Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad

For the third season, our sheep played a supporting role in the Highline Christian Church's Living Nativity. Here they are with the Shepherds honoring the baby Jesus.

Llamas play the role of beast of burden for the Magi. They are quite regal.

I was honored to be involved once again. The sheep and the Shepherds did well. From left, the sheep are Electra, Toffee, Bessie, and Mindy, all registered Shetland Sheep.

Wishing Peace and Happiness to All

- Franna and the EverRanch Critters

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adventures in the Snow

Yesterday, Dave left to retrieve the travel trailer, aka spare bedroom, for the upcoming Holidays. We're expecting our kids plus one for both Thanksgiving and for Christmas. We have a 3 bedroom house - one for us, one for wool, one for exercise equipment. There is a loft bed in the exercise room that no one likes and a hideabed that is serviceable. The trailer makes it much nicer for guests, especially for a couple. :-)

Snow and cold weather was predicted some time ago, so we knew it was coming. ...right.

Sunday evening, the kitchen sink drain started leaking - a lot. One of the fittings on the P trap broke and let the connection come apart. Well, an "easy" fix, right?

The ground was white on Monday morning, but bare and wet on the roads with a "forecast" to stay above freezing for most of the daylight hours.

We live on a hill. It's not just any hill, it's a pretty steep haul from the valley floor to where we are, plus we're in a cooler micro-climate than the valley, often with frost, ice and snow when the valley is just wet. Sometimes, it only takes going the half mile to the main road to get out of the slippery stuff. There are 6 semi-direct ways to get up here from the Auburn-Sumner area, one major state highway (hwy 410), two main multi lane arterials, and 3 windy (windey?) local roads. All are steep and long to get up the 300' or so to where we live.

So, I asked Dave to phone me about the conditions of the road when he got to the valley floor. He did. "It's just wet", he says. "Go for it", he says. "It's easy", he says.

Well, I had to take the sink apart, let the dogs go potty, find the car keys... FIND the car keys. The Honda keys were a.w.o.l. That left the pickup (which was a good thing in the end). The pickup that was still attached to the horse trailer, parked on a slope where I was going to dump the bedding.

Sooooo, I managed to pull the trailer and pickup up into the upper driveway with a minimal amount of sliding, but no go on backing up to park the trailer. It wouldn't move even a foot backwards. Well, I figured on trying it again from a better angle, so pulled it around into the middle driveway and up the slope at a faster pace, sliding around the curve. Yes! It went up the steep part of the slope, but again wouldn't back up the lesser slope to its parking spot. Yet again a third time I tried, this time going toward the garage to back it up going down the slight incline. However, this time I couldn't even get up to the upper driveway. Plan C - back up and park the trailer next to the Honda in front of the house. That worked.

Time is ticking away. The roads are still wet, but it's now almost 4, and snowing lightly. Still, Lowe's is only 10 minutes away, should be plenty of time to get there, get the parts, and come home. I was even going to the bank along the way.

Driving down the hill was uneventful, people were driving up and down with no obvious trouble, though I noticed someone had slid into the deep ditch some time earlier. At the bottom of the hill - about 2 miles from home - it was completely different. The roads were slick, the snow was coming down hard, and it was blowing. What???!! I kept to my plan to get to Lowe's and get the part, but dropped going to the bank. I did NOT want to spend the next 2 days without a kitchen sink!

My truck is 2WD, has regular tires, and is light in the rear (pickup trucks are rear wheel drive). I slid where others didn't. It was tricky getting going from a stop, so I ran a few yellow-to-red lights. Got to Lowe's, got help, and the parts! I held old and new up side by side and carefully compared. They looked like a good match. (Remember the puzzle with 2 drawings and you get to find the differences? I usually find all but one - pretty good, I thought.)

It took about 30 minutes from when I left the house to heading back. That 30 minutes made a huge difference in the road conditions and the traffic. The road leading up to our hill was packed with snow and ice. The vehicles going slower than I could walk. As I crept along in line with everyone else, I wondered whether people were actually getting up the hill, or were turning around and coming down, wondered whether I could even get turned around if my truck lost traction on the hill.

Finally, at the very last option for turning around before the hill started, I did. I was going to walk home. I parked at Game Farm Park, only a couple miles from home and ordinarily an easy walk.

Of course, I took my cell phone and the sink parts - I wasn't going to leave those fateful parts. At least I could wash dishes and fill water buckets for the animals in the kitchen sink!

Then, Dave talked me out of walking. It was getting dark, the hill has no sidewalks and little shoulder to speak of. I was wearing a light colored coat, but had no flashlight. Les Schwab was still open and not far away. I went back to get chains. They were busy, but happy to sell me chains, and to install them in the now blizzard like conditions.

The change in the truck's handling was immediately obvious. The truck no longer fishtailed when starting to move, and I was sure I could stop. Now I would be able to turn around and come back if the roads were blocked.

I knew the shortist route was already choked, but I checked anyhow. Right enough, it was at a standstill a half mile away from the start of the hill. I turned around again, and tried for option 2, another wind-y local road. It took a long time to get there. Everyone was more or less sanely creeping along.

At the turnoff for option 2, it looked like a few people might be getting through, but more were sliding and effectively blocking the road - and this route started with a small hill - the steep sections were out of sight!

Option 3, further down the road, was closed off with flares. People were parking on the ample shoulder and walking. A few brave(?) souls were going up anyhow. They disappeared into the blackness and I couldn't tell if they actually made it up, or slid and parked. I still had options, so continued south, winding along the bottom of the hill.

No one was even trying to get up Option 4. It is the steepest and most winding of all the ways up the hill.

Options 5 and 6 come together at the East end of Sumner. I got to the turn at Option 5 (multilane arterial), just to see the police blocking it off, and routing traffic around.

I turned, as directed, and went into a mini-mart just past hwy 410. What a mess! Cars were everywhere. No one seemed to care which lane they were in, whether they were going forward or backward, or who was in the way.

Highway 410 (option 6) was going to be my drop dead backup plan. It is the least steep, but most out of the way, route up the hill to HOME. I could hear tires spinning and above me, I could see all the cars on my last hope route stop and go creeping... mostly stopped. Somehow I was going to get HOME. I needed to be there for the dogs and the sheep.

Okay, I thought, I'll go back to Option 3, park, and walk the 5-ish miles home.

As I started through the intersection leading to the closed Option 5, the police were gone and several cars ahead of me drove around the barricades and up the hill. Why not?, I thought, I don't have much to lose besides a long walk in the snow. The chains were working well, I could stop and start again, turn around if needed, and there was no one stuck, blocking the road that I could see.

Driving in the oncoming lane wasn't comfortable, and I expected to see flashing red lights in my mirror or oncoming traffic any second. A couple hundred yards later, there was a train of about 7 vehicles successfully heading up the hill! The leader kept the pace to a steady 15 mph and the rest of us followed.

It's about 1.5 miles to the top of the hill. There were several abandoned cars, mostly off to the side of the road, tire tracks testifying to their futile struggles to stay on the road. Then, we made it all the way up and past the barricades closing the downhill lanes! Only about 5 miles to go, and now mostly on flat roads!!

At about 8:30 pm, I arrived back at home, safe and mostly sound, "only" 4 hours after I started out on the 30 minute trip.

The first thing I did was test fit the plumbing pieces. ...and test them again. ...and turn them upside down, swapped them, and tested again. ONE thing was different. Remember the puzzle? One end was female threaded, and so was my exit pipe. After all that, the dishes are now soaking in the bathtub.

Tomorrow, they say, it's supposed to thaw.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tracking Dog!

About three weeks ago, October 24th, Dave and Winnie, Clifford and I competed in the Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Association's AKC Tracking Dog test. The grounds were beautiful and allowed good viewing for spectators, and for videotaping the runs. Both dogs passed their tests! Winnie for her first title - Winroc Winsome Winifred, TD, and Clifford to become -

Ch. Briarbanc Brych Red Dog, TD, RE, AX, OAJ, OF, JH, CGC.

Clifford's video is on YouTube -

(I was having "issues" getting the video into the blog itself.)

It rained during his track, and you can hear and see it on the video. He did a terrific job - after he got through his first turn. Watch on the video. We overshot the corner by about 15 to 20 yards before he worked back and committed to the turn away from the camera. On the last leg, Clifford is coming toward the camera and gallery. It is a view one seldom gets to see of a tracking dog. Watch how hard Clifford is concentrating on the track. He doesn't even notice the gallery until they start cheering after he finds the glove.

Good dogs, Clifford and Winnie!

- Franna

PS. For those of you who aren't familiar with AKC tracking tests - the dogs have to follow a course which was plotted by two judges the previous day, then walked by a stranger to the dog 30 minutes to 2 hours prior to the dog attempting to follow the course. The start is marked by a stake with one more stake 30 yards out along the first leg of the course. In the Tracking Dog (entry) level, there are 3 to 5 turns, both left and right, each leg of the course is at least 50 yards long, and the total length is between 440 and 500 yards. There is an article belonging to the tracklayer at the start, and one at the end, typically a glove. The dog must follow the course by scenting, and find the end article. Most dogs take 6 months to a year in training before they're capable of passing the test. They only have to pass once to earn their Tracking Dog title. Tracking tests are in such demand that dogs have to be "certified" as ready by a tracking judge before they can even enter a test!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Breeding Season!

It's always a challenge to figure out who goes with whom, when do we start, and when do we end. I maintain a small flock of purebred Shetlands, and breeding up the Gotlands. Firth of Fifth Barish came all the way from Minnesota to be the Shetland "man" here, but first he stopped at Michelle's Boulderneigh farm. Barish came "home" from Michelle's last week and went in with my six synchronized Shetland ewes, Electra, Bessie, Astrid, Blanca, Mindy and Toffee.

Actually, the first breeding group here was Caidon (87.5% Gotland/12.5% Shetland) with three sold % Gotland sheep - Queen, Razel, and Ruffles, and the four Finns, Niblet, Freckles, Pinky and The Brain. These girls went to a farm in Ephrata on Monday. Danson (75% Gotland/25% Finn. With 2 sisters and several daughters here, he was kind of superfluous) went with them to catch any that Caidon didn't.

Yesterday, Barish and Dancer went to service ewes for Kendara, leaving space here to shuffle sheep into more breeding groups. So, it was kind of like dominoes. The 6 Shetlands had to vacate the Hilton breeding suite, so they went into the ewe lamb pasture, after the ewe lambs were locked in the barn. Three ewes from the ewe lamb group (Alice, Marie, and Cocoa Puff) and one from the big ewe group (DeeTee) went into the lane, so they could be led into the Hilton breeding suite.

It got a little exciting when Caidon jumped this fence as this first group of ewes - for Jack - went by to their breeding pen. We quickly penned them, caught, haltered, and tied Caidon and put up the electric topline. He promptly checked it with his nose and stayed put.

We then haltered and led *Jack* into the breeding pen with the four ewes. I realized after taking the photo that all 5 are Gotland/Shetland. Left to right they are Alice (75% Gotland), Marie (Alice's twin), Jack, DeeTee (50% Gotland) and Cocoa Puff (DeeTee's daughter, 25% Gotland). Puff is pushed back and looks small in this photo, but she's almost as big as Alice and Marie. This group has the potential to produce brown (grey) as well as (black) grey. I'm excited about these lambs ... well, okay, I'm excited about all the lambs :-)

Next, Angie (50% Gotland/25% Shetland/25% Finn) and Daisy (37.5% Gotland/25% Border Leicester/25% Bluefaced Leicester/12.5% Shetland) were separated from the "big" ewe group in the barn and again brought down the lane - this time into Caidon's lair. This photo is fun - showing Daisy with her higher set "Leicester" ears and Angie and Caidon with lower (just above horizontal) Gotland/Shetland ears.

Here's another view of Caidon. He's got a nice, long body, 4 square legs, strong topline, beautifully curled fleece. He has knobby, loose scurs which sometimes occur on polled breeds of sheep.

The Shetland girls got integrated into the small ewe group in the barn. They immediately went to the hay feeder to "tuck in". Here are Toffee (upper left), Eclaire (below Toffee), Astrid (behind 'Claire), Blanca (visible green tag), Randi (little white lamb), and Bessie.

In the back of the barn, Mindy and Bessie (along with one of the Speckled Sussex hens) go through the new bedding looking for goodies.

...while Fiona settles into the corner to chew some cud.

In the other section of the barn, 7 of the big ewes are held in anticipation of our possible December AI. We should know by mid-November if the AI will be reality. Six of the ewes are in this photo - from left top is Eve (Scottish Blackface), Bossie (Gotland/Finn), Gem (75% Gotland), Chamois (Gotland/Finn), Jewel (75% Gotland), and Bits (Gotland/Finn). Bunny (Gotland/Shetland) is out of the photo to the right, and alpaca, Acclaim, peeks over the top of the feeder.

More sheep! This group is the ram lambs, most of whom will go to market in a couple weeks. These fellas are Gotland crosses, one Shetland and one SuffolkX. There are some nice sheep in here that would have been keepers if they'd been female.
Here is Dusty, the Shetland ram lamb. He's a grey gulmoget, friendly and very cute.
So, I'm done with sheep shuffling for a while. It's time for the voyeur part - if I want to know when lambs are due. :-)
- Franna

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For Sale - EverRanch Cocoa Puff

This is Cocoa Puff. Puff has been an eye catcher from birth in April. She is 25% Gotland and 75% Shetland. She inherited the light brown "modified" color from her Shetland sire and wide curl from her Gotland/Shetland dam. She has a small krunet spot.

Puff looks a lot like a Shetland, is friendly and halter trained. She will mature slightly larger than a Shetland. She is also for sale! Puff can be sold open or bred to our 75% Gotland/25% Shetland ram, Jack, who also carries brown, or one of our other rams.

Puff is available for $150. I can deliver within a reasonable distance and am making trips into Western Oregon, Eastern Washington and Whidbey Island in the next several weeks.

Interested? Just let me know.

- Franna

Monday, October 11, 2010

Super 17

The Island County Fair has an Open Class exhibit category that they call the "Super 17". To enter, one must have an entry in each of the 17 categories:

201 Division A: Food Preservation
201 Division B: Baked Goods
201 Division C: Needlework
201 Division D: Quilting
201 Division E: Sewing
202 Division A: Fine Arts
202 Division B: Photography
202 Division C: Adult Arts & Crafts
202 Division F: Fiber Arts
203 Division A: Floral
203 Division B: Vegetables
203 Division C: Fruits
203 Division D: Grains & Grasses
204 Division A: Homemade Wine
204 Division B: Beer & Hard Cider
205 Division A: Educational Displays

Whew! That's quite a list. (hmmm, I count 16 - and that's straight from the website) They've decided to hold workshops on each of the categories in order to promote the challenge. A couple weeks ago, my friend Joanne and I went to the wine making workshop. This photo shows Terry, the 2010 winner of the Super 17, Joanne and our table of "ingredients".

This wine was super simple. Made from white grape juice, sugar, yeast, yeast food and some tartaric acid (I think). We made it in gallon sized batches, and about a dozen of us were at the workshop.

A few minutes after adding yeast, it became neutrally bouyant and suspended througout the liquid. Pretty!

We tasted some of the results from the 2010 fair. It wasn't too bad! We also got to taste some mead (fermented honey beverage), and that was quite good.

Dave and I already have cider "brewing" for 204, Division B - Beer and Cider. Of note, is that the beverage doesn't have to be alcoholic. :-)

In past years... way past years, I entered lots of baked, canned, dried, floral, vegetable, sewing, quilting and needlework categories at the Benton-Franklin County Fair when I lived in Richland, WA. Those shouldn't be too difficult to come up with, and I even have several UFO's around. The Fine Arts, though. Hmmmmm, that's going to take some thinking, and probably a lot of trial and error.

Should be interesting!

- Franna

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Island County Fair

Franna and Gem at the Island County Fair

We had a great time at the Fair! The weather was cool to warm and dry for the most part. It was really comfortable for the animals, and people could put on layers in the morning.

We had the FIRST EVER Registered Gotland show in the US on Friday with 2 yearling ewes and 4 ewe lambs entered. The sheep represented Gotland sires from the UK and from New Zealand and foundation breeds - Finnsheep and Border Leicesters.

The Grand Champion Gotland ewe was our very own Gotland yearling, EverRanch Gem - shown below.

Later in the day, Gem was judged Supreme Ewe (Best Ewe in Show) over 6 other Grand Champion Ewes! Joanne's yearling ram, Windy Hill Roku was awarded Grand Champion NC Ram (the whole NC class were Gotland Cross sheep), and Supreme Ram in show. The 4 of us are shown below.
I have other results to report, and I'll post them when I get some more sheep photos. It's really hard to get photos when you're running around gathering sheep, changing halters, putting sheep away and getting them back out. whew! Thanks to DH, Dave for the photos of Gem and Roku.

After awards, I put the ribbons and rosettes up above the sheep on their stall cards. It looked pretty good! This is my "adult ewe" pen. See those nice rosettes?When I came back the next morning, all the rosettes were in the straw but the one on the left - Chloe's Reserve Champion NC Ewe rosette.

Chloe had climbed the wall, pulled down and nibbled on everyone else's rosettes but her own! Hmmmmmmm. The picture of innocence.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fair Time!

This year EverRanch sheep are going to two (more or less) local Fairs - the Island County Fair in Langley, WA, and the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, WA. We've taken sheep to the ICF for two years now. It will be our new home county fair once we get moved to Whidbey Island. This will be our first year with sheep at the Evergreen. I miss going to the Puyallup Fair, but since they moved the sheep show to the last weekend, it conflicts with the Oregon Flock and Fiber Show. choices, choices.

The sheep string this year includes 7 Natural Colored - all Gotland crosses, 2 Shetland yearling ewes, 2 Crossbred white yearling ewes at ICF, and at both fairs we have a Registered Gotland show! I believe these to be the first registered Gotland shows in the US!

Reports to come. Now I have to get busy finishing the flooring in the horse trailer so we can go tomorrow.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Highlights from Fairbanks

Dave and I judged three days of (dog) agility trials over the July 4th weekend - in FAIRBANKS, ALASKA!

It was terrific! It was like getting into a wayback machine. They ran one ring at a time, spectators cheered and clapped for every dog, they had us give out ribbons at the end of each class. It was really neat for us, as judges, to hear who finished titles, who got double Q's, who finally got a leg in their class. Many agility trials in the Seattle area have gotten fairly impersonal. Exhibitors only occasionally clap, and awards are posted in a book with ribbons as self serve. Fairbanks had a record entry, though, and computer "challenges" plus a delay by thunderstorm, resulted in two very long days -starting at 7:30 am and finishing after 8 pm. I hope they find a way to keep their down home atmosphere and also be a bit more time efficient.

Sorry, I didn't take photos at the agility trial.

We stayed on for 3 extra days to poke around Fairbanks. It was Dave's first trip to Alaska, and only my third. The club gave us tickets on the Riverboat tour as judges gifts, the University of Fairbanks has a great museum, and the Visitor Center also has a Cultural exhibit. That's what we did the next day. Then we took a day to drive to Denali National Park. We looked at doing a big loop drive around the interior of Alaska, but one of the roads was unpaved, and our rental car agreement nixed that. Going home day, we visited more of the University of Alaska. We both took photos.

We saw this plane at SeaTac while we were waiting for our time to board. Golly gee! It was our plane! Think they got planes mixed up during scheduling?

The Kennel Club had put us up at Pike's Riverfront Hotel, convenient to the trial site, airport, and a nice place. It was rather busy, buses and tourists coming and going most of the day and night, plus a bit on the expensive side for us. I was introduced to Bed & Breakfast Inns on my first trip to Alaska in the 1970's and instantly became a convert. Most B&B's are more reasonably priced than hotels, plus have much more local flavor than an impersonal hotel. AND breakfasts are generally outstanding!

So, I had searched the internet and found several B&B's in Fairbanks and chose "Lizzie's Nest" from among them. Turns out it was a great choice! Our hosts were retired teachers, long time residents of Fairbanks, and active in the B&B Association. The B&B was in their home in the hills about 10 minutes North of Fairbanks, our "apartment" was the lower floor and had Murphy bed, chairs, loveseat, day bed, kitchenette and private bath with a walk in shower. They had cleared the trees just enough for a nice lawn and view of Mt. McKinley (I prefer the native name - Denali) and part of Fairbanks.

Breakfasts were sourdough pancakes, homemade English muffins and waffles, jams and jellies from local fruits - have you ever heard of "Spruce Tip Jelly???" - it was pretty good. The blueberry jam was to die for, though. It was packed with flavor and just sweet enough. Also, juice, fruit and sausages. We didn't really need to eat the rest of the day (but, of course, we did ;-) Here I am standing next to the front yard, and their vegetable "garden".

We saw this Ladies parka in the Cultural center. Liz (of Lizzie's Nest) told us her mother had donated the parka, which was originally her grandmother's, to the center. It was beautiful and looked very warm.

This fella greeted us at the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) Museum of the North gallery. He almost looks like he has his paw on Dave's shoulder... heh.

The gallery was packed with many things "Alaska". It wasn't as organized as some museums I've visited, but had so much information and so much to see that we missed a lot.

One item of interest - there was a whole section on the Internment camps from WWII... not the Internment of Japanese-Americans but the Internment of Native Alaskans who lived in the Aleutian Islands!! When the Japanese invaded the outer Aleutians, the US Government - against the wishes of the Alaskan Government - took the native Aleutians (several islands and different peoples worth) into "protective" custody. I guess the idea was sound but the execution was terrible! The natives ended up in camps that were totally inadequate, homes and villages were burned and looted, families were separated for years. The whole business was covered up for many years, even through the discussions and eventual reparations given to the Japanese-American families who suffered through the internment camps. Finally, these peoples are getting at least some recognition and closure. How is it that good intentions can have such terrible results?

Well. We also saw their film on the Aurora Borealis. Excellent!

Denali played peek-a-boo with us throughout most of our stay. On the second morning at Lizzie's Nest, we saw this:

...and decided we had to drive closer. Denali National Park and Preserve is about a 3 hour drive from Fairbanks through some rather interesting topography. The closer we got, the thicker the clouds got. ...until, we started passing to the SouthEast of the Park. We were rewarded with this view not far past Broad Pass. Living with Mt. Rainier in our backyard, it takes a heck of a mountain to impress me. Denali is a heck of a mountain.

There were several places of interest on the UAF campus. We strolled around the Botanical Garden while waiting for the Large Animal Research Facility to open. And - a portion of the botanical garden is this Dyer's Garden! The Spinners and Weavers Guild of Fairbanks maintains this garden of dye plants at the University. Fun!!

This is the Madder bed:

Here are the young Indigo plants:

Here are sorrel plants with evidence of a not so welcome visitor!

And this is the woad bed:

They also had marigolds, corieopsis, ragwort and several other plants, and pages from A Dyer's Garden laminated and bound and available for reading by the garden.

Finally, we made it to LARS - the Large Animal Research Station at UAF. We had enough time to go on the 45 minute presentation tour, eat our lunch, and do some shopping at the tiny gift shop before heading back to the airport for our flight home.

Sooooo, why was the LARS on my list of places "not to miss" in Fairbanks???

Since the last time I was in Fairbanks in the 1980's, I learned to spin yarn and have experienced many different fibers. You spinners know that the ultimate spinning fiber for softness and warmth is qiviut... the undercoat of the Musk Ox. Here, at LARS, is a whole herd of Musk Oxen (who neither have musk glands nor are oxen - they're actually more closely related to sheep and goats than cattle or deer.)

Musk oxen are ice age mammals ideally suited to living in the arctic. Even Fairbanks in the summer is on the warm side for them. The musk oxen above and below are males.

This next one is a female. Both sexes have horns; the males horns are longer and wider.

Both sexes shed qiviut in the late spring/early summer! It comes off in a big sheet, and the UAF sells theirs - half to the Alaskan Native co-op based in Anchorage, and half to SPINNERS!!! Yes, I bought some. :-) Luxury fiber comes with a luxury price, so I got just 2 ounces of raw fiber. There is some of the long, hairy outer coat, some intermediate coat (primary fibers?), but mostly the soft, downy qiviut! I'm really looking forward to preparing it from scratch and spinning my prize.

So, highlights complete, here is our homeward bound conveyance. Much less colorful than the one that brought us to Fairbanks, but also not full! Dave and I traded off on the window seat and watched the Pacific coast mountains and Islands on our way home. There are HUGE and incredibly long glaciers coming off the mountains in SE Alaska and NW Canada.

We're looking forward to returning someday. Alaska.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Has it really been a Week?!

...since the Black Sheep Gathering?
I got away without buying much... except a Shetland ram and a semen tank. Those I arranged ahead of time and Garrett Ramsey brought them out from Minnesota.
Here's the handsome fella who gets all our Shetland ewes this fall. All 9 of them. Unless some get sold.
Meet FirthOFifth Barish, an F1 Campaign Timothy son. Barish produces only black based sheep, and his katmoget (badger face) pattern is my favorite. With the modified genetics we got from Buddy over the last 3 years, perhaps we'll get some shaela offspring. Barish is a small ram, very nice Shetland size, and is half polled, even though his scurs/aberrent horns are fairly good sized.

Barish will be staying with Michelle at Boulderneigh to service her ewes before coming here to continue his job. While he's with Michelle, her Blackberry is sharing quarters with our two 75% Gotland rams. Blackberry isn't much smaller than they are and all seem pretty amicable.

On Saturday evening at BSG, right before the Spinners' Lead, there was a Shetland Costume parade. Most of my photos were dark and blurry, but I did get a couple of my favorite costumes. Tracy had a great sign, especially considering all the discussion surrounding fleece types in our little sheep. I remember wearing those foamy curlers!!! Mine were pink.
Lynn Deshler dressed her little sheep in a peacock costume, and carried a stuffed peacock. They were very colorful, and I wish my photo had been better. Notice her tail feathers in front of the curler sheep above.

There were several sheep led by kids - monsters and ballerinas, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, and this cowgirl with her bucking bronco.

The sheep were remarkably tolerant of their saddles, sweaters, hats and wigs. I hope it'll be on the NASSA AGM video!
- Franna

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

EverRanch Farms last lamb of 2010

I **thought** I took the rams out so we'd be done lambing in May. Apparently, my timing was off by a good week. Jewel, one of our 75% Gotland ewes, delivered her son mid-morning today, out in the sun in the nice green grass. That's the way they all should be. He'll be curly and grey like his parents - and for sale. (75% Gotland, 12.5% Finn, 12.5% Shetland)

Jewel's boy has three similar aged future playmates. Our only purebred Shetland lambs of the year are these two ruffians, both rams, both sired by Michelle's Blackberry. The moorit gulmoget is out of EverRanch Mindy (musket), and the black fella is out of EverRanch Moira (moorit). Both Mindy and Moira are V Creek Buddy daughters. These two Shetland boys are for sale, as are moorit yearling ewes Moira and Sister, out of Bitterroot Bessie.

One of our 50% Gotlands, Topper, gave birth to this little grey cutie (62.5% Gotland, 25% Finn, 12.5% Shetland). She's a keeper and needs a name. Her face looks like it'll turn dark as she matures, although she might retain a krunet spot like mom's. (The sun makes her forehead look lighter in this photo.)

Did I mention that she needs a name???

Below are Wanda and Smudge, the "supplemental" bottle lambs. Smudge has started nursing less from the bottle and I've seen her nursing from mom more. Wanda still yells for her bottle. This morning, I started them drinking from a dish instead. WOW! What a mess!! Lambs and I got all covered with formula! By the bottom of the dish, though, both lambs had started drinking fairly efficiently. Both are plump and growing, even though they're still smaller than sisters Surprise (white) and Cat-Face (black with white blaze). All 4 sisters are for sale - 62.5% Finn, 37.5% Gotland.

Also growing strong and getting friendly is Alice, our 75% Gotland/25% Shetland out of EverRanch Bunny and New Zealand Gotland ram, Hoppy.

Alice, and sister, Marie, will be registered and eligible for purebred Gotland classes at Fairs this summer. Alice and Marie are not for sale.

We had lambs starting in March this year - almost 3 months of lambing. Every year I vow to concentrate lambing to a shorter time span. Maybe I'll actually follow through this fall :-)

I will be paring down the flock severely this year. Three registered Finnsheep ewes, most of our 50% Gotland ewes, plus several very nice 37% Gotland yearling ewes, and two 75% Gotland rams are for sale in addition to many of this year's lambs. They're all very nice sheep, many are halter trained, all are well socialized. Prices range from $125 to $400.

- Franna

Friday, May 14, 2010


My son and daughter are fabulous cooks! They live together in Richland, Washington, and invited me over a couple weeks ago for an early Mother's Day celebration. I loved it! We had Oysters Rockefeller, Grilled Porcini Mushroom Burgers, homemade Olive Bread and Potato Rolls, and Green Salad with Homemade Dressing. And for dessert - Chocolate Orange Mousse - My! Oh! My!

(To my FaceBook friends, Bryan posts photos of his gourmet meals; I'm tagged in some of those. We supply him with lamb, chicken, and occasionally pork and turkey. He transforms them into incredible meals.)

Then, on Mother's Day itself, I was sick and didn't feel like celebrating... EXCEPT that I indulged myself to a rare fiber order. Spin-Sales had an ad for Stansborough Grey fiber - something I;ve been coveting since I got interested in Gotland sheep. The Stansborough folks are the ones who provided fabric for the Lord of the Rings Magical Elven Cloaks, and other costumes in both the LOTR and Narnia movies. Last year, we talked seriously about importing some of the Stansborough Grey sheep to cross with our Gotlands. The Eldridges bred their Gotland sheep over the decades to have a finer fleece and retain the luster of the original flock, resulting in a separate breed - the Stansborough Grey. At least for now, we put that effort on hold pending financial and other matters.

So, I went to the International Fleeces website - - looking for the Stansborough roving and found it! Threshold crossed, I added some Shetland/Silk top and Swedish Gotland top to keep the Stansborough company. I ordered 3 ounces of each - enough for a hat, mittens, scarf, bag, or other small article. After all, it was a Mother's Day present to myself.

The box arrived in about a week, and opened, yielded not 3 but 4 bags of beautiful fiber.

(btw, the background is a Gotland lamb pelt from the UK. It lives on our bed and I get to pet it every morning and evening.)

I opened each one and fondled the contents.

The Swedish Gotland (above) is a fiber addict's delight! The hand is silky, the luster wonderful and, the top looks like it'll be a breeze to spin. The steely blue-grey color is one of the unique characteristics of the Gotland breed.

I opened the Shetland/Silk (also above) next. This is a blend I've heard of and been intrigued by. It's "black" Shetland with white Tussah silk. It has a bit of a bronze cast to the black, very typical of Shetland "black". This, too, is very clean, well produced top that looks wonderful to spin. The hand is soft and it should make striking yarn.

Next, I opened the Stansborough Grey Roving (a trend - this photo is above). Well, hmmmm. It is soft feeling, and it is a nice clear grey color. I didn't find the luster I was expecting and the roving is a bit rustic. It's more of an amorphous blob in several pieces than evenly drafted roving, and it could be cleaner. It has more resilience than silkiness. To my hand it feels more like a very nice Shetland than a Gotland derivative. It's very nice, just not quite what I expected. I look forward to spinning it! Perhaps as a yarn it will have more luster and Gotland character.

The fourth, and bonus, bag is a lovely sample of recycled Sari Silk from India in vibrant colors (this is a recording - photo above). I've been wanting to try spinning this and the colors are lovely with the clear greys. Thank you, Talia!

I am very pleased with my newest fibers! Doing business with Talia of International Fleeces was enjoyable and hassle free. (No affiliation - guess I need to include that :-) I'd buy from her again, and recommend you take a look.

My plan is to spin these up when I get a few moments between lambing and farm chores... oh, and playing on the internet ;-)

- Franna