Suddenly it’s winter

It was a gloriously long and warm autumn, lots of rain in the valley, and snow in the mountains. As a result, we are going into winter with more forage remaining in pastures and hayfields than we have seen in all the autumns that we have lived here.

We had a few little snowfalls, but nothing that made it necessary to move the sheep to winter pens. We continued to feed out in the pastures until a week ago.

Then last Wednesday, when temperatures were to plummet  to single digits, with strong winds and severe wind-chill, we scurried around rebedding sheep barns, moving sheep to winter pens, and pulling up the remaining electronet fencing. We also dug out our old horse blankets and crammed those big (slightly portly) draft horse bodies into them. Too bad that I didn’t get a photo of the results! The horses don’t usually wear blankets, and after the winds stopped, we took them off. In our typical windless cold clear sunny days, they do just fine.

On Thanksgiving day, it began to snow…more that night and still more the next day. Light tiny flakes but adding up to 8 inches or so. It feels wonderful!

We were to go to Eugene during this time to be with Ben & Erin & baby Cameron, but I had been ill with a cold, and Brook then came down with it too. We didn’t want to take any viruses to Cameron, and so we stayed home for Thanksgiving, had a video chat visit with them, and enjoyed photos that Erin’s father took.

But we can hardly wait to spend real time with this precious baby….soon, very soon.

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Late News

Some of it really late! So much has been happening in our lives…I will try to catch up over the next few posts.

But first things first: My thoughts most days begin and end with our grandbaby Cameron, now 3 weeks old. Here is my favorite photo, taken when he was only half that age:

We keep up with Ben and Erin (the usually-tired-but-adoring parents) by phone, photos and video chats. We won’t get to see Cameron again until Thanksgiving (when all 4 grandparents will descend on the quiet little family). It will be grand!

We have been busy this fall, and every day seems to carry its own agenda…often separate from what we thought that we would be doing! Pre-winter busyness only ends with snowfall; perhaps not long from now!

Usually autumn is an almost restful time of year here; for a month or so, the sheep graze on open pastures, with all the cross-fencing from summer intensive grazing removed. When they think that they are done grazing, we begin to feed hay twice a day out in the field. This goes on until snow cover. It keeps them out of winter pens longer, and their left-overs and manure are good for the pastures.

But we have been away a lot: We made two journeys to Eugene in the last month, and I made one work-visit to AZ (shortened suddenly by Erin’s C-section). Once home, I went with Brook on a nine hour trip to a wood-seller in ID, and he went with me on an equally long trip to the Tri-Cities area in southern WA state. One of those trips is shrouded in secrecy (!); I will talk about the other one next time.

Brook has been busy on the irrigation ditches, helping to rebuild the structures destroyed by the floods in June. Thankfully, the floods had very little effect on our farm, but elsewhere in the valley, the waters rushed over pastures and barnyards, and took out bridges and roads. I will put these in as thumbnails for you to enlarge if you like:

I helped on one of the cement projects restoring the diversion box for our ditch….and on another day, was a “go-fer” on the big cement pour for our main head-gate. I took some photos while yards and yards of concrete were flowing down the chute into the forms that had taken months to design and create…very exciting, very tense.

But the end result was perfect; it was good to see such a huge effort turn out so well. Good job guys!

The last photo was taken with our brand new camera….our old Cannon has been ailing and is not long for this world. Brook had been carefully analyzing camera data when Michelle got her new Panasonic Lumix. At that point, we hadn’t been able to see one of these cameras up close, but a Lumix had been Brook’s top choice. Michelle’s road-tests were enough for us; our new camera arrived on Thursday.

There are lots of settings possible, but for my run-in photos, I used the automatic settings (which are very intelligent BTW) and did some low-light shots of sheep and chickens. When I took the photos, it was almost dusk; I expected blurry “motion-pictures”, but the Lumix passed this test with flying colors. Thanks Michelle!

This low-light photo shows a few of this spring’s chicks, now teenagers. In this group: our young Buff Brahma cockerel and assorted pullets…Buff Brahma ladies, one of the Speckled Sussex and two Aracaunas. There are others; so for all fellow chicken lovers, I promise more feathery shots soon!

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A week with an angel.

We are back in Halfway now, having spent the first week of Cameron’s life in Eugene with Ben and Erin, and Erin’s parents, Anneke and David. We all could have stayed on happily and basked in the glory of this little grandson, but Brook and I were uneasy at being away from the farm too long. How we wish that Eugene were closer; I imagine that we will keep the roads warm this winter.

The four grandparents came by two’s to visit for a short time each day, leaving Ben and Erin to spend quiet time with Cameron…just the three of them.

Brook & Ben & Cameron….three Moore generations.

Anneke and Erin with baby Cameron.

Cameron had to have some breathing assistance for a while with a machine that keeps a constant airway pressure to help the lungs expand, and increases their ability to oxygenate the blood.

Even during this time, his parents held him often, with the skin-on-skin contact that is now recommended. Whenever they held him, his heartbeat and breathing rate slowed, and the oxygen levels in his blood rose…it was magical to see.

Ben spent all the hospital stay with Erin, and thanks to the kindness of the nursing staff, both of them were able to move to a rooming-in situation in the neonatal intensive care until Cameron could be discharged.  By the time that the three of them came home last Thursday (Cameron was 6 days old), Ben and Erin seemed totally organized in caring for their new son. Needless to say, they have settled easily into family life.

Erin was so very happy to be sitting in their own living room again…and she and Ben spent all afternoon cuddling their little one.

They even were even relaxed enough to watch their favorite U of O Ducks win their most recent game, and move to the number one spot in the league. Cameron wore his “Ducks” cap for the occasion.

Even though he was a month early, Cameron is strong and takes in the world around him. His holding onto my fingers and looking up at me melted my heart; he is stunningly beautiful to this grandmother’s eyes!

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Thrilling news…

It has been nearly 4 months since my last post…the summertime and early fall always seem to be busy, but this year, it has been especially so. I have had no time to sit and write, and none to sort photos so that the blog wouldn’t drone on with text alone.

My plan was to write about the projects (farming and otherwise) that have occupied us over this time, but all that seems so much less important now.

Yesterday our grandson was born! His name is Cameron Jacob and he is so beautiful! And so beloved.

Cameron was delivered a month early because the fluid that should surround him until the end of pregnancy was diminishing at an alarming rate. But the Caesarian delivery went smoothly, and Cameron came into the arms of his loving parents at 8:47 yesterday morning.

He is strong and in wonderful weight for a 36 week baby…6 pounds. But because of respiratory issues related to prematurity, Cameron has to be monitored in the newborn unit for few days. Happily he is improving quickly.

Of course, we grandparents have been drawn like bees to a flower!

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There and Back

I am home now for a while. The trip to the BSG was long and arduous, but being there, and seeing so many friends was worth it. I took lots of photos, but on the last day, I lost my camera! I am still hoping that it will turn up as I continue to unpack the truck.

BSG photos will have to wait, but for now a long overdue post:  joyful photos taken just before and during my last trip to AZ.

This beauty graced our dining room table in the week before I left for my last trip to AZ….one of my mother’s orchids, one that we bought together a few years ago. It sent up two flower spikes in early May, and opened the first blossom on my birthday. It was in full bloom on the anniversary of her death and on her birthday, perhaps so that I would know that she was still watching over it…and over me. There is also a bud growing on the old flower stem, so it plans a finale when the others are done.

When I got to AZ in late May, the desert was blooming…I took these photos driving north from Phoenix.

All of the Saguaro cacti were wearing crowns of flowers, so appropriate since they stand like royalty all through the desert and even along the highways.   One of them put flowers everywhere she could….

The prickly pears were just beginning to bloom…

These two beauties grew all along the roadside:

And lastly, my favorites…a penstemon variety that glows in the light.

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A Grey Day (can be bright)

Since I am committed to another 2 weeks in away working before the Black Sheep Gathering, I have been spending lots of time with sheep and in sheep-related passtimes. Halter training, tidying up yearling fleeces, studying lambs. I will make my decisions about who comes with me to the BSG at the eleventh hour, but always enjoy the time leading up to it.

This young lad is one of our Fantasie’s sons (by  Shady Oaks Spats); a real looker…he hasn’t  told me what his name is yet, but rams don’t get registered until they grow a bit more…so you have time little one.

If this his brother weren’t so flashy, Fantasie’s other son would fall more into the spotlight. I think that he is very handsome in his own right:

They get their big-boy ear-tags and CDTs and worming on Wednesday;  I won’t know for sure until then, but I am fairly certain that both will be greys.

While I am on the subject of greys, this little (to-be-grey) girl is Miss Molly, another Spats lamb, out of our lovely Sunniva (you saw her with her mother the last post). I am liking her more and more as she grows.

Her sister  Lucy (in-the-sky) will also be grey. This little minx started asking for attention when she was around 2 weeks old. It is very hard to capture her in a whole-sheep photo…we go from this:

To this:

One more grey sheep…this little cutie is Faith’s son by Matteus. He has Matteus’s personality and a super-soft fleece. I love his color right now. And I think that he has lots of potential and lots of presence…but time will tell if he makes the grade. (No, he doesn’t have a name yet either, but needs one desperately!)

Even if he isn’t grey, I can’t end without mentioning Jiggs….seven weeks old now, and we are beginning to wean him from the bottle. The feedings are less frequent, and the milk replacer is getting diluted to encourage him to graze…which he is more and more enthusiastic about.

But whenever he sees me, he looks longingly and hopefully. Very hard on my mother’s heart…

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Almost relaxed…

I finally had some time today just to BE out there in the pasture with the lambs…they are growing so fast! Granted this is NOT news to any other shepherds, but it always seems miraculous to me that they go from tiny little clinging-to-mom babies to self-sufficient grazing animals all in the space of six weeks.

Now I run the risk of moving mouths (cudding) in any photo…but I am thrilled to see that. More words another time…when I will tell you who is who; for now I will just share the sweetness with you.

As I was out in the paddock in the middle of the day…and the weather is warm at last…many of them were “shaded up”…mamas and babies.

I find them all so beautiful to my eye….it is grand to be home!

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Another Homecoming

My part-time work off the farm means that there are many sad leave-takings and many happy homecomings. This past trip happened just three weeks after lambing…by the time I left for AZ, Jiggs had spent his days with the mamas and lambs, but hadn’t spent any nights in the barn. He still thought that he was a dog or maybe a cat, but he was ready for the transition. So while I was away, he lived full-time with the flock.

By the time I came home this time, Jiggs had found his “inner sheep”. And thanks to Brook’s intelligent fostering (read: no shmoozing), Jiggs now comes for his bottle at feeding time, but immediately runs away to rejoin the other sheep…no snuggling, no interest in people at all…

I am happy to see that he is now as agile as the other lambs and that his little legs have grown straight and strong. I am sure that our friend and acupuncturist Karen made all the difference in the beginning. Karen is a shepherdess too, and this spring, when she had a lamb who was unable to stand up after birth, she used acupuncture, and almost immediately her lamb pulled up his hind legs and stood!

So I asked her if she thought she could help Jiggs and with the supervision of 3 Border Collies (Toby’s eyes are glowing by Jiggs’ head), Karen placed needles strategically to strengthen his legs. What a difference…what a blessing!

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The Camera’s Eye

I don’t have a lot to say today; too many clouds on my horizon, so I will show you what my camera saw yesterday….quite a few rams (!) but lots of exciting markings and loads of substance:

These are Sheltering Pines Plein Jeu’s lambs this year; both rams but….oh my! One of them is clearly a spotted katmoget; but by the color of the spots, I think that the lighter one may be a kat too. We hope that they grow up with perfect horns!


These little to-be-grey boys have just the greatest bodies…they came out bucking and by the time they left the jug, they looked a couple of weeks old!  They are out of our lovely Ilse…I can promise that you will be seeing more of them.

Sprite gave us two little gulmoget ewes….someone has asked which one would be for sale. How can we make THAT decision???

And for your amusement…this year’s llama walker: Pavane’s little gully girl.

Shortly after I took this photo, another lamb jumped up too. Amelia is fine with one lamb (actually seems to like it), but rolled them both off when the second one joined in. Enough is enough!

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The world according to Jiggs

My story: the really truly double life of a bottle lamb….

I sleep every night in the house with my human family; I wake up in my box in the dining room and as soon as I ask, my bottle is ready. I have to wear these things on my fanny when I am in the house; guess that it is OK, but they do annoy me….

After my breakfast, I take a nap on whichever dog-bed I like…there are three to choose from and I try them all:

Then I get to play in the house until chore-time; Lefty is my favorite cat. I follow him around, and I think that he likes me too, but sometimes he climbs up to this big high place…why is that?

Then when it is time to go out to the barn, I go along with my humans and my dogs:

All during the day, I stay with the other lambs and the big sheep…I have some favorite friends (all of them look like me except one). They know their way around, and so I follow them ; the little girl in front of me is my sister Maggie:

The other lambs run and play for a long time and it makes me tired…so I take little naps to rest up between the races. Soon I will be as big and strong as the rest of the lambs…

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