Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Better Late Than Never

And it's never too late to share something fun, right?  And the annual trip to Kentucky to visit The Crazy Sheep Lady at Equinox Farm is the 'funnest'.  We always have a list of activities we want to get to but never manage them all. 

One of the biggest things we did was make poor Frankie work give Frankie a training session each day. Frankie is a Standardbred and comes from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption.  He's a very nice horse with tons of potential. Sara has been working with him daily since his adoption and he is coming along well, but had not pulled a cart with two people in it and I had never been in a cart so it was a new experience for us both!  I think I had a lot more fun than he did. 

It was very hot there (Kentucky....August....uh, yeah) and I was the only one happy about it.  Sara always puts her animals' comfort first and Frankie has a slick anti-fly costume (light mesh, not hot) which really does the trick to keep them from bothering him so he can concentrate on the lesson.

We started with a warm up of just walking which is more work than it sounds like since he had my added ballast to haul and the field does have a slight slope.

We did some big figure-eights and I learned the whip functions like a rider's leg, just reinforcing the rein with a very light touch.

"Stop walking uphill to stand for a picture?  Don't mind if I do."

Another day's lesson was more structured and involved maneuvering between cones (gates) and poles (bridges) while at a trot.  He had never done this before, but never blinked.  Trotted right through everything like a pro!

Julie also took a turn in the cart and everyone had a good time, especially Frankie when he got his 'good boy graze' on the lawn after his bath.

Speaking of grazing, we had our fair share of good eats over the weekend including an amazing tomato frittata and home baked peasant bread.  Sara uses good old cast iron for cooking.  I should go down into the basement and see if I can resurrect Andy's mother's pans.  I'm sure they are better for one's health than Teflon.

Poor Betsy nearly faded away from hunger, neglected as she was while we were busy having fun.  Doesn't she look mistreated?

Of course the sheep are a big part of any day's activities so there was lots of scritching and cookie handouts besides regular chores.

The oldies have their own section of barn and pasture so they don't get roughed up by the big, able-bodied sheep.  Don't worry, the gray one laying flat out in the middle is just Rebecca Not-Boone napping.

What?  Can't a sheep take a nap without being accused of looking dead?"

The sheep in this flock are all pretty "special" and have a lot of latitude at chore time when gates are left open.  Here Cheeto acts as look out innocently minds her own business while the two youngsters investigate the tack room.

"Nothing to see here, lady.  Just kids being kids."

"And now he's smelling a chicken.  Maybe nobody will know we're together if I don't watch."

Good old B. Willard......

"Are you just going to let those kids do that?"

"I don't think I even want to go in there.  All kinds of crazy stuff going on."

I did do a teensy bit of work over the weekend.  Sara let me borrow her box picker.

I ran several pounds of dyed Cotswold locks through it in preparation of using my drum carder at home to make spinning batts. It was awfully pleasant to work outside on the porch of the Wool House.  The picker did a great job opening the fiber up and I've since ordered one for myself.  It will speed things up a lot.

In just a few minutes it turned this.......

into this......

Sara has some amazing gardens and beds of flowers, both for the beauty and for butterflies and bees.

She wanted to add a few particular plants to the farm so one day we went to a big nursery about an hour away.  One of the attractions there is a butterfly garden which features all Kentucky native butterflies.  It was a lovely place and two or more employees were present at all times to point out the different species, tell people what the flowers were, warn you when the misters were going to come on and I suspect to keep people from pocketing things they shouldn't.  

There were a LOT of butterflies everywhere.  You did not have to hunt for them!

And of course we wouldn't be proper fiber people if we didn't do something involving wool.  Sara had a big project for the Tour De Fleece this year and plied together a LOT of balls of spun singles.  She had wondered if That Andy could come up with a way to wrangle balls for plying.  He did, and so we had to try it out!

First though, because she had used those balls already we had to generate more.  She had some roving from Rocky and while she spun some on her e-spinner I borrowed a wheel and spun an equal amount resulting in two balls to ply together.  Tilly did quality control.

It was so pleasant to sit on the porch and spin.  Peep, the cardinal, kept coming to the feeder to grab seeds to feed his kids.  They were in the bush and not real visible here.  You can just see his spot of red on the bird feeder.

Anyway, here is the Ball Wrangler in use.

Andy made it to hold four balls at once, which may be a bit excessive.  It holds the balls nicely and the hole in the upper deck keeps the yarn feeding straight up so it will unwind from the outside of the ball without hanging up or getting tangled.

We did discover one aspect that needs tweaking - when the balls are very small they pop up and off the dowels.  We've already come up with a way to address that, it just needs doing.  

When the yarn was all plied Sara involved another friend who sat on the porch and visited and whipped out four crocheted granny squares.  Now we all have a keepsake from that weekend.

The weekend flew by.  Lots of things I didn't get pictures of because they happened too quickly or I needed both hands or I was just living in the moment and didn't think to snap a picture.  All too soon it was time to head for home.

The sun was just coming up when we put our bags in the truck.

Folklore in that regions says that foggy mornings in August mean a snowy day in winter.  Sara wants snow so I'll hope this low mist counts.

Frankie and some of the early risers in the flock were out grazing already, mist or not.

Once the sun touched it, it was gone in a moment. 

The chickens were up and having breakfast on the 'patio' of the wash room.  Comby came by to say 'so long'.

"And bring some of those Party Mix cat treats next time!"

So we definitely have to come again.  Comby says so!