Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ten Minutes....

I have a confession to make. I took these photos yesterday morning ~ not today. I haven't even got dressed and gone outside yet this morning.

But yesterday, when I looked out the window, the morning fog was just beginning to lift. My favorite time for taking pictures!
Unfortunately, by the time I threw on some clothes, grabbed the camera and ran outside, the fog was almost gone. This photo is for Elizabeth (Diva's Grandma).

Although the glorious fog dissipated much too quickly,a beautiful, crisp, Fall day was awakening.

I decided to move the girls over to the side paddock for the day.

Zaria and Zest

Dream's mom: Zodiak

My little "Savanna Banana"

And of course...

I'm cleaning my house, visiting (spinning & skirting fleeces!) with Terry, and starting to PACK today... I can't believe I'll be in Rome, this time next week!

Dream says...

..."I'm sure gonna miss Mom! She's going to take pictures of some Italian sheep for me. I wonder how one says "Baaa" in Italian ???"

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What'll they think of next.........?

OMG ~ you have GOT to check this out: SHEEP POO PAPER!!! Yup, it's exactly what it says it is. I got the link from a post on one of my knitting groups (Sheep Thrills).

Dream says...
..."I think Mom got up too early this morning...."

Friday, September 22, 2006

On (and OFF!) the needles...

Want to see what I've been doing?

I've been a busy girl! I finished knitting my Beautiful Baby Girl's scarf and have started the matching fingerless gloves. I've never made any kind of gloves or mittens before so this is new to me. I got the pattern for the fingerless gloves from Karen Byron and hope they turn out with the yarn (Debbi Bliss/alpaca silk) that I'm using.

I've also been spinning up a storm on my Roberta Electric Spinner ~ I LOVE it! This is the very first time that I've finished spinning an entire fleece, before knitting with it! It's a blend of Shetland (Rose ~ black/iset ewe) and mohair. I'm thinking it would make a nice outer wear jacket... (something else I've never made!)

Of course, while I've been doing all this spinning and knitting, my house is falling apart. Not really ~ but it is a bit on the messy side... Terry's coming over to spin tomorrow (and bringing ALPACA fleeces!) so I better get some cleaning done. It helps to have a little motivation. ;-)

Dream says......"Mom didn't even come out and play with me today! I hardly ever even SEE her anymore...."

That's not QUITE true. I did move the girls to the side paddock for the day and will sit out and pet them for a bit when I go out to move them back to the paddock by the barn. ........right NOW!
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nicer pictures...

My Princess (that would be my oldest daughter, Pam) asked me to get the yucky pictures of bloody sheep off of my blog...(yes, this is the same daughter who objected to the 'udder shots', in the spring) ;-)
It appears that Rosie agrees with Pam...

I've been trying to update this blog, ever since I got Pam's email this morning, but once again Blogger wouldn't let me upload pictures. This is getting old!

I thought it would be fun to show you a couple of my more interesting colored fleeces. This first picture is of "Bluff Country Zaria". Zaria is registered as a black & white (HsT) but I think she is actually SHAELA. I know that Zaria's dam (Sheltering Pines Savannah) definitely throws modified lambs and Zaria's fleece is not the same shade of black as my other 'blacks'. She does have some ISET fibers but her black is more of a dark, steely grey.

Another Iset ewe that I have is Dream's dam: "Bluff Country Zodiak". Zodiak is a black/iset (born with a pronounced bleset stripe on her head. Although Zodiak's fleece contains a lot of white fibers, she does NOT carry the Ag (greying) gene.

Zodiak's fleece is always one of my very first ones to sell. It is LUSCIOUS!
Here's a close up, showing the mix of black and white fibers.

One of the things I enjoy the most about my Shetlands is how they are constantly changing. Of course, my very favorite thing is how sweet and friendly they are. I sat with the girls for a while today and I wish I had more hands to pet them with as a few start pushing and shoving the others because they don't want to share the attention!

Dream says......"It's that darned ZEST ! She keeps trying to push me and Rosie away from Mom. But I just snuggle right in on Mom's lap and she won't let Zest push me away...."

Monday, September 18, 2006

'Tis the Season.....

For Testosterone levels to rise! Here is a series of photos that I took several weeks ago. (click on any photo to see larger image)

This was pretty much a mock battle. Even though the boys connected with enough force to lift Bravo's hind feet off the ground!

No one was hurt and the boys went back to grazing side-by-side.

Things are apparently getting a bit more serious. This is what I discovered when I went out to see my rams this morning.

Paco's got a pretty nasty gash over his left eye and a matching slash above his right. Bravo looks like most of the blood on him is from Paco. The only actual injury I could see on Bravo is a scrape on his nose.

I much prefer the relative calm and peace of the ewe pasture. Although, even the girls are doing a bit of head banging. It must be the cool nights.
I use animal crackers to move my girls from one paddock to another. I simply open their gate (with the bucket of cookies in my hand) and walk over to the new area I want them in and throw a few handfuls of cookies into the air. The girls rush into the new paddock and search for the elusive animal crackers. Works slick! ;-) I moved the girls farther away from the boys today, in hopes of minimizing the skirmishes but I suspect it's going to be a long fall....

Dream says....

..."I'm sure glad I don't live with those boys!"

P.S. I tried to post this earlier today but blogger wouldn't let me upload any photos. Maybe I'm using too many?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Not really a secret.....

This is my Beautiful Baby Girl. (a.k.a. "Katie", my youngest daughter).

During Katie's senior year at college, I gave her (as a combination 21st birthday and graduation from college present) a "semester abroad". Katie chose Italy as the place she wanted to live and study in. She did the most remarkable job of sharing her adventure with her family! We got almost daily e-mails and TONS of pictures of her life in Italy. It was almost as good as being there!

This really never was intended to be a secret. It's just that it was SO big ~ SO exciting, that I never could figure out how to talk about it on here. I got an e-mail from my daughter, this morning, in response to one that I sent her, discussing my inability to post about this most incredible thing that's about to happen to me, that said:
..."I haven't checked it yet, but in case you haven't posted: I think just blurting
out, oh yea im going to italy, is a good way to put it. Let other people ask
the questions. Its much easier to answer questions about whats going on and
how you feel than it is to dictate a narrative. And by the way, I still have
the unreal feeling, and I've already been there! It's just like a whole-
nother world, and I cant wait to show it to you! I've met several people in
the cities, out and about, already who've traveled europe after undergrad.
college, and everyone raves about italy - - its really like magic"

A few weeks ago, Katie drove out to my house to tell me that she had to go back to Italy. And that she wanted to take me with her! I can't begin to tell you the shock/joy/excitement/amazement/thrill/disbelief that swept over me. Quite literally, for days, I walked around muttering: "Oh my God!". That's all I could say!! ME an unknown shepherdess in Minnesota, going to ITALY???? No way. But it is real. My Beautiful Baby Girl (her nickname since she was a baby) ~ "La Mia Bella Bambina" in Italian ;-) wants to share her dream with me. To say that I am honored that she would want to take her mother along would be an understatement.

I think to really understand the significance of this, you'd have to know that we are not a "well to do" family. I really couldn't afford to send Katie to Italy for a semester of college. I took out a loan (on a CREDIT CARD!) to pay for it. Don't worry ~ I got a great interest rate and the loan is almost paid off. But I was so proud of my Beautiful Baby Girl for how hard she'd worked to put herself through college that I wanted to give her something special ~ something that would impact the rest of her life. Now she's giving it back to ME.

In 13 days, Katie and I will be departing for Italy. We're going to spend a couple of days/nights in Rome and then rent a car and tour Tuscany. One of the planned highlights of our trip is staying at a B&B in Tuscany and going horse-back-riding through the mountains and olive groves! I've even "Googled" for a few yarn shops in Rome and Florence!!

It's still not real. But it is exciting. Sometimes overwhelming. But oh-so-wonderful!!!

Dream says......"I don't suppose there will be room for ME on the plane? That's OK, I'm not really too keen at the thought of flying. I'll miss Mom but know she'll have a wonderful time. Hey Katie ~ how do you say "DREAM" in Italian???"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I needed that...

I took the day off work today. Have you ever had so many good things happening in your life that you were so overwhelmed that you almost couldn't function? That's kind of where I'm at right now. Life is good. But I needed to take a break. So I stayed home and played with my sheep today.

Fall is definitely in the air in the Bluff Country. I moved the girls to fresh pasture and gave Phoebe a hair cut (she looked like a swamp creature). At times it was difficult, trimming Phoebe's fleece because Dream kept squeezing in between Phoebe and I because she wanted my attention. Not just a wee bit spoiled? I have to admit, I loved it. She actually likes it when I give her hugs.

In addition to playing with my girls and trimming Phoebe, I also got some mowing done and I've started KNITTING again! What a treat that is! I'm finishing up a pink, alpaca/wool scarf (Debbi Bliss Yarn) that I'm making for my Beautiful Baby Girl. When the scarf is done I want to make a hat and mittens to match. (I've never made a hat or mittens before). I even sat and READ for about an hour this morning. I could get used to days like this.... ;-)

The sheep are also enjoying the cooler weather. Alice and Phoebe seem to be establishing a friendship. I've seen Alice rub heads with other ewes before ~ I'm not sure if it's a gesture of friendship or some kind of status display. But there didn't seem to be any hostility on the part of either of the girls.

I love the variety of colors in Shetland sheep!

I think I'll go bake some lemon bars. I have a date with the T.V. set (and my knitting!) tonight ~ Survivor's back!!

Dream says......
..."Mom's got a really, REALLY big secret that she's going to try to tell you tomorrow!"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

There's NO place like home.......


"Oh, my Gosh! Mom & Dad put me in a trailer with Rosie and her mom and a WHOLE BUNCH of boys (us girls had our own pen, so the boys couldn't bother us) and we went for a really long ride and got out at a strange place where mom put me in a little pen with Rosie and Zanex and NO GRASS for TWO DAYS!!! We had really sweet, fresh, grass hay but it's just not the same as ripping the grass as it's growing. There were Ka-ZILLIONS of nice people there. Many of them came up to me and said 'Hi'. They knew me from this blog and were so happy to meet me in 'person'... ;-) They petted me and told me how pretty I looked and some even gave me cookies! That was fun. But then Mom put halters on Rosie and me and made us walk in a big ring with lots of other ewe lambs. Everyone was crying for their mommies ~ it was really noisy! I was fine ~ in fact, I was strutting around, pretty proud of myself until some strange lady came up and stuck her finger in my mouth (after sticking it in EVERYONE ELSE'S MOUTH!) and tried to touch me in a private place! Well, I was certainly NOT going to stand for THAT and neither was Rosie! Fortunately, the lady didn't make us go to the front of the line, where she kept mauling all those poor lambs. It was disgusting! Mom got me out of there as fast as she could and promised I won't have to go back. I liked it much better in the stall with all the nice people giving me cookies. Poor Diamond had to go back in the ring a WHOLE BUNCH of times! People were saying something about him winning "First Place Ram Lamb" and "Reserve Champion Ram". Poor guy. Bravo had to go back several times too. They did something called "Second Place Yearling Ram" to him. It must have been awful because I heard Mom say that the ram that BEAT him also won at the Indiana Shetland Show and the Michigan Fiber Fest. He must be REALLY STRONG. I'm glad Bravo's OK.

And I'm REALLY glad to be back home! The first thing I did was run up to my mom and see if she'd let me nurse. (She would, but I really didn't want any ~ I just wanted to know that she'd let me if I wanted to). Poor Rosie. Her mom didn't come home with us. She left with a nice lady who also took Hershey. At least she has someone she knows to keep her company, where ever she is.... I'm going to let Rosie hang around with me and my Mom so she doesn't get too lonely without her mom around. Mom says she's very proud of me"

There really IS no place like home! We had a wonderful time at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, Midwest Shetland Sheep Breeders Association Shetland show, but it is SO good to be home! Who woulda thunk showing sheep could be so exhausting??? (she said as she sat at her computer desk, wearing her back brace & medicated with Naproxin Sodium ~ and I won't even mention the Brady/Diet Coke I'm sipping!)

I was very proud of my sheep. They walked SO nicely on halter. Of course, Dream's right, none of them were about to let the judge actually TOUCH them..... Oh well. The boys did quite well. I was thrilled with Diamond winning a huge ram lamb class and being named Reserve Champion ram. Not bad for his debut! And Bravo absolutely charmed the crowd! Every time I went to the stalls, there was someone standing by Bravo, absolutely amazed at how big and beautiful and FRIENDLY he is. Bravo would poke his nose out between the bars of his stall and close his eyes and wag his tail whenever someone scratched his chin. What a ham.

We came home minus two ram lambs and Zanex. That was rough. But it is part of raising sheep and I'm learning to deal with it. I miss Zanex though...
I'm always happy when my ram lambs go to good homes. And I suspect Hershey and Zanex will make some REALLY pretty babies...Doc (Bluff Country Paradox) went to a lady that liked him so much that she bought three ewes, just so she NEEDED a ram!! She didn't have any sheep but fell in love with Doc! How cool is that? ;-)

What a great turnout for the 4th annual MSSBA show! I met lots of new people, made some new friends and reconnected with old. Shetland people are SO nice. Sorry for no pictures ~ as usual, I was so busy I didn't even think about my camera.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Boys' Day to Shine...

I almost didn't bathe Bravo. But Terry came out to help me and I decided that it would be nice to have his HST markings all shiny and bright. Look how gorgeous his striped horns look all cleaned up!!

I like my rams to be very 'regal' and Bravo sure did seem to think he was pretty hot stuff, after his bath! He strutted around like King of the Mountain while we let him dry, in the front yard ~ the girls were in the side paddock so he was showing off for them ;-)

Perhaps not quite so GRAND , but handsome, none-the-less, Rocky sure looked a lot better after his bath!
I thought Rocky was sold, but the sale fell through, so I'll be bringing him to the MSSBA show in hopes of finding him a new home. His broken horn is growing back VERY nicely and his fleece is absolutely exquisite....

Rocky is still wet in these pictures so his fleece hasn't "fluffed" back up yet. I can't wait to see him when he's dry...

I didn't bathe all the boys. Just Bravo & Rocky. The moorits and blacks are fine. I just wanted the white to look white on these two.

Dream says......"I'm thinking that BRAVO is looking MIGHTY good"!!!

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Dream and Rosie stand tied to the handles on the Jeep, awaiting their baths...Next weekend, we'll be showing several of our sheep at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, Midwest Shetland Sheep Breeders' Association (MSSBA) show. For the first time, I've decided to bathe some of the sheep before the show. I'm doing it a week in advance so that the coat has time to regain it's normal lock structure ~ but, hopefully, not so far in advance that they just end up dirty again...

I soaked each of the girls down with the wand, attachment I use to water my hanging baskets. It worked slick! You can see how much they LOVED getting rinsed off.

Notice how dirty the water running off of Rosie is. After soaking them thoroughly, I used my watering can to sprinkle water with "wool wash" added to it, over the wet ewe lambs. I let that soak in for about 10 minutes while I washed their faces and legs with a wash cloth, with baby shampoo on it.

A final rinse and they're done! You can see that Dream was thrilled. ;-)

The girls 'jump started' the drying process by shaking enthusiastically. Then we went for a walk down the road...

It's amazing how much water those fleeces hold onto! The girls are still damp 4 hours later...

I'm not sure if I did it "right". Nobody admits to bathing their Shetlands before a show. Yet, I know for a fact that MANY breeders do. And I think they look nice. So, I decided to try it this year too. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Dream says......."It's been a rough weekend "!!


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