No Bad Words Were Found

See, I really am family-friendly.

Hey, I try to keep it clean. My mom reads it, you know. And my mother-in-law. And various other family members and sometimes even my 89-year-old grandma. But just in case you were wondering, we're all G-rated around here.

All the dirty stuff is in the etsy shop, hehheh. And that's mostly Mr. O'Kitten's fault. (Well, okay, not entirely.)

Pepper's Progress

Since my last report, Pepper has done really well. She's gone for several walks and behaved extremely well, had her nails trimmed, and been in and out of the trailer several times with a minimum of drama. She even seems to like being brushed.

So tomorrow evening we report to the Michigan State University Pavilion and our weekend begins. Pepper will be shown sometime between 8:30 and 2:30 on Saturday in the Medium Wool Female class.

In the afternoon Lacey is actually going to do the Obstacle Course with Sean, who trained her when he was her 4-H handler and she was just a young'un.

It all promises to be an adventure...and I assure you we'll get lots of pictures and I'll keep you posted!


In Which Pepper Doesn't Get Groomed

That Pepper--well, she's something else. After we groomed and trimmed Lacey's nails today, it was Pepper's turn and darned if she didn't hop right out of the chute and take off.

My dad lost his grip on her lead rope when he lost his shoe in the weeds (yes, it was pretty funny) but fortunately Pepper stopped at the corner of the pasture fence and he caught up with her.

You can't tug, drag, cajole, coax, or budge a willful 200-lb llama (worse than a mule, lemme tell ya) so it took bringing her mamma Lacey out of the barn to get Pepper to head back to where she was supposed to be, and we gave up on the grooming for the day.

When we're trying to get her to do something she doesn't want to--like get in the chute or the horse trailer--she also does this thing where she'll droop her long neck over and lay her head on the ground (possibly accompanied by a little bit of sad llama-humming) as if she's just broken down where she stands.

Some drama queen, this one--she's so smart that I can see her performing this bit of dramatic acting in the ring and judges and on-lookers alike wondering what sort of abuse we've inflicted on the poor thing!


Fiber is Good for You

Three Bags Full

We got our fiber back from Zeilinger's Wool--three bags full of llama-sheep roving! What a treat. (Shearing day pictures and fiber prep here.)

Here's the blend of Graty's fiber with a merino-rambouillet
fleece from my aunt and uncle's flock.

It is cottony-soft and a heathery cream color.

This is a blend of Lacey and Switzer with a Shetland fleece.

It is very cinnamon-y and the Shetland, which was almost gold,
gives it a soft glow.

And finally, Llannie's fiber combined with black Shetland.

I can't believe how utterly black it turned out!

Pepper Prepares

Here's one of Pepper's show pictures for the weekend.
I just can't believe how big she's getting to be!

We've practiced getting in and out of the trailer, which she doesn't much care for, but I think she's going to enjoy all the attention. She just loves people.


Butterfly Bush

My parents have several butterfly bushes in their yard, and lo and behold, the butterflies do adore them. I took this picture right before the rains began.

It's been raining for over a week (finally, after over a 1 1/2 month drought here), so I thought a sunny picture was the order of the day.

Meanwhile, Pepper is learning to get in and out of the trailer in preparation for the coming weekend's festivities. Excitement abounds!

How Big? SO Big...

Four chicks from my incubator hatch with their adopted mamma, one of the Goldilocks. They're about a week old here, and growing fast. The other nineteen chicks are in the brooder shed with a heat lamp instead of a mother. I tried putting Timmy and then another Golden-Laced Wyandotte in with them, but no luck. So far, they're doing just fine on their own.

I'm sure you remember when Goldie's chicks looked like the ones in the first photo. Here are two of her 14 week-old sons, crosses of Golden Wyandotte/Odo (who is some sort of Ameraucana-Easter Egg rooster, we think). They've apparently gotten kicked out of the flock, and, to Mr. O'Kitten's dismay, they roost on our deck at night.

Here is proud mama Buffy with her brood. Her babies are now almost 12 weeks old, and they're huge. Once again, Odo is the father of all of them, but since her chicks were incubator babies, the mothers were all different hens. It's been interesting to watch all the mixes emerge. I suspect the one at the front right may be Buffy's daughter.

Here's Odo the rooster with little Timmy (at left), our first mama bird. Big Heather, our first chick of the year, has turned into a large white hen, and I caught her in one of the nesting boxes today. It's possible that, at 16 weeks, she's starting to lay eggs.



24 = Number of hours it took for them to move from the basement into the house.

2 = Number of human suckers in household.

5 = Current feline population in household.

2.5:1 = Ratio of four-footed to two-legged members of household.

[Suckers, I tell you. We're both complete suckers. But could you resist these faces?]

In retrospect, I realize I should've specifed that we wanted old, unfriendly, snaggled-toothed, badly socialized, and very, very ugly cats. (Of course, I had one of those--well, all except for the ugly part--and I loved him dearly, too.) Anyway, it's too late now...

0.9 = Number of socks completed with this lovely hand-painted merino-tencel yarn I got from my dear friend Rosalynn who recently opened an Etsy shop called Yarnlust.

12 = Number of sinful items (full disclosure: including one of mine) in this collection she curated. (Up thru Saturday a.m.)

1 = Number of my cards featured on etsygreetings.com!

13 = Number of guineas (birds, not pigs) recently released from the henhouse into the pasture...

3 = Number of llamas shown here. Just three among many of the ever-increasing, mainly farm- and fiber-related reasons I can't seem to find the time to blog lately.

10 1/2 = Number of months old Pepper is. Can you believe it? Today the vet gave her a clean bill of health and (guess)estimated she must weigh about 200 lbs (90 kg)! Wow.

And she's going to be in her first show next weekend -- the Michigan Lamafest. Go Pepper!


Cats on Tuesday (er, Wednesday) with New Cats

Meet Gandalf the Grey and Strider

We have a serious mouse issue. It's terrible in the hen house, and pretty bad in the barn. We're in the middle of a drought, and there's one bold little guy who waits until the water bucket is filled in the girl llamas' pen, and then leans over the edge and has a nice, long drink.

As you may recall, I related the story of Rambo, mouse-exterminator extraoridinaire, who tricked my parents into making him an indoor cat. He's now plump and happy and, well, retired from the rodent termination business. And as for our girls, they aren't outdoor cats, either.

So a few weeks ago I phoned our vet, who often has stray kittens in need of homes. (We adopted Morgan from him last year.) And yesterday I got a call.

A woman had brought in two little male kittens, threatening to shoot them if the vet didn't take them. (What is wrong with people? She couldn't just say she couldn't take care of them? She had to be a complete jerk about it?) I said I'd be there as soon as I could.

So today we picked up Gandalf the Grey and Strider. At 7 weeks of age, they can't be out and about just yet--they're in our basement for now so they can gain some weight and get some much-needed TLC. But they're just as friendly and playful as can be.

Having lost Grey Cat (he was 16) last fall, we were both pleased that this little guy is an all-grey, self-coloured cat.

Strider is pretty handsome, too, and already shows promising hunting skills.

When asked for a comment, Emma proceeded to have a nice wash.

Either the very thought of two new kittens made her feel dirty...

...or bathing is the cat equivalent of "No comment."

I asked Morgan what her opinion was. I think her look says it all.

As for Isis, the idea made her hungry.

I think this is her version of "No comment.


To Brood, and Brood Some More...

Just a quick update...So far 16 chicks have hatched in the incubator, plus a few more of the remaining eggs have pecks in them. Hopefully, at least a couple more will successfully hatch.

I also gave 8 eggs to a broody Wyandotte out in the main hen house, although two of those hatchlings got trampled this morning in a dispute over her nesting box -- one of the leghorns was determined she needed to lay her egg in it, and two newborns became casualties in the process. We've since moved the Wyandotte, eggs, and two live hatchlings to their own quarters, hopefully the rest will make it. Live and learn.

I hate posting without pics, but there just hasn't been any time! Things should settle down a bit in a day or so and I'll be sure to get some photos. I do love me some fuzzy little chicks...


Chicks and More Chicks

It's been a busy two days. My dad built a pen for the guineas so that we could relocate them from the hen house to the barn (it's really nice having a dad around to do these kinds of things) so tonight we moved the guineas out to their new home. At only two months of age, they're surprisingly big, surprisingly noisy, very fast, and quite strong.

The llamas and the sheep are going to be quite surprised by their new (and extremely vocal) neighbors.

Now Buffy and her 13 very large adopted children can be moved from the brooder shed into freshly cleaned quarters in the hen house. Goldie and her eight offspring are already integrated into the flock, and a couple of them are starting to test out their crowing abilities.

Meanwhile, right behind me, Eggsperiment #4 is coming to fruition with six freshly hatched chicks, stumbling around drunkenly and peeping up a storm. I gave eight of the incubator eggs to a particularly broody golden wyandotte this morning; we'll see how that goes--I figured having 20-some hatch in the incubator was more than plenty as it already seemed pretty full with just 13 hatchlings in June.

Pictures to come!


Spinney Stuff

So I mentioned that I'd been spending a lot of time lately at the Spinning Loft. I'm learning a lot about fiber--you know, aside from knowing that it's soft and fluffy and fuzzy and I want to snuffle it and roll around in it and make lots and lots of things out of it.

The first part of the Sheep Breeds Study was awesome (I'm already signed up for part 2--Longwools and Crossbred wools--in the fall) but since I don't have photos yet of all the beautiful fiber I got (like Merino, Cormo, Polworth, and my new favorite, Corriedale) and am currently spinning, I will tantalize you with a few photos of other things from around the shop.

I had no idea that silk came in so many forms...

...and that it can be spun right off of the cocoon. If you shake these little guys, you can hear the worm rattling around inside. Weird!

Mohair. Gorgeous, fluffy, frothy mohair. It veritably glows.

Cashmere. Need I say more?

One day I tried out this Ashford Traditional. I was wearing a long skirt, so I felt very traditional. Kind of odd using a single-treadle wheel (my Ashford Joy is a double-treadle) but it was a nice wheel. Quite classic.

Oh, by the way, if you like Spinning Spider Jenny (Jenny Bakriges), she's coming to teach workshops at the Loft in mid-November, and Patsy Zawistoski, the original Spinning Guru, will be there in mid-February. If you want to come, we'll have a sleepover!

Not spinning, but Eggsperiment #4 (which also resides in the craft room). We got a fan for the incubator, which should hopefully increase the hatch rate. I put in 47 eggs on July 21 and, after candling, I have 33 that all look viable. Hatch should begin Friday night/Saturday. More babies!