“Surreality”

These past 3 weeks have been full of intense experiences…so much so that I haven’t had time to write and if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to focus on! Beginning with the “now” (shouldn’t we always live in that space?):

I am in Arizona now…have been since the 21st…working at the hospital in Tuba City, on the Navaho reservation. The landscape is spectacular, but it took a few days before I could drive around to appreciate it (I arrived at night and went to work first thing the next morning…and the next, and the next). Here is what I missed seeing on the road into Tuba:

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Today I went back down that same road to Cameron Trading Post to see if I might spend some time there with a weaver. Sadly no one was at the loom, but I will try to go back another day…it is only 24 miles away. Nevertheless, the landscape was worth the trip:

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I am cherishing the time here, even though it means that I am not at home with my dear Brook and all the animals. I talk to him every evening on the computer video link; thank goodness for that!

Tuba City is higher than we are at home (4500 feet), but the temperatures are similar. Nights in the teens and days in the high-twenties / low-thirties. I woke up to some snow on Christmas morning. But by noon it was gone…still a nice touch for me. I LOVE winter….

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The dogs love it too, and this day, Finn preferred sitting in the snow to coming into the house with me:

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Before I left home, our winter began (at 2:30 PM on Friday, Dec. 12). I had just come home from Baker City getting new snow tires on our little Toyota Prius (aka Robbie, the robot). Just a few flakes were coming down, but by evening the ground was covered.

Brook tells me that it snows a little almost every day, and now we have 2 feet +on the ground. Nothing to the snow Kathy is experiencing in Flagstaff though! I hope to be able to spend more time with them while I am here…she and Ralph met me at the airport when I came in, fed me, gave me a “care pack” of treats and AZ info, and helped me on to the road to Tuba City…I left feeling warm and welcome here in AZ!

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Moving beyond the pain….

The last blog detailed my personal pain, but there is another sadness that lurks in my mind…and something that I do not relish talking about. But a couple of days ago Tina passed along the Meme from Miss Peach’s blog and this lead me to look in our photo files (sixth folder, sixth photo).

That photo is of Centaurus as a lamb. So it seemed that I had to bring up this subject, as painful as it has been to me.

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Here he was….a lovely fellow in all ways. Centaurus grew into a beautiful ram, and has sired (let me see now) 9 ewes still in our flock and the ram, Andante (who was sold; he and his get were consistent prize-winners in the show-ring). We were so impressed with Centaurus’s genetics that we bought back an Andante daughter this year…a lovely dark brown lamb (Misty View Sprite)

As many of you know, Centaurus broke his leg last September, and was given the chance to live and pass along his excellent genetics; he was splinted and did heal reasonably well, with a little deformity, but not too bad considering the severity of the fracture.

Centaurus lived in a paddock beside the house for these past 3 months with his wether-son Achilles, so that he would not be lonely. On Wednesday, they were about to rejoin the ram-flock; we had decided to put him with the ram-lambs to protect him from further damage this winter.

The day he was to be transferred, Centaurus charged and knocked down a friend who came to help me with the exchange…happily she was not severely injured. The same day, he charged me, and on another occasion, Brook….he did not connect, but the will to attack was clearly there.

Centaurus is no longer with us….he was loved, cared for, and protected from harm for his whole life, but he ultimately was willing to do damage to humans. Granted it is high testosterone season, but we cannot live with a ram who is dangerous and willing to attack, whatever the circumstances. There are many reasons why he might have stepped over the line….but NO excuses.

I guess that this is the ultimate conclusion of our ToughLove philosophy….and this week, we had to “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk.”

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Detention

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A couple of days ago, this little black ram-lamb was bashing the barn where the little boys and wethers are housed, so when usual measures (ToughLove variety) didn’t work, his little backside was thrown into DETENTION (read: the big boys pen). This gave him something to think about!

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He will go back with the little fellows soon, but may go back as a wether….his horns are clear, but possibly too close for my taste. Too bad, he and his sister both had blindingly lustrous lamb-fleeces. I have held off so far because his fleece is still exceptional and I DID want to have him turn out well as a ram…but he may fail both the horn and the behavior test! Time will tell…..

As for me, I have been in a self-imposed “detention”…I am finding myself with no energy to write, or indeed to do much of anything these past few days. I am in the midst of an attack of the facial neuralgia (Trigeminal Neuralgia) that has plagued me off and on for most of the past 25 years. You can learn more about it here at the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association website where you can learn more than you ever wanted to know about this “beast”.

Basically TN is a misfiring of the nerves that give pain sensation to the face….similar to the pain when a dentist hits a nerve. There are 3 divisions to this nerve, but the second division is the one that causes my pain. It involves the entire side of my face from below the eye to the upper jaw. It is an electric jolt that, in my case, can repeat itself a couple of times per second for a minute or two at a time….or can be a searing burning pain. It is exhausting and although the rest of me can function if I have to…..talking eating, brushing my teeth, even smiling can set off a jolt.

Knowing this about me serves no useful purpose except to explain why I might not write from time to time, or be able to talk on the phone, and why I might shun activities that genuinely give me joy….TN has made me more insular than I ever wanted to be.

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Reprise

We have shown photos of the two lovely yearling boys for sale in past, but since they are relisted on the Shetland list today, I am adding more photos.

Here is Valiant, yearling son of Cairn Farm Nicolas (aka “the fleece”)…and our Viola (daughter of Centaurus and grand-daughter of Nicolas):
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And this is Nighhawk, also a yearling son of Nicolas and out of our Nightingale, consistent producer of beautiful fleeces and great structure:
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Because we want to have fewer rams (nothing new for most Shetland breeders) and these boys are too nice to send to little white packages, we will offer to help with transportation…we make lots of trips to the West side of the state. Our dear children are there….if you are near, we will bring one of these handsome lads to you; if you are further, we will meet you half-way.

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Constantine’s group

Constantine was bred to four very special ewes this year.
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This is his second breeding season with us, and since there were too many of his 2008 lambs that I couldn’t part with, we made an effort to prevent a repeat of my dilemma. (Tactics that we hope have some chance of success) First of all, we bred him to fewer ewes, and secondly, at least 4 of his potential lambs are spoken for. THAT should work…maybe.

His ewes were:

Stonehaven Imogen…
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is a Shetland black ewe with a soft lustrous single-coated fleece. She is sired by our Centaurus (who brings a good infustion of Maple Ridge blood and comes from our finest fleece line), and out of Puddleduck Freia (who carries 50% Flett genetics). I don’t think that Imogen carries spotting, although you can see a little moon-spot on her shoulder. This should be a cross made in heaven.

Stonehaven Olivia…
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an elegant black with nearly pure Maple Ridge breeding top and bottom. Olivia sets the standard for soft blacks! These will be her first lambs, and they should be challenges to my resolve let lambs go next summer!

Stonehaven Chloe…
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is a fawn, wrongly registered moorit…she was our first lamb ever (way back then) who has arguably the nicest fleece in our flock. Chloe is 11 this year, so these will be her last lambs. I am afraid that we have to keep at least one of them!

Sacred Lily Towhee…
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is an emsket ewe who was bred to Constantine last year, and who gave us two amazing ewe-lambs. We are hoping for a repeat performance. But this time we wouldn’t mind a ram-lamb or two….promised to very special homes!

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‘Tis the season

I know that it has been a long long time since I wrote anything…and there is so much to catch up on. This photo was supposed to be part of a post that didn’t get written:

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It was taken around 3 weeks ago…but amazingly at present, we still have sheep and horses out on pasture. The sheep are being supplemented with hay; the horses are grazing the upper hay fields and although there isn’t any tall grass, the 50 or so acres that they have to roam in provides enough forage that they are still VERY well-nourished!

The three rams from our flock used for breeding this year have been returned to the ram-flock…back to the world of group huddles, hurled insults, cheap shots, and full-on head-butts.

I love our rams, but this time of year finds me waxing Darwinian. We intercede when things get too rough….but thank goodness the numbers of boys spread the bad behavior around, and mostly the squabbles don’t amount to any serious damage. Photos of these fellows and their girls will follow…

But in our breeding pen, there is one ram still with ewes:

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This handsome lad is Shady Oaks Spats who is here on lease and will return to his own flock in a couple of weeks. We brought him in to breed some of our ewes carrying spotted genetics. He is an ideal ram in all ways… perfect HST markings, carries the modifier, has a soft uniform fleece and great conformation. And in addition to this, he has a sweet respectful personality (not a surprise since he was raised by Marybeth). I adore him and I can’t wait to see his lambs!

Here are his girls:
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Sheltering Pines Musette…a modified black whose fleece appears to be a true dark brown where it hasn’t met the sun.

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Sheltering Pines Sarah…a spotted emsket ewe with a soft silky fleece, and a special darling of mine. Sarah chose me and we have been best friends ever since. She is the mother of Sterling, whom you will see in a later post.

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Sheltering Pines Flute Celeste…a lovely petite ewe with a light moorit fleece, very lustrous and soft.

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Dodge Cascadia…has thrown HST lambs in past, although she herself isn’t spotted. She is relatively new to our flock, but gave us an outstanding moorit ram in 2006 (so much for selling boys!).
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This is Sheltering Pines Plein Jeu..an HsT katmoget whose fleece has am amazing amount of color underneath. She had to have the tips of her fleece trimmed, but I thought this photo was better than the sheared version. In any case, it shows her sweet face and her beauty mark! She gave us a very special katmoget ewe-lamb last year.
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Bluff Country Premonition…her long soft black fleece is amazing. She is a sweet friendly girl who carries spots…and passes along her fleece quality to her lambs.

Well friends….it’s almost time to go out for afternoon chores. The hours fly by faster than usual…the short days are forcing us to cram so many things into the daylight hours!

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Reluctantly For-Sale

We choose only a few ewes to be bred for spring lambs in an effort to keep our numbers down. As a result, some excellent quality rams and ewes are marking time here, and need to be fulfilling their potential in other flocks. This post will list rams…ewes to follow soon.

First and foremost…the two yearling rams who are tentatively on our sales-list have grown up to be excellent examples of their breed. There are actually four yearllngs that we would have liked to keep as breeding rams, but we have too many to overwinter in our ram-flock, and are forced to these decisions.

Valiant
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was linebred for fleece quality and is a son of Cairn Farm Nicolas out of a Centaurus daughter (Viola). He is a mild mannered ram who also has great conformation, good tail and wide-sweeping horns. He carries Dailley lines and some Flett genetics. His fleece is intermediate, soft and dense.

Nighthawk
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is also by Nicolas and has excellent structure, slightly smaller stature (a definite plus), and classically shaped horns. He is a bit shy, but very calm and respectful. He has a uniform intermediate fleece with lots of lustre, was born a flecket and so carries spotting genetics.

Olav
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is another one of the sheep-for-sale that I wouldn’t mind at all having to keep! This young lad is a grey sired by Sheltering Pines Constantine, and out of a ewe (Bess) who is from our foundation MRSF lines. His fleece is gorgeous and looks to be a dense single-coat.

Olav broke the horn shell from his right horn as a tiny lamb, but the horn growth and direction seem to have been unaffected, and it matches the newest growth on the left perfectly.
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If we had fewer rams, Olav would stay here through next summer, but as it is, he will be sold with a horn guarantee. He is a Constantine son, and is very much like his father….great body (an especially strong rear end), a correct tail, and laid-back temperament.

Stay tuned…more for-sale sheep in following days (this promise forces me to make decisions I have been putting off!)

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More stay-at-home sheep

This year we were bringing yearling rams to the OR Flock & Fiber Festival. We have never traveled to a show with yearling boys in the fall when hormones were rising…but the ones who were coming were all calm respectful fellows and I thought that the trailer space would allow for three.

But since I didn’t make it to OFFF, two of the yearlings (Gyasi and Callum) won’t be seen anywhere but here on our blog or on our farm (at least for a while)…unless some wise sheep show organizer decides that classes for mature animals should be created.

Gyasi (sired by Robin Goodfellow) was given this name as he is the “beloved child” of our dear departed Guro….she doted on him, kept him by her side constantly. She must have known how special he was. Gyasi has grown up to be the kindest, most polite young ram we have. Sweet-tempered and friendly but never pushy, always respectful, and completely trusting.
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Callum (son of Baltazar and Dodge Cascadia) was to go with me too..He was born with a solid moorit fleece, and no apparent pattern (aside from being a solid Aa/Aa). But in the last few months, Callum has developed interesting facial markings, with teardrops initially, which now have spread somewhat. At first I was wondering if he could carry the English Blue pattern (one not necessarily related to color), but he has none of the variations in body fleece color. So he remains an enigma…but a beautiful one. He was for sale, but by the time that he developed the tear-drops, we had already taken him off the sales list (his fleece convinced us that he should stay). Needless to say, Callum will be in our breeding line next year.
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There are two very promising ram-lambs who were to show….This is Loki, born of a golden cross from two fine-fleeced parents (Nicolas X Moonstruck). His fleece has the exquisite silkiness that I love, and as his parents are now retired from breeding, Loki will stay here to carry those lines.
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The second ram-lamb is Matteus, who is a friendly but a respectful young fellow. He gets much less attention than he would like and is gently pushed away fairly often..so hard for me to do, but necessary. Matteus is a half-brother to Loki, and they are very alike, although Matteus has a super-dense single-coated fleece, and Loki’s is a bit longer.
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Stay tuned…this weekend is the SSS&T (Shetland Sheep Sales & Trade) on the Shetland Breeder’s List. More sheep-photos to come!

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No journey for us…

We were planning (have been planning for a long time) to go Canby, OR to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this weekend. I had careful photos of and halter trained (mostly) the sheep who were going with us. Organized the display, packed everything necessary for the two-day show, and was all ready to load up the trailer.

But yesterday, the electrical system on our truck malfunctioned in a dangerous way: The brake lights came on randomly and intermittently, even without the key in the ignition. And when the trailer was hooked up to the truck, and the light circuit became activated, the trailer brakes came on…locking up so that we couldn’t move.

We didn’t have time to be sure that the problem was solved, and couldn’t risk traveling 7 hours to the other side of the state with the possibility of the trailer braking suddenly and without warning. So the sheep who were going to show, those who were going along for the “ride”, and those who were for sale all are staying home…as am I.

I was so excited about this particular event…usually showing is the necessary price that I pay to be there with my Shetland clan, but this time I really did want to be there in the ring. Ah well, it wasn’t to be…

And here I am with all the photos I took…and no one will see them if I don’t post them here!

I am totally in love with Beata (Sula’s last-ever lamb…and such a gift). Her name means “blessing” and that she is:
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And of course, there is Grace (our darling)…
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She must be the one that they were thinking of when they wrote:

“There was a little girl who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good, she was very very good,
And when she was bad, she was horrid!

Grace gets in the middle of everyone else’s halter-training (SHE doesn’t need training), leaps/clambers over sheep panels when she is excluded, and climbs the barn loft stairs and flings herself off just for the fun of it!

And then there was Solveig, who is such an elegant princess. She is curious and friendly at heart, but does draw the line… “please don’t touch my fleece”):
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This little sweetheart was/is for sale…she was a triplet by our Willym and out of beautiful Hope (a Nicolas daughter). She is a gorgeous little girl, should be going to the perfect home. We are retaining too many ewe-lambs this year; otherwise I wouldn’t think of selling Anja.:
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One of these little gulmoget girls was perhaps going to be sold; I couldn’t decide which…or if!
(Is THAT why the truck cancelled my trip? Indecision? Or so that I didn’t have to sell any of the three ewe-lambs????)

Siri is a fawn gulmoget and Helga a musket gulmoget.
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I will post photos of the boys who didn’t go to Canby tomorrow…sigh.

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Inside the “event horizon”…

“An event horizon is a boundary in spacetime, an area surrounding a black hole…light emitted from inside the horizon can never reach the observer, and anything that passes through the horizon from the observer’s side disappears.”

That is where we seem to have spent our last two weeks!

There were intense days getting ready for, and an equal number of days picking up the threads of our lives after a very special event: Cycle Oregon came to visit in Halfway! The population of our little valley exploded…about 1200 souls live here in normal times, but during those two days, we were joined by around 2700 traveling with Cycle Oregon!!! It was a mind-bending experience….after they left, it was hard to fathom that many people had actually been here.

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The folks who do this ride come from all over the world; they are supported by an amazing infrastructure while they bicycle from 50 to 80 miles/day. Meals and camping accommodations are included as well as bike and body maintenance….

During their visit, Halfway and Cycle Oregon collaborated for food, music and dancing, and local artists and artisans here in Halfway village gathered as an Art in the Park event. I didn’t think to take a photo of our little tent, but we were there too. We met lots of wonderful folks, exchanged stories and the cyclists bought mementoes of their visit from all of us.

We sold out of my Gansey hats and I have orders for more. The throws made from our Shetland wool were admired, and some of them went to new homes. And we sold yarn and spinning kits (drop spindle & 4 colors of roving)…there are a few cyclists now doing a new kind of “spinning”!

The second day, Pine Valley farms and craft studios were open for visits;
we offered a farm / wool tour:
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and an open house at Brook’s guitar workshop:
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By now, we have worked our way back to almost normal, but soon the “hecticity” of getting ready for Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival may drop me inside the “event horizon” again!

I am here, just invisible….

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