Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ursula and Cookie Arrive

Not only did the shearer come today, but he also brought with him two new additions to our flock: Ursula and her ewe lamb, Cookie. Poor girls, first they had to suffer the trauma of the trip to a new place, then they had to be sheared upon arrival! It was a bit of a rough day for these two. Cookie isn't quite sure what she is in for, since this is her first time. She has beautiful virgin wool. I just love her color.

Here are Cookie and her momma, freshly shorn, checking out their new digs.

Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir! Seven Bags Full!

Shearing day has finally arrived!
Getting ready for the shearer...I'm sporting my new Australian cowboy hat (early Christmas gift from Jessica). I get water for some very thirsty sheep (for after),
while Greg secures the door between the stalls

The girls are ready..."What's up, Mom?"

Zinnia: before, during, and after

Cocoa: before, during, and after

Zuma: before, during, and after

Daisy: before, during, and after

And, last but not least...Solomon: before, during, and after. The big guy had a lot of burrs in his woool, and he put up the biggest fight of anybody.

Here I am, putting the fresh fleeces into pillow cases.

Is Miss Daisy thinking about coming back in for more? Maybe she's looking for her wool coat! Skipper and Gabby want to know what's going on. There they are...the whole gang.

I must say, the whole experience was everything I'd hoped it would be.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Around and Around and Around We Go

Greg and James (my SIL) worked very hard for the better part of a day putting up a temporary, make-shift round pen for me. It is not the round pen of my dreams, but it is exactly what I wanted until we can build something more permanant. I took Skipper into it and worked with her that very first day, as soon as the gate was on! I am trying to do something with her called "Join-up". It is a technique used by Monty Roberts, AKA "The Horse Whisperer". I have been studying his methods for some time now. The first try (first time for both of us) was not a total disaster, but it was obvious she was a bit confused as to what she was supposed to do. I was a little disappointed that it didn't just happen "like magic"...but he says not to expect much on your first try. So, I will be patient, and continue the process, over and over if need be, until I acheive my goal. She actually didn't do all that bad. She made five nice loops around the round pen. It all went kinda south when I tried to turn her and have her go in the other direction. That's when she got confused. But, we will figure it all out together.

I have read several people's accounts of their first-time Join Up experiences, and it seems Skipper and I actually did quite well. Several people said their horses wouldn't even move away from I guess five trips around the pen is a pretty good start!

Easter Every Day at Cavalli Run

The grandkids have had such an exciting time helping Grandpa collect eggs every day. They each get a day that is their day to help. They carry the little basket and Grandpa lets them collect the eggs. They are keeping track of their running totals to see who collected the most eggs by the time they leave. It is so much fun seeing which colors and types of eggs they will come in with.
We really enjoy having such a mixed menagerie of birds who lay all different colors and kinds of eggs. The darkest chocolatey brown eggs are my favorites, but the olive green ones follow a close second place.

Mail-order Chicks

I had ordered some new baby chicks and planned it so they would arrive in the mail while the grandkids were visiting. I wasn't expecting them until Wednesday, or even Thursday, but the mail lady called Tuesday afternoon and said they were in. She offered to bring them out, but Greg wanted to go into town and get them, so he, James and Lydia went in to pick them up.
While they were gone, Noah and I got their new little home ready for them. We have them in the corner of the kitchen, in a clear plastic box (so the grnadkids can watch them), under the heat lamp.
Isaiah checks out the new arrivals.
Noah, Lydia, and Sophia show off the new babies.

Their are 4 Rhode Island Reds, 4 Barred Plymouth Rocks, and 4 Easter Eggers.
The grandkids have really enjoyed getting to play with the little furr balls. They are SOOO cute. Jessica says she just loves hearing their little "peeps" going on all day!

Fall and Grandkids Come to Cavalli Run

Lydia holding Tommy and Noah at
the bonfire.
Isaiah loves playing in the back of Grandpa's truck.

Sophia and Grandma pick field flowers while Isaiah tries to fill Grandpa's boots.

It has been fabulous here at the ranch. The weather is perfect. The colors are lovely. And now my daughter, Jessica, and her family have come to visit the farm for the first time...all the way from Germany. And what a wonderful time we have been having.
I think we started out the first day by doing almost everything there is to do at the farm: collecting eggs, riding Gabby the donkey, fishing in the lake, picking field flowers, playing with kittens and puppies, and so many things. Every day since has been busy doing much of it over and over again!

Lydia on the bridge

Grandma and Isaiah walking to the pond

The whole first week at the farm was fantastic. The second week we had a little bit of rain, then it was cold and windy, but sunny after that. Everyone had a great time.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Underwater Basket Weaving, 102

I finally made it to the Jamesport Herritage Days Festival. I managed to finish 3 baskets, have a fourth almost complete, and a fifth started. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a grey and yucky day. By 10 AM it had started raining off and on, and by noon it was windy and raining pretty steady. So, after lunch, a lot of people packed up and left. I decided to go, too. I was asked to return next year and demo basket weaving again. This time I will have a year, rather than a month, to prepare! And, next year, I will know what I am doing and be able to set up better.

Here are some photos of the process:

It starts with cutting the willow branches from the tree. And managing not to fall into the pond!

Greg helps haul the branches back up to the house.

After clipping and stripping any useful vines, then identifying any branches that can be formed into handles or rims and shaping those, the willow is left to dry. After a few days of drying, I start a basic frame with a rim and either a handle or primary ribs. Next those get lashed into place with a soaked vine, or weaver. Then additional ribs are added in. The ribs are made from thicker stems of the willow, which have to be cut to length, have the ends whittled a bit, and then pushed into the frame of the basket. You continually add ribs throughout the weaving process.

Willow baskets are much more "artsy" and rustic-looking than baskets made with bought, pre-cut reed. Pre-cut reed can be forced into whatever shape you want it to take, but willow has a mind of its own. You really have to work with the shape it wants to take. The end result is always a bit of a surpeise! They may not be as "pretty" as the baskets made with bought reed, but they certainly have a charm of their own.

I just had this little table on which to display my work. At the back of the table I put some of my old baskets that I had made a few years ago with bought reed.

This was the basket I finished while at the festival, and next to it is the one I started "building". I had a few people stop to watch while I was weaving, but I actually had a lot more people stop and ask questions when I had finished that one and started "building" the next one. I thought that was very interesting. Next year, I will plan to do more building than weaving for my demonstrations!

And guess what! I got my picture in the local paper!