved in I had some R&R in Salt Lake with sheep friends I hadn't seen in years. We had started sheeping at the same time in PA. when our kids were small. They are from Brooklyn and I'm from NJ so farming and sheep were not something we knew much about. We laughed about lambing with open books on those cold nights in the barn and calling each other for HELP! Those poor sheep that survived our lack of skill will always be remembered with sympathy.

For 3 days we talked and laughed....lots. Chuck took us on a beautiful drive through the Wasatch on a road some would consider a goat path. It was so much fun that I could have stayed longer but wearing out my welcome was a concern. Beware tho.....I will be back!!! I'm thinking adoption maybe????

I returned home to a dead mouse hidden somewhere in the walls. (How can something so small smell so BIG?)and another dog!!!! She was in the road and when Tim stopped to get her to safety,she jumped in his truck. As luck would have it no one had advertized a lost dog and Tim's attached now so that makes 3 dogs.

My sheep were better than I left them thanks to Tim. Now, I have to get them all regrouped for breeding season. Still hot and dry with no grass in several pastures.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tim Shepherds

My flock has been left in Tim's care while I enjoy the west. Something out here makes me feel comfortable but I miss my flock. Tim has decided that the Shetlands are "real sheep" while the Blues are divas. He calls the Shetlands wild but predictable. Ruben my yearling ram has already dotted Tim's legs with bruises from horns that curve to the perfect poking angle as he pushes his way in to eat. Gotta love him. That's his only fault. After feeding, the Shetlands dash out to pasture to get far away from the barn. The BFL lambs eat and then refuse to go out. As Tim chases they scatter in all directions but out. They want to linger and loaf in the cool barn for the morning. Tim finds their scattering behavior infuriating and wonders how I can love such a high strung breed. Easy......they are my beautiful flock while the Shetlands are comical and low maintenance.

Tim has managed to mow pasture weeds and clean the barnyard for me. I will return to a farm looking much better than the one I left. Thank you,Tim!

Molly storage locker is empty! All her possessions are again in a third floor bedroom. How many times have I told her I will not help her move again.....especially if she can't get ground floor. I'm too old for this!

We found a Celtic Fling in a local town to attend tonight. Looking forward to seeing how western Scots party. Hope they have lamb since the mountains around us have plenty of sheep.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Cool Mountain Air....We're here

Arrived in Utah last evening. Woke up to a magnificent mountain morning. Like some people love the ocean, I love the mountains. The smell in the air invigorates me. Eastern humidity is forgotten and my air has lost its curl. I should have jogged my fat butt to this cafe instead, I drove the Yaris, blinded by the national collection of bugs on the windshield. We tried to scrub them off in Wyoming but only made visibility worse. At least we didn't collect an antelope.

Our 2100 mile trip was wonderful. First day...900 miles to Hannibal,MO. We had a great audio book that made the miles timeless. Guess we should have been reading Huck Finn to ready us for Hannibal. Beautiful old river town full of history with amusing Mark Twain quotes in every window. In search of a coffee shop I wandered to the levee at 6:30 AM while Molly slept. Only finding an open cafe for coffee could have made the morning better. AAHH Sunrise on the Mississippi. The lighthouse reminded me of Tim and how we would drive extra miles anywhere we went to visit one. Lacking time to write my name on the whitewashed fence by Becky Thatcher's house, we were off to our next stop. North Platt NE. What did I find crossing the Missouri into Nebraska???? A Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center that I'd missed! It was one of the best too. Could have spent hours there doing all the interactive centers but as Robert Frost said, "miles to go before we sleep" or something close to that. Molly had a lot of things to say but not as quotable. Not many stops after that but beautiful plains to watch fly by. We are listening to PEACE LIKE A RIVER, which takes place on the plains of North Dakota. Great book!!!!

Day 3 begins with a stop in Cheyenne at the restored territorial prison , former home of Butch Cassidy. Since PEACE LIKE A River alludes to Butch frequently, this stop was imperative. As prisons go, this one was pretty homey. Molly and I visited the Montana Territorial prison years ago and it was eerie and creepy. Molly shivers at the mere mention of the place. The exhibits in Wyoming were educational and invited us to spend more time than we expected .Just as we got going again there was a roadside historic site......a tree growing out of a rock in the Laramie Range. We laughed but it turned out to be a geologic and historic point of interest. Still listening to our audio book filled with wonderful vocabulary and images, Wyoming was behind us in a flash. A few cowboys later were were crossing the Utah line .Wyoming was more interesting and fun than we imagined with just a few stops. Just think, Molly graduates in December and we get to do this whole trip again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Road Trip

Molly returns to Utah for her LAST semester tomorrow. She is a a bit apprehensive to return since summer was so much fun. Of course this also means that we will be driving the car back home for good in December. We've decided to find a new route to make this trip as interesting as possible. Route 80 is the most direct but it deals with Chicago traffic, Iowa floods, and the dreaded stretch of southwestern Wyoming west of Rawlings. I know, you geography buffs are asking.....What about Nebraska? Yup it's there between Iowa and Wyoming. Molly and I both enjoy the Nebraska part of I80. No dread there. Driving home in May we came across I70, which was fantastic. This trip we need some variety with new quirky sights to visit. When I drove to Estes Park 2 years ago by myself, I took the old route 36 from Indianapolis all the way to Denver. It was slower than an interstate but I met some great people along the way and even managed to dodge a tornado. It's the old pony express trail. That could be a fun route, if I remember to pack my ruby slippers. We've decided to just head west tomorrow and let the road dictate the route.

Getting the flock ready to leave for a week has been a 3 day challenge. Getting away from 103 sheep isn't easy! In the last 3 days I have handled every one of them to make sure Tim, my substitute shepherd, doesn't have anybody die on his watch. With everyone wormed and given" a good to go", I just need to write feeding instructions.

Monday, August 16, 2010

No Complaining ....Honest

WE now live in at least the 20th century. AC on the first floor and it is oh so wonderful. My whole outlook has changed knowing I can run in the door and get cool. My flock is probably wondering why I have enough energy to spend more time in the barn. Sam and I mucked one stall in 4 hours...a record. Being able to be cool afterwards gives me so much more incentive to work. I know this sounds trite to those of you with central air but it's a BIG DEAL here with the continuation of this hot humid summer.

I will be driving back to Utah with Molly for her last semester at USU one week from Today. We'll take her car out and I'll fly home after getting her things out of storage and into her apartment. How many times have I moved this kid????? Too many to count but it's what moms do. Molly's 4 years in college have been an education for me too. Without Molly, I'd never know my way around Philadelphia (Temple U) or have driven thousands of miles across the USA (having fun the whole way) multiple times. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. I've visited all 50 states but there are some places worth seeing again. The USA is just an amazing place!

Speaking of travel, Molly and I went to a free concert in Baltimore last Saturday. Jimmy Wayne..country music, what else? I put my Jimmy Wayne CD on in the car on the ride down to practice singing along. After singing a few choruses in the key of off, Molly informed me that I was not to sing at the concert. Except for the standing...6 til 11.... it was great fun. Between the music and the people watching we were totally entertained. We were in the front row, best standing room in the house. I DID sing along and I even caught Molly's lips moving altho she'll never admit it. The inner harbor in Baltimore is such a cool place with great bars and restaurants, an aquarium and Orioles baseball field. When I lived there in 1971 no one could have envisioned that the shabby harbor area would have morphed into what it is today.

Just returned from a quick overnight trip to the NJ beach with my brother,Joe, and his family. Molly needed one trip to the ocean before going back to Utah. It's not summer without the beach and Molly was unable to go with Brogan and I in July. The only thing we missed there was seeing my brother, Tim, and his family. Never enough time to do it all! No wonder my house looks like it does. I have a trick tho. I leave the vacuum out in the middle of the living room and when people drop in I just say,"Oh, I was just in the middle of cleaning, but I don't mind the interruption." I've convinced myself that people believe me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Murphy' s Law Prevails

Sick of me complaining about 2010 yet???? Well, if so, don't continue reading because Murphy's Law struck again. We finally found an AC unit to work in this old house. It was affordable and looked just perfect to cool the first floor of the house without ripping out ceilings to install ductwork. It had to be ordered so we waited patiently. Today the installation was scheduled. The unit and installation crew arrived but the electrician didn't!! We called him and he's out of town. AAHHH. By this afternoon, we'll have an AC unit that I can admire as the sweat pours down my back. I had to laugh at the guy who installed the unit inside. His quote, "Boy is it hot in here lady." No joke. He should have been here two weeks ago. I'm going to fly the Murphy's Law dish towel that I use as a flag in front of the house. Most people have cute little sunny faced and flowery flags. None of that frivolity here til 2010 is over.

Friday, August 6, 2010

2010 Continues

Right now I'm not sure how I'm feeling about this year. From excessive snow in the winter to extreme heat since May, the year has been a challenge. My retreat from heat in the past has always been to mow the pasture weeds in the air conditioned tractor with the radio blaring. Well, today the AC there quit on me! Is this a conspiracy to drive me completely round the bend? Thankfully, I have had some remarkable trips this year to make things tolerable. (I think of those cool sweatshirt days in Oregon and long to return.) Bill has really struggled this summer so everything on the farm has become my job if Tim isn't available to help. Since I have turned half-assed into an art form, this place is now held together with baling twine and a prayer. This afternoon, I broke a thermometer. Please don't tell me that means 7 more weeks of hot weather.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Freedom

The last few days have been wonderful! My neglected flock and gardens have gotten some needed attention since I am no longer the designated hostess and tour guide. Molly and I enjoyed all the places we took Brogan to but it sure was a lot of driving in one month. Wait til I get the bills for the gas I pumped into my car! AAHHH It is cooler now giving me the energy to wash a few fleeces. The old routine feels oh so good. Molly and I plan to go for a bike ride then I'll make Lisa's lamb dish for dinner. MMMMM Perfect day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Photos from our Adventures in New York

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A friend at FAO Schwarz

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Ellis Island

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Lady Liberty


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Mmmmm Nathan's hot dog!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Week with Brogan

Our last week with our young Irish friend,Brogan, was another week of heat and miles of driving. We went to Ocean City, MD for a day so she could feel how warm the ocean is in America. It was a beautiful day with cool breezes. We were with my friend Terrie and her family who have a condo on the beach. She has got to be the most gracious hostess ever! I think Brogan had a good time since she spent hours in the ocean laughing with Terrie's daughter and friend. She never says she likes a place or says "thank you for taking me" so it's hard to tell. It gets a bit disheartening at times. It was a long day with 7 hours in the car but worth it. At least I had a good time relaxing and laughing with my friend Terrie. We escaped the heat of this house for a while anyway.

Thursday, on our way to the airport, we took the ferry out to Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. It was so humid and hazy that the skyline was NYC was shrouded but Ellis Island is incredible. Much money spent to restore the crumbling buildings there, but so worth it. The National Parks Service again has made a place affordable for all to visit. Wonderful museums,a great film and even a place where you can look up any ancestors that may have entered America through New York. $12 for the ferry and museums on both islands. Enthusiastic rangers will tour and instruct and answer any questions. Go NPS...you rock.
The ferry ride out was full of tourist from so many foreign countries that English was just one of the languages spoken. As we pushed our way off the ferry to the cooler breezes of the island I couldn't help but feel a slight kinship with the millions of European immigrants who also walked into a new land surrounded by many languages.Did you know that 40% of all Americans have an ancestor that came through Ellis Island? Their journey being so much more overwhelming than mine for sure. They were made of sturdy stuff. I have already decided I am going back to spend a day on Ellis Island only. We didn't have enough time there to see everything.

Allowing 4 hours to get to the airport, never know about NY traffic, we were early so we headed to Coney Island to get a Nathan's hot dog at the original place and check out the boardwalk. Brogan was enthusiastic about her hot dog, so this was at least a good stop on our journey. Since we allowed so much time and the was no traffic( Go figga) we got to the airport early. We could have spent more time at Ellis but who knew. I'm sure Brogan is glad to be home and cool. I'm happy to be cooler and free!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Retreat in Bedford

Lisa Rodenfels,Anne Bisdorf and I met in Bedford PA for just a shepherd's escape. Where did we stay???? ON A SHEEP FARM, of course. We rented the Shepherd's Chalet in the hills surrounded by sheep studded pastures. 1800 sheep, but who's counting. It was fun to watch moms and lambs and not have chores to do. Saturday's dinner, made by Lisa was amazing... after we cleared the smoke, that is. Lamb of course. MMMM. Diane Kelly another BFL breeder who operates a weaving studio in Bedford joined us for dinner and laughs.
Sunday we toured the Coverlet Museum. Not air conditioned, we glistened with sweat but the gentleman giving the tour was too interesting to hurry. The second room was suppose to have AC but you could have fooled me. I can't wait to take what's left of my coverlet collection out of the blanket chests and study them with my newly acquired knowledge.
We drove the covered bridge tour which included an aside to GRAVITY HILL. The Bedford travel brochure writer gets kudos for his clever way of attracting tourist to this spot. The advertising is so humorous that you simply HAVE to go. You travel on a tiny road and follow the GH's spray painted on the road and the back of the stop signs.
Once there you stop..put your car in neutral, and when you let off the break your car rolls backwards UP HILL. (No we were not drinking before this excursion.)We were just as the ads said,"awed by the laws of physics breaking", AND laughing hysterically. So of course, we had to do it again. Sufficiently awestruck,we headed back to town only to see several more cars arrive for the experience. We all waved and smiled as we drove off. Silly but fun. It's the little things in life.
Back to reality and my own shepherd chores today, but thankful that I have such great friends to share such a laugh filled relaxing weekend with.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ninety Degrees in the Family Room

Brogan and I retreated to the basement to escape the temps in the rest of the house. She watched the Disney channel while I tried to read. Ever tried to read while the Disney channel is on???? Don't. Ears cannot block out the stupidity of the programming.
The ancient AC in the basement is on its last legs but we can get the room to 75, which is a great relief. If I could find a T shirt that said, "I survived 100+ in the USA" I'd buy one for Brogan. Bill attempted to go to the store in an atheletic T shirt. When I protested he said, "young guys wear them out all the time".(I'm sure he's recalling the 1950ies.) My reply was that Michael Phelps wears a Speedo and looks great but when the old man up the road wears his size 40 Speedo to mow the lawn everyone just laughs. He got the analogy and Molly got him a shirt. Aside......Speedos should not be made in size 40.
Coward that I am, I am leaving town. Meeting Lisa Rodenfelds and Anne Bisdorf for a few days of R and R in Bedford, PA. sounds heavenly. Spinning,knitting, someone else cooking and sheep talk. Sounds heavenly.
I promised Brogan to take her to the beach on Tuesday for her last big USA trip then we are off to NYC on Thursday. We'll ferry out to the Statue of Liberty on our way to the airport. Her month in the great oven will end. Back to cool rainy N. Ireland.Sounds wonderful doesn't it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

NYC in the Heat or Melting in the Big Apple

Molly and Brogan had a trip to NYC on their wish lists so we went up on Friday. Stayed in NJ with family on Friday and drove off to "the city" on Saturday morning. Over 90 and so humid. Waiting in the AC for the Empire State Building elevator line was long but bearable. The view on the 86th floor was fairly clear. It had been years since I had been there but the view is still exciting.It is hard to believe so many buildings can stand in such a small area. We walked down to the Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay's) but without a reservation there was no way we could be seated. Should have planned ahead. A little hamburger joint in Greenwich Village wasn't exactly the dinner we had in mind but it was good and very affordable. Anything that didn't run too fast would have tasted good by the time we ate we were so hungry. Great street entertainers to watch in Washington Square. This part of NYC is my favorite. Residential and quiet. The train ride back to our hotel in Jersey City was a nightmare. Too few trains and too many people. We were stuffed in like cattle, sweaty and miserable. Finally back at the hotel room, I put the AC down to 65 and we wrapped up in covers, enjoyed being cold and watched the NY skyline light up out our window. Beautiful.

Sunday morning up at 6:30, I took my coffee to the dock and watched the Chinese ladies do their AM yoga routine. To my amusement, when they finished yoga they began teaching each other to dance...ballroom style. It was so cute to watch. Jersey City is sooo different now from what it was when I lived in NJ. It is safe,clean and completely revitalized.

When the girls finally got going we braved the train again where we met the nicest man who gave us the skinny on all his celebrity shoe store clients.It was fun meeting him and made the train ride seem too short. Subwayed uptown to Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and all those stores near the Plaza that we can't afford. The girls loved it. As for me, I just felt hot, dumpy and poor. Again, not fit to be seen in such places but who cares. The girls dumped me whenever possible,but they found me when they got hungry. I hope Brogan, who was suffering from the heat too, will remember NYC as a fun place and not just remember it for the heat. We tried to make it fun. Hope your 22nd birthday was memorable, Molly. Let's spend the next one in a cooler place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

GGGRRR

Spent all day Tuesday locating and hauling in large square bales of hay for my starving flock. Pastures are gone so the bales were greatly appreciated. Now for our dinner. I had seen someone make Pad Thai on the TV in the morning so after getting all the ingredients I started cooking what was to be an easy meal. It was TERRIBLE. Mine went in the trash as Bill ate his afraid to tell me how it really tasted. Going for a bike ride seemed like a good idea to relax. Later as I sat in my horribly hot house, hungry and glad the day was over, the rains came. The next hour was spent covering the bales with tarps by flashlight. Some days just never end.

Drove to NJ to get Brogan yesterday. She was with some fellow Irish and American kids for a few days. She needed a break from the heat here and the company of kids her own age. She stayed with the wonderful Torres family. Thank you guys so much for your hospitality. We'll get together again next week.

The drive up was fantastic. AC on, coffee, with MY CDs playing. I could play and replay favorite songs without complaints. Played one song 5 times, just because I could. I love being alone.

Brogan didn't get to the beach while in NJ due to rain so we drove just to see the other side of the Atlantic. Amazingly,it was sunny for a few minutes so she got to put her feet in. The sun didn't last long so we headed home. My favorite ice cream shop was gone. This economy is really taking its toll on long established businesses that you expect to be there forever. So disappointing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rain? What Rain?

Well the rain that was predicted seemed to fall on everyone else yesterday. We didn't get enough to penetrate the mulch in the garden. Soo disappointing. The front did blow out the humidity and reduce the temperatures so we took Brogan to Washington, DC today. Seeing the White House was on her list of American "must sees". We went right into DC without getting lost, like I did when I took Garrett there in April. We found 3/4 of a parking space right on the Smithsonian Mall. My lucky day! My Honda Civic squeezed right in. No parking meter...free parking for as long as we wished to stay. It doesn't get any better. We walked to the Washington Monument with the sun beating down on us. Brogan asked,"I thought we were going to DC when it got cooler?" My reply..."it's only 90 with low humidity, this IS cool for DC in the summer." The White House is so guarded now that we couldn't see the south entrance or the rose garden at all. The front is still visible for pictures. Brogan was surprised at the size, expecting it to be much larger and more imposing. After lots of walking we retreated to the AC in the Museum of American History. Super place. There were Dorothy's ruby slippers, an original Kermit the Frog puppet, AND Julia Childs' kitchen. The science exhibits presented a American genius that really made me proud to be an American. In all my trips to DC I had never been to this museum. I really have been missing a good one. Glad we went. With so much more to see, we plan to go back in 2 weeks.

Another squeezy parking job in Chinatown got us into a restaurant for a great lunch. Finally. We were so hungry from lots of walking, but that's what you do in DC.WALK!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The heat and drought continue with high humidity added to the mix. Torture. This weather always makes me grumpy as I feed my winter hay to the flock. Brogan,Lillian and Molly and I have worn out our welcome at anyone's home where there's a pool. I am so grateful for friends. Thank you all so much.

Tim manages a pool. At night he relates tales of poolside brawls that challenge his management skills. Yesterday he called the police 3 times. The weather must be bringing out the worst in everyone. Time for a rain dance on the front lawn... or where the lawn used to be.

Brogan is a real trouper and deserves an award for enduring this weather with humor and smiles. Nothing like this in N. Ireland. Maybe another round of Mini golf tonight will get us all laughing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heatwave

Trying to find anywhere cool, we have been to the mall twice (I hate it) and the theater, which I love. Brogan loves to shop so the mall is great. She loves American bargains. Yesterday she got a pair of jeans for $5 and lots of other bargains. No wonder...she's a size one..short, and I'll bet there's not another person in York County that is that small. She HAD to wear her new jeans today when we went to Lancaster to see JOSEPH at the Sight and Sound Theater. It is an amazing theatrical performance in a huge theater. Bigger and more spectacular than some Broadway shows I've seen. The show was "cool" in more ways than one. A fellow BFL breeder, Kyle McCleary, trains the animals which are included in the show. Today he amazed me by walking 3 Jacobs sheep through the audience, onto the stage during a song no less. No halters were involved. I can't even get a sheep to walk on a halter through the barnyard without music!!! Lisa, we need to hire Kyle for Wooster next year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Antique Bikes and Old Biker

Before it got too hot, we decided to ride the bike/hike trail with Brogan. That meant digging thru the pile of antiques in the barn for "wheels". One found bike was fairly contemporary while the other were two relics of the fifties.....chrome fenders and a basket on one. Molly got that one. Mine was an ancient English road bike. Just my style..upright handles and brakes on the pedals. The tires inflated without blowout so after a little oil we were off. I keep forgetting that young people worry about how they look. That doesn't bother me at all, never has, so my enthusiasm for the newly reborn bikes was greeted with the famous eye roll from Molly and Brogan. They did refuse to wear the cobwebby helmets offered tho. The trail was gorgeous. A bit sunny so we made sure Brogan was covered in sunscreen. Those Irish freckles were just waiting to light up. Along the way another rider, about my age, smiled and said, "nice bike". Was he laughing or did he really admire my "style". I know...that's a biker pick-up line right? I'm just so gosh darn cute. Our ride felt like 100 miles to me but Molly burst my bubble and informed me it more like 6. Killjoy. I was beginning to think I could do that ride across N. Dakota with a little practice. The old bikes and the old biker made it home. Molly and Brogan are now making cupcakes to restore the calories I just burned. They are getting even for making them look like the "red neck bike club".

Friday, July 2, 2010

NYC Trip to Get Brogan

Our Irish guest for the month of July arrived yesterday. Brogan comes from County Derry in Northern Ireland. She is a member of the Project Children Group which brings Irish children under 15 to the USA every summer.

Brogan had to be met at Kennedy Airport. Too many years since I had been there I relied on my brother Joe, who works in NYC, to get me around. And get around we did. We met on Staten Island and since we were both early, going to Coney Island to walk to boardwalk seemed an appropriate way to while away the hours. The fishing pier was proof that America is truly a melting pot. Each fisherman was a different nationality and their boom boxes played an international musical language. Being at the beach with the NY skyline right behind you is a unique experience for we non city dwellers. Passing up a hot dog at the original Nathans, we opted for dinner at an Italian clam house in Queens. Going from Brooklyn to Queens the farewell sign read "Fegeddaboudit", not simply good bye. Dinner was amazing. Mussels marinara and calamari....mmmmm.

Brogan was ushered in by bagpipes and since it was just sunset, Joe drove off to show her the NYC skyline after dark, taking us to some cool places that tourists never go. Ice cream under the Brooklyn Bridge lights was magical. The Statue of Liberty from Red Hook dock was illuminated by fireworks in Jersey City. So beautiful. We rode on cobblestone streets...who knew they still existed? It made me want to reread A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.

Brogan was fading fast so we left NYC with a promise to return. I hope she had as good a day as I. Being with my brother was fantastic and the tour of NYC unbelievable. We grew up going to "the city" as we called it but it is so different now and I think I have grown to love it again after years away. Seeing the remains of the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing brought back great memories of how special those World's Fairs were. "The city" reminds me too of birthdays my mother and I celebrated with a Broadway show and dinner at a fancy restaurant. We saved all year for it and couldn't wait for April to come. Gotta love it. Maybe I am still a city slicker at heart. Where would I put my sheep?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sooo Hot

It must be over 100 in this house today and equally as humid. In my next life I'm getting a house with central AC. No more of this old farmhouse stuff. I watched my 5 year old charge,Lillian, today and we turned the hose on each other while we watered the plants. That felt wonderful.

100 bales of alfalfa went in the barn today. With as dry as it is that might be all there is for this year. My pastures are looking spotty and it's not July yet. We have a 13 year old girl from N. Ireland coming for the month of July. I hope she can endure the heat. Most of our Irish guests melt in the PA summers.

I'm signing off to find a cool spot.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Home From Oregon

Molly and I spent the last week touring Oregon and attending the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene,OR. Returning to heat and humidity of the East is not fun after enjoying temperatures ranging from 52 to 70 in Oregon. Everyone knows how I abhor hot weather. We both agree that Oregon would be our first choice for relocation.

Our first day was spent along the Columbia River in Astoria. Wonderful seafood and of course several Lewis and Clark spots to hike and enjoy on both sides of the river. The 4 mile Astoria Bridge would have been less fun if the passenger in my car would have opened her eyes and stopped whimpering. She is so like my mother was in that respect. With only one segment of the Lewis and Clark Trail to do....Bismark into western Montana, I think I will be sorry when the Trail is finished. Following it has been such a wonderful experience for me and such torture for Molly. Bet she'll finish it with me though since we need to experience more of North Dakota than just Fargo.

From Astoria we traveled the coast tasting Tillamook cheese and of course more seafood. No whales appeared but there were lots of harbor seals posing for us. We revisited Corvallis on our way to Eugene. For those who have never been there,Eugene is abundant with hippies,old and young,tie dyed wear and other "groovy" things. Molly and I got the shirts we regretted not buying last year...they read "Eugene We're all here because we're not all there." The shirt says it all. Eugene hosted the Black Sheep Gathering and the 3rd National Bluefaced Leicester Show. Shetland Breeders were meeting there also. So many great people to talk with and learn from. You just come home so motivated to make your flock and wool products better. Our Shetland friends from home,Roxanne and Bill Dean met us for lunch on Sunday. They are always fun to be with.

After leaving Eugene on Sunday, we needed some solitude so we drove to Silverton. It's where gardens and landscaping are top priority. Treating ourselves to a room at the Oregon Garden Resort we wandered the gardens and hiked the trails at the Silver River Falls. Molly took dozens of pictures since her solitude is cascading water.

Our last stop was VOODOO Doughnut in Portland. Have you seen it on the food network? Another line like the one in Hoboken at Carlo's Bakery but again full of people to meet and chat with. Inside it was dark and strange like its name. Imagine, people actually get married there. Go figga'. What would the bride wear in such a place? A catered doughnut dinner ..... how interesting. Molly has opted for something more traditional when the time comes. Don't think I could find that place again anyway.

Great sights,great food and wine and ever better friends. What more could one ask for in a vacation? Now back to reality...my cooking( if you can call it that) and heat. GGGRRR.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Few Less Mouths To Feed

Molly and I loaded up 5 BIG old ewes to go "across the river" on Sunday. For those asking where?....across the river is the Lancaster stockyard. Chick power rules. They didn't want to go but our determination prevailed and we managed to lift and push them into the truck. I'm always glad the the truck doesn't "leave us sitting" as the PA Dutch say, on the way home because my appearance and smell after the trip would never cause some good samaritan to stop and help us. As I have said before, I hate taking my loyal old girls away but I can't keep them all, especially this year when rain has been sparse and the pastures are thin.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Turn Finally

Well it was finally my turn to use the broadband card for the computer and my computer would not honor my requests to get on line!!! YES...time for tech support again. This time I got an American voice. Does that ever happen? I have enough trouble understanding computer lingo without an Indian accent added to it. Tech Tom is the new love of my life. Who says I'm easy. In a short 4 hours my computer was again working up to its usual low standards but it worked. Now on to a week's worth of unanswered emails.

Finally finished knitting Molly's cape. It's my entry for Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon. The yarn is from our Bluefaced Leicester sheep hand dyed to match and coordinate with her dress. Took at lot of skeins to match the purple but tadahhh.....it's done. Robina Koenig hornswaggled me into doing a weaving for BSG. I said I was easy. Well the yarn is spun but I am not doing the weaving since I sold my loom. My fellow spinning friend has volunteered to weave for me. Thank you Kris. Before Kris volunteered, I had nightmares of me weaving on the cardboard looms I made for the kids when they were little. Are you seeing a pattern here about never saying no? I am so lucky to have friends that bail me out.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Great Lakes Show in Wooster Ohio

Molly and I just got home from Ohio. The trip home was 2 hours less than the one there with no thunderstorms and traffic. Seems like our Garmin decided to take us thru downtown Pittsburgh on Friday at 5:30 PM on a holiday weekend. AAAHHHH! You know how I LOVE traffic! We did get to see the bridges and skyline of Pittsburgh. Looks like a pretty cool place.

The show was hot...like Maryland Sheep and Wool revisited but the company was wonderful! Good thing Lisa Rodenfels and Anne Bisdorff and I don't live closer because I think we could get into a lot of trouble together. Our booth represented our breed beautifully. Go Bluefaced Leicester!

My ewe walked gracefully on her halter by Saturday show time. Allie and Madeline Fraley took her in the ring for me since they are experienced and I am not. Thank you girls for a job well done.The judge appeared to know little about the breed standards of BFL sheep but did the best he could. The competition ewe had more "spring in her ribs", whatever that means, so we got second place. Guess I'd better get more springy sheep before I show again. Sunday I had to take her into the sale ring myself but she walked like a true runway model and sold to a merino breeder in Ohio. My first experience with show ring sales and I'm still alive!!! Showing sheep is not something I enjoy doing but I did learn alot and actually had a good time. Darn Jared, I forgot to wear my turquoise cowboy boots with the jeans in the boots!!! Molly will post pictures tomorrow when we recover.

Thank you Mike Lilburn for planning the most wonderful dinner party. GREAT food and company. So nice to meet you and the Densmores.

Molly and I will be off to Oregon for the Black Sheep Gathering in 2 weeks. No sheep to show there......I hope.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just Say NO

Well the Great Lakes Show is in 2 days and the ewe that I have entered in that show still will not walk on a lead! After several days of warming up to walk and getting used to the halter, I spent an hour tonight in the heat trying every trick in the book to get her to walk. No luck. Maybe she will be more cooperative in the morning when it's cooler. Entering this show sounded like a good idea when my friend Lisa suggested to me but now I wonder just what I was thinking when I said yes. It's like the time I said yes to a 2 week camping trip in the wilds of Maine with my friend Peggy many years ago. I had never camped so it sounded like fun til the first night in the tent in the rain. There were just too many things I hadn't thought about when I signed on. Like no bathrooms!!! Peggy and I had a great time all in all so I know I will survive Wooster and my sheep show. I have not camped since Maine and I think sheep showing might end up the with the same finality. Life would be boring if I had said no to ideas like these. Less stressful but boring. That sheep will walk like a champ tomorrow, I just know it. Molly is going along to take pictures of the Wooster show. I'll post a picture for laughs. Ohio here we come!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Last BFL Baby I really mean it this time!

Can't remember when I took that darn ram out but he must have bred this ewe as his parting act. I was really surprised when I noticed she was bred. Her new ram lamb is "BLUEtiful" according to Molly. He has the most wonderful blue pigment all over with great upright ears. Mom is a yearling with the skills of an experienced mom. Molly took some pictures of him that she'll post tomorrow.

Just An Ordinary Sunday

Photobucket

I had expected Mexican lamb customers today but not 3 cars full of them. They came in snakeskin cowboy boots with lassoes for one lamb. Too late for Cinco Di Mayo, I decided it must be the Mexican rodeo come to town. I'm sure my neighbors were ready to dial INS.
After they left just I sat down to relax, an old friend showed up at my door with a newborn fawn she found on the highway. It was healthy but very hungry. We mixed lamb milk replacer but it would not suck. 2 ounces of milk in its tummy by stomach tube had it warm in no time. I just feel so badly for the momma losing her baby. I'm sure she is frantic like the mother sheep when they can't find their lambs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Burrr

We returned to really rainy cold weather. Why wasn't Sheep and Wool weekend cool like this? Not seeing my lambs for just 5 days was really an eye opener....they all look so big now. While I was away, 2 ewes lambed. Both mules. First timers with no problems at all. The BFL lambs all look so dark now. Funny how when they are born I lament their lack of pigment forgetting how the sunshine "tans" them in such a short time.The Shetlands continue to escape to graze on the lawn. They are stopping traffic and will surely cause an accident soon. Lots of lambs for sale...especially Shetlands. Just ask for pictures if you need lawn mowers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Home

Tim and I left Wednesday, May 5th for Utah. Upon arrival we realized getting Molly's stuff packed and stored was going to be a bigger task than we imagined. Finally on our way, we decided to take the long way home, I70 instead of I80 since there is so much more to see. We started out in Moab,UT. at The Arches National Park. What a beautiful spot with the reddest sand I've ever seen. The wildflowers were blooming and it was cool enough to hike lots of trails. Molly got spectacular pictures. Friday morning we took a back road out of Moab along the Colorado River. It's one of those places that you want to come back and spend more time enjoying. Into Grand Junction,CO where we met up with Jared at work, just to say hello. Unfortunately for me, he works in a garden center and I found a flower pot that I just had to have. Stuffing it into the already stuffed car wasn't easy but where there's a will..... Now the person in the back seat was really lacking for space. Tim experienced his first drive through the Colorado Rockies. This is such a spectacular drive. So much snow still on the ground there! On to Georgetown,CO. It's a quaint old mining town with lots of atmosphere and a really good coffee shop. Of course we had to find the University of Denver and get a gymnastics shirt before heading east to Kansas. Too many jokes about Kansas. I kind of like it. There are so many quirky little places to stop. Torn between them we opted,thanks to Molly, for Abilene. Once home of Wild Bill Hickock and Wyatt Erp, the town museum contained the Museum of Telephony, which made us laugh at first but turned out to be quite interesting,a working carousel and lots of historic buildings and displays. Why there was a guy dressed up as Wild Bill himself. I'm such a tourist and love this kind of stuff. The saloon was looking for Can Can dancers for the summer. We suggested leaving Molly for the job but after much discussion we decided she was more of a Can't Can Dancer, with no previous experience. Would that make her a Can't Can't Dancer???? The costume was definately not her color either....red satin. The coffee was terrible but we had the best scones ouside of the UK. Robert Gates was speaking at the Eisenhower Library at one but we had to "get outta town" for Kansas barbeque in Topeka and John Brown Ale in Lawrence. East to St. Louis, where we had Mother's Day Dinner in the restored Union Station. It was a long drive home from there. No more fun stops after the historic Indian Mounds in Cahokia Il. but we had had so much fun together. It reminded me of the days when my mom would pack the 5 of us in the car and drive cross country, stopping at every historic tourist stop enroute. My brothers and I have such great memories and still laugh about our trips. Hope Molly and Tim will have the same.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ask About MD Sheep and Wool At Your Own Risk

For my 5th birthday I got a baby brother. We not only share this day, and the birthday cake that goes with it but looks, personality and temperment. That would be Type A. Just last week I bragged to that brother that I had really mellowed with age. Well, we all know that "pride comes before a fall" and my fall was MD Sheep and Wool.
My Aries temperment reared its ugly head in the heat and the dust of my new booth location. (When they told me I had been moved they did not say I had been banished from my prime location to the Gobi Desert complete with yurt.... Mongolian felted tent). With few sales and temperatures over 90 "little miss sunshine",your congienial vendor had disappeared. I threatened to strangle the fire marshall who had caused the move and assault the EMT who left his ambulance parked directly in front of my booth with the motor running while he took a break in the AC in the back. The musicians accross the road egged me on by offering to accompany the whole confrontation with appropriate tunes. The vehicle remained there for an hour blowing exhaust into my tent. Now I was not only hot but sick. My lambs in the pen beside the tent, altho shaded, were panting. When the speaker directly overhead loudly announced the time was 3PM I was ready to pack up and go home. Three more hours to endure! My son Tim was there and his only comment was " Mom, this booth is craptacular." He encouaged my evacuation by hooking the truck to my trailer. My friend Geri who BTW was also sharing the heat and exhaust of the booth and Nancy Starkey encouaged me to stay for Sunday. Geri and I rearranged the booth hoping to create more shade on Sunday. Thank you both for being patient with me and enduring my periodic fits of rage. After a wonderful dinner in AC, wine and great company,I felt calmer. Thank you Nancy for a cool place to sleep.
The BFL gathering under the trees was the best part of the day. Such a great group of people. Lisa, I promise to be more cheerful and behave myself at Wooster. Thank you all for sending customers my way. Lord knows I needed them since my sales were down about 70%. Jolene and Paul Vezzetti always make me feel wondeful.
Sunday was hotter, dustier and also lacking in customers but by then I was resigned to endure the day without hostility.
Mrs. Goodpastor and I invented a new olympic event......the ???? meter ram lamb relay. This is how it goes.... a team of 2 women.... one over sixty, overweight, overtired,overstressed and overheated,the other woman overdressed,overheated and over generous to have gotten herself into this in the first place,... must carry a 70 pound ram lamb from my booth to her truck, a distance of North fairgrounds to South fairgrounds, fortunately all down hill, through human traffic. Why not walk him,you ask? Simple,he isn't halter broke. Mrs Goodpastor,definately the stronger member, carried til her arms gave out,passing the ram to me for short relief stretches. Never was I so happy to see an open tailgate! Now I know how the finish line looks to marathon runners.
Well that's my tale of MDSW 2010. I intend to call my brother and recant my mellow with age statement! Some personalities never change.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last shetland Lambs and OH MY

Oh My (that's her name) lambed this morning. She wasn't suppose to be bred but was caught by a errant ram lamb.She is a favorite around here. My only wish was that she lamb before Sheep and Wool or my trip to Utah. Thankfully I got my wish because leaving this delivery to someone tending my flock would have been a disaster. The lamb was in perfect position but Oh My was just too small for a head and 2 legs at the same time. Having seen my vet do a delivery like this I pushed the legs back, snared the head...the first time I have ever gotten a snare to hold...pulled the head out and managed to get one leg out too. The lamb was breathing and very much alive. There was no getting the other leg,no room for my hand, so lots of lube was poured in and I just pulled on what I had and prayed. Guess you might say that lamb witnessed his own birth. Oh My was a real trouper through all this. Mom and baby are doing great. The lamb was up in minutes and Oh My loves her baby but I'm down for the count. Shetland lambing is over!!!
What a way to end the season! I'll get a picture of Oh My and her new baby when I can move my hands and stop shaking. I am just so grateful that this ended well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3 Days Til Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Three days and I'm still dying skeins and trying to print labels. Dying skeins is a lot easier!! With my new location at MD. I don't quite know what to expect for this year's festival. Hopefully my customers will find me. Since I will have a bigger space there will be lambs in the booth this year. 2 BFL ram lambs and 2 BFL ewes and maybe 2 Shetland ewes......if I can catch the little buggers.

My new BFL tweed yarn arrived yesterday. It turned out beautifully. Very soft and bouncy. It's double ply DK weight. Skeins are 150 yards. The picture doesn't show it well. You'll have to check it out at MD.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Garrett's Visit with Sadie and the Puppies

Garrett, a fellow BFL/Shetland breeder from MN, has Corgi Nationals in Gettysburg this week so he came in early to visit a few spots in the East. We headed to DC where I got so lost...too much talking and not enough sign reading.By the time we got downtown we had to speed walk to see as much as possible before our parking meter ran out.(We passed a jogger at one point, that's how fast we were walking.) Garrett took pictures without even stopping. Our intent was to see the sights and return to the plant sale at the National Arboretum before it closed. Getting lost on the way out was not in the schedule but...we never did get to the plant sale. It's fun to travel with someone who likes the same things and wants to stop at plant sales! From DC we headed to Annapolis,MD. It's a beautiful historic town with great restaurants. A bad parking job and another fast walk later we finally sat down for a while and ate everything Maryland...crab soup,crab cakes, mussels, rockfish. Annapolis is one of my favorite places to visit. I don't think I'll ever tire of being there. Hope Garrett enjoyed the whistle stop tour and the food. He taught me so much about Shetland genetics that I'm on information overload. I needed for him to stay longer. But we'll meet again in Eugene,OR for Black sheep Gathering in June. More sheep talk then.

Garrett and Sadie, his Corgie, are doing agility trials in the rain right now. Hope all is going well. Wish it was a better week weather wise.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Got My Ticket

After MD Sheep and Wool I'm flying to Utah to drive home with Molly for the summer. I am so excited that she will be home for a few months. Our trip will be our usual sucession of off beat stops like the World's largest ball of stamps, the Pony express museum (seen in less than 15 minutes),the wagon train ruts,and maybe a Lewis and Clark intrepretation center or two. Molly has endured most of these centers with me altho she is not into the Corps of Discovery like I am. Tim gave me a book that lists all the stops the Corps made from St. Lewis to the Pacific. Carried on every trip west, it has become my bible. Well, Molly, the good news is, I can't find it!!!! Never fear tho....I know the stops I've missed on the trail. And of course we HAVE to stop in Lincoln, NE for a prime rib dinner. MMM the best beef in the whole US. (Hopefully someone will read this and be offened and provide another stop where they feel the beef is better. I'm always in search of the best steak.) If we are lucky,Tim will join us for our cross country drive, his first road trip with us. For the first time I am wishing MD Sheep and Wool was over so we could be together on the road. Stop wishing your life away, Kathy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April

Now that I've started this blog the phone will ring at least 3 times and my husband will return from the store and beep the horn for me to help carry the groceries in. Happens every time. My computer stresses me enough without additional distractions. Besides, I normally have a very one track mind. Last week while tring to order signs from Vista Print for my next show I got a zillion interruptions and screwed up the sign design royally. I was dumbfounded when I opened the box and saw what I had designed. Nothing was correct. And of course, I ordered 2 of the bloody things! Finding a use for them will be a test of my creativity.
Back to April. I think it's my favorite month. And this April been spectacular. Perfect gardening weather. I put in a new garden over by the barn. It has more things in it than planned but I locked my keys in my car at Home Depot last week and spent my time waiting to be rescued shopping for plants. Not a bad place to be stranded....they even had a coffee truck with breakfast sandwiches. The garden is beautiful. I used old unusable fleeces covered with mulch around the new shrubs and flowers. The wool really inhibits weeds and keeps the mulch from washing away. Going to the barn is a happy time anyway but now I can stop and smell the flowers along the way. It will also remind me to have my keys in my hand before slamming the trunk lid.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2 Shetlands Left to Lamb and the BFL Are Done!

Last BFL ewe lamb was born on pasture yesterday. Mom brought her in during a downpour. She's tiny but very healthy. Another yearling mom with a great mothering instinct. Final tally.....53 BFL lambs

This morning Potosi Abby had her beautiful yuglet (rings around the eyes) ewe lamb. Abby has been miserable for 2 days. On Thursday, she attacked Roxy and tried to take her newborn lamb.Roxy actually hid herself and her lamb between a gate and a fence to avoid Abby. I knew Abby would lamb soon since she wanted a lamb so badly. Well, Abby's lamb is really special. Wish Abby had a better disposition tho. She is really happy to have her own girl. 30 Shetland lambs and counting. 2 more left to lamb and we will be done.......maybe! Next year I'll remember to take the rams out. Yeah, right. I say that every year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Endless Lambing Continues

Went out to find 3 Shetland lambs cavorting on the lawn. Tim and I thought we plugged all their escape holes but I guess not. They can find a hole anywhere. In the pen, I found a new Shetland ewe lamb very full and contently nestled with mom. She's a cutie. Mom's a yearling with great mothering skills. My, due any time, BFL ewe was not in the barn. Found her on pasture with lamb's hooves sticking out. She was panicked but not being in the mood for a flying tackle delivery, I got her in the barn doing my Border Collie impersonation. Fluids around the lamb were orange and scary. When I got mom tied and pulled the lamb, which I was sure was dead, I couldn't believe it...the tiny head shook. She's very orange but fine and mom loves her. That's all that matters. Never had a lamb this color before. She's burnt sienna.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April at Last

After almost a week of July like temperatures, April has returned. This is more like it. I like sixties and breezy. Fearing my hair was about to be singed on the lightbulbs in the barn, it was time to muck the big stall. 6 hours on the bobcat got me a clean barn and a huge pile of manure. I can't believe how much dry bedding this awful winter from hell required. It's so clean in the big stall that the sheep won't go in. The small stall is a hand muck job since the bobcat won't fit....darn. I thought I could squeeze that thing anywhere but NOT. Guess that one will be done over the course of time. Arms don't fail me now. Why am I not thinner? Better get the Ford tractor out and get that pile of manure moved. It's starting to smoke.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Lambs

Can't wait til this holiday is here and over. My ethnic customers are at the door at all hours looking for Easter lambs. They don't understand that I can't just run out and catch one for them on command. One man actually sat in front of the house in his car beeping the horn for me to come out!!! I don't think so.... Even my husband knows not to beep for me to come.
Most lambs are too small for Easter this year so the annual butchering numbers are way down. I can't say that I've missed the commotion. Turning my little guys over to be slaughtered is really hard for me. I try not to get attached to the ones that I know will go but catching them for the final penning really hurts. Especially when the mom stands and looks at me just waiting her baby's release. I have 2 moms pining away right now. I feel so mean. But then again...what are we having for Easter dinner? Homegrown lamb.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Raining Shetlands

As I've said before, my Shetlands keep me entertained. Yesterday I checked the barn to find 2 Shetland moms cleaning off their newborns. It was apparent that one mom was not happy with situation as it stood. When I got behind both moms one still had her lamb stuck in her. Only the feet and nose were out. She had obviously claimed the other ewe's twin. After I pulled her lamb and placing it in front of her,she quickly allowed the lamb she had cleaned so carefully to return to her mom and accepted hers. Every year we have a Shetland mixing of the lambs and it always amazes me how they sort it out. Their mothering instinct is so strong and wonderful to watch. That makes 17 Shetland ram lambs and 10 ewes. Lopsided but better than last year. Now what am I going to do with them? shetlands are not exactly a hot commodity here in York,Co. PA.

Friday, March 26, 2010

This Is For Stacey, My Crafty Niece

About 5 years ago I decided to make quilts for Tim and Molly with each block representing a facet in their lives.For 3 years I collected fabric pieces depicting things they liked, trips we took, sports they enjoyed (no swimming fabric at all...had to resort to bubbles.)Finding the fabric was sooo much fun, but I had never quilted in my life so I signed up for a class in June 2008. You should have seen the instructor's face when I told her what I planned to do and that my intent was to give 2 finished quilts as Christmas gifts. I learned how to make log cabin squares and sewed all summer hidden away in the basement. Top secret project. I loved matching the fabrics. My friend JoAnn, a super quilter for years, helped me plan the layout when the squares were complete. Of course I used woollen batting from our sheep to make this great work of art more significant. The woollen batt also made it more poofy and harder to put together but how was I to know. I never think of consequences when I undertake a project. Full steam ahead is my motto. Tim's quilt top was the first to get attached to the backing, a loud red white and blue fabric with all the states on it since it's a Byrne family thing to visit all 50 states. After hours of work it was a lumpy, puckered disaster. I called JoAnn asking how she put the backs on her quilts so beautifully. Her reply was,"I take them to the Amish and pay to have it done right." Great...now she lets her secret out. It was November and these were Christmas gifts. No time for Amish workmanship. Tim's quilt was ripped apart and redone. By the time I got to Molly's I had things fairly well figured out. Her's was better AND they were ready for Christmas. They are not great works of art, but I hope they will remind the kids of some good times and things we have done together. I also hope it will give them a smile or a good laugh remembering a mother who had more ideas than talent. I have turned half-assed into an art form.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Darn That Sophie

Molly was home for spring break and every day she'd go out to check to see if Sophie had lambed. Nope. Well just hours after Molly's flight left this morning, Sophie finally lambed. Molly is my web photographer and since she is gone this picture taken by me will have to do. This ram lamb is very unusual for us. We tend to get just ordinary Shetlands.
Having Molly home was great but it will take me days to recover since she keeps me busy all the time. We are always going someplace. Of course, a trip to see gymnastics in State College was a must. Although the trip is over 2 hours each way, we HAVE to go. Penn State vs Nebraska. We route for Nebraska. They need a couple red shirts in the bleechers.
Molly helped me with the Yarn Party sales yesterday....or should I say lack of sales. It was not a good show for some reason. Guess the economy is finally hitting those with fiber addiction. Hope Maryland Sheep and Wool has a better crowd.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting Ready For Yarn Party Show

March 21st is the Ravelry Yarn Party in Savage,MD near DC. It was a great show last year! I am frantically dying BFL yarn and spinning Shetland skeins for the sale. Molly will be home on spring break so this year,so hopefully I'll have an assistant sales person. Lisa from Feederbrook Farm, who also has Shetland yarn, does the show with me. It's good to partner with an energetic young woman but she exhausts me! I come home feeling my age. Great thing about Lisa is we always end the show with a glass or 2 of wine. Raising sheep has gifted me with some of the best friends. It makes getting up every day exciting.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tiny BFL Ewes

These 2 were born to a BFL yearling on Sunday. Wish mom had had one 10 pounder instead of 2 just barely 5 pounds each. They get cold easily so the felted sweater sleeve jackets keep them warm.

Baby Shetlands Everywhere!

Triplets this morning and twins this afternoon. Beautiful day to be born in the sun. Mom of the triplets helped clean the other ewe's twins off then tried to take them. Guess 3 wasn't enough for her. It was wonderful to be out there with them, sorting newly sheared fleeces and watching the activity in the pen. One of the triplets was leaping around the pen within 40 minutes of birth. Shetlands are great comic relief.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunny Shearing Day Finally 50 Degrees

Beautiful day for shearing the Shetlands. I let another shepherd take my original shearing date and this date was a little too close to lambing to suit me but my shearer, Nathan, is very gentle so I forged ahead. We saw some pretty full bags and breathed a sigh of relief when each ewe was done. With 2 more to go (21 sheared total) it happened. Half way through the shearing a water bag popped out. AAHH!!! Nate finished the job and the ewe wandered off. We watched her while we sheared the last 2 ewes but she was not pushing at all. Eventually, I had to pull the lambs but they were lively and strong. Up and nursing in minutes. Little shetlands are so cute and amazing. The Shetland lambing has begun!
Thank you Garrett for the suggestions about getting better results this year. Last year we had 20 Shetland ram lambs and 4 ewes. Another Shetland ewe lambed this AM and she also had a ram and a ewe. We are 50/50 so far. That's a lot better than last year.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snowmageddon Part II

How can it be? Another blizzard just 2 weeks after the last one. This time I felt prepared. With my trusty cordless drill, I had patched holes in the barn, placed barriers in broken windows and installed a tarp above the gate where the wind and snow came in the last time. This time the snow would not invade the cozy, newly bedded areas in the barn. OR so I thought. When I went out at 2AM, the 50 mph wind was blowning snow everywhere and the tarp was like a sail lifting the gate to which it was tied right off its hinges. The noise it made had both the sheep and the llama cowering in one stall. It was as bad as the last blizzard. 2 ewes are due to lamb today so I instructed them to please NOT lamb til tomorrow as I added more dry straw. I have been lambing here for 23 years and have only ever had 1 blizzard in all that time. This is incredible. I cannot even get down to the Shetland barn til I can see it. Those little buggers will be just fine. They are so tough and funny.
One bright note.....the 2 ewes listened to me!!!! They did not have little lambcicles for me to carry into lambing pens freezing my hands even more. Would someone in Arizona or New Mexico please send me the real estate section?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Will It Ever End? Depressing

Winter is usually fine with me. I'd rather be cold than hot, but this winter has made me think about Arizona or New Mexico. (Never Florida!) We finally got down to mud...good squishy, slippery mud... on my path to the barn, when the weather forcast predicts more snow. AAHHH I tried to carry bales down to the Shetland barn on Tuesday. The mind was willing and the body wouldn't cooperate. Tim finally came to my rescue yesterday. Really feeling old this year.
In the midst of this physical stress, I went to get a new passport photo taken.Dumb idea. What a shock when I saw it. The woman who took it said, "Hey this is really good", so I guess that's what I really do look like. They say the camera doesn't lie but I would have appreciated a little white one at least OR air brushing. From there, I went shopping for my niece. Since I am missing the female shopping gene, this didn't take long. Stupidly, I tried something on for myself. Now I'm feeling not only old but FAT. It used to be that when I had a bad shopping day I bought shoes, claiming that shoes wouldn't make you look fat. Well....thanks to some slender chik on the Today Show, that idea is no longer correct. Do earrings make you look fat? Thinking not, I bought a pair. Now my neck looks short! Whatever!
When I got home, I dyed a few skeins of wool. My colors are usually bright and zippy, but these were drab and dull. A reflection of my day. I quit dying and called it a day. Come on Spring and bright colors!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

UNCLE

Another 20 inches and drifts chest high. The wind blew snow into every part of the barn creating drifts in the sheep bedding.I have never seen it like this. Tim and I spent hours trying to block openings, put down dry straw, and move ready to lamb ewes to more protected pens. While working frantically, I heard grunting. A ewe was in labor with no place to lie down and push. Finding her a dry spot and getting the other sheep out of her spot was challenging but the worst was yet to come. I pulled the first lamb, long overdue and orange. Mom took over cleaning him while I waited for the second lamb. One foot appeared but that was it. When I went in, there were 2 legs but the lamb's head was no where to be found. Head back deliveries are a challenge. My arm was in the ewe up to my armpit when I found the head. Good thing too because I couldn't reach any further. What a relief to pull out another live baby. By this time I was soaking wet and frozen whith bottle babies sucking on my ears. Thankfully Mom bounced right up,taking care of both boys. The delivery didn't seem to phase her a bit. I seemed to be in worse shape. Wine time!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Amish Basketball

Another snowstorm looming. Great. We haven't even gotten dug out from the last one. While the sun was shining, Tim offered to help me get hay down to the lower level of the barn and stacked on the lowest level where the sheep are. The bales come from the 4th level of the barn, up 2 ladders and a flight of steps. I usually throw them down, where they free fall about 20 feet and if I'm on, can get them to hit the hole in the second level floor down to the lower level...a 2'x3' opening. Missing the hole means a bounce in any direction on the second level of the barn, where it can wind up almost anywhere amidst the antiques and junk accumulated there. The cats scatter and stuff crashes. It's a feeble way of amusing myself while doing a mundain task. Tim tried the job today and also found it entertaining. He called it "Weird Amish Basketball". He got bonus points for bouncing one bale into a trashcan full of salt w/o knocking the can over. Being of like humor we both cheered. Who needs to buy tickets to entertainment venues? Can this be construed as Cabin Fever?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

27 Inches and It's Still Snowing

We went from sunny and wonderful on Thursday to snow so deep it's hard to walk to the barns. Thursday, Pearl had her lambs in the pasture. The sun had them dry in no time. Today,no one can find the pasture! The best thing though is the quiet. Our farm is very close to I83 and we get a lot of traffic noise. Snow shuts the road down and everything is wonderful and peaceful. About midnight I sat and enjoyed the quiet while watching the lambs frolic. Although lambing is hectic and exhausting, watching the lambs play is such a reward. Watching them never gets old.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pictures For Molly

Molly lives in Utah and misses the lambs being born. I wish I had her help right now too! She is demanding pictures (brat) so here they are. Wish cameras had a setting that allows for lamb leaps because these new BFL ewe lambs were blurring all their pictures.

Looks like it will be a lambing in the middle of the night year, even though nothing has changed with the feeding routine. Our lambs, in the past, mostly came in the morning. That is much easier for the shepherd but that's lambing!

Monday night....twin ewe lambs born to a moorit ewe sired by Finnegan CHV2.
Tuesday night....twin ewe lambs BFL Finnegan sired.
Looks like Finn was a busy guy in September.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Too Cold

Winter in PA is not usually this cold. Sunday morning I found 2 newborn lambs frozen stiff. They were average size and beautiful. They had evidently wandered into a hole behind the gate right after birth in search of Mom's milk or a warm dark spot. I had noticed this hole a week ago and thought I had plugged it up, but I guess not. Altho, I check the barn every 2-3 hours, 12 degrees without milk did them in quickly. Mom was frantic and led me right to them when I fed that morning. Funny thing happened too. I left the lambs with Mom to grieve and after several hours, took both stiff lambs to the gate to get a bag to put them in.( Of course, I got distracted and did not return ASAP.) When I finally did return to get the lambs they were gone. Mom had somehow moved them back to their birthplace and was sleeping with her head on them like they were alive. How did she move them such a distance in such a short period of time? Sheep don't carry their babies like cats do. I left the babies with her til Mom moved away on her own. She is so depressed and I feel so badly that I didn't get them in time. I am mad at myself about the hole too. You can bet it is boarded up now. These freaky things in lambing always make me so mad at myself. Careless shepherding has no excuse.