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Monday, September 28, 2009

Well, I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack!

Did ya wonder where I went? HA! Sometimes I wondered where *I* had gone too. I did miss blogging tho, and in August I went to sign in only to find that Google had changed the log on process. Today I finally got that fixed!

Now, to catch up to speed........

somewhere this summer I got the flu. About the same time the first major outbreak was reported in our town of swine flu. Did I get it, I have no idea because when you're really sick, the last thing you want to do is go to the doctor. Besides, it was the flu........what else did ya need to know that a $90 doctor visit would tell ya?! I didn't eat for 5 days so those thoughts in the spring (of very year it seems) of loosing weight this summer that all women over 50 usually have, actually happened. LOL! And with the summer's busy schedule, it stayed off. In fact this morning I decided to get on the scale and was shocked...not a pound has come back. Amazing. All that tells me tho is that I've been too busy this summer.....

The weather turned cool and showers in late June, preventing cutting and baling of hay. When July hit tho, we also hit a record heatwave. We had days in the 80's here. Last year was one of the coolest - Anchorage reported only 3 days above 70 last year. This year made up for lost time. With all 3 fields in full production now including the new one cleared and planted 2 years ago, it took a week to put up all the hay - a record amount for us on our own organic hayfields - 1,300 bales! Wow! We ran out of room in the barn loft which holds around 1,100 bales. We tested out the hay (brome/timothy mix) and got results from different spots of 10% - 15% protein too - considering it's organically fertilized, we were quite proud of our improvements! Each year it keeps going up. 2nd cutting came in during our damp September and all of what was there was put up in high moisture wrapped and sealed round bales. So we are done haying for the year now, thankfully.

Rick's greenhouse produced a record crop of tomatoes, and we finished pulling plants and cleaning it out yesterday - done for the year. I have perhaps 100 pounds of tomatoes in the freezer now to cook down during the slower winter months into sauces and salsas. Since that's a slow simmer process, I plan to economize and when the weather gets real cold, put the stockpots on top of the woodstove and use that heat to simmer them down to sauces - and get the benefit of the humidity going into the air as it simmers too. Nice to do when it's ten below zero out!

The weather has turned from a very warm summer into fall quickly, with some beautiful days in the 60's. Now it's in the 40's for the highs and we've had several frosts, waking up to 26 or 28 degrees in the morning. The leaves tho are still on some of the trees, so it's a long fall this year for us. There have been years in the past when on this day we'd have a full cover of snow on the ground. Usually when the snows do come down, they stay until May thaw. We may get a few Chinooks during a winter but that's not common.

Now we're desperately trying to get everything done before the freezeup hits. I'm going to hang up some cattle and hog panels for the winter - you know, the traditional 16' long heavy steel panels that are either 36" high or 54" high. I was able to pick up some that were dinged for a really good price so they came home with me. It's nice to have some panels you can use once the ground is frozen - for example, if you wanted to clean out an outdoor pen or yard, but the sheep or goats are in there and there's no attached pen to move them in to while you work. Well, if you hang up 4 of those panels on a wall somewhere, you'll be able to take them down, wire them together, and have a portable pen. I swore I would get that done this year as nothing is more frustrating that having extra panels frozen to the ground you can't use when you need them most!

Summer brought several herding trials - the July trials coincided with the baling of hay, and also with ADGA Linear Appraisals for the goats. What a mess, trying to do all of that all at the same time. When it was all finally over with I could have slept for a week! Since my one girl was in a leg cast from May into June, I didn't get to trial her in July as I'd planned earlier in the year, instead she had to have the summer off. Sigh. I didn't work her at all this summer, but took her out once for a brief practice in September before the AKC and AHBA trials here. We entered the AHBA Ranch Dog trials, her first HRD-I debut. The first trial she came in 3rd and the 2nd trial took High in Trial. She is very talented and I went along for the ride you could say! So she now has her HRD-I,s title too and several High in Trials to her credit. A client dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Junior, took Reserve High in Trial on the first trial and also qualified nicely in the 2nd trial so finished his title too. The first Berner to earn a Ranch Dog title solely in Alaska. YAY!

Catching up on the goat front - I entered a few shows with a few of the girls this year. Being tight on funds, I only entered a few. At the June shows one of my Junior Nubians took Best in Show and another Best of Breed. My Saanens were entered in the AOP class where we had Oberhaslis, LaManchas, and Saanens up to 2 years of age. My girls took the Reserve Jr Champion wins which I thought they did quite well, considering they were born in February and April so just young girls. All of my Saanens are from the Des Ruhigestelle herd in Oregon. Purchasing them this year, and especially flying costs to get them up here of $400-$500 per big crate, put the big financial ding in my wallet for the year. But I am very lucky to have them!! Do Google that herdname and take a look at their website.....last year they won the ADGA Nationals in both Saanens and Alpines, an incredible achievement, and this year took the Reserve National Champion in LaManchas with a first freshener no less. Incredible breeders, Lauren and Fern!

The sheep are doing very well. I sold most of the lambs I wanted to sell of the registered flock. Selling registered ewes was near impossible as another breeder downsized their flock and sold them dirt cheap with a number of them going to meat. Sigh. Having bred several of my ewes originally purchased from that flock to my spotted rams, and not getting anything spotted only a Krunet to signify that the lambs now carry the spotting genetics means that those ewes are now going to move over to my unregistered flock for the winter breeding season. I want spots and will keep the carriers in my registered flock paddock. By the way, the ewe lamb that had Bersugget markings still has them, looking like a black lamb with spots of white snow on her. I'm excited to have her pattern show up! Topple will do the main duties here this winter, with closely related daughters and his sister going into a breeding pen with Peyton. Let's hope that Peyton actually produces lambs this year as last year he didn't get any of his girls pregnant, which was very disappointing! Perhaps Peyton knows he has one last chance, as he's been giving Captain in the same pen with him a very hard time. I've told Peyton a couple of times I expect to see Gulmoget lambs this year or I will be seeing white packages of lamb chops come spring! Ugh!

Now that things have finally slowed down a bit, I get to do my paperwork pile later this week...getting all those registrations done and Garrett's lease form. I need to do some more tagging so I also need to order those tags, and then put together the medical supplies order for the upcoming year preferring to ship when the temps have cooled down across the US since we use the postal system for shipping to up here.

It's definitely fall here with snow now covering the mountains and inching it's way down to us here in the lowlands. It won't be long until my sheep are happily scooping up fresh snow once again, something they seem to really enjoy!!

Glad to be back!!