Monday, July 31, 2006

Insanity ... Perhaps ... Happy ... of course ... :-)

Well ... in one of my weaker moments ... and due to a strange chain of events ... I have purchased a black Blue Faced Leicester ram lamb. It all started when a friend lost her barn and hay in a fire ... and then there was an auction to raise money for her hay ... and then a white BFL was available at that auction and I bought him. Then I got talking to the breeder and decided that if I am going to have another breed here in Canada ... then I might as well buy the best ... and sooooo ...

For a couple of years I have admired the BFL from Beech Tree Farm at Michigan Fibre Fest. Their fleeces are very soft, crimpy, and lustrous. Although they are bigger sheep, they are very calm and seem ... majestic.

Anyway ... I will soon own this little guy. My intent is to live with him for a year and then decided if I want to add a SMALL group of REALLY top notch ewes for him ... well ... I may cross him on some of my Shetlands this year, but we'll see..

No picture yet of 'Bo' (I hope I can name him ... after Bo Dibbley, one of the first and greatest BLUES singers).

Above, though, is a picture of his dam.

Below, is his sire.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Yard Work - Nearing Completion

Well ... it was raining this morning ... THANK YOU GOD! ... so I gave Matt the day off and just sort of took it easy myself ... a bit ... ;-)
I still have to cut down the posts on the porch and build the railing for the steps. We're also going to put down a flagstone sidewalk ... with our own rocks of course. The river rocks are supposed to look like a dry river bed ... and also provide a place to walk as you travel through the garden. Although this one is smaller than others that I have done, it is designed so that you can never see it all from one spot.
My philosophy is that a garden is interactive. I'm not interested in a garden that looks good from the street. I want one that invites people to explore ... and has something unexpected at every turn.
As I said, this one is smaller than others I have done ... but ... it still has the flavour of my other gardens. It should also be fairly low maintenance, which is a real big attribute for me ... ;-) Picked the paint for the shutters and will try to get them done this weekend as well.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ram Lambs For Sale

Well I have FINALLY put together a sales list of ram lambs for sale. There are only 5, and they are all looking pretty promising. I'll get pictures and complete information up this weekend.

There will also be three yearling rams for sale. All are gulmogets, with one being a krunet as well.

Email me if you want the information sent directly to you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Not Done Yet!

Just when you thought we were done ... nine cubic yards of cedar mulch was delivered (I think I'll need another couple of yards).

Gene is also headed out first thing in the morning to get two more bales of peat moss, some more perennials, and a few yards of river rock for the walkways through this new garden.

This is how I keep that 'ripped' look that you all saw of me in the earlier post ... ;-)

Oh ... and the best part of tomorrow ... Gene and I are going to buy new paint for the shutters ... after we finish with the peat moss, mulch, perennials, and annuals ... aubergine (egg plant). We'll also get a wooden screen door that can also be painted the same colour. I HATE the look of the yellow on our wee house ... :-)

The End Of The Day

As this picture shows, Gene planted a LOT of the shrubs that are in the ground so far. We had fun.

And one of us got dirtier than the others ... But I am NOT saying who ... hehehe

Here we have the rose garden in front, and the 'under the window garden' (still needs work ... likely a LOT of field stone tomorrow afternoon)
These two pictures show some of the 'sculpting' that we did to get the top soil deep enough to plant a lot of these plants.

There are STILL a LOT of perennials, ornamental grasses, and some larger annuals as well.
... But that is for tomorrow.

The Crew Today

Of course, I didn't move all of that dirt ... and plant all of those shrubs ... on my own! I had a crew!

Here we have Kate, my daughter ... who is also 'on staff' and responsible for cleaning the house every week or two ( I am NOT allowed to call her my cleaning lady ... so she is 'on staff')

Coming down the stairs and holding his already aching back is my partner Gene. What a trouper he was today. Sure hope he can get out of bed in the morning ... hehehe
And of course, there is always Matt ... "the kid across the road who allows me to do all of this". He really was not as sad as he looks in the picture ... well ... not all of the time anyway ... LOL
And then there was me ... pictured above ... IT IS SO ME ... hehehe. Of course, I had to run circles just to keep the others at the point where they could keep up. (hey ... if you are believing this part, let me know, as I have a real estate deal or two for us to discuss)


Dirt Cheap ... NOT!!!

Well, today was the day to plant all of those shrubs and perennials that I bought on sale ... dirt cheap! The most I paid for one was $4.00. The majority were $.99!

BUT, in Prince Edward County, there is NO soil over the rock in many places ... especially our front yard ... so ... I could not plant the shrubs ... UNLESS I bought some dirt.

Let me be the first to tell you all ... 21 cubic yards of screened topsoil ... is a LOT of dirt ... and it sure ain't dirt cheap! Whoever came up with that expression has NOT purchased screened topsoil in that past few year ... hehehe

These pictures will give you an idea of what we faced at 8:30 this morning.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is!

Well ... I have always said that I would never sell anything as breeding stock that I wouldn't keep in my own flock. Words. Easy to say. But ... this past weekend I got to see if they are the truth.

I sold a small starter flock last August ... SheltrgPines Hera, WillowGarden Tracy Chapman, WillowGarden Gloria Gayner, and WillowGarden Benny Goodman. Last week I got a call from the woman who bought this flock, and as circumstances had changed, she had to get rid of the flock. I looked at pedigrees and said 'I'll buy them back'.

When we went to pick up the sheep, there was one ewe lamb, and I took her as well.

I am soooooo happy to have Hera back. I love this ewe. And I will keep Palmyra's katmoget lamb and her gulmoget ewe lamb. I'll likely sell Palmyra's yearling moorit ewe as I have so many moori
Best of all, I got Benny back. Benny is a grey yuglet flecket gulmoget ram. Every lamb that he sires will be either Ag or gulmoget. He sired four lambs his year ... three gulmogets and one musket. I will definitely play around with this ram. He is also a Bridget grandson, and Bridget is the ewe that I lost to pregnacy toxemia this year.

It was so cool to know that indeed, I do sell sheep that I would happily keep in my own flock. The experience just reasured me. I think I am on the right track.


The Pasture Seems Empty!

Well ... after removing 77 sheep from the flock ... sold or into the ram flock ... my flock looks absolutely sparse!

And there are still 17 yet to leave the flock.

I guess that I will adjust, but ... 88 sheep in my ewe flock just leaves me feeling like I don't have a REAL flock.

I bet that I'll get over it ... ;-)

Weaning Ram Lambs

Saturday was a GREAT day. With Matt's help (The Kid Across The Road Who Makes It Possible For Me To Do All This), we gave CDT shots to all of the lambs. What a treat it is to catch and hold each of them as I examine fleece and conformation. I have some WONDERFUL lambs out there! We wormed the ewe flock as well. At the same time, we weaned all but the three youngest ram lambs. I sold 20 ram lambs to a friend to use for training border collies. Two, who had badly broken horns ... at the peak of fly season ... went into the freezer. There are still seven more that I will cull ... six that I am comfortable selling for breeding stock ... and ten that I will winter over. There are currently only nine rams in my mature ram flock ... one is sold ... three yearlings will be listed for sale soon ... and five are staying with me. The group seems a decent size for the space that I have for them. I am, building a separate shed and paddock for the five mature rams, so that they won't have to put up with the ten little annoying boys all winter ... :-)
As you can see in this picture ... we had some help with our task ... from the new puppy, Molly!

Friday, July 21, 2006

An Entry ... Written by Gene

Today, I am posting the text from an email that Gene sent to our friends on Wednesday night. It is a lovely and touching story ... and shows the place where our lives are at the moment.I awoke today feeling very tired & a little blue. I had worked a 10.5 hour shift on my birthday, yesterday.

It was also our annual gathering of the local spinners & weavers guild, who come once a year to work at their craft in our yard by the sheep. There is a barbecue, fleeces are inspected & purchased & sometimes my giclée prints & photos of sheep.

As I was clearing off my drawing table to set up my
display of images, I came across my Black Lab Sarah's Poah Flag. Sarah was my dear friend & loved by both Bill & myself. When she was killed by car outside our home, it was like loosing a family member.

In Buddhist tradition, in order to insure a good rebirth, a Poah or funeral ceremony is made. An image of the deceased is displayed and offerings & prayers are made. I emailed many of my close friends the image as a way of sharing in this ceremony. The image had been fastened to Sarah's favorite fetching stick, all of these months.

Today I remove this image form the stick held it near my heart for a second & threw it away, finally letting go!

I had an appointment in Belleville today at 1pm, after which I did some photography in a nearby parkette, which is an amazing flower garden. As I was photographing, I began to hear someone crying.

It was a young woman, who looked around 17 years old sitting on a bench. She had a puppy Black lab on a leash and a large bag near by. I asked her what was wrong & if there was anything that I could do to help her. After she regained her composure, she said that unless she found a home for her puppy, she was going to be evicted from her apartment by her landlord. Furthermore, her boyfriend told her that she could not return home until the puppy was gone. She had been unable to find a home for the puppy & did not want to take it to the city shelter. So this young woman pleaded with me to take her puppy. We tried to call Bill to make sure that it was OK with him, but could not reach him. I knew in my heart that it would be OK.

So this is my "Birthday Gift From The Gods"; meet Molly, just over 3 months old.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Annual Barbeque for 'The County Spinners'

Over the years, these woman have become great frinds. They taught me to spin ... they buy my fleeces ... they tell me what is good about my fleeces ... and what is bad about them as well.

Each year,on the third Wednesday of July, I invite them for a barbeque lunch. It is always fun. We spin and chat ... then we eat lamburgers, lamb sausage, and even regular burgers. Then we walk out back and I do my famous call that brings the entire flock running in anticipation of grain or animal crackers. Finally, we spent a LONG while around the skirting table ... and THIS is the time when I really learn about fleeces ... from the people who I raise my sheep for ... spinners.
It is always one of my favourite days of the summer.

This year I was pleased to hear the oohs and awwws as they sunk their hands into some of my newer fleeces. With the wonderful fleeces from Carole Arthur in Alberta ... and with the improved fleeces just from my own work at fleece improvement ... they were a happy bunch of spinners ... :-)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Aging Heart

I am not sure what exactly is happening to me as I age ... but I just seem to be so much more directed by my heart in what I do. I have always tried to live that way ... but now ... I can't help it.

There are so many times when I tear up ... and I'm only 56 years old! I figure by the time I am 65, I'll be crying all of the time ... over the hatching of a chick ... over the birth of a lamb ... over the sad things that happen to others ... over the love that I feel for and from family and friends ... over Christmas, and my lifetime of Christmases ... over every family holiday and event, and the people who were honoured, and the people who are no longer here ... over my own inadequacies in terms of feeling that I have make enough of a difference.

I am become such a sentimental old fart ... so to speak ... hehehe

The photo above is from the team page of my dear friend, and co-worker Lisa's website. This weekend is 'The Weekend To End Breast Cancer' walkathon, being held in Ottawa. Lisa lost her mom very quickly to breast cancer not long ago ... and is using this event to help with her healing ... but also to help the cause. Her goal was to raise $2500. My goal for this young woman was for her to raise $4000. She has worked hard at her fundraising ... but with help from people who read this blog ... and others of course ... Lisa has surpassed this goal. Check her website and see. Lisa, of course, is the young woman in the picture ... with attitude ... something that she needs in order to survive working with me ... hehehe

My thoughts ... and of course this sentimental old heart ... will be with her, and her team, this weekend. I am sure that many readers of this blog will be in the same space ... just without the silly old fart sentiment part of it ... :-)
On a less upbeat note, a fellow Shetland breeder that I have known from the net, and got to meet when she came to the AGM here in Ontario last year, Becky Utecht ... lost her hay fields, her barn, and all of the hay that she had put up for the year to feed her wonderful flock. Details are on Becky's blog.

With the border being closed, I am not able to send a lamb for the auction that will happen sometime soon in the US to raise funds to help ... so ... I donated the money that I got today from the sale of Okra ... my bottle baby 35% UK katmoget ewe lamb. Like me, Okra lives by her heart ... and left here today in the backseat of a truck ... begging to be in the front seat. The woman who bought her, Nat, appears to live by her heart as well. I am sure that Okra ended up in the front seat before she got to her new home. And I am SURE that Okra's heart would get as crazy sentimental as mine at the thought of what she was able to do ... by allowing me to sell her to a new home.

Okra ... you are buying hay to help feed Becky's flock this winter ... now don't YOU go getting all sentimental over this as well ... :-)

Darn ... there I go again ... grrrr ... :-)

Not sure what is happening with my heart as I age ... but it sure feels good ... :-)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cull Rams

Well ... with over 45 ram lambs born this year ... AND a real desire to NOT keep a ram flock of 30 plus over the winter ... I made the first 'cut' of my ram lambs today. I have thought, caught, and examined all of them at great length, and many times ... and managed to find 20 that I can let go now.

Look at these fleeces and the conformation ... and the colour and pattern. The process was NOT easy!

Above is a grey smirslet katmoget.
This moorit ram it 37.5% UK.
This one is likely emsket, and is either spotted, or carrying spots.
... a mioget gulmoget
... a moorit F2, double F3 (50% UK) ram

... a moorit F2 ram

All 20 of the rams that I selected and tagged today were purchased (along with some ewes and ewe lambs) by my friend Nat. Nat has sheep ... and border collies ... and Maremmas ... and frequently has started pups for sale. Here is the link to her blog. I would recommend a purchase of ANYTHING from her farm! What better place for these guys to go ... than to her 'herding flock'. And next year, I think they'll be pretty valuable ... as 'border collie tolerant' sheep ... hehehe

Keep watching here ... as, it is my hope, by the end of the weekend ... to have pictures, descriptions and information ... about the limited number of ram lambs ... and yearling lambs ... that will be for sale at WillowGarden.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Reducing ... Flock Size That is ... Not Moi Size ... hehehe

Well ... finally, we have reach the time of 'paring down'. It is my favourite time (as the money that comes in pays for the rest of the year) ... but it is also my least favourite time, as I have to listen to the lonely and longing cries of my babes for their dams ... and my girls for their babes. The sheep that have been sold are leaving in GREAT numbers right now.

We started on Wednesday morning with seven that went for slaughter ... but it was scheduled so that they arrived at the exact time they were 'required' ... and thus left my truck, with a scratch under their chin ... and into the 'plant'. To some this might sound harsh ... but for me ... I know that no sheep has ever had a better life ... no sheep has had a more 'scheduled' death. My butcher calls me 30 minutes before he is ready for the kill and I arrive at the moment they are to be killed, so they don't see death before it is their own. Hey ... it matters to me!

For those who may care ... this time, all seven were destined for my freezer, or my family's freezers. I had legs from all seven deboned and rolled (nice as roasts, or untied for the barbecue). I had the smallest three lambs just cubed for stew or kabobs ... great for the barbecue, or stew or curries and the like. The biggest four were ground, with one third staying as ground lamb, one third being made into smoked bratwurst, and one third being made into honey garlic sausage.

I also have a starter flock of nine sheep leaving here on Saturday ... two sheep being delivered to another farm ... six leaving to another farm on Sunday ... likely five heading out on Monday ... and five ewes and 20 cull rams (sold as a herding flock) leaving on Tuesday.

It is my favourite time of year ... and also the time that I dread. There are so many fine animals leaving my farm ... *sigh* ... but ... I am already thinking about breeding groups for next Fall ... sooooo ... the cycle continues ... hehehe

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Here he is. The picture is a bit fuzzy, but then ... it was dark in the attic, and I was standing on a ladder. This guy needs a name. His mom is Princess Bagheera. I'm wondering about Luke Skywalker ... or Duke ... or Prince ... but I AM open to suggestions.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Weekend Project

Well ... after the hammock ... and once I quit sleeping in it for hours each day ... don't I WISH ... hehehe ... then we started on a new front porch. Moving to this tiny two bedroom bungalow from our huge six bedroom B & B was tough. We are SLOWLY making changes that are making this place ours.

On the weekend, my daughter and son-in-law came and we built a new 8' by 8' fron porch.

As you can see, the former steps led under the windows that opened out ... with sharp corners at head height ... duh ... and the landing was barely big enough for ONE person to stand when the front door opened.

The new porch ... is not yet fully DONE ... ssshhhhh, don't tell Gene as he hasn't noticed this yet ... hehehe It will be done very soon.

AND ... I bought hundreds (literally) of shrubs, perennials, annuals, and bulbs to plant in a new ... and not yet designed or built front garden. It WILL be wonderful ... and will be done ... within two weeks. I am just waiting for topsoil ... river rocks ... mulch ... oh ... and TIME ... LOL

Hammock Garden

Well, we are into the second week of the Summer Break from school ... and I thought I'd update you on some of the projects completed ... or in progress here at Willow Garden.

For my birthday in June, Gene bought me a hammock! I have always wanted one, but never had two trees in the right place.

As you can see, I have the right trees here ... :-)
I was also a drag to cut lawn around the trees, so I brought in some 'river rock' ... and got a few rocks from fence rows here on the farm ... and went to work.

This is the PERFECT time to be doing the planting that the rest of you did in May/June ... as EVERYTHING is 2/3 off!
I still have a couple more planters to plant ... BUT ... we are going to Toronto tomorrow to visit my son and daughter-in-law ... and on the way home on Thursday ... WE ARE GOING TO IKEA ... hehehe.

I KNOW I'll get more planters there, so I'm holding off on the rest that need planting.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Keeping Sheep Safe!

I can never post too many pictures of Kayla. She is our 'lead' livestock guardian dog.

She is almost always with the sheep. Without her, I wouldn't have sheep ... and if I had sheep anyway ... I'd never sleep at night. We live in the middle of coyote country. And our back pasture is surrounded on three sides by bush! With Kayla, and her partner Nick, we have had no problems.

Look at that face ... how can you not love this wonderful dog?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What A Surprise!

Princess Bageera, our barn cat, had a kitten ... in the Spring. When he was about a week old, she took him upstairs and hid him in the attic of the building that will someday become a gallery/wool house ... someday ... and perhaps. I have searched everywhere for the little guy, and had finally given up and assumed that he was dead.

Last night, while feeding my rams, I glanced up at the attic window and there was Princess watching me from above.

Then I looked up again ... and there was the kitten ... giving his Mom a big kiss! That is a TOTAL surprise as I had looked everywhere ... a few times ... and couldn't find a trace of him.

When I went up stairs to see him 'in the flesh', he was nowhere to be seen. I think that I have my work cut out for me if I am going to tame this guy ... but he needs to be neutered in a while as I don't want him to sire kittens out of his Mom!

Anyone interested in taming this guy for me ... come on over ... hehehe

Little pig! Little pig! Let me come in!

I let the ewes into the pig's paddock for a day or two, to munch down the grass. The pigs are rarely in there anyway, as they prefer to hang out with the sheep!

This was almost more than Donkey Oatey could handle. He was on the wrong side of the fence ... at least as he saw things. He did accept his fate well, but when one of the pigs ventured into HIS pasture a little later, it was promptly chased back under the fence ... hehehe

Friday, July 07, 2006

41 Ewes and Ewe Lambs Sold ... 9 More Still Available!

WillowGarden Shallot … a black ewe lamb with interesting genetics and great conformation and fleece, out of WillowGarden Joan Crawford (black gulmoget) and WillowGarden Cliff Carlisle (mioget gulmoget). Although she may appear to be a ‘plain Jane’, this little ewe has dynamite genetics and would be a great addition to any flock … $300

WillowGarden Rhubarb … a black ewe out of WillowGarden Shirley Eikhard (Cherrington and Mountain Niche lines) and Whistle Stop Lerwick (a white F1 Drum Jings ram). Here is a great little ewe that is an F2 (25% UK genetics) … $350

WillowGarden Arugula … a modified black (maybe dark brown) ewe lamb, out of Juneal Shock (Cherrington lines) and Great Plains Blair (an exquisite double F3 grey ram, currently owned by Nick Jeeves). This lamb has a heavier, but acceptable tail. Her dam and sire both have VERY soft fleeces. A ‘can’t loose ewe lamb’ … $350

WillowGarden Cress … a musket lamb out of a bred ewe recently purchased from the Dailley flock. This ewe is very square and correct … and 100% Dailley. Her dam and twin are mioget, so she is, at the least, carrying modified colour genetics. The dam has one of the nicest fleeces I have ever seen … $300

WillowGarden Parsnip … a moorit ewe lamb, with a heavier, but acceptable tail … out of WillowGarden Alberta Hunter (moorit smirslet flecket gulmoget) and WillowGarden Cliff Carlisle. This lamb has near perfect conformation, and will carry both spotting and modified colour genetics … $300

WillowGarden Sage ... a grey ewe lamb with a minor krunet (indicating that she at least carries spotting genetics), out of Hopeful Inky (bluer grey bleset) and WillowGarden Duke Ellington (emsket smirslet). This ewe has a great fleece and can throw both spots and modified colours ... $300

WillowGarden Chick Pea ... an F2 grey ewe lamb, out of Great Plains William the C (F1 Greyling, and one of only two F1 rams in Canada) and WillowGarden Sophia Loren (even fleeced moorit). Another outstanding ewe lamb, with rare UK genetics ... $350

WillowGarden Star Fruit ... a black krunet double F3 (25% UK genetics) ewe lamb out of Dailley Aphrodite (moorit yuglet flecket sokket - my most spotted Dailley ewe) and Great Plains Blair, a grey (bluer grey) ram with an amazing fleece. Spotting and UK genetics rolled into one ... $350

WillowGarden Buttercup ... a darling mioget ewe lamb with a minor krunet out of Bono Creek Cleome (non fading moorit ewe with an AWESOME fleece) and Willowgarden Cliff carlisle (mioget gulmoget with a VERY soft fleece). This is a line that I tend to keep all ewe lambs from ... but ... $400