Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Shawl Completed!

Here is a picture of the first shawl completed on my new triangle loom.   A total of 16 hours to weave from start to finish, two hours alone for the nine inch fringe.   Woven of baby acrylic and nylon eyelash yarn, it is a loose weave, but still very soft and warm.   Wore it  yesterday for Christmas.   Now to move on to the woolen shawls.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  I'm looking forward to the New Year.   Already planning the gardens...first seed catalog arrived in today's mail.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Went out to feed the sheep to find them sitting in the run-in, refusing to come out.   Sorry guys, if you want to eat, you've got to make the trek to the hayrack.  Of course, I could put the hay in the run-in but three things prevent that: 1) they'd trash it by laying and defecating on it, 2) it would get in their fleece, and 3) hay is expensive!

It's almost noon on Saturday, the town is shut down and it's still snowing.  Twelve inches and counting so far.   Here's a picture for those of you who don't have snow today.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

White Christmas!

Okay, so maybe it's not Christmas...but we have snow!   It rained most of the morning; then around 2:00 it started with that granular wintery mix (yuk!) but now it's snowing with those big, fluffy flakes.  Love it!   Here is a picture taken earlier when it was just starting to stick to the ground.   Now there's a bit more white on the grass, but too dark for photos.

Technically it's a Christmas present, but I had to play with the new triangle loom.   I even dragged it out to the porch to take a picture.   The stand was made by John.   What a guy!

I was supposed to work on my newest story, working title "Haunted," but just couldn't seem to settle down and focus on it today.   Instead it was cleaning and preparing for Christmas.  I even reorganized my nailpolishes by color!  (Did I mention I'm an obsessive organizer?)   Here's a picture of the collection along with some sheepie collectibles too.  Notice there are some spaces that could be filled in....*evil grin here*        Tomorrow, weather permitting, we finish putting up the lights and the tree. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Got Mud?

We do!   Lots and lots of mud.    All the sheep are up to their hocks in mud.    I'm not going to have any grass left in the winter pasture at the rate we're going.   And the dogs?   What a mess.   I have muddy tail lash marks all across my pants.  

I just have to keep a positive attitude...just keep thinking "the well is recharging, the well is recharging"  

We're supposed to get snow tomorrow night too.   I don't think it will be much.   Won't stick either; the ground has been much too warm.  


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ram's Head

Yesterday I found out exactly how it feels to be punched in the nose...and just how hard a ram's head is.

Our BFL ram is a gentle and friendly soul.    He's the first to run up to the gate for scritchies (his favorite spot is along the neck where fleece meets hair.)   Sweet Piper is also a gentleman when it comes to feeding time, so the fault was really mine.  Stupid Shepherd.

I was dumping their breeding season corn/chow ration into the feeding pans from the mixing bucket as usual, except that Trista, one of the ewes, just had to get her foot in there and flipped it.   So I leaned over to flip it back up.  Which of course startled Piper, who swung his head up and clocked me square in the nose.   It didn't hurt much, I certainly didn't see stars, and my glasses didn't even get a scratch, but the next thing I know, blood is spewing (lovely word spewing, and very appropriate) from my nose and mouth.   Yuk!

So there I was, trying to breath without swallowing blood, sheep are wrapping around my legs waiting for the grain, and the dogs are barking for their dinner.   Thankfully the hubby heard my garbled screams and rushed over to see what all the commotion was about.

It took two ice paks and almost half an hour for the bleeding to stop.   Then it was time to choke out the blood clots.  Way gross!

Did I mention that Piper is also something of a character?

Today it was time to take the Halloween pumpkins out to the pasture for seeding.   Allowing them to break down over the winter gets the seedling vines started at just the right time.  Usually the sheep ignore the pumpkins.

So out I go, 5 foot 5 inch me, with a swollen nose (so the eyeglasses don't sit quite right), wobbling along with two ten pound pumpkins.   Naturally my sheep entourage had to tag along and the two LGD were being typically helpful - translation - underfoot.   First I placed the smaller white Lumina pumpkin on the ground.   Sheep ignored it, dogs...well did what LGD do.  They marked it.   While the white pumpkin inspection was going on, I moved a bit further away to place the big orange pumpkin where its seedlings would have plenty of room to grow.   And here comes Piper.

You can't fool this ram.   He knew the pumpkin was FOOD.   He pawed at it, he licked it, he tried to bite it.  I wish I had a digital recorder to take a picture of his determined assault.   When those attempts all failed he started butting it...right across the pasture and out under the fence.

So I trudge up to turn off the electricity and go fetch the pumpkin.   I did this three times before giving in and breaking the pumpkin for Piper to enjoy a feast.   Thankfully he didn't overdo it and the ewes thought it was gross.

A yes, just another wonderful weekend shepherding!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ark Not Needed!

It's finally stopped raining and OMG...sun has actually broken through the clouds!  The miserable wet and wind weary flock has rushed out to gobble up all the lush green grass.

For awhile I thought I was going to have to build an ark and load the animals two by two.   I think Virginia was hit with more rain from Ida than Alabama where it came ashore.   The trees have been stripped bare with few exceptions...and of course all the leaves are filling the house gutters to overflowing.

The crepe myrtle near the arbor gate is the only one left showing full color in beautiful shades of peach blush and gold.  I'll have to gather some of those seed pod clusters for an autumn wreath as soon as they dry out.

In the garden the garlic is showing green tops and winter peas are starting to flower.   Up against the fence we have a rogue nasturtium that is just mid-November!  I think it's a little confused.

For laughs, I couldn't resist this picture of our resident commedienne...Selene.   She is one of two natural colored Coopworth ewes we acquired from Deer Run in the spring.
  Can't wait to get my hands on that fleece.

And speaking of fleece...and triangle loom (an early Christmas present) has arrived!  Can't wait to get going on some lovely shawls and afghans.

Off to weave...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The K9 Rogues of Laingcroft

Introducing the K9 Rogue's Gallery of Laingcroft...

First we have the Freeloaders.  These are the dogs that don't really have a job to do, but we love them anyway.  There is our Boomerang Baby, the Portuguese Water Dog.  Try to throw something away, she brings it back.  She is the Clown, a neurotic nut case, instigator, and comic relief.   Then we have the West Highland White Terror, also known as the Enforcer.  A regular running dynamo, he is our resident tennis ball de-flocker and K9 cleanup crew.  The Dyson has nothing on this living vacuum when it comes to crumbs on the floor.

We actually have working dogs too, though at first glance, they are a lot less active than the Freeloaders.  Our rescue Border Collie falls into both categories since she lives in the house, but still earns her keep.   Inside she is the Queen of the Pillows (or any other soft surface), outside she is the Flock Master.

Guarding the goats is our Anatolian Shepherd, who is also death to chickens.   We are trying to find the right home for her - with goats and people to love, but no free ranging chickens to chase.

Her daughter, an Anatolian/Maremma cross is an excellent sheep guardian and general Shepherd's Helper.   This actually means she is a glove and tool thief extraordinaire with a knack for getting in the way.


Her sire, a Maremma, is simply King of the Farm.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Drive By Posting

Don't have enough time to do a full posting, but with the season of lights just around the corner, I wanted to add this link to Extreme Shepherding.   Too funny!

You Tube - Extreme Sheep Herding

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Beginnings

Written on Sunday, October 25, 2009:

Everyone seems to have a favorite season. For some it is the snow filled chill of Winter and warmth of the holiday season, others revel in the blooming wonders and gamboling lambs of Spring. Of course Summer, with its lazy hot days of freedom, is the universal favorite of children everywhere. But Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.

One of the first things that announce this season is the weather. The days are still warm, yet the nights are getting crisply comfortable for sleeping under a down comforter. Here in Virginia, where Spring means high pollen counts and HEPA filters, Summer requires AC, and Winter, heat for comfort; that means I can finally open all the windows and shut off the HVAC.  The shortening days and cooler nights also bring relief to the woolly sheep and inspire the ram to look for love.

Autumn also has that luminous quality of light caused by the sun sitting lower in the sky. It inspires me to create in glass, fiber, or paint - with a beautiful palette of sunset colors.   As I type this from the rocker on our porch in late afternoon, I can look up to watch yellow poplar leaves slowly spiraling down from the trees, glowing rosy amber in the magical light, like jewels from the heavens.

But it's more than just the weather that appeals. This is the season of the Harvest. Viticulturists check the brix of their pendant spherical beauties daily, sometimes hourly, in order to pluck them at the peak of sweetness for that delicious transformation to wine. The gardens and orchards are also gleaned of the remains of maturing bounty then cleared  in preparation for Winter's slumber.   A few cool season crops are beginning to bear, garlic is planted and soon, mushroom spores will be set.   Fire returns to the hearth.   Even now, the setting sun adds a seductive blush to wood smoke drifting low across the pastures, where it is pushed closer to the ground by the approaching cold of evening.

Also wafting out the window on cooling air currents, to where I sit, is the enticing aroma of apple butter baking in the oven. This is arguably the best part of autumn - the FOOD. Canning, preserving, and baking are in full swing.  Wine festivals, homecoming tailgates, and church harvest suppers abound.  And let's not forget the ultimate in harvest meals - Thanksgiving.

For me, this is what autumn is all about.    Friends and family - a time of celebration, cleansing, and reflection.   Closure and new beginnings.

The Celts celebrate the the beginning of the new year in autumn - November 1st to be precise.  Samhain.   In keeping with that tradition, I begin this blog to chronicle life here on the farm and announce that our homestead hobby farm will begin anew as Laingcroft Farm LLC on November 1, 2009.   ease join us as we strive for a prosperous new year!

Céad mille fáilte!