Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Every day I like this guy a little bit more. "Uni" came with quite a bit to recommend him: fantastic horns, incredible fleece, powerful shoulder, straight top line, tiny tail... But for some reason I wasn't smitten with him immediately. I've been trying to figure out why for some time now. Part of it might be that he is so BIG. My other two rams are a bit more compact with refined bone. Uni is massive-for a Shetland. I know his coat adds to the effect. But still, his size intimidates me. I try not to let him know this. Uni also came with an intimidating attitude. I think that might be the real reason why I hadn't started warming up to him until recently. Because we use electronet and move it every few days, I need sheep that are respectful enough to deal with me being in their space. I like them to stand back out of my way. But I also want them to stand still with their chins up when I walk directly toward them on days I need to handle them. Kavan and his sire, Allister, consistently behave this way. They are a joy to work with-even though I remember they are rams and that they would take advantage if they got the chance. Rams are rams. Unfortunately, Uni was not as well behaved as his fellow rams. And he didn't "catch on" to standard procedure around here on his own. He crowded me way too much, and when I put my hand out to steer him away he'd put his head down as if to butt my hand. NOT o.k. Clearly, this young ram did not know the rules: I'm boss! It got to the point where I didn't really like him at all. Yet Clancy kept telling me what a good looking boy he was. While Uni never committed any great act of aggression, I did feel he wanted to all the time. I finally decided something had to be done. So a couple of days ago I asked Clancy to follow me into the pen and throw him down for me. All the poor dude did was bob his head once and the next thing he knew he was flat on his side with a snarling man sitting on his chest. I came over and yelled "NO!" and "GIT!" a few times right up in his face for good measure. Allister came up to see about the commotion and I bumped him out of the way with my hip. (I have lots of confidence handling Alli-Oop and Kaveman.) He went back to the other side of the pen like a good ram. I filled the salt feeder and changed the water bucket while Clancy sat on the big guy. When I was out of the pen he climbed off and controlled Uni while he got back on his feet. Then he steered him around for a few minutes-as in: "You go where I tell you to go." Then he released him. Uni has been very polite since that day. He no longer crowds me when I change the water bucket. He stands back and moves away when I walk toward him. This is not ideal. I'd like him to let me scratch his chin if I choose to. But I think that will take time. Having him fear me is a better situation than me fearing him. I'm just glad to see he is capable of learning respect. We don't necessarily need to be friends if he doesn't want to be. With Uni taken down a notch, I've been appreciating him more. He has some exceptional qualities to offer my flock. I even toy with the idea of using him on almost all the girls this year to see what he can do. No doubt I'll change my mind a hundred times before Thanksgiving. But it's nice to be considering Uni again as a ram of choice. He's stunning when he's minding his manners.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I finally delivered the peeled aspen stick order that I was preparing back around July 4th. I left two hours behind schedule on Sunday evening, but it all worked out because I pulled into Mora, MN just three minutes before the gentleman from Texas that was picking up the order. Couldn't have timed it better.
The photo shows a portion of the sticks that were stored in my house for lack of a garage or shed space. I'm a fairly casual person when it comes to my house, so it was no big deal to have 6 foot sticks stacked in every corner imaginable. Once in a while someone would trip on one and a few would clatter to the floor. No injuries, though. The worst casualty I can think of was Meggy's ball. Inevitably, it would roll back behind a pile. Meg would pace, and whine, and whimper. Tug us over to view the tragedy. One of us would have to crawl and reach for it's slobbery blucky-ness back amid the dog hair dust bunnies. Do that a couple of times and you'll never forget to break out the nozzle attachment on the vacuum to go that extra mile in housekeeping ever again.
The drive to Mora was good-good traffic, nice road, good music, lots of time to myself to think, pretty scenery...But I was tired to begin with. I left Bemidji at 5pm and returned home a little after 12:30am in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. Not only am I thankful for the inch of rain the storm brought us, but I'm pretty sure the anxiety of trying to stay on the road helped me stay awake those last few familiar miles-the ones I think I can drive with my eyes closed. How tempting that always seems after too much driving.
Our driveway is very closed in with trees and I was worried I'd be walking the last mile home if one had fallen in the storm. But all was well. The worst of the high winds seemed to hit a bit North of us. Tornadoes were reported. Our neighborhood was remarkably undamaged, considering. And I was soooooo glad to be home. Crawled into bed and hoped to sleep in.
Got my wish.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The baby pygmy goats were so cute I wanted to stuff one in my bag. Seriously. If I had a pygmy goat I'm sure it's little hooves would never touch the ground. It would be a lap goat. I managed to restrain myself from kidnapping (ha, literally) one of Garrett's babies. The Shetland's were a joy as well. Garrett, you have some very nice sheep and some gorgeous fleeces. I got to see the fleece off the ram Gail just bought from Garrett and the caramel color was incredible. I was envious. Good for you, Gail! Oh, and just to make things even more fun, Gail brought some of her flock with her. The bersugget ramling's fleece was so blue and BIG. What a handsome boy he was. There were so many different species to view and admire at Garrett's place, I'm barely scratching the surface in my description. Dinner was delicious. The conversation was educational, entertaining, and interesting. The company was fun. The animals were wonderful. I love visits to other people's farms! Thank you for the great day out.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"Oh, for Pete's sake, SALLY! Get out of the cat food! No wonder your diet isn't working!"
You know you're a Redneck if you use a '68 Falcon as a cat habitat. Guess we'll be feeding Kitty on the roof of the Falcon from now on.
Just thought you all should see the less glamorous side of my life. Yes, that is an old school bus in the background.
A special Thank You to my three sons. You guys are awesome roofers! I love you boys and I'm so proud! I know, I know. Enough 0f that mushy stuff. :)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
She's perfectly useless. Definitely not the brightest bulb. Lazier than any dog has a right to be. And worth her weight in gold, I suppose.
Look at that foxy face. Look at that jaunty gait. Look at that flowy fur. Such a good puppy-yes you is! (I've lapsed into poochy voice.)
Did I mention she was the last pup left in a box of "Free Puppies!" a neighbor peddled outside the K-Mart store? I know, I know...that should have tipped me off. But I had puppy fever. I wanted a puppy so bad it hurt. I had a whole list of fabulous rationalizations that I pestered Clancy with daily: This new dog would be a savior to us all: guard the sheep, guard the house, guard the kids... People would come from miles around to marvel at this new dog's obedience...What a vision I had of my future puppy. Did I mention Greta was the last pup in the Free Puppies! box?!!!!! Impulse does not always serve me well.
Greta was the perfect puppy. Rather Chowish in her looks and behaviors. She potty trained really well, I must admit.
But I was used to herding types with their high energy and desire to please. Greta had no energy, and no desire to please. Very aloof. I eventually discovered that her only motivation in life was food. Not love, but food. For food she might move like a cheetah. At one point I had the vet examine her because I feared she was deaf. He was certain her hearing was fine and that she merely suffered from enormous inertia. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by a force greater than... That would be me, physically shoving, pushing and dragging her in the directions I need her to go. I kid you not...if Greta is lying in front of the door and I need to open it, I use the door to slide her whole body across the slippery floor. Yes, I do ask her to move first. She opens one eye and gives me the look: "I'm very comfy just now, do what you must." My favorite "Greta" is the time we switched the direction the exterior door opened. (During the building process we had a nasty old door on the house and it swung to the right. Then Clancy got the new door on and it swung to the left.) Morning came...time to let the dogs out...Sally the Shepherd Dog assessed the new situation in 2 seconds flat and slid the new direction through the door. Greta, who was following, mind you, came to a halt with her nose against the tiny crack of daylight on the hinge side of the door-the place where it used to be opened. And she stayed there!, sure that I would eventually open that crack wider...while Sally zipped in and out four times wondering why Greta wasn't following. I finally manually took her by the collar and led her through the doorway. Good dog. By the next morning she could do it herself. See what I mean about not the brightest bulb... But what's not to love? Nothing is as cute as how Greta sleeps on her back with all four feet in the air. Never mind the high maintenance pelt that must be scissored off every spring no matter how much brushing is employed. Never mind that she barks as people leave. So helpful, thank you. Never mind the fact that she excavated deep pits under the deck for to nap in during the heat-even after heavy rains!!!!!! There's no such thing as a free dog, but life is all the richer for the love of Greta Grub.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
We noticed them a couple of years ago when the largest shrub put some fruit on. We savored that handful of fruit as if we had stumbled upon jewels. Last year we vowed we would be ready for the harvest. They blossomed beautifully. But it was so cold and rainy I don't think the bees visited much. I'm not exaggerating; only three plums that season.
Clancy pruned after that. Only about 20% of what really needs to be cut back. I sometimes think we are the type of people that delight in salvaging and rekindling more than planting and starting from scratch. This one shrub came on strong this year.
I did get the plums picked and washed last night. Today, a wonderful neighbor invited the boys and me over to pick from her thicket as well. We brought home twice as much as our little plum bush gave us last night. I'm going to make plum leather for the boys. Thanks for the how-to and the plums, Gail!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
In the week since, Clancy has finished up the rafter framing and now is laying the plywood for the roof. Hopefully we'll be shingling next week. (The boys are a great roofing crew-They roofed my lambing shed!-so they are looking forward to that.)
Because the guys insisted on actually working instead of eating all day long, the Kitchen Nazi got bored. (I always say "what's the point of being over-prepared?") So she zipped over to Mom's and brought back all the stamping supplies. We set up the card table and made some cards for upcoming birthdays. We were still stamping at 10pm. Elmer and Clancy were discussing house-building. Our sons were euphoric with the idea that bed-time might never come.
As the adults wained, the kids increased their exploits. Apple pie bars were disappearing, and the sofa was taking a beating from four Jedi lightsabers. The dogs moved in pack-like formation behind the kids, focusing on the large chunks of food falling out of their fists and mouths as they ate while battling The Dark Side.
Time for Bed! When naughty boys turn into cave men, it's time to blow the whistle. We were all tired anyway. It had been a good, fun, productive day. Thanks to everyone that helped make it possible. :)
Saturday, August 11, 2007
There wasn't a bit of that. Rachel, my head ewe, sniffed noses with Anna Belle for a brief moment. And then, as if they had agreed upon it, Rachel and Anna Belle turned to face the flock as two reigning Sister Queens. I really felt I could read "mutual regard" in their expressions.
Rachel has always behaved superior to the other ewes in the flock, as though she tolerates them and knows they depend upon her leadership. I'm surprised how comfortable Rachel seems to be with the addition of a ewe that appears to be her equal; as if she enjoys the company. I know I like to live with a person that fully understands me. Maybe Rachel and Anna Belle do too. They seem content and pleased. I'm glad they have each other.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
As the frightening photos began to load on the screen we were quietly searching for clues and details of the location of the accident. Selena was thinking of her many friends that live right in the Twin Cities. I was just starting to grasp the magnitude of the tragedy.
Hours later I have found out that our relatives in the Cities are safe and accounted for. A neighbor's brother is safe. Selena hasn't heard about some of her friends yet. My mind is replaying the footage and thinking of the people. The fear...the prayers...the heros...the injured...the saved...the lost.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, you are in my prayers.
Olive Bradseth Jensen loved her flowers. It seemed to me, (her granddaughter) that she was continually dividing her bulbs and roots and sharing the extras with those she loved. She cultivated her irises and lilies with passion. When she moved to new places, she dug everything up and took her precious plants with her.
One did not visit Grandma without taking a stroll through her gardens. Every nook and corner of her lawn had a different bed showcasing some beautiful species. During the winter she drew up plans for new beds, and she poured over the seed and flower catalogs for new varieties.
These blooms are planted at my mother's place. Some are planted along the edge of a wildlife pond Mom and Dad put in a few year's ago. Grandma had always wanted a water garden and she painstakingly drew up elaborate plans for Mom after it was announced that they were going to dig a hole. Grandma had so many borders installed in the plans that Mom didn't think anyone would be able to see the water. :)
Grandma went to be with Jesus a couple of years ago. And yet her flowers are blooming still...In Nebish, in Puposky, in Bemidji, and in the Twin Cities area.
Thank you, Grandma, for planting flowers for all of us.