Thursday, January 31, 2013

Food for thought

I saw this posted by a commenter on Soulemama this morning and found it so lovely and thought-provoking.  Most of us aren't prepared to follow through on such an ambitious project, but I do so admire this young woman for doing it.  Can you imagine the impact it would have if we all put half that much thought into what we have in our closets?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


(Aslan was still watching after his girls, even though they were on the "wrong" side of the fence)
The weekend brought some changes for the usual inhabitants of the barn.  Nearly since they were born, my "little" girls have had access to the barn at night.  First at their mother's sides and then, after weaning,  as part of their own girl gang.  I do this because I like to keep a close watch on them and observe their personalities and how they are growing out.  I enjoy having close interaction with them several times a day, so they know me and that I'm here to take care of them.  The time has come for them to be big girls and be assimilated into the main ewe flock.  I've been procrastinating, but now that we are getting closer to lambing time, I needed to simplify the routine and open up a space in the barn for the pregnant ewes.  So, the little girls have moved to what we call the driveway lot, which is a small field that contains the road that leads to be back 100 plus acres of the farm.  They will probably stay there for a week or so, then move into the field with the adult ewes.  So far, they don't seem to be giving this plan their approval.  There's been a lot of hanging out right by the gate and my appearance starts up a chorus of baas.  Of course, the real unhappiness set in when they didn't get to come inside that first night.  I told Mike that "the Little Princesses" were out there thinking something had gone terribly wrong.

(Aslan is just a little conflicted here)
The first few days I put them in an adjoining pasture and brought the pregnant ewes into Aslan's field.  It's his job to guard the groups that are in the pastures connected to the barn and he's done a great job watching over the girls from the time they were born until now.  Before he came to live with us, Aslan started his sheep guarding life behind electric fences, which we don't have.  Holly comes in and out of the pastures (squeezing herself through the upper section of the gates).  It has not seemed to occur to Aslan that he could actually leave the field he's in, if he chose to do so and that is a good thing.  He was a little confused when his girls got moved away, but seems to have settled in with the six ewes that are supposed to lamb starting in about 4 weeks.

We took advantage of the crazy mild weather we're having and broke down all the sheep pen panels and Mike used his Bobcat to completely strip out all the old bedding.  We'll be getting several loads of gravel delivered and it will be spread to create a lovely, clean barn floor.   Of course, I'll immediately put down fresh straw, build a pen for the pregnant ewes and the process will begin all over again.  This yearly cycle is one of the things I love most about raising sheep.  It changes a bit from month to month.  I'm already excited about the birth of new lambs.  I promised Mike I would only breed a few this year and I've kept my word.  (It's so hard for me to let them go, it's better if I don't have 50+ lambs born!) 

This weather ...... is ridiculous!  It was 73 degrees when I finished barn chores this evening.  I've got daffodils blooming and I actually heard a few peepers at the pond as I walked to the house.  We're under a severe weather watch tonight and tomorrow because there is a big cold front headed our way and it's predicted to be 15 degrees on Thursday.

My apologies for being absent from here so much lately.  I'm still dealing with the rotator cuff injury and getting comfortable enough to sleep has been elusive.  I'm going to town for physical therapy several days a week, which I don't like doing because it wrecks my whole day.  I'll admit I'm struggling a bit with my resolve to be a more positive person this year.  (Now that I've written that I realize I need to buck up and try harder.)  So, I guess there's my reminder.  I'll try harder!  I'll be back soon.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday morning

(Aslan on the job)                
(Chickens at work)

(Holly is working hard, too) 

It's frosty but the sun is out and everyone seems content to do their job today.  Hope you're having a sunny day where you are.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

These days

I've written before about how this time in January is a time of transition - a quiet time, really.  The daily chores are pretty much the same every day and right now it takes hours to complete them. Mornings, I'm feeding hay to the sheep, llamas and alpacas, feeding mash and corn to the chickens and peafowl.  A little grain and more hay to the sheep in the evenings, hay and alpaca pellets to the fiber boys, hay and pellets to Pippi and Strawberry.  They are all ravenous, twice a day.  They would have you believe they are actually starving.  I think they are sometimes bored.  Mr. Bates has taken to heading straight for the alpaca's mineral feeder when I let him out in the mornings.  If I don't get there first, he bashes it until it falls to the ground....just because he can.  (If only I could teach him to use Pinterest!)  Soon though, the grass will start greening (hard to believe, looking at it now) and lambs will start being born and there will be plenty to distract us all.

(Needle size US 35, anyone?)
I am never bored.  Seriously.  Never, ever bored.  There is so much I want to do (let's not mention all those chores I must and need to do) and not nearly enough time to do it all.  I have UFO's (unfinished objects) aplenty and even more I'd like to cast on right now, but I'm sticking to my resolve to work on the backlog of knitting and hope to have a few new/old finished knits to show soon.

And, then there is my full-time job as personal servant to Carson.....who comes to the back door of the studio more times than I can count every day.  He walks in, as though he owns the place, nibbles a few morsels of food, sometimes pauses for a little lie-down and then saunters to the front door and requests the door-person to let him out.

(I suppose I can be grateful that the sheep are not able to follow Carson's lead!)

*And speaking of my Mr. Bates, I'm sorry but I'm a little worried.  I hope I don't regret naming my favorite ram lamb after this Mr. Bates!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Common Ground

Last night, as part of my working on the entertainment committee for the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in May, we went out for a casual dinner with our friends, Richard and Teresa, to a local barbeque place.  The owner is a big supporter of bluegrass music and a fine banjo player himself, so there is nearly always live bluegrass music on the stage.  I was hoping for the chance to talk to him about scheduling some good bands to play at the festival.  Unfortunately, he wasn't there last night, so I'm still working on that, but the evening turned out to be good for several reasons.  We don't often find ourselves in places where there might be live honky-tonk music being played, but that's what we got last night and it was fun.  (Plus, the barbeque was excellent!)  The band,  Kentucky Hoss Cats, played a good selection of what I would call "classic country" (Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Sr.) and were quite good and entertaining to watch.  (I have little to no tolerance for the "new" country sound, but love the old-timers like Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard.)  So, here's what I'm finally getting to in the title of this post.  Feeling a little out of my element, what would you guess might make me feel I had something in common with the folks sitting around us?  Why, discovering another fiber person, that's what!  Just before our food arrived at the table, I was looking around the room and here's what I saw, sitting under the big screen television that was showing the University of Kentucky basketball game.

(Don't you love the glance from the guy down the way?"
This is Albert and as soon as we saw him, Teresa and I were all about getting to talk to him and admire his crocheting.  Albert told us that he knits too, but finds crochet more relaxing (it has the opposite effect on me, mainly because I don't know what I'm doing!)  When I asked if it would be okay to take his picture and blog about meeting him, he didn't even hesitate to give me his okay.  In what other context would that have been possible?  Not many that I know of.  I feel like I made a new friend in the fiber community and the whole experience makes me smile every time I think about it.

It also makes me think I need to haul out my yarn and knit pretty much anywhere I feel like it.  That doesn't make me quite as brave as Albert, but I'm going to work on it.  Who knows how many nice people I might get to meet!

Monday, January 7, 2013

In with the (sort of) new

Here's a smiling girl you haven't seen much of lately.  Our girl Pippi is happy and healthy and spending her days out in the big pasture with her mom, Strawberry, and the adult ewes.  In a few weeks I'll need to do a group shuffle to bring the pregnant ewes into a field adjoining the barn.  Our first lambs should be arriving around the first of March and the Lamb-Cam will be reinstated by mid-February.  The lamb crop will be small this year.  After agonizing about it for weeks, I decided to keep the work load a little lighter and only bred six ewes.  I kept nearly all of my ewe lambs from last spring that were sired by the Wensleydale ram.  I don't usually keep back so many lambs, but their fleeces were so outstanding, I wanted to keep them all.  I couldn't stand the idea of not having any babies born this spring, but also know I am approaching the limits of my energy levels.  I'm really glad to have made that decision now that I'm dealing with this rotator cuff injury.

(the wonder of organization - how long will it last?)
A few days into the new year, I decided to Organize The Yarn.  Ugh!  It was not such a fun couple of days (yes, it took a few days).  In the studio, I'm lucky to have a laundry/storage room to keep washed fleeces, processed roving and bins (many bins) of yarn.  Some of it has been in the stash for years and a lot of it is handspun yarn that might be considered "vintage" by now!  Amongst all that yarn and fiber were also lots of UFO's (unfinished projects).  I was in the right frame of mind (ruthless) and made some hard decisions about whether I would ever finish some of those things or should I move on and not look back.  The keepers are in a bin and rest were frogged,  re-skeined, washed and either belong to someone else now or are awaiting a new project.  It feels so good to walk into that room and be able to see all of the floor and the tops of the washer and dryer!

I'm happy to report that I'm making some progress with my new resolve to "Finish What I Start".  You know how those financial advisers on television always say start with the small things on your debt list?  Well, I've applied that strategy to tackling my knitting project backlog and it's working for me!  I've started with hats and mittens and these are the ones I've completed in the last week.  I'm still knitting on a few other projects, but have managed to not cast on anything new, which has been the most difficult thing of all (and my history of succumbing to that urge is why I have such an abundance of UFO's).
(Several boy hats, a little girl hat, a barn hat for me and some recently frogged handspun)
So, what's happening at your house these days?  New knitting, old knitting, no time for knitting?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Out with the old

 Don't know about you folks,  but I'm feeling very disoriented.  I can't seem to figure out what day of the week it is.  I love having Christmas and New Years on a weekday because it seems to extend the days of celebration,  but it's confusing to have Mike home four days in a row!  All day yesterday,  I felt as though it was Sunday,  therefore today must be Monday (although the calendar plainly says it's Wednesday).  Oh well,  maybe next week I'll get back on track. 

I've been catching up on some blog reading today.  I've neglected not just my own blog,  but have had difficulty finding time to read some of my favorites.  So many have wonderful,  inspirational posts up right now.  Susan Branch has written about some very specific ways to focus on starting your new year off on a positive note.  One of the things I love about her blog is how she always has uplifting thoughts to share.  Read it and see if it doesn't make you feel like your dreams are possible.

I've been thinking a lot about how I want this year to be.  I know myself well enough to not make grandiose resolutions.  I'd be doomed from the get-go!  Part of my hope for 2013 is to become a more positive person,  so there's no sense setting goals I'm not likely to reach.  Here's what I have decided is reasonable and attainable - finish what I start.  I pinned those words on Pinterest not long ago and they have been stuck in my head since then.  I'm pretty good at starting projects,  not so good at finishing.  I'm planning on using my newly positive outlook to complete some of those knitting projects that have been languishing and I'm going to finish cooking my way through the recipes I received in the Whole Foods Kitchen on-line course I took during the fall (she's starting a new session soon).  That's where I plan to begin.  We'll see where it takes me!

The sun is out today for the first time in a while.  I don't mind dark cloudy days so much,  but the sheep seem to be enjoying the sunshine and the chickens are deliriously happy to be out scratching around.  So,  we're all in a happy,  positive mood around the farm today.  See there,  I'm working on it already!