Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Paying Attention to the Little Details

August 26, 2013

We all get caught up in the day-to-day banality of our lives and let the little details slip by unnoticed. It’s one of the things about spending time with little kids that I miss, their ability to be completely absorbed by some minor aspect of life, and it’s something I try to do at least occasionally. I had the opportunity to be reminded about this a couple of times in the last week, and I’m glad I slowed down enough to pay attention.

The first detail caught my eye as I rounded the front corner of the house, headed to turning on the hose so I could fill water troughs. The mound of dirt got my attention first, then I noticed the hole. That is my daughter-in-law’s hand for scale. After much reflection, I think a neighbor dog must have done the damage. The cats don’t normally dig like that to go after a rodent, and I have seen no evidence of anything living in or near the hole. Guess I’d better fill it in before I twist an ankle in hole

 My spinning wheel (a Schacht Matchless) has been having some issues lately. That led to my 2nd little detail. I needed a screwdriver to work with, and grabbed this little brass one that Sweetie’s dad had given me several years ago. I have always enjoyed using it, but never really paid attention to it until this week. screwdriver There was a little noise when I used it, a slight rattle. Instead of ignoring it (as I must have in the past), I investigated. And I love what I found. Not one, not two screwdriver2, not three, screwdriver4 but four screwdrivers,  screwdriver4all nestled together like one of those Russian dolls. I love it! The biggest is about 6 inches long, and the tiny little one is just over an inch. I’ve always loved good tools, and this one just moved up a notch in my favorites list. And with its help and a little TLC, the Matchless is back to behaving beautifully, and I am finishing up the last of the Merlin blend yarn that I started during the Tour de Fleece.

I have gotten a few farm chores done also, including shearing three sheep. Manny and Meriadoc went from shaggy boys to nearly naked. I love their colors, but I still need to really look at their fleeces and assess the quality. I did discover that I messed up when I banded Meriadoc and only caught one of his testicles. This would explain some of his behaviors (very pushy with his pen mates, and occasionally head bashing wood panels). He has never shown any inclination towards being aggressive towards people, so if he stays here I will probably leave things as they are.Manny yearling face onMeriadoc yearling face onManny and Meriadoc shorn

I also sheared the old lady of the flock, Bridget. At 13 years old this spring, she has earned the right to retire, especially since she gave me such a nice replacement ewe lamb this year. I think she looks pretty good for such an aged sheep, and she is now doing “Ashe duty” and getting some grain as a reward. Bridget after shearing 2013

Speaking of Ashe, she is doing well. I am trying to hold her weight steady where it is now (don’t want her getting too fat), and she and Bridget have full run of the barn pen.  She is fairly mobile, even if she does look funny getting around. I hope that she will regain some more flexibility in her front legs, for comforts sake, but she seems content. As I’ve said all along, as long as she is willing to keep up the fight, so am I. Her lamb, Navid, is doing well also, and is a friendly little guy, always ready for a chin scritch.

Navid face on

I am getting ready for State Fair later this week. My mom has never been, and since I will be judging the Angora goats in their inaugural showing this year we are going to make the trip over the mountains together. I have booked a hotel room so that we can relax a bit after seeing all there is to see. Should be fun; I always enjoyed taking the kids to the Fair as an “end of summer” treat. Then next month, we will be enjoying the circus. Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey are coming to our local fairgrounds, so Kid the Younger and Fiancee are coming over to go with mom & me.

No word on my missing shawl yet, but the response I have gotten online has been wonderful. My picture has been shared all over the world, so whoever took it will not be able to wear it in public without being spotted. I have made peace with the fact that it is gone, and will dig out the book so I can make myself another one (in a different color so I don’t get accosted wearing it out!). Someone shared how a shawl of theirs made it home 6 months after being taken, so I won’t give up hope, I just won’t waste any energy thinking nasty thoughts about the person who took it. I prefer to fill my life with positive thoughts and actions. Not always possible, but I try.


Pattern Progress & A Rant

February 13, 2012

I bit the bullet and bought a program that will hopefully help me sell knitting patterns that I write. I found it on Ravelry, and I am very impressed. It lets you design patterns either by charting (and it will automatically write out the directions), or you can write out the directions (and it will automatically chart the stitches). You can save them as a pdf, which means you can sell online copies rather than having to print them out and mail hard copies.

So now begins the fun of transcribing all my scribbles into the program, then a few test knitters to proof things. I’m not looking to make a million dollars (though wouldn’t that be nice?), but it would be good to cover at least part of the beasties hay bill.

 This will be the first one up.

Now my rant. A couple of things have gone into me feeling that I need to say something about loose dogs. Leigh posted about having a neighbor’s dog on her property chasing her animals (I commented, but tried to keep my comment brief). A friend posted on Facebook about being upset over getting a ticket because her dog escaped and was running loose, and was very upset that I thought the cop was right. And I came home Saturday afternoon after spending a lovely couple of hours at spinning. As I got out of the car, I noticed my black kitty Burt moving quickly and low to the ground, obviously trying to get out of harm’s way. By the side of the house was a loose dog, nose to the ground. I hollered. I have a voice that can cover some ground, and he started moving off. I grabbed my sheep crook on the way, just to make sure I could get his attention (or protect myself, if it came to that). The ewes were agitated as we moved past them, so he probably spent some time barking at them earlier. It took quite some time to convince him that I meant business, and we covered most of my property in the process.

Now, I understand that dogs get loose sometimes. But all too often, folks (especially out here in the country) don’t spend near enough time training their dogs to stay home. They open the door and let Fido out to amuse himself, sometimes all day long. A single dog can be a problem. Two or more dogs is a pack, and they can be downright dangerous. I have friends whose flocks have been devastated by dog attacks. While I have not had to deal with dogs getting in with my sheep, the dogs don’t have to actually bite to cause damage. A single incident of a strange dog barking at them can cause a break in the fleece, ruining it for that year. Ewes can lose pregnancies up to a month later. And I have suffered those kinds of losses due to a neighbor, who one year had 2 large dogs that liked to stand on opposite sides of one of my pens barking at the animals in the pen. I spent a lot of time talking to sheriff deputies. Every single deputy that came out patted his holster and told me I could shoot the dog that was on my property (I already knew that). Nothing changed, until one morning when instead of running home when I yelled, one of the dogs charged me (he finally backed down after scaring the crap out of me). I went in to the sheriff’s office, and the deputy that day asked if I had talked to me neighbor about his dogs. Nope, last time I talked to him he was waving a rifle in my face (one of the reasons I didn’t want to shoot his dogs. Not someone I want to start a shooting war with. This guy is nuts). Well, the sheriff ripped up the ticket the first deputy had me sign (since he hadn’t witnessed the dog on my property), and went and delivered a new ticket to the neighbor, as well as what I gather was a very forceful lecture (he came by my place when he was done next door). Dogs were gone that afternoon. I lost 6 lambs to those stupid dogs (the ewes aborted because of the stress).

Before we moved out here we had several chickens (Easter chicks that didn’t realize that Easter chicks usually die). We heard a commotion one night in the coop, and actually watched a dog run out of their fenced area and run next door and jump into a pickup (his owner was visiting our neighbor). When confronted with the evidence (2 dead birds and blood on his dog’s muzzle), his response was that his dog would never kill a chicken because he was a hunting dog. Huh? He did the right thing and paid for the birds, but my kids learned a hard lesson that night.

I’ve got nothing against dogs, but I have real problems with folks that refuse to take responsibility. Dogs need to be trained. They need to know what their boundaries are. Discipline is not a bad word. And I think every dog should know the command “Go home”, so that if they do leave your property I can send them back without risking life and limb chasing them away. In a perfect world I could afford to put up a predator-tight perimeter fence. The local wild predators don’t bother me or my beasties (knock wood that will continue). Why can’t I expect people to keep their domesticated predators from harming us also?

A Bit More Done

October 31, 2011

Not a hugely productive week, but I did get a few things done. I made stock from the remains of the smoked turkey, which turned out very well indeed. Still need to turn it into real soup, but it is processed enough to set aside for a day or two anyway.

Last night I washed up part of Midge’s fleece. Way more vm in it than I’d like, but I know that most will shake out, and I can pick the rest. Once it’s dry I will combine it with some alpaca, probably 50/50. Should turn out really luscious.

I finished the green socks for a friend’s child and started on a mostly purple pair for her other. It’s amazing what a difference the dye lot can make. One both I have one skein each of 2 dyelots, and they look completely different! Both were started toe up, and on the green pair I switched skeins after the gussets. Not sure, but both may need to make a trip to the dye pot to see if I can even things out a little.

I’ll leave you with a shot of my “Halloween” kitty Burt. He’s big, black and fluffy. We got him at the pound when he was 4-5 months old. Our pound puts colored paper collars on all the cats, with names on them. I was there with the oldest and youngest kids (middle had declined to come with). They have several smaller rooms where several cats are together. We went into the smallest and checked out the 4 kitties. This one kept coming back to us, and when we checked out his collar, it had the oldest kid’s name on it! So home he came. Name had to be changed, and since we are big Stephen King fans, he got named after one of the characters in the Dark Tower series. He is 15 pounds of love, and he is the only cat I’ve had that actually takes down starlings (at a sometimes alarming rate! One time I found 6 of the in the ewes pen, all with a bite or two out of the breast). I tried getting a shot of him with his gorgeous gold eyes open, but as soon as he saw what I as doing he came over for a snuggle.

Happy Halloween all!