Saturday, June 30, 2007

A few photos

Kelly here again - Kathy is recovering well from her back surgery. Today she was very chatty and sounded almost back to normal (although she is still in some pain, and moving around stiffly). I was surprised she didn't have my father feeding her bonbons to speed her recovery!

Dad was nice enough to upload a few pictures to Flickr:
flowers, view 1
flowers, view 2
Kathy in bed

I know she has appreciated all of your warm wishes and happy thoughts - and hopefully she'll be able to tell you so herself in a few more days.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Message from the shepherdess

Kelly here - I'm Kathy's daughter. She and my father (the DH) have asked me to update you on her progress:

Kathy's surgery went just fine. She told my father that she doesn't have pain shooting down her legs anymore; she just feels some pain from the surgery itself, but she's got "good drugs" for that. She's expected to be in the hospital for two days (I think that means she'll be home on Friday). I talked to her a few minutes ago. She's groggy, of course, but she sounds just fine.

I sent her these cheery flowers, and thankfully for once the time difference between Arizona and New Zealand worked in my favor as they were waiting for her when she was brought up from recovery. Whew!

I heard from my father today as he rushed home after the surgery to feed the sheep! He was in such a rush to take care of the brood that he got himself muddy. I'm sure the sheep appreciated the yummy hay he provided, though.

Sorry to steal your updatin' thunder, Tina and Michelle - I'm sure Kathy will be able to update you herself soon!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Watch This Space...

I thought I would let you all know that I've decided to go Walk-about to the local medical center. ;-) Hopefully, this won't be too long of a trek and I'll be back posting in no time!

There's not much to report from the Farm right now...other than it's hot and very, very dry. The sheep have been spending a good deal of time in the barn where it stays cool most of the day. The door is open and they can go in to a communal loafing area. It seems to be the "Teenagers" - Loretta, Colin and Ailee, who like the barn most of all. There are fans going inside as well so they not only have air movement, but fewer summer flies bothering them. (I have noticed that the flies don't bother them much with their sheep-coats on.)

I thought I would show everyone this picture of that poor Mama duck who lost her brood to the coyotes. She's in what's left of our neighbor's "tank"...which is now almost completely dried up. If this were a normal year, monsoons would start up around the 4th of July and go until August. Days would start out hot, then by noon thunderstorms would develope and a nice cooling rain would come making the evenings chilly. Even with as hot as it's been we've still had to have a light blanket on the bed.

I'm not sure if Ralph will attempt blogging on MY blog, but I promise - as soon as I'm able I will tell you all about my visit to "Chez FMC" (Flagstaff Medical Center).


And Mr. Skittles has promised me that he'll keep an eye on things for me while I'm gone.

Thanks, Skit! :)



PS: I will have my DH let either (or both) Tina or Michelle know how things went/are going and they have graciously offerred to post news for interested people. I consider myself truly blessed having two friends like these! I love you both! :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Damn the Coyotes! -or- Where'd I put My .22 and Night-Vision Scope?

Yesterday morning while I fed the sheep their morning "tea", I noticed something. It was a duck constantly calling in the background noise of the early morning. I thought it odd for a couple of reasons but mostly because our stream has dried up from the lack of rain and I couldn't figure out where this duck was. The calling was insistent and constant.

First thinking that this was a creature who was hurt in some way, I left the barn area and walked out to the dry creek bed, turning towards my neighbor's place and walking towards the fence line. Only when I got to the fence between the properties did I see a lone Mallard hen, swimming in the remainder of water in my neighbor's catch-basin (a small man-made pond such as this is called a "tank" here in Arizona). She was frantically moving along the bank closest to me quacking at the bank.

It was then I started to put things together, especially upon gazing into our dried-up stream bed which feeds the tank the duck was in. There they were...as big as life itself. Coyote tracks. I looked around even more and found many, many more tracks all pointing to one thing. A group of coyotes had come in the night and taken this duck's little family from her. No one duckling had survived. My heart just sank. Being a mother myself, I know how strong a bond there is between mother and offspring. Most of the time I would chalk this up to an act of Mother Nature - these things happen all the time. The coyotes have to live as well and being hunters, they hunt and eat prey. Fact of life.

This year I have seen this band of marauders virtually wipe out the whole nesting population of waterfowl living in the wetlands behind our property. These coyotes are so brazen that, while I was dumping a wheelbarrow full of dirt out by the fence line, one stood within 12 feet of me...just watching what I did and was not even phased by my yelling at it to "Get!" Seeing the plight of Mrs. Mallard just sent me over the edge. Now I'm angry! Had I not put my sheep in the barn at night this could very well have been one of the lambs.

And it's not only the ducks. People in our neighborhood have begun missing pets like cats and small dogs. I finally figured out what was also bothering me about all of this...it usually doesn't happen this time of the year. We are in a very dry spell right now. The forests are tinder-dry again as we had a very dry, snowless winter. This may be an indication that animal populations, both predator and prey, are stressed for food and are moving in closer to people to glean what they can in our neighborhoods. Most of the people around us are fairly new to country living and don't realize one of the implications of this. They see the elk on our roads and in the field behind us and think they're cute and beautiful. And they are. It's just that I also see what follows these elk in my mind's eye...the species who prey upon these elk. In our area that means cougar and bear. I will now carry a very big flashlight and my cellphone with me to the barn should I have to go out after dark. And I'm thinking of making a new pen for Skittles to spend the nights inside the barn with everyone else - behind the predator-proof doors. Even if he doesn't want to come in.


Note to Self...put AZ Game & Fish on speed-dial.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Feelin' Hot, Hot Hot!



It's been really, really warm here today - almost 90 F! This is really hot for us for this time of year. I've started to hear rumors that we are to start getting the possibility of monsoons starting soon. I certainly hope so. I miss clouds. Today we're had nothing but clear sky.

I've been watching the sheep via "Sheep-O-Vision" today...mainly because they, too, are feeling the heat and staying close to the cool barn with the fans blowing the air inside. I do go down there often to make sure everyone has cool, clean water.

As you can see from this first photo (Sheep Thrills Ole) the lambs have become Debris Magnets, gathering hay, twigs, and assorted other bits flying around in the air lately. My DH keeps asking if I can get coats in their size. At the rate they are growing it won't be too long before they are big enough for coats...and ear tags, and shots, and weaning, and finding new homes(?).

The second photo is one I got recently of Blessa. She's finally warming up to me! I've noticed this of most ewe lambs and wonder if it's some internal mechanism given to them from Mother Nature...the boys are bold and the girls hang back almost as if to say, "You guys try it first and if you're still alive afterwards then I might try it too". Natural female survival instinct. :)



And Sheep Thrills Shaun the Sheep was caught off-guard this morning, looking over his Mum's back. Shaun has the softest fleece of any lambs we've ever had here. It is just bee-u-tea-full! He is very respectful and comes for attention or treats only when called. I think he's inherited Skit's personality...but then all the boys are that way.


The only one who will be any problem (and I'm nipping it in the bud right quick!) is Ole. Ole would rather be in someone's lap than anywhere else! Or he might try to sneak up behind someone to nibble on clothing. (And yes, Lois, we are indeed using the "Tough Love for Rams" approach with this one!) I rap his knuckles and say a firm "No!" if he tries anything like that. He has, on occasion, found himself suddenly on the ground with me pinning him down and saying "no" in a very loud angry voice. It only took twice before he realized that I meant business. And in his eyes you can see a very gentle soul softly looking back at you. What a charmer! But, if he ever slips and wants to be a Lap-Sheep again, I'll have to explain to him that it would mean he has to lose a little something first...like his ram-hood.


And, Blessa was kind enough to stand still for this wonderful shot of her bum! But you can see she's got a nice set of square legs there! She's her father's daughter alright!

And here's hoping that all of you are staying cool and hydrated in the Summer heat! Before we know it, we'll all be complaining about snow and ice! :)

Thought for Today: Never chase elk out of your pasture in flip-flops. The elk have the advantage if you do! ;)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lions and Tigers and...Wolves! Oh, My!

This past Saturday, I found a fairly good sized box left by the mailman on our steps. When I picked it up, I noticed that it was from Lauren
just down the mountains from me in Scottsdale. Wow! This was way bigger than I thought it would be. Upon opening the box I not only found the two skeins of luscious Merino sock yarn that were Lauren's tall-tale-telling prize, but the remainder of the box was crammed full of wolf fiber! How neat is that?
I have spun wolf before, long ago...in a Galaxy far, far away. I remember little about the actual technique I used, but I do remember the finished yearn. It was beautiful! I ended up giving the yarn to a mom who was always trying to get her small son to wear a warm hat during the cold Kansas winters. I gave the skein to her mentioning that maybe a knit hat made out of real wolf might entice the little boy to keep the hat on his head - that no other little boy would have a hat made out of real wolf. It worked. During the winters the little tyke would not leave the house unless he was wearing his Wolf Cap.

The surprising thing was that I thought the smell of this fiber would downright insult the feline inhabitants of our dwelling. Oh, cont rare! To my amazement, cats were trying to remove said fiber from the bag that Lauren had filled. It was truly bizarre to watch them take clumps of wolf and rub it all over their faces, over their ears and then stick their noses in the fiber inhaling its heady perfume. These are the same cats that hate dogs! These are the same cats that will pee on my jeans should I not wash them fast enough after visiting friends with dogs. I was speechless to say the least.
And I am so looking forward to the day when I will be adept enough to actually knit myself a pair of socks with this beautiful yarn. It is exquisite - the jewel tones and softness will make the socks things of beauty to behold. That is, if I can get good enough to knit a pair. Hmmm....who knows? Maybe there will come some inspiration and they will end up in a weaving project. They need to "speak" to me. Thank you so very much, Lauren!


It's a wonderful thing to know...that these yarns don't eat anything (but space) and don't have to be sent to college!

Thought for the Day: Never eat biscotti while wearing a scoop-neck t-shirt! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Trying To Think Ahead - Or - Where Is My Behind?

No, I haven't forgotten everyone. I'm sorry I haven't been blogging for a while, but I have a good excuse. :) I've been trying to think ahead of myself and try to accomplish as much as I can before my up-coming surgery. I'm trying to get my computer desk cleaned off and not just by throwing everything in a drawer either. Then there's always the laundry and ironing. Add to that small things like ordering the eartags for this year's lamb crop. Well, the list goes on and on.
And in the midst of trying to get things done around Oleo Acres (one of the Cheaper Spreads), I've been making trips into town for blood tests, x-rays, and assorted other medical necessities. I find myself sitting down for a bit of a break and slipping off for a short, er, power-nap. Well, that shoots the day in the butt.
Oh, I don't want to give you the wrong impression here. In no way do I wish to become a Superwoman, although it sure would be great to fly from here to there and see through walls. I wonder if there's a Superwoman ironing secret that would allow me to blast through the umpteen shirts I need to iron for my DH. That would be great! I do want to have as much of these little things done as I can to make it easier on my DH, the cats and the sheep as well as myself. I will rest better knowing that I won't have to come home to many little things that I won't be able to do for a while. And a few friends have told me I need not to concern myself with anything other than healing properly without pushing myself. Who? Moi?
So, that's why I haven't been blogging a lot lately.
My mother used to say, "I am a mother. I worry, worry, worry." We used to tease her about how she would worry about everything and all of us. Now that I am older, a wife and a mother, I fully understand what my mother meant. She wasn't worrying...she was multitasking! A woman ahead of her time. She just didn't have a catchy phrase to describe what she did.

So, that's what's been going on around here. Nothing exciting except for winning Lauren's neat story contest. (And where that story came from...well, let's just say that pain meds were involved and we'll leave it at that!) I'm here. I'm just trying to get all my ducks in a row with just two weeks to train them.



I wonder if sheep can be trained to do housework? Hmmm<>
















Did I hear someone say "cookies"?

(Skittles running for the barn!)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

BTW...

Just for everyone's FYI...when I said "wind" in the last post I meant our winds were clocked at over 100 mph yesterday! (Of course, I think they meant that's the gusts, but the steady wind wasn't fun either!)
And our last night's temperature here was: 23 F! Now you know why I covered my plants last night! (And tonight!) We had solid ice on all the sheeps' waterers this morning.

Welcome to Mountain living! You know...up here in the nose-bleed section! :)

Toto, I Keep Telling You We're Not In Kansas Anymore!

OK, Guys...Is the coast finally clear? We have had tremendous winds here in the High Country! For the past two days, I thought we were back in Kansas! Come to think of it, I don't remember Kansas being this bad except for the tornadoes. My chickens are still walking sideways!

You will notice a definite "thread" running through these latest pictures of the sheep: They are all sporting this year's hay model. Hay has been blown everywhere during the past two days. So much so that I have had to feed in the barn and after finishing a meal, the sheep staying in the barn.

Did I mention it's been windy here?

Of course, nothing keeps the lambs down for long. And here you see the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" doing their best to squash "The World"...yes, the ball is actually a representation of the World, so you see, I'm correct in my interpretation. :)The lamb who loves playing with a ball the most is Sven and he's the one you see with horns at the ready. His brother, Ole, is not far behind. This seems to be a theme in their daily activities...EXCEPT when the shepherd arrives! Ole will abandon all activities and mosey over towards the said shepherd hoping to be invited over for a scratch. He has become much more leery of approaching anyone since he discovered himself up-side-down one day with a voice from above saying a resounding "No!". We have since learned that we must mind our manners or suffer dire consequences. And we learn fast! ;-)
I have been trying my best to get some good photos of both Shaun and his sister, Blessa. No one and nothing is cooperating lately! If it hasn't been my own camera dying a slow and horrible death (not to mention my wanting to kick it into the swamp with enough force to make an NFL Team scout me), it's been hay and dust being blown all over to make all sorts of UFOs appear in the photos. I give up!

As for Moi? I have resigned myself to the fact that I do, really and honestly, need the surgery I am not looking forward to. But I am looking forward to the prospect of less pain.

And when will I be "normal" again? Any day now...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Don't Pay The Ransom...

I escaped! :-)

Yes, I am sorry for not having posted sooner. I have had a really rough week emotionally (some of which I shall not go into) as well as physically. But not to worry...I believe I will have many chances to post now that summer is here and we all take a "Siesta" during the hot part of the day. As I am entering this, I can see in the "Sheep-O-Vision" monitor that all of the ewes and lambs are back in the coolness of the barn after dining al Fresco this morning. The barn stays relatively cool during the day due to the cinderblock/frame construction as well as the fans I have going to keep air circulating and the flys down.

As you can see in the picture of Shadow and the keyboard, you will note this as one of the many obstacles to my actually getting anything done on the computer. It's nice to know that I always have help - even if the helper gets in the way. At this moment Shadow's down in the basement in his basket taking in the morning sun as it comes through the basement window over my workbench.

I have never been able to understand the amount of heat a cat can stand. On a summer day, when it's so hot I can barely breathe, I see cats sleeping in the sun! And I can never fathom why they aren't turning into puddles of cat-plasm or some other sort of gooey mess. If you go to pet them you can hardly stand to touch them they're so hot. But there they lay anyway.

Now that Lauren has received her print I can show you what my cyber-friend Michelle sent me for my birthday! Michelle did this breathtaking rendering she did of an Arabian mare. Bless her heart. She knew how much I had loved my horses and how hard it was to give them up. (After a shoulder surgery back in '98 from an injury, I could no longer even lift a saddle to the horses backs and it really wasn't fair of me to just have them stand around for the rest of their lives, so we found them good homes.)
I will have this framed and find a suitable spot for it on the wall near the cross-stitched Arabian my wonderful daughter, Kelly, did for me. Every time I see it I will remember Michelle. :-)

Part of my not posting has been the coordination, and being stunned, afraid, numbed, etc....of a surgery date being arranged for my having back surgery from my neurosurgeon. Now, I knew this was coming, but I just didn't realize it would be so soon. When I left his office he said something about a problem I was having not being able to be fixed by physical therapy, medications or hanging up-side-down from the chandelier...and while it wasn't an emergency-type surgery (meaning I wasn't any danger of being paralyzed or nerve damage from this) I did need to have this fixed sooner than later. Little did I know that his "sooner-than-later" meant like soon! As in the end of this month! Boy, has that put a crimp in my plans, damn-it. I was hoping to make it to Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon this year. I was so looking forward to driving there and exploring Oregon as a possibility of moving there in a few years. The only good thing I can say is that I should be recovered from it by the time our wonderful family from New Zealand will be arriving for a visit. I am so looking forward to seeing them!
This surgery has really put a damper on my emotional well-being lately. Darn it, darn it, darn it.

Well, at least I'll have my Roberta spinner to keep me company...
and maybe I can actually get caught up with all the fleece I have stashed around the house. That is IF my helpers don't try to "help" me too much....