Sunday, April 28, 2013

Garden Beginnings

Last weekend I replaced part of the garden fence. I need to keep sheep and rabbits out -- and hens, too, for that matter, until the plants get big enough to hold their own. I turned over a little soil, but it was really only a token start.

Yesterday I purchased some "Tall Telephone Peas" from The Native Garden, a local shop in Prescott.

This morning I dug some more and dumped a couple five-gallon buckets of sheep and chicken manure on the ground to mix in later. Everyone says not to plant tomatoes outside until after Mother's Day to avoid any possibility of freezing, but I hope to get some peas in today or tomorrow.

I intend to plant a variety of beans, carrots, green onions, tomatoes, maybe potatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Perhaps my gardening motto should be "Think big, keep digging, and haul more manure."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Day in the Life

I don't really have typical days, but this was how yesterday went.

Dierdre and I fed the sheep and chickens first thing in the morning. The weather was beautiful: bright blue sky, no wind, and just a bit cool. I fed the sheep from the hay in the back of the truck. Don't worry. I've stopped parking it on top of a hill; it's safely situated on nice, flat ground. I do need to unload it, though. Scout has been treating it like a salad bar again. I covered the hay near the tailgate, but he managed to pull the cloth away and indulge. He's not even bothering to look guilty anymore. He turned and looked at me with his hay-covered face and then went back to munching.

The chickens are free range, but I supplement their food during the winter. Once grass, weeds, and bugs begin to flourish, they'll be on their own. For now, though, every morning they eagerly run to me for grain and get downright annoyed if I don't immediately feed them. It's kind of strange to have a flock of hens rush you (even if "rush" means waddle-waddle as fast as they can.) I keep telling the chicks they're free range and are going to have to forage completely for themselves soon, but I don't think they believe me.

After breakfast, I loaded the car with my presidential paraphernalia for my Mountain Spinners and Weavers Guild ( meeting. Being president is heavy! I have to take a large notebook, a briefcase-sized microphone system, an extension cord, a large coffee can in which to put the names of people who participate in show and tell, and any mail the guild has received that month. Yesterday I also brought two borrowed knitting books that I wanted to return to a guild member and two library books and a video I needed to take back to the public library. Additionally, I put a dozen eggs in the car to drop off at a neighbor's house on the way out of town.

The program at the guild meeting was great. The Barrington House Educational Center ( presented a program on “Fashionable Women of the Arizona Territory,” a pictorial program defining the current trends in women’s fashions from 1860 to Arizona Statehood in 1912, investigating how real Arizona women dressed during this time period. Clad in period clothing, the speakers showed numerous pictures of 19th- and early 20th-century clothing and enhanced their presentation with items from their collection. During the program I worked on a variegated cotton camisole that I'm knitting.

I stopped by Goodwill (they were having a 50%-off sale) and Costco following the guild meeting. I spent a bit too long enjoying the free samples at Costco and didn't have time to go into the library, so I just dropped off my books and video in the book return box. I had to hurry home because visitors were coming to help me shear a sheep.

Deb, a fellow guild member, and two of her friends, Pam and Laurie, arrived ready to shear. We had to delay things just a bit, so I could sharpen a couple pairs of shears. They filled a few buckets with manure for their gardens while they waited.

Dierdre, unfortunately, had to stay in the house. She's a wonderful dog but is not an asset during shearing. In fact, she makes everything much more difficult. She wants to participate in EVERY aspect of sheep raising and thinks she should always herd any sheep in my presence. Considering the sheep to be shorn is on a shearing stand and is stressed by the whole experience, having an enthusiastic Briard trying to herd it is not a good thing. So Dierdre stays in the house and barks and whines during shearing. I don't understand it. She's very smart and knows her complaints aren't going to do any good, but she keeps it up the entire time. I figure she's just trying to make me feel guilty for excluding her.

We chose a yearling black ram to shear. He was amazingly well behaved, especially considering it was his first shearing. I greatly appreciated the help getting him on the shearing stand. We had fun shearing. It was a new experience for my guests. They all did very well.

This particular ram did not get named last year, so we spent some time coming up with a suitable appellation for him. The suggestions ranged from George (after George Clooney) to Skipper from "Gilligan's Island." We finally settled on Solomon. I won't even attempt to follow the trains of thought that led to that name.

After we finished shearing, we fed the sheep. Deb tried to pet Solomon, but he clearly had had enough human interaction and kept sidestepping her.

We oohed and aahed over Solomon's wool as we carried it inside, and I showed off Sierra's locks from her shearing last week. (I'll post pictures of Sierra's gorgeous white fleece soon.)

After the others left, I grabbed a shower. There's no way you can shear a sheep and avoid smelling like one. I like how sheep smell and love the lanolin in their wool, but I have no desire to smell like one after I've finished shearing.

I fed Dierdre, fixed myself some dinner, and ate while watching an episode of "Sons of Anarchy" on DVD. I contemplated knitting or writing a blog post or weaving but only found enough energy to play "Words with Friends" on Facebook for awhile. And that was my day.

Solomon, newly sheared

Monday, April 1, 2013

More Baby Lamb Pictures

The first photo is Wolverine. The rest are Wolverine and Callisto with their mother, Minerva.