Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Luna asked me to wish everyone who comes here to read about Her,  a Happy, Happy New Year !  ( She also asked why I wasn't bringing Her dinner now,  instead of messing with the camera. )  As far as Luna is concerned,  it's all about Luna ......... all the time !

From everyone here at Sheep Dreams,  we wish all of you a year of good health and peace of mind.  And plenty of time for fiber fun !  We'll see you next year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Many blessings to all of you

All of us here at Tanglewood Farm wish you a Merry Christmas,  with many blessings in the New Year to come.  Thank you for visiting here and your friendship.  I'm so grateful for all of you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gone, so soon

 We've had a sad few days around here.  Sweet Phoebe died suddenly,  early this week.  I've been conflicted about whether to share that news here,  especially in this season of celebration.  I finally decided that silence was,  in some way,  being dishonest.   She was such a joy and I'm finding it difficult to believe that she is already gone.  Every time I have gone to feed,  her empty cage has been a shock.  This morning,  I disassembled it and put away all of her food and toys.  Life and death are so much a part of living on a farm with animals,  but sometimes it just feels worse than others.

Meanwhile,  I have no time to sit around and dwell on it,  which may be just as well.  I'm so far behind in my baking,  cookie and candy making and present wrapping that I cannot stop long enough to wallow in bad feelings.  So,  I'm making a strong effort to remember how much fun she was and I how much I enjoyed her while she was in my life.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The peace-keeper

 Maude ( the CVM ) apparently got up on the wrong side of her hay bale this morning.  She was a grouchy girl and started picking on Olive as soon as they went out into the big field.  That head-butting stuff is disturbing to watch ( and hear ), but they rarely carry on with it for any length of time.  Usually,  the instigator gets bored with it and wanders off.  That big white sheep is Buddy and he's the peace-maker, lamb baby-sitter and company keeper in the flock.  Buddy is a wether ( remember this post ? ),  so he's allowed to be in with the girls now that breeding season is over.  I love that he was trying to peacefully discourage this little dust-up.  I watched for quite a while this morning,  just to be sure I wasn't imagining it.  He kept stepping between the two and protecting little Olive from Maude.  How sweet is that ?  He didn't give up until Maude quit harassing Olive.

Maude is a Romeldale/California Variegated Mutant.  Romeldales originated in the early 1900's,  from breeding Romney rams to Rambouillet ewes,  for the purpose of getting finer, heavier fleeces and market lambs of good size.  CVMs came about in the 1960's when a breeder in California noticed the unique markings of a ewe in his flock and continued to breed for that.  So,  while it is somewhat confusing,  all CVMs are Romeldales,  but only Romeldales with the distinctive badger face markings are classified CVMs.  CVMs are on the American Livestock Conservancy's endangered list and are listed as critical.  Because I no longer have a purebred CVM ram,  I will not have any CVM lambs next spring,  though those distinctive markings often show up in crossbred lambs.  You can see a little of that in Olive's markings.  In all the years I have been raising sheep,  I've never had any with the personality traits that my CVMs display.  I don't know what it is.  Maybe I just bring out the weirdness in them !  They are the only ones in the flock who climb,  eat tree bark and generally stay completely to themselves.  I'd be interested in knowing if anyone else has CVMs that do those things.

Don't you just love that face?
 Anyway ....... peace has been restored,  thanks to Buddy.  He's such a good boy and truly the buddy-sheep around here !

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who are you .......


and what have you done with The Bun?  You'd never know it was the same girl, as in this picture. Phoebe is,  oh so patiently,   allowing me to learn how to harvest her fiber.  When I had bunnies before,  I always combed or plucked their fiber,   which required working on the bunny for several sessions.  When Phoebe came home with me this past summer,  I decided to harvest it all at once,  by clipping her.  Poor thing looks a little moth eaten.  ( Yikes,  moth is a four-letter word for people like me ! )

( I think I'm feeling a little lighter ! )
Even though she's living in the barn now,  she is still affectionate and ( mostly ) calm when being handled.  This morning,  she allowed me to hold her chin up to clip underneath and turn her over to clip her belly.  Afterwards,  we sat in the sun,  with her sitting in my lap or stretching up to put her head on my shoulder ( aawww - how sweet is that ? ) .  I put her in the big dog crate for a little exercise and she discovered clover growing through the bottom - hence the green stain around her mouth !  I didn't even see that until I downloaded the picture from the camera.

I'll have a few of my felted bowl sets and some really cute, tiny little mitten, sweater and hat ornaments.
On a completely different subject:  I'll be at Seldom Scene Farm's "Art on the Farm" event this coming weekend.  Lindy has lined up an impressive list of artists ( with the exception of me ), who will set up in her beautiful,  enclosed barn ( the space will be heated ) and, besides some wonderful local and handmade items for your Christmas shopping,  we'll treat you to tasty refreshments.  It looks like the weather is going to be clear and sunny and it will be a great day to drive away from the mall and crowds,  and out to the peace and quiet of the countryside.  Hope you will join us.  You can get directions and find out more about the event here .

Monday, December 5, 2011

Because they've been such good girls ...

( they wanted to wear their Christmas halters )
All last week,  Luna and Birdie kept hinting about going see Santa.  (They had heard that Uncle Graham had gotten to go before. )  They were afraid that if they didn't get there to deliver the message in person,  Santa might not realize their presents needed to be delivered to a barn,  not to a house.  Frankly,  I wasn't so sure how the whole thing might come off.  The possibilities for chaos seemed almost unlimited.  Saturday morning it was dry,  sunny and warm-ish and,  on the spur of the moment,  I said,  "What the heck?  Let's do it".   Santa was at the closest Southern States farm store and when I called ahead,  to be sure it was okay,  they said come on over.   After begging asking Mike to go along as photographer,  we discovered that I'd grabbed the camera that needed the battery charged,  so documentation was done by iPhone.  ( I need to make notes to myself,  in case I ever do this again. )

( Is it my imagination or does Santa look a little wary ? )

Luna and Birdie could have used a little more grooming ( like a bath,  maybe ! ) and I'm pretty sure Santa had to change his white gloves after we left,  but a good time was had by all.  The folks at Southern States were tickled to have sheep in the store ( go figure ? ).  Luna and Birdie played it like they go to Southern States every Saturday morning.  They walked right in,  let everyone pet them and stood  ( sort of ) willingly by Santa for pictures.  The only thing Luna and Birdie complained about was that the floor was pretty slippery and required some tricky moves on their part to stay upright and moving forward.   We should receive the official Santa shot from Southern States soon, but in the meantime,  we have Apple to thank for these shots.  Funny thing about my personal photographer ..... I think he enjoyed it as much as anyone else,  once he realized it wasn't going to turn into disaster !

( They thought these automatic door openers were something we really needed in the barn ! )

Friday, December 2, 2011

Phoebe meets Sadie


There was a ( very ) small meet and greet in front of the barn on Saturday afternoon.  The Bun was introduced to Sadie,  our itty-bitty barn cat.  Phoebe was in an exercise pen taking the air,  when Sadie decided to check her out.  Sadie is a bit of a wild child.  She's three years old now ( still so tiny )  and she only tolerates your affections when she wants to.  She's a fierce warrior when it comes to protecting the barn from critters who don't belong there,  so we're happy to have her,  even if she's not a lap kitty.  The Bun was interested in getting to know Sadie,  but I think Sadie was put off by the sheer size of her.  It's funny to look back at the pictures I took when I first brought Phoebe home.  She's definitely a big girl now.

Phoebe has "graduated" to living in the barn now.  About a month ago,  she developed a bad habit of flinging litter out of her litter box and it was landing all around the kitchen of the studio.  Not good.  She still has visitation privileges and comes in for grooming and play time.  I felt bad about putting her out,  but honestly,  I think she is just as happy in the barn where there is always something going on.   I do think starting her out inside the studio was a good thing,  because she's still very friendly and loves to be held.  She's due for shearing soon and I'm close to having enough angora to actually spin up some yarn.  Not sure what I'll make with it.  When I raised angoras before, I began by using some of their fiber to knit a hat for my first grandchild (who is now 21 years old ! How did that happen ? ).  It was a sweet little hat with the fair isle patterning done in the angora.  Maybe this time I should knit a big girl version with The Bun's fiber.

They all grow up so fast !

Anyone else, but me, having difficulties with blogger uploading photos today?  There were better pictures, but blogger kept putting stripes through them !  I give .............

Monday, November 28, 2011

Refocus day

 While positioning myself to back my little Subaru into the garage on Saturday, I happened to catch this trio enjoying the last sunny day we will have for a while.  Rarely do I see Holly hanging out this closely with the llamas.  It's not that they dislike each other.  It's more that they move in different social circles.  Of course,  as soon as Strawberry saw me stop the car and get out with the camera,  she stood up and that was the end of that.

Whew ..... is it over already ?  Thanksgiving is only a memory because,  though my camera sat on the kitchen counter the whole time,  I never picked it up.  Between getting that huge meal on the table (which,  even with two ovens,  requires some real juggling ) ,  visiting with the grands and trying to participate in all the different conversations going on in various rooms,  the whole day is a bit of a blur.  I'm always a little stunned that a meal I spend nearly a week preparing can be decimated in about 30 minutes !  Last night was turkey hash for dinner and I made and froze the turkey stock this morning,  so I'm ready to refocus.  Believe it or not,  I am sick of having so much food around.  Right now,  I would love a week at an upscale spa where someone else prepared lovely little portions of healthy,  low calorie meals and served them to me ( and also did all the cleaning up! ).  Oh well,  a woman can dream,  can't she?

So,  now it's on toward Christmas.  I'm working on a few small knitting projects,  some gifts,  some things to sell at "Art on the Farm",  which will be held at my friend Lindy's Seldom Scene Farm on December 10.   I'll post all the details soon.  It will be a fun event and well worth the drive out to her beautiful farm.   ( I have a serious case of barn envy ! )

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Big Show

Tuesday was the day thecrazysheeplady and I drove in the rain to Louisville for our annual pilgrimage to the North American International Livestock Exposition.  NAILE is the BIG SHOW and pretty much culminates the show season for folks who do that sort of thing.  Many years ago,  when I thought raising purebred Romney sheep was my life-calling,  I was into it.  Now,  I love just going to watch and can't even imagine how I summoned up all the energy it took !  I often bump into people I met back then and the first thing they ask is if I am still raising sheep.  As I get older,  I try to imagine what that day will be like,  when I no longer have my sheep.  So far,  I can't even imagine it.  Anyway,  I'm taking the Scarlett O'Hara approach,  "I'll think about that tomorrow".

It's fun to walk around and see all the different breeds of sheep,  just waiting for their moment in the show ring.  Actually,  the show ring is the last thing on a sheep's mind.  As long as the food shows up when it's supposed to,  they mostly resign themselves to lounging in their straw filled pens,  probably dreaming of green pastures and their own familiar barn back home.   So many of them were standing with their heads resting on the top rail of their pens, as if to say, "Is it over yet?"  Tomorrow is the end of the show and you could tell that some of them were ready to get in the trailer and head home.

Sara has a great little video of this goofy little Tunis ram looking for a fight.  What on earth was he thinking?  Testosterone was definitely in charge.  The big guy treated the little one like he was a gnat buzzing around,  when he could have stepped over the side of the pen and finished him off !

We also wandered around the commercial area,  checking out sheep equipment and looking for sheepy stuff.  We found a really good vendor with some of the best sheep merchandise ever.  It looks like her website is a work in progress,  but you might check back later or catch her at a show near you.

( Love the bed-head look ! )

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Isn't she pretty?  This is Maybelline and she is one of my little girls produced by Henry.  Belle,  her mom is one of my favorite ewes.  Belle is not the friendliest ewe in the flock,  but she's no ding-bat either.  She's friendly when she wants to be,  but otherwise doesn't have much to say.  She is a wonderful mother to her lambs and is calm and easy to work around,  all good traits in a ewe.  Belle has a beautiful silver fleece and she's passed on the character of her fleece to Maybelline.  Combined with genetics from Henry,  this little girl has got a fleece to love.  Maybelline is a triplet and I kept both of her siblings,  so that should tell you that Belle and Henry made a good match.  ( I sure wish Henry was still around,  so I could play matchmaker again. )

We are most likely in the last days of having color on the trees.  The weather is supposed to be much colder the next few days and in the 20's at night.  It will really start to look like winter,  once all the leaves are down.  I'm thinking about and planning for Thanksgiving this week.  I'm hoping to get a jump on some of the manic grocery shopping that takes place the week of Thanksgiving and be finished early next week.  I don't know about where you live,  but around here,  grocery shopping seems to be an olympic sport!  Unless you've been training hard,  you don't want to go to Kroger's during Thanksgiving week!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Mister

 That's what I'm calling him.  He's our rent-a-ram and he came with no name.  I've got to have something to call him,  so .....  "The Mister" is it.  If he were here to stay,  I'd work a little harder at naming him,  but he'll be leaving in a few months ( or less,  if he gets the job done quickly! ).  The Mister is a Wensleydale ram lamb ( born this past spring ) and he's got the most gorgeous fleece.  If you look closely,  you can see that he has no britch and his fleece is beautifully consistent,  front to back with plenty of luster.  I can't wait to see what kind of lambs he gives me.

The Mister has not been handled at all,  so it's been a little challenging to settle him in here.  He's been penned where he could see other sheep and that has kept him fairly content,  but this morning the last of our hay was delivered and he did not like the noise from the hay elevator.  He was starting to get anxious and was trying to jump over the sides of his pen,  so we gave him a girl to keep him company.

As you can tell by her expression,  she is not that pleased or impressed.  This is Gabby  (sister to the famous Graham ).   She's 3/4 Bluefaced Leicester and 1/4 Romney and has a beautiful fleece herself.  I'm hoping these two make some beautiful babies !
( Kinda looks like a wide load - not her best angle,  but look at that fleece ! )
 Tomorrow we plan to put the marking harness on The Mister and introduce him to the rest of the ewe flock.  Crayon number one will be orange and,  if you don't know what that means,  stay tuned and I'll explain it all next week.

Happy weekending !


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Watching and waiting ......

You know,  most of the time I love where and how I live,  but sometimes,  well sometimes,  not so much.  The last week has been not so much.  Last Wednesday ( not today ) morning we had a ferocious storm .... lots of thunder and lightning,  followed by much rain.  The problem came with the lightning, which struck our phone line and blew my dsl filter right off the wall and into many little burned pieces.  So,  no phone and no Internet.  This is a major inconvenience because all the calls for my husband's veterinary practice come in on our home line,  not to mention the fact that most of my interaction with the outside world comes through my computer these days.  After many calls to the phone company,  and their many promises for having it fixed by certain time ( which came and went ),  we resorted to  having all calls forwarded to his cell phone.  Now,  mind you,  we do not have cell phone coverage here at the farm,  so we could only get phone calls if we were not at home.  But,  I couldn't leave home because I was supposed to be here waiting for the repairman from the phone company,  who was supposed to arrive immediately,  if not sooner.   Now,  I know these things do happen to people who live within the boundaries of civilization,  but it seems that living "out here" means that we have to cry louder and longer to get the service that was promised to us when we signed up with Windtream and when we send in our check each month.  Finally,  finally a very nice repairman arrived Friday afternoon and,  after much going back and forth,  he found that lightning had broken a wire inside the box on the pole at the road and again about 2 feet outside that box.  Weird,  but I was grateful that it was not something inside the house,  because then they charge you big time if they have to come inside to repair anything.  So,  why am I still being gripey about it?  Because at this moment,  we once again have no phone service,  since sometime Monday morning !  Six days out of eight with no service.   When I called yesterday to remind them that they had promised to have it repaired by Monday evening,  I was told the repairmen were especially busy and they would get here when they got here.  Sigh ....... and it's not as if we have any alternative.  So, we wait.  Anyway,  that accounts for my silence for the last week and I'm hopeful that I still have one or two readers left out there in the world!

So,  what are else are we watching and waiting for around here?  I'm watching the trees turn and the leaves fall ( along with the pecans from those huge pecan trees around our house - those are the big trees that are still green ).

These girls?  They're waiting for the "man of the year"  or I should say "ram of the year" .  Of course, they don't know it yet,  but  they don't have long to wait.  He'll be arriving at Tanglewood Farm tomorrow!  

Monday, October 24, 2011


 Today I'm starting an idea I stole got from Juniper Moon Farm to introduce you to a different member of the flock each week or so.  Actually, I didn't steal it .... I do have their permission - thanks, Caroline.  I thought I'd start with the youngest members of the flock.  These are the ones I call the little girls.  They're the ewe lambs that I've decided to keep and they will eventually join the brood ewes,  when they are mature enough to be bred.

So, without further ado,  may I present Poppy !

Though you might not suspect it at first glance,  Poppy is one of Birdie's sisters.   There is yet another sister,  whom you will meet soon.  The mother of the triplets is a purebred Bluefaced Leicester and their father was Henry ( 1/2 Wensleydale - 1/2 Cotswold ),  and the combination of those three breeds accounts for that gorgeous fleece.  I'm totally in love with the fleeces that Henry passed on to his progeny and,  especially now that he's gone,  I wish I had given him more ewes to breed last fall.  I have kept nearly all of Henry's ewe lambs and think they are going provide me with some wonderful handspinning fleeces.   Under that beautiful frosted color patterning,  Poppy has a silky, lustrous fleece that will be a dream to spin.

See what I mean ?   Luna likes to be center stage !

Poppy has been slow to make up to me.  There is a huge difference between the lambs raised strictly on their mother's milk and those that I supplement or raise entirely on a bottle.  Luna and Birdie come running to me still,  even though it has been a long,  long time since their last bottle.  In fact,  they sometimes make it difficult for me to pet on,  or take pictures of,  the other lambs because they have to be practically in my lap whenever I'm around them.  When I bring the little girls into the barn in the evening for some grain,  I've been sitting down in the pen and just letting them all have a chance to be close to me without there being any " torture " involved ( that would be their definition of de-worming medication,  foot trimming,  eartagging ).  Poppy has been very cautious,  but oh so slowly,  I'm winning her over.  So far,  I'm only allowed a chin scratch or two,  but I can see that she is starting to overcome her shyness and think of me as her friend.

These pictures were taken this morning,  and as you can see,  we have sunshine and green grass going on here.  That green grass is especially good news,  because it delays my having to feed hay twice a day.   Just one of those things that makes a shepherd happy !

Thursday, October 20, 2011



 Yes, I'm cozy and content.  I've had my first fire of the season in the little Vermont Castings woodstove in the studio and am actually enjoying the spell of cold,  rainy,  windy,  miserable weather we're having right now.  Daytime temperatures are staying in the 40's and it's supposed to go to freezing this weekend.  It's really perfect for giving me permission to stay inside ( except for barn chores )  by the woodstove and start a new knitting project.  I know,  the last thing I need to do is start another knitting project,  but I'll bet most of you know how that happens.  And when did need ever have anything to do with it?

Those crafty people at Purl Soho sent a little note to my email box from the Purl Bee earlier this week and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I had the perfect yarn leftover from this sweater,  so last night I cast on for the Bandana Cowl.  I'm thinking this might be a great little accessory for Christmas knitting.   Big needles,  fat yarn,  simple,  fun pattern ......... what more could you ask?  And,  this pattern will be great practice for anyone wanting to perfect their short row technique.   ( I got plenty of practice while knitting my  To Eyre  shawl,  so,  to me,  it's just entertaining enough to keep me interested ).

Anyone else have Christmas knitting on their mind?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the lam

Her new name is Houdini.  She's the escape artist of bunnies.  Several mornings lately,  I've opened the door to the studio and,  there in the hallway,  I'm greeted by The Bun.  She always seems pleasantly surprised to see me and hops over to be picked up.  There's absolutely no indication of guilty feelings on her part !

Obviously,  I've created in her this sense of entitlement and being confined to her cage all night is not how she thinks her life should be.  I've even tried wiring her cage door shut and she's managed to get that undone several times.  To her credit,  there have been no accidents.  She's still using her litter box all the time and there have been no new electrical wire chewing episodes ( though I have tried to rabbit proof most of the plug-ins that are within her reach ).   I do get the feeling that,   when she has freed herself during the night,  she probably sits on the couch thinking about how she has outsmarted me,  once again ! 

I fully expect that next on her list is learning to use the remote control for the television.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some flying geese with a sheep!

A barn quilt has been on my farm wish list for a long,  long time and hosting the big family wedding last weekend was just the motivation needed to finally make it happen.  I've seen and admired so many quilts on barns around our area,  but I had a little different vision for our own.  I've always loved the quilt pattern named "flying geese" and knew I wanted to incorporate that but,  somehow,  there had to be sheep in the design,  too.  I just wasn't sure how to go about it.  Fellow shepherd,  Tonya Fedders  Flat Creek Wool and Pottery,  and I have been emailing back and forth for a few months now and above is the result of our collaboration.  I love it !  I especially love how Tonya patterned the geese patches to resemble real fabric.  Tonya is so talented and is quite possibly the nicest person you would ever want to meet,  plus she displayed an abundance of patience with me during the whole process.  She deserves a medal for trying so hard to please me.   The finished barn quilt was just another perfect touch to a memorable weekend.

To make it even more special,  Crimson and Taylor decided to gift it to us as a thank you for hosting their wedding.  The only negative aspect of the whole project was watching Mike install the quilt on the barn on the day before the wedding.   I told him I thought it would be a real downer if he was in a coma and a body cast during the wedding celebration !   Mike is nothing,  if not thorough, and he had put a lot of thought into the mechanics of the installation.  So,  with the help of the groom,  the best man and a few stray painters ( who were still here a full week after their promised finish date - but,  I digress ) they managed to get it mounted on the barn.  In fact,  it is so securely mounted that the barn could probably fall down around it and it would remain !

We're having one of those lovely,  slow,  drizzly rain days and I'm going to use it as an excuse to sit on the couch and knit.  The knitting has been much neglected around here lately and I need to start catching up. 


Monday, October 10, 2011


Some of the many,  many mums,  waiting to be placed.

It was, in every sense,  perfect.  It was the most personal,  fun-filled and happy occasion.  It was all a wedding should be and much,  much more.

As many of you know,  Mike and I have spent most of the summer preparing the farm for the wedding of Mike's son, Taylor,  and Crimson.  They are two very special people and their wedding was so them.  I am certain that everyone who attended was there because of their affection for the two of them,  which only added to the spirit of celebration.

The beginnings of "tent city" ( along with the caterer's van ) 

The weather was exactly what I ordered,  all those months ago,  when we first agreed to have their wedding here on the farm.  It was bright and sunny,  not too hot,  not too cool.  We knew the ceremony would be unusual,  but even Crimson and Taylor did not know exactly how it would all transpire.  The officiant,  who is a really close friend of theirs,  had several surprises for them along the way.   It was all so personal and heartfelt,  I know that every person in attendance was touched.  It was,  for sure,  a memory Crimson and Taylor (and all of us) will keep forever.

Inexplicably,  I only have a picture of half the tent during dinner.

I am embarrassed to admit that I took practically no pictures.  I kept losing and finding my camera and never seemed to have it when I had a moment.  The official photographer,  who is also a good friend,  took 4000 pictures !  ( really and truly,  I've never seen anyone work so hard to capture so many moments )  I'm hopeful that I can get permission to use some of his pictures,  or at the very least,  post a link to his website.

The bride ( bless her heart ) , dancing with my  10 year old grandson, Preston.

The last few hardy souls went to bed ( or should I say,  to their tents and sleeping bags ) around 3 am!  Mike and I had to give up around 1 am.  These people are young and they know how to party !  The band was great and kept the dancers going for nearly 3 hours.  We had a good crowd for coffee ( lots of coffee ),  yogurt,  granola and muffins on Sunday morning and I'm guessing there were some really tired people,  trying to work in a nap yesterday afternoon !

All tidied up and waiting for the rental company to come take it away

Mike and I are wondering what project to tackle next,  though I'm voting for a break in the action.  Thanksgiving,  Christmas and New Years are just around the corner !