Friday, November 28, 2008


When Dave and I got together 9 years ago, we both had multiple dog households - "yours" and "mine". Gradually, our household has added "ours" to the mix. This morning we said good bye to the last of the "yours or mine" dogs.

Lonie came into Dave's life as a "rehomed" dog. Her original owner got married and didn't want her anymore. Dave, being the great guy he is, took her in. She is a long haired German Shepherd Dog with a beautiful carriage and was poetry in motion. She wasn't always easy to live with because of separation anxiety and her tendency to escape any and all kennels and crates. Most of the time, though, all she wanted to do was be with Dave. I became an acceptible substitute, and I always felt safe with her around.

Over several years she'd been getting weaker and thinner, though acted happy and content and enjoyed playing with the younger dogs. Just three days ago, she started picking at her food, then refused it, and last night couldn't get up from her bed. This morning the vet examined her and confirmed that she was very ill. At over 12 years of age her prognosis was poor and we decided to let her go.

Tomorrow we'll put her to rest in the (future) orchard of ERN alongside Penny and Clover.

Run free, Lonie, till we meet again.

- Franna, Dave, Clifford, Thomas and Villa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Range Chickens!

All year I planned to grow out a batch of broiler chickens. The days, weeks and months flew by. Finally, I ordered them to arrive in late August, hoping to get them processed by Thanksgiving. They finally arrived the second week of September. The weather's been mild enough that they've done well. They went from the garage brooder to the chicken tractor (after the turkeys vacated), then to the "tent".

The "tent" got way too wet in our deluge earlier in the month, so they again got moved. At the same time, the pigs took over more and more of the barn, and I needed to put together the sheep breeding groups. (Everything is connected.) The Hilton was left for breeding groups, yet I had to keep them separated by something more than a wimpy hog panel fence. Chickens!!!

Yes, the chickens are now the buffer between Jack's and Kibble's breeding groups.
Here are a goodly portion of the 40 some "Red Broilers" and the legs of members of Kibbles group. I'm taking the photo from Jack's group's pen. There's a good 10 feet separating them. With crossed fingers and prayers, I hope that's enough.
We believe that chickens are healthier and taste better if they've had access to green grass, bugs, and those invisible elements that chickens always seem to find in the dirt. On the right edge of the photo, the chicken's yard is visible. Quite a few of the chickens are enjoying the sunshine and fresh vegetation.

Here's another view of their yard. It's enclosed by an electric net poultry fence - yet another double barrier between Jack and Kibbles.

The chickens are most of the way grown now, as shown by this young Roo. Just a few more weeks and they'll grace our table and freezer! So much better than grocery store chickens!

- Franna

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kibbles Group

Kibbles group is considerably smaller than Jack's group. The ewe above is EverRanch Bunny, Jack's dam. Bunny is Gotland/Shetland and has wonderful Gotland character in her fleece! In this photo it's only grown out about 2 weeks. In another 2 weeks it'll have a full curl on all those locks!

Bunny is the only AI'd ewe in Kibbles group. I'm sure he appreciates that! Kibbles has actually been a busy ram this year. We used him last year as a cleanup ram, and he bred two of the AI'd ewes. Earlier this year, Kim Kerley used him on some of her sheep, looking for more softness and luster in her fleeces. Now he gets the "virgin" group of ewe lambs... every man's dream!

Amy the llama is also in the group. Amy seems to be leaving Kibbles alone to do his job, so that's a good thing! Standing with Amy is Shetland Lini. Lini is the only ewe we're trying to leave unbred this year and we don't have a good place to put her. She'll probably end up in Jack's group, or maybe we'll separate one or more ewes after they get bred. The problem is, we don't always see them get bred. hmmmmm.

The ewe below in front is Razel, Bit's daughter out of Bubba - one of the 2007 cleanup rams. Razel is 50% Gotland, 25% Finnsheep and 25% BFLxBL - another Heinz ewe. Except for the Leicester nose and ears, though, she looks alot like the 50% Gotland/50% Finn ewe lambs. The ewe standing behind Razel is Ice Princess, dozing in the mid-November sunshine. Ice Princess is 50% Gotland/50% Finnsheep from Niblet.
This ewe lamb is Glamour Queen. She is a single lamb out of Pinky. Pinky treated her like a Queen and she grew quickly and well. She is also Gotland/Finn.

The lamb on the left is Brain child (Gotland/Finn) andGlamour Queen snuck in for another photo.

Kibbles has one more ewe lamb in his group - Chardonnay. Char arrived after these photos were taken. She's Gotland/Border Leicester.
All these white ewe lambs! They're hard to tell apart from one another. Razel has the hint of Leicester in her nose and ears, Brain Child has pink eye rims, Queen is standoffish and Princess is underfoot. I think it was Queen that was bred the day I put the group together (I wrote down the tag number....). Lambs expected in late March!
- Franna

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jack Daniels Breeding group

This fine young fellow is EverRanch Jack Daniels. He is one of our two 75% Gotland ram lambs. We think he has a fairly bright future - at least for now. His dam is EverRanch Bunny, a 50% Gotland, 50% Shetland ewe who was born on Easter day, 2007. His breeding "group" consists of most of the "AI" ewes, plus one ewe lamb.

"His" ewe is on the right - EverRanch Loutoo. Loutoo was supposed to be a market lamb, but she's so sweet, and not really finished well enough for the market. She's a real "mutt" sheep. Her dam is half BlueFaced Leicester and half Border Leicester; dad is EverRanch Kibbles - half Gotland and half Finnsheep. (Kibbles will be featured with "his" ewes in a future post.)

The rest of the ewes in this group - all 11 of them - were AI'd with semen from a purebred Gotland ram in the UK - Whitehall Daniel - D72. Later this week, I'll be watching for (re) breedings with Jack, hoping for NONE!

The ewe on the left, above, is EverRanch Lou - Loutoo's half sister out of the Finn ram, Eino. The ewe below is our "easy keeper" (i.e. FAT!) ewe, Hortense. She's a half sister/cousin to Lou and Loutoo's dam, and is a BFL/BL cross. She's given us two nice half Gotland ram lambs. I really want a half Gotland ewe from her, so keep your fingers crossed!

This white ewe is one of our two white Finnsheep, The Brain. She had quads last year - one ewe and three rams! We kept her ewe lamb, Brain Child. Brain has an enormous udder that the lambs had a tough time latching onto for the first several days.

Our other white Finnsheep is Pinky (Pinky and The Brain, right? heh... sometimes it's interesting how we come up with sheep names....). Pinky had twins her first year, and had a beautiful 50% Gotland single ewe lamb this year. Glamour Queen is in Kibbles breeding group.
We're hoping for multiple lambs in April from this very nice ewe.

The pair below are mother and daughter. Niblet the Finnsheep is on the left, and is dominant black. Her first lambs for us were Kibbles and Bits (remember sheep names - though credit for these names goes to our friend Julie, who first saw the twins). Bits, the Gotland/Finn is on the right. Both of these ewes have the most wonderful fleeces! Niblet's fleece is crimpy and soft, Bits has a looser crimp/curl and a lot more luster, and retained a lot of softness from her dam. Niblet gave us twins again in 2008, Ice Princess (ewe), and Legg's (ram).

Freckles (below) is our 4th Finnsheep. This will be her third lambing for us. We kept one of her daughters...
... Charcoal, shown below with mom, Freckles. Charcoal and Freckles also have wonderful fleeces. Freckles 2008 daughter, Moll, went to live with Donna and Tom at Schoonover farm. Her wether son, Spatz, lives with friend, Tina, nearby.
Charcoal is shown again on her own below. She has a looser curl to her fleece, gorgeous luster and a very soft, silky hand.

This ewe is Bossie. She is also a Gotland/Finn, and this is her second AI breeding. Her first breeding produced EverRanch Bill (the Bull), a 75% Gotland ram. Bill was awarded the Best Colored Ram in the Island County Fair this summer. Way to go Bossie and Bill!

The next two 50% Gotland ewes are new to us in 2008. Deepti (aka DT) is a Gotland/Shetland ewe from Susan Kimball's Owl Hill flock in California. DT's grandsire is a UK Shetland, Drum Ram, who is also the grandsire of our Shetland Midnight. Drum Ram's line tends to have wonderfully square and long bodies. DT fits that description and she has a very silky, lustrous fleece with less curl than our other % Gotland sheep. She is a sweet ewe and a welcome addition to the flock.

We bought Anneke from Carol Ronan. Carol's Gotland breeding program is far enough along that she's selling some of her 50% ewes. We got Anneke for her color genetics (AwtAgg) and longwool heritage (1/4 Lincoln). Neka is the largest of our % Gotland ewes, and has a considerable different feel to her wool. It's nice, just different.

There they are - Jack's group. Hopefully, Jack will get one breeding experience. Time will tell.

- Franna

Monday, November 17, 2008

ERN Update

Progress is steady on ERN (EverRanch North - our upcoming farm on Whidbey Island). We'd like it to be faster, and settle for what is. We'd like to have more money to throw at it, and settle for reality.

These are the folks who are building our Shop/Garage:

They're nice folks and build a more progressive pole building with laminated and cross fibered poles.

This baby is what they needed to dig the holes for the poles in our glacial till soil. ...and we thought ROCKS were hard to dig in!

The auger makes a nice hole for the laminated poles.

This was my first view of the building under construction - a forest of poles and assorted materials.

A week later, framing was started and more materials showed up! Windows...

...and more windows.

More lumber, and the important little hut.

This is what the shop looks like as seen from the house (site), looking WNW. If the hill wasn't there, we'd be looking out the Straits toward Vancouver Island!

From the other side, looking back. Dave's standing in front of the carport/RVport and next to the garage bays.

Looking out the windows and slightly to the North, here is the view. To the locals, this snow cone is recognizable as Mt. Baker.

We'd been looking forward to having a wood stove in the Shop, and bought one and all it's accompanyments on sale at the local Feed store. We optimistically brought up fitting kit, hoping to put in the roof vents during roof construction.

Whatever happened to good old wood stove heating??? Our county, apparently along with many, most?, all?? others in the US, doesn't allow wood heat as the only source of heat! So we have to rethink the wood stove option. See all the trees around? Doesn't it make sense to burn the downed and thinned trees rather than letting them rot??? Plan B is to go to a propane stove, plan C is to put in the wood stove and enough wall heaters to satisfy the "non-wood primary heat source" requirement.

Our latest trip to ERN was yesterday, November 16th. We drove up to consult on Plans B, C, D, and E (another, later, post), pick up hay and check on progress. Here's the Suburban and trailer (with hay!) coming up the drive. "Someday" it'll be coming HOME that way. :-)

This is what we saw - ROOFING! ...


Progress is good.
- Franna

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you Veterans!

Whereever and whenever you served, and for whichever branch of the Armed Forces, thank you for your service to this Great Nation.

- Franna
proud to be married to a Navy Veteran
and the daughter, sister and granddaughter of Army Veterans

Eat Local for Thanksgiving!

A message from Puget Sound Fresh and the Cascade Harvest Coalition:


Hey Friends,

In the wake of summer's sunshine, we're blessed with a spectacular bounty of food grown right here in the Pacific Northwest. However, with shorter days and regular rainfall, time spent outdoors may now seem daunting.But several area farmers markets <>are still open and offer not only the chance to buy great food, but can help with planning a delicious Thanksgiving feast!

On Saturday, November 15^th at 12 Noon, Mayor Greg Nickels will take the pledge to Eat Local for Thanksgiving at the University District's Farmers Market, located at University Way NE and NE 50^th . He'll be joined by Chef Mark Schoenthaler of Roux Seattle, who will showcase the cornucopia of fresh and tasty farm products available at market vendors as he prepares easy and delicious dishes.Join us for a celebration of the senses – see the brightly colored winter squash, ample varieties of apples, autumn greens, and so much more that might be welcome additions to your Thanksgiving table.

And while you're there, take the Pledge <>to include at least one locally grown or produced food item in your Thanksgiving feast!Eating local food is simple, affordable, and delicious - and makes a difference!

When you choose to Eat Local for Thanksgiving, you:

• Support our local farms, which increases local jobs and strengthens the rural areas of Washington

• Reduce our dependence on food grown far away

• Keep our locally earned dollars circulating in our local economy

• Strengthen our local food system so we have healthy, safe and delicious food that supports our families and our environment.

Visit: <>, and *_please forward to family, friends and colleagues_*, and invite them to join you in your pledge to Eat Local for Thanksgiving!

If you are interested in receiving Eat Local for Thanksgiving promotional materials, please contact Mark McIntyre at


Eat Local for Thanksgiving Steering Committee/The Eat Local for Thanksgiving 2008 campaign is supported by Cascade Harvest Coalition/Puget Sound Fresh, King County, Pierce County, Pierce Conservation District, Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, Warm 106.9 FM, KWJZ 96.9 FM Smooth Jazz, Organic Valley Family of Farms, Pike Place Market, PCC Natural Markets, and Clear Channel. Other participants include Seattle Tilth, Acting Food Policy Council Seattle-King County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Seattle Farmers Market Association, and Port Angeles Farmers Market. /


- Franna and EverRanch Farm, CHC Member