Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Felting and Moms

As a demo of needlefelting, I laid out this landscape quickly last Saturday. Usually, it then will sit around for ages.
But, I had another felting group on Monday and decided to wet felt the landscape to make the piece more stable. If you compare the two, you can see how much it gets flattened out and how much texture is lost.
I had already planned to add coiled yarn to make the tree and the sheep and angora goats were a natural follow on. I plan to add a few more natural colored angora goats and then quit. It is hard to ever say something is done, since new ideas pop up all of the time.
Agave is on the left. She and her mother hang out together now, but not because her mother is interested!
Dark Chocolate has decided that she is done with feeding her kids. She discovered that one way to have some peace was to stand on the shed. There is not enough room for her kids to get up there and drink safely. I am surprised that she got up there. Usually by the time they are yearlings they no longer are light or nimble enough to get up there.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Chicken Coop

This tarantula was on the outside of the chicken coop trying to get in this afternoon. It is the first time that I have seen one out in the daytime. UGLY!
I had to go to the feed store to pick up chicken food this afternoon. The place that I usually order my feed from is closed on Sundays. It was a mistake for Marc not to go, since I found these chicks and decided to round out the number that I have at home to an even dozen. While there, I got to see what Polish crested chicks look like - nothing like their adult form. I thought the chicks were cuter then the older one that I have. My angora rabbits are sharing the chicken coop, so they can have room to run around. This is Parsley and above her head is the tarantula. They get at least one soaking a day to keep them cooled off. The heat is tough on them.
One of my friends brought me these two roosters earlier in the week. The one in front still looks like that. I think he is going to always have bad hair days. They are just small enough that the older ones are pushing them away, so I am feeding them separately.
This is a bird's nest that fell out of a tree last Saturday. The two babies were dead and this egg was cracked. It is made almost entirely out of goose feathers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another one

Found this guy in a pen with three of my goats just now. He started moving, so I tracked him, while I called one of my neighbors, who had promised to come get any that I did not want. Since he was in the same pen where the 5 day old kid was killed earlier this year, I suspect that it was the same one.
He was great at camouflage and too big for me to mess with on my own.
My neighbor arrived with a long metal pole with a string threaded through it. One end was attached to the pole and the other end had a loop. After a few tries, he managed to get the snake's head in the loop and then he put it in a bucket with a lid. He took it home to let loose on his acreage. The goats did not even seem aware that it was there and they were too close. I am glad to see the last of it. Now I am too nervous to settle to spinning. That snake has probably been in and out of those pens a lot and I could have lost more goats and sheep, because that area is one of the coolest during the day. Ignorance is bliss!

Anyhow, if you are in the desert, keep your eyes peeled! You don't know what you might be missing. Notice, that I did not say that it would be something good!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We were blessed with a glorious sunset tonight. We did not get rain because I went down and bought a tarp to cover the feed shed. Seems that prevention works both ways. Marc and I spent the day tidying up after the storm. Lots of trees branches were down, as well as one of our really tall arena lights. We are planning to replace it with one that is a more normal sized height. The expense of replacing the current one is too expensive considering that we rarely even us it. The tarp looks tacky, but it will do the job. The feed was not ruined, but it is so humid in the shed that the the pellets expanded to three times their normal size. Guess that is why the goats inhale it and then sit around content all day.
Brillo was not looking too happy (notice the ears going straight back.) She was ready for dinner and considered that I was late, since she was out of food.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

After the rain, wind, and hail

Marc and I got out to the bridge just in time to see bridge the wash start to run. It had not even gone under the bridge and, by the time I got the camera on, it was in full swing.
Coming from the north and
This is a portion of the roof of my feed shed. The whole roof is going to have to be replaced. Hopefully, the bags kept most of the water out. I am going to have then next delivery made to the workshop. Too expensive to not keep dry.
Emmy and Brillo were on the little island that is formed by the split in the wash that is near the bridge and duck pen. They did not like being on their own, so they walked across it. Emmy is pretty heavy, so she was OK. Brillo waited ten minutes and then decided to cross. She was not happy about it and she looked unstable, but she really wanted to be back with the rest of the heard.

Marc and I walked the fence line and noticed that he is going to have to remove a lot of stuff that came from the north. I also went to see, if I could see the toads. They were really loud, but the reservoir was so full of trash - people kind, and debris, that I could not see anything. Too bad. Found beer cans and bottles as I walked. Guess lots of kids are hanging out drinking and smoking. Found cigarette packages also. Too depressing.
It makes me appreciate my little corner.

The calm before the storm

Monsoon clouds were rolling in, so I decided to catch a few photos.
Absinthe and two of her triplets managed to sneak by me, when I went in to feed, so I let them dine on mesquite beans. They do this on a regular basis. I am not quite sure what her third kid does when they escape. She never fusses.
The milking stand got caught in the wind and was blown over during the storm. This was still before the storm.
Agave and her mother relaxing before I fed. Seems like a lot of the kids like to be in or on things that are not on the ground.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot and Bothered

When I got to Barnes and Nobles tonight to meet with my fiber artist friends, Holly told me that I looked hot and bothered. I told her that she might have looked that way also, if she found one of these hanging outside her door!
I had just finished feeding the animals and heard a noise like running water.I thought Marc might have left the hose running when he left to play tennis, so I started walking to the front of the house. I found Charcoal messing around and then heard a hissing sound like gas coming out of a pipe and discovered this snake peeking around the corner of the studio. I got Charcoal inside and grabbed my camera.
I am glad that the camera has a really good zoom - I was 15-20 feet away when I took this picture. I am also glad that it has a stabilization feature! My hands were shaking just enough that I could not get an unblurred picture without it. I have one photo where you can see the rattlesnake's tongue out. I guess Charcoal must have really made him mad.

It just crossed my mind to wonder, if there is a way to look at a snake - from a distance, of course - and determine, if the snake is male or female.

I did manage to get some of my freeform vest sewn together, while Stacy needlefelted another sheep for me to coil, and Holly settled on a design for her new cowl pattern.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shots, Tags, Docking, Castrating, and Worming

I had not even finished my coffee, when Tor called to ask, if I would like to get the animals fixed up today. Knowing how things can come up, if you wait, I cut my leisurely breakfast short and went out to catch animals. Since Tor called before I had fed them, it was not too hard. Marc and Kyle put the panels around the feeders. I filled a few of them, waited for the animals to rush in to eat, and swung the panels closed behind them. We caught enough of them, that it was not too hard to catch the few stragglers. You can tell that Tor has worked around animals a long time. He looks like he is plodding along and then just reaches out and has the goat or sheep. I can catch a lot of the goats that way, because they are not quite as suspicious as the sheep. when it came time to round up the rest of the sheep, we put up the panels and Tor just walked along behind them and they were in the small shed. So easy!
Above is Agave. She is so tiny and she is easily recognizable, but I figured that we needed to get her done also. In the first picture I was trying to catch the blue of the worming/lice stuff on her back, but it did not quite come out. I plan to tag all of the babies next year before they leave the sheds. Matching moms and babies was not too hard to do, since they call out to one another, but I think it will be more efficient. Tor also told me that he gives the buck the first number, if there are multiple births. He says it makes it easier to remember when it comes time to put tags on and send in registrations. This little guy is one of the three Shetland Border Leicester crosses. They have lovely wool. Since they are all crosses, they all got the full treatment - castration.
They have really short horns, since they are crosses. They are all the size of a Shetland, which is nice - they will eat less. Their moms are huge.
I castrated all of the Jacob cross rams and kept one of the Jacob rams intact, in the event that someone would like to buy him. If he does not find a new home by the middle of September, he will be castrated also.
The whole deal took us three hours and the only ones that were not done were the two Shetland lambs in the arena. Guess we will catch them next week.
The best part of the whole process was the chance to put my hands on all of the fleeces. Saffron's twin bucks had the best fiber by far. I did not castrate either of them. The interesting thing is that the same doe bred to the same buck will not necessarily produce the same quality of fiber in their offspring from year to year. The Texas doe had twins: the buck got castrated, because his hair was not much better than that of a color carrier, while his sister had what I was looking for. Last year the Texas doe had the buck with the best hair. Absinthe's triplets are gorgeous, so her buck did not get castrated either. Since I worry about losing No Size, I decided that I would keep a few of the bucks and see how they do. No Size has given me consistently more does than bucks, so I want to make sure that any futer herdsire will do the same. The two black dominant bucks got castrated because none of their looks was great. I will use Palo Seco for breeding and kept Cinnamon's buck as a reserve. I castrated one of the silver bucks and will use the other for breeding. Their fleeces are gorgeous.
If you wonder why I included all of the details above, I use my blog as a memory jogger! Absinthe kept chewing my papers today, which made me start to worry about documentation. All of what she ate, I have on the computer in spreadsheets, but I made a lot of notes on my sheets today and decided that I needed a more permanent record.
And, I got to check the ewe that I suspected was pregnant - and she is! She must have gotten pregnant on the last day that she was in with Tarragon. Based on udder size, she could be tomorrow or two weeks from now.She is not a first timer and she in not in the arena, which is a blessing. I do not need more escape artists - and I think she is carrying twins.

Dinner Time

Clementine got a name and a nose yesterday.
Dinner time is always a mad dash for the feeders. I was about 20 minutes later last night and Stacy caught them on my camera, while I was feeding.
This is an overhead view of another feeder.
Nicely lined up in a row! I got to check out all of their fleeces today.
Emmy and Brillo will always pose for a camera, because they are looking for a handout. Brillo has noticed that the feed shed is open. They have gotten very confident over the past year. They will walk all of the way into the shed, which is surprising, since it is so small and narrow. Their noses direct them to the grain.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A day for animals

Stacy brought me a needlefelted sheep the other day in response to a comment that I made about wanting to use coiled yarns on a sheep to see how it would turn out. It took 3 yards to get her fully wrapped. Stacy is going to add a nose and she is done. Cute? I think she is going to need a name.
This is an angora goat without her fleece.Pretty sad looking. I got her back from Tor this past week. She is one of Saffron's does from last year. Tor told me that she had the best fleece out of the does that he had. Wouldn't know that by looking at her now!
This is the ram that I have chosen to use for breeding with some of my Shetland ewes this year. Now that I am going to use him, I am going to have to look his name up. I tried to forget all of the rams' names until I know whether I am keeping them or not. His horns are beautifully spaced like his fathers'. He is out of Espresso and Hazelnut, a really good combination.
I am feeding Agave grain each day to keep her really friendly. She followed me around while I raked this evening, so I decided that she needed a little extra. This gives new meaning to the expression - eating out of your hand!
The ram on the left is going to be castrated and kept for his fleeces. He is 3/4 Shetland and 1/4 Border Leicester. The ones with that cross last year had the best fleeces. He is one of triplets. I will probably keep all three at least a year, if not longer. They are really small. To his right is the Jacobs ewe lamb. She has four horns, which you can just barely tell.

The XD card for my camera arrived today. I noticed that I can get 30 minutes of video on it! Kind of impressive.I took a minute one tonight, so will have to figure out how to look at it. I can't believe that I can get 800 pictures!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Empty bag

Usually, when Marc goes out to the animals, they head in the other direction. This time he was carrying a bag of stale chips. He had a lot of friends. I caught this picture as he was heading out.
I really went out with the camera to catch pictures of the colors of the sky and of the trees as the sun reflected off them. In the foreground is Absinthe with her triplets. I will probably use her buck for breeding. He is the oldest and has the No Size type of fleece that I am looking for. Saffron has twin bucks that are just as lovely, but I can't use them all. I don't have enough pens!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I sold off my only red buck last year, so I had to buy a new one. His twin sister was so cute, I got her too. They were born in January and already need haircuts.
I spun up a freeform novelty yarn celebrating school days. When a portion of it did not look right with the rest of the skein, I removed it and then got hooked into knitting it up. I am now spinning another 75 yards to go with what I have, so it will be long enough. I chose to use a size 11 needle. I could have gone with a larger needle, but I wanted to see how much the edges would curve in and out due to the textures. I cast on 22 stitches and am just doing garter stitch. I thought about doing a log pattern design, but decided that I would have to spin even more yarn, since I would be binding off stitches and losing in size.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Playing with camera

Marc wanted to show Frodo off to someone, so I loaded another photo.
Storms passed us by tonight, but I caught some cool looking sky shots for future reference.
This camera picks up the texture, so I went back in the shop and played around with it.
The above is the front rack in my shop. It is almost all freeform novelty yarn. I have gone back to spinning everyday yarns. I decided to spend Mondays and Tuesday designing new yarns and catching up with the classics during the rest of the week. Since today was a holiday, I created a novelty yarn. Will post it tomorrow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


These were the last two Shetlands born. Since they are in the arena, they are not with the rest of the lambs. This picture shows them in the wash - they had wandered away from their moms and were trying to get into the area with the rest of the lambs.
I am testing the close up function of my new camera. I can't get near these two, so I am impressed by the zoom capability. I managed to scare them back into the arena with their moms. And then found them out again, nosing up to Agave (in the picture below.)

These are the locks on one of the yearling does. I was too far to read the ear tag to be sure of who she is, but the camera did a great job of picking out the details of her fleece. Hers is about 2.5 inches long now. The humidity is giving all of the goats gorgeous ringlets.