Friday, January 09, 2015

From Carlisle to Bristol train station.....then

Jenny loaded us all up and we headed to the Carlisle train station.  The train took us to Bristol and there we had a bit on confusion concerning which of the 2 train stations we were to meet Lesley Beazer and ended up there for about 3 hours before it got all hashed out.  Sue Watson generously volunteered Tim's services and he picked us up and whisked us off to Lesley's house for an amazing meal with Maurice & Gilly Wakeling, Sue Watson, our hero, Tim and Lesley.  
Carlisle train station-lovely place.

Garrett being a seasoned British traveler waiting for our train

Lesley Beazer.......Here we come!
I loved Lesley's home.  
We really like this oil stove.  The top has griddles where you simply remove the cover on the griddle and toast bread or place your pot for cooking, make grilled cheese........the possibilities are endless.  They don't use these in the summer as the oil stays heated continually and that would make it too warm in the home, so there's a conventional electric range to the left of this one.  Lesley had hundreds of rosettes and awards from showing her sheep hanging all around her home, you can just see some of them hanging along a beam in her kitchen. 

Lesley with a few of her ewes

A simply stunning grey kat ram lamb

More ram lambs
Moorit ram fleece shot
Grey kat fleece shot

Some of the adult ewes

Ewe lambs

Yummy grey fleece

A nice shaela fleece
Next stop............Somerset with Maurice and Gilly and visits with Jean Curitis, Mary Gibbings and Heather Chapman a day trip to the Shetland Sheep Societies JIP meeting, dining in a castle, visiting Stonehenge and more.......all done in the R.A.I.N!!!! 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

More UK trip photos

A cozy English pub
Garrett and Jenny heading back
You can see she truly loves her sheep.

Jenny thought we might enjoy a break from endless sheep viewing and took us to visit a really nice Cashmere goat operation.  Forgive me for not remembering the name of the lady that owned the goats.  She welcomed us to her beautiful farm and gave us a little tour of her barn and pastures.  Check out the horns on that buck!!! 

Here are a couple younger goats doing what goats 

Here is a really nice shot of the goats in her pasture. 

Her pasture was so beautiful, I just adore the rock formations all around her farm

Don't you just love the head and horn structure on this boy? 

Mike saying hi to one of Jenny's friendly sheep.  I'm sure he was quite sick of seeing sheep by this point in our trip.  Such a good sport about it all.

Fleece shot of one of her sheep.  Very nice.

One of her young rams

Fleece shot of the above ram

Sheep grazing on the fell
We actually did go into Ulverston and visit a trendy little tea shop, had some lunch, bought me some wool socks (I was cold, wet and freezing) and then stopped at a little pub down the road from Jenny & Chris's house to have a couple pints.  They even had the old style taps that you "pull" beer up from the basement with, a true muscle building activity for the female bartender.  Chris had a nice stew for us to eat in the evening and we sat around the fireplace and talked......about sheep of coarse. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Saying goodbye to Tess

I am left wondering how on earth I am going to stop looking for her waiting for me outside the chicken coops, waiting for me outside the shed while I do chores, waiting for me outside the bathroom, sleeping on my side of the bed so close that I can't even step on the floor because of her 95 pounds of German Shepherd being THERE!  How do I not have her greet me at the door each time I come back home?  How long will it take for this huge hole in my heart to heal?  I know there aren't any answers to these questions, each of these things will fade as they do after losing a loved one, but I am hoping that the sharp pain dulls soon.

Tess smiling.............
Tess taking Jasmine the lamb back to the house (2012)

I had 13 years with this wonderful dog, family member and friend and she's been my "one in a million" dog.  She was smart, well behaved, kind and gentle despite her size.  Even as she dealt with the pain of arthritis and as I later found out, cancer.........she never nipped or did anymore than quietly tolerate her burden.  I found out on Tuesday that what I thought was just a heart failure related cough was the least of our worries, she had cancer and it was advanced, so her decline was quick and hard to accept.  I had exactly one week from the day we found out before I saw in her eyes that she was done, she had fought enough.   I saw it coming and decided to spend every minute with her that I could before I didn't have those moments.  
In one of our last nights together Tess and I were laying on her bed with me sobbing like a baby, and her licking tears from my face as if she needed to console me.  How do you repay that kind of love?
By ending her suffering and not being selfish by keeping her because it hurt to let her go, it was time.
Thankfully our vet makes house calls and with her head in my lap and in the safety of her home, we were able to quietly say goodbye. 
Tess and I on Tuesday night (12/2/14) 2 days before she left us
Tess as I will always remember in a million
I weep when I need to, often and without shame because Tess and her love for me and life is worth it.  She loved everyone, she was loving to everything around her and my tears are a tribute to her love.

Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Breeding Groups

Our newest addition to the OK Acres flock is Khan and I've put 5 girls in his group this year.  I'm pretty excited about introducing Khan to some of my ewes this year, he's a lovely smooth polled, fine fleeced ram and he's proven he can put quality lambs on the ground.  I've put 2 of my shorter fleeced ewes with him and 2 of my ewes that have a bit more length and tip, we'll see what happens.  I've no doubt that the resulting progeny will be well worth the 5 month wait.  Khan was originally from the mid-west, he's spent a few years in New York and now he's coming back to work his magic for our farm. 
Winter Sky Khan
Khan's girls
Edrea- she is for sale before or after being exposed to Khan.  Khan's will be introduced to his girls when he arrives at our farm on Nov. 3rd.  (Edrea is sold....thank  you Cyndee) 

This is a year of new favorite and only retained ram from 2012 is Einstein.  I really, really like this ram and what he brings to the table in terms of overall structure and fleece quality.  I'd like to see him be smooth polled, but his small scurs are perfectly ok considering how great he is overall.  Einstein's fawn fleece is such a lovely rose-gray and pictures just don't do the his coloring justice.  I've paired him with 4 pretty good girls this year and hoping for more modified lambs, possibly from a Seneca or Sierra pairing, I'd love anything from Anais (secretly want a grey kat ewe from her)  and really wanting a mioget or fawn smooth polled ewe from Garnet.  
OK Acres Einstein
Einstein's girls

I've decided to use a couple exceptionally nice ram lambs this fall and Danby is as nice a spotted, polled ram as I've seen so far.  I'd like to see his rump develop a bit more roundness......but I've paired him with girls that are pretty strong in that regard as compensation. 
OK Acres Danby
Danby's girls
Bee Sting
Irish Mist

There's not much I don't like about Kennsington, he's got his mom's body...straight, square with a nice body length to height ratio.  He's got a particularly lovely head and ear set and his fleece is yummy too.  I've given him 4 girls I think will compliment him well and hoping for more grey kat(s) from  Meadow, a possible gul/kat from Cherish, Maybe some lovely white lambs from Duchess and (hopefully) knockout kat(s) from Ellie.   A girl can dream, right?

Ok Acres Kennsington
Kennsington's girls 
Ellie Mae

So that's my wish list for the 2014/15 groups, let's see if all my whispering in the ears of the sheep works out for me.  I'm probably so far off base with what I envision that it will shock me, but I'm going to keep up the sheep whispering just the same.  Thank goodness there aren't any close neighbors that will wonder why I'm out having secret conversations with my sheep.  I've already got people wondering about me just a teensy bit.  

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

UK Trip Part 8.......more Northern England

Philip and his family had a full house and so it was arranged for us to stay at a little Inn in a nearby village with a nice pub attached to it.  Breakfast at Philip's featured an English dish called "Toad in a Hole", which stopped my fork in mid air when I heard it.  We don't generally eat toads in America!...haha.  It only took a moment or two to realize that the "toads" were just breakfast sausage in an egg casserole dish and it was delicious.  We spent a fair amount of time going through Philip's flock and were treated to a delicious meal prepared by his mother followed by 2, that's right TWO amazing desserts.  Since it would have been the height of rudeness to NOT eat the things offered I forced myself to eat both desserts.  (grin)  Like I needed more food............
I can't say we had a bad meal the entire time we were on our trip, everyone was exceedingly generous with their hospitality and kept us feed and moving about the countryside. 

Here is a shot of Stanley, a little dog so full of personality that we fell in love with him. 
It rained, rained, rained prior to our arrival, during our stay and after we left, so Stanley has slightly mucky paws. 

The first time I saw this sign was in Edinburgh and it amused me endlessly, due in part to the fact that I'm easily amused.  By the time we got done with our trip I was quite accustomed to pulling a string to get hot water.

Spectacular view on our way to meet Jenny Holden-Wilde near the Lake District area

A quaint little village where we met up with Jenny at a local pub

Mike, Garrett and Philip in the pub awaiting Jenny's arrival and the next leg of our journey.  This is where I started getting very, very sick.  Excuse the lack of names on villages, I was lucky to recall we'd been there at all I was becoming so miserable with an upper respiratory illness. 
Next stop..........Jenny's house and her lovely flock of spotties!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

UK Trip Part 7 Scotland and Northern England

Our trip back on the ferry from Shetland to Aberdeen was as lovely as the trip over was not!  We left just after dark and watched the blinking lights of the Islands disappear as we headed back to Scotland.  Little did I know that I had the start of some serious respiratory illness lurking in my body. After a lovely dinner on board, a nice sleep during our uneventful crossing, we arrived back in Aberdeen and heading for Kate Sharp's holding where we did a thorough inspection of Kate and Alan's sheep.  There are some truly lovely sheep at Kate's and I would love to get my hands on them, especially those grays!!!
Kate and some of her ewes.

Love this rich, dark color

Another shot of a different color grey ewe
After tea and biscuits at Kate's, we loaded our luggage into Amy's tiny car and set off to Philip Cowen's, Wadley Farm, Durham County.
Philip has a nice selection of sheep of different breeds that he crosses with Shetlands as well as a number of fine examples of Shetland sheep that represent the Flockbook type and what some of us refer to in America as the UK type.

Can you spot Amy's little Foula ewe (spotty) in this group of ewes?

Lovely length and crimp

And another fleece style that's represented in the Wadley flock

I think this is either an Island ewe or a decendent

I really like this moorit ewe

Here's a group shot of the different breeds of rams that Philp and his father use in their flocks.  Icelandic, Charollais, Suffolk, etc. 

Such a majestic ram, nicely proportioned, great head and structure

Great looking grey kat ram, again with nice proportions and overall nice structure

Lovely moorit ram with a slightly different horn style, and really great fleece and overall breed type.
I added these of the rams horns to show examples of good breed typical horns

Nice width at the top and good clearance on the sides......not growing out of the side of their skull but rather on the top and rising up a bit before turning outward. 

And this is the fleece!!!!!  Just because it's so lovely.

Grey kats' fleece..............nice eh? 

Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....