Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tomato Cage

This post isn't about gardening. This post is about Scout who got his head stuck in a tomato cage.

I attempted to remove it, but Dierdre tried to help, and her assistance isn't always useful. Since Scout wasn't in any pain or danger, I decided to go ahead and feed the sheep. When I put Dierdre in the house, I grabbed my camera and took some pictures.

Scout managed to eat despite his situation. However, the tomato cage acted rather like a dog's plastic Elizabethan collar. It kept moving the hay. So after every bite or two, he had to inch forward after the feed. I noticed he also used it to push other sheep away and keep his bit of hay to himself.

De-caging him wasn't difficult. I had to bend a couple wires. He pulled one way, and I yanked the opposite direction, and within seconds he was free. He immediately went back to eating, of course.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wolverine and Callisto

Minerva had twins! They were born Sunday. I've named the boy Wolverine and the girl Callisto. Most of the pictures are of Minerva and Wolverine. Callisto had apparently just eaten and wanted to nap.

You can't see Wolverine's tail because he's wagging it furiously. Lambs often wag their tails when they eat. If you're trying to get a reluctant lamb to nurse, wiggle its tail when it's near the mother's teat. The action encourages it to suckle.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Young Wisdom

As we were walking to the barn to feed the sheep, one of my helpers, an astute seven year old, said, "I think you should name your next lamb Tony Stark." That girl really knows her Marvel Comics.

I laughed and replied, "I don't know. It would sound pretty strange calling across the field, 'Tony Stark! It's time to eat!'"

Her ten-year-old brother countered with, "Doesn't yelling 'Thor' sound kind of weird?"

Yeah, that kind of logic is hard to argue with.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Oops. I can't believe I forgot the funniest part of the egg story from yesterday.

As I said, the hens laid six lovely, large eggs. I wasn't expecting that many, though, and carrying six eggs was a little tricky. The laying boxes are in the hay storage room. I have to latch the door on that room to keep my persistent, clever, and ever-hungry sheep out. There was no way I could affix the hook to the door while holding six eggs, so I set them on the ground nearby.

Dierdre walked over, picked one up, and trotted off. I couldn't believe it. She'd never shown any interest in eggs before. I called, "Hey! What are you doing? Give that back." She set it on the ground and looked at me, all innocence. I picked up the egg. Other than being a bit slobbery, it was fine. She hadn't cracked the shell when she picked it up, carried it in her mouth, or set it on the ground. I was impressed. For such an active, take-charge herding dog, she shows a lot of gentle finesse.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Egg, Egg, Chicken

Some of my hens started laying again a few weeks ago after their winter hiatus. I have six hens that are a year old this month and one (Elderchick) that will be 10 years old in July. I've been getting two to four eggs a day since they resumed laying. Today there were six eggs!

I don't know if Elderchick is laying. She produced magnificently last year for her age.

However, this is the first time since the young 'uns began laying that I've had six eggs in one day. Now, if I get seven eggs on the same day, it will be incontrovertible proof everybody's on the job.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dreams, Sheep, and Handknitting

Every once in awhile I dream my sheep have gotten loose, and I'm desperately trying to round them all up. It's a nightmare, literally! Sometimes the dreams take place in a city, and sheep are wandering into the streets through busy intersections. Other times they're at my parents' house and keep getting out into the vacant lot next door. Each time I manage to get one sheep back in through the gate, two more escape. Ugh.

Last night's dream was a peculiar variation on the theme, though. I'm not sure where I was. It was sort of a combination of my grandmother's yard and the house we lived in when I was 8 years old. The backyard was much bigger than reality, but that's typical of dreams.

I went outside and started looking for the sheep. I realized one of the rams was in the alley outside the fence. Then I spotted another sheep and then another. Then there was a Jack Russell terrier.

Now this is when things got really peculiar! I don't know any Jack Russell terriers; I never have. But that's what he was. And he was wearing one of my handknitted caps. He looked quite fetching in it. A neighbor I didn't know came along and picked him up. She was wearing one of the sweaters I had made. As I looked around, I saw several of my sheep wearing my knitted caps, as well.

I was confused and rather put out. I didn't know this person. Why was she wearing one of my sweaters? She calmly told me they thought it would be good advertising for my work if they wore them. She was very polite about it. I thanked her and took the cap off the Jack Russell. I woke up after that.

I'm not even going to try to figure out that one!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Never Let a Sheep Drive

I bought hay yesterday. When I got home, I decided I was too tired to unload it, so I parked the truck up near the house and figured I'd feed the sheep out of it for a day or two until I got around to storing the hay bales in the barn.

So this morning I got up, threw a few flakes of hay from the back of the truck to the sheep, and went to work.

When I got home I parked the car, dropped my purse and groceries in the house, let the dog out, and headed for the truck. It wasn't there. Before my panic fully developed, I spotted it down near the barn. Then I really gasped. I could see the faint tire tracks slightly off the right side of the drive leading from where I had left the truck to where it now stood. It had taken a fairly straight path along the garden fence, over a shovel handle, near or over a good-sized rock (not sure about that), and then rolled smoothly to a slight rise about 8 feet from the shearing pen where it luckily came to a stop.

Apparently the truck had slipped out of gear. I've had trouble with it doing that a couple times before, so I always double-check that it's firmly in first gear when I park it. The emergency brake is more a brake in name than in fact. If you drive with it on, the most you usually notice is a decrease in gas mileage.

My guess is that a ram or two put their hooves on the back bumper to try to reach the hay in the truck bed. They've done this before. However, this time they appear to have set the truck in motion. It is very lucky that no sheep or lambs or chickens got run over as the truck made its way downhill. Everyone seems fine, including the truck. Me, however, I'm still shaking a bit with "what-could-have-happened" thoughts. Lesson learned.

I took this picture from where I parked the truck. It traveled a fair distance.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Currently I'm spinning dog fur, also known as "chiengora." Specifically, I'm working with Maltipoo.

Dierdre, my dog, has been glued to me; whenever I'm spinning the fur, she's no more than 12 inches from my chair. She doesn't act this way when I spin other fibers. I don't know if this attitude is simply because I'm spinning dog fur or if it's because Dierdre knows the dog whose fur I'm spinning. In either case, I have to be very careful every time I move to not run into her.

Dog fur spins up into beautiful yarn. Most any fur of at least 2"-3" in length can be spun. Owners (friends, custodians, servants, or whatever the humans' relationships are to their dogs) just brush their canine as usual. Instead of throwing the fur in the trash, they stow it in paper bags. When they have enough fur, voilà,  fiber ready to be made into yarn. Fur from poodles, Maltipoos, and other dogs that are normally trimmed during grooming can be spun, as well. Brushed fur is best, though, as it results in the softest yarn.

When I lived in Kansas, I participated annually in a harvest festival. I demonstrated spinning and sold my work. One year a girl of about nine years old watched me spin for half an hour. She was quite fascinated, especially when I told her I could spin fur from her dog, who she had brought to the festival. She immediately ran her fingers through his fur several times and then presented me with a handful of fluff. I spun it on the spot and gave her the yarn.

The following year, she and her dog came back. She proudly told me she still had the yarn I had made for her. It was a very cool experience.