Thursday, August 21, 2008

Little Rascals

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.

And then there is precious Silvy. She is so delicate and beautiful that I can hardly stop looking at her. She leads the lamb races every night, but I'm sure she never tramples fences. She just too sweet for that. And I'm sure I'm wrapped around her little hoof.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August Moons

The past few nights have been especially beautiful. The Moon has been full, and rising through the haze left over from August's daylight heat.

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

Big Fish

Clancy took the boys fishing a while back. Yes, I'm very late in posting this. The location remains a secret, as I am told fishermen never reveal their very best fishing holes to the public.

Our son caught this notable black crappie. It measured 13 3/4 inches long. Apparently that is very large for this type of fish. He was very proud. And we are very proud of him, too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Too Busy Eating

My new White Pine lambs are grazing the lawns up by the house. These areas are not lush (or big) enough to put the large ewe flock through. (I'd have to move their electronet several times a day just to keep them fed.) We usually just mow around the house after the good spring grass starts growing. This means the ground is fairly clean since no one has been on it since April. It's good for quarantine since the flock won't be visiting here anytime soon. And it's good for the lambs because they aren't bombarded with whatever parasites my sheep may carry. This ground can handle one roll of fencing and three little lambs. Even still, I move just a bit of their netting everyday so they have new clover and dandelions to munch.

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

Aspen Walking Sticks

Click on any photo to see a larger version of it.

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.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Summer by the Lake

Some friends invited us over the other day to visit while their grandson was staying with them. They grilled up some fabulous chicken and the rest of us, (my sister and her son) potlucked it. So nice to eat with friends. Summer goes by too fast and we don't take as much time for such pleasures as we fanticize we will in January.
After supper we tromped down to the dock and hung out lakeside while all the boys swam. Five boys in the water makes for a lot of splash. They had some sort of "king of the hill" game going on with this toy.
Lilly, the Wonderpup, was prepared for anything in her little doggie life vest. How cute is that?!
We adults watched the golden sunset over the lake while the boys swam. It was all like a little slice of vacation in the middle of a very busy summer.