Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

My last sheepie check was in the wee hours of today. I went outside and the ground was WHITE. No, it wasn't cottonwood cotton, it wasn't dense fog, it wasn't fleecey bits. It was SNOW. ...on March 29th. It stuck to the ground. It was still there when I got up this morning - late morning. Ugh.

Sometime during breakfast, while watching the Lamb Cam, I could see Charcoal concentrating on "something" near the back of the Hilton. A foreground sheep moved, and I saw a little head moving! Charcoal's lambs were coming!

Out in the Hilton, I saw the lamb was drenched and brand new born. Charcoal was licking and being very attentive, so I just watched the miracle unfolding before my eyes.
The little one has a white tail tip and white on the top of the head and a strip on the muzzle. It also has dangly bits in the rear - Ram lamb!

Charcoal is one of our 50% Gotland ewes, and her lambs are a result of AI to a 100% Gotland ram, Whitehall Daniel. So this little guy is a 75% Gotland, 25% Finnsheep.

Charcoal wasn't done. There were tiny hoof tips showing. I just waited and watched. After about 15 minutes of on again off again pushing, more "lamb" was coming. But wait! It's more FEET. Lamb number 2 was coming OVER THE TOP of lamb number 3... or was it 3 coming over the top of number 2???

Time to help. I gave number 2 just a little gentle tension with Charcoal's next push, and out it came. There were still feet presenting, but now it was apparent that they were upside down and HIND feet. I dashed to the house for gloves, lubricant and boluses. When I got back, Dave had taken over and had helped Charcoal deliver number 3 with just gentle tension. WOW.

All three are vigorous, all three made it to the milk bar, and they're safely penned in a jug. Good girl Charcoal. Look at the beautiful Gotland curl on Charcoal's lambs.

We couldn't stand it anymore and looked under tails - number 1 is a ram, number 2 is a EWE, NUMBER 3 is a EWE! Jackpot number two! These are the first 75% Gotlands ewes born at EverRanch, and 75% Gotland ewes are eligible for REGISTRATION. :-)

The Brain's girls have learned that snuggling together is warmer than staying by oneself.

Who is next? By my calendar, Freckles the Finnsheep is due, as are Midnight the Shetland and Bunny the Gotland/Shetland.


- Franna

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Turn!

After waiting it seemed like forever! we finally have more lambs.

Visitors came to see lambs among other things and only had Rissa's twins to view, plus a whole lot of wide ewes and voluptuous udders. As I was saying good-bye to the last visitor, I thought I heard a lamb!

Indeed! My ears took me to the Hilton where The Brain was licking one lamb, then another, then a third in succession. One was standing on wobbly legs, one was front up, back down, and the third had a wobbly head up. I peeked at one - a EWE! Oh joy! Then peeked at another - another EWE! I almost couldn't look at the third one - EWE - JACKPOT!!! Two whites and a black (grey) with krunet, white nose and tail tip. I forgot to look at her feet for sox.

These three are half Gotland/half Finnsheep, and already look beautiful. :-)
Photos forthcoming.
- Franna

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back to Sheep!

EverRanch Farm has lambs! Shady Oaks Marissa had two musket ewe lambs about 7am. When I went out just after 8, she was cleaning up #2, and #1 had wandered through the electronet (fortunately off!), and was next to an old trailer in the pasture, baaaing pitifully. She was VERY happy to have me scoop her up and return her to Mom.

This is Daughter #1, she has a shorter, crimpy fleece and less white than ...

...Daughter #2. D2 has a longer, wavy fleece, that I'm guessing will be like Mom's. Marissa has a long, long, wavy, gorgeous fleece. In the photos, it's about 5 months growth!

V Creek Buddy is the sire of all our Shetland lambs this year. He's modified - either mioget or fawn. I can't tell yet if either of these girls is modified. I'm not sure what a musket modified color even looks like.

So these are the first, but looking at the wide loads and developing udders below, you can be assured they won't be the last lambs at EverRanch in 2009.

Left to right are Scottish Blackface - Sweet Pea, and Finnsheep - Niblet and Pinky.

I spent some more time in the barn. It's still not ready for the sheep. I got all of the hog panels pulled up, rocks moved, some of the lumps and bumps leveled out, and the lamb cam turned on.

The pigs do a good job of breaking up the straw bedding pack, but this year they broke their lixit waterer, and had a soupy mess of mud in half the barn that never really dried out.

There isn't too much more I'll do to it before spreading some lime and a whole bunch of straw. After that, "The Twelve" big ewes will move up, and the Shetlands will move into the Hilton with the "Yearling Plus" group.

Stay tuned!

- Franna

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ERN March, 2009 Update

Ahhhhh, the Shop is looking much more like a building. It looks a lot like what I designed :-)
We're still scrambling since the economic downturn affected our building plans considerably. The current plan is to slow construction way down, and put ourselves in a position to live in our trailer while finishing the shop. Most likely this means converting the shop into a residence, complete with complying to all residential codes. There are two "hot" items on our list - getting the electrical box installed inside the shop and the state inspection complete, (See the temporary power pole in the middle of the "carport"?), and getting a woven wire and electric perimeter fence up. The ground is HARD and ROCKY, and we need about 3/4 mile of fence. I think we'll pony up to have someone put that in.

Next is a series of photos of the Second Floor. This will be a good part of our living space, and the future studio space for fiber crafts, model making, stained glass, etc., etc. The first photo is looking SE; Clifford is about ready to run down the stairs ... for the eleventy hundreth time.

This view looks South. I tried to design in plenty of southern exposure for passive solar gain. You can see the slight cathedral ceiling formed by the scissors trusses. It is essentially the same cost to use scissors trusses as straight trusses. It will make drywall more complex, though.

Here's the view to the SW corner. There are 8 feet between the stairs and the South wall - enough for a small room, if we ever decide to put up walls. ... and Villa getting ready to follow Clifford down the stairs yet another time. The railing on the lower right is...

...surrounding the high bay opening from below. This is the (future) shop area for tall things - like tractors and trailers. If we make this a "residence", all of this high bay will have to be drywall separated from the living space. (Photo looks West.)

Also looking West, from Floor 2, the Olympics are visible!!! This day, there was a roil of clouds coming over, and, indeed, it was wet and stormy the next day.

Continuing on around, this view is looking NW. Out the window on the right will be our new agility arena (and equipment shed) ... someday. Villa says "hey, whatcha doin' Mom? Come run up and down the stairs with us!"

And my favorite viewpoint, looking NE. It's my favorite because of...

... Mt Baker! I'll never get tired of this view!

- Franna

P.S. ERN = EverRanch North - our future home on Whidbey Island.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Dogs of EverRanch

These are the dogs of our household. The very peacefulness of this photo belies their normal activity and exuberance. Everyone has to sleep sometime. This is our typical view when we finally sit down and watch Iron Chef America! on Sunday evenings. (The TV is right above Winnie.)

Kiss, chocolate Lab on the left belongs to son Bryan. He's selling his condo in Albuquerque, so Kiss is staying with us instead of "helping" the realtors. Kiss is officially known as Dave's Chocolate Kisses, CD, NAJ, CGC. She was Dave's dog before she and Bryan fell for each other. Interesting Kiss fact - when she got her CD (AKC Novice Obedience title), each of the three required qualifying scores ("legs") were earned with a different handler. Dave earned the first one with her, Jennifer (DD) the second, and she finished with me handling.

Next is Clifford, my Welsh Springer Spaniel, who is less commonly known as AKC, Int Ch. Briarbanc Brych Red Dog, RE, OA, NA, NF, CGC. (and on the verge of JH, OAJ, OF, and AX)

Then are the Three Yellow Labradors. We didn't choose anyone by color, it just happened that way. We chose the litters we wanted, then chose from the pups. They all ended up being yellow.

On "top" is Winnie - our newest addition - Winroc Winsome Winifred. She is Dave's up and coming star.

Front and center is Villa - who should be ready for competition "sometime" this year. AKA Winroc Virtual Villainess.

Then, last but certainly not least is Int. Ch. Winroc St. Thomas at Evrrnch, RN. Thomas is Dave's current competition dog.

Thomas earned the most recent title in our pack:

This is Thomas earning his International Championship on February 22, 2009. The Int. Ch. is a non-competitive title. The dogs are required to earn three V-1 (Excellent) Ratings from judges representing at least 2 countries. Around here, the judges are usually from the US and Canada. As I was in Lynden judging agility (and awarding Winnie's mom her MACH!!!), DD Jennifer and our good friend Gail handled Thomas to this title, and Dave took photos.

Next, here is Winnie, playing in the March snow last week. We've had snow in March for 2 years in row!!! The last time I remember it snowing significantly in March was 1989. Is this how they define "global warming"?? (I got up this morning to MORE SNOW! On March 15th!!!)


...then later, curled up in the favorite dog bed in the house. The dogs like their beds. They mostly like being with us, wherever we are. So, we have dog beds all over the house. This one really isn't a "dog bed". It is a kid's play tunnel that we use to start puppies in agility. It ties together in a hoop for storage, and by accident one day, it got knocked over and taken over as a bed. Even Thomas curls up in it! It is hardly ever vacant.

Winnie earned "house" privileges a couple weeks ago, by consistently going to the door to go outside to potty. She has really taken to being with the "Big Dogs" and with us. It is so much nicer when a puppy gets to the stage where you don't have to watch them 100%!

It's not so easy for dogs to get comfortable in my no frills pickup truck. On my last trip to ERN, I took Clifford and Villa. I filled the back with hay, so the only place for dogs was in the cab with me! Of course, they just want to be with me, so that was all well and good. There isn't much room on the front seat for me and two (semi) big dogs. This was Villa's solution:

...and Clifford's:

They did shift now and then. I'd get a soft muzzle laying on my leg, or a nice warm body against my side. It is verboten for them to get in my space while I'm driving, and they understand that pretty well. No, they're not very safe riding like this. I've got plans to get seat belts and/or a crate stand. We don't ride this way very often.
(Photos were taken while we were on the ferry - I wasn't driving and clicking!)

Clifford is very resourceful. He's good at finding ways into and around just about anything he wants. He's a terrific hunting dog, too. If there are birds around, he'll find them. He gets so intense that he goes into all kinds of cover and gets covered with all kinds of things. He always comes out full of sticks and seeds. Then, he chews them out, if I don't get to them first. Here, he's pulling berry vines out of his feathers after tally-ho'ing through all the brush at ERN. This is the reason that spaniels shouldn't be dripping in coat! He has just enough feathers to protect, yet, not too much to work out the vegetation. Actually, most of the seeds slide out of his correctly textured Spaniel coat.

To end this post, here are Winnie and Thomas again. Thomas is accepting her as one of the pack; she's learning that the pack sleeps under the TV when "Mom" and "Dad" vege out. Don't they look innocent and peaceful?

- Franna

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Pleasure was Mine

I am an AKC Agility Judge. Sounds like "True Confessions" doesn't it? heh...

One of the things I like about judging is watching the dogs work and do well on the courses that I've designed. In February, I got to judge for the Chuckanut Dog Training Club at the Fairgrounds in Lynden. Over the course of the weekend, there were a lot of good dogs running, some qualifying and some not.

Coincidentally, this trial was the first one for Winnie's dam, Tripper, after her maternity leave. As of that Friday, Tripper needed TWO "Double Q's" to earn her Master Agility Championship. (Double Q means that the dog earns a qualifying score in both Standard Agility and Jumpers With Weaves at the Excellent Level on the same day.)

Friday was an Excellent level only trial, and Tripper made errors on both the Standard and Jumpers courses, so didn't earn any qualifying scores. DRAT.

Saturday and Sunday the other judge was another friend who has Labradors, which was fun by itself. I enjoy judging with friends.

On Saturday, the timekeeper thought that Tripper didn't go fast enough, so I didn't check with Dan to see if she'd qualified in his ring. When I checked the results that evening, though, she HAD qualified in my ring! Sunday morning I checked and she'd ALSO qualified in Dan's ring - ONE Double Q to go! She could do it TODAY.

I was between classes and got to watch her run in Dan's ring AND IT WAS GOOD! It was too much to hope for...

My Jumpers course had pretty good flow. I made extra sure it was laid out well, and I was as inconspicuous as I could be while being able to see everything. You see, I am one of Tripper's special friends and she'd been stealing glances at me all weekend, just dying to come and say hello!

Here's the course map:

Imagine you're in the sky looking down on the ring. Each of the little symbols is an obstacle - in this case they are jumps - straight lines with little rectangles on each side have "wings" to make the jump wider looking, the straight lines with little "T"s on them are "wingless", the one with two lines is a "double" (has two bars to jump over) and the one with three lines is a "triple" jump. The one jump without a number is a "dummy" jump - one that the dog shouldn't go over! The 12 dots in a line (number 12) are the weave poles. Dogs have to weave in and out in a serpentine pattern, starting with the first pole to their left.

The curvy line is the perfect dog's path going from obstacle 1, all the way to obstacle 18. JP and the dashed line is the "Judge's Path" (for me), and the TS and RS are helpers in the ring. Agility takes a lot of helpers.

I had already judged quite a few dogs on this course, and knew it was going well. When I saw Lee and Tripper come to the start line I held my breath, crossed fingers and toes and watched. Tripper started, over 1-2 and around to 3 ... continued 4-5-6-7... through the serpentine 8-9-10... over the triple 11... finished all 12 weaves correctly... jumped around the pinwheel, 13-14-15, and headed down the final stretch...


It is traditional that the dog and handler run a "Victory Lap" when they earn their MACH. All reservations aside, Lee got Tripper to turn on the afterburners for her Victory lap. The whole room was cheering and clapping. What a THRILL.

I got to award Lee and Tripper the final Q for their MACH.
Winnie's mom became:

Int. Ch., MACH Winroc Pedal to the Metal, MH, TDX, FX


- Franna

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Agility Obstacle

Agility courses have all kinds of obstacles. In the very early days of Agility, they were very creative with what kind of obstacles the dogs had to negotiate - crawl under tarps with their dogs, playground teeter totters and slides. Recently, the obstacles have become standardized and rather boring. I think it's time for some new ones. What do you think?

The Wing Jump to the Sheep Pen obstacle. Let's see, what would they have to do in there? Jump from sheep back to sheep back? One point per sheep? Maybe the small dogs could go under the sheep. Minus points for stampeding sheep. No points for herding, but there is time lost.

Don't look for this one soon.

- Franna

Valentines Theme Supper

Dave and I had such fun with the New Year's/Anniversary Potato theme dinner that we decided to do it again for Valentine's Day. YUM!

We pulled out the little baggie of "Theme ingredients" and blindly chose ...

GARLIC!!! Oh, the Grand Goodness of Garlic. We both LOVE garlic.

The first menu items came fast:

Garlic mashed potatoes.
Crostini with roasted garlic and olive oil.
Garlic Pizza.

Then it was off to the cookbooks and internet to find more recipes. The internet is such an awesome source for 'things'.

To the menu we added:

Garlic Soup.
Green Salad with Garlic Dressing.
Flank Steak Stuffed with Greens and Garlic.
and Garlic ICE CREAM.

We needed a few items at the store - GARLIC for one! We got elephant garlic and regular garlic, cream, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, lemon.

Back at home, the ice cream got started first, then the cookies and the roasted cloves of garlic. The ice cream was made by folding a chilled gelatin garlic lemon mixture into whipped cream and freezing it, instead of going into an ice cream freezer. The cookies were just like regular chocolate chip cookies, except with minced garlic and some lemon zest in them. The minced garlic was soaked in maple syrup first. Mmmmm!

We were pretty busy, so didn't get many in-process photos. This one shows the lamb stuffing ingredients. The recipe called for collard greens, but we thought that brussels sprouts (one of DH's favorite veggies) would blend well with the lamb. It DID!

Lamb flank steaks were pounded thin and cut into rounds to roll around the stuffing. Then they were browned and braised. WOW, did that ever smell good!

Being good cooks, we made sure everything got tasted along the way - and it tasted as good as it smelled! :-)

So, here's the STAR - GARLIC.

(I even found some heart napkins stowed away in the far reaches of a cupboard.)

Ta Daaaaa!

First course:

Garlic bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic. An all time favorite.

Second course:

Creamy garlic soup made with our yummy homemade chicken stock. Served with garlic crostini. This soup was very much like the Vichyssoise we had in January and could have had more garlic flavor. Except for that, it was rich and creamy and well balanced. I love crunchy bread with soup!

Third course:

Roasted Garlic Pizza with Green Salad and Creamy Garlic Dressing (homemade, of course!). Homemade pizza dough, homemade white sauce, lots of garlic makes a feast for the senses. Then with just enough greens to make it feel healthful. ;-)

Fourth (Main) Course:

Stuffed Lamb Rollups with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Braised Vegetables. This was the WOW dish. Brussels Sprouts aren't my favorite veggie but in this stuffing, they were PERFECT. "Spot" donated the flanks for the meal - thanks, Spot.

Then we get to dessert. Can you believe Garlic Chocolate Chip Cookies and Garlic Ice Cream with Raspberries? We almost garnished it with Candied Garlic, but ran out of time.

The recipes both warned of being a bit strong flavored, and appropriate to follow a dinner with strong flavors. Dave and I commented that we 'missed' the garlic flavors in the dessert, though they were delicious. The cookies were chewy-crisp and buttery, the ice cream rich and velvety. The raspberries, of course, were tart and full of raspberry flavor. And you just have to have milk with cookies.

Even though we cut down the recipes, we had plenty of left overs for several days worth of soup, lamb, pizza, cookies and ice cream. We found out that the cookies and the ice cream really needed to follow a garlicky dinner! On their own, there was a distinct "off" taste. That didn't stop us from finishing every last one, though.

I wonder what theme ingredient we'll choose next time???

- Franna

My, Oh, My

I've been quite remiss in blogging. I have lots of blog fodder, photos and updates and !

... a little window of time.

So, just in case "something" else comes up - again - I'm putting up this tease of a posting.


- Franna