Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Critter Tour- Part Three!

Oh my beautiful, beautiful Greta...  such luxurious, silken white locks you have.

This is my "wild sheep".  As soft and beautiful as she is, she is also very flighty, skittish, um... she has a strong sense of self-preservation. When I go in to feed, she is always watching me, like I might all of a sudden leap onto her and start devouring her.  She is Navajo Churro crossed with Icelandic. I told that to a sheep person one time and they just asked Why?

I don't know why- I bought her with my original small flock of various "primitive" types- but I do love her fleece.  and her crazy personality!  She is a jumper (not, thankfully, of fences) but when I open the pen gate to let everyone out to graze, this girl jumps past me (five feet off the ground!) before she goes bounding off to nibble grass with everyone else. Very cute and endearing when you are ready for it, when you are in the flight path- not so much...

Greta is the sheep that nearly killed me.  Well that is really an exaggeration, she merely dumped me and almost broke my nose.  And it was entirely my fault (ok, so maybe not entirely but I am the one with the BIG BRAIN and the opposable thumbs).  This is what happened:

We had finished shearing everyone else. Greta is usually last because she is the most difficult to trick into the holding cell pen.  We got her in there, I put her little sheepy halter on and led her out to our shearing stand.  Lead is kind of the wrong word for it- barely contained a jumping, hopping, bounding bundle of sheep wool is more accurate. 

She settled right down once her head was secured in the stand and all went well, until it was time to take her out on the grass to do her belly.  As a horse owner, I know better than to stand directly in the path of travel, but I thought "she's just a sheep" and she DID NOT want to come out on the grass. Sooo... I got in front of her and gave a mighty tug on her lead.  Yes, you all know what happened.  She broke free of her frozen posture and bowled me over at the knees, face first into the ground.  A little shocking.  But, in my defense, I never let go of her!

My husband grabbed her lead, told me to go in the house and make sure I was OK.  He told me later that Greta continued jumping up at the end of her lead- her feet head high to him (and he stands nearly 6 feet!).  He was able to finish shearing her without my help and all I suffered from was a bloody nose.

and a little embarrassment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Critter Tour- Part Two

Mortimer- the Wonder Goat!

Yes, I know, he’s adorable.

Rather than follow any type of logical order, I am going from our oldest sheep to our youngest goat!  He’s just so stinkin’ cute, I couldn’t wait to write about him and share his picture.

We got baby Mortimer from some friends of ours who have a milk goat doe.  Mortimer was her buck kid from this Spring.  Being a boy doesn’t bode well for a dairy animal, especially when your mom is the only other goat!  We went over to visit one day and he followed us everywhere.  When I finally sat down on a log, he climbed right up in my lap and fell asleep…  Needless to say, even though we did not NEED another goat, we had to have this sweetie-pie.

Luckily his former owners were delighted to have a new home for him, especially once he was weaned and started jumping up on the propane tank, parked cars and head butting everything that moved.  We went to get him in our 2000 Plymouth Neon.  He rode in the back seat like he had been doing it his whole life.

Back in the small ruminant pen, he got picked on a lot since he was the new guy and little to boot.  So to make sure he got enough to eat, we devised this system for him:

He is up on top of the goat/sheep house.  Being the youngest and most agile amongst old, fat, lazy sheep has its advantages!

He grew up with free roam at his first home and still likes to come out and visit with us and help in any way (pulling down flower stalks through the fence, knocking over buckets of tools, even trying to get up on the food tables when we let him out during our annual Weaving Group potluck!)

He is a pure delight and I highly recommend a goat, if you have the inclination to own a farm animal!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Critter Tour- Part One

I had so much fun writing about BDR, that I decided to do a series of posts detailing all of our ranch critters. And since I was touted as blogging about fibery things in the Sandpoint Fiberarts Guild newsletter, I thought I would start with a tour of the small ruminant pen! (for our purposes that means sheep and goats)


My first subject is ol’ Spot. She is a Jacob sheep and as near as we can figure is between 9 and 10 years old. She is the matriarch of our small fiber herd and uses those spear-like horns to boss the others around.

My husband and I adore Spot. She is very people oriented, likes to be scratched in all those itchy spots that a sheep just can’t reach and (my personal favorite) lets out the loudest, most pathetic bleat if her people walk by without stopping to love on her. She opens her mouth wide enough to put a softball in there…

Here is another photo of her, with fleece:

And after shearing:

Yes, she is a little embarrassed… but much cooler! and don't her horns look even more impressive?!

I haven’t washed her 2010 fleece yet (it is taking awhile with 8 fleeces to clean!), but I had her fleece from last year milled into roving at the Going to the Sun Fiber Mill in Kalispell. It is a beautiful, soft grayish white.

Now all I need is the time to spin it all up!!!!

Next up:

Mortimer, the wonder goat!

Have a fleecy day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Farm life...

This is "BDR" aka

Big Damn Rooster.

He is a barred rock and king of the roost. I am guessing he weighs about 10 pounds, but who knows since you can't catch him!
We (meaning me, my husband and our hens) tolerate him because he protects our egg laying beauties. He even chased a coyote and made him drop his lunch (yes, one of our hens). He crows at all times of day and night and rubs the backs of the hens raw with his "loving attention", but you gotta love him anyway.

He has a little (and I mean that literally) competition from "Maxwell not so Smart", our other rooster. He is an Americana and strikingly beautiful, however he must be a little camera shy, as I looked through all of my photos and not one of him!! He got his name from his baby crow- it sounded exactly like the theme from Get Smart. The "not so" he earned by getting in the habit of running away from the coop at night, instead of going in with the others for night time safety...

What I really wanted to share was this photo:

A beautiful cup of calendula flowers. So lovely... sigh... I love the fall time, when the flowers are still blooming and it is not so hot. I harvest about 20 flower heads every week from my ramshackle garden. These are all volunteers and they are strong, healthy, beautiful, prolific, and (do I dare say?) Perfect.

I dry their petals and then I will use them in the soap I will make next month for Christmas (and all year!) gifting. A very satisfying endeavor, all the way around!!

Happy Weekend!!