Sunday, January 27, 2008

When One Door Closes....


Another door opens. I believe that, I am a person who looks forward to change.

I found out on Jan. 24th, that I only have two days left of my employment at the ortho office. So now I'm looking for something new. So far a few opportunities have arisen and I'm excited about the possibilities and choices to be made. The oil painting above is titled "Snowed In". I painted it back in 1994 or so. I thought it was appropriate for this post, although I don't feel snowed in at all. I liked that open door!
A few weeks ago I volunteered at our local Community Action Agency to prepare income taxes for low-income individual and families. The training has been lots of fun and I passed my basic certification test yesterday. If you're good with numbers and have some tax experience, you might want to consider volunteering too. Learning more about taxes can only be good for us shepherds and if we can also help others, that makes it even better.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's cold outside!


Thank goodness I picked up the Babydoll sheep last weekend rather than this weekend! We're having a cold snap here. It's been about -20F the past two nights and the high yesterday was below zero. Not to mention windchills in the -30 to -40's.
This is one time when I appreciate the layer of wasted hay in the shelters. The sheep dig nests and hunker down in the bedding at night. During the day they don't even seem to notice the cold temps.
You can see the Babydolls are well insulated in the photo of our wether above. The BFL's don't have such a dense coat, but they are doing fine too. I never thought about their big ears getting frozen, but I guess it's something to watch out for.
I started giving the flock some whole corn the other day. Our hay isn't the best, so I wanted them to have more groceries. However, now they want corn whenever they see me! And some of the hungrier ones (Granite and Derra) have no problem clearing the hog panel in the pole building in hopes of being the first to be fed. Fortunately, they are easy to put back in. I always keep Bungie cords on the corn bin, just in case they jump out when I'm not there.
I haven't been out to clean up the Babydoll boys yet or take more photos in this cold weather.
I read on the Spinlist that Babydoll fleece is great for spinning and dyeing, so I'm taking another wether when it warms up again.

I thought I would keep the Babydoll ram with my BFL ram and keep the two wethers in with my Shetland ram. Then I can put all my ewes back together again.

I hope everyone is keeping warm and keeping their sheep well fed.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

They're Here!

I picked up my two BabyDoll sheep today. After a lot of contemplation, I decided to just get the two wethers for ram companions as I had originally planned. It was quite an ordeal, but as I finally pushed the second "wether" into his dog kennel for the ride home, and I found a little surprise package! So it looks like I ended up with a ram and a wether in spite of myself.
Oh well, we'll see what this little change of plans brings. :-)

I've come to accept "accidents" like this as opportunities to see what the universe has in store for me. This change of outlook came after I accidentally bought Brandywine tomatoes instead of my usual variety. I was pretty upset with the greenhouse for the mix up, but I was in the middle of planting my garden when I figured it out. So I grumbled and planted the Brandywines anyway. They were the best tomatoes I've ever grown! Huge, meaty, and they do not get blight. Every fall, I have to dig through a jungle of green leaves to pick all the tomatoes when we get our first frost warning. I keep the green tomatoes in a box and we have homegrown tomatoes all the way into November. Brandywines are a heritage breed tomato and by saving the seeds for next year's tomatoes, I've got my own strain. I've shared the seeds with others and they have returned seeds to me when I get too busy to collect my own.

So we'll see what happens with our accidental BabyDoll ram. My first job will be to clip some of the hair from around his eyes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What am I doing???


Oh my gosh how times flies! I haven't posted here since Christmas Eve. I haven't had a lot to say I guess. That and the fact that I've been spending too much time at the new Shetland Sheep forum. Above is a photo of the latest things I've been working on, not the knitting so much, but the felting.

Well yesterday was an exciting day for me. I met a small group of extremely talented felters and I was blown away by their work. Fabulous vessels, garments, jewelry, hats! I felt pretty humble sharing my needle felted sheep and heads and my nuno felt scarves and landscapes. But they were incredibly gracious and helpful. After a delicious lunch we fulled a couple of my scarves and then watched really cool felting DVD (by Judit, I forget her last name, but the video is available from Susan's Fiber Shop). I'm so inspired, I hope to get some serious felting done. I have been experimenting a lot with the medium lately. This morning I even felted an egg! Okay, so it's of no use for anything, but it looks kind of cool.

After the felters group I met a friend and we went in on a FLOCK of Baby Doll Southdowns. I only wanted a couple wethers to keep my boys company and to see how the Baby Doll fleece spins up (and felts?). But the owner wanted them all gone at once, so I called in a friend for help. I can't take any of the ewes due to them not being enrolled in the Voluntary Scrapie program, but I may wind up getting a black two year old ram and a couple wethers. They are terribly cute little guys! Yes, this really does go against all that I've been working for getting my sheep numbers down. I was so happy to be down to 20 and now I'll be up by 3 or 4...if only I didn't need companions for my rams. I'm not brave enough to keep them all together like Stephen does. I would never forgive myself if one of my BFLs was hurt by the Shetland with those huge horns. So anyway, these guys are very small and very cute -- they are all two years old and the wethers are very tame. I'll be picking them up this weekend and I will try to get some decent photos with my new camera.

Oh and that reminds me, I'm getting a couple more chickens too. I can't stand paying $2 a dozen for the terrible eggs in the grocery store. I think two or three hens will keep us in eggs and not cost too much to feed. Here's one of the first eggs I did, it's watercolor on the front and dyed black on the back. It was from a Giant Dewlap Toulouse goose we had, those Dewlap Toulouse geese are very regal and gentle. But too heavy for breeding. We never had a fertile egg from her, but they were kind of a cool shape.