Archive for the ‘life’ Category

In Memoriam

Bluff Country Skittles Bluff Country Skittles – May 7, 2003 to Summer, 2010

It is with deep regret that I inform long-time readers of this blog about the passing of one of the great Shetland rams. Bluff Country Skittles passed away in the high pastures of Colorado this past summer. Skit was a young ram, just 7 when he died, but he left a large impact, as big as he was, on many hearts during his life.

Skittles had gone up to Jared Lloyd’s ranch the summer about this time last fall. I needed new bloodlines for my small operation and Jared was very keen on adding Skittles genetics to his flock as well as “collecting” him for posterity and keeping his genetics available to future generations. Sadly, that was not to be.

One morning this summer, Jared said he walked into the sheep shed to find Skit lying down, front legs crossed and his chin resting on them the way he slept many times. But he didn’t move. When Jared went over to rouse him from his sleep, he discovered that Skit had passed on. There was no sign of trauma or markings in the dirt of a struggle or thrashing. Just Skit, asleep.

I know I will miss him. He was one of my first Shetland loves and a truly majestic ram in so very many ways. He had almost perfect conformation, was large but well-built and had personality to spare. I couldn’t have asked for a better ram to begin earnest breeding with. He had it all.

I will miss our walks around the place, Skit…and how you would gently sway me towards the apple tree for a snack of leaves if you could get away with it. You left some mighty big hooves to fill, Buddy…

…and I will miss you.

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Yes, I’ve been bad. I’ve been “living life” and not blogging. There’s actually so much that has been going on I’ve gotten to the point when I sit down in my chair I think I’ll just “rest my eyes” for a bit, and well…you know how that old chestnut goes. I think it just gets worse with age. 😉
The lambs are growing like weeds. The winds have finally stopped. It was hard getting good photos of bouncing lambs running 110 mph in winds of 40+ mph. I either had blurs or nose-prints. Or, was pelted with volcanic cinders being thrown about in those winds. I actually had places on my face where the stinging cinders drew blood as they hit me down by the barn. I will try to get some photos up soon…but life just might get in the way.
We are expecting relatives from New Zealand in about a week and a half. And we are delighted they are coming. Both of us can hardly wait!
When your family is an ocean away, you start to cherish visits much more so than if they were a mere two hour flight away. I envy people who talk about visiting family “all the way back East!”. Let them try a 14 to 16 hour flight and see if they still have exuberance in their voices. 😉 For those of us who don’t take sitting in one place for too long very well, long flights can be torture. I think airlines should install treadmills in those big jets for those of use who need “to move”. We’d get our moving and the people sleeping with their feet in the aisles wouldn’t be bothered. Hmm…if there were enough of us moving on treadmills, could we make it Down Under by using “Human Gerbil Power?” I wonder.
And I have fallen into doing research on my ancestry. What started out as a simple look-see to find out more information has turned into a captivating journey for me. I have run across incredible ancestors and find the history behind them absolutely fascinating. My DH, the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits, has been cheering me on – almost as gobsmacked as I am. This journey has explained a few things both in my mind and soul, as well as educating me more about history I glossed over during educational endeavors. Now, I am enthralled in to wanting to know what lies behind the next turn…and beyond.
I suppose this all encourages the old investigator that I once was. That, and the deeply-instilled training from my father of wanting to see “what happens if we do this!??”
I will try to get back on the farm-track, dear Readers…just bear with me a bit longer. It’s getting way hot during the days now. I think we had, maybe, three days of Spring in here somewhere? But, as I mentioned, the winds have died down immensely so I don’t fret about having my Nikon outside any more.

Now, if I can just get over this darned cold…

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Here are a few more pictures taken last week. Upon looking at the lambs this morning, I have realized just how fast they are growing…not only in their bodies, but in their behavior and minds as well. The lambs have started eating more and more solid foods while the moms have shortened nursing times dramatically. I find this funny as the lambs simply run a circuit of “Lamb Races” only to head back to Mama for a quick drink before heading out again. They may not be nursing as long but what they lack of in time they make up for in quantity.

Sugar (white/gray with spot) and her sister, Candy, were a few days behind the other lambs. These are Ailee’s girls who were born by c-section. They are two of the sweetest sheep I have ever seen – hence the names.

This little charmer is one of Amanda’s triplets. I haven’t named her as yet. Her sisters are darker but she’s got some interesting markings – or is it pheomelanin coming through the white? Wikipedia has a nice simple definition for we mere mortals: “Another common form of melanin is pheomelanin, a red-brown polymer of benzothiazine units largely responsible for red hair and freckles.” Hmm…maybe I should name her “Freckles”???

Here’s Loretta with her two. We’ve tentatively named her ram lamb “Rory”, after the little sheep of The Barn comic strip. I need to get a nice photo of Rory to send to the cartoonist who does the strip. He is so very nice and really gives us a chuckle each morning.

Candy and Sugar taking a bit of a siesta in Ailee’s feeder.

Candy, being sweet. Normally she’s jumping all over me wanting a scratch or a brisket rub. We’re working on “minding our manners” this week.

And finally, They’re Off!!! The Lamb Races have begun in earnest here at Sheep Thrills Farm!
So…whose YOUR money on?

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A Sad Goodbye


1994 – 2 February 2010

Yesterday, we lost our gentle giant of a cat, Ziggy. While the day before he had shown some signs of a little improvement – talking more to me and eating more than he had been – by that night it was clear something else was going on. We found him in the morning, in the sunroom, unable to move and yowling in a tone I had never heard come from him. I picked him up and returned him to the chair in the office where he had been battling the pneumonia. How he made it to the sunroom I will never know. We never heard a sound throughout the night indicating his distress. It looked like a stroke.

I placed Zig on the heating pad to warm him back up, but by then he was yowling almost constantly. I also noticed his pupils dilated and the light that had been in his eyes the day before was gone. He was as comfortable as possible and I was there, petting his now unresponsive body, as he slipped from this world into the next. Softly, as he left, I thanked him for sharing his life with me and told him what a good friend he was.

It was in 1995 that Ziggy appeared at our house. My DD had come home from work to find a young cat wandering where we park our cars. He followed her down to the house, begging to come inside by sitting on a garden bench on the deck and staring at us through the sunroom windows. And stare he did. I have never seen a cat with such riveted eyes.

We tried placing him in the barn’s feed room thinking that would satisfy him. At that time we not only had many housecats already, my father was living with us with his two small dogs. We really didn’t have space for another cat. But as many times as I would put Zig in the barn, there he would be, at the sunroom windows, staring in at us. It wasn’t long before my DH asked if we could at least bring him into the basement until we could find out whom he belonged to. OK. Will do. Once inside it became obvious. If no one claimed him, he at the very least claimed us.

I never saw a cat with such a penchant for playing fetch. Zig would drive us nuts each evening by insisting we throw a rabbit-fur mousie for him to retrieve. He would be satisfied for literally hours of this while we wore out. No matter how hard or where we threw his toy, it would be instantly brought back and dropped by our feet to please throw again.

That behavior remained until a couple of years later when Ziggy accidently fell out of the second-floor bathroom window. He seemed fine at the time but years later we would find out that he had in some way hurt his spine. The Mousie Game stopped and he started to lay around much more. We thought it was his getting older and outgrowing the game. It wasn’t until later when an upward curve developed that it became apparent of the now way-past injury. While he didn’t run after mousie any longer, it still didn’t stop him from playing, eating, taking walks on a leash around the farm.

And he was huge! Not only big of frame, but he had gained weight up to 26 lbs. Our vet at the time would comment on his size, tempering the comments with the fact that he was in perfect health, and how the vet should be able to feel his ribs. My response would always be, “Press harder.”

A little over a year ago, Zig started losing weight. It was determined that his thyroid was doing too good a job and he was placed on medication. This winter, though, there was something we just couldn’t put our finger on. Something was different even if all the tests showed he was OK except for the thyroid. Then, about a month ago we had an upper respiratory bug hit some of the cats. Hindsight always being 20/20, now we know it was just too much for Zig’s system. The round of antibiotics just didn’t seem to work. There had also been some internal bleeding due, we believe, to a sinus infection which ruptured and may have also cause the pneumonia. Well, you know the rest…

I will miss my dear friend. My heart feels like part of it was torn out yesterday. I know that, with time, it will heal and the hole replaced with fond memories of my friend.

And I know one thing for certain: As much as the heart hurts at this time of loss, I would do it all over again. My life has been very blessed with good animal friends…like Ziggy.

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The past couple of weeks have been crazy around Oleo Acres. Well, what else is new? As soon as we returned from our trip to New Zealand, we had two horrid windstorms here, each taking bits and pieces of the roof shingles and paper with them. I had forgotten just how unnerving listening to the wind rip your home apart could be. We were stationed in Kansas for seven years. Those years saw many times when the wind tore through our housing area, downing trees and brush while leaving our WWII brick quarters standing tall. Many a time a hot meal was left on the table as we scrambled out the door to the basement stairs when the tornado warning sirens alerted us to oncoming storms, Ralph with Kelly in his arms and me with a “Survival Bag” of necessary items and the cat(s) held tight in my arms.
We knew it was almost time to have a new roof put on. We’d had water damage from snow and ice storms the previous winter of ’07-’08. Now the wind was finishing off the other parts of the roof toward the south side where the weather hits us. It was time to bite the bullet, with the aid of our insurance company. Not only was the roof damaged, but we saw sections of the privacy fence by our garden flattened as well. It looks like it will be a busy summer here.

After tearing off the old shingles and roofing paper, the contractor laid down a waterproof membrane along the edge of the roof and up the valleys where we normally see ice dams form. Then all was covered with roofing paper, a new drip edge and here you see a few photos of the shingles going on.

We decided while the new roof is going on to add a few sun tube, or solar tubes, to the package to brighten areas of the house we thought could use some extra brightening: one in the kitchen, one in the hallway to our bedroom, and the final one in the stairwell to the basement. A friend in town had some installed in her abode when a new roof was put on and they made such a difference we couldn’t pass this opportunity by.

One delight is that my Coffee plant (above) and my citrus (lime, below) are blooming! The front sunroom is fragrant with the smell of blossoms!

Another wonderful happenstance was that we found out we had more property than we thought! The county has bought our neighbor’s place. they will tear down her house and add that land to the wetlands they own behind us. That being the case , what with the county about to take possession of said property, they had their surveyors come out to stake the true property lines. On our walk around the house this evening we both agreed that this weekend we need to move our railroad ties and rocks over to the line. (And yes, the county would love to have us sell to them as well as they would love to add our stream in their property, but we’re not selling to anyone until Ralph retires – and prices go back up a bit. 😉

I’m just sorry I don’t have any pictures of lambs to share with you this year. Then again, with everything that’s been going on here with surgeries, trips, and roofs…well, maybe that was a good idea not to breed last fall after all.

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It’s been snowing today. We’ve just received about a foot of new snow, but are thankful it isn’t the four feet we got at Christmastime. I don’t think I could take another round like that.
Things have been busy, but somewhat odd around Oleo Acres. Having my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits home is hard to adjust to. He is healing incredibly well but is now getting to the point where he’s getting bored yet he’s still recovering from surgery so he can’t do everything he wants to do. I am stuck somewhere in the middle of enjoying having him home, or beaning him with a frying pan. Take your pick. He hasn’t learned that just because he can’t do things he wants to do is no reason to interrupt my schedule. 😉
One thing I have enjoyed is not having to get up at the crack of Dawn. We’ve actually slept until 7:30 or 8 in the morning! Incredible! the sheep have gracefully adjusted their demands as well. In fact, I have found them all to be sleeping when I head out to feed. What a Lazy Bunch we’ve become. I love it!

As you can see below, Mooch has adjusted quite nicely to the tempo around here. He and his brother, Rascal (seen below brooding behind the loveseat that he can’t have the chair Mooch is in), are now 9 months old and huge! I will try to get some photos of Rascal and his puffy-tail. And Daisy May (aka Mama) is doing fine as well. Her biggest issue is that she wants to sleep on my head at night and I want her to sleep elsewhere. We have had to resort to barriers to our bedroom that allow them to look in, cry and be pitiful while we try to remain in control of our bed and keep cat dander to a minimum.

Mooch in Repose

Frustrated Rascal

Hopefully I can return to blogging more often. The HHWB has been working on his computers. I have, wisely, stayed out of the office and his way even though that means less chance of doing emails, blogging or reading friends’ blogs as well.

But then there’s nothing wrong with a blanket, a comfortable chair, a good book, and a roaring fire in the woodstove. Right, Mooch? Mooch?…Mooch! Darn that cat!

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Playing Catch-Up

I thought I would post a few photos of what all the holiday storms left us around the place. I would have posted them sooner but between working through the storms – shoveling, making trails out to the sheep, splitting wood for the woodburner as well as keeping it going as the heater went out, then trying to get to the roof to keep it clear. Add to that all my excitement of the new granddaughter and concern my DD was OK.
I will admit it did take its toll on me. I started to have skipped heartbeats and heart pounding way too hard for my taste, sending me to our doctor who then stated I was doing way too much. I got the “You’re doing way to much, you Fool!” speech from the doctor and I knew she was right. She then told the DH that, for this year at least, no shoveling, plowing, etc. for either one of us. When I mentioned the tractor was down as well as the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits she just said, “Good! Now you’ll have to find someone to plow you out!” If there is one person I don’t want to piss-off it’s our family Dr. 🙂

So, we hired people…

(Above) The barn and driveway before plowing.
I don’t think we’ll see the BBQ or Smoker until Spring. And that pile on the back deck was before we had guys come to shovel off the roof!
Bringing in the Big One out into the pasture so I can get feed in to the sheep. I had enough feed to get through the storms, but for some reason the sheep insisted I continue to feed them. Funny that. 🙂 Can you say “Reseeding the pasture”?
The girls on an outing from the barn. They don’t like it that they are standing on two feet of compacted snow. And they want to go back in. Silly girls! Get some sunshine while you can!

Tucco, the Mule. Tucco is boarding at our neighbor’s place and has taken to hang out near the Boys pen for company as he’s by himself.

Now that the snows have subsided and the weather is turning nicer so we have mudpools and muck everywhere, it’s time to prep for my DH’s surgery this next week. I’ve loaded the barn with hay and feed, there’s another cord of wood out back, and the walks are clear. I feel better about not having to worry about those things as well as my DH. I guess there’s only one thing to worry about now…

…how the heck am I supposed to have him around the house for 6 to 8 weeks, recovering and keep my sanity? 😉

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First Real Snow

The other day we had our first real snow – one that stuck on the ground for more than ten minutes. The day before, all of the animals here, myself included, were restless and tempermental. Little did I know that my reason for such mind-set was I was coming down with a cold-thing that has seemed to stick around and taken my voice to some other place for hiding.

I did get out to snap a few photos of the “dusting” the trees received. I only wish it had been more in accumulation as we really need the moisture.

Above is an offering to the ewes. They absolutely love pumpkins this time of year. Each day I try to give them a treat of a pumpkin sacrificed to the sheep-gods/goddesses lest I be made to endure the wrath of the ewes for no goodies. No, my sheep are not spoiled.

I love the frosty days of this time of year. It is my most favorite time. I just wish this stupid cold will make a decision to either stay and really have it out with me, or go away. My hope is the latter.
On other notes, I have been experiencing my computer’s decline from old age. Geez…I hope this is not a portent of upcoming trends in my life! 🙂 (I plan to go unwillingly and fighting all the way!) I am still able to send and receive emails, but I have started looking at new computers instead of just replacing bits and pieces of this one. While part of me loves new gadgets and electronics, the other part of me knows full well that as soon as I buy a new computer, it will become obsolete. It’s just like driving a new car off the lot – immediate devaluation.
The big news and bonus of the week has been finding out that my DD is having a girl next month! I was sitting last night thinking of all the joys (and some pains) mine brought me. No one should ever underestimate the bond between a mother and a daughter. Ours was and is a very strong one. I can only wish the same blessing for my daughter as the blessing she brought into my life.
And no, Kel…I won’t over-do the “Pink”-thing that little girls seem to go through. But you have my word that I will, most definitely, over-do the “Sheep”-thing. There may come a day when I’m about 97 that my sheep may just need a new shepherdess. 🙂

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