Monday, December 24, 2012

Gotta share some seasonal joy

This may be the best 12 Days ever...

Happy Ho Ho to one and all!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I don't remember buying any gargoyles...

On my way out to do chores tonight, I glanced over at the chicken coop, then ran back inside for the camera.
Because this:

 The chicken coop roof doesn't have lumps.  Or gargoyles.  Though apparently, it does have turkeys.

Getting a little closer:

"Hey!  You birds get down from there!  Go back inside!"

You can see how well they mind...

I remember saying recently that I liked raising turkeys.  Oh, yeah - right here.  What was I thinking?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And me without my camera...

Sorry, y'all.  Because it would have made a great picture.

I was on evening chores tonight, since Madman did them this morning.  Everything went smoothly, especially considering it was snowing hard, with high winds.  (It was raining when I left for work this morning, then the temperature plummeted and it was snowing when I was coming home.  Because it's Vermont, and that's how we do things up here.)
Smoothly, that is, until I got to the chickens.  I filled their feeder, then was excited when I found two eggs in the nest boxes.  (We've only been getting one egg lately, so two was just great!)  I held them in my left hand while I checked the waterer.
Madman had given them a full one this morning, but hadn't pulled the other one, so both waterers were in the coop.  Since we'd need one for the morning, and there was no sense leaving both of them to freeze overnight, I decided to grab the one that was sitting on the roost and head for the house.
Unfortunately, there was a sleeping turkey perched on top of it.  Now, in hindsight, I probably should have grabbed hold of the turkey with both hands and set her on the roost, then picked up the waterer.  But I had one hand full of eggs, so I just reached up and tried to nudge the turkey off with my right forearm, figuring she would just step back onto the roost.
I've mentioned that turkeys are pretty mellow.  Just 'everything's hunky-dory' sort of critters.  But apparently that's not the case when you wake them up out of a sound sleep, while wearing a headlamp that's shining brightly in their eyes, and start pushing them off their perch.  She went just the other side of bonkers and jumped up onto my forearm, while flapping wildly.  It was sort of like having a falcon on your arm, if the falcon weighed 15 pounds with a 4-foot wingspan and was having hysterics.  She kept whacking me on the head and shoulder with her wings and wouldn't Just. Let. Go.  I was trying to encourage her to step off onto the roost, but she wasn't having any of that.  It was somewhere along this point that I put my thumb through one of the eggs.
So now I've got an hysterical flapping turkey on one hand, and a dripping mess of busted egg in the other.

And me without my camera...

Monday, December 3, 2012

24 hours of rain on top of 3 inches of snow is not a pretty sight

Slippery is the word of the day...

On the bright side, the turkeys have speeded up chore-doing by moving themselves in with the chickens.  We've given up trying to keep them in their own pen, and accepted the one-less-set-of-waterers-and-feeders-to-fill-in-the-wintertime as a plus.
We were a little worried how the birds would take to each other, given the size and species differences.  The turkeys (bless their gentle little hearts) are very happy.  But then, turkeys seem to be generally happy with whatever is going on.  They stand amongst the chickens saying "You are like us!"  (I picture their voices as sounding like the chirpy tones of the average four-year-old.  I'm a great anthropomorphizer...)  The chickens, meanwhile, don't seem to be unhappy, but they tend to stare up at the turkeys while thinking "You are not like us..."
So far, so good.  It's funny seeing them all on the roost at night, little chickens cuddled up to big turkeys, like kids asking for one more bedtime story.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yep. This one's gonna stick.


The sheep, shown here happily munching on hay, have a light dusting of snow on their backs.  Cuz, why would they go inside a shelter when there's a perfectly good snowstorm to stand out in?

 The ones who seemed ticked off by all the white stuff are the turkeys.  They're too young to have experienced it before, and they spent most of the day stalking around making loud "Pwweot!  Pwweot!"  noises.  Apparently this is Turkey for "WTF?"

They spent the latter part of the afternoon perched on their gate.  I think they were tired of walking in the white stuff, and why would they go inside their shelter when there's a perfectly good snowstorm to stand out in?

I think they've been taking sheep lessons.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

No NoBloPoMo

For the first year since I started the blog, I'm not going to do NoBloPoMo.  I'm having trouble posting once a week - once a day is totally out of the question.  Though I will try to post a little more often.  The activity level of summer has tapered off, though we still have sheep, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits to tend. 
We butchered our original turkeys, selling one and putting the other two in the freezer, but someone gave us two pretty Bourbon Reds, which is a heritage breed..  They're not old enough to tell what sex they are yet (and after the loop one of our first turkeys threw us, we're not going to guess), but we're hoping for a male and a female so we can try raising some of our own.  With our luck, that won't happen, of course, but we can still hope.  The same person also gave us two young female rabbits.  Our sole surviving rabbit, Stiffler, is verrrrrry excited to have new girls in the neighborhood.  We put them in a cage next door to his, and he's been combing his hair and practicing his pickup lines ever since. 
Soon, Stiffler, soon...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Okay, quick show of hands - who wants to see some pictures of sheep?

(AKA the Lazy Blogger finally gets a post up...)

Leading off with the fellas, Merlin and Orion.  They're still by themselves in the back pen, waiting to be reunited with the girls.  (Another week or two, or when we can get ourselves organized to do it.)

I knew that Orion's horns had grown, but I didn't realize how much until I took this pic:
 and compared it to this one from last year when we first brought him home:

And here are the Little Guys, who are now about the same age as Orion was.  Which means we've gotta do some sheep separating soon (or hopefully, sell them) before they realize they're Almost Grownups and take some unfortunate action.

You all remember little Smokey.  (Formerly known as he's-not-named-Smokey.   Because he so totally is named Smokey.)

 And a side-view of his snazzy little horns:

And this little guy is now known as Sauron.  (Only because Beelzebub is too hard to say when you're chasing him through the garden...)  Actually, he's a little sweetheart, who loves to be petted.  Just don't stand between him and the food.  Just sayin'.

And here are Onyx's other two lambs.  The one on the left is the one Madman named Abigail (formerly known as the Spotty One), and the other one is Tiny.  She was the smallest of the three lambs, and in my efforts to not name her, I started referring to her as 'the tiny one', and somehow that became her name.  (Names are such a tricky thing.  Even when you don't name things, they end up with names anyway.  Hmmm.)

Check out the crimp in Tiny's fleece:

 Just makes you want to squish it, doesn't it?

And I have to share a sheep story with you.  When the meter-reader comes to our house, he has to walk between the sheep pen and the house to get to the electric meter.  When our sheep see anyone in the yard, they go nuts, since in their not-so-humble opinion, the only reason for humans to exist is to feed sheep.
The last time, I happened to be home when the reader arrived.  He must have been a new guy, since I'd never seen him before.   The sheep went on Full Alert the minute he hit the top of the driveway, and started sounding off as soon as he opened his vehicle door.
"Hey!  Human!  Human in the yard!  Hey!  You there!  Yeah, you!  Feed us!  We're hungry!  Really!  They never feed us here!  It's been days!  Or weeks!  Or maybe months!  We don't know because they won't let us have calendars!  But it's been really really really long!  Really long!  Food's in the can over there!  Hey!  Poor starving sheep here!  Hey!"  All six of them were blatting their heads off at the poor fella.  He strode dutifully down the path to the meter, glancing over at them a couple of times.  I don't think he spoke 'sheep', so the expression on his face could best be described as 'WTF?'  When he was almost back to his car, he stopped and stared at them for a minute.  The sheep were totally batshit by this point, because he had walked right past their food can without feeding the sheep! 
I'd been watching through the window the whole time, and at this point I was laughing so hard it was hard to stand up.  I don't know if he thought they were going to jump the fence and eat him, but he sure did have a sheepish (sorry sorry sorry - you know how I am) look on his face.

I imagine he's used to barking dogs in his profession.  But I don't think he was prepared for a bunch of raving sheep.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

There, that's done.

Yesterday was the last Jury Draw of the three that I have to serve.  (In Vermont, you have to do three jury draws or three juries, whichever comes first.)  Since I wasn't selected for a jury at any of the draws, I'm officially done.
I never even got called up for voir dire, which is where the judge and attorneys ask questions of a group of 24 people, chosen at random from the pool, in an effort to find 12 people (+ 2 alternates) who will form an impartial jury.  Since those of us who aren't part of the 24 are out in the audience, we get treated to a little bit of free theater.  (We're supposed to be paying rapt attention to all the questions, since a bunch of the original 24 can be rejected, and they'll call some of us up to fill the empty spaces until they end up with the final jury.)
The questions range from whether or not you know, or are related to, any of the people involved in the case, including the judge, the attorneys, the witnesses, or the defendant, to what are your attitudes toward various things that might be part of the case.  (One example of the latter from last month's draw was an examination of people's feelings about logging.  Really made me curious about the case...)
Our small town-ness really gets exposed during the questions about knowing or being related to people involved in the case.  There are always a fair number of folks who went to school with one or more of the principals, or are related one way or another.  "Well, Dr. So-and-So is my first wife's cousin, and the defense attorney got my best friend off on a...  ummm... charge.  Of some sort.  Ummm."   "That Trooper So-and-So is the one who showed up when the drunk skewed his truck through my front yard, and I wasn't happy with the way he handled it at all."   Like I said, a little free theater.
My favorite, however, is one from yesterday.  One woman, when one of the attorneys asked if anyone had any kind of relationship with the attorneys on the case, piped up "Well, I don't know if it's a relationship or not, but my current boyfriend is the ex-boyfriend of your current girlfriend's daughter.  Does that count?"
Yeah, small towns...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

First it rained, then it rained some more. Yep, it was Vermont Sheep and Wool...

It's now officially traditional that it rains for the entire Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  Tunbridge turns into a quagmire; vendors, exhibitors, and attendees shiver in the damp cold; umbrellas and raincoats drip everywhere.  But that just makes it perfect for wrapping up in wool, which is the whole point of the festival, right?
The only ones whose enthusiasm was utterly undampened (sorry.  you know how I am) were the sheepdogs who were there to show off their herding skills.  They watched their boss intently, waiting for the go-ahead signal.  You could just hear them thinking "Is it my turn yet?  Is it my turn yet? Now?  How about now?  Is it my turn yet?  I'm ready!  Ready ready ready ready!  Is it my turn yet?"  I wish I loved my job that much...
My youngest daughter and I attended together, as we usually do.  And while we saw all sorts of wonderful things (yarn!  roving!  spindles!  sweaters!  shawls! fuzzy critters!), I only managed to take one picture:

Because the sight of these two folks sharing a tiny little Hello Kitty umbrella was just too cute to pass up.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My butt still hurts

Yesterday was the second Jury Draw (of the three that I have to endure to meet my civic duty this year) and I spent 8 hours sitting on a hard wooden bench with only a thin cushion (very thin.  Like 1/2 inch thin.  Thin.) to protect my bony little butt.*
The good news is that I got the cuff of a sock knit.  The bad news is that I'll probably have to rip it out.  While I like a little negative ease in my socks, this one is turning out a little too negative-easish.  Like somewhere between tourniquet and Chinese footbinding.  I'm not even going to bother taking a photo, since I'm going to rip it.  So the good news 2 is that I'll be able to knit it over, and it's good that I have knitting to look forward to because the bad news 2 is that we didn't finish picking a jury and have to go back next Thursday to continue the whole longwinded boring process.

*  My theory is that they don't want us to get too comfortable and fall asleep from boredom.  Which I did anyway.  I seem to be making a habit of sleeping in the courtroom.  Maybe I should point this out if they try to select me for a jury.  I'm sure it wouldn't look good if the bailiff had to keep poking me to wake me up.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hey! What happened to August?!?

And how did it get to be September already...

So, what have I got to show for the summer?

Here's the sum total of the knitting I got done:

Wingspan.  (This is the best of a bunch of really bad pictures.  I can't get the colors right and the focus defeats me.)  I love this project.  Though if you count over to the fourth and fifth wedges, starting from the right, you'll see that the color sequence went south.  Minutes after I posted about how the colors were transitioning perfectly for the pattern, I hit a knot in the yarn.  *sigh*

The garden pretty well went south this summer too.  What with the sheep getting out and eating most of it, there's not much left but swiss chard and green beans.  And the tomatoes are being eaten nearly to the ground by a sudden infestation of hornworms, which we've never had before in all our years of gardening up here.  Growing up in Kansas and upstate NY, I was familiar with them, but Madman was all "WTF?!?" because he'd never seen one before.  Picture a caterpillar the size of your middle finger, chomping on your tomato plants and pooping the equivalent of elephant droppings.  The only good thing about them is that they explode rather spectacularly when you stomp on them.  (Just be careful not to point them at anyone, as they go off like a cannon.)

One of the few bright spots is that my lovely Black Austrolorps have started laying eggs.  (*sniff*  They grow up so fast...)  They've now been moved in with the main laying flock, though they spend most of their time next to the fence between poultry pens, gazing at their beloved turkeys.  The turkeys are also now spending all their time pressed up against the other side of the fence, gazing right back at their little chicken friends.  And this morning, Madman found the hen turkey in with the layer flock - she must have climbed the fence since she's now too fat to fly.  We foresee trouble, but the turkeys' days are numbered (because Thanksgiving.  And possibly Christmas.  You know.  Don't tell them.) so it will all work out in the end.   Because it would be just great if something on this little farmlet would just stay where it's supposed to.

But I'm not holding my breath...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nothing like a little late-night sheep chasing to get the heart pumping

Especially when we only had one flashlight between us.  At least Madman was home for this little escape party.  Though he got the flashlight - which was actually a headlamp.
The girls and the lambs were bustling all over the property in the dark when Madman heard them, and we headed out the door to round them up.  The porchlight showed they were up in the garden, but they came barreling down the hill when they saw us heading for the pen.  (You'll possibly remember that there's a 3-step plan for when the sheep are out.)  Then they barreled back up the hill, then down again.  For sheep that should have been fast asleep, they were awfully lively.
At one point, I was stranded in the dark - caught in the long gap between the light of the porchlight and Madman's headlamp, not daring to take a step.  Sheep went thundering past me, and at least one stopped and snuffled my hand (just in case I was carrying anything good to eat) but I have no idea which one it was.  All snuffles sound alike in the dark...
Eventually we got the fence fixed and all the sheep back inside, though as usual, Goldie was a trial.  She's quite content to climb fences or knock down posts, but for some reason an open gate just scares the crap out of her.
I remember thinking earlier in the day that it had been a nice quiet spell with no animal breakouts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

And then we went to the zoo.

I was on vacation last week, and I'm having a hard time shifting out of relax-and-don't-do-much-of-anything mode.  Though coming home to a bushel of beans to put in the freezer gave me a big bump in the direction of reality...
My vacation was lovely.  My youngest daughter and I went to my Dad's house, where my oldest daughter already was, with her husband and kids in tow.  (Yay!  Seeing the grandkids!!)  I spent most of my time sitting and relaxing and talking with anyone who'd sit and relax and talk with me.
Though they did finally manage to drag me out of my chair and off to the zoo, where we saw all manner of fabulous critters.

Now, I love monkeys as much as anyone, but my favorites are these:

The little hand in the lower left corner is my grandson's, pointing at a penguin that I wasn't looking at.  I adjusted my camera angle.

The look that young penguin is giving that finger is probably the reason that they posted this sign:

There were a whole bunch of these beauties.  Also finger gobblers, unless I miss my guess.

And just because I'm a sucker for chickens, here's a shot I caught in the Ordinary Critters on the Farm barn.

Okay, say it with me, now.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Of Poults and Pullets

I've been so caught up with the shenanigans of the sheep this summer, that I've been remiss in reporting on the turkeys and the Black Austrolorps.
Let's just fix that, shall we?
Here's a photo of the Lorps in the pen they share with the turkeys.  They're definitely a Gang of Six - they travel as a group, and rarely stray more than a few feet away from each other.

(I just wish I could get closer to them to get better pictures - they're not particularly friendly...)
I'm especially intrigued with their legs, which are black, instead of the almost-yellow of all our other chickens.

As for the turkeys, we thought we had one tom and two hens.  But late last week, one of the 'hens' suddenly started looking more and more male.  We don't know if this is normal or if he's just a late bloomer.  So, we've got one tom, one hen, and one puzzle.

Here's the tom:

He's in full-tilt Proud to Be a Turkey mode.  Tail feathers fanned, wing feathers also fanned and wings held down and slightly out to the side, all his feathers fluffed up until he looks twice his actual size, chin tucked and face colors blazing.

The funny thing is that he's been doing this since he was a week old - even before he had feathers to fluff.  He would assume the position and strut the strut.  "Oh, yeah, dude.  I'm a turkey.  Watch me now."
As for the other guy - here he is with the hen.  Up until last week, he looked just like her.  Then suddenly his neck started getting redder, that funny droopy nose-thing started growing, and he started doing the tom-turkey-fluff thing.  It was a surprise to us...

And I can cheerfully report that turkeys are just as dumb as we'd heard.  Maybe even dumber.
(You're starting to sense that I'm getting ready to tell one of my animal stories, aren't you?  Yep, you're right.  Grab a beer or a cup of tea and settle in, cuz here we go.)
This whole turkey-raising thing is new to us, if you'll remember.  It's this year's experiment, and it's been interesting.  On the whole, we like turkeys - they're not as flighty as chickens.  More placid, yet more curious.  They like to check things out, though they don't seem to come to any conclusions.
So, the other day, I was on morning chores.  Now evening chores can be done in a relaxed manner, since there are no time constraints.  For this reason, disaster rarely strikes for evening chores.
Mornings, however, are another story.  Since we have to get to work in a timely fashion, we tend to be in a bit more of a hurry, even when we've allowed an extra margin of time in case of delays.  (We have a theory that morning chores take 20 minutes if everything goes smoothly.  However, this is just a theory, since everything has never gone smoothly...)
So, like I said, it was my morning for chores.  There had already been a few delays, and the extra time had been pretty well chewed up, when I looked toward the gate to the turkey and lorp pen and saw a turkey standing just outside the (closed) gate.
It was the hen.  I don't know how she got out.  My theory is that she'd flown up to the top of the gate and then fell off.  Not great flyers, turkeys. 
I started grumbling to myself.  "Aw, crap.  I don't have time for this.  Damn turkey.  grumble grumble
I approached her cautiously, trying not to spook her.  It was the first time a turkey had been out of the pen, and I had no way of knowing how she'd react.  The very last thing I wanted to be doing was racing around chasing a terrified turkey.
She continued to stand there quietly as I edged closer.  I realized I could almost hear her singing to herself:  "I'm so dumb.  Dumb-de-dumb-de-dumb."
I got closer.
 "I'm so dumb.  Dumb-de-dumb-de-dumb."
And closer.
 "I'm so dumb.  Dumb-de-dumb-de-dumb."
I finally got close enough to lay hands on her.  She still didn't move.
 "I'm so dumb.  Dumb-de-dumb-de-dumb."
I reached behind her, unlatched and opened the gate, then, with both hands gently turned her around.  She obliged by alternately lifting each foot as I spun her, rocking in time to her song.
 "I'm so dumb.  Dumb-de-dumb-de-dumb."
I gave her a little push, and she walked back into the pen, still singing.  "I'm so dumb.  Dumb-de-dumb-de-dumb."

Turkeys.  Raising them again next year?  Oh, yeah.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Welcome to Stalag 13. Colonel Hogan will escort you to the escape tunnels as soon as he's done goofing on Colonel Klink.

This is getting ridiculous.
This week my days off were Tuesday and Wednesday.  Tuesday I'd planned to spend weeding the garden, but as usual, rain kept me indoors.  (It always rains on my day off.  I don't know why.)
So I was puttering around indoors when I heard a really loud noise from the neighbor's house up the hill.  Apparently the house has sold again, and the new people were working on some project that involved a lot of banging on metal.  I looked out the kitchen window to try to see what was going on, and saw Merlin and Orion in their pen, raptly looking up the hill as well.
Unfortunately, Goldie and Smoke were standing nearby, also staring just as raptly.
They are supposed to be in their pen on the other side of the house.
Just as the first bad word was coming out of my mouth, Onyx appeared with the Terrible Trio in tow.
Bad words started gushing out of my mouth...
I ran out the door, trying desperately to come up with a plan.  Madman was at work, miles away, and totally unavailable for sheep-chasing.

Okay, then.

Step 1:  Check the pen to see how they got out.
Step 2:  Fix the problem.  There's no sense in putting them back in the pen if they're just going to get out again.
Step 3:  Catch sheep and put them in pen.

So, the fencing that was (allegedly) holding the ewes and lambs forms a big pen that is divided down the middle by fence and a gate, forming 2 paddocks  (We alternate them between the two, giving the grass time to recover in between.  They started in paddock 1, then were switched to paddock 2 a couple of weeks later.)  The problem - the corner post of paddock 2 had collapsed, taking down one end of the pen.  The sheep had just walked right out over the fence.
Step 1, done.
As far as step 2 - there was nothing I could do to fix the corner post.  I'd have to wait till Madman got home.  So, I decided to put them back into paddock 1, which we were planning to do this weekend anyway.
I opened the gate to paddock 1, threw some grain into a food dish and left it inside, then grabbed the other food dish, filled it with more grain, and headed out to attempt step 3..
Luckily, they were easily lured by the grain.  Though still apprehensive about the clanging noises from up the hill, they followed me all the way back and into the pen.  (I just had to stay ahead of Onyx, who was trying to climb into the food dish.)
I closed  the gate, breathed a sigh of relief, and went back into the house.  The rest of the day was much less exciting, with only thunderstorms for entertainment.

Wednesday dawned clear and bright, so I finally got to head up into the garden.  I spent several happy hours weeding, occasionally chucking some grass over the fence to Merlin and Orion since they were amused by grass falling from the sky.
Then Orion started blatting.
Now, Orion is usually a pretty quiet sheep.  (And when he does speak, he sounds like he's battling laryngitis.)  It's totally unlike him to blatt more than a couple of times.
He blatted a lot more than a couple of times.
I looked up from my weeding just in time to see a little black hairy butt flash through the garden.
"Hey!"  I yelled at the lamb.  "What are you doing out?!?"
Just then Onyx peeked around the end of the greenhouse, with a "Who, me?" look on her face.  And another lamb leaped over the lettuce and beelined for the broccoli.
I headed down for the grain again.  Goldie and Smoke were still down by the galvanized trash can that we keep their grain in, trying to figure out how to get it open.  (Damn that lack of opposable thumbs...)  I lured them inside with grain, then set off to get Onyx and her crew.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
This time they'd scaled the fence between the paddocks (and just why is it that we have the only sheep in the history of the world who climb fences?), pushing it down, then had gone out through the end of paddock 2 that was still down from yesterday's escape.
I did some fence magic with posts, props, and cussing, and went back to my gardening.
Madman was equal parts amused and exasperated when I told him about the latest escape.  "Damn sheep," he muttered, shaking his head.
I thought the sheep were settled for the day, but I should have worried when Madman ran into town to pick up a couple of things at the store.  After all, they always wait till he's not around...
Let's do this one more time for luck.
This time, they'd figured out that if they pushed at the lower corner of the gate between the paddocks, they could juuuuust squeeze through..  And since that damn corner post was still down, they could walk right out again.
So, as Madman drove up the driveway, he saw me with my frowny face on, holding up the corner post to keep the damn sheep in any pen at all, while trying to find anything to wedge the post up with.  At that point I had Goldie in paddock 1, and everybody else in paddock 2.
Between us, we got the post up, and after a lot of confusion, all the sheep back into paddock 1.  (As we were getting Onyx and all the lambs from #2 to #1, Goldie crossed from #1 to #2.  And got too upset to go back.  Because she's Goldie.)

No wonder Colonel Klink was always so grumpy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And then, to make the day just perfect, the tailpipe fell off my car

It was one of those "Perfect Storm" type deals.

You know.  Just my normal life.

The letter notifying me that I'd been chosen for jury duty had been hiding for a couple of weeks before I found it.  (And my first reaction was "Hey!  You can't do that!  I'm immune for 2 years!"  But it turned out that I'd served in 2009, which meant my 2 years was up.  Crap.)  Luckily, there was now an option to respond online, which I did, with apologies for the lateness of the response.
This left me with very little notice that I had to show up on Wednesday, the 11th, for the first Jury Draw, but when I consulted with the Ops at work, she checked my schedule for that week (which had been done ahead of time, since the manager was about to go on vacation) and it showed that I was off that day anyway, so "whew!"  Bullet dodged.
But what she neglected to tell me was that I was scheduled for overnights on Monday and Tuesday.  (It was a fluke - Home Office decided that the seasonal reset that the stores needed would be done as overnights.  An experiment.  If I was paranoid, I'd be sure that it was all about me...)
That meant that I would get out of work Wednesday morning at 7am, after working a 10 hour shift, and have to go directly to the courthouse in the next town in order to be there for 8am.  And then try to stay awake through 8 hours of sitting in a courtroom.


There was one point about mid-afternoon, where I woke up when the bailiff bellowed "All rise!!" when the judge swept back in the room.  I don't know how long I'd been asleep.  I can only hope I didn't snore.

And I was very glad they didn't call my name to question me for a particular case.
Attorney for the defendant:  "So tell me, do you have any particular aversions to someone who... eats kittens?"
 Me:  "Um....  No?"

And yeah, my tailpipe really did fall off on my way to the courthouse.  I had to go back and pick it up.  Then walk along the highway, carrying a 6-ft tailpipe at 7 o'clock in the morning.

Just perfect.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Where did everybody go?"

The boys are a little lonesome.  This morning was the appointed time for moving the girls and the lambs to the new pasture.  (This would be the area formerly known as our front yard.  Both of us would rather have sheep than lawn...)
The lambs are old enough to be weaned, and once they are, their mothers can go into season again.  Shetlands are capable of having lambs twice a year, but we don't want to do that.  First of all, it's hard on the mothers, and second, we don't want lambs born in the middle of winter.  We'll put the flock back together this fall, so that the lambs are timed for March or April.

Goldie was the first, as Goldie always has to be first in anything smacking of Not Routine.  She's hard enough to catch when she isn't already suspicious.  An apprehensive Goldie is a faster-than-a-photon Goldie.
Madman managed to grab her and get a halter on her while I caught and picked up Smoke.  (And then had to climb over a fence while carrying a large struggling lamb.  Too bad we didn't have an extra person to take photos.  On the other hand, if we'd had an extra person, I would have handed over the struggling lamb and done the photography myself.)  (On the other other hand, Madman had to get Goldie over the fence, so I really had the easy part of the deal...)
I lead the way, carrying Smoke, and trying to call Goldie's attention to the fact that she probably wanted to follow us.  "Look, Goldie!  I've got your lamb!  Goldie - look look!"  Goldie, meanwhile, was simultaneously trying to dart in three directions at once, while dragging her feet to keep from going in the direction Madman was trying to lead her.  And just to keep things real, she threw in a double backflip that startled the hell out of Madman.  (We think it startled her, too, since she landed on her side.  She might not have known she could do that.)
Once we got them through the gate and they realized there was FOOD in this new place, they settled right down to cropping and chewing. 

Two down, four to go.

The rest were easier.  I carried down two of Onyx's lambs while Madman was catching their mama, then carried the third one while he dragged Onyx.  Though he'd had a better idea by this time, and carried a scoop of grain to hold in front of her - the old carrot and the stick trick.  Much better.

Orion and Merlin spent the morning being upset.  Merlin cried and cried, and Orion kept whacking him.  I'm not sure if it was because he wanted Merlin to shut up with the blubbering or if he figured it must somehow be Merlin's fault that the girls were gone. 
Madman was a little surprised at how upset Merlin was, until I pointed out that it's the first time in his life he's been separated from Onyx.  They grew up as lambs together, and even Goldie has been around ever since he could remember.
Poor little guy.

After everyone got settled, I tried to get some photos, but mostly I got shots of sheep with their heads buried in the grass.

Here's a couple of pictures of Smoke.  I still think he's the prettiest thing.

And here's how the spotty ewe is looking these days.  (Madman has taken to calling her Abigail, but the name doesn't really resonate for me.  I still usually refer to her as 'the spotty one.')

And here's the ewe I've been calling Tiny, since she was the smallest of the lambs, even though she has now caught up with her sister.  And yes, she does have her head through the fence so she can eat the grass growing on the outside.

Cuz, you know, the grass is always greener...

Monday, July 2, 2012

I love my sheep I love my sheep I love my sheep...

Hobbling, at the moment. 
I'd gone into the sheep pen to give them their nightly grain ration, since what with all the extra security we've had to install fencing-wise, I can no longer reach through from the outside to fill the 4 separate food dishes that are necessary to spread the sheep out enough to prevent mayhem.  Of course, since I was walking through with a full scoop of grain, you can imagine all the excitement.  Sheep were milling around me, dancing with joy.  The usual.
Until our lovely ram, Orion, who was swinging his head around in sheer joie de vivre,  ("Woohoo!  There's going to be grain!!") caught me a mighty crack with his horn right on the side of my knee.
I dropped like a stone.
Holding a scoop of grain.
In the middle of a crowd of eight sheep.
Eight sheep who live for the eating of grain.
Eight sheep who will cheerfully butt their own mothers or their own children out of the way in order to get more grain.
There I was, surrounded by eight sheep of various sizes, on my butt in a mixture of equal parts dirt and sheep poop,  holding a scoop of grain over my head, trying not to cry since my knee hurt so bad, and cursing a blue streak.  (I actually saw the blue streak.  It was the most amazing shade of cobalt with little flecks of electric blue dazzling through it...)
I literally couldn't get back to my feet.  a) It hurt really bad, and b) there were too many sheep focusing on the grain in my clutches to give me room to move. 
Luckily my cell phone was in my pocket.  And Madman is on speed-dial.  He sounded a little puzzled when he answered his phone - like, why would I possibly be calling when he was right there in the house and I was only out in the yard doing chores - but he came bustling out quick when I'd explained the "I've fallen and I can't get up (with sheep)" situation.
A little ice, and I expect I'll be good as new.  But, damn, that hurt.

Next time we discuss getting animals, I'm voting for guinea pigs.  At least they can't knock me down.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Another fail...

I had big plans for today.  I was going to take pictures of lambs and write a lovely post describing their latest shenanigans.  (At least they're finally confined to their pen, and our garden is starting to grow.  We actually got enough lettuce for a salad the other night, without having to share it with sheep.  (They're actually not very good about sharing...))
Unfortunately, today was chicken butchering day, and doesn't the time just fly when you're having fun?

By the time we'd finished with the chickens, and with the people who came to pick up their chickens, and done the thousand other things that need doing on the rare occasion we actually get a day off together, I was too pooped to pic.

So, for lack of anything else to show and tell - here's a picture I took at NH S&W that I forgot to share.

 Yes, she's converted her exercise bike to power her spinning wheel.  (I can only think of the times I've gotten all excited about seeing a spinning class advertised in the paper, only to discover that it's actually just a class for riding exercise bikes.  Like that needs to be a class...)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Has it really been this long?

Busy busy busy at this time of year, between the garden and the animals.  Oh, yeah, and sometimes I knit.

But had to share this with y'all.

Matt always makes me smile.  And cry.  But mostly smile...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bare Naked Sheep and Bitten Up Broccoli

Friday morning was our Annual Sheep Shearing Day.  (I admit I slept through most of the actual event.  I was scheduled for a night shift that day, and Madman graciously let me sleep in.  The only time our wonderful much-in-demand shearer could make it to our place was literally first thing in the morning, and by the time I woke up and got myself organized to head outside with the camera, the last sheep was shorn and the packing up had begun.)
Since the weather has taken a turn for the warm, the sheep seem pretty happy with their haircuts.

Though Merlin looks a little embarrassed about the nakedness.

 And Goldie is a little grumpy.  (But then again, Goldie is always a little grumpy.)

Orion looks a little...  um... top-heavy...

Here's Merlin, Goldie, and Smoke - they're watching Madman running the rototiller over in the garden.

Speaking of Smoke (and we've both taken to calling him that), here's a pic of him.  If you look really closely, you can see where the buds of his horns have started growing.  He's a hard one to get a photo of, since he's a little shy.

And I haven't been able to get a picture of Onyx at all.  Every time she sees me, she comes running over and presses her nose to the camera.  Just in case it might be food.

And the bitten up broccoli?  Madman transplanted a bunch of broccoli plants yesterday, then headed for the feedstore to pick up a few things for our menagerie.  When he got back, he found Goldie outside the fence eating grass as fast as she could go, and several of the little broccoli plants had most of their leaves chewed off.  Now, it could have been Goldie who did it, or it could have been the lambs.  We can't imagine Goldie getting out unless her lamb was already out, so we're inferring that the lambs are just as liable to be guilty as she is.
First the garlic, now the broccoli.  The lettuce is making a comeback from the mowing the little devils gave it.  And Madman has replanted the peas twice now.

Are we the only ones who provide a salad bar for sheep?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Well, we *thought* we had the lambs thwarted...

I was going to post this morning that Madman had cured the wandering lamb problem with a new addition to the not-quite-maximum-security arrangements we have around here.

A brand new roll of chicken wire (which is always a handy item around here) got stretched around the section of fencing with the too-big holes, and stoutly stapled into place.
Yay!  Now Goldie has her lamb right where she can control watch over him.

I took a bunch of pictures, showing sheep inside the fence (for a change), and went indoors to start a smug little post.

I hadn't even finished writing it when I glanced out the window while pouring another cup of coffee, and saw the two little ewe lambs outside the fence.

By the time I grabbed the camera and got out the door, one of them had already wriggled through the (small) holes in the mesh, but one was still looking for the way back in, bleating her little dog-toy blatt.  I ran back inside for my shoes (cuz naturally, if I'm dashing outside for an Animal Event, I'm going to grab a camera but not my shoes.  Bloggist R Us...), thinking I would have to catch her and put her back in.  But by the time I was suitably shod, she'd managed to find a good spot on her own.

Looks like we're going to need more chicken wire...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I don't know who is going to end up crazier - Goldie or us...

Every two seconds, all day long, Goldie does this:.

 and this:

 because this:

and this:

That's lambs in the garden and playing on the compost pile.  (Little he's-not-named-Smokey is in the foreground of each picture, tagging right along with his little cousins.  And totally pretending he doesn't hear his mama calling him.)

And I'm not kidding about the two second intervals.  Madman and I are starting to develop twitches...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A difference in parenting styles

Goldie and Onyx are two very different mothers.  It might be a case of age, experience, or temperament, or a function of just how many lambs each is trying to deal with.
Onyx, our little first-timer with triplets, is a very casual sort of mother.  "What, are you kids back already?  I thought I told you to go play outside."  Though given the fact that she has three lambs and only two spigots, feeding time takes up a rather large portion of her day.  By the time all three have taken turns and been fed, someone's probably hungry again.
Goldie, on the other hand, with only one lamb, is an intense mother.  Her lamb is supposed to be by her side At All Times.  "You!  Get your fuzzy little butt back over here.  Where do you think you're going?  You sit right there, mister, till I tell you to get up."
It's funny watching Goldie's lamb (whom I have not named Smoky, since Madman insists that we shouldn't name them, but if I were going to name him, he would totally be Smoke or Smoky)  (but I haven't named him) playing with Onyx's lambs.  The first three, though a week+ older, are smaller than he's-not-named-Smoky.  (Well, the ram lamb might be roughly the same size, but it's pretty close.)  So, technically they're the Big Kids - vastly more experienced in the ways of the world - and he's-not-named-Smoky tries to copy them in their bouncing and gamboling and shenanigans.
The trouble begins with our fencing.  The lambs are small enough that they squirt out through the mesh of the fence and go lolloping around in the garden.  We spent the first week or so in a panic, running and catching them and putting them back into the paddock.  But they'd all be out again before we'd even finished capturing them all, the little brats.  Short of replacing all our fencing (which is way outside our budget at the moment), our only hope is that they'll get too big to fit through the holes before they get into serious trouble.  (We've tried explaining that the fence is there for their protection, but sheep are notoriously immune to the Voice of Reason.  And lambs are the worst - a really short attention span.  We lose them at "Ya know, that fence is" and they're out in the garden again.)
Now, Onyx is okay with her lambs bumbling around outside.  "Yeah, whatever, kids.  Try to stay out of trouble."
Goldie, on the other hand, loses her mind.  "My Baby!  My Baby is Outside!  The Fence!  Without Me!  Get back in here!!  NOW!!!  NOW!!!"
It worked the first time.  Little he's-not-named-Smoky watched the Terrible Trio squeeze through the fence, just like he'd been doing every day for the first week of his life, and this time the lure was too much.  He followed.  Goldie had a full-tilt meltdown.  He's-not-named-Smoky froze in his tracks, turned around, and tried to figure out how to get back inside.  It was hard for him - getting out was downhill, but getting back in involved jumping uphill through the fence, and he's still clumsy with youth.  He finally managed it, with Goldie shouting at him at the top of her lungs through the entire ordeal.
He stood by her side, ears down, little lower lip quivering, watching as the Big Kids cavorted and capered and knocked each other down in pure joy.  Every time his ears pricked forward and he looked like he was going to step toward them, Goldie would make a noise deep in her throat.  "Don't even think about it, buster."

And today?  Guess who's out in the garden right now, playing with the Big Kids, while his mother goes batshit-crazy?

Monday, April 30, 2012

The flutter of Wingspan

When I first cast on for this scarf/shawlette, I was a little worried about how much yarn I had - would it be enough?  The skein of Marks and Katten Fame Trend says it contains ca 420 meters, which sounds like plenty in the face of the 330-425 m that the original pattern calls for.  But I was pretty sure I was going to want it longer, with more triangles. 
Ah, I thought.  If that turns out to be the case, I'll just frog and reknit with fewer stitches, which would make it end up narrower and longer.  No problem.

But then, this:

The color transitions are happening perfectly...  It's as if the yarn was made for the pattern.  There'll be no frogging here - whatever I get, I get.

Now why is it that, even when a plan is working perfectly, it still bites me on the ass?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

There I was again, out in the sheep pen in boots and pajamas

 And our flock has officially doubled. 

Goldie didn't go all crazy, like Onyx did - she just had one lamb.  Which is almost a relief.
Too bad it's a boy - it looks like his fleece is going to be lovely.  He's mottled with lots of shades of gray - just gorgeous!  (Unfortunately, we don't need another ram...  *sigh*)

So, we have winners for LambWatch2012 - Wind came closest to Onyx's drop date and chose the Folk Bags book.  Goldie's winning guesser is Chantelle!  (Email me your snail address, girl, and a copy of Selbuvotter will be on its way to you!)