Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Subtraction and Addition

Skittles left yesterday. His new home is with Jared Lloyd in Colorado. Jared has a bevy of beautiful ladies just waiting for Skit! And yes, I had a few tears in my eyes when Jared walked him into the trailer. Skittles was my first Shetland love. Oh, I loved the girls when they came with their babies, but it was Skit who turned my head and heart the Shetland direction.

What made it easier letting him go was knowing that his genes will have more of an opportunity to be best utilized at Jared's place. The fact that Jared is interested in collecting and saving Skittles genetics (for AI) showed me that he really appreciates all Skit's attributes. The fact was that I needed some new genes in the flock and Jared had a young up-and-comer I was interested in.
Meet soon to be named, Jehovah's Loki. Jared had wanted me to pick out a name for this youngster and after seeing that impish look on his face, "Loki" seemed like a fit. His sire is Skeld, a top ram on the Shetland Isles. No, Skeld didn't visit Colorado...except in a little tube. ;) Loki is the result of an AI breeding.
All the lambs we get from Loik will probably be white. White is a color that has been lacking in my flock. I am hoping to use Loki for a few years, then he may have to do some traveling as well. When you have a very small operation, you have to make hard decisions as to whom to keep and whom not to. It's the one aspect of this sheepy-business I really don't like. But I do not have the luxury of having different fields in which to stockpile sheep I want to keep. We have limited space. I would never want more than two rams on this place at any one time. The fact is, it's easier to replace the rams than the ewes, so most rams do not get to spend their lives on one farm. sigh.
Loki's fleece feels just like soft clouds. I realize that this is his "lamb fleece", which is always the softest fleece any sheep has, but his fleece is softer to the hand than some of the others we've had here. I can hardly wait to see what he throws next spring.
Normally, I don't like using ram lambs for breeding. In fact, this will be the first time I've ever done it this way. We'll just have to see how it goes. I am a believer in letting a sheep mature before breeding, usually not using them until they are a year old at least. Since we did not breed last year, and I have a growing list of people wanting lambs from us, I think this year we'll just have to see what Loki can do.

Bye, bye, Skit, my love. I will miss you and always cherish you in my heart. I know you'll make us proud.

Welcome aboard, Mr. Loki. Just in case you didn't know it, you've got some mighty big hooves to fill.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Wonder You Have Kids When You're Young...

...'cause when you get older, you need a break now and then. :)

Yes, I'm still here. It has been three whirlwind, crazy, busy, beautiful, weeks around Oleo Acres. Our daughter and granddaughter were here to spend three weeks with us! WooHoo! While the original intent was to see Miss Julie before she passed, Kelly still came over to go with us to a neighborhood get-together in her memory. While she was here, we made use of her wondrous abilities to: have her help me get my new (on my lap as I write this) laptop computer up, running and connected up; set up a server for all the computers in the house (which backs up all the computers' files every night so we'll not lose anything again), clean out the office with a fine-tooth comb (something Hizzoner hates to do because he can not throw anything away); eat lots of Mexican food with us; and share her daughter gracefully with two beaming grandparents. I don't think Gwen's feet hit the ground while she was here. We loved it!
Truthfully, we did come to realize that having a baby around illustrated just how much older we've become. We're not ancient by any means, but I know I could tell that bending, carrying, car-seating, buckling anything Gwen was in to actually keep her in, and going-going-going all the time did take me down a notch or two. I loved it!
Here's just a few of the pictures I took:
Best Friends. Grandpa and Me

OK, Pixel...You're In For It Now!
"Who? Me?"
Ninja Warrior Baby? -or- Up-and-Coming Pool Shark?

Along with everything else going on, I have been finalizing something for Sheep Thrills Farm. I haven't really wanting to say anything yet, thinking it would jinx everything, but I am working out an exchange of sorts. It looks like Skittles will be heading for Colorado. A fellow Shetland breeder and someone appreciative of quality rams, Mr. Jared Llyod of Jehovah-jireh Sheep and Cattle LLC. , was very interested in Skittles. Would I be willing to exchange Skit for one of his rams? Jared knew I needed some new genetics and had a number of candidates for me to choose from.
While logic dictates this is a no-brainer, I have to admit that I will really miss my buddy, Skit. With the exception of breeding season when he takes on the appearance and personality of a shark in a feeding frenzy (I swear, those eyes of his would roll back in his head if a ewe in season was anywhere near), Skit has always been a big teddy-bear.
I hesitate to make friends with any ram, espousing a more "ToughLove" approach as my friend Lois, of Stonehaven Farm, calls it. Skit and I respect each other, but that never stopped him from asking for his tail to be scratched or that spot between his shoulders rubbed a bit when I let him out to pasture. He always gives me a look to say, "Thank you.", then goes on his way. Apparently, he believes this is a duty that every shepherdess must provide when asked nicely.
It was only when Jared promised that Skittles would be used for breeding, then when he's older, he'd be retired to a pasture with another of Jared's beloved rams to live out his days. Skit will have more ewes, plus have a larger place to roam. He deserves that and it's something that I cannot provide on our small place. So, I said yes. Soon Jared will arrive to pick up Skittles and deliver two ram lambs, one of them sired by a ram from Shetland. Yesterday the veterinarian came out to examine Skit and fill out his Health Certificate for travel. He's ready to go and fit for this year's breeding season. And I will miss him.

I don't know if he realizes it or not, but I will have to explain to Jared how important having a "Tire Toy" will be for Skittles.
...I so hope there's room for one in that new pasture.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Foiled Again

In the midst of having my daughter and granddaughter here for a visit (yes, pictures will follow, but I just had to get this in...) we had a dramatic shift in our weather. It had been warm with nights of having fans blowing on us to keep us all cool, or at the very least, comfortable. That was until last night.
This year has been a strange year, gardening-wise. We had cool weather last until the end of June. Even cold-loving seeds planted in late May were hesitant to do much of anything. Beans crept along...corn seems to be held in stasis...the tomatoes and zucchini planted in containers on the deck just sat there. When July hit, so did the hot weather of summer bringing with it the intensity of our 7,000 ft. summer sun. The monsoons never really amounted to anything. We watered and watered hoping for storms to come through to stimulate the garden into doing something.
But last night was the kicker. We got frosted. Usually we don't see any sort of frost until around 15 September, but in actuality we can have frost on any day of the year. Such is mountain living.
I was glad for the cool night for good sleeping. I vaguely remember Daisy trying to get under the covers with me while Mooch snuggled up along my leg, purring and vibrating, glad for the warmth. But when I got up this morning and turned on the TV to see what the forecast was for today, I saw the notice -a new record low temperature had been set for Flagstaff last night. Flagstaff itself was 36 F. Seeing that I knew we had to have gotten lower, most likely at least 32 F if not lower. I only had to walk outside and view the damage. The container tomatoes, zucchini, and some of the flowers on the deck were hit. So were the green beans and corn. The pumpkins were totally taken out. Sorry, sheep. It'll be store-bought pumpkins again this year. Some of the plants might try to come back, but we really don't have much time left in our growing season for them to make a good comeback. Darn.

I just have to remember the definition of what an optimist is: Optimist - A gardener in Flagstaff, Arizona. I know I'm not alone. Most other mountain gardeners have this same problem.
At least I hope I'm an optimist...some years I just feel like a fool.