Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thank you, Boys...

It was a very hard decision to make. I took the three remaining ram lambs from last year's lambing to the butcher earlier this month. Times being what they are and having an overabundance of rams, I just couldn't see any valid reason to prolong keeping these boys. The cost of feed in Arizona is outrageous, plus I have enough wethers of the same colors already. They are now living in the freezer.
We all think of the housing markets with this downward economy, but these conditions effect everyone - farmers included. This is the first year many sheep people I know have had to sell even breeding stock for the meat market. But on the upside, this is the time we also keep the very best for breeding. We Shetland breeders tend to have rather large hearts for our small sheep. If individuals don't make the cut as breeding animals we tend to find them "Fiber Homes" or "Pet Homes". Shetland's intelligence and friendly dispositions make them easy to place...usually. But not these past two years.
So, steeling our hearts against the hurt we make tough decisions. This is the part of farming we have to face whether we want to or not. Decision time. Who goes, who stays. It's been this way since man first started keeping animals. A Farmers' Natural Selection, if you will.
My three boys went to market where they were slaughtered as humanely as possible considering just what slaughter really is. They came back to me in beautifully wrapped packages labeled for resale should I wish to sell the meat. And I love lamb, so last night I broiled a small package of loin chops for myself to try. I had never tasted one of the Shetland sheep I raised even though others have. I wanted to know if my care and feeding came through in the meat.
So, I found out...
It was the best lamb I had ever tasted. (Even with my cooking the chops a bit too long.)

Thank you, Boys. I respectfully appreciate what you have given me. And may I always appreciate exactly where the food sustaining me comes from. You did good, Boys.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Case of the Missing Barrel

Lacey: "OK, Loretta. the Shepherdess said something about a "whiskey barrel" hiding somewhere in this mountain. I don't know what a "whiskey barrel" is, or what it looks like, but if the Shepherdess needs it, it's our job to find it for her. You look over there."
Loretta: "Gosh, Mom. It would sure be a whole lot better if I knew what this thing looked like. But I'll look for anything that shouldn't be here on our mountain."
Loretta: "Mom. You don't need to watch me that closely. I know what I'm doing. Wouldn't it be better if you looked on the other side of the mountain?"
Lacey: "I'm just watching to make sure you don't slip and fall, Dear. It's a mother's job, you know."
Loretta: "Mom, if you really want to be helpful, you'd get those other sheep up here to help look for this thing.
Gee, Mom...isn't this mountain getting smaller? I thought it was bigger yesterday when we were out here yodeling. Isn't this where you left your dirndl? Ole said he lost his dad's lederhosen somewhere on the mountain. Can we still sing if we've lost our costumes?"
Lacey: "Just be quiet Dear and keeping looking for the Whiskey Barrel and leave mommy alone. I think I'm getting a headache."

As you can tell, things have been very busy around Oleo Acres. There is so much to tell! Yes, we've had more snow, as you can see in the photos of the girls out in the pasture, but we've had our lives interspersed with visits from our friend, Lois, as well as the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits having surgery on a finger!
Yes, another surgery. My DH has had a finger that over the years has taken a nasty curl to itself. It had gotten to the point of being painful as well as frozen in a bent position that could not be straightened out. So, since he was recovering from the spleenectomy, he and I both thought it was a good time to have it fixed. So, on the 12th of February, he went under the knife again. This time is was a local and done as an outpatient. I knew he was in no pain after surgery when he asked to go to Cracker Barrel for a late lunch - a lunch of breakfast food, actually. I love restaurants who serve breakfast all day. He couldn't have anything to eat prior to his noon surgery schedule, so I didn't eat anyhing either. I think it a cruel thing when a person can't have anything to eat, but everyone else does.

And, naturally, the day of the DH's surgery would be the day one of our cats became very ill. Poor Ziggy was vomiting as well as having terrible diarrhea. He wasn't responding to Slippery Elm or fluids given under the skin. I tried calling our cat-vet, Bill, but kept getting busy signals or the answering machine. Thinking they were in Las Vegas at the annual veterinary convention, I took a chance and called Rob, our sheep-vet (who also does pets). He was in and had an appointment made for poor Ziggy. I left the patient home, well drugged and feeling no pain. He (the DH) was in his recliner with the remote control. I knew he'd sleep most of the time Zig and I were gone.
Rob took xrays and blood from Ziggy. He suspected either hyperthyroidism or a form of lymphoma. We wouldn't know until the next day when the bloodwork came back.
We found out it was hyperthyroidism! So, now we're treating with medication to see if he responds. So far, so good. He's perked up quite a bit, is eating well, and is not drinking nearly the quantity of water he had been. I was worried it could have been diabetes, but no - this was all a part of the hyperthyroidism. Keep your fingers crossed. We will have bloodwork done again this next Thursday to see how he's responding. Years ago, we lost our daughter's cat, Bandit, to this very thing. Nowdays there is one big difference. Every 72 hours, Ziggy gets a baby aspirin to prevent a saddle thrombosis. A saddle thrombosis is a clot or blockage to the rear of the cat, making legs and bladders uncontrolable. Bandit died from one. I pray that Zig will fair better.

And last weekend we got a treat. Our friend Lois, who is a radiologist, got to spend the weekend with us! :) Losi works for a company who sends replacement doctors to hospitals in need of their services on a "fill-in" basis. She's been working at the hospital in Tuba City, north of Flagstaff on the Navajo Reservation.
This is the second time she's been able to come through Flagstaff. The first was around Christmas. That time we only got to have dinner in town with her as our schedules and the weather kept interfering. But this time she was able to come on Saturday and stay through until Monday.
It was a wonderful visit. Saturday we went to the Museum of Northern Arizona (leaving the HHWB at home) to give Lois a taste of this area. We took our time and stopped for an espresson on the way home. Even though she lives at 3,000 ft. in Oregon, and works in Tuba City at 5,000 ft. altitude, our 7,000 ft. altitude was starting to get to her a bit. We slowed down and pushed the water to help her stay hydrated in our extremely dry climate. Soon, she was feeling better.
But most of all, we got to talk sheep, and knitting, sheep, and spinning and weaving, and sheep! Of course we sprinkled in a few cats here and there as well. I think Lois got her "animal fix" while she was here. :) Today finds her on her way home to her hubby, Brook, and to get ready for her flcok to be shorn on Tuesday.
It was really nice to visit with her. She is a wonderful, gentle soul. I am glad I finally got to meet her. Both the HHWB and I hope she will consider us as her home-away-from-home whenever she's here to sub at the TC hospital.

As for me, I've been enjoying doing things around here. I'm catching up on sewing and knitting (or attempting knitting, I should have said), and reading. I've got a stack of books to read which only gets bigger as I add more books, but haven't had time to read until lately. So, Dear Reader...I am here. I just haven't been on the computer much lately. I try to time it so the HHWB has his time in the office alone, then later I will be in there. Our house isn't huge and with him home until mid-March recovering, I still want each of us to have their own time without the other, hovering. We still watch TV together and are having fun cooking together, but I'm a big believer in also giving each other space once and a while.

Yesterday, my DH had the stitches removed from his finger. He still has a bandage on it but I think he's feeling much much so that I now hear the garden tractor running outside of the office window. I'd better go see what he's up to and maybe yell at him to get off that thing. I don't think I could take another six weeks of recovery. Well, maybe I could...if it was mine. :)

And maybe, just maybe, that missing whiskey barrel planter the plow-guys scooped up will actually be found before Spring!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mooch has the Right Idea...

It's been snowing today. We've just received about a foot of new snow, but are thankful it isn't the four feet we got at Christmastime. I don't think I could take another round like that.
Things have been busy, but somewhat odd around Oleo Acres. Having my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits home is hard to adjust to. He is healing incredibly well but is now getting to the point where he's getting bored yet he's still recovering from surgery so he can't do everything he wants to do. I am stuck somewhere in the middle of enjoying having him home, or beaning him with a frying pan. Take your pick. He hasn't learned that just because he can't do things he wants to do is no reason to interrupt my schedule. ;-)
One thing I have enjoyed is not having to get up at the crack of Dawn. We've actually slept until 7:30 or 8 in the morning! Incredible! the sheep have gracefully adjusted their demands as well. In fact, I have found them all to be sleeping when I head out to feed. What a Lazy Bunch we've become. I love it!

As you can see below, Mooch has adjusted quite nicely to the tempo around here. He and his brother, Rascal (seen below brooding behind the loveseat that he can't have the chair Mooch is in), are now 9 months old and huge! I will try to get some photos of Rascal and his puffy-tail. And Daisy May (aka Mama) is doing fine as well. Her biggest issue is that she wants to sleep on my head at night and I want her to sleep elsewhere. We have had to resort to barriers to our bedroom that allow them to look in, cry and be pitiful while we try to remain in control of our bed and keep cat dander to a minimum.

Mooch in Repose

Frustrated Rascal

Hopefully I can return to blogging more often. The HHWB has been working on his computers. I have, wisely, stayed out of the office and his way even though that means less chance of doing emails, blogging or reading friends' blogs as well.

But then there's nothing wrong with a blanket, a comfortable chair, a good book, and a roaring fire in the woodstove. Right, Mooch? Mooch?...Mooch! Darn that cat!