Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I think we just dodged a bullet and praying we continue to be so lucky!

We were on our way home from bringing two of the dogs to the vet for shots.    My daughter calls to tell me we have nickel sized hail at the house.  At that point we were almost home and were hitting mild rain.    Sun is breaking through the clouds to the northwest so we think the storm is just moving through fast and are glad for the water since we just planted.   Most of the road we travel from that point is protected by trees so we don't see much until we turned the big bend toward home....

... and saw the big nasty cloud the color of wet slate hanging over our house; literally, over our house!   We start talking joking about the "black cloud" hanging over our house and the wispy bits hanging below looks like they could be a tornado except there is no movement.   It gets much darker as we turn onto our private road under the cloud and it's almost eerie quiet.   I'm looking up into the cloud and notice a small section, much lighter in color against the dark mass and, closer to the ground, maybe 2,000 to 3,000 feet above the road and a part of our neighbor's pasture, that is CIRCLING!   A dimple, or perhaps a pimple is forming in the middle.   At first I couldn't believe what I was seeing it was so unreal, then the next thought is get to the house NOW.     John floored the gas pedal and we raced up the hill to the house.   I grabbed Dante and ran with him to the barn where the sheep have gathered.  John grabbed Murphy and ran into the house to warn our daughter.  As I leave the barn and run to the house, the wind is really picking up overhead and the air near the ground is now getting breezy.   Spring peepers are getting loud, but still no "train" sounds.   From where I stand, I can't see the circling section through the trees, but it appears that the cloud is no longer stalled and has started to move.   When I get inside John and our daughter are watching the news --- which says there is a 41 percent chance of tornadic activity.  More like 100%    I pulled out the laptop and fired off an email to let them know there is rotation in this cell and it's location.   A neighbor later told me the funnel formed when it reached the end of our road and hit the State highway.   This is the same cell that spawned the tornado that touched down to our north in Oilville. 

For me, that was the scariest part.   Even with all our technology, the time delay in getting information to the people who then disseminate it; that and the fact that people are inside of their homes completely unaware of what is happening right outside unless they are watching the news and watching the weather outside their window.

The second cell moved through just to our west.   Here are pictures of the eastern edge of the same storm that spawned tornados in Farmville to our southwest.  This cell was completely different from the first.  The clouds mass, at least the edge we saw, was much lighter in color and had two distinct layers.   The top layer was billowing and roiling over the lower layer which was moving pretty much in a straight line, at high speed and in a slightly different direction.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Flowers are bursting out everywhere!   Iris are beginning to bloom.   Can't wait to see some of the new colors I picked up last year

The azaleas are covered too.

Even found an egg in the azaleas...a real one.

And I've discovered some new wildflowers.   No idea what they are; I'll have to find my wildflower guide and look them up.

This afternoon we put the sheep to work mowing the lower portion of the driveway.  They were busily at work until the gnasty gnats began to drive everyone bonkers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring's Feverish Activity

Many years ago, our place was part of a much larger farm.  Over time it became part of the "back forty" and overgrown.  As the years rolled by, trees took over from the weeds.  Eventually the land was harvested for pine trees and subdivided into ever smaller parcels.  When we've cleaned up and cleared portions of the property we've found a variety of relics that give testament to this past:  old horse shoes, bottles from companies that no longer exist and most recently, an old single blade plow of the type that used to be drawn by a horse or ox.  This week John fabricated and welded an attachment that would allow us to re-use this old farm tool on our garden tractor.  (see his blog Red, Hot & Blue Rods for his car projects).  For the first time we were able to turn all the manure - (green and animal - in less than a month as it would take by  hand with a pitchfork.  Over the newly tilled soil we've broadcast seeds for summer's green manures - hairy vetch and buckwheat.  The green manures will grow up between the crops and push out the weeds.

With the past few days of sunny, dry weather we've finally been able to plant the corn.  Bean seedlings will follow soon.  The asparagus is still going strong, though I am getting a little sick of it now.  Peas and red cabbage are growing well under row covers.  Spinach and lettuce in the greenhouse are ready for harvest while the spinach planted outside is holding its own.

Tomato and Bean Pics

Lambs are growing well and putting on fleece and weight.   Giselle and her ram twins will all be available for  purchase on June 1.  She is priced at $350 and the lambs will be priced based on weight.   I am keeping Selene's two black lambs - Onyx (ewe) and Jasper (ram.)   The sale of Symphony's fleece fell through so I will be posting pictures and prices soon.  We won't be attending the Maryland Sheep and Wood Festival this year.  We have a prior family commitment.   I'll be sorry to miss all my favorite yarn and fleece vendors.

Well it's time to go feed the critters and prepare dinner for the humans.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter and Passover.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Skirting Fleeces

I was finally able to skirt the fleeces this afternoon.  With the wind and rain over the past few days I didn't think I would ever get it done.   Giselle managed to get an unusual amount of VM in her fleece this year.   Luckily most of it was around her neck so it was easy enough to remove that wool.  As for the rest, I pulled as much as I had the patience for.  The price for her fleece will be lower than usual.  Of course this is probably the last fleece I will get from her if she is sold when the rams are weaned.

The ram lambs fleeces are showing a wonderful purl from Piper.   If we still have them by October's shearing, the fleeces should be beautiful.

Selene's lambs are growing like weeds.  Their fleece is so mottled with blue swirls that I can't wait to see how the wool spins out.   Right now the wool is too short to know if the purl carries through. Their coats are certainly dense and springy though.

Symphony's fleece is currently spoken for; however, if it is not picked up this weekend it will be posted on the website.   Absolutely lovely as always.

Next nice day I'm going to have to take some current pictures around the farm.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shearing Day!

All the girls are naked now.    Giselle, Selene and Symphony were all shorn this morning.   On Saturday I'll be skirting fleeces and taking pictures.   We're keeping Selene's for the Warm Woolens Blanket Co-op this year.   Symphony's may be sold this weekend.   We'll have to wait and see. 

After I finish my ripe strawberries with Nutella (OMG is this GOOD!) it will be time to get back to work.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bunny Blog

Just added a new BLOG for the bunnies.   All future rabbit related postings will appear there.

New baby pics added to the Rabbit Website too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Herd Reduction and Increase

Triska and her lamb moved to a new home in New York over the weekend, while our ram, Piper, went to North Carolina.  Giselle and her twin rams will be available after weaning at the beginning of June.  Symphony had twins last week, one ram lamb and one ewe lamb so this year we had 60% rams, 40% ewes.   Symphony's ram is too cute with his one pinto colored ear.

With the Netherland Dwarf bunnies, it's been a surfeit of bucks!   But that's another blog. (Which I really need to get moving on!)

Hope everyone else had a smooth lambing season.  

Shearing is scheduled for April 7th.   The following week I'll be skirting the fleeces and posting them for sale on the website.