Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Road Trip on the day March goes out like a Lion!

This is what it looked like this morning out our back door - kinda wet - that big white thing is a snow flake falling in front of the camera lens - looks huge - they were, but we had places to go and things to do -

John had loaded up the back of the truck with bags of fleece.

We were off to Monroe - about 85 miles away take these fleeces to be processed at Gretchen's Wool Mill. Gretchen & her husband Rob raise Fresian dairy sheep - but more about that later... First we had to get out of town!

This is what it looked like at the service station - less than two miles away - snow was coming down fast and furious - but remember we were in a truck!

First stop was the Fairhaven Plant Sale - the first "sale of the season" - it literally heralds in spring - today it looked like it was heralding in winter!

Regardless of the fact that there was no room in the back of the truck because it was full of bags of wool, The Shepherd pulled out his trusty umbrella and did a quick walk through of the booths - luckily he didn't find anything he couldn't live without.

Off we went - the freeway alternating between bare and wet and VERY SNOWY!!! This near white out conditions shot was taken in what they call the Northwest Convergence Zone - an area that seems to have it's own particular weather patern - and if there is snow to be found - it's in this area. The roads weren't particularly bad tho, so we kept going. It slowed us down some - we were about 1/2 hour off our preset appointment.

First thing we got to see was the new baby! This little one was just an hour or so old - a single to a brand new mom. Gretchen explained that Friesians are very prolific in the lamb department - often having triplets, quads or even occasionally quints - They are good mamas though.

I thought they were exceptionally pretty.

This is Gretchen and one of her older ewes.

Compared to our Shetlands they are HUGE! But they seemed very laid back and friendly - even the mamas in waiting came up and sniffed my hand. The Wilsons milk their sheep, using the milk for cooking and drinking as well as to make yogurt and cheese.

Her shop is very nicely set up with four big tubs for washing fleeces and a huge drying rack area with 4 racks. One was covered with this yummy white Leicester Longwool fleece - I wish I had taken a picture of it - lusterous with locks like mohair... and soft - we agreed that it was too bad that the owner was having it all run thru the carding machine - I may have to keep an eye out for that kind of wool when we go to Black Sheep in June.

John & Gretchen brought all the bags of fleece into her shop and they sorted out what he wanted done with them. We are having Anna Dee fleeces and Regina's fleeces for this year and last processed together so there will be enough to make a sweater vest from each girl's fleeces for The Shepherd.

By the time we got back down into Monroe - the pavement was dry - no snow to be found - there was however, a Ben Franklin Store! We were astonished and I had to take a picture of it. Maybe I can talk The Shepherd into stopping there when we go back down in a month to pick up the finished fleeces.

So we headed back home - stopped in Marysville for a dandy lunch and in B'ham for groceries. All in all, a very fun day! Thanks again to Gretchen Wilson for showing us her flock and her wool mill.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No snow, yet...

Just grey and rainy and COLD - but, not as cold as it is in other places, and not as rainy as it is in other places. Guess "grey" will have to be our claim to fame.

Church newsletter is almost done, so I'll have more time soon. We're going to Monroe on Saturday to take some fleeces to Gretchen's Wool Mill . I "met" Gretchen last December from her email about the Black Sheep Creamery in Lewis County being flooded. She has also become our first new farm member of Washington Wool Dot Net. I'm hoping that she'll let me take lots of pictures to show you!

Well, the newsletter is calling my name - I have to have it at the printer's at 8:30 in the a.m. - Catch you later!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A lovely Easter gift

The Shepherd filled all the pots in my plant stand with these lovely pansies as a gift for Easter (even tho we said we were not going to do any "Easter Bunny" presents for each other!) I guess they are as much for him too - they are so bright and cheery as you come out the back door.

In the summer we fill these pots with petunias - Several years ago (before I had my digital camera), I found an itty bitty green tree frog hiding in the throat of one of the blossoms - waiting for fast food, I think.

The neighbors across the street have one of the last large wetland areas around here. At dusk the frogs start to sing to each other - "Pick me, Pick me, Pick Me" By dark, the noise is almost deafening - I love it.

The weather today went from torrential down pours this morning (ruined a lot of Easter egg hunts, I reckon) to bright sunny skies this afternoon. Easter dinner was a little low key (we both were feeling "under the weather") - we had already planned on baked salmon, steamed red potatoes and fresh asparagus. It was tasty and there is enough left over for tomorrow night (well not the asparagus, it goes pretty fast around here...)

I took a walk around the place yesterday while we had a break in the inclement weather - After I get my church newsletter done, I'll put some of the pictures up this week so you can see how creative The Shepherd is on a grander scale.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Delightful Read - "Brave Charlotte"

It all began with this set of postcards that I received from a friend for Christmas. OK - fellow shepherds (Shetland, especially) - click on this picture and tell me that you haven't seen a stare like the one on the faces of those four girls in the center picture coming from your own four favorite ewes.

I fell in love with these cards upon first sight. How could I ever give them away - I wanted to frame them all and re-decorate our dining room (well, not Really, but Almost) - The backs of the cards were in German (!) but I could ascertain the name Henrike Wilson - so I typed it into Google - and found that she had done the illustrations for a wonderful book called "Brave Charlotte"

To quote the book jacket: "Charlotte is different from the other sheep. She likes to explore the world around her, climbing up trees and wandering near the dangerous road, while the wary old sheep shake their heads and mutter, "Tut, tut, tut". But them danger strikes, only Charlotte is brave enough to go for help and save the day.

This beautifully illustrated tale speaks to all shy little sheep who stand out from the crowd and aren't afraid to follow their dreams."

Then I found that the postcards were available on the Bas Bleu web site -(actually quite a delightful website - lots of fun stuff and interesting books, but I digress) so I ordered two sets of postcards to give to friends.

THEN, I started looking for the book and found two "Like New" copies for a very good price, on the Barnes and Noble web site (I had received a B&N gift card for my birthday - what a great way to use it) - I wanted two copies, one for me and one for our Sunday School kids. I will read it to them in April when our choir does an Earth Day service, and then give it to the church library.

The book is a pure delight - makes you go "Awwww" at the end (ok, so it made my eyes leak a little too - but you have to remember that I cry at Hallmark card commercials...) You can find it at or in Portland (which has to be THE coolest bookstore in the world) Both of the copies I bought as "used" - but they were both in excellent condition and less than 1/2 the price of the "new".

Even if you don't have kids or grandkids to read this to, I recommend that you get a copy for yourself - it's a Very Good Read!

"I don't know, Regina, do you think we look like the girls in that picture? Their ears kind of stick out..."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Three Beautiful Things Tuesday

Spring is coming - there is a lot to find that is beautiful right now - those seductive almost sunny, almost 60 degree days - the hundreds of daffodils that The Shepherd has planted around our beautiful garden are getting ready to POP! - the flowering plum and cherries are starting to show that delicate pink color that will become their blossoms.

* The Shepherd brought me this pretty planter back from his weekend away last week. He went to Tacoma for the PNW Unitarian Universalist Annual General Meeting (Isn't that a mouthful? we generally just all it PNWD...) He took an extra day just for himself - I got to be "sheep mom" (ie. Good morning ladies, dad is gone, I'll be your hostess for the weekend and don't expect me to get up at the crack of dawn like he does!)

* And then, there are THE FROGS! Our neighbors field, for all intents and purposes is a wet lands - there are so few left in the county that haven't had mega houses built on them. Once they are all gone, where will the frogs go to meet their girlfriends in the spring time? What a joyous sound - I'm here - pick me, pick me, pick me!

* One of the most beautiful things I have seen this week is Miss Peach in her new Kimono. It was a gift to her from Adan and Michico from Japan. How cool is that! Cat bloggers and sheep bloggers are right up there as being the nicest people!

And an extra TBT (I guess that make it FBT) Of course there are also Isis' kittens (click on Kitten Photo Gallery to see the pictures of these little sweeties). I can't wait to see them when they are a little older - unfortunately, they live in London, England - so, I will only be able to appreciate their "virtual cuteness" Oh, well...

I hope you are finding beautiful things where ever you go this week!

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Not withstanding the feline acomplice sticking her nose into everything, Nance's scarf is almost done. The squares were pretty easy - it's tieing in all those ends that is a pain in the patootie (or how ever you spell that...)

I'm taking a couple of classes from one of our local yarn stores (that's LYS for those in the know) - the first one - I decided that I needed to take another spinning class as there seemed to be a few things that weren't "working right". This is the "bump" of dyed Border Leicester
roving - and for once my camera got the color right (unlike the purple in Nance's scarf) - it is the prettiest robin's egg/sky blue I've ever seen- Yvonne from Aquarian Hamster is teaching the class. And, I need to go practice on some of that yummy blue wool!

Next on the menu: an Artfelt felting class (the other class from my LYS) and "Brave Charlotte!"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

First of the season -

Our three "girls" are someplace between 8 & 10 years old, but someone once told me that if a chicken makes it past 2 or 3 years old, they will have a good long life - last year I even got a couple of dozen eggs to sell to the neighbor! Yeah Spring!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

And what do YOU want to be when you grow up?

Career Inventory Test Results

Emotional Stability63%

You are a Planner, possible professions include - management consultant, economist, scientist, computer programmer, environmental planner, new business developer, curriculum designer, administrator, mathematician, psychologist, neurologist, biomedical researcher, strategic planner, civil engineer, intellectual properties attorney, designer, editor/art director, inventor, informational-graphics designer, financial planner, judge.

And the caveat -
Keep in mind, your results are dependent on the accurate truth of your responses. Your scores and type, over the long term, will change as you do.

Oh, and by the way - my "job title" at work - Finance Manager - pretty much fits, I guess.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shearing - part two

The day dawned clear and a little chilly but NO RAIN - over night, or in sight. A perfect day for a shearing.

A shepherd is no different from any other farmer - tending his "crop" all year long - making sure the best is available - food, care, etc. But also planning years in advance - planning what ram to use, which ewe to breed - how the personalities of each sheep fits into the flock.

He also looks for the best tools to tend his flock - in this case The Shepherd and Marcia our shearer delux are discussing the new shepherd's crook that "Santa" brought this year. It prooved invaluable in catching a couple of the more skitterish little girls and I heard mutterings of "should have gotten one of these long ago..."

The "sweeper" in the picture above is our friend Margot. She brought her two children, William and Emily to watch the shearing. They were incredibly good and, altho they look just a teentsy bit bored in this picture, they asked some very good questions and it was reported later that they actually had a great time.

Moni's fleece is jet black - no white threads at all save a "leetle bitty white spot" on her neck. We'll just skirt that bit out, don't you think?

We had very high hopes of taking Luna's fleece to the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene this next summer, but what is that old adage - something about pride going before the fall? A marauding neighborhood cat (we are POSITIVE it was neither Neelix or Sinda) got into the greenhouse in the night before it could be bagged up and sprayed on it! The Shepherd was just sick. It will, of course be okay to process, as the dratted pee will come out - but any hope of this being a blue ribbon fleece went out the window.

So, here is this year's harvest - actually I think there were two more fleeces on the potting bench, but it's on the other side of the greenhouse and my camera doesn't take panoramic pictures...

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of our farm life. Now that I am spinning more, I look at the fleeces with a more propriatory nature - but, they belong to The Shepherd. Hopefully he'll share one or two of them with me this year. (Like Arlo's and Moni's and Luna's and .......)