Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beyond Me

A while back, an old friend gave me all the fiber tools and stash that her late mother had left behind. 
I will tell that story some day, as it has been a huge blessing in my life.

But this is a different story:
Yesterday, the day I put my first and oldest ewe down, I also wound off a spindle of single that I had been spinning from Rachel's washed fleece.  And because of her passing, I decided to move on to a different fiber.  So this afternoon, I chose the most scrumptious roving in my stash...this gorgeous silver.
And I began spinning.
Within minutes I learned that my skill was hardly sufficient to handle this fiber.  It slipped in the most luxurious way every time I tried to let go of the spindle.  For a while I supported the spindle on the coffee table.  Or I turned it by hand as I slowly drafted.  It was painfully obvious that my experience with crimpy wool was not serving me very well with this incredibly fine gossamer.

I did finally get the hang of it...though I doubt anyone would call my yarn even.  Yet instead of giving up in favor of less challenging fiber, I think I will continue.  It is one of my smaller spindles anyway; even I can see the light at the end of the tunnel
I don't even know what this fiber is.  All I know is that within this gifted stash I also received several merino/silk and merino/kid mohair and kid mohair/silk blends.  And this gray fiber is the finest of all by far.
My guess is cashmere?  Really, I have no clue.  I have zero experience spinning any kind of fiber except that which I harvest off of my own Shetlands.  I'm hoping that the fiber ladies from the guild can help me figure it out at Saturday's meeting. 

Until then, I will just keep at it.  I'm hoping to knit up a beautiful scarf with it someday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Less Than Idyllic

The snow came along and blanketed us in white perfection.

Appearances can be deceiving.  So far this morning:

I put down my oldest ewe, Rachel.
I had been planning on this so it wasn't a surprise.  But it is still bullets and death.

I discovered my naughty outdoor cat, Chloe, has been sneaking inside the house to use the potted rosemary as a litter box. GROSS!!!

Betty Bird decided to land on my unsuspecting nose, and now I have scratches on my face!

Ordinary life is far from idyllic here at Boston Lake. In fact, it is hard to imagine any life with animals as being truly idyllic. One can love the life, but it isn't always pretty. to turn this day around!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All Before the Snow

Last Saturday the plan was to put breeding groups together and tear down the summer electronet paddocks.
It was cold with a light dusting of icy snow that had settled into the pot holes and between the tufts of grass.  All in all, a bitter, gray November day.
But the sheep fully cooperated with my strategy for moving them.  Even the lambs followed where I led.
I love bucket trained sheep!
The breeding groups were assembled.

Ash seemed to be the lucky ram:  Lana (gulmoget) was immediately receptive on Saturday.
None of Courante's ewes wanted to be anywhere near him.  That didn't stop him from trying, though.

This is a photo of three of my Bombarde x AnnaBelle daughters.  They really do appear to be clones separated only by age.
Yearling Vianne (left) was put with Ash because he is the smaller of the two rams.   Two year old Lyneth, (right) was paired with the much larger Courante.  And lambykins Carys (center) is safe from the stinky boys until next year.   
River Oaks Lana sporting a size F coat....too big.  She's wearing a size E now.
The moorit girl in front is River Oaks Hannah.  Hannah must be an easy keeper because she looks like she is about to have twins.  All that girth fills out the size F coat just fine, though I doubt she will need a bigger size this winter.
Yearling LittleRedOak January is still in an E coat.  Her fleece is quite long, though, so I'm sure she'll move up to an F for the remainder of winter.  Even though she did get bred as a lamb, I am very satisfied with her growth this summer.  She raised a nice big daughter, and grew herself.  I really love her Shetland face and ears!

My two remaining ram lambs were given a dog kennel panel pen attached to a barn stall, thanks to my dad who procured several panels from a guy that works at a landfill.  (It is truly amazing what people throw away.)  It is not nearly as roomy as all the other pens, but I daresay it is the coziest.  They will be brought up to the small round pen after the ewe lambs have returned to the big ewe pen.  After breeding season...early-ish January.

So as darkness fell on Saturday, a snowstorm moved in.  Between then and now, we have received over 14 inches of snow.  I can't express how grateful I am that all this work and rearranging got finished before the first big snow.

I have observed Ash breeding:
Lana  11/20/10
Sian  11/22/10
and he seems very interested in
Vianne 11/24/10 (today)

Courante is still courting his girls, but I haven't witnessed anything yet.  I used to worry about such things, but I've learned that the rams almost always get the job done whether I watch it happen or not.  But it is so nice to have a guess at lambing dates, so I peek out the window whenever I'm home during daylight hours.  I sincerely hope Lyneth takes this year.  I really want lambs from her.  Last year she was too fat, but she hasn't received any treats this year so I hope that solved the problem.

I would like to wish everyone a lambing season full of wishes come true!
And to the non-sheepy people out there...
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pink Sunrise

We received a small layer of snow Saturday night.  The temperatures also dropped and the lake is slowly beginning to ice over.  For the most part, though, our weather has been very mild.

The adult rams have been moved to their winter pen: which is one of the two round pens built out of horse panels lined with no-climb horse fence.  In a week or two we will split the rams up and add ewes to each of their pens.

The ramlings are stationed out by the lambing shed with a roll of electronet.  If I can spare the money, I'm going to buy a few cattle panels to make a pen so the electronet can be put away for the season.  Sometime in January, when I dismantle breeding groups, the little boys can go to the smaller, abandoned, round pen near the big boys.  I have learned not to pen ramlings with adult rams as the little guys don't get much to eat with the big guys guarding the hay piles all day.

The ewes are still out on pasture with electronet.  Hopefully this weekend I will have the time to bring them up to their winter pen.  I'm still trying to devise a round bale feeder.  Ideally, I would splurge on the
Premier 1 specialized panels.  But I think I'll have to make do with something homemade.  Once again, as finances allow.

Below is Shachah, all decked out in his Blaze Orange collar.  So cute! 
As Becky suggested, we brought Shachah in the house during the day for Deer Hunting Opener.  Unfortunately, we have heated floors and he was so hot and uncomfortable that he tried to get out every time we opened the door.  The next morning we couldn't even catch him, much less get him to come near the house.  So we went to Plan B: during the day, Meg stays in the house, Greta stays in the outdoor kennel, and Shachah is free.  Shachah won't leave Greta behind, except to check his yard/pasture perimeter.  So it is working.  We just have to be super careful to not let Greta out to play before dark.

I had to laugh...the other evening I let Greta out on my way to do chores.  Shachah was so excited to see her out of the kennel and available for play that he charged toward her.  In his exuberance he plowed into her and sent her rolling.  Greta was completely overwhelmed and not a little shocked.  She tucked her tail between her legs and retreated to the porch for good that night. 
Poor Shachah had no idea why she didn't want to play. 
Poor Greta, to be the unsuspecting landing pad for a dog more than double her own weight.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shetland Breeding Plan

I finally decided on my breeding groups for the Shetlands. 
Because I still have a couple of horn-genetic ewes in the flock, I put the emphasis on polled pairings.  If I'm lucky, I might get some ewe lambs to retain and then I can move out the horn girls.  It is hard to think of turnover like that.  But it is the only way I'm going to move forward toward a full-polled flock.
I favored conformation, medium size, and fleece as well.  With these priorities, I had to disregard color and pattern.  I'm ok with this tactic, and I think I will still get a nice variety of color in the lambs. 
LittleRedOak Ash will get the following ewes:

Boston Lake Sian: solid black, horn-genetics
River Oaks Lana: black gulmoget, poll-carrier
Boston Lake Vianne: white poll-carrier
Boston Lake Leil: gray, possible poll carrier

S'more Courante will get the following ewes:
sorry for the bad photo

River Oaks Hannah: moorit, polled
LittleRedOak January: moorit katmoget, polled
Boston Lake Nhu: black katmoget, poll carrier
Boston Lake Lyneth: white, poll carrier

This will be, potentially, my biggest lamb crop ever.  I'm a little nervous about it, but I am excited to see what these rams can do.  Breeding groups will be put together after Thanksgiving.
My two ewe lambs, Esyllt and Carys, will sit out the breeding season together in the girl's pen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beck Moves On

On Sunday, Beck went home with our friend Mary.  Bence, the ram lamb she got from me two years ago, was getting a bit much to deal with in her flock of two Icelandic ewes.  So I suggested she put Bence in the freezer and come pick out a different ram lamb.

Pulling the coats off Beck and his twin,Tecwyn, was a bit of a surprise...
Tecwyn, my favorite, was indeed soft and silky.  He has a rather wide crimp pattern, a lot like his sire Arvada had.
But Beck had super crimp coming in-even on his hips.  It was just amazing!  And I would have never guessed. 

So my little Dark Horse has gone to meet some Icelandic girls.  And I am happy for him.  And happy that Mary will get that lovely fleece from him before she sends him to the freezer. 
Now Beck, be a good boy and give Mary some ewe lambs!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bright Sunshiny Day

I have lots to say, but no time or energy to say it.  So I'm just posting a couple of pictures to show how mild and beautiful it has been around here.  It is hard to believe this is November weather. 
Happy Day to all of you!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good Dogs

Greta had a rough week after her quill incident last Sunday.  By Friday she was depressed and obviously in pain, so I brought her to the vet.  She was diagnosed with Lyme's Disease and a small abscess under her chin which was probably an infected quill.  Two separate antibiotics later, she is feeling much better.  She will need to take the Lyme's med for a full 28 days. 
Shachah has recovered nicely from his quill incident and vet visit.  For a few days his front paws were very sore and he didn't walk much.  He's no longer limping now...just enjoying the nice weather.
Megan, who did not have time to pose for pictures yesterday, suffered greatly from all the misplaced attention the other dogs received.  Her jealousy almost unraveled her.  Luckily for her, a 7 year old friend named Shayn came over for a visit Friday afternoon.  Shayn and Megan got on like a house on fire, and I think he may have just been the first person ever to wear out my Megan Pie.  I think this new-found friendship will be great for both of them.