Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fleece!!

So I dragged all of the fleece I bought yesterday out of the back of my truck and weighed it.  

Lol.

I now own approximately 185 pounds of raw Romney fleece.

That's a LOT.


It'll lose quite a bit of weight once it's "skirted" (gross bits around the edges removed) and washed.  

I experimented with skirting one fleece.  I had read a bit about it, but once I had the fleece on the table, I realized that I needed to do a lot more reading on the subject.  :P


I made some progress on this fleece, but I'm sure I have more to do.  I got rained out, so I stuffed all the bags of fleece back under the tonneau cover of my truck and went inside to do more research.

I'll have to decide if I want to wash the fleece and keep it to spin, or wash some to sell, or sell some raw...

Lol, my mom asked why I bought so many.  I told her that it's because it was a good deal, and because I'm an adventurous soul.

Perhaps a little too adventurous sometimes, but oh well.  :P

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Visited Paradise Today...

Paradise Farm, that is.  


I drove 2.5 hours to purchase some whole sheep fleeces, and Wayne, the owner, was kind enough to give me a tour as well.  

I got to meet GOATS!!!


These are registered Nubians, a dairy breed known for a high butterfat content.  I bought a couple half-gallons of frozen goat milk; one I'll drink, and the other I hope to use to try making goat milk soap or lotion sometime!  :P


They were very friendly - and rather nibbly.  :)


Lol, there were a few babies, but they were so wiggly I only got one decent shot:


I've been told that goats have a lot of personality, and I can see that it's true.  :)


There are more pigs on the farm, but I only met this one:


She's a two-month-old Gloucestershire Old Spot, a heritage breed.  She's for sale...I wonder if the neighbors would notice a pig in my back yard?  :D

There were also chickens:


There were ducks and turkeys, too, but I didn't get pictures of them.  I did buy a dozen turkey eggs, though...

And sheep - Romneys.  I now possess their fleece.  I hope they don't mind.  :P


(Wayne said that they're not normally penned up; they usually graze in the orchard, but he just sprayed the apple trees, and you're supposed to wait a few days after spraying before you let the sheep graze near them.)

Paradise Farm grows and sells raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apples, tart cherries, and grapes.  The guardian of the berries:


I asked if the "owl" really helps keep the birds away from the berries.  Wayne says that it does as long as you move it around a lot.

Then we climbed over a gate into the HUGE cow pasture.


The cows are Scottish Highlanders, a very hardy beef breed (though a couple have a dash of Hereford).  Some of these are for sale too...hmm...that would certainly cut down on my mowing this summer...  ;P

Curious cow:


Grouchy cow:


Baby cows:


Shaggy cow:


Spotted cow:


Busy cows:


On an entirely different note, and one that's even more exciting than cows, pigs and goats...Niece #3 was born early yesterday morning - lol, about 2 weeks late!  7 lbs, 10 oz., and seems to be healthy!  Meet little baby Colleen:


Lol, with all these nieces, I'll have to get a pony for my farm for when they come to visit!  :P

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Busy Day

I had a nice, busy day...it makes me happy when I get stuff done.  :)  

First, I mowed one section of the lawn.  It looks nice, but I do like an idea I had to let it turn into a nice little field full of gently-waving grass and native wildflowers.  There are actually a lot of flowers growing there - violets, wild strawberries, yarrow, little purple thingies whose name I forget, dandelions...sometimes, if I'm particularly neglectful, Daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and Asters.  Today I saw a few Lilies of the Valley too.  


But since a) we're right in town, and b) I live in the church parsonage, and c) my neighbor apparently likes the view of our yard...I decided to yield to the status quo for now and just mow those happy little flowers down.  :(  Maybe sometime I'll check with the church people (and the neighbor, lol), and see if anyone cares if I let that section of the yard go.  :P

Anyway...........I spent most of the rest of the morning working on preparing an area to build an enclosure for our garbage cans.  The bears, raccoons, Yeti, and skunks regularly tip our trash cans over and spread the contents across the yard, so I'm building a wooden thingie to try to prevent that.  It'll have a hinged lid so we can drop bags of trash straight into the cans from the porch, and doors on the front so we can take the trash cans out to bring them to the curb for pickup.  

As usual, it turned out to be more work than I would have thought, because I had to move a bunch of stuff from the area.  Add to that the fact that I went with my sister to get a prognosis on the remaining lifespan of her poor sad 2001 Chevy Tracker (getting rusty, but has at least another year or two of life - woohoo!), and went on a short walk to the Secret Pond with Dad, Timothy and Thane...and this is all I got done:


(With a little help from Dad, because he's an amazing guy who graciously drops everything when people ask him for help.)


I cut all the wood, anyway.  

Then I started cooking supper, took a shower, finished cooking supper, ate supper, and went to Prayer Meeting.  

(Supper was very yummy, by the way, if a tiny bit spicy for some of our family members.  I'll use less Cayenne next time.  :P  )

And now I've caught up on all my goat and Collie and Livestock Guardian Dog Facebook pages, and it's almost time for bed...so goodnight!!  :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Outing and a Goat Sighting

Mom and I went shopping today.  This was an outing that was promised to me for my birthday way back in December, and for a variety of reasons (weather, schedule conflicts, the fact that we're both homebodies, etc.), we simply didn't make it happen before now.  It was a nice day for an outing, though, and we both had lots of fun.

I bought a couple books, a pair of jeans, and some shirts for me and my sister.  Mom mostly bought stuff for the grandkids - one of her favorite things to do.  :)  (Although I'm often guilty on that count too - baby clothes and toys are WAY too adorable!!)

Oh, lol, I just remembered that I did buy one thing for my oldest niece - a Thomas the Tank Engine tricycle!  I don't think she's ever tried to ride a bike before, so it should be fun to see her first attempt.

On the way south (we drove an hour and half to Portsmouth, NH), we pulled off to look at the outside of a house I'm vaguely interested in checking out.  It's a bit more of a drive than I'd prefer, and it would need a LOT of work, but it's got over four acres of land, and it's on a nice little side road.  Maybe worth looking into...

Mom also spotted some goats on the way down, and as we were driving home, I kept an eye out for them.  When we saw them, I did a U-turn so I could get a better look.  Lol, I felt a little weird, but I did get a few pictures from a polite distance.  The kids were so cute!!






Thanks, Mom, it was super fun spending the day with you!!!  I love you!!  :)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ten Months

Thane turned 10 months old today.


He weighs 57 pounds now, so he gained about 2 pounds in the last couple of months.

He's a good boy...we've come a long ways, and we've got a ways to go, but we're getting there!  :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Case of the Disappearing Money...

Actually, I know exactly where my money went...it's in a little wooden box on my lawn, and it looks suspiciously like dirt.  

AKA...starting up a raised-bed garden is EXPENSIVE!!  

Lol, my initial plan was to start "small" - maybe six 4x4' raised beds on this patch of lawn, with little gravel or mulch pathways between them.


Today I built the first box.  One plus - the wood was free!  I cut it into four-foot lengths, and then ripped it to six inches wide (despite my Dad's muttering about deep roots, my Square Foot Gardening book cheerfully assures me that the veggies will be perfectly happy in six inches of soil).


I would also like to point out the irony of starting this project today - it hit 90 degrees out, and it was sunny.  We seem to have a knack in my family for picking the hottest days to work outside.  See?  My dad and brother were out there too!


(They're building a bunkbed for Niece/Granddaughter #1, because Niece/Granddaughter #3 will be arriving any day, and the only direction left for expansion in the little girls' room is UP!  Niece/Granddaughter #1 is excited at the prospect of being "up in the sky," while #2 apparently believes that she will be giving all her worldly possessions to #3.  And she's happy about it.  Hey, she's a pretty easy-going toddler.  :P )

So Dad, Timothy and I shared the circular saw.  I only sawed into the dirt a little bit before Dad noticed and showed me how to adjust the depth of the cut.  :P


It really is a pretty simple project: wood, landscaping fabric, and corner brackets.  I'm sure there are endless, Pinterest-worthy iterations, but I'm keeping it about as simple as you can get.  Lol, I didn't even use all the screws that came with the corner brackets!  :P


Here's a tip for you: if the day is at all windy, or if you just like to do things the easy way instead of the obtuse way...cut your landscape fabric a few inches larger than you need, and trim it afterward - or find some way to tack down the corners.  I spent several minutes tugging and tucking the fabric under the edges of the box.

Finally, I mixed up the soil - 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite.  That vermiculite's a killer - $21 bucks for a bag - and it ALL went into this little wooden box!  :(

At least it looks pretty:


And I will say, it does end up being a very light, fluffy soil mix, as promised in my trusty-if-overly-cheerful-Square-Foot-Gardening book.  

All in all, the soil mix cost me the better part of $50.  Well.  At least the maintenance costs shouldn't be too bad.  I'm not sure my finances can handle five more boxes, though, so I'll need to scale back my veggie plans.  I'll probably just do one more, so that this one doesn't look so lonely.

Oh well.  The idea is to have Niece #1 help me with this garden, and I'm sure she'll enjoy it even if it's just a couple boxes.

We can always expand next year!  :)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Large Dogs, Small Dogs, and Painted Signs

I forgot that I took these photos.  They're from last week...Thane and I met up with our friend Boomie and her little dog Dexter for a walk in the woods.  Once we got there, though, we also crossed paths with another dog Thane and I had met maybe a month ago.  Meet Puma:


Believe it or not, he's still a baby,  He's a Leonberger, and even though he's younger than Thane by a few months, he outweighs him by 20-30 pounds.  He seems like a nice dog - like most of the giant breeds, he's pretty chill.

The dogs had a good time playing.  Dexter could care less about the other dogs, but Thane and Puma spent most of the walk wrestling and chasing each other.  I don't know about Puma, but Thane was pooped by the end of the walk!!


Today, instead of a walk in the woods, Thane and I had several Frisbee sessions in the back yard.  Tomorrow I'll have to take him on a nice long walk.

This afternoon I randomly sat down at my desk and did something I haven't done for quite a while - I exercised my slightly dubious artistic skills!  :D  


Mom is very generously calling them "Folk Art."  

I kind of like them...and I kind of think that I need to work on getting the animals more anatomically correct and make the lettering a bit smoother.

It was fun, though!  :)

Tomorrow, the weather's supposed to be nice, so hopefully I'll get to some outdoor projects - including laying out the borders of the garden I hope to plant with my niece!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Plan A

So I'll still be getting a puppy this fall, or possibly early in 2018.  I'm going back to Plan A, which was a puppy from the English Shepherd Windy Hills Bonnie.


This is definitely bittersweet - I feel bad about how easy it is for me to find another puppy when Leah's owner will never get her back.

On the other hand, I am excited for this puppy.  I did really, really want a Bonnie pup someday, and I was wondering how I would work that into my breeding program.

This dog will be the sire of my next puppy:


This is Shady Grove's The Lone Ranger, aka "Ranger," and he's also a purebred English Shepherd - so I could actually register the puppy as an English Shepherd, and hopefully also as an Old-Time Scotch Collie when she turns a year old.

Bonnie is 40 pounds, and Ranger is 45, so my pup will be nice and small.  I'd definitely like to keep my lines Thane's size or smaller (he's around 55 pounds so far).  

My puppy might look like one of these:


My order of preference for color would be a clear sable (like Bonnie), then a tricolor (the center pup above), and finally a shaded sable (like Ranger).  Although, ultimately, I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever I get.  :P

If this has put anyone else in the mood for a puppy, my friend Brina's two Scotch Collie females are in labor right now!!  (on Mother's Day, lol!)  If timing wasn't an issue (the pups will be ready to go during our busiest time of the year at work), I'd have been sorely tempted to go with one of Brina's pups.  Here's her website: https://onegoodfarmdog.wordpress.com/  

Well, my current pooch is currently sad to be in his crate, because he doesn't get a ton of exercise on Sundays, so I should probably go throw a toy for him.  :P

I hope everyone had a great Lord's day - and Mother's Day!!  :)

*Credit for the photos goes to Helen Holbrook and to Ranger's owner!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sad News

When I got on my computer this morning, I had a message stating that Finger Lakes Leah (who would have become the mother of my next puppy in a few months) was hit by a car last night and died.

*Photo taken by Leah's owner, not me.
I've never actually had a pet die while it was in my care (except for a Gerbil when I was around 10), so I really can't imagine what the owners are feeling right now.  I never got the chance to meet Leah, as she lived in NY state, but it sounds like she was a wonderful dog.

Sorry for a sad post.  It's just weird to think that I've been daydreaming of my future puppy for so long - and now it's back to the drawing board.  And it's really, really sad to think of Leah's family missing their beloved pet right now.  

I'm glad that God's in control, and that He makes no mistakes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spring in the Woods

I'm experimenting with a natural tick repellent for Thane - one made with essential oils instead of scary chemicals.  I'll let you know how it goes, although I estimate it's only a couple weeks until the black flies and mosquitoes start getting bad, so we may stick to the sidewalks after that point anyway. 

It's still nice in the woods now, though.


Autumn is my favorite, but Spring is a really, really close second.  I think maybe it's because things change so rapidly - you never know what you're going to see from day to day.

I found four species of wildflower blooming already.  Trillium:


Violets:

Possibly the "Alpine Marsh Violet"??
Trailing Arbutus, AKA "Mayflower":


Goldthread (I think...):


(Thanks to my "Wildflowers of the White Mountains" book, without which I would have doubtless spent quite a bit of time on Google searching for the names of these flowers...)

I found this thing too.  I don't know if it's a flower, or what else it might be, but it's kind of cool looking:


Oh!  The fiddleheads are popping up too.  We sell pickled fiddleheads where I work, and I believe you can also saute them.  If I remember right, though, the ferns are not edible when they're full grown.  Funky-looking little things...


Thane got the zoomies again, this time because we were walking through a swampy bit of trail.  You'd think I never exercised him!






Most of the areas he sprinted through were briar bushes...I'm impressed so far at the protective capabilities of his coat!

A couple more photos:




Spring is going by too quickly...but I will say that I'm glad that I have Thane to get me outside and exploring the woods again.


Maybe in another Spring or two, he'll be herding some Butterscotch Farm sheep!  :D  

Oh, almost forgot...Rug update:


One bummer: it seems to be cupping...I'm not sure if I've been stitching too tight or what.  I'm hoping I don't have to rip out several hours' worth of stitching to fix it.  :(