Thursday, November 29, 2007

Something Wicked(ly) Big This Way Comes...

I had a strange feeling when I went out to the barn this morning. A few things seemed a bit out of place...a flower pot on the front deck was knocked off the decking, some pieces of the woodpile's pine logs had rolled off the pile, and when I got to the barn, the sheep were absolutely quiet. That in itself was unusual. Normally I would have a chorus of bleating sheep demanding I hurry up and feed them. Not so this morning. Everyone was quiet and behaved just as nice as you please.
On my way back towards the house I started to look around and was able to discern that something had visited us last night. There is a quarter placed next to a large elk-print. An elk had walked down the driveway from the street down to the barn and out to the vacant field beside our place.
It must have been seeking refuge as this is the middle of elk hunting season here. Years ago we would have been allowed to actually shoot a weapon here, but with the encroachment of town-proper we have now become a no-shoot-zone. With more population there is more of a chance of someone getting hurt, or so the county fathers believe. In reality, I would love to be able to shoot a coyote or loose dog (like the ones who killed my neighbors pet cat last month while she was sitting on her own stoop!) threatening my livestock. While I believe everything has the right to live and breathe in this world, if it chances to cross my boundary line and threaten my animals, it's fair game, in my humble opinion. But, I digress...
This elk was a loner. The picture really doesn't do the print justice. The driveway is a combination of volcanic cinders and stones and you have to "hit" it just right to leave a well defined print. I will have to keep watch to see if there are prints following the elk, as this too is a possibility. We do have cougar and bear here. When game moves through, so do the hunters and not all of them are two footed.

And later in the day, I was in our local Target waiting for some prescriptions to be refilled. Now, I will admit I can get myself into trouble poking around a store with time on my hands...I had downed my Caramel Macchiato (plus two extra shots of espresso) and was picking up a few items while I was there. When I was finished shopping, I was cutting through the food section to get back over to the pharmacy when what did I spy in the Wine Isle??? A bottle, on sale, of "Barking Sheep" wine!!!! I don't really drink much and then usually I stick to NZ wines but I got such a chuckle out of this label I had to bring it home. The label states they have a website at:!
Isn't that a hoot?!!! ;-)

OK, dear SIL...there's a label for you! I'll bet they don't have one like this in New Zealand!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Reflections and Giving Thanks

I believe Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. For me, it reminds me to take time from all the business of Life, slow down, and really think about what's important in my life. When I take this time to reflect I find so many positive things to be grateful for.

-I have been married to the same man for 31 years. While we have our moments of frustration with each other as all married couples do, they are few and far between. I find I still miss him when he has to go out of town and look forward to spending more years with him. (Although I AM going on a cruise to Alaska if he wants to come or not!) The poor man got stuck with a "Fiber Person" and "Frustrated Farmer"...the are times he deserves a medal.

-I have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law. They compliment each other so well, each one compensating for the other's shortcomings and brightening each other, leaving room for growth without over-shadowing each other. It is a pleasure to watch them when they're together.

-My extended family are a great group of individuals! Whenever support is needed, they are there. I only wish I wasn't so far away from family. (My brother lives in New Jersey, cousins on Washington Island in Wisconsin, and there's the branch in New Zealand, too...)

-I have a nice house to live in, food to eat, and fairly good health (without counting the back surgery this year) arthritis, etc. not withstanding.

-And I have my four-footed friends. I love them all. They are always there when you really need a friend...even the sheep will come over, rest their head in my lap and look at me as if to say, "'The Dr. is: IN'...just talk, I'll listen." The cats have been there when others haven't keeping me company throughout the day. Even with cleaning cat boxes, barns, carpets from old cats with feeble bladders, furballs, foot trims, shearing and fence animals have added more to my life than they have taken.

-And friends. I count each friend as a Blessing. You can't pick your family, but friends can become more family than someone related by blood. And not only friends who live close whom I see often, but also friends far away whom I talk to over the computer, by phone or mail. I may not have many diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, but I have a life bejeweled by friends who add their own sparkle to my world.

In short, I have quite a bit to be thankful for. And I thank the Day for telling me to slow take stock and listen to all in my life that's good.

And may all of you reading this have a blessed Thanksgiving. I know mine is.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hey, Ewe! Who's yo Daddy?

Yes,'s THAT time of year again! All the promises are over and the hormones are running rampant. About all I do this time of year is stay out of the way and let Skittles do his job. ;-) I had been promising him that he would get twice as many girls this year. The poor guy thought I was tormenting him on purpose, I'm sure. But no, I just wanted lambs coming in the middle to late April next year. Most of our bad weather is over with and fly season hasn't started - perfect weather for being born. That is except if it turns out like last year when we had terrible winds out of the NE and straight into the ewes end of the barn.

Hmmmm...Amanda is trying to figure out what this black, swingy-thing is and why Skittles doesn't want to share it with anyone. I thought I heard her say it really didn't taste like anything she wanted to eat, but would still lick on it if need be. Silly girl! Don't let Skit see you messing with his tire swing, Amanda...he's very possessive of it. You've been warned.

It was about this time I thought I heard Skit say, "Darn it, Amanda! Take off that stupid coaty-thing! It's getting in MY way!" Poor Amanda.

At this time of year, rams who are normally placid, even downright sweet, turn in to demons on four legs with only one thing on their minds. Nothing will stop them in this Seasonal Drive of theirs either - or at least I should mention that you need really good fencing to make sure they stay in an area YOU want them to stay in. Many a shepherd has gone out to check sheep only to find rams not where they were supposed to be. I have known rams to go through electric fencing, welded wire fencing, well...just about any type of fencing in the need to carry out their mission in life. And a shpherd knows not to place his or herself between a ram and his ewes. In the heat of passion that's asking for it. Yup. Cruisin' for a bruisin' unless you're prepared to deal with a protective ram concerned that you're going to take unsettled ewes (non-pregnant ewes).
Now, any time of year you should not turn your back on a ram. But especially now when they have first been put in with their chosen girls one needs a sharp eye and a good shepherd's crook. Maybe even fast feet too! LOL In watching Skittles with his girls these past few days I find myself thinking about how much Mother Nature intended these creatures to succeed as a species in this world. Sheep are suspicious by nature with a great sense of "Fight or Flight" (mostly flight). They are also fast on their feet as many a winded shepherd might experience once or twice in their lives. And with good feed timed right, you can usually get a 200% lamb crop making sheep productive even for small farms. You can wear them, pet them, milk them...and yes, even eat them. No wonder we've been teamed up with sheep for hundreds of years and more.

Yes, I hear you, Skit...grunting and groaning like WhiteFang and Blacktooth talking to Soupy Sales back in the 50s. Just 6 weeks you'll be begging me to put you back in with the boys when you've got 4 pregnant "wives" on your hooves. I'll remind asked for it!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Never Long Enough...

As you have been able to tell, lately we've been uber-busy with a visit from our daughter and her husband. I know they were here just last year but when you have relatives living halfway around the world, every visit becomes a cherished time knowing that the visit is never really long enough. The Kids arrived on Halloween and stayed until this past Friday. After some time at home we all went to Las Vegas where they caught a plane for San Francisco, soon to head towards home again. I happened to catch this photo of them on the Monorail as we were traveling from one end of the Strip to the other. (Gee...I wonder where the red in my DD's hair came from???)
We had a great time with them. It always seems that after kids leave home and find their own paths in this world that visits are either too long or not long enough. I usually am a believer in the wisdom of Ben Franklin about fish and guests, but as I've gotten older I find that visits with good family and good friends are not long enough at times. Such as this visit with the Kids. We had a ball!
One of the neat places to see in LV is the Conservatory at the Bellagio. Four times a year they change the displays. When we arrived to walk through it on this trip, the theme was Fall's Bounty with giant baskets of apples, a Wood Man or Green Man depending on your culture, and a moving Cider Mill. It was breathtaking as always. The photos of the mill wheel don't do it justice. Both Kelly and I stood there, both seeing the composition of the moving wheel amongst the timbers and plants as amazing - and both of us disappointed that a mere photo could not do it justice.

I realize as I write this that I'm exhausted, but very happy. The past ten days have been so busy I don't think my feet hit the ground, nor did my bee-hind stay in a chair for any length of time to recover. Ross and Kelly were our last visitors for this year. Soon, we'll be shutting up and doing indoor winter things. I know by January I'll be wishing for another visitor to brighten up the days. I will have to coax my orchids to bloom for some "excitement" in January and February as I can't afford a trip to summer in New Zealand just quite yet. :)

Soon it will be time for Skittles to be let in with the girls for another breeding season. Placecards will have to be engraved for this affair, I'm sure. Colin will go in with his half sister to keep her company this year. The three "Bonzo Brothers" - Shaun, Sven & Ole - have all been wethered and will be together until we can find two of them new fiber/pet homes. And life will return to normal around Sheep Thrills Farm....

that is, IF I can remember what "normal" is....