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? 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kudos to totally Rock!

Can I just say.........some folks are always and I mean always making things a bit better.  At work, I talk to a lot of vendors, customers and sales people.  There are always a few in each category that stand out for me and one of them is Jerry at Redneck Trailer Supplies. (yes, there is such a place)  He's smart, efficient, and an all around go-to guy when there's problems, and he has a great sense of humor too.   Jerry is always willing to go that extra mile to get you what you need and I hope Redneck Trailer Supplies knows what a valuable asset he is to their company. 

Today's post is only to thank him for doing such a great job helping me and to let him know how much I appreciate him..........THANK YOU JERRY!!! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Michigan Fiber Festival trip in August

I neglected to post the photos from my trip with Kim Nikolai to Michigan Fiber Festival in August.......
So here goes nothing.

The fleece show had a large Shetland class, I think about 35-40 fleeces were in that show, but that's a guesstimate.  I was pleased with how well I did and felt that, my fleeces got beat fairly because the fleece that won Best of show in the Shetland class was beautiful and the win was well deserved.

Here is a photo of my line up.

I was happy with how the weekend went.  

Once again, we had a grand time with our friend, Stephen, during our 4 days stay in Michigan.  The festival was lovely and seeing old friends was the highlight of the time we there.  

We got to head to Four Roses Cafe and have one of their top shelf meals........

Pear pecan salad w/ lime vinaigrette dressing
Scallops-seared in whiskey on a bed of alvocado
And the best part: Scarlett O'Hare cheesecake.  w/ pecans and a toffee glaze.
They have a pastry chef that makes about 40 different desserts at 5 am every morning.  God bless that woman!!!!  The Dessert Menu at this place is longer than the main coarse menu!!! 

They say you should eat to live and not live to eat, but the person that said that has never tasted the food at this place.  If they said it loud enough for the customers to hear, my guess is that they simply not be heard from again. 

2014 Midwest Shetland Sheep Breeders show results

I bet a large share of you were wondering, "Where is Kelly and why is she ignoring us?"  Don't worry, I have not forgotten about all of you, but the show chair job seemed to consume a considerable amount of time this year along with some other obligations that made my summer fly by too quickly.

We had another great year at the Wi Sheep and Wool Festival and everyone involved in the show made the show successful and fun.  Thanks to all the people that volunteered and brought sheep, fleeces, handmade items or skeins of yarn to exhibit.

Silent Auction table....everyone's generosity is overwhelming

Please follow us to the MSSBA fleece show..........(Thanks to Garrett for taking over the fleece show this year)

We proudly welcomed Mary Gibbings, Somerset England, as our fleece judge this year. Mary did a spectacular job of judging approx. 40 Shetland fleeces for us.

Karen Valley got Champion Fleece with a white ewe lamb fleece
I got Champion Rooed Fleece w/ a white fleece from Sheltering Pines Catherine (9 yr old ewe) 

I won this lovely "Best Rooed Fleece" award donated by Maurice and Gilly Wakeling, they were our Sheep and Fleece judges in 2013 and generously donated funds to sposnor this award.  I'm so thrilled to be the first recipient of this trophy. 
Theresa Gygi got Res. Champion fleece w/ a colored fleece
Mary giving a fleece some serious consideration and Kim Nikolai lending a hand for this year!  (Thanks Kim)

Philip is going to kick my butt for this photo being circulated, but it was too cute to not share it.....EVERYWHERE!!!
Allow me to introduce our 2014 SSS Judge/Inspector.....(drum roll please) Philip Cowen, Durham County England. 
Amy on the left and Philip on the right.  (big, big grin)  
And here Philip is looking a bit more sophisticated judging the youth showmanship class.  
Here is my amazing, super hero husband showing Elvis in the Senior ram class.  
Clayton (in foreground) showing Danby in the Best Spotted, Colored or Modified class.  The winner (our OK Acres Danby) received a lovely multi-year award sponsored by FFSSA in the memory of Sue Russo and all her years of dedication and contributions to the Shetland sheep breed.  
Philip in center holding the Sue Russo Memorial Trophy, Mike (Super hero to Kelly) on the left, OK Acres Danby in the center and me on the right.  (Yes, I was pretty frazzled at this point- and looking it!!!)  
Tiree thinks she's a Lipizzaner Stallion performing "Airs above the Ground" here.  She was walking so nice at home and when we got to the show, she was less than impressed with the process of standing quietly.  Cute as it may be here, it's horribly embarrassing in front of the judge, fellow exhibitors and the audience.  I have no clue how she won 1st place in her class.  Maybe her acrobatic skills impressed the judge and swayed his choice. (grin)

No, I didn't purposely flip her over for the judge to see her from all angles...........I was livid.  Never again!!!! (notice Philip is laughing at me-and can you blame him? )
Both the the photos above will need a bit of explanation.........THIS is what happens when you decide to bring a ewe lamb to the show at the last minute and think she's leading quite well at home after only a week of gentling her.  Ummm, NOT.

 This year's big winners are shown below.............
Sydell generously donated a trimming stand to this year's Supreme Champion!!!  I was blown away by their donation when I was called over to pick it up!  
Theresa Gygi with her Champion Ram/Supreme Champion, Under The Son Stilton

Meghan Namaste and Karen Valley with their Champion Ewe/Res. Supreme Champion, Wintertime Alanis

Lori Stephenson and her Granddaughter Campbell with Res. Champion ram, Sommarang Lief

 I will do a post of some fun photos in another post, this one has become very picture heavy and I better cease and desist.  :)

Congrats to all the winners of this year's show. 

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....