Sunday, December 28, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
As I hoped, this isolation from their protective mothers has helped the four ewe lambs bond. Bitty Silvy is one of the flock now. She will still be on the bottom rung, but the other ewe lambs like her now without their prejudiced dams whispering in their ears. The ewe lambs also got prime space at the feeder for a month and a half. I think it is good for un-bred ewe lambs to go into winter a little fat. I am eager to have all the girls back in a single pen. It makes feeding so much easier. I also think they enjoy the larger social picture.
Unicorn and Bombarde need to get back together in the big pen. I'm not sure that will happen tomorrow. It will happen in a day or two, when Clancy has time to help me move the cattle panel enclosure. I want to pick a warm day to squeeze them together. I think it would be hard for them to stand in a tiny pen when it is really cold and they would rather cuddle into some bedding. As soon as those two beasts are reunited, I can put the ramlings in the more spacious pen Bombarde will abandon. Those two goof balls act exactly like teenage boys. And they beg like puppies. I think Parker considers himself a pet and doesn't understand why he can't live in the house. He's the funniest ram I've ever seen. Even though I don't pet my spring ram lambs, I hope Parker passes on his sweet temperament next year when it's his turn to meet some ewes.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Earlier this month, my sister's husband was unexpectedly ordered to return to his country of birth, El Salvador. Today we received news that the U.S. Embassy will not allow him to return to his wife and child in America for at least 8 months, perhaps a year or more. My sister has to prove that she needs her husband here with her. She has to prove that their eight year old son actually needs his father to live with him in the same country. This will affect all of our lives. Everything will change. It is impossible to understand why this is happening. May we remember that God is always guiding our lives. We have to strive and be patient, and struggle and suffer sometimes. But "all things work for good for them that love the Lord." This will all work out over time. We will grow, and change, and hopefully develop more fully into the people God wants us to be during this hardship. I have faith that God can heal all of this. He can bring something extraordinarily beautiful out of grief, pain, and loss. As a family, we are so very grateful for all the prayers of our friends. But if He leads you to, please continue to pray for my sister and her son. Their hearts were broken today.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Back in the non-breeding ewe pen, the '08 lambs are officially weaned now. Oh, the fuss! One might think they were 7 weeks old instead of 7 months old. Where's my MOMMY????!!! Old Rachel is babysitting. She seems to enjoy the extra space at the feeder.
So does bitty Silvy. I'm so proud of her. She has really learned to advocate for herself. Even though she gets pushed out quite a bit, she has learned to push right back to get what she needs. The other ewe lambs cut her some slack now.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Around 4am Grub sounded the alarm, from inside the house. Sufficient to wake the dead, if you ask me. Clancy and I were bolt-upright and coming to as Sally vacated her post on the staircase landing and raced to Greta's defense. Grub continued to howl while Sal added an occasional low-keyed woof of support. Meg bounced off the walls of her dog crate; whining with despair over not being able to lend a paw to this full scale alert.
Clancy looked out the north window by the side of the bed. Groggy as he was, he caught a glimpse of small lumps moving about the yard in the moonlight. Sheep were out. Ugh.
I pulled on some clothes and plodded outside to the grain bag sitting on my front porch. (I know...how redneck is that?) I was a bit apprehensive that the adult rams might be out. They had been pounding on each other the past few days, and I really didn't want to meet one of them in the dark. Thankfully, I could see both of the pale big boys still in their paddock when I stepped out the door.
As soon as the grain bag rustled, two fat little ramlings galloped around the corner of the house like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Not having any idea how they escaped their electronet, nor willing to investigate at 4am, I decided the dog kennel would be an adequate pen for them. Parker and Arvada followed quite willingly to the kennel. I shut them up with their grain and tied extra twine around the lower part of the door. After a quick trip to the barn, they had hay as well.
By that time, Clancy had joined me outside and he was filling the outdoor wood stove, which is very near the kennel. Once the crisis was over, we stood still for a minute to admire the black sky filled with gorgeous stars and a brilliant quarter moon. The ground was covered in thick frost. Everything was diamond and silver. We would have stayed out longer but it was very chilly. And neither of us was fully awake.
Back in the house, Greta got her pats of reward for being such a great snitch of disorderly lamby conduct. She wanted to go outside to check things out for herself so we locked up after her and went back to bed.
As the household settled back into silence, I was so grateful for my dogs. All three are nothing but mutts. They take their roles very seriously, though. They are valuable members of this family.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Judging by the date printed on the edge of this old photo, Mama got my birthday pictures developed just a week or so after my 2nd birthday.
If you click the photo, you'll be able to see how happy I was to be playing Candy Land with my Daddy. I loved that game. It was a great birthday present. I still have the four little gingerbread men game pieces.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
I used the zoom lens to take this photo looking South from clear across the yard. In just the past three days those pale green trees have turned a deep gold.
Unicorn looks very self-important, doesn't he? He's such a regal Sir. I get so set on my polled goals and then I pass Uni out in the pasture. Really, nothing is more impressive than a beautiful ram with massive, wide-spread horns. I sincerely wonder how I ever manage to make up my mind about anything.The past two days have given us rain, and more rain. And more rain. I'm so very glad we are going into late Autumn with lots of moisture, but the driveway is all cavernous potholes filled to the brim.
All the 2008 lambs got their CD&T boosters last Sunday. The rammy lambs loved it...go figure. The ewelings are still resentful. I started giving the ewes just a bit of grain this week too. They are a bit flighty because I mugged them Sunday. They do manage to nearly trip me in their eagerness to mob the grain pans, however. I'm feeding equal parts whole corn, oats, and black sunflower seed. I intend to add more variety as soon as I can get to the good feed store. I know there are a lot of folks out there that don't feed grain. I do at different times of year when I feel it is necessary. I try not to feed that much. Mostly I use it to get the de into the sheep and to make sure they get some protein since our hay has very little.
In other farm news, our 5 hens went to live with my brother and his family at my grammy's old farm a while back. The three chickens that Todd already had apparently stayed politely behind the chicken coop all the time. Our hens have taken to roaming just as far, and just as wide as they did when they lived here. They like the center line of the tar road dividing the farm from a large suburban development across the road. The traffic is fascinating, I guess. Certainly, they never saw much of it here at Boston Lake. My brother reports that they have visited the development homes as well. Those hens are becoming mild celebrities over on the east side of Lake Bemidji. They have a small fan club. We are all happy for them.
The cool weather has also brought out a new wave of ticks. It's frightening how many deer ticks we've found lately. Tick control was one of the many benefits of having those chickens around. Hopefully, next year we can raise some new chicks. Fresh eggs and bug control are worth it.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
This is a photo of Arvada's fleece. Even though I'm not wild about micron testing, I do realize the importance of being able to speak "scientifically" about my fleeces. I'm sure I will learn a lot from the charts as they relate to each individual sheep. But I'm also pretty sure I will still like Arvada's fleece no matter what the micron results say. It's really nice fleece!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
This beautiful maple is just north of the house. Among basswoods, birch, and ash, it really stands out. Some years it is more orange or peach colored. This year it is an amazing sun yellow. With the brilliant blue Minnesota sky behind it, it reminds me of my Swedish heritage.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tomorrow we become official members of Our Redeemer's Lutheran Parish in Puposky, Minnesota. Pastor Jay visited us last Tuesday. Church ladies have been calling this week to learn what can and cannot go into a gluten-free version of their intended pot-luck dish. (They want to make sure the boys can eat lots of different things at the luncheon held after service.) The care and compassion...I could even call it love...that has poured out of this congregation for our family has really moved me. I feel so fortunate to call that little church home.
Whether the sky is bright or dreary tomorrow, I think it will be a beautiful Sunday. Blessings to All...
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The katmoget is Arvada. He is so beautiful, and his fleece is lustrous, like the reflection of blue sky in water.
When I brought Arvada home around 3-4 months of age, he had very small horns. But they have grown significantly. I am willing to accept that this ramling could be a half-poll, because of his dam's line and because I know from experience what large horns/scurs? half-polls can have. Arvada's horns are not exactly round. They are not massive D shaped horns either, but there is some definition there. Only test breeding to some known poll-carrying ewes will tell for sure. At least that is what I think. Please inform me if you have more insight into ram lambs like Arvada. The good thing is that Arvada is a very good ram in all other respects. He has wonderful conformation and fleece.
Parker lost his one scur (left side of photo) and it is regrowing, though wobbly. His original scur (right) is almost desiccated. It is also quite loose. He will probably loose and regrow scurs more than once. He's already learned to avoid Arvada's attempts to head-butt.
Parker is still my lovey-dove. He plumps himself down beside me anytime I have to be in his pen. It's like my very presence is a sedative. I do try to avoid working with him. But he's always right there, waiting for me to pause and stand still long enough for his knees to buckle. If I move on, he gets up and trots over to my new work spot and tries to lie down there. No matter how coldly I return his lamby affections, he doesn't seem to notice he's been spurned in love. Silly ramling.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Asa took this picture Sunday evening. It isn't the biggest turtle we've ever seen, but she was definitely large. (I read somewhere that only females emerge from the lakes to lay eggs and travel. The males stay in the lake all their lives. I'm not sure that's true but I do tend to call snappers "she's.")
The biggest snapping turtle I ever saw was so large it looked like something my Dad couldn't have lifted. It had emerged from Upper Puposky Lake and was trying to lay it's eggs in the gravel at the edge of the road, about a mile from the house I grew up in. Each plate on it's shell had a horn, like the tail spikes. The tail itself was so ridged it looked like an alligator tail. The claws were fearsome. It could raise it's head almost as high as Dad's knee. And it's entire shell was encrusted with moss and "barnacles" like the bottom of an old ship.
It must have been a very old turtle. I was convinced it was around during the dinosaur age. Maybe it's grandmother was...
What does our reaction to such a creature say about us?
The boys and I tend to make up stories about where the turtle has lived and which dinosaurs and dragons it has swam with. We speculate about it's secret lair and how mysterious it's underwater life must be.
Sometimes, after seeing a snapper alongside the road, we might see it run over the next day in that same place. Obviously, someone went out of their way to kill it, only to leave it behind...shell, meat, claws, everything.
Acts of cruelty like that...what compels someone to behave that way? Are these people deeply offended by the predatory mystery of this animal?
Last month my Mom looked out her window, and she saw a tawny cougar crouching beneath the trampoline about 20 feet from the house. A tremor of fear rippled through my entire family that day. We changed several patterns of behavior - just like the the person who swerves off the road, I guess. I confess to wishing I could kill that cat so I knew it wasn't a threat anymore. The DNR claims cougars in Minnesota are not a threat. Do people that kill snappers simply feel like I do about cougars in the forest? They just get more opportunity to live out their reactionary fear?
I don't know.
A few weeks after the cougar siting, I read that the cougar is a symbol of leadership and power. I relayed this to Mom and we discovered some profound meanings the cougar could symbolize for her. After that I no longer wanted to kill the cat. I just wanted it to never harm my family.
I've been dreaming about a cougar lately. These dreams are disturbing, to say the least. But I believe dreams come to us from the depths of our psyche...the depths of the universe...the depths of God.
Who can tell where the ancient snapping turtles come from? Do we see them rise from the surface of the water, expected? Usually they magically materialize at the edge of our paths. All of a sudden, a messenger from an unfathomable place is before us, displaying evidence of worlds we don't fully understand. We can swerve to kill that messenger. We can sometimes ignore it. Or we can look and listen; radiating and absorbing our fears for whatever they may be.
The cougar in my dream is only looking at me. It chooses to sleep behind the red barn of my childhood, or on the slope down to the lake. It isn't hurting anything. But awareness of it's presence causes me to be very agitated in the dream. I'm convinced it is dangerous. In the dream, eventually I want to provoke it so that I can have an excuse to kill it.
I'm not really that different than the person that swerves the car to hit the turtle, am I? Time to visit the depths of my soul, and face the mystery of my own fears...once again.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The lambies have been moved to the shady area in the central part of our yard. We do have some grass there. But most of it is the kind Shetlands don't like. For a couple of days, it will suffice though.
Silvy is starting to warm up to me. If I grab her while she's distracted, she immediately gets all blissy on the pets and rubs. She doesn't even want to leave. But she is still that bit flighty about the being caught part. I don't care. I love the chances I do get to snuggle with her.
Parker lost a scur the other day. It measured less than an inch long. Underneath was a bit of blood and a small bump in the depression of his skull. You can see the remaining scur on the right-hand side of this photo. It is very loose now too.
Today, we took some time to do ordinary fun things like fishing, ordering school clothes, watching Cadfael mysteries, and painting racing stripes on the Mercury. (I'll blog about that some other time.) The South Wind was so hot, no one was inspired to do much more than be comfortable.
Tomorrow it is Back-To-School. Summer has ended on a good note.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I love my new little lambies. I like the challenge of trying to win their trust. I enjoy learning who they are. Each sheep is a distinct creature.
Not surprisingly, this afternoon I looked up from the book I was reading to see three little lambs wandering around the yard. These bitty monsters have mastered escape from electronet. I should say they are opportunists. When the electronet fails, they are right there to climb over it or under it. I have a new solar charger on their pen and I am not sure it was designed for netting. Today the strong winds blew a tarp across their fence and shorted things out. Since it was time to move them to new ground anyway, I caught them in a triangle of cattle panels and moved the fence to the north side of the house. These wee beasties are the closest thing I will get to weed trimming this summer, so I appreciate their help.
Parker looks innocently mild. I know for a fact that he is the instigator of the recent parades around the yard.
Arvada is a good boy. He has a very even temperament and leaves the imaginative naughtiness to Parker. He is not adverse, however, to greener pastures once Parker has forced a portal through the fence.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
It feels magical to watch the Moon rise. One moment the ghostly sphere is peeking above the treetops, like the eye of a wolf behind a tree-so much larger and startling than one ever imagined. Then, a blink later, the moon is leaving behind the black silhouettes of trees. In that brief span of time, the speed of the Earth's revolution on it's axis is dizzily evident. We are spinning beyond our grasp of reality. Just then we must accept the proof of something we can never fully fathom while still mortal.
Then the Moon breaks free from all Earthly bonds and sails upward into the indigo of atmosphere. We measure it backlit by other suns, from other worlds. This Queenly Moon holds court among her constellations, and rules the sky of stars.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I've been trying to get to know these little lambies. Everyday I sit out in their pasture for a few minutes. Ever so slowly, I'm making progress. Of course, the only lamb I really want to make friends with is Silvy. She will now eat kelp out of a bowl near me. She also will try to smell me as long as there is a lamb between her and me AND my side or back is turned toward her. I'm hoping that if I just ignore her long enough she will overcome her fears and let me scratch her under the chin.
Parker, on the other hand, is very enthusiastic for love. If Silvy wasn't watching my every move, I would flip Mr. Parker so he wouldn't approach me. Instead, I have decided to always control his movement while he's with me so he doesn't get the wrong idea about whose in charge. I hold his head up, make him stand square, back him up. No matter how strict I am, the little squirt just soaks it up. The minute I release his jaw, he sinks to his knees and lies down beside me, as if all that time I was holding up lamby jelly. I've never wanted a ram for a friend, but I think I've got one. I hope I haven't created a time-delayed monster.
By the way, Parker's little horn bumps have started growing. They are still very small, like the size of the end of my pinkie finger. Obviously he still has enormous potential as a polled sire so I'm not too worried.
I've been following along with the new theories on the polled list and I admit I'm often confused. Hopefully, my own breeding results will teach me something. I'm also eagerly awaiting some sort of photo guide to scurs, aberrant, horned, and polled stock to be released by the pioneers of Polled Shetlands.
Arvada is still a little suspicious. I can tell he wants to be easy around me. But since he is a ram, I'm not making any effort in his direction. It's just as well if he stands back a little. I would love to sink my fingers into his scrumptious fleece, though. When he moves just right and I see it parted, I am amazed at the lustre and crimp.
Clancy thinks Arvada's horns have grown since he arrived here. I'm not sure. As I mentioned above, I'm not even sure whether he has slow growing horns, scurs, aberrant horns, or what. I just hope he carries one good polled gene, and that he passes it on to some good babies. Along with his lovely fleece, wide hind quarters, and tiny tail.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
One of my spring projects is to peel aspen sticks for customers (usually woodcarvers) that want 6 foot long walking sticks.
This spring proved to be odd and challenging. Sticks didn't peel well until into June. Wet weather delayed my chances of getting into the woods. And a lengthy hailstorm left brown poka-dots on a good portion of my crop.
Luckily for me, a fellow from Red Lake Nation came through with a batch of good straight sticks on Sunday night and I was able to add those to my meager crop of acceptable sticks. Thank you, Richard!
What one might not know is that to get one straight, uniform stick, sometimes five or more sticks have to get peeled. Besides the aspen in the photos, I have about 150 more on the porch. These were the sticks that were too short, crooked, or full of character to meet the wood carvers' needs. They make good sticks for other creative purposes, but they don't make the grade for large wholesale orders.
Someone asked me the other day why I do this project. Projects like these are the ways I am able to put money into the boys' savings accounts. I don't give regular allowances. But I try to give the boys opportunities to learn how to make money. They help with the sticks, and then they split the profits between them. Same with the sheep sales-when there are any. All the money has to go into their "education" savings accounts. They gripe about this occasionally, but they get kind of excited to see those accounts grow too. Hopefully this is teaching them the value of postponing that instant gratification craving.