Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Reading Stack

A while ago, my cyber-friend, Sharon, of Sage Creek Farm, had an entry on her "In Stitches" blog about the number of books in her "pile" waiting to be read. I told her that I had one as well and thought it would be fun to share what is in the stack waiting for me to sit still long enough (without drifting off or "resting" my eyes) to enjoy them.
The top two books have gone back to their owner, Lois Moore, of Stonehaven Farm, who left them in my care last month. Lois makes her way through Flagstaff about once a month on her way to Tuba City to service the hospital there as part of their radiology team. While the traveling is rough on her and her hubby, Brook, I have the pleasure of talking sheep, watching her knit, and sharing good food each time she heads this way.

Sharon has retired recently and is a fellow spinner/weaver/fiber person. She and her husband, Ian, have a few Shetland sheep as well. As we are in the same age group, we've found we have a lot in common, especially a fondness for good books. Well, Sharon...here's the stack. I did not include all the periodicals like Spin-Off, Handwoven, Black Sheep Newsletter, etc. It's a good thing too, as I'm sure the stack would have been way too tall.



Right now I'm finishing up Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.

OK...What's in YOUR stack to read?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Things have been perking right along here. We finally got the tree decorated! Usually, we put the tree up for a few days before we decorate it so the cats can get their ya-yas out. There's always a battle to see who reigns supreme for the choice spot under the tree. This was also the first Christmas we had a tree since acquiring Daisy May and her boys, Mooch and Rascal. I don't know how long the tree will stay decorated...as soon as I finished they were all over it batting at the ornaments and tasting the tinsel.
Of course, what would a shepherdess' tree be without a few "fiber" ornaments? A wheel, drop spindle, shuttle and niddy-noddy along with a few sheep ornaments.

You can catch a glimpse of one of the cats under the tree. This is always the "primo spot" for any cat once the tree goes up. Must be the wool tree-skirt.
A Partridge in a Pear Tree. This glass ornament was one of my mother's.
May all of you have a wonder-filled Holiday Season - from all of us at Sheep Thrills Farm!

Friday, December 18, 2009

News Flash!


Video: WALKING
Originally uploaded by kelly42
We interrupt this "Sheepy Business" to bring you very exciting news from New Zealand...

Yesterday, our granddaughter, Gwen, walked! By herself! She will be turning one year old next week. She is every bit her mother's daughter (and father's, too) being as precocious as Kelly was. Little do K & R know, but their world is going to get a lot busier as well as those eyes in the back of the head need to be up and running now.

We grandparents are simply over the moon at this new development! Go Gwen!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And Then It Snowed

Yes, in-deedy-do...we got snow. I know both The Weather Channel and the US Weather Service put out statements that Flagstaff received 24 inches of snow in this storm, but here at Oleo Acres (one of the West's cheaper spreads), we got 30 inches of snow. And it came in sideways.
Now, I have to say that because we live closer to the Mogollon Rim (pronounced Mug-gee-yone) we usually do receive more snow than the other areas around Flagstaff. This can be a good thing in spring and summer when you really need some moisture for your garden and trees, but it tends to bite one in the bee-hind come winter. After living in this area for over 20 years I have come to the conclusion that "it ain't for wimps", as one old-timer put it.
Arizona is beautiful in very many ways, but can also turn very deadly on you if you don't prepare yourself. This storm came at the height of elk hunting season. It didn't even dawn on us until after the storm moved on and the first reports started coming in to the Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue...hunters got caught stuck, out in the forest and cut off from any hope of getting out the way they got in. One poor hunter from the Phoenix area, up with a buddy hunting, was killed when a Ponderosa pine snapped in half and fell on their tent, killing him instantly. It missed the other guy completely. Other hunters who could make phone calls on their cells were escorted out of the forest by Search and Rescue or by helicopter.
That said, and the wondering of why they were out in the woods when they knew a storm was coming (Darwinian to my mind), the aftermath is very beautiful. Here's a few pictures from around the place, but I have to say I cheated. I took the photos from the windows, warm inside the house while doing so. It was -10 F when I took the photos.

Over the barn roof to the road beyond.

Looking toward the barn from the sunroom.

The bridge in the pasture going over the stream. This stream is a very rare thing in Arizona. We're very lucky to have it as the grasses along it are green for three seasons.


The beginnings of the dreaded "Killer Icicles". Thoughts of the movie, "A Christmas Story" come to mind when I see these.

I will try to get some photos of the sheep to post in the next few days. It was too cold to even want to try to hold the camera today. Plus, the sheep would not leave the barn. Walk in that snow?? Who? Us? Nope. Not us. Go find some other sheep to get out in this snow.

...oh...and while you're at it, we'd appreciate your placing our feed trays in here. We'll leave the empty trays outside the door for you to carry away.
Just what I needed...sheep demanding Room Service and special delivery. Who do they think I am anyway...Pizza Hut?

Note: This morning, 11 Dec., you may have seen on Good Morning America, Gerry Blair from our Sheriff's Dept. stating that almost 50 hunters and hikers have been rescued from the forests in our area. Both my DH, who works with Gerry, and I both thought the same thing - how many have they NOT found...yet?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Raven's Gift

As most of you know, I have a friend - a feathered friend. A friend watching over me as I go about my shepherdess duties about the place. His name is Bran (pronounced "Brawn") after the Celtic god responsible for ferrying souls to the afterlife as well as being the trickster, along with Loki.
Bran became close to me early in 2005. I noticed him hanging around the barn on the winter mornings. Then one day, I realized he was scooping up the mice I trapped the night before in the barn after I threw them on top of the crusted snows. Not long after that I started placing the mice on a post, watching to see of the raven would take them. And take them he did...along with other offerings like the cracked eggs the hens had been careless with, or the odd leftover from the dinner the night before.
Out of these offerings came something else I never dreamed of. The more I watched him, the more he watched me. In the spring and summers Bran would hang around and actually "talk" to me. It finally dawned on me that he was repeating the same sounds over and over to me, then waiting. One day, I answered back, repeating the same tones as best I could. And so it began. I became a student as well as a friend and provider.
Over the past years we've become even closer. If I go get the mail, or garden in the summer, I can hear the voice of a raven I have come to know as well as picking his voice out from the other ravens in the area. When I have the time after barn chores, I will sit on the stoop of the feed room, watching and waiting, for my friend to show up. I usually don't have to wait long before he flies in taking roost on the fencepost or the barn roof.
Our friendship has been growing as we both have moved from mutual respect on to actually enjoying each others company. Or at least I think he likes my company. Two springs ago, Bran floored me with something I never would have thought of.
I had a ewe with a retained placenta after she delivered a very large, single ram lamb. Throughout the night I was to give her shots to encourage the placenta to pass. I was so tired when I was out to give her the last injection at 2:30 a.m. But as I headed from the barn to the back door of the house, I realized there was a "whooshing" noise just above my head. In the darkness of the night with the light from the back door reflecting off his black feathers, there was Bran, flying less than 10 ft. from my head, escorting me to the back door. As I got there I turned and said "Thank you for looking out for me, Bran. Have a good sleep. It's OK now...you can go home." Off he went uttering an almost purring sound from his throat. It's amazing. Ravens don't fly at night but here he was, protecting me and seeing me home in the darkness.
Last week I had another amazing exchange with Bran. He was walking around in the barnyard amongst the sheep and chickens watching me go about my duties as well as making sure an offering was left for him on "his post". I had two cracked eggs that day. After placing them on the top of the post, I watched as he came and took one in his beak. He then flew over the property fence-line to the field behind us and ate the egg leisurely as I fed the sheep and put the chickens in for the evening. Soon, he was back for the second egg. As he sat on the fence, talking to me, and before he took the remaining egg, he stopped and looked at me. I guess he sensed I wasn't too much myself. I was coming down with a massive cold and really didn't feel like spending more time than I needed in the cold weather that day. I looked at him as he approached the remaining egg, then said, "OK, Bran. You get all these eggs and treats. Well, what's in it for me? What do I get?" He looked at me and off he flew, egg in mouth, towards the direction of the trees across the road.
The next morning was cold and windy. I was later than usual out to the barn as I just didn't want to deal with the wind in my face early in the morning. As I approached the barn I saw Bran walking in and out amongst the sheep chatting with them as he walked. He spied me coming and flew to one of the fenceposts, watching me approach with what I can only say looked like a huge grin on his face.

And there, on the top of the post where I place the mice, eggs and treats for him, was a bone. He looked at the bone, then looked at me. I knew what it was. This bone, this thing that was obviously dug up from somewhere due to the dirt on it, was a gift. A gift for me.
I took this treasure, this gift, making sure I thanked Bran profusely for thinking of me.

...and we humans think we're so smart. I, for one, know I have a very, very special friend. No bones about it. ;-)