Sunday, January 29, 2012

Found It!

Chore time a couple of days later, again in the hay stem leftovers in the manger.  Hay from the same field, so the antlers must have dropped nearly together.

Mangled by the baler but still substantial

I have this little video in my head of a big buck resting in the field, eyes half closed, when there's this little <click> POING-POING and the antlers both eject from his head simultaneously.  Ha.  I do have to wonder what they think when one falls off and the other doesn't for a while.  Must be odd to have that weight unbalanced on top of your head.

Fall off?!  Your stuff can fall off??

Don't worry girls, it doesn't apply to you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


It never fails.  When you want to get pictures of the sheep they see you looking at them and decide you must be Up To Something.  Mostly what I get are shots of sheep turning away, or butts - or foggy nostrils when the really friendly ones crowd up.  Today I was taking some pictures in the ram barn of a ram lamb for an interested party and of course that drew a crowd.

Our subject of the day - moorit ram lamb #030.

His fleece - because I knew you were wondering

He's an agreeable lamb and since he wasn't giving off vibes of distress the other, bigger boys started to gather.

Colored Cotswold Isaac, all mellow from Andy scratching his back

Cotswold/Border Leicester cross Rocky

Another C/BL cross, Jared.  Not very flattering, with the bulging "stomped-on-frog" look in his eye.

Young Mojito - Mo for short - last son of our good old ram Spats.

I think they kind of liked having something interesting happen (as long as it wasn't happening to THEM) to break up a boring afternoon.  You can bet that they won't be this handy when I want to take THEIR pictures another day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm....."

My crazy blue/yellow/green dyed wool came back as roving Friday.  That was fast! Thank you Zeilinger's!  It's lovely and actually just what I had originally set out to create, but I'm surprised how completely the color extremes blended away during processing.  You would never guess those peacock color curls were all in there.

Saturday was our January spinning guild meeting so I had a chance to spin a bobbin-full.  It's always helpful to prospective customers to see just how a roving will look when spun. Some color variation does show in the yarn, so it will turn out to be a pretty, heathered green as I had first intended. I have yet to ply it and make a proper skein of it - maybe tonight after supper.

The meeting itself was a fun gathering.  When I last checked the sign-in sheet we had hit 80 members in attendance and it's possible a few forgot to sign in.  It was also our annual Chinese Auction in which everyone de-stashes their extras, plops them on long tables and everyone buys tickets to try for items that interest them.  You never know what will crop up.  Sometimes a member will see a giant bag of yarn at at yard sale for $1 and buy the whole thing to get that one skein that caught their attention and the rest winds up in the Auction.  Books, equipment, half finished (or never started) kit projects, dye stuffs, raw and prepared spinning fiber, tons of yarn, and some miscellany (not too much of that - we do have standards, you know) - in all there had to have been a couple of hundred lots of items which the guild officers smartly worked through in just over an hour.  Almost everyone wins something, and one or two people always become the lucky ones of the day with their names being called again and again.  It's weird, and doesn't seem to correlate directly to the number of tickets bought, and it's not the same people from year to year, but every year does see "the lucky ones".  We rub them and then go buy lottery tickets.  (Just kidding).

One of many tables of goodies

"Oh my gosh, look at all this stuff!"

I'm glad the weather cooperated so I could attend.  It was in the low teens last night, so this morning was a frosty, sparkly postcard.

Click to biggify - all those tiny white dots are glittery diamond points of sparkle

The sheep were not at all impressed with how pretty it was.  They were all comfortably settled in and waiting for us to come and do the morning chores.

Hazel and Glinda.  "Honestly, stop with the pictures.  Those mangers aren't going to fill themselves."

Chore time starts with us going from manger to manger scooping out any leftover hay stems that weren't eaten (not a lot, given the good design of the feeders and the fact that Cotswolds will eat about anything not nailed down) and find THIS in one.



This deer antler had to have lain in the field since late 2010 when it was shed, survived being mown over by the haybine (although the point on the left is cut cleanly so we know it saw the cutter bar up close), then got baled up by our doughty baler in summer 2011 and now comes to light in 2012.  We had a similar antler incident a few years ago, but it cost us a rear tractor tire and a good chunk of change when the tire succumbed to the antler points! 

Makes us wonder if the mate to this one is still out there in the field.......lurking.....waiting.......

Who knew hay could be so exciting?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Winter Wednesday

We're having a cold spell now following the weekend storm.  Holly still needs her walkies though, so we ventured out to see what's new in the neighborhood.

The wild turkeys have been out picking grit from the road and just moving around the landscape doing what turkeys do.  One of the few things I like about winter is being able to see the tracks that Holly can read by scent.  This group had about 10 individuals. 

Tracks of four turkeys, more out of frame

We stopped back at the barn on the way back in just to make sure everyone was happy.  Being out of our routine schedule, Glinda found the visit suspicious.

You are not On Schedule.  State your purpose.

This can't be good - she must be Up To Something

Oh, please.  What a bunch of nervous nellies.

Pearl was not impressed.  When you've settled into your favorite spot and gotten down to some serious cud chewing (and are a former bottle lamb to boot) you aren't easily moved.

I'm with you, Pearl.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Then Again, Maybe Not

I had all good intentions of going to Roc Day in Ithaca.  Thursday night we went to bed and it was 40 degrees.  I thought, "Oh, packing will be a snap tomorrow."  The next morning we woke up to a mini-blizzard.  Heavy snow, winds to 40 mph pushing it around, temps in the teens.  That put a serious damper on my enthusiasm since I know the hilltop no-man's-lands between here and there, and the history of 'iffy' road maintenance I've seen other Januarys.  By 5 PM I admitted defeat and decided not to go.  As it turns out, my travel companions weren't up to going either but hadn't wanted to be the weak link so all in all it worked out for the best.

By Saturday afternoon the snow had stopped and the sun even made an appearance although it stayed in the single digits all day here with wind.

Sunny, frozen January

We had about 9 inches of snow but it was drifted, so deeper and more problematic in some the driveway.  It required the first plowing of the winter.

So what does one do when presented with an unexpected day off?  Take the dogs for a good romp, of course.  Julie and Angel came over and we had a good tramp around the ram's pasture.


Angel, apparently not minding the bad case of 'snow nose' she has

That's the first Roc Day I've missed in about 10 years, but "discretion is the better part of valor" as the saying goes.  I'll ascribe it to the wisdom of age (rather than the wimpiness of age) and hope to make it next year.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Cool is That?

This last week has been pretty darn busy.  The new year started off at a dead run and so far I'm keeping pace reasonably well.  (I know it's only 12 days into the year, but it's my little fantasy and I'm holding onto it as long as I can.)

So far this year in Sheep-land we have disassembled the partitions between all the breeding groups and combined the ewes again.  We've changed up coats on all ewes who needed it (most) and washed the dirty ones. Andy totally cleaned the barn and I tidied up all the alleyways and walkways that had accumulated chaff.  Amazing how much better the hay cart rolls!  Manure is stashed in the long, empty, former feedbunk until the ground either freezes up or dries out and it can be spread.  A batch of dried hides has gone out for tanning.  A group of lambs has left the farm for processing.  Pelts from earlier lambs have returned and been stashed in inventory.  Wool has come back from the mill and samples are spun up already!  (Kind of had to - Roc Day is Saturday!)  A starter flock of ewe lambs has gone to a new home in Ohio.  Quite a few orders for raw fleece or pelts or roving has been sent out.  Holly had her annual check up and vaccinations (she loves going to the vet - EVERYone is a new friend just waiting to be met).  And I was able to get enough more gray Cotswold dyed to send a good-sized box off to be made to roving.

Peacock colors

I kept on with using both blue and yellow dyes together in the pot hoping for better greens.  I still lose a little blue component in the exhaust, but I get this crazy gradation of color.  I'm hoping it somehow translates in the roving.  I suppose a chemist could tell me how the weathered ends of the wool have physically altered scales that allow bigger (or smaller) color molecules to attach first and the other colors and sizes fit into the rest of the fiber in progression as more time elapses......or something like that.  I'm happy with "Ooooh, that's so COOL!"

Biggify to better see the yellow/green at the tips and blue/green at the butt of the lock

Now come a few tedious days where I compile all the farm financial bookwork in preparation for the upcoming tax season - receipts in and expenses out.   I have it all here in chronological order right down to receipts for the lightbulbs in the barn, it's just a question of categorizing and totalling everything.  I know I should do it monthly, it's just never the priority du jour.  Oh well, when the weather's crappy outside it's not the worst thing in the world to sit at the table with the radio on and a big mug of coffee.  Or two.

A couple of days of concentrated effort and I can continue to say I'm caught up not falling farther behind.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


So what does every house with cats need?  A cat tree for them to call their own.  After we removed a cabinet that Dexter liked to perch on he moped under the dining room table and really seemed sad.  Andy thought building a cat tree would be just the tonic he needed.  A little ingenious construction and a $50 carpet remnant and we have a cat tree perfect for perching.

King Dexter and his minion, Calvin

It has four platforms spiralling up the central post which has a telescoping top plate that Andy screwed to the ceiling (which will eventually get finished and be pretty, but that's another story).  Now when they rocket up the post it won't go crashing through the front windows.

The king's not here.....maybe I should ascend to the throne

There.  If you can't make your cats happy you're not doing something right.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Good-bye and Good Luck

Happy New Year!  For us 2012 has started off with making some new friends and also saying good-bye to some 'family'.

We had the great pleasure of being contacted by a nice family in Ohio who want to start a flock of Cotswolds at their farm.  After a few phone calls and emails to determine what they were looking for we settled on a group of seven white Cotswold ewe lambs from this spring's crop for them to choose from.  These particular lambs are all being registered with ACRA (American Cotswold Record Association). They made the drive from Ohio on Friday and stayed in a local hotel overnight.

Saturday morning started with some beautiful light.  I love the way the sunshine makes the air glow down the valley.

The sheepy girls had all had their hooves trimmed and received 'grown up' eartags the day before. I told them some folks were coming out to visit.

That's nice. Are you going to feed us now?  We can't meet strangers without breakfast.

Shoot. I always land at the end of the table with no room......

Hey, I think I see a truck coming down the road.

We had a lovely long visit (at least I had a good time - I hope they did too!) and we spent time in the barn talking sheep (Cotswolds, specifically) and in the wool shed talking wool.  They intend to have the Cotswolds as a wool flock, but aren't actually sure what direction to take when marketing the fleeces - raw to spinners, processed to roving or yarn (and what kind of yarn), make into quilt or comforter batting, sheets of felt for jacket lining.......  We tossed around a lot of suggestions for them to consider.  In the end they decided to take all seven lambs to have a nice sized starter flock.  They will be bred this coming fall and will lamb in spring of 2013.  We are very happy to know that they will be well-cared for and they will provide enough fiber to pursue a couple of different ideas.

"So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Bev-er-ly......., I mean O-hi-o!"

The report late this evening is that they rode just fine and are now settled into their new home doing what Cotswolds love to do - EATING.  And.....smelling the resident cats there and trying to love them up.

Silly sheep.