Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just Look at That Face

I love this crazy animal. I mean really, how could I resist. She has such an attractive quality.

As in she attracts everything under the sun to stick to her wool. Every day I walk the pasture to look for the plants with the little velcro balls. Every day I think I've found them all. Every day Rose proves me wrong. Every day I pluck them off her.

I now think she's doing it on purpose. Does it look like she's smiling to you?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Can you find Old Calico Jack? (you can click on the picture to bigify it)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's a Lot Like...

playing Peek-A-Boo with a terrorist. Wacky Wilma Wench has hatched two babies this week. However she really doesn't want anyone to see them.

"Back away from the cage lady or I'll rip that camera outta your hands."

"Nobody messes with my babies."

Luckily for me one of her babies is a curious little thing. Bad for him though. If he gets caught peeking at me she pecks him on the head. Poor little bugger. I'm not even sure what the other one looks like.

On the other side of the coop Minnie and her three little ones are ready to come out of the cage later today. Hopefully Pearl won't abscond with them.

I have a security team standing by to sound the alarm just in case.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lap Chickens

What? You've never seen a lap chicken before?

The engineer laughs at me every time I go visit my girls. They come running and Beth and Sammie always want to sit in my lap and be petted.

Seems normal to me...of course, maybe that's why they call me the Chicken Whisperer?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Let's Talk About Applique

While I'm plucking the little velcro balls from the sheep's wool I can't help but think about what to make with it once I shear them next spring. I'm thinking it will be fun to try making wool felt to use in wool applique projects. I'm working on a block of the month project now. It is one of Lori Smith's Fit-to-Frame patterns.

I really enjoy wool applique. It's about as easy as it gets. Just a simple blanket stitch and your done.

Julie-Ann and I have been discussing the possibility of using the blanket stitch for Lori Smith's Heritage Sampler pattern done in cottons. I think it could work. And I think it would look especially nice with some beautiful variegated pearl cotton like this. But a single solid color thread could make it more traditional, too. I think it would depend on the look your going for.

I'm certainly no expert, but the old-fashioned needle turn method isn't as difficult as some make it out to be either. The trick is to finger press on the drawn line leaving a crease. It makes turning with the needle SO much easier.

This orange peel pattern would make a good beginner project (yes, I'm talking to you Milah). It's going together more quickly than I imagined.

So either way, Julie-Ann, I think we can do it. We just need to dive in instead of dipping our toes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's a Cover Up

They're not really sheep. Oh sure, they look all sweet and innocent.

They might seem like they're just hanging out doing sheepy things.

But in fact. Rose aka "The Boss" is a mafia mastermind. A leader in the criminal underworld. She runs a highly sophisticated organized crime syndicate. Just look at her plotting her next job.

Dorothy aka "The Mouth" plays the watchman. "Da coast is clear. Do it now."

While Blanche aka "Baby Face" uses her highly developed lock picking skills to gain entry into the establishment.

And where is Sophia while all this is happening? Wasn't she supposed to be keeping these girls in line?

"I din' see nuthin. Couldna been my girls. They were wit me da whole time."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Maybe She's Born With It

Or maybe it's Mabelline? Check out those lashes!

Can you say Supermodel material?

I mean she does kind of have that Brooke Shields eyebrow thing going on don't you think?

I have a feeling I'll need to keep an eye on Rose to prevent her from sneaking off to the runways of New York.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend in Review

Skippy went to his new home. His new name will be Cornelius. Did you know that's what the Corn Flakes rooster's name was?

And you know what? I was able to convince the nice people to take Lazarus/Liza/Tootsie as well. They were planning to see if maybe their daughter would want him. But they reported back to me that by the time she got to their house to see him they had decided they couldn't part with him. They'll be keeping them both. And his new name will be Sebastian. I would imagine when they got home it was a lot like a scene from one of those teen movies. You know, when the boys are walking along and discover a beach full of bikini-clad girls. Yep, sounds like they'll be quite happy in their new home.

In other barnyard news, Dorothy seems to have realized that sulking was getting her nowhere. She still doesn't want me touching her much. Just a scratch under the chin occasionally. There also seems to be a bit of pecking order business going on between her and Sophia. Sophia is definitely winning. Dorothy isn't happy about it. But all in all I think she's coming around.

Inside the coop, we had to do the baby shuffle. Pearl broke out of her prison cell and tried kidnapping them again. We solved that problem by switching everyone around and putting Minnie and the babies in the cage. If Pearl manages to break in there I'll have no choice but to send her to the big house.

I get to mark something off my to do list. I finally got around to making my black raspberry jam. Mmm, mmm, good.

and the secret mission project is rolling along nicely. But if I show it you'd have to eat your computer monitor.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dear Doggy Diary

It's me, Lucy.

I used to be the princess around here. I used to get all the petting. I slept in the master's bed. I shared the master's couch. Then along came that cat. And I was told I had to "share". That was okay though, she would knock the barbecue chicken wings off the counter to me when nobody was looking. And sometimes she could be kind of fun. So I decided she could stay. But the next thing you know, the big dog showed up. And I had to keep him company instead of sleeping in the bed. They said there wasn't enough room anymore for everybody. I had to "share" my treats and toys and everything.

Then there were the chickens. They would be a lot of fun to chase, but I'm not allowed to do that. I get in trouble if I do that. And Mom spends all her time with them instead of me. Now there are four more animals around here. I suppose they're going to expect me to share all my stuff with them too! It's just not fair! I don't even think they're real dogs!

Nobody loves me,
Everybody hates me,
I think I'll go eat some worms.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Snip Snip Here and a Snip Snip There

I feel the need to preface this post with a disclaimer. When I was growing up we had nearly every traditional farm animal you can think of. We had chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, goats, pigs, rabbits, a horse, countless cats and dogs and even a ferret and a pet raccoon. My aunt and uncle raised cattle. The only farm animal I have no real previous experience with is sheep. Thinking back now I don't know why we never had any, but we just didn't. So I just want to make it clear, I've never given a sheep a haircut before. Not ever. As a matter of fact I've never given anything a haircut. So what you are about to see is not my fault.

Here's Sophia (the sheep formerly known as Under the Son Golda) shortly after we brought her home. She had been shorn early in the spring before she had her lambs, but her natural break in her wool hadn't occurred yet so she has little mats clinging to the tips of her wool. Theresa has about two hundred sheep to deal with and just hadn't gotten around to trimming her up yet. Luckily that gives me the chance to try my hand at it.

I had no idea Sophia would just stand there and let me do it. I didn't even have to put her on a halter. She actually seemed to like it. It must have felt like a day at the spa. Granted, I just snipped away at whatever part of her body she felt like getting close to me. She led the way but eventually we got her half way done. We then decided that was enough for one day.

The next time I sat in the pasture she came back to have her bottom half finished. It proved to be more difficult to determine where I should be cutting compared to the top so some of it I was just eyeballing. There's still a little bit on her belly but I'm not sure how to get to it without standing on my head. I have some plans around here somewhere to build a stanchion. That of course doesn't help us today. So maybe it can just stay where it is. Unless, of course, someone knows of a good reason I absolutely have to get it off there?

Overall I think we both really enjoyed the experience. I don't think she looks too awful. Although I'm hoping a few rinse sessions in the rain will help hide my blatantly obvious beginner cut a little? I just love the color of her fleece though. I see a matching hat and scarf. What do you see?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who Doesn't love Fat Chubby Cheeks?

There are more babies in the coop. Millie has hatched out at least three of the eggs she's been sitting on. Unfortunately Pearl tried to kidnap them and call them her own. We had two hens, the babies and the eggs all crammed into a tiny little bantam nest box. Of course trying to remove Pearl caused wide-spread panic and chaos. You have to be careful when when chaos ensues and bantam babies are involved. They're so tiny you could easily step on them. One even managed to leave the coop and enter the run. I on the other hand managed to get in a serious workout trying to catch the little bugger then trying to catch Pearl. I imagine it looked a lot like a Family Circus cartoon. The baby is now back safe in the nest and Pearl is in the slammer until she promises not to kidnap them again. She might be in there for awhile.

The babies are part of my ongoing experiment to get cheeky chicks like Jack's boy here. I really need to come up with a name for him and his sister. Nothing has come to me yet.

The fluffy cheeks are called muffs. Makes me think of the muff I had when I was a kid. It was a tube made of soft white fur and had a large string attached to it. You wore it around your neck and kept your hands inside of it to keep them worm. Man, I loved that thing. It was so soft.

Oh yeah, anyway, I'm attempting to narrow down my bantams to chickens with muffs. There are so many breeds out there one really must try to focus. So I've decided I'm only keeping the ones with fat, chubby cheeks.

That's bad news for old Lazarus or Liza or Tootsie or whatever his name is. Or maybe it's good news? Maybe some kind person will come and take him away to a coop of his own filled with beautiful bantam hens? That's what has happened to little Skippy here. Someone is picking him up tomorrow morning.

"Thank you, Lord. Thank you. I promise to be the best rooster ever. Thank you. You won't regret this. Oh, thank you."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anybody Know a Good Therapist?

I think Dorothy needs to see somebody. She has stopped her bawling and wailing since Sophia has arrived, but now she seems depressed. It's almost as if Sophia told her "Hey kid, this is it. Get used to it. There ain't no going back home."

I think she misses her momma and her friends. She sighs a lot and does this dramatic flopping her head down thing. She's acting like a dejected teenager forced to move to a new city right before the prom. Who knows, maybe she left behind a boy she'd been making eyes at? Poor girl.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Must Confess

It's easy to sit out here in blog land and pretend we're perfect. Perfect children, perfect house, perfect pets, perfect garden but I have a confession to make. I weeded my garden once in early spring and I haven't looked back since. (I'll pause here why you gasp.) There are weeds taller than me. Okay maybe that's not saying much since I'm barely over five foot tall but they are WAY taller than I am. So that is something.

I'm so thankful Mother Nature has my back on this one. Even though I have completely neglected my gardening duties, she's still putting on a heck of a show. She does it so much better than I do I think I'm going to relinquish control over to her more and more. The Coreopsis here for instance. It's lovely, but I hate deadheading it. It's out of here next year.

The heirloom phlox on the other hand can stay. If it didn't get mildew in this wet and dreary year than maybe it's a keeper.

The white variety, too.

The ditch lilies didn't put on a great show this year. I think they must like it dry. Oh, and maybe the 100 pound dog ripping them up by the roots didn't help either.

The Rose of Sharon just started. They're beautiful, but I sure wish they were somewhere else in the yard. They've been there for over 100 years though so I guess they're staying. Can you imagine the size of the root ball on these puppies?

Sweet peas run amok along my entrance garden. There is a fence there for them to climb but they don't. I give up trying to make them. Have at it sweet peas, do as you please.

One of my personal favorites, the hydrangeas. Always, always love them.

So what's blooming in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Have a New BFF

Just don't tell the cat. She won't be happy to hear that news at all.

Sophia must be the sweetest ewe that ever lived. She's like a grass-eating dog in high heels. I had done a lot of research before deciding what breed of sheep I wanted. One of the reasons I decided on the Shetlands was because they were supposed to be good-natured but I had no idea they would actually demand attention as much as they do.

Sophia has some of last years wool left over and stuck to the tips of her fleece. The Shetland breed actually sheds their wool every year naturally so if you sheer them ahead of that natural break in the wool, you end up with these little scraps called skodda. You can see them in the photo below. I need to remove them so they won't mat. Should be great practice for me before I have to really shear them next spring.

Anyway, when I sit in one of those plastic lawn chairs in the pasture Sophia will come over and rest her head in my lap. How sweet is that? She'll stand there forever letting me pet her and pull those little scraps of wool off by hand! She's going to be a great candidate for rooing next spring. For the non-sheepy people reading, that's the process of shearing them by literally hand-plucking the wool after they start to shed it.

It's a slow process. It might take me all summer, but I'm definitely going to try it. She and I both seem to enjoy it.