Sunday, April 27, 2014

Amazing Friendship!

This evening I was witness to an incredible site. Most of you know of the raven who has befriended me, Bran, and his mate, Branna. Bran has watched over this place very closely since 2006. But this deserves some sort of accolade.
Lately there has been a bald eagle patrolling the wetlands that border this place. I have watched him pass, both thinking how awesome it's been to see him this close but also worried that in about two weeks, lambs will start arriving...newborn lambs the size of eagle meals.
I scanned the area to see if the eagle was around, but there was only Bran, walking amongst Loki and his Boyz, waiting for me to leave a treat for him.
Then suddenly, he disappeared, flying eastwardly. This was unusual for him. I went back into the barn to get feed ready for the sheep. Not one minute had passed before I heard a loud commotion. What I saw was incredible!
The eagle had tried to make a grab for one of the ducks nesting in the grasses along the stream that runs through the pasture by Loki's pen. It didn't get the duck, but here were Bran and Branna attacking the eagle! Normally the ravens, as well as other birds, just take off when the eagle is around. The eagle is the top predator for these creatures and most lay low until he passes.
But, here were Bran and Branna attacking this big upstart who was in their territory! They kept at him until he gave up and started to fly off, both ravens still attacking him as he flew off to the north.
Apparently, when the eagle came across the fenceline, close to the barn, it was too much for my friends. Loud and clearly, those two told the eagle to hunt elsewhere...he is not welcome at this farm.
I am honored to have made friends with these ravens, their friendship a gift they not easily bestow on a human. To this day I still do not know why Bran trusted me the first time we met. He has watched over me almost every day I am outside and seen me through dark nights tending to sick sheep or lambs that come in the night. He will stay until I get inside, then off he goes, home.
There are many gifts in life. But I think I count this friendship as more than his gift, but a blessing.
Thank you, Bran.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

My Brother's Wisdom

I thought this was too good to pass up the opportunity to share with everyone. We all need a good laugh at ourselves at times. For me, there have been times when all you can do is laugh at something. Please enjoy! And have a good chuckle as well!

As I was lying around, pondering the problems of the world,
I realized that at my age I don't really give a rat's ass anymore.
If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.
A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.
A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while
A tortoise doesn't run and does mostly nothing, yet it  lives for 150 years.
And you tell me to exercise?? I don't think so.
Just grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to remember the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Now that I'm older here's what I've discovered:
1.    I started out with nothing, and I still have most of  it.
2.    My wild oats are mostly enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.
3.    I  finally got my head together, and now my body is falling apart.
4.    Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
5.    Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
6.    If all is not lost, then where the heck is it ?
7.    It was a whole lot easier to get older, than to get wiser.
8.    Some days, you're the top dog, some days you're the hydrant; the early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
9.    I wish the buck really did stop here, I sure could use a few of them.
10.  Kids in the back seat cause accidents.
11.  Accidents in the back seat cause kids.
12.  It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.
13.  The world only beats a path to your door when you're in the bathroom.
14.  If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees.
15.  When I'm finally holding all the right cards, everyone wants to play chess.
16.  It's not hard to meet expenses.... they're everywhere.
17.  The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
18.  These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter, I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I'm "here after".
19.  Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Flax Project 2013

Somedays I wonder if I should open the door. There she was, my dear friend, Mel, with a small Priority Mail parcel in her hands. "Here. I thought this might be fun to do!", she said enthusiastically.
Inside was one pound of seeds - tiny, tiny seeds. The label on the plastic bag they were in said "Marilyn" and under that, "Flax Seed 1 lb.".
Both Mel and I like weaving with linen yarns. Linen is the name you call flax fibers after they have been spun into yarn. Up until that point, the proper name is "flax" for everything from seed to the plant fibers you are getting ready for the actual spinning process.
My husband, who is home all the time now since he has joined the ranks of the retired, was listening to the conversation and became interested in joining this Great Experiment. He had just the spot. It's a protected area in our garden, about 10' x 10', and just the right size for this trial. The plants would be protected from our insistent SW winds as well as frosts. We've had luck planting things in that area before.
He prepped the soil with the rototiller and smoothed the surface out with a rake. Then on a less windy day, I hand sown the seeds across the area. They were watered in well and a frost blanket was placed over most of the area to keep all manner of vermin off of the spot until the plants started emerging.
And begins...
We also hoped the rocks on the south side of the patch would retain heat during the day to help get these little gems up and running sooner.
After about one week, a peek under the frost blanket revealed this:
Spotty at first, but growing none the less!

I hope to add other photos of this entire process. Yes, it's true. You can indeed grow flax in the mountains at 7,000 ft. elevation! So far, so good!
We do plan on documenting our progress as we continue this Great Experiment. I know that most of the work is yet to come as flax can be...hmm...what's the word I'm looking for here? I know...WORK! After the plants grow, come to seed, and dry they are pulled up by the roots to retain integrity of the precious bast fibers along the stems. After pulling, one must "ret" or "rot" the husk off those fibers, then break away all the chaff and tow (shorter fibers). After that the fibers are combed to a fare-thee-well to make the strick used by handspinners and fairy tale princesses alike in their search of fine linen, or gold.

I've not told the Flock of these goings on. All the sheep believe they are the be-all and end-all of fiber projects here at Oleo Acres, one of the cheaper spreads. Shh...

...let's surprise them, shall we?

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Beginnings

Jehovah's Red Rita with her 2012 ewe lamb, Sheep Thrills Abigail

I haven't been posting this year for a variety of reasons, some too in-depth to go into but it has been quite the year for decisions and all sorts of "beginnings" here at Sheep Thrills.
After a number of years of having thyroid issues (Hashimoto's Disease), I had to have my thyroid removed last March. Since that time I have had to get used to taking thyroid medication every day and try different dose levels to help me feel "human" again. We're still not quite there, but each day sees a bit of improvement.
The month following my surgery, my DH had to have back surgery. He was home for a while recuperating from that, which was a new thing - he's always been someone who loved working and being at work. I think he was drugged enough after the surgery that he actually did take it easy. ;-) I was thankful his surgery came in spring and not in the middle of winter with snows for me to deal with as has happened before with him. 
We only saw one lamb born on the farm this year - purposely so.  After my surgery I was glad to have the forethought (knowing the surgery would have to come at some point) to just breed the one ewe as a test breeding for one of Loki's sons.
The results were a beautiful moorit (red brown) ewe lamb named Abigail. Abby is smart, an imp, and very sweet. It's such a pleasure to have her in the flock. As tiny as she is compared to some of the others, she seems to always get her way. And Rita turned out to be an exceptional mother! Since Abby was the only lamb, Rita took it upon herself to have the "Lamb Races" with Abby. There Rita would go, off like a shot, full udder swinging along! I don't see how she did it running with that thing flopping around between her back legs, but she was determined to play with Abby!   
Summer came and went with nothing remarkable happening - a blessing with two people recovering from surgerys in one house. I still had ups and downs with getting medications straightened out.
Spinning and weaving took a back seat for awhile as my energy level was so low at times, but my dear friend, Melanie took on the challenge to get me back to weaving again. We both have been working on tea towels with Mel being much more prolific than I. I'll catch up just as soon as I get a few more meds on board to get me back to having more energy. (I'm turning into my mother who was known for falling asleep in her chair in front of the TV before 7:30 pm. I find myself "missing" some parts of programs once and awhile.)
Slowly, spinning, knitting and weaving are coming back. I have definitely found out places in my hands where arthritis has been hiding. I know and heartily believe it's harder to hit a moving target, so I try to keep going (very slowly at times) doing things.
Hopefully, you'll see more posts and updates on the sheep here this year. I have to confess that Facebook has been a faster way to get word out on sales and farm-happenings than sitting and blogging. Yes...I succumbed to the siren songs of FB and Google+. Hit with the "Instant Gratification Bug", the blog has suffered because of it. I am not a person who stays in one position too long, so some days I just check a few things and get back to other endeavors rather than sit at a computer. I have noticed the same trend in friends. We'd all rather be "doing" things than sitting. There are days when I feel computers are Black Holes, sucking up time that one never sees again, with nothing tangible to hold for the doing so. Definitely not like a sock or a tea towel...or a snuggle with a loved one.

So, that's what's been going on here. Life. Just like everyone else. We all know how each of us has been effected by the economy and dealings of Wall Street and demon banks. Most of the people we know hang in there, day-to-day, putting one foot in front of the other and getting through and getting by. My grandmother's advice was how I was brought up and I use it still:
Use it up, 
Wear it out.
Make it do,
or do without.

I think anyone raised by someone who grew up in the Great Depression has heard that ditty. And it has come full circle to new generations. Not a bad thing at all.

Happy New Year to all of you! And for you hand spinners...make sure your bobbins are empty and drivebands dropped on New Year's Eve for luck in the coming year!                                              

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Ewe Year!

Happy, happy Ewe Year to each and every one of you!

We're hoping time and constraints will allow a bit more blogging in the coming year for us! One of the plans is a "Tale of Two Fleeces", following the processing of two ewenique raw North Ronaldsay fleeces from Orkney, as well as many other projects we hope to get into!

May this next year be happy, healthy, and prosperous to everyone!