Monday, January 31, 2011

Bottle Baby

Sierra has beautiful wool and a great personality, but she is a lousy mother. I've had trouble with her in the past, and this year was a replay of difficulties. She wouldn't let her lambs nurse even though she seemed interested in them.

I ended up giving the little ewe lamb to a great couple who live north of here. They are raising her as a bottle baby (feeding her using lamb milk replacer and a bottle). It seems to be a match made in heaven. They've fallen in love with her, and she is thriving. They've named her little Sierra. Pam kindly sends me updates and pictures. Wow, is she one adorable lamb.

Photos courtesy of Pam Lampson Staples,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Felted Slippers

I took a great workshop last month on making felted slippers. We began the day drafting patterns of our feet and ended it wearing our slippers.

We used dyed Merino wool roving. I added a little gray curl of Cotswold wool from my own sheep on each of my slippers; you can just see it near the cuff in the first picture.

This footwear is seamless. We applied and felted wool on both sides of the pattern, creating both slippers simultaneously. When the felt was firm enough, we cut apart the two slippers and pulled the pattern out of each.

Then, one shoe at a time, we worked the felt inside and out, shrinking and hardening the fabric. When they were almost to size, we put on our slippers, and a helper finished felting them on our feet. They are really comfortable.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Optimistic Sheep

I really think sheep believe in the power of positive thinking.

If I look out a window before I go out to feed them, I see a sheep, usually a ram, standing, staring at the door. If I wait longer to feed them, there will often be two or three sheep, standing, staring at the door. The numbers increase the longer I postpone feeding time. It's as if they are willing me to come out and give them hay.

They aren't pushy or loud about it. They simply stand quietly and patiently gazing at the house, focusing their energies on getting me out the door.

Who knows? Maybe it works.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Snow-loving Dog

Our Briard, Dierdre, loves the snow; she's choosing to stay outside most of the day. The snow gives us an opportunity to discover some of her habits, though. We can track where she goes, how she gets there, and even where she places her paws as she walks. It's amazing how close together her tracks are--she places her feet within a very narrow path as she moves.

I love the center trail that winds around the tree.

Dierdre is a tending dog as well as a herding dog. Tending dogs keep their flocks in a confined space, allowing them to graze, hang out, or sleep only in that limited area. Dierdre tends her flock as they start eating each meal. She runs 'round and 'round and 'round them as they munch their hay. Tending them in the snow leaves a ring of paw prints around the sheep. If someone looked at them after Dierdre and I went back into the house, they'd wonder why I was drawing circles in the snow around my sheep!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Snow and Ice -- Cold and Gorgeous

Wow, we have had some intense weather this week. A major cold front came through Arizona. We got about 6" of snow and had lows in the teens and maybe even colder last night. It's absolutely beautiful, but it's difficult feeding the sheep in this weather, and the hens certainly don't like it.

Dierdre, our dog, doesn't care to be out when the snow is actually falling, although she bravely accompanies me to feed the sheep and to bring in firewood. Once the snow stopped, though, she's been having a blast. She keeps scooping up snow with her muzzle and tossing it in the air and then jumping around me to play. She wants to be outside in the snow, but she also wants to be with me (and I want to stay in the house where it's warm), so she's having difficulty deciding what to do. She keeps encouraging me to go out and play, and I keep prompting her to either stay in or to be satisfied being outside without me.