Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shetland folks are simply wonderful..........

I have, on occasion, been involved with groups of folks that all share a common interest.  My past experiences have all be positive, with the exception of one group which shall remain nameless.  I started raising shetland sheep, quite by accident.  Our friends were moving to Arizona, sheep don't do well in AZ, so they sold their herd, but the ram was related to most of the herd and the buyer of the ewes just didn't want him.  They told us if they didn't find a home for him by the time we moved, he would be shot.  Well, that seemed crazy to me, so I said, "We'll take him until you can find him a home", turns out, we were the new home.  Rambo (he came with that name, I will not be blamed for that one) turned out to be such a delight, playing with our horses, sleeping and guarding our colts, we just thought, "He needs a couple girlfriends."  After some inquiry, I found some shetlands right here in Monroe and the start of my herd had begun. 
Most of my original sheep came from Tami Mulder's stock, so there's some Dillon in a few and several lines of Bramble as well as some Wintertime and Winter Sky stock.  Quite by default I had gotten some pretty nice bloodlines as well as a lot of polled carriers.  Let me just say, that my first lamb was joy to behold and I was hooked forever!  Where had these wonderful sheep been hiding all of my life and why had I never heard of them?
I have since met and purchased sheep from several wonderful shetland breeders and I will have to say I have been overwhelmed with the helpfulness, generosity and willingness of these individuals to help me in any way they are able.  I have "met" numerous breeders and shetland lovers on blogs and the information that I pull from these has been invaluable.  It's wonderful to see how much pride all of us feel when the lambs start coming in the spring.  It's especially nice to see how much genuine happiness we feel for fellow breeders when they get a really nice lamb, how we feel the same sadness when someone loses a special one, and how we share simple victories that seem unimportant to people that don't share our same passion for shetlands.  I look forward to everyone's updates, it makes me feel like I'm a part of something really special, our own little community of folks with a common interest, our beloved shetland sheep. 
TaTa for now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My 2 cents

I have been reading, with growing distress, the comments regarding Appendix A and I am growing increasingly frustrated.  I understand there is a difference of opinion on wool length within the association, but from what I have read of Appendix A, there is nothing in there that will disqualify a shetland from registration or showing because of staple length.  There are a number of folks that prefer the shorter, single coated shetlands and I'm sure an equal number that are in favor of the longer, double coated variety.  I don't feel that the language within the appendix forbids either style. 
My frustration is particularly great when I see constant rants attacking peoples character, accusing them of outright lies and backroom dealings.  If anything makes the breed association look bad, it's rants such at this, and I have grown weary of the constant barrage.  Breed for long or short fleece, I don't really care all that much, both of them appeal to me visually.  I like the shorter fleeces, but that's a personal preference and I will not rant and rail against other breeders because I don't agree.  The judges will still place shetlands according to their personal preferences, I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future, so we need to just be adults and try to solve this obvious difference of opinion in a calm manner and let the majority decide what is best for the association as a whole.
I am fairly new to shetlands (5 years), but I have had both types of fleeces and I can tell you from having microns done that my single coated fleeces have always had the better results, that's a fact that was determined by an independent, uninvolved 2nd party.  Do I love the longer fleeces because they are diverse and beautiful?  YES!!!  So, I have a foot in both camps.   I truly wish we didn't have to make decisions regarding what is acceptable within a breed and what isn't, but if we are to "judge" these wonderful creatures, then it has to be done.  If you are happy with what you are doing with your herd, your customers are happy with the products that you produce from them, your sheep can be registered within the registry, then I'm not sure why the general public is being dragged into a couple personal squabbles.  Please settle these disputes amongst yourself, as this constant bickering has become a black eye on NASSA.  
I'm sure I will get a fair share of comments because of this post, I really don't enjoy negativity at all, but felt I really needed to throw out a few of my thoughts on the subject.  I'm neither for or against any "side", just would prefer it all to stop being such a public display of anger.  I don't mean to offend anyone, so if I've done so, I apologize in advance.
I will end this with a couple quote that I think is appropiate: "He who angers you, controls you"  and "We can not control what others say or do, we can only control how we react".
TaTa for now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I love summer nights.........

I let the sunflower seeds under the feeders grow this year!
My first 2010 gladiola, my favorite flower
I found this little gem at a farm sale and I just love it.  It's a John Deere grain drill and it still works, we used it to seed our pastures and it's amazing that something this old can still do such a good job.  I darned near stole the thing too, it was one of my premo finds.  My husband says I have to stop bringing stuff home, the shed is full, but it's his own fault for taking me to farm sales.  I love em'. 

I really love taking night time pictures and it was so beautiful last night, I just wandered around our property taking pictures of random things.  Some day I will get a really nice camera and then people will really get sick of me.  Now, I just have to get some decent shots of the sheep I still have for lack of cooperation on their part, so I'm guessing they know the reason for my picture taking.  :D 
TaTa for now.


This is Thomas, our 15 lbs. of attitude.  And, this is the water fountain that both of my spoiled cats sit by until we turn it on for them to have a drink.  Both of the cats let us think we are in charge when we are home, but I'm beginning to understand that I'm in charge of absolutely nothing there. 

House cats

Nicki aka trouble with fur! 
It dawned on me last night that I have remiss in posting shots of our 2 house cats.  Nicki, the gray tiger/calico and Thomas the orange tabby.  Thomas was bottle fed from the time he was a couple hours old and Nicki was found with her litter mates at the brink of starvation at about 3 1/2 weeks old.  I litter trained and found homes for the other 3, but had to keep her, she's been a constant source of entertainment since.

Did someone say garlic?

Dug up the garlic last night and when I say we have SOME garlic, what I really mean is, we have a ton of garlic. This is only a small portion of it, the rest is on newspapers on the floor.  I have to find a pole for drying it so it can all be hung up, but this will have to do for now.  Thank goodness I have a lot of garlic loving friends.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The joys of forage storage

Got a load of nice hay from the neighbor last night.  So, off to the shed with me after work and supper to help unload it.  I used to be able to handle several wagons an evening, but those days are OVER!  I feel like I got ran over by a truck today, old age is rearing it's ugly head today.  If I insist on having horses, llamas, sheep, and other assorted critters, then I have to expect there to be work involved. 
Once we got the hay unloaded, it was time to get the new chickens out of their temporary cage.  The big coop would be the perfect place, but I know the older hens would pick on them, so they are going to be making their home in my large rabbit cage for a few weeks until they can be introduced into the large coop.  Since the angora rabbits have fallen in love with the little coop and it's very grassy outside pen, I just didn't have the heart to kick them out for 3 chickens. 
All the "boys" continue to get along extremely well, it's like they have always been pasture pals.  I know that will all change come fall and breeding time, I have no illusions about that at all. 
Does anyone need a really nice black ram? Not a white hair on him anywhere, out of Lil Country Velma, carries polled, but it horned and has a lovely, dense, crimpy fleece.  I actually have two rams from her this year, and both of them are listed on my NASSA page of sheep that I own.  OK Acres Vaughan and OK Acres Vincent.  I also have a scurred moorit ram out of Sheltering Pines Aster.  Not registered yet, but you can find Aster's pedigree on my page also.  Flock 1774.  Sire is OK Acres Murdock. 
Just finishing my 3rd helmet liner that will be sent to the troops this fall, then back to my very challenging key hole scarf project.  This is being knit from some lovely hand dyed, blue/purple/gray merino blend and some lt. gray alpaca for the contrast color.
Getting some relief from the oppressive heat and it looks like it might rain, crossing my fingers that we get a little moisture, things are starting to brown a bit.
TaTa for now  

Moorit ram for sale out of Sheltering Pines Astser
Not the best shot in the world, but it's the only one I've gotten of him since he was a lamb. 

The black boys in the center of this mess are for sale, this is a horrible picture of them,  will try to get some better ones tonight.  There was a complete lack of cooperation on their part during the picture taking session! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Chickens.........

Here's our new chickens courtesy of Corinne Rasso 
Barred Hollands (at least I think that's what she told me)  *grin*

Welcome Crosswinds Nantucket

Friday night my hubby went to the tractor pulls in Freeport, IL and I got to have supper with my friend, Lori, and then spend a few hours in her pool.  After falling into bed exhausted from the night time exercise, we woke up early Saturday morning to begin penning sheep, weaning lambs, vaccinating and worming the flock.  Mary P. bought 3 lambs from me this year, Speed racer, a mucket ram, Harmony, a white ewe, and Hilda, a light grey (Ag) ewe.  Mary got a spotted wether from me last year, so I know they are all going to a good home.  After getting all the rams into their own pasture, we decided it too hot for anything else besides taking the bike and going for a long, wandering ride, and what a wonderful ride it was for us.  We rode to Janesville, WI, had lunch/supper at Olive Garden, then off towards Evansville and lots of rolling hills, only to end up back at our house about 7 pm. 
Sunday morning we got up early and started our trip to Eldridge IA to pickup Nantucket.  Tucker seems to roll off the tongue better, so I've decided that will be his farm name henceforth. I took my 3rd helmet liner for the trip and 2 1/2 hrs. later, we rolled into Corinne's driveway.  All of Corinne's sheep come running when she shows up, so I got both hands full of very friendly sheep.  We talked for a short time, loaded up Tucker and 3 young chickens that Corinne was kind enough to give me, and then got back on the road. 
Tucker on the left is being greeted by Sheltering Pines Bug and a couple OK Acres rams. 

Tucker on the right, Sargent, a black krunet ram in the center (he's for sale) and Bug on the left.

Tucker: Mioget, Flecket ram making friends in his new pasture.  Due to the heat, I had no place cool enough to quarantine him, so in with the ram lambs he goes.  This is the only time I've ever had to do this and it makes me nervous, not because of where I got him, Corinne has pristine facilities for her sheep, only because I quarantine everything. 
I went out last night and said hello to the boys, Tucker and Bug just walked right up to me. Already love Bug, and I'm sure this little guy is going to win me over just as quickly.
Tata for now.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Helmet Liner

One of the helmet liners that our group, ASK, is making for the service men and woman.  I'm hoping to get more yarn and do even more, before they are due to be shipped out.  My hubby indicated that he wouldn't mind having one for himself, so I'm going to be a helmet liner machine for the next month!  I bet I can almost do them in my sleep by the end of July. 

Garden Bounty

Well, finally, some significant produce from the garden.  The carrots are the result of a couple test "pulls" to see how they are doing.  Did I mention that patience in NOT one of my virtues? 
I've think I will have enough yellow squash from one hill to supply most of the North eastern corner of Cadiz township, yikes.  As for the potatoes, this is only a small portion of the early variety that we planted, not bad for our first year of tators.  Peas are all done and green beans are just starting, most of them don't even make it into the freezer, as I graze directly off the plants! 
Ah, the wonderful aroma of freshly cut herbs from my back room is heavenly.  Cilantro, 2 varieties of basil, lavender .........I love growing my own herbs.  I've got enough organic garlic this year for 10 families, but there's always someone that can use garlic and it's one of my favorites, so I won't be running out this winter!

Lots to do again this weekend, off to my 30th class reunion on Saturday, and Sunday is a bridal shower for my niece, so 2 trips to Byron is on the agenda.  I was hoping to sort sheep and wean lambs this weekend, but that will have to wait.  I'm also getting very anxious to be getting my last 2 lambs that I purchased home to their new pasture. Coming soon to OK Acres Shetlands: Crosswinds Nantucket.
Ta ta for now,

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Knit your Bit

The ladies of ASK (Argylian Society of Knitters) has, once again, decided to do the Knit your Bit project.  This years project is helmet liners for the troops, the pattern and recommended yarn and colors is chosen and the initial gathering to kick off the project was on June 13th.  Last year we did scarves for the veterans and it was a huge success, we had a big ole pile of beautiful scarves for the men and woman at the UW Veterans Hospital.  Such a small gesture of gratitude for their priceless service to our country, but all of the scarves were appreciated.  It makes you feel so good, you kind of wonder if you're doing it for them or for you.
We even got our names in the local paper along with a nice group shot of several of the ladies sporting the scarves as well as a veteran that was kind enough to pose with one also.  A very rewarding experience to be able to help ease their discomfort a bit.  We also did afghans this winter for anyone that needed something to keep them warm.  I've just finished one helmet liner and am beginning another, and hoping to have several done by the time they are all collected. 
Three sheep left on Tuesday night, it was sad, as I really was partial to both of the ewes and I tried to explain to them that they were going to a really nice place, but they just looked at me with accusing eyes.  sniff, sniff.
Always sad to part with the favorites, but I am getting better at making the hard decisions of what will better my flock.   
I have just recently decided to see what I can do to sponsor a wool breed class and round up a judge that will be able to judge a wool breed section at the local county fair.  I've spoken to my friend at Argyle Fiber Mill and she's on board to support or sponsor some portion of this endeavor, so I'm getting excited about moving forward.  Now, to convince the fair committee that there's a demand for a wool breed judge!!!  Any suggestions on where I might find someone to judge a wool breed or raw fleece class or two in Monroe, WI the middle of July 2011??
I'm off to hit the trails with the horses this weekend, finally...... it's stopped raining long enough for some trails to open in the parks. 
Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July weekend.
Ta ta for now.

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....