Sunday, January 28, 2007

I Actually Do Something With Wool!

OK, OK...I have been promising that I will actually post a few pictures of some of the yarns I make with the fleece or rovings I have. Here you see a basket filled with a variety of yarns...some are 3 & 4-ply rug yarn as well as delicate 2-ply laceweight yarn.I really do enjoy spinning these up. There is nothing like the satisfaction of seeing a raw fleece finish up as a beautiful yarn, knowing that you had something to do with it.Here's a shawl I did years ago. It's made of handspun 2-ply yarn from a fleece I won in a wool show. I had to enter a fine 2-ply yarn and first prize was the first prize fleece from one of the sheep entered in the show. I suspect that the fleece was from a young Karakul. I never got to see it as I was living in Kansas and the show I had entered was in California. It was a beautiful color, but quite different from the Romney and Perendale I had usually spun at that time. Some of the rug yarns in the first two pictures are from the same fleece. The yarn I did for the shawl was a finer 2-ply and I remember trying very hard to spin that fleece to keep some sort of softness in the yarn. While the shawl is a nice piece, it does not have the "hand". or feel, I would like to see in a shawl.In this picture you can get an idea of the openness of the weave and a hint of the yarn. The color of the yarn made it difficult to see the separate plies in the yarn.

Tomorrow I will try to take some better pictures of some of the lighter colored skeins I have and will put something in the photos that you can get an idea of the size of yarns. The light wasn't very good this evening and I was pooped!

Ralph and I remodeled the ram's quarters in the barn today, replacing wire panels with good stout lumber. We also moved a poultry hutch I have into the barn for penning the chickens each night. It seems Skittles really doesn't like the chickens! I watched, in secret, to see why Skit was banging on his pen. After all, he was in with his best buddy, Colin...and had plenty of food and water. But I noticed that he continued to bang on the wire panels - even with a device called a "ram shield" blocking part of his vision.
Then I saw it...a hen walked too close to Skittles' pen and, Wham! Skittles charged the panel at exactly chicken-height. After letting him outside into his pen with his tire-toy I saw the same thing happen. Our hen, Josie, walked over to the boys' fenceline, determined to scrounge for any overlooked piece of oat or corn from a handful I gave the boys. Skittles ran from across the pen just to bang the wire fence at Josie-height. Josie wasn't phased in the least but Skit kept trying to butt her until she finally tired of her game and left to join the other chickens. I was starting to think she knew exactly what she was doing and delighted in tormenting poor Skittles.

So, tomorrow I will also try to take pictures of the new pen as well. But for now, it's a hot shower, a fistfull of ibuprofen and my pain meds, and a good book for the night.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Winter Update

Finally! The storms and winds have passed giving everyone a chance to actually enjoy being outside this morning. Here you see the sheep, out dining "al Fresco" along with a few of the chickens out poking around to see if they can find anything of value to eat the sheep have overlooked.
Our storms over the weekend weren't really bad storms for this area, just cold and wind straight out of the north. I shouldn't even complain about any of this as before we know it, when June gets here, I'll be wishing for cool or cold weather again.
And for all the "Loretta Watchers" - You can just make out Loretta's bandages amongst the hungry throng of sheep. She's doing much better now that she's allowed to be with all the others during the day. At night she is put in a jug (A small pen in sheep-talk) by herself to keep the others from eating or tearing off her bandages. The bandages will come off as soon as the skin re-covers her open wounds.
I have been working on gaining Loretta's trust again. My pockets have many cookies in them and she'll take them out of my hand but she's very leery of me. I would be, too, if someone was wrestling me around trying to put things on my head when all I want is the itchy stuff off altogether. I'm sure she'll come around with time.
Here you see my loom...Yes! I,m making a space to have it out and working again! I've missed weaving and it's time to get in there and start up again. It isn't in place yet as I want to dust it off and lube the moving parts before opening it up entirely. Last night I found myself thumbing through pattern books trying to decide what I wanted to do. I will be doing small things, slowly, so I don't flare up any hands or other body parts or awaken the "Arthritis Beast". I find myself looking forward to when I will be weaving with my own Shetland handspun. But I know I need to practice a bit before tackling something too grand.

Any requests?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Cold Mountain Morning

At 8:30 a.m. this morning, we had a "Heat Wave" temperature of -12 F! Yes, it was a very cold night last night. I was so glad the sheep have nice thick fleece as they sure needed it last night.Here you see Ralph taking a picture of me taking a picture of him and the girls. Notice the little dark sheep with the thing that looks like an old fashioned football helmet. That's Loretta, out for a get-together with the other ewes. I have to say that she has really been a Trooper through all of this. But I knew, too, that she really missed being in with the other ewes. I can't risk having the other girls hit her head or try to pull off Loretta's bandages so she's been in a pen by herself. She can see and touch noses with the others, but there is not enough room for anyone to grab her bandages and use them as a plaything. All that being said, if I let the others out without her, she would be bouncing off the walls and even tried to jump the panels in an attempt to still be part of the flock. So, I decided to let her out - under my supervision the entire time. She loved it! And the others seemed to be very respectful of her except for the one time her cousin, Ailee, tried to eat the ace bandage. :)This picture reminds me of when I was a kid in the 50's and my mother would chat over the fence to the neighbor while they were both hanging out laundry. All that's missing here are the clothes! :)
And, of course, here he is, Himself...Lord of all he surveys (as far as the fenceline, anyway) and destroyer of barns! Yes, Mr. Skittles has been a very Bad Boy! He has almost totally destroyed the pen in the barn where he and Colin have had to spend their nights during the storms we've had. So much so that tonight he will be wearing a ram shield - not for him hurting Colin, but for him butting the panels and walls! I haven't been able to tell if this destruction is from him not liking the chickens, or if he just hates barns after spending the summer in one by himself before he was able to make his way westward. Time will tell, I suppose. I will see how he does tonight with the shield and we'll go from there. If he really wants to be outside, then that's where he'll end up.

In the meantime, we have firewood brought in, the jug on for tea, and a couple of movies to watch. And I am behind on my spinning lately. I believe I will enjoy this afternoon and evening...before the winds start up tomorrow. Too bad the sheep aren't house-trained...they could keep my feet warm! ;-)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Poor Loretta

Today is the day I had been dreading for a week. Before Christmas, I had found that Loretta's scurs (small horns the females of some sheep breed may develop) had taken a drastic turn from growing out, to growing back on themselves and headed right for her skull. Our Vet and I had been watching these to see what they would do and I'm afraid they did the worst thing they could do.
I had three choices: sell Loretta, eat Loretta, or go ahead and have the scurs removed. I chose the surgery. When I got to the Vet's Office early this morning, after examination, Dr. Moore determined the best thing to do was remove the horns below the skin level and kill all the horn growth cells so that we would not have to put Loretta through this again. I trust Dr. Moore's advice on these matters as he's had many years experience with this sort of condition.
Loretta had the wool clipped off around the top of her head and each horn, then a bit off the neck for access to a vein for medications. Next came the anesthetic injection. When she slumped in my arms, we lifted her to the surgical table and the site around each horn was further prepped for surgery. Dr. Moore gave her additional systemic anesthetic and also locals around the base of each horn. When all took effect, he sawed off the horns below the skin.
Kim, Dr. Moore's able assistant held Loretta's head tightly as Doc sawed. There wasn't much for me to do except make sure Loretta wasn't moving any other parts of her body. Soon, "Bob's your Uncle"...the little doubled-over horns were off. One horn came off better than the other. Her left horn had sprouted very close, or into, one of her sinuses and when the horn was removed it left a hole down into the sinus.
She was bandaged up and given both a reversal to the anesthetic and a dose of mega-antibiotic.
When she woke up and was able to stand, I brought her home and put her in a pen to recuperate.Here is my little girl with her cousin, Ailee, inspecting Loretta's bandages. She'll have to have dressings on for about two weeks and won't be allowed to be in with the other ewes until she's properly healed. Although she's in a pen by herself, she'll be able to see and touch the others without the risk of them butting her head. I have to watch, though, to make sure they don't tear her bandages off and expose the open wounds.
Because of both Loretta and her brother, Colin, having horn problems, I will be sure to breed Loretta to a ram with wide, open horns giving their offspring a better chance at having horns that aren't too close or turned incorrectly, as in Loretta's case. And I've got just the ram for her - next year! ;-)
So, it's been a hectic and trying day here at "Oleo Acres" (one of the cheaper spreads). After I got my girl settled back in the barn and fed and watered, I came in to eat lunch and have something cold to drink. No sooner did I sit down in my chair to have a bit of a rest when I must've "power-napped" for a bit. When I woke up, I had two cats in my lap looking at me with loving eyes as if to say, "Don't worry, Mom. She'll be OK."

I just wish Doc had given me one of those shots. :)

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Da Boyz"


Here he is, Himself! Skittles and the (blasted) tire! He loves that thing! I gave up the Horse-Ball-A-Month Club and Ralph and I installed a tire that our Vet graciously donated to the cause.

And here are the two boys, Skittles and his Little Buddy, Colin, together in the ram pen. Yes, Folks, Colin was moved in with the Big Guy on New Year's Eve. At first Skit thought he'd hit the jackpot and we were giving him another ewe to "play" with, but upon closer inspection found Colin to be a semi-guy. At first I thought I would have to be prepared to run in and drag Colin out if Skit decided to vent his post-breeding frustrations on him, but things went smoothly, acutally.
The first few days were touch-y as Colin wasn't quite sure about this sheep who was way bigger than his mom or sister. One day I had to actually force him back in with Skittles when he decided to go Walk-about on the way to the barn for evening feeding. Eventually he did go in, but reluctantly.
Today was a different matter all together. I was fighting the wind and driving snow while I was putting the girls in on their side and making sure all the chickens were in and all had food and water. I could then turn my attention to the boys.
When I looked up from hiding in my zipped-to-the-top coat I was treated to the site of first Skittles chasing Colin around the Ram Pen, then a 180 degree turn-around and Colin chasing Skittles and giving him a gentle butt in the rear! They were playing! Off they would go, racing around and chasing "invisibles" in the pen until they finally realized that I had finished in the barn and they were being watched. As soon as I opened the gate, Colin bounded off toward their pen in the barn with Skittles hot on his heels. It was as if they had known each other all their lives.
I was very relieved to see it happen. It was then I noticed the two of them looking in the direction of the pen.
I turned around. Here was the tire...flat on the ground! The clip holding it to the post had been broken by brute strength.

It was then I heard it...the two sets of chuckling from the barn.
Curses! Foiled again!

Fresh Horses - Or Should That Be "Fresh Sheep"?

I know, I know...this is a very late New Year's post. Mea culpa. :) As you can see, the girls are enjoying the beginnings of the first snow of our new year. Little do they know this is just the beginning. ;-)

I am a person who does not believe in making New Year's Resolutions. I have seen so many others worried about making and breaking these nasty little "promises" we make with the advent of a new year. Rather than make statements to others I know I will not keep, I use this time to meditate on thoughts and behaviours I know I can indeed make.
I make promises to myself at New Year's. Promises like trying to be a good person, to be positive and do "good" things. To me, it matters not that you are religious or go to church everyday, but that, in each and every day you try to do your best to yourself and to others around you. It is do "right action" in your life. It doesn't matter to me what others think but only that when I climb into bed each night, I know that I gave the day, the people around me, the animals in my care, and the rest of the world my best in that "right action". I suppose it goes back to "The Golden Rule" I learned as a child. "Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself." I know I have my work cut out for me.

There are two other little phrases that go through my mind very often: "Do the right thing." and something my brother said to me as I went off to college. "Roll with the punches." They are such short little phrases, but command a great deal of respect and thought. How simple it is to just do the right thing. Why we humans make it into such a difficult task is beyond my comprehension at this point. Maybe it's because something so simple can take such courage. Do the right thing...
And how often are we all barraged by all the little things in life that worry and stress us - things we have no control over yet we allow to take over our lives.
Roll with the punches... Bend with the breezes in life so we don't break completely. I wonder if my brother knew just how profound his statement was.

So in our very complex worlds around each and every one of us, I wish you the simplicity to see what is important to you...to be able to separate the chaff in your lives leaving only what is at heart. And may you have the peace to find what is important to you in your life. I know mine:

Do the right thing... and Roll With The Punches...