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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planting season and Summer is Here!

We've been lucky the past week or so, finally temp has hit 70 degrees and we've been enjoying copious amounts of sunshine. Those who haven't been outdoors much are now sporting sunburns around town. Me, I'm just dark tan already. Rick's planted a bunch of potatoes with a bunch more to go. Red Thumb fingerlings, French Fingerlings, LaRattes, Purples..........lots of specialty potatoes this year. I have some heritage beans I need to get into the ground too. Since it's so hot and dry - ok, the sun is up from 4:30 till 11ish now and it stays high above so it's intense - watering everything is taking allot of extra time. The livestock are drinking twice the amount of water right now. With lambs we're up to about 75 head of sheep, 45 head of goats and goat kids, a few Black Angus, and lots of poultry. That in and of itself is allot of watering. Add to that all the flowers, a bit of lawn, 2 small greenhouses (small for a farm anyways) and a big garden, allot of hoses and faucets all over the place getting turned on and off, moved around here and there, all day long, buckets and troughs to get filled daily. This really has been beautiful weather tho! The problem is you can only be out in it for so long before you get fried!

We had a guest herding instructor up for 4 days from Saturday through Tuesday so I tried to be down at the herding arena as much as possible to watch and learn. You can always learn something. Everyone had a great time and the sheep did really well. They are in good shape for the summer trial season. Right now I'm teaching lessons Tuesdays Wednesdays Fridays and Saturdays - it's great to see all the dogs and their owners coming out to enjoy it!

The dogs are all doing good too. Another dog show coming up soon, this one held by the Alaska Herding Group club, an AKC Conformation/obedience/herding approved Group 7 club. Since I'm Vice President I will be busy for that weekend at the shows, and entered some of my dogs too. Some of my grand older dogs are doing quite well. Martha and Ella are both 8 years old now and still as beautiful as they ever were, and still in working weight - nice and fit. Chuckles is as happy and affectionate as ever, soon to be 8 years old. Sarah will be 9 shortly, Xena 10 soon, Jake, my love, is 10 going on 11, Aggie is 11 going on 12, Spice will be 13 soon and Jessie 14 soon. So all of the older folks here are doing well all things considered. They are all still so much a part of my life with many good memories of Conformation championships, herding titles, and moments of joy and appreciation. The younger ones are up and coming and I can only hope they can fill the shoes of those who have made my life the joy it's been for years now. I could never live without a cattledog at my side!

Friday, May 21, 2010

BLANCHE!!! Finally lambed!!

It's true!! Blanche FINALLY lambed this afternoon!
You can see she's certainly well-fed.....ahem....

But Michelle, we didn't know Blanche carried spots, did we?? Look at this beautiful lamb!
Now those in the know - wouldn't you call this Bladget? The black and the white are ground into each other and this is not Flecket...looks like ground snow to me. What do you all think??

And oh yeah...........did I mention.............IT'S A GIRL!!!!

Michelle, this one might need to fly back to you! LOL! Minwawe Topple is the proud dad. And just look at those kiss-lips...too cute!

Ok, more flower pics...

It's officially spring and warm enough to plant the garden and put out the hanging baskets that were safe in the greenhouse for the last month or so. Also, I wintered over my roses in the potato cold storage van for the first time. Last year was our first for potato cold storage and I wanted to be sure things wouldn't freeze in it. Although the roses came out pale from the darkness and of course had many families of aphids to get rid of, they greened up and are already in full bloom! It's the first time in 10 years that I've had roses in bloom this early thanks for cold storage - I only used to be able to store them at my old place so this is a real treat!

Below is a J&P rose called Scentimental, a smaller-flowered Floribunda.

This lovely hanging basket will grow much bigger over the summer, right now it's fairly small. The dark purple is Verbenum, along with some Wave-type small yellow petunias and a few large burgundy petunias. These are hung under the front, north-side eaves as Petunias 'rot' in the July and August rainy season when exposed to constant rains.

This hanging basket is one of three that I purchased with my birthday money - thanks Mom!! White Bacopa, double pink striped Petunias that are very fragrant, and a dark pink Verbenum. A very large basket, they hang on the 'pink' side of the house facing east and the fragrance from the Petunias is heady and sweet - below them is seating on the porch that faces the barn and dog kennel.

Patio table umbrella planter for flowers

You know, I went to every store in town looking for one of those silly planters with a hole in the center that you put underneath your patio table umbrella and plant flowers in. Do you think I could find one? Nope! Now probably on the net there's a stash of them somewhere, plus shipping and handling, but they probably stopped making the neat little plastic things in China a couple of years ago. You know how that goes. So I decided to just make my own.

Go to your favorite store with all that outdoorsie stuff...plastic cups and bowls and trays and BBQ's. Look for a big thin plastic bowl - priced at $1 or $1.50 and often used for a bag of chips at a BBQ. In fact, buy 2 in case you screw up the first one and if not, you can take it to your next family gathering stuffed full of chips and leave it there when you head home - lol! Now go pull the top half of your patio umbrella off. Place the plastic bowl over the top of the bottom half of the pole and draw a ring around the pole onto the bottom of the plastic bowl. That part done, now you can have fun. Go get a nice butane lighter - do this near a hose in case you get out of control - and SLOWLY heat up the center of the circle on the plastic. Once there's a hole through it you keep circling the lighter slowly until the hole has melted big enough to meet the line you drew onto it. Put a pair of gloves on, if you're prone to accidents the hot plastic will probably drip onto your hand! Now here the good part - while it's still warm QUICKLY force it over the bottom pole onto the table top. You can see my table is glass. If you do it while it's warm, the plastic will be tight to the pole. If not, ok, it's not the end of the world! Either way you now have a cheap plastic bowl in your choice of colors sitting on your table with a patio umbrella stuck through the middle of it! If it's a sunny place, then buy some Moisture Control soil so that it retains water longer, and plant your favorites into your new planter. It will last the whole summer if you remember to water it, and lets face it, if you sit at the table a few ice cubes from your iced tea or favorite drink placed on the dirt will melt and help keep it from drying out. If you're even better, you'll remember to bring out a glass of water every now and then to keep the soil moist.

You too can have an Umbrella Planter for $1.50! HA!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

dogs dogs dogs... was suggested that I give an update on my dogs every once in a while. So, here goes......
today was a fun day for the dogs. Everyone got a big Milkbone dog biscuit which each took carefully and with tails wagging furiously. The other day they all got a fresh frozen meaty rib bone - the kind they cut off from the prime rib end, not that big flat meatless bones on the long end of the steer's ribcage. Oh they love those and work on them for days.
Roisin had a great evening. One of the herding students that normally takes the sheep down to the arena for class was a little behind, so I'd already loaded Roisin up to go down this time since she hasn't been out on stock for months (bad mom!). So I took her out and told her to get her sheep already set out in the arena up top, and away we went. She took them down to the arena with few problems other than to occasionally stop and sniff where the other working dogs are allowed to potty. Just too irresistible I guess! So we got them down to the arena and once the sheep saw the new green grass, they took off into the arena like bullets - with Roisin fast on their heels once she realized they were leaving her. Out and around she went and quickly fetched them all right back to me. I think there were only 10 or 12 head of sheep and a few lambs, but she sure had a blast keeping them gathered. Of course, her dad as well as her Grandma Spice were always good at gathering anyways, it comes naturally. Good girl Roisin! Roisin is from Northern Ireland and is sired by my champion over there, Rocky, and out of a lovely girl named Gem.

The spring rush is on!

Over the last week or so, spring is winning out over winter here. It's slow, but the leaves have finally popped out and the grass is growing once again - seems like it happened overnight! Along with spring means planting the garden, getting the organic potato field ready, the greenhouses are up and running, and no one's getting much sleep! The lambs are huge, they are growing like weeds themselves. Only Blanche is a trouble-maker, still holding on to her lamb or lambs! Everyone else has been done for a while now except a couple of unregistered yearling ewes that lambed over the last week.

My roses are beginning to bloom. Such a joy to have had them in cold storage this past winter for the first time in years - I just stuffed them into the cold potato storage unit for the winter and it worked! To have them blooming this early is simply amazing! I pulled them from storage in April and put them in Rick's heated greenhouse that he started up in April.... the heat in there is a central woodstove and he built a fire in it every night to help warm up the soil in the raised bed. We are already eating fresh lettuces and radishes from our greenhouse - and it's only May! The tomatoes are growing well too. Some of the hanging baskets I started are still in there so that they can get big and be in full bloom before putting them out; other hanging baskets that I had picked up over the last few weeks are now hanging outside, although we're still risking frost hitting them. Yesterday I planted broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce starts in the raised beds in the garden as well as the bush greenbeans.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Nubian Goat Kids

The new kids! At 3am Ms. Jewel woke me up and said she liked the wee hours of the morning. By 4:30am, I had a lovely set of twins to enjoy, and as of 5:30am, all the goats were milked including Jewel along with a pint of colostrum from her in the freezer, and kids well on their way with full stomachs. By 6:30 all the feeding and watering was done and coffee enjoyed, by 7:30 Queisha had given birth to an 8 pound 4 oz buck kid. Nothing like starting out the day with a bang and just running with it! HA! Above is a pic of the kids enjoying full stomachs and working legs about 6 hours after being born. Buck kid on left is wildly spotted including a big spot on his face - those brown spots will turn to a silver white in a few months! The doe kid is on the right and very very pretty!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gulmolget ewe lamb!! Party at my house...

I have been waiting for 2 years since Peyton's arrival from Garrett's farm for him to sire a Gulmolget lamb.......well the wait is over and it's a GIRL TO BOOT!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't she beautiful? Born early this morning...and sporting a tiny Krunet.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I had to share this one......this week was my birthday. At this morning's herding group down at the arena, one of my puppy owners and herders brought this fantastic cupcake birthday cake for me! Isn't it fantastic?!!! Sheep, a goose, a goat, and chickens, all on my cake! I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Dan and Judy - too fun!