Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cherrington Alice 1997 - 2008

Rest in Peace my little Ali-baa-baa.

Sadly, after a brave battle, Alice passed away on December 26th, 2008.

I write this as a tribute to the wonderful ewe and mother that she was - and to help make me feel better. I always find writing to be very therapeutic - but, as I write this, I can't stop crying.

Alice (or Ali-baa-baa as I nicknamed her), was a most gentle and loving ewe.
She loved to eat, she loved attention. She was a wonderful mother to her lambs -and had a very friendly personality. She was never skittish, and thus her lambs were very friendly. She was totally trusting.

Ali was not the most correct shetland I've ever had. She had a jelly belly because she loved to eat - however - her fleece was the most amazing - white, single coated, crimpy and soft fleece I have ever experienced. We never sheared more than 3 pounds from her - but what we got was a treasure. She never complained during shearing, and willingly submitted in exchange for food.
A couple of times, Alice spent the evening in the back pasture alone - under the pear tree, because she was too busy eating pears to join the rest of the flock.
In the autumn - she knew where the good stuff was - and always led the flock out to the pear tree for wind fall pears.

Alice had a most unusual and Deep Baa - she could have sang baritone for the opera. She had the ability to let out a deep baa - and hold that note for a long, long time. At first, when we got her, she drove me crazy with her baa - then, after a while - I found it soothing, reassuring. I knew that everything was good in the pasture or the barn when I'd walk in and hear her. Someone once asked me to sell her to them, and I declined - based mostly on the fact that I would miss her baa in the mornings - what am I going to do now?

I bred Alice 2 years ago, as a final breeding before I retired her. I noticed that she was having a hard time keeping the weight on, and last winter moved her over to my special needs group so that she could get a bit of extra grain and mash every day, and she rebounded.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that there wasn't a baa when I went out to the barn.
I had been busy getting ready for Christmas - and away tending to several pottery sales. I hadn't been spending the time with my sheep that I should have.

We pulled her from the flock to the special needs stall, but she really wasn't all that interested in her food. She was content to sit under the heat lamp and look around - loving the attention - chewing her cud.

Although we treated her aggressively, in the end, we knew that it was best that we spend as much quality time together as possible. I spent a great deal of time just talking to her and petting her and scratching her ears - which she loved.

We aren't sure, but do suspect that she may have had pneumonia, although she
didn't show real signs of respiratory distress until late Christmas night. Yesterday morning, I knew - and I hugged her one last time. When I returned to check on her a few hours later, she had slipped away.

Silly - but we buried her with a pear to nourish her during her journey. Many people will tell you that animals have no souls - I beg to differ.

Alice isn't the first sheep I've lost - and of course - she won't be the last. But we will remember her fondly as one of the best sheep we ever had

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas - and a happy and blessed New Year.

Sorry - there will be no pictures with this post - but I will have more pictures with my next post.

As 2008 comes to an end (and many of us will be happy to see it go), we all hope for a
wonderful, happy and healthy 2009. May it bring us all better days.

I seem to be playing catch up an awful lot these days. It seems that Christmas crept up on
us without warning.

So, here's what has been happening around here:

This past week, we have had 3 snow storms - and 18" of new snow on the ground. That's 18" of snow on top of the already 12" of snow on the ground. Then, on Christmas Eve day, we had rain - pouring rain. Now - we have lots of ice. We still have lots of snow - but under it all is Ice. This week is forecast to warm up a bit - but we're supposed to get another 2" of rain on Saturday - at least it may melt some more of this snow.

Luckily, my daughter was able to get a flight in from Newfoundland last Saturday (hundreds of flights were cancelled due to a storm the previous day, but hers managed to get through) - we changed her flight at the last minute - otherwise she would still be in Halifax. It was so wonderful to see her again - since she's been away at university in Newfoundland since September. It appears that for the next few years, we may only get to see her at Christmas, as she will be doing her officer training with the Armed Forces in New Brunswick during her summer break (more on that when we get confirmation).

On the sheep front - my poor sheep are all barn bound - and a little bit stir crazy. We have had horrible cold weather, snow storms, wind storms, rain, freezing rain, you name it. They have all been locked in with very little time outside. I am able to get them outside on a bit of a rotational basis when we have the odd nice day, but that hasn't been very often.

Unfortunately, one of my favourite ewes "Alice" is down - and it doesn't look good. She
is 11 years old, and since breeding her last year, I've had a hard time keeping weight on her. I noticed that other day that she was looking really skinny, and when I pulled her, she's not well at all. I suspect pneumonia - and am drenching, giving shots and treating her agressively, although I don't hold out much hope, as she really is refusing to eat. My vet will be back out on Monday to re-assess the situation. At that time, I will have him also look at my oldest ewe Mary, who is now 13 years old and is having great difficulty getting around. Mary has the most wonderful and soft fleece - even at 13 years of age. She is very arthritic, and this past year has been rough on her. I've noticed with this last cold snap that she is having a really hard time getting up and moving around.

As far as family goes - luckily, we are all healthy. I currently have a nasty cold, and feel quite blah - but other than that, all is well. We feel blessed that our daughter made it home from Newfoundland for the Christmas break. Our wonderful son, who has just turned 16 has been a wonderful help here on the farm. Both him, and my husband have both been wonderful in helping with the barn chores in the evenings while I have been so busy with work, pottery sales, and getting ready for Christmas.

That's all for now - hopefully, I won't get so busy again that I can't post for 6 more weeks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Overdue Thanks

While we're waiting for the next snowfall (8" predicted for the next few days), I thought I should send some overdue thanks to a wonderful friend.

A few weeks ago, I opened the mail and found this little gift:

My wonderful friend Kim
made this little purse out of a silk cap. If you read her blog, she explains how she made them.
I e-mailed her and told her how much I liked them. I forgot all about the e-mail until a few weeks ago when the purse showed up in the mail. THANK YOU KIM - you are a wonderful friend - and very talented too.

I've also been busy getting ready for a few more pottery sales coming up in the next few weeks.

The other day when we had all the snow - I spent a few hours making mini bird house ornaments for the sale. These are about 2" high. I'll fire them in the kiln this weekend, so have to get them dried before Saturday. I have to also make some fridge magnets and spice balls - then fire it all up - and glaze them for next weekend. I can see now that I'll be spending lots of late nights in the studio this next week.

After all this is done - I'd really like to clean my house and get ready for Christmas - I haven't even started shopping yet.

So much to do - so little time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We are NOT Amused!

OK - here's the update on yesterday's snow.

It stopped snowing around 3 pm in the afternoon - the final amount - 18". Thank goodness for the wind shift - it took the snow streamer off to the east of us.

That's my car under all that snow. It took us 4 hours to shovel out the driveway - and to shovel paths out to the barn.

All right - the really UN-funny part of this whole thing. They (the weather experts) are calling
for another 4" to 8" of snow for us on Thursday, and then another 4" on Friday - but - first we're going to have some Rain! Yippee - I can hardly wait (note the sarcasm).

I REALLY, REALLY hope they are wrong!

If I get home before dark - I will try to take some more pictures and post them.

Still Snowing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is just an update..

It's Noon - we are supposed to get at least another 6" of snow today.

I just took this picture a few minutes ago in my backyard - this is in INCHES! This has fallen since 5 am this morning - 16".

It is snowing harder than ever. You can see the birdfeeder on the right hand side - there's at least a foot of snow on the roof. Most of it slid off because the roof is plexiglas.
The plows are not out, so I guess I get the day off of work. Ah - to live in the Great White North.

By the way - this is a localized snow squall - it is about 20 miles wide x about 40 miles long.
Everywhere else - the sun is shining - and they aren't getting ANY snow at all.

The good thing about this - it's fluffy - so it will probably compact down to about 10" in the next few days. And the ground isn't frozen yet - so it will probably melt within the week - famous last words.

Oh - and my sheep - they're all safe and sound inside the barn today. However - my ducks are out in that pond somewhere - refusing to come inside.

I'll try to post some pictures later - after the snow stops.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like.....Winter!

This is what I woke up to this morning:

6" already on the ground - and another 6" forecast for today.

I'm going back to bed!

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

Ram Sales Time.

We are going to start a slow dispersal of our flock in anticipation of moving to the East Coast of Canada in the next few years.

The rams are the first to go, as we no longer plan on breeding. So - these 3 lovely boys are available for sale - or trade for something other than a ram.

I took these pictures in the spring right after shearing - so if anyone wants to see better pictures, just let me know - I can go out and take some more pictures tomorrow.

First up - this stunning boy - is Woolly Pedro "the clown" - I call him that - because he looks like a clown. He has a very nice personality - and is definitely the boss ram here. He's actually a
black/iset, yuglet, flecket , socket - but those of us shetland aficianados affectionately call these markings HST (head, socks, tails) - the term was coined by Nancy Krohn of Bluff Country Shetlands. Pedro is 3 years old - has a nice, crimpy, dense , single coated fleece. His horns are perfectly balanced and wide set. He also has a sweet personality. We used Pedro last year for breeding - and got lots of great spots - and some emskets.

After that, we have Ewenique Spencer. He is 1 year old, a mioget, flecket - I think. Spencer also has a crimpy, single coated fleece. His horns are wide set - but one is curling slightly inward. I don't know if that is because he has been butting heads with a much larger ram since he was small - or is a genetic trait. Spencer is still quite small - and we have never used him for breeding - but he should throw some nice spotty lambs.

This last little guy is Kalwa Taure Bernard. He was born June 2008 - so is still very small.
His fleece appears right now to be open and wavy. He is a black krunet. I really have to get a picture of him outside - not behind bars. So far - his horns look to be clearing nicely. I do think he is going to stay black.

I also have some ewes for sale - I will try to get around to posting them in the next few days.

I also have about 20 fleeces for sale - I haven't even had a chance to skirt them this year - it's been such a busy year, so I will sell them quite reasonably.

Remember - the border going into the USA is still NOT open - for sheep that is :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Playing Catch Up

Seems like I'm always playing catch-up these days. Barn chores, pottery, housework (especially housework), blogs - everything.

So really, I apologize to everyone who checks in regularly, but doesn't find anything new.

Two weeks ago, (Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday), we decided to take a few days and go up to Tobermory, Ontario for the weekend.

The picture at the top is of the ferry leaving port, heading over to Manatoulin Island. I snapped this picture while sitting in the dining room of our hotel having breakfast.

This next picture - although unusual - is of the rock at the lighthouse at Tobermory. I call it the drum rock. If you look closely you will see thousands of holes worn in the rock - probably from thousands - if not millions of years of the water rushing in and out around these rocks. Now - when the water comes in - it rushes through all these holes - and it sounds like drums - all different pitches of drums - some high - some low - long rumbles. It's quite fascinating - and soothing to listen to.

So my husband and son spent a couple of days at Cyprus Provincial Park, which is just a few miles outside of town. On the first day - they were rather rushed. See the picture of the guy walking on top of the rocks - well - that's what they did the first day. As a matter of fact they were so rushed - that they missed the cave underneath the rocks. It's a fabulous underground Grotto where you can go swimming. So - that evening while I was going through some travel brochures - I came across some pictures of the caves - the next day they went back - and these are some of the pictures my DH took of their day. Here's the cave from the outside:

This one is of my son sitting inside the entrance to the cave (there are 2 entrances):

This on is taken from inside - looking out at thewater through the other entrance to the cave/grotto:

The next picture is of my son standing on top of a cliff in the same area of the grotto:

And here he is again standing "under" the overhang of the cliff. He's such a good sport about
getting his picture taken (for a 16 year old boy):

It was an enjoyable weekend - oh - for the record - I did not join them on the walk. I have a bad knee and hip from a childhood disease - and can't handle the rough terrain - so - I have to be content to look at the pictures - and amuse myself by going shopping. Next year when we go - I anticipate being able to kayak to the area - and then enjoying a short walk to the grotto.

And so - when we got home on Monday - we were greeted with this:

If you look closesly - you will see a gray kitten cuddled in. This is one of our stray cats that has been hanging around - we knew she was pregnant - but she left for a week to have her kittens.
She came home with the two kittens a few days after we returned. Sadly - the little black and white kitten died - we don't know why. I am looking for a good home for this little girl and her kitten. She is just a kitten herself. Do I need to get back on my spay and neuter soapbox?
I am currently looking for a good home for 4 young cats (that includes this one).

Well - I'd better get going - it's going to be a crazy week around here. More later.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What do You do with your Wool?

A lot of people ask me that question. Sometimes I spin it -
but mostly I sell it to spinners, weavers and hobbyists.

I'd like you to meet Blizzard and William:

(OK - so this is Blizzard and Williams fleeces) - it's really Nina
wearing Blizzard and William. Nina is shy - so she cut off her head.

Anyway - This awesome grey dress was spun from the fleeces of two
of my sheep. Then Nina proceeded to weave and
make this dress from the wool. Nina is a member
of a re-enactment group - thus the medieval design.
I was super impressed to see what she had done with the fleeces.

Surprising - to look at the fleeces unwashed: Blizzard looks
quite dark grey - William looks quite light grey. However, Nina
said that when she washed and spun them - they were both,
very close to one another in colour.

Nina is also very much into dying with natural plant fibers - it's
quite fascinating to read about it. If you follow the link to her
blog - you will see some of her work.

I will soon be sending Nina some more fleeces - little does she
know - I'm going to ask her to weave me a shawl.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Coming into the Light

That kind of means out of the dungeon - which is my basement. I've been so busy lately - I have
several pottery sales coming up this next month or two - and I have been busy throwing and getting ready to fire and glaze. Every night after work - down to the dungeon till about 11 pm.
I've finally started to fire some of my stuff this last week - so - there is light at the end of the tunnel (I just hope it's not a train coming)!

Well - do you remember a little while ago - I talked about a new lamb I had bought, and if I should call her Gwen - or Wren. Well - since her mom's name is Greta - we decided to stay with the G's - and we called her Gwendolyn - Gwenny or Gwen for short. Here she is - she is just a darling wisp of a little lamb.
However - those of you who liked the name Wren - don't despair. I'd like you to meet "Wren",
She's a lovely little fawn katmoget who came to visit, and decided to stay. She's still very shy - I may have to break out the cookies, but we're working on her.

And, just for a little something different:

This is my new Inuksuk - I got him for my birthday. Don't be fooled - he's almost 5' tall - and weighs somewhere around 300 pounds - I know - I dismantled him, moved him, and set him back up again at my house. I'm going to move him again - I just haven't decided where, but I feel he's just a bit too exposed where he stands - and I'm worried that the winter winds may topple him.

Well - back to the dungeon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Here a Chick, There a Chick!

I must say - I do enjoy my chickens. Most of the time - they make me laugh. Sometimes - the roosters really tick me off when they won't leave the hens alone. But lately - these two little devils have made me late for work every day. (It's a good thing I'm pretty much self employed).

Aren't they just the cutest little chicks. They are bantam cochins. I've been raising them since they were a few days old. They are incredibly friendly little hens. Every morning when I go out to the barn , they come running to see me, then have to be picked up and put on top of the old dog house (where I keep feed and water). Then they want to be petted and carried around and talked to. I spend entirely too much time playing with these chicks - pretty soon - they'll grow up to look like these two hens here.
These two white bantam cochins aren't quite as friendly. But I really like the cochin - they have a friendly personality - and are just the cutest darn things.

This beautiful black cochin is probably one of my favourite hens. She is so incredibly friendly. She also loves to be carried around - and in the evenings when I go out to do barn chores - she comes running across the barnyard to meet me - then walks along with me into the barn. I love the way her feathers are so black - with the green sheen to them. My friend Cate has another of the black cochins, and she's going to give her to me - hopefully next week when we get together.

This is a buff cochin. She's a bit on the nervous side. Her tail feathers are finally starting to grow back - but she is a nice little hen. She's terribly funny in the evenings when she's trying to get up on the roost - a bit bottom heavy - and she has to fly over from the water trough to the edge of the ram stall. Looks a bit like a lead balloon floatin g through the air.This last picture is of a Brahma hen. I picked these up from my friend Jesse a while back. Brahma's are a new breed to me. She's a bit stretched out in this picture (afraid of the camera), but they are very much like the cochins in many ways - they have the feathers on the feet, and the little fat bodies - they have lovely feathers around the neck - and the tails are like a little puffball of feathers - very cute. The two Brahmas that I have were obviously not handled at all, as they are incredibly wild - this picture was taken on zoom - and she was still pretty nervous.

When I got back from Newfoundland last week - I was greeted by 21 new chicks in the barn - hatched out of 4 different nests. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to get some good pictures of them. We've put them in a separate stall so that the roosters don't bother them. So that will put me somewhere up around the 40 mark for chickens - lots of eggs around here. In a few weeks, Cate and I are going to a sale up near her place - it's called the fur and feathers sale, and it's held 2X a year. People come from all over to buy and sell chickens, ducks, peacocks, dogs, cats, sheep, llamas - you name it. I'm hoping to find a couple of full size cochin hens for my flock - and possibly a few more welsh harlequin ducks.

I'll also have to get a picture of Wren for everyone - and maybe the kittens as well - they will be leaving next week for their new foster homes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Been a Long Journey

But now I'm Back. I've just spent the last few weeks travelling to Newfoundland and back.
My Darling daughter is going to Memorial University in St. John's Newfoundland. So - being her first year - I drove her all the way out, settled her into her apartment - and then drove all the way home. Total kilometers clocked: 8200 (for my American friends: approx. 4900 miles). That doesn't include the ferry crossing each way.

While we were there - we stayed in beautiful Petty Harbour. It's a beautiful little fishing village right on the edge of St. John's - with the houses all perched on the rocks.

Here's a picture I took at the entrance of the harbour coming around the bend .

We stayed with some very close family friends for a few days. We were socked in by fog for a
few day, so I couldn't get out on the boat to see the puffins and whales. This next picture is of the view from the front living room at my friends house. This is just outside the entrance to the harbour - and lots of times whales come in chasing the caplins, and frequently - seals and sea otters come up and bask on the rocks. Reluctantly, after 3 days, I had to leave.
However - I did make a bit of use of my time there. We did go out house hunting, and did find a little farm up near Cape Spear (which by the way is the most easterly point in Canada).
Negotiations are in progress on the farm. More Later.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Here's our first pictures of Kitty and her kittens. They were born on Sunday evening - in the garage - during a thunderstorm. Awwww - aren't they so cute.
Kitty is a little stray cat that has been hanging around for a few months. She was terrified of people at first - and now - she just loves human contact. She had the babies behind some sheets of plywood that were leaning up against a wall - on top of an old towel that had fallen on the floor. Tonight I went out and moved the kittens to a box with a nice clean towel. Kitty was totally relaxed as I picked each one up and examined it - then put it into the box. Then I picked her up and set her in with them. She didn't even mind the flash on the camera when I took the picture. I will be contacting ARF to see about adopting them out - and then, we will be having kitty spayed and keeping her for our little garage kitty. And at this time - I would like to get on my soapbox about the spay and neuter of cats and dogs - PLEASE spay and neuter. It stops the explosion of unwanted animals out there. So many are put down each year at shelters - needlessly - and many, many more are killed on the roads - or starve to death from neglect.
Please spay and neuter - sure it costs money - but it is the most humane way to deal with animals. And don't ever believe that every female cat should have a litter of kittens to be a better cat - I have 7 female cats here - not one of them has ever had a kitten - and they are all the most loving and gentle cats ever. Ok - off my soapbox now.

Well - a few posts ago - I promised to put up pictures of our new lambs. I know - you thought I meant little lambs. No, no.

On August 1st - I went to Ottawa with my DH and took some sheep to a friend who is just starting out with Shetlands. I took my daughter back to work in Ottawa - she was home on leave for the week. Then we stopped at another friends farm who is downsizing her flock, and we came home with 3 shetlands - 2 of them lambs, 1 was a mature ewe that I had sold her last year. This first little cutie is Galya. She's an all white little butterball. I need a few more white sheep in my flock as I am having so many calls for white fleeces that I can't fill all the orders. So hopefully she turns out nice. Her fleece is quite dense - she does come from Whistlestop Lerwick genetics, so I am quite hopeful. She is still quite shy, but we're working on that.

This next little darling is still unnamed. I'm thinking of calling her Wren, or Gwen. I haven't decided yet. She too is shy. She is out of Greta - the ewe that I brought back - Greta is a mioget - so she also carries mioget genetics. I love her big moorit spot - and her pink nose.
I have a soft spot for pink noses.
That's her mom Greta standing behind her in the picture - she is a cute thing. If you talk to her - she'll bleet back at you. She's got a very soft fleece which I have high hopes for. Her mom has a long, wavy - but very soft fleece. This little one has quite a bit of crimp in hers - but also very soft.

What do you think - Wren - or Gwen?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Fowl

This post is about the male fowl on this farm. As I stated in my previous post, I have been raising chickens for about 18 years or so. We started out with a few chickens at our first country property, just for eggs. We have had as many as 40 chickens, and been down to as few as 2 when a raccoon got into the coop once. At times, I have debated getting rid of all of the chickens - as I did earlier this year. However, right now, I find myself enjoying them once again. By the way, I am allergic to feathers - only mildly though - as long as I don't stick my face in their feathers - or sleep with them - I am fine.

As far as roosters go - I try not to have too many at any one time. However - sometimes it's hard not to have several at one time. I find that if you have an average of 6 hens per rooster, then there is less fighting amongst the roosters, and the hens don't suffer as much from overly-eager roosters. In other words - give them all their own little harem - and they're happy.

So here goes: This first fella is our largest Rooster on the farm. He's a dorking - which is an older breed. If you notice - he is standing beside a couple of regular size Hens. "Cuckoo" stands about 18" tall. He also has 4 toes, which is a distinguishing character of this breed. I am currently looking for some dorking hens for him - as he is doing a number on the feathers of my much smaller hens.
This next rooster is an Americauna - which is a cross of the Aurucana. He is my last Americauna rooster that I have left. At one time, I had 14 of them. I'm also down to only one Americauna hen, so I am looking for some more of them as well. Although he is smaller than the Dorking Rooster, he isn't much smaller. He stands around 14-16" tall.
This little fella is a bantam rooster. Like the Sebrights - he is small - and feisty. He's probably about 6 years old now - and doesn't mix it up like he used to with the other roosters. I do like the bantam roosters as they are very proud little birds.
This little buff Silkie rooster has just left us. No, he didn't die. I sold him to a young fella just outside of London, Ontario who also likes the silkies. Note , he has a lovely walnut comb. He was a feisty young fella. One night as I was gathering eggs - he came up behind me and just nailed my hand so hard I thought he had broken it. I wasn't really sorry to see him leave after that incident.
This old guy is my white silkie rooster. This poor guy is notorious for getting tangled up. If there's a piece of string anywhere in the barnyard - he will find it. He has deformed spurs, so string does get wrapped around his feet easily. He's getting old, and is relatively gentle. One thing I find is that the silky roosters don't engage the other roosters at all - but the others will pick on them.
This little fella is my favourite rooster. He is a buff cochin bantam. I just got him from the young fella near London. I hadn't planned on getting any roosters from him - but this fella just caught my eye. He's very docile and loves to be petted and held. I like him so much that I am going to pick up his brother this weekend.
And last - but not least - and not a chicken - is Norman. He is a Toulouse Gander. In my last post, I mentioned that Norman is getting attached to Alice. Norman came to us 4 years ago after his parents were killed by dogs. His current owner noticed our nice pond and asked if we would like him. I just happened to be looking for a guard goose and said yes. Norman is my pet, and will follow me everywhere - when he's not following Alice. He will walk by your side and chat to you as you wander through the woods or the pasture. He does on occasion get angry and mix it up with one of the sheep. But for the most part - he gets along well with everyone.

That is it for the male fowl - oops - I'm wrong. We do have some drakes on the property as well - but they didn't want to come up for pictures tonight, so I will have to talk about them another time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just in General

The weather has cooled considerably, and life is much calmer here. It's been busy. We've been delivering and picking up sheep, sorting sheep for shipping, and getting ready for the cross Canada trek to Newfoundland in a couple of weeks.

Yesterday, I went to Fergus (actually, I went to IKEA in Hamilton), and met a friend, Shauna Gray. She has sold her farm, and is moving, so she gave me a couple of chickens that she had left.

These little guys are Silver Sebright Bantams. They are very tiny 6 - 8" tall (there is also a hen in behind one of the roosters). They are feisty little devils. I came out to the barn this morning to find all of my cochins sitting in the aisle outside the chicken stall - with the 4 Sebrights guarding the entrance. The cochins are very docile gentle chickens - so we'll see how this works out.

I have been raising chickens for the last 18 years (even though I am allergic to feathers). I will post some pictures of my other types of birds soon.

While meandering through the barnyard today with my camera - I just couldn't resist taking pictures of a few of my favourite fleeces on the hoof.
This first fleece is Jillian (click on the picture to make it larger). She is a medium gray .
Lovely single coated with lots and lots of crimp. I'm looking forward to spinning up her fleece next year.
This one is Gabriella, a beautiful soft white, crimpy single coated yearling ewe. Both of these girls are super friendly - and really love to be cuddled. That's what I love about Shetland sheep.
They are cuddly.

OK now, and for the completely bizarre (and where was my camera)??? I was walking out to the barn tonight to put the ewes into their stall (yes, my sheep are spoiled) - but we are dealing with a black bear on the property right now. I did a double take as I walked out - Norman - our Gander, was very gently grooming Alice, my elderly white ewe over by the fence. I watched in amazement as he picked at her wool. I called her over, as I thought he might be intimidating her, and she calmly walked away - obviously she was enjoying this. I went back out a few minutes later to see him at it again. I must try to get pictures. Very bizarre.

By the way - Norman has in the past also been very attached to one of our female llamas, and our rottweiler dog. I'm sure he's deranged.

Stay tuned for updates on the new lambs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

And Funnel Clouds

I was walking up from the barn tonight after work - when what should appear:

So - I quickly dashed into the house and grabbed my camera and snapped an entire series of
pictures as we watched the funnel cloud forming - and ultimately fizzling. This was just over the
town that is to the south of us - about 1/2 kilometer away. It was ultimately scary - and very transfixing at the same time. I was standing just outside my back door about 20 feet from the house taking these pictures. There were actually 3 funnel clouds all in a row - this one was the most pronounced.

Oh - and don't think I was overly calm. I was yelling at my son between shots to get the cats downstairs into their cages in the event it came down. I am a storm watcher - they fascinate - and terrify me at the same time.

And now - the main portion of the storm is approaching - I guess I'd better sign off before our house gets struck by lightning - again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Here There Be Dragons

As Promised - I am posting some of my most recent raku pots. Click on the picture to make it larger if you'd like to see more detail. The first picture is of one of my dragon pots. Now - with raku - it is a low fire glazing technique which gives lovely lustres.
The fun thing about raku - is that you never really know what is going to happen. See the green dragon pot below.

The funny thing about the green dragon - and the red dragon - is that they are supposed to both be the same colour. They are the same glaze - Turquoise. Everything depends on the heat tempurature, the location in the kiln - and the reduction process. I was surprised to say the least - however - very pleased.

This pot here with the dragonfly was an oopsy. The picture was very hard to take - the flash
keeps making the dragonfly too bright. However - if you were to get a good look - the dragonfly is a very lusterous red glaze. The rest of the pot is supposed to be a black and white spot called naked raku. When you quench the pot - the glaze is supposed to crack and fall off - it didn't.
However - if I could show you the pot - because the glaze stayed on - and only flaked off in small areas - it has the look of being very old and fragile. Sometimes oopsies are OK.

These last two pots I picked up in early June while on a pottery run. They are by a small pottery shop in Miller Lake , Ontario - about 4 hours from here - called, what else - Miller Lake Pottery. Funny thing - the guy who makes these pots used to live just down the road from me - and we do know his family. It's a small world.
Rob Nantais (the potter) - makes these pots loosely based on the Lord of the Rings. They are a big seller. The jug on the left is a wizard (Gandalf) - the jar on the right isn't really based on any of the characters - but he does all of these faces in pots, mugs, jars - they are quite captivating.

That's it for pottery tonight.

It's still crazy busy here - we have sold several sheep - and deliveries will start in the next few weeks. I also have to start preparing fleeces for the mill, and I have several pottery commissions to get done as well. Let's couple that with a trip to Newfoundland in August - and it's going to be one busy summer.

And I said I was going to take it easy this year - Yeah Right!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lambing is Done

Lambing is all done here at Kalwa Taure Shetlands this year. Now, you'll remember that I said, due to surgery, I wasn't going to breed any sheep this year - and I didn't. However, I am babysitting some sheep for my friend Shauna - and well - 4 of them were pregnant.

This first little darling - is our first ever bottle baby. In 13 years of raising shetlands, we have never had a bottle baby before. It's very heartbreaking to watch a baby that's been rejected. So, you'll forgive me for not posting this past week - but I have been busy. This is Windwater
Bertram. He's a beautiful black spotted gulmoget out of Willow Garden Latifah, and Verilaf Silver Streak. Bertram has a twin brother, Bernard.

This is a picture of Bertram and Bernard together. Bernard is all black and has a large white krunet. He tries very hard to spend time with Bertram - against his mothers wishes. At least the other lambs haven't rejected him. For the first 2 days he screamed bloody murder. Then I figured, he may just want to be cuddled. Sure enough - after 30 seconds wrapped in the blanket and rocked - he calmed right down. Now, he follows me around like any lamb would follow their mom - and he's as quiet as
a mouse. What a sweetie. He will be going to a good home near Ottawa some time in the very
near future.

And last but not least - Windwater Flower was born on June 25th. I came home to find this little
lovely laying with her mom in the barn - no issues with her. She's very delicate - all black with a little white krunet. We also lost one lamb - a beautiful mioget ewe lamb. Unfortunately, she was born during the afternoon when I was at work, and her mom started to clean her from the wrong end. She suffocated with the sack over her face. By the time I got home it was too late to save the lamb even though she was still warm - I tried everything - cleared all the passages, tickled her nose with straw, swung her around - nothing worked. It was a heartbreak to take this lamb from her mom.

So - along with Rose, we had 5 lambs - 3 ewes, 2 rams - 4 survived. I have to say that I do enjoy watching the lamb races, so I'm glad Shauna did give me an opportunity to have some lambs here this year.

And finally.................................................

Last week I arrived home with a very unusual flock of sheep :-)

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I went to a raku bash (no- not a raccoon bash) - and made up these little guys.

Raku is a type of firing that is done in pottery - in Japanese is means "Just Right".
These are so fun to make - as with raku - you never know just what you will get - it all depends on the intensity of the heat, where they sit in the kiln - and what you do during reduction.
I actually have several more that I have to photograph yet. But keep in mind - these are all about 2 inches long x about 1 1/2 inches high. The hardest thing - is not losing them in reduction.

I did some more raku last Saturday on my dragon pots. I will try to get pictures and post them in the next few days.