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Status Quo

I thought I would share a few photos from around the place, taken in the past two months. They’ll give you an idea as to the amount of snow we I had to deal with this winter. Oh, my DH was help, but he had to be very limited due to the surgery he had in the Fall. He was the one who called the guys to get the driveway plowed out after the Big Snows.

The first photo is of the barn roof during the snowstorm. All we could see was the weather-vane.

The Barn Roof in the Big Snow

Loki, complete with purple oil on his horns where he scraped them playing with the wethers.

Too much snow!

The boys before the attack. Little do they know the shearer will be here Sunday.
Things are getting back to a sort of normalcy here. The boys are healing, slowly, but making progress. The girls seem to be fine although we won’t really know until next month if the stress of the dog attack had any effect on the lambs they carry. Two of the girls, Ailee and her mother, Amanda, have porked up to where I will have to shorten their rations a bit or get them moving more. I may have been working hard during the snows, but the ewes had The Good Life in the barn – eating bon-bons and laying around all day long.
I remember seeing a sort of treadmill for farm animals on one of those antique-finding shows on TV. Boy, could those girls use one. 😉 I wonder if they have a YMCA for sheep???
And I have started getting ready for spring and summer activities. One thing is for sure…one can not wear one’s self out shoveling snow, then do all sorts of housework and cooking. Now that snows are melting fast, the creek is running full-bore, it’s time for me to start the projects I set aside during this winter.
I’m pretty sure the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits (aka the DH) will appreciate a cooked meal now and then. 😉
NOTE: Thank you all for asking about the boys’ recovery and the court proceedings. Unfortunately, as we are still going through the court proceedings I can not make a comment on them except to say everything is going well. The young man who owns the dogs has, so far, been making restitution for the veterinary expenses. We won’t know the complete outcome until sometime in May.



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Snow, Snow, Snow

Well, it’s started. We’ve been hearing about this series of storms coming for a few days but this evening it’s started for real. Snow. Snow, snow, snow.

The weather forecasters have been waffling back and forth as to the amounts we’ll get before this week is over, but it all adds up to way too much. At first we heard 3 to 5 ft. of snow. Now we’ve heard anywhere from over 3 ft. to 7 ft. of snow due in throughout the week in a series of systems moving in from off the California coast.

Bummer! Now don’t get me wrong…I like snow. I like snow when I can view it from the sunroom windows while sipping my coffee or some hot chocolate…or even a nice glass of wine. But as I have gotten older (and my bones older still) snow and the cold temperatures that come with it are not as welcomed here as they were ten or fifteen years ago.  We really do need the moisture and snow really is the best way to get it as it absorbs softly into the ground and doesn’t run off like the torrential rains of the summer monsoons. So, I guess I shouldn’t really complain about this.

The sheep don’t seem to mind the snow, or at least they don’t mind it right now. I will reassess that statement after the end of the week. If we do get as much snow as expected (and if we weren’t dug out by the guys with the backhoe/skip-loader) , the sheep could just walk over the fencing around the barn. I doubt they would get far. A few steps and a warm day and the crust will give way to even those tiny, light feet the sheep have and I will be digging them out of the snow. If I can get to them. 😉 Later this week, if the snow does start piling up, I will make sure all the sheep and chickens are in the barn. They may not like it, but I will as I will know where they are and if they’re OK.

I’m hoping that my enforced hibernation will give me the chance to figure out the ins-and-outs of this new blog/website set-up and I’ll be able to get photos back up. It’s just a learning curve right now. The past few days have been busy with stocking up supplies for this week and next. When you live in an area where you get these deep snows, it’s not just the week of the snow arrival you worry about. It’s also the week after when you’re trying to negotiate parking lots in town that have no parking as space for piling snow had first priority.

So, there’s plenty of feed in the barn, the fridge is full, gas in the vehicles and the guys who dig us out of big snows have been alerted. So, it’ll be me, the cats and the DH if he stays home, my stack of books, spinning and knitting…

Gee…the more I list the things I could do if we’re snowed in is starting to look pretty good! Throw in a few naps and it almost sounds perfect, eh?

And for my friends and family to the North and East of our little mountain town, please be on alert. We’ll try to see if most of the moisture will linger here, but I don’t think we have the last say in that. Forewarned is forearmed. It’s headed your way.

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And Then It Snowed

Yes, in-deedy-do…we got snow. I know both The Weather Channel and the US Weather Service put out statements that Flagstaff received 24 inches of snow in this storm, but here at Oleo Acres (one of the West’s cheaper spreads), we got 30 inches of snow. And it came in sideways.
Now, I have to say that because we live closer to the Mogollon Rim (pronounced Mug-gee-yone) we usually do receive more snow than the other areas around Flagstaff. This can be a good thing in spring and summer when you really need some moisture for your garden and trees, but it tends to bite one in the bee-hind come winter. After living in this area for over 20 years I have come to the conclusion that “it ain’t for wimps”, as one old-timer put it.
Arizona is beautiful in very many ways, but can also turn very deadly on you if you don’t prepare yourself. This storm came at the height of elk hunting season. It didn’t even dawn on us until after the storm moved on and the first reports started coming in to the Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue…hunters got caught stuck, out in the forest and cut off from any hope of getting out the way they got in. One poor hunter from the Phoenix area, up with a buddy hunting, was killed when a Ponderosa pine snapped in half and fell on their tent, killing him instantly. It missed the other guy completely. Other hunters who could make phone calls on their cells were escorted out of the forest by Search and Rescue or by helicopter.
That said, and the wondering of why they were out in the woods when they knew a storm was coming (Darwinian to my mind), the aftermath is very beautiful. Here’s a few pictures from around the place, but I have to say I cheated. I took the photos from the windows, warm inside the house while doing so. It was -10 F when I took the photos.

Over the barn roof to the road beyond.

Looking toward the barn from the sunroom.

The bridge in the pasture going over the stream. This stream is a very rare thing in Arizona. We’re very lucky to have it as the grasses along it are green for three seasons.

The beginnings of the dreaded “Killer Icicles”. Thoughts of the movie, “A Christmas Story” come to mind when I see these.

I will try to get some photos of the sheep to post in the next few days. It was too cold to even want to try to hold the camera today. Plus, the sheep would not leave the barn. Walk in that snow?? Who? Us? Nope. Not us. Go find some other sheep to get out in this snow.

…oh…and while you’re at it, we’d appreciate your placing our feed trays in here. We’ll leave the empty trays outside the door for you to carry away.
Just what I needed…sheep demanding Room Service and special delivery. Who do they think I am anyway…Pizza Hut?

Note: This morning, 11 Dec., you may have seen on Good Morning America, Gerry Blair from our Sheriff’s Dept. stating that almost 50 hunters and hikers have been rescued from the forests in our area. Both my DH, who works with Gerry, and I both thought the same thing – how many have they NOT found…yet?

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Foiled Again

In the midst of having my daughter and granddaughter here for a visit (yes, pictures will follow, but I just had to get this in…) we had a dramatic shift in our weather. It had been warm with nights of having fans blowing on us to keep us all cool, or at the very least, comfortable. That was until last night.
This year has been a strange year, gardening-wise. We had cool weather last until the end of June. Even cold-loving seeds planted in late May were hesitant to do much of anything. Beans crept along…corn seems to be held in stasis…the tomatoes and zucchini planted in containers on the deck just sat there. When July hit, so did the hot weather of summer bringing with it the intensity of our 7,000 ft. summer sun. The monsoons never really amounted to anything. We watered and watered hoping for storms to come through to stimulate the garden into doing something.
But last night was the kicker. We got frosted. Usually we don’t see any sort of frost until around 15 September, but in actuality we can have frost on any day of the year. Such is mountain living.
I was glad for the cool night for good sleeping. I vaguely remember Daisy trying to get under the covers with me while Mooch snuggled up along my leg, purring and vibrating, glad for the warmth. But when I got up this morning and turned on the TV to see what the forecast was for today, I saw the notice -a new record low temperature had been set for Flagstaff last night. Flagstaff itself was 36 F. Seeing that I knew we had to have gotten lower, most likely at least 32 F if not lower. I only had to walk outside and view the damage. The container tomatoes, zucchini, and some of the flowers on the deck were hit. So were the green beans and corn. The pumpkins were totally taken out. Sorry, sheep. It’ll be store-bought pumpkins again this year. Some of the plants might try to come back, but we really don’t have much time left in our growing season for them to make a good comeback. Darn.

I just have to remember the definition of what an optimist is: Optimist – A gardener in Flagstaff, Arizona. I know I’m not alone. Most other mountain gardeners have this same problem.
At least I hope I’m an optimist…some years I just feel like a fool.

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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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I’m still here! But am I ever tired! Since both my Hired Hand With Benefits and his trusty lawn tractor/snow thrower are both out of commission for the season, I have been the one to shovel, and keep shoveling, our thigh-high snow. I know we wanted a White Christmas, but geez!
I informed the Hired Hand this evening that I do not need to take “walks” lately as I am getting more exercise than I’ve had all year long. The one thing I’ve had to realize is that I have to pace myself. I have had my heart skipping beats. I believe this is due to stress, shoveling, stress, snow, stress, splitting wood, stress…and have I mentioned stress? Yes, I’m making sure I eat regular meals and have added vitamins to my regime and I have noticed it acting better already. And yes, I will indeed visit the cardiologist…I promise.
I think it’s the worry about the HH. I have had a hard time getting through to him that he can not do things he normally does, like fill up the wood bin for the evening’s fire, split kindling, or even lift heavy grocery bags. Worry aside, I have to admit that I’m not as young as I used to be either. I really don’t mind snows like this, but I need to work smarter, not harder.
The sheep seem to be fine except they can’t understand why some of them are Barn-Bound. And Skit seems to insist I come in his pen and dig his tire out of the snow. (Yeah, right…like that’s going to happen!)
The one sheep I should really thank is Ole Olafson. I arrive at the gate huffing and puffing as I refuse to shovel a path and walk through the snow instead. When I lift my head up to see, there is Ole – encrusted in snow and a look of delight on his face. He wants his kiss and hug. I get through the snow while he waits patiently. Yes, I occasionally give Mr. Ole a peck on his clean nose and a big hug. He loves it. He would live in my back pocket if he could. I used to think Colin was the Love-Bug in the crowd, but Ole has turned out to be the one who seeks out attention. And on these snowy days it’s a pleasure to see him waiting to return the hugs with sheep kisses.

There’s another thing I’m a bit worried about: My daughter is due to deliver my first granddaughter any time. Well, that is IF this kid will turn around right. She’s backwards. And she’s staying backwards no matter what they’ve done to turn her around. Apparently this kid’s going to be like her mother – except that Kelly was just impatient and wanted to get going. heeheehee My DD was scheduled for a C-Section on the 24th, but that’s now been changed to the 23rd. We’ll still keep our fingers crossed that the kid decides the 21st is OK.

So, everything is actually pretty “normal” around here. But I warn all of you east of us…get ready for this storm system now…it’s a doozy!

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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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For about the past month, I haven’t been feeling well. At first, I started getting tremendous headaches. Then all-over achiness showed up to the party leaving me feeling like I had a grand case of the Flu. My DH took me to breakfast one Saturday morning knowing that I just didn’t have it in me to make breakfast that day plus I hadn’t been off the farm for two weeks.
It was at breakfast that he posed the question to me: Did I think it could be West Nile Virus? A few years ago our chicken flock was the sentinel flock for our county. When they finally came up with a positive reading, we knew the risk was high that we could have WNV with us each summer as a large wetlands preserve is right behind our place. So, we don long pants and long-sleeved shirts when working outside at dusk and dawn during the summer months. We also slather ourselves with DEET. Still, this year, two of the little bugger mosquitoes got me. It was about two weeks after that incident I started feeling “non-optimal”.
So, after the breakfast I began to think maybe I should actually see our doctor and see if maybe DH was on to something. After all, I’m in that over 50 group with “problems”. Better safe than sorry, right? A week ago I went in and was sent for the obligatory blood-letting. It was only today I received the results. Negative for WNV. Whew! I dodged it for another year! The assessment made was that I actually did have the flu combined with massive allergy reactions to the bountiful pollen season this year.
So, like the mammatus clouds you see below, something negative can be a positive in life!

(I took this photograph of these beautiful storm clouds from the pasture. Where I was standing there was dead-silence, but these signify great turbulence in the high elevation winds aloft.)
And now that I’m feeling better, on to making some hard decisions as to whom to keep, and who goes from our little flock…in this economy and with hay at $20/bale I can not over-winter any but the best of the flock. So now I must make some very hard decisions. I’ll keep you posted…

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After doing a few chores in town today, and having a nice late breakfast with a dear friend, I returned home to both having no power in the house, and the kittens and cats having eyes the size of dinner plates. As I dropped my friend (Melanie) off at her place we both saw piles of hail on the roads and driveways here in Kachina Village. I think if we could have danced in a car we would have. We finally got some rain, cloud cover and cooling temperatures! Hallelujah!
As I turned off the road to Mel’s house and onto Kachina Trail I noticed our local electric utilities vehicle beside the road with a workman in the cherry-picker. Now I knew what happened. The cats’ eyes confirmed it. Lightening had hit very, very near to our place! It comes with the rain this time of year. If you like the rain, you have to put up with these maurading hits of lightening as well. There’s no getting out of it.
When I was about 17, I was knocked to the ground by lightening. It’s not a fun thing…having your hair and eyebrows singed off a bit as well as having that smell & taste of ozone in your nose and mouth. I now watch lightening from inside. I would have to say I even enjoy watching it…from inside, that is. But if I am outside, as my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits can tell you, I quit what I’m doing and go in. At least I don’t panic and start sweating the minute I hear thunder now but it’s taken 40 years to get to this point. I have even stopped shaking during storms.
My father used to say I wasn’t afraid of anything until that incident happened. I still feel unafraid. It’s just something that I can’t control…something way too deep to reach. Oh well, it could be worse, I suppose.
For now I will just leave you with a promise that I will return to blogging soon with pictures of growing lambs and sheep for sale.
…but, I can hear thunder in the distance and see that storm clouds are headed this way again. And don’t I think I hear my mother calling me?…. I think the kittens have the right idea. Is there any room under that bed for me too?

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Introducing…

{We’ve had a few nice days here in the High Country, so I have been doing things outside and around the house that needed attention (instead of being in front of a computer). Here are just a few pictures I snapped last week:}

Sheep Thrills Trooper! Trooper is going to be a musket (greyed brown) ram. He and all his brothers will be for sale when they get a bit older.

Introductions to Dad Skittles are in order. Every one of the ewes did this – they made sure the Ole Man got to see his offsprings.

Then there’s always Sheep Thrills Shaun for a little excitement around the barnyard. Shaun loves the taste of this upright honeysuckle. OK, Shaun…you just wait ’til you get a mouthful of bees when it blooms! Don’t you come cryin’ to me then!

And the proud Pop, Bluff Country Skittles. Gee, Skit…I dunno…it looks like everyone of them might pass muster this year. It looks like they all may be good looking rams for flocks of their own.

Skit? What the heck are you grinning about? As if I didn’t know…

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