Tuesday, March 31, 2009

We Bring You This News Flash...There Be Naked Sheep at Sheep Thrills!


Yesterday, I received a call from our wonderful shearer, Penney. she was in the area and would it be possible to stop by tomorrow (Tuesday) to shear my sheep? I immediately said, "Yes!"! Penney had been stuck in Idaho during some nasty snowstorms but had made it home to southern Arizona with herself and some sheep she was transporting in tow. Now she was making a loop doing shearing jobs up in northern Arizona, hoping she could fit us in as she came through our area.
Penney is about the best shearer around these parts having not only shorn since she was 9, but was raised on a sheep ranch. She knows her stuff. I consider it a blessing that I have found someone who really cares about what she's doing. She shears fiber animals for a living, not just as a side business. And you can tell that from the quality of her work and the way she treats the sheep.
So, I shuffled things aside and got ready for shearing today. She was a bit late arriving, but got right to work, shearing Skittles first. When Skit saw Penney, he immediately started to gently baa in his deep voice. He doesn't do that for just anyone. He loves Penny and just stares at her with this smitten look on his face and makes goo-goo eyes at her all the while she wisks off his fleece. Penney could hang Skit up-side-down for all he cares, just as long as it's her doing it.
We only have nine sheep now. Penney took her time, setting each one on his or her bum then caressed each one giving each a peck on the nose. You can tell she really loves her work. Not only shearing, Penney also checks their teeth and hooves, trimming feet if needed. Then the shearing begins. Last year she didn't nick any of the 16 sheep we had. This year Amanda's fleece was so dense that she did receive a nick as well as when Penney was trimming her feet, Amanda jerked causing Penney to cut a dew claw too short and it bled. We put blood-stop powder on it to control the bleeding and the shearing continued. that was the only sheep who sustained any sort of "trauma".
It was a long day. After shearing we came inside the house to get out of the wind. Even though we set up in the barn, the wind kept changing directions and was very cold. Naturally, over coffee and tea we talked "sheep".
Marilyn, our friend and farm-sitter, had come earlier to witness the shearing of a couple of sheep and to pick out a fleece for herself. It turned out she picked Ole's fleece. As the day progressed Marilyn joined right in helping where she could by sweeping off the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood Penney was shearing on, or raking up the tags and skirtings (the mostly unusable parts of the fleece that are better off composted) as well as helping move the sheep in and out when needed. As she got ready to go home, Marilyn asked if she could buy Ole's fleece from me and how much it was. I gave her a hug and said "Happy Birthday" and "Thank you for all your help today". I knew that she had celebrated a birthday last week. Since my HHWB (the DH) had to be at work today, Marilyn's help, even with the few sheep I have, was very welcomed. I was grateful for her staying and she found the whole process mesmerizing. After I hugged her I noticed she had tears in her eyes. She just couldn't believe I would let her have Ole's fleece. I just wanted her to know that her help was very welcomed by both Penney and I. Many hands make light work.
So now I have naked sheep. They look so small compared to the puffballs on toothpicks they usually look like before shearing. I find myself relieved. It's done for another year. We can get on with other things now...like playing with all those beautiful fleeces. :)

And yes, Ole...it will grow back. And yes, Ole...you are still the cutest one and I love you, too... Just remember to stay in the barn tonight, Ole. It's still cold at night and I think you're going to need to buddy-up with the others for added warmth.
...and no, Ole...you can not come into the house with me...
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Grand Trip...Part Deux

I have had a really hard time deciding which photos to post from our trip. There are so many good ones! I just had to share a few more of the family before we move on to the next post...
For this trip to New Zealand we decided just to concentrate on visiting family and resting. It has only been a little over two months since my DH's surgery. He would be filled with energy at times, other times just running low and "out of gas". Most of all, I believe our spirits really needed to refresh themselves...and not only from the DH's surgery, but from a very hard winter. I was physically (and mentally) exhausted from all the snowstorms and the work they entailed: shoveling, splitting wood, feeding the wood stove when the furnace acted up at the end of January, and the anguish we both felt not being able to be in New Zealand to welcome Gwen or to help the Kids around the house during the last part of Kelly's pregnancy as we had hoped to do.
Being with all the family was worth every mile of that long flight over. :)

Kelly introducing Gwen as we arrived with the morning's light

"Who is this Grandma person and why is she calling me her 'Little Shepherdess'?"

"Alright, Gramps...pull my finger!"
Having a chat while waiting for the ferry from Devonport back to Auckland while "the kid" has my camera
Ross and Kelly's first attempts at their newly acquired Wii Guitar Hero band. They named their virtual band "Attention Shoppers".

My buddy, Sam the Cat, whom I tried to spoil


The look out the back off the deck. The tallest tree in the background is a Norfolk Island pine.

The two pictures above are of a Mandevilla vine growing on the deck. It was absolutely breathtaking and a welcome change to see its cheery color after our winter white at home.
Sam sunning under the Pohutukawa Tree
One amazing, happy family! (even if Gwen was getting a bit grumpy...)

Next post...riding the Nihotupu Tramline with Val and Hugo through the New Zealand bush!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A "Grand" Trip, Part One

Yes, Folks...it finally happened! We made it to New Zealand to visit our family and meet our new granddaughter, Gwen! Ralph had received clearance from his surgeon that he could make the trip, so tickets and itineraries were hastily planned and off we went. It was wonderful!

The first part of our journey saw us riding our local shuttle down to the Phoenix Airport to catch a flight into LA. Luckily, all our bags could be check through to Auckland so we just had to shuffle ourselves around after checking them in. We took the shuttle as I don't like really small planes (which is what they use to fly from Flagstaff to Phoenix). I blame my brother for this as he was the pilot for the first plane I ever rode in - a Cherokee Piper. Now, you have to know my brother...who saw this as an opportunity to scare the bejesus out of me, again, and did exactly that. But I digress...where was I? Oh, yeah...
We caught a flight to LA getting there in time to have a bit of a meal as our overseas flight didn't leave until very late. After eating, we walked or sat and read until we we told we could board. On we went into the Air New Zealand flight of a 777-400! Although it was packed full like a sardine tin, it was a really nice, smooth flight. Both of us managed to dose off once and a while. I don't think I made it completely through even one of the movies.
Early on the Auckland morning two days later (you lose two days going over due to the International Dateline being crossed but it was actually a 12-hour flight) our son-in-law, Ross, picked us up after we went through Customs.
When ever we arrive in Auckland, I always enjoy the sight of two huge Norfolk Island pines as we step out of the front of the terminal. They're probably 60 ft. tall or better, but they are both a sign of "Welcome" to me, as is the moisture in the air and the smell of the ocean not far away.
After a fairly short trip we arrived at Ross & Kelly's house where Kelly and Gwen were waiting for us.

And here she is! Miss Gwen herself!


"So...You're my Grandpa, huh?"

"Why is Grandma calling me a "Gloucester Fisherman" because of my hat?"

Yes, I do have a few photos of me holding Gwen, but right now I'm taking the pictures...

Snuggles with Daddy

"Mom says Grandpa is trying to rot my brain with TV, but she doesn't understand that we're really watching a Cricket Match."

We had a lovely time visiting family. We really did not intend to do much travel or exploration. We took walks with Kelly and Gwen while Ross was at work, went out for some great meals, had a family barbecue to catch up with the whole clan, and did some short trips into town on the bus or train. Ralph was still recovering from his surgery and I was just plain enjoying myself. It was nice to be able to help out as well. I never thought I'd actually enjoy helping with the dishes or laundry, but I did.
We even went with Val and Hugo, Ross' parents, on a small train-trip through the New Zealand bush to a reservoir (more on this in another post).


All the grandparents & Gwen

At first the summer weather there was hot and more humid than we're used to in Arizona, but storms moved through cooling the nights off to where you could definitely tell fall was in the air. This last photo is of something I love, but don't see very often at my place. Rain. I loved it! :)
The other person's grass is always greener, isn't it? Well...you should see all the lovely green grass there is in New Zealand! :)
More to come...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Watch This Space...

Later in the week I hope to have a new post in...I promise! I will let you know why I haven't blogged in a while and what's going on in our corner of the World. Let's just say I'm not where I usually am. ;-)

Until then...