Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baking on the Back Burner

Sorry no recipe postings for Day 4, 5, and mom did pass away on Saturday evening and it has taken the mojo right out of me. On Saturday DH and I spent the day with her and from all appearances and the Hospice nurse's comments, time was close and she was right. Four hours after we headed back home mom peacefully left that cancerous broken body behind and headed up to greener pastures. We shall meet again in heaven but for now I am trying to get my groove back and my sister-in-law said I could do what Stella did but DH probably wouldn't approve. I've not seen the movie but now I'm curious about it. Probably not an option.

I did make caramels on Friday, 2 batches in fact. The first batch I overcooked and it turned out between the consistency of very chewy caramels and hard candy...teeth breakers if you start biting them. I switched to a new recipe and tried second-guessing my candy thermometer and they did come out better but a teensy bit on the soft side. Kind of drove me nuts so I decided not to post either recipe. I had the fail-success scenario making them last year as well. Need a new candy thermometer it seems!

Last night I made another batch of peanut butter balls...the first one was GONE! They are just too good. I took some up to dad on Saturday and he raved over them so I made some more and maybe they will last until I see him in a few days to share some more.

Still haven't gotten a tree. Did a bit of online shopping in protest but I cannot get motivated to get sewing so I have no choice but to purchase a few things. As I said...I have no motivation other than to work, make peanut butter balls and do a bit of knitting on this crazy cool felted purse pattern that I'll show you when it's done.

And it's colder than a witch's......well you know! It's too cold for men nor beast. Crazy when 32 degrees is downright "balmy" and we're looking forward to those temps to return on the weekend according to the weather man.

So, I'm abandoning the Bake-A-Thon while I take an I-miss-my-mommy "breather." If you only try one of the recipes I have posted so far, please do the PB balls. I promise this is a keeper recipe if you have a family that loves PB and chocolate like I do. I'll try to get the tree up this weekend. And the beat goes on....and I'll be baaaaack and don't take any wooden nickels. : )

Thursday, December 3, 2009

In Between Baking - some sewing!

I have been wanting to share this purse made up from a pattern and fabric purchased during a fabric shop-a-thon that my friend, Stacey, and I did a few weeks back. We found this pattern at Nancy's Sewing Basket in Seattle. I won't mention the pattern designer right now as I can't remember the proper spelling of her name for one thing and for another, I am not sure I recommend her patterns. More on that later. Back to Nancy's - this is a super fabric store, lots of cool buttons and fabrics for garment sewing, over the top stuff really and all in a nice little "hole-in-the-wall'ish" shop with friendly but leave-you-alone type of staff, helpful when needed but not in your face and over your shoulder. I LOVE those kinds of stores where you can visit and talk and feel fabric the live-long day and not feel like you're in a chain store full of stuff that isn't about sewing. Anyhoooo.....I bought some pleather at another fabric store on our trip and a pattern from this new designer at Nancy's because the sample bags at the store were ADORABLE. But in all honesty the bag construction directions were confusing, over-done and construction not logical yet some cool techniques for interfacing. Mixed bag! Excuse the pun. Hand-drawn and written diagrams added to the confusion with messy handwriting that was difficult to read. I find Amy Butler sewing directions in her patterns to be too verbose for me also but at least they are easy to read and you can just skip over the details to the main components and get through to a finished product. I guess I've been sewing too long and I can figure out an easier way to do almost everything but getting there through the verbose scribblings and meanderings of a designer can be the hard part. You start thinking the designer knows way more than you because they are, after all, a DESIGNER and you're an idiot to not understand a thing they are going on and on about in the instructions! NOT! Anyhow, Stacey felt the same way but we have managed to sew up some of these bags. Here's my first attempt...

Daughter-in-law, Emili, got this one for her birthday in November and I believe she actually liked it! I have seen her using I am working on one for DD for Christmas but she has requested a larger one so it's still in the cutting out stage.

With my mom's illness, I haven't sewn like I normally do. Heading up tomorrow to see her again, God willing she is still with us and the pass doesn't get snowed on heavily to prevent my going. Her time is short and our visits are very quiet and sweet now. She sleeps most of the time...lots of morphine on board right now. Cancer is a sad thing to watch progress but thank goodness there are drugs to help people get to the other side of it. Glad we don't have to take our earthly bodies up to heaven with us.

Back to the purse (I know, this has been my state of mind the last few months....can't keep focused on anything for long!) Isn't the trim around the top edge cute? We found that at Pacific Fabrics outlet store on 4th Avenue in Seattle. Again, it's a pleather and you know I love natural fibers but this pleather is fun and affordable and really classy looking with the trims and coordinating glitzy fabrics. Plus my Black Beauty old 1954 Singer sails right through it with a 20 gauge needle (yes, I do remember how to spell gauge after all!). The greatest thing about this design is the inside pockets. Em told me it's the most organized purse she's ever owned because of the nice innards.

I have a couple of wool purses I've been working on too but they are gifts and I can't display them here or might spoil some surprises.....later on those.

Off to make tomorrow's recipe...homemade caramels! Get some heavy cream and corn syrup on hand for this one....until then, happy trails.

Baking our Way to Christmas - Day 3

Well, today friends is the most popular recipe of the Season in my house. It's PEANUT BUTTER BALL day. This is a no-bake day but you will need a double-boiler type of setup similar to this. I don't like a real double boiler but rather use a Pyrex glass bowl over a simmering small pot of water to melt the chocolate and a heat-proof spatula to keep it all tidy as possible.

But, I's the recipe. I will keep it short and sweet today as I need to get to town for a haircut and to pickup my work and make some money. Tomorrow we're making homemade caramels. They are scrumptious.

Peanut Butter Balls
1 c melted butter (do NOT substitute margarine please...these are decadent)
1-1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c chopped nuts (I like walnuts)
1 c coconut flakes or shredded, any kind really
1 one-pound box of 10x /confectioner's sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 12-ounce jar of crunchy peanut butter
Melt the following together - I would have an extra bag of chocolate chips on hand in case you're heavy-handed with the chocolate...hey, it happens!
1/2 stick of paraffin (optional)
1 12-ounce pkg of chocolate chips (again, real choc chips, semi sweet or sweeter)

I get out my food processor to crumb up the graham crackers. Then the nuts added to chop. Then I dump this into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Here is the consistency I get. Keep in mind the melted butter will setup in the recipe and you'll have a more solid "dough" once this happens.

Start melting the chocolate while you're mixing or shaping up the balls. I like 1 to 1-1/2 inch diameter balls. I shape them all and put them on a plate next to my melted chocolate and paraffin mixture. That might sound kind of weird but the paraffin makes the shine nice on them and gives them a nice smooth finish. Your choice on this....I figure if my arteries don't clog eating these babies, what's a little paraffin going to hurt? It's food grade paraffin. Lay out some wax paper to place the dipped PBB on to setup. It's a bit messy so get things setup ahead of time, not on the fly. They need to set for a while before you try to move them. Here is my total setup.

I like to use a fork to roll the balls around in the chocolate. I've tried egg dippers like one would use for Easter egg dyeing but the fork works the best. A spoon holds onto too much chocolate and you get lots of puddles at the base of the PBB's. Here they are all finished. They freeze great by the way. I will tell you right now that I'm going to have to make another batch....we dug into the freezer for some last night while watching TV...didn't hold out enough "rejects" I guess! Happy trails until next time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baking Our Way to Christmas - Day 2

Good morning, friends. It's day 2 of the get-us-in-the-spirit bake-a-thon. That's a lot of dashes right there! : ) I hope your Wednesday is boom-shakalacking along or at least clunking or trudging...going in the right direction anyhow. I feel my spirits lifting some with the daily devotional Advent reading and a new recipe on the horizon. I have yet to get out Christmas decorations or even ponder a tree, but at least I'm thinking about it. That's progress in the Spirit department. That reminds me of a high school cheer...we won't go there right now.
So, make yourself a treat like I do every day in the afternoon (that's not a bottle of's Starbuck's sugar-free vanilla syrup for my coffee) and don your apron and start messing up the kitchen!

Here's the scene out my dining room as I baked up today's recipe. Those dots are sheep grazing.

Today's recipe is made from the extra bags of cranberries I purchase in the produce department at the grocery store at Thanksgiving time. Stores don't seem to carry them at other times of the year. It's right off of the package, with a few deviations. These cranberries freeze great. Of course if you have some dried cranberries, I know they would work just as well. And awaaaaayyyyyy we go......

Cranberry Nut Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your pans. This recipe works well as mini loaves, larger loaves (9x5 inch) or muffins. Baking time is the only difference in what size or choice of pan you make. For sharing, I like to use the mini loaf pans. I got 10 "throwaways" that I wash and reuse for $3 on sale. They are about 4-1/2 x 2 inches at the base and flare out at the top. One recipe fills 4 of the pans so I doubled it and made 8 mini loaves.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs grated orange peel
1 egg, well beaten
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cooarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts
No mixer needed, just a nice sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, etc. With quick-breads like this, it's important not to over-mix so the batter/dough doesn't get "tough." Put all dry ingredients in a bowl together and mix. Add the orange juice, oil, peel and egg and mix until it's, well... mixed! Fold in the chopped cranberries and nuts until they are dispersed evenly. I fill the pans half-full to two-thirds full.

Using both racks of the oven, I spread the pans out. The top rack loaves will have split tops so if you care about that, do a switcharoo halfway through baking. The recipe calls for baking a normal sized loaf for 55 minutes so I guaged accordingly with these little pans. They took almost that long but I use the toothpick inserted method. You want it to come out with "heavy" crumbs, not wet.

Cool on racks and throw them in the freezer in a bag until you're ready to share. Keep out any rejects for "quality assurance." That's hubby's job is to be my tester. Enjoy the day. Tomorrow we're making either peanut butter balls or homemade caramels.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baking Our Way To Christmas - Day 1

Happy December, friends. I know I've been gone. Haven't felt like blogging but it's time to get busy and start thinking about gearing up to Christmas and share some joy with my cyber friends through some recipes and my in-person friends with the ensuing treats! With my mom's cancer at the very end stages, I have to really find motivation somehow to both blog and to gear up for Christmas.

I decided on 2 things. One is to start my Advent meditation book along with a Bible reading from the start of Advent which was last Sunday through Epiphany and gets me focused on why we make such a hullaballoo over this time of year, Jesus and his birth, right? It's a good focus of course know, I love to bake, so it was a perfect fit when I was looking through a Country Living magazine and here was a link to a cookie recipe a day for the month of December, 25 recipes in all. They have some nice recipes although there is not nearly enough chocolate involved, so I am improvising and here on my blog I'm giving you 25 recipes for now until Christmas. I put the link for the Country Living recipes if you want to take a look but trust me....the recipes I will share are proven by the baker/goodiemaker in our family...ME! So live a little and give them a try. Maybe it's just what you need to help you get into the spirit too. I am SO NOT INTO SHOPPING except for ingredients! first word as a baby was "cookie" so that says something, right?
But as a disclaimer, I'm not sticking to just cookies as I like to make caramels, peanut butter balls and some quick breads that are yummy too and festive to share. So, get some containers ready for the freezer as we are going to share these goodies with our friends throughout the Season.

First day recipe Vanilla Cookies

You will need a cookie press or at the very least a rolling pin and some cookie cutters for shapes.

16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In electric mixer bowl or with a hand-held mixer cream butter and sugar for a couple of minutes until very fluffy and light in color at medium speed. Scrape bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, salt and beat some more. On low speed mix in flour a bit at a time until well blended.

Pack the dough into a cookie press with Christmas shaped disks and press onto an ungreased cookie sheet spacing cookies 1 inch apart. If rolling and cutting, you know what to do. Roll to about 3/8" thick and cut and put on the sheet, etc.

Bake until light golden around edges although I like my cookies slightly underbaked so they remain soft. The recipe says 10 minutes but I use convection bake on my oven and it takes about 8 minutes to get them firm enough to remove but still soft enough to enjoy. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a rack.

Of course, you can add in food coloring paste to make colored cookies or top before baking with colored sugars but I am putting my baked cooled cookies into the freezer to decorate with icing later. I thought we'd make an afternoon of decorating later in the month as we get closer to Christmas.

Tomorrow is another day, my friends. Get your pantry stocked for baking cause you never quite know what I'm going to throw out there! Sugary hugs to you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reason I'm not posting much

Friends, sorry I haven't been posting. Just not in the mood. My mom is dealing with Stage IV ovarian cancer and it hasn't been a pretty picture so far but she's still with us, holding her own with a lot of medical support and her family close. I really am too tired to even go into the details here. Just know that I'll be back once I get wind back in my sails. I have lots of farm adventures to tell you about and a few creative things I'm working on too. Until then....take care.

Happy trails.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cusp of fall sunset....

I feel the season change upon us and this sunset just spoke to me about it. I need to work on my photography skills a bit but hopefully you can get a sense of what it was like from my feeble attempt. Happy weekend friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Viking Diamond Survey

I've been contemplating getting a new serger/coverstitch combo machine so I ran down to the Viking Husqvarna dealer in Yakima and checked out one I found great reviews on, a Viking/Husqvarna 936. While checking out the features of this pretty cool machine, the dealer invited me to a Viking Husqvarna Designer Diamond Survey. I had never heard of a "survey" which is a 4-hour class held at chosen dealers with a Viking educator from North Carolina and this machine is their top-of-the-line combo sewing and embroidery machine. It was free and I would get a $20 gift certificate for attending so I figured, sure, why not? I really don't know much about embroidery machines. But these machine have intrigued me for a few things like monograms, so I trekked on down to Yakima Monday afternoon and spent 4 hours in front of this machine and giggled over the fact that Debra, our Viking educator, was from N. Carolina but had the hardest New York accent you've ever heard. And she called me "Jamm-y" instead of Jami with the A being pronounced as an A. She had been giving classes and flying all over the country and was a bit rummy I think. It embarrassed her. She was fun.

So, this machine can sew anything, launder it, fold it and make coffee too. Well, not quite but you get my drift. Pretty fancy stuff there. Great deal on the price for those participating in the survey also....ahem...cough...sputter. A real steal at $6,999.99! They said the package deal they had was originally worth over $12,000. There was a $2,500 embroidery package included. Who spends $2,500 on embroidery designs? Holy cow. One very interesting comment the educator shared was that in Europe there are garment sewers but no market for these high-end fancy machines and the US is the biggest consumer of these embroidery machines. Well go figure...the biggest consumer country on earth gulping down $12,000 sewing machines like M & M's. We are truly a glutinous society here. Ya know? Oh well...I digress, back to my new love, the Diamond.

You may think that I ran out of the store with a new Viking Designer Diamond on some store credit card with one year same as cash instead of a 936 serger. But I was so proud of myself. I came out empty handed and didn't even purchase the serger either. I want to do some looking around and think on it for a while. It's a lot of money for a serger and I have one already. Old but it works. Doesn't do coverstitch though. For one thing, I am so over buying anything on credit. I did that in my younger years and I'm older and wiser now. No more. So, if I make some sales over the winter on sheep or crafty stuff/wool products, I will purchase the serger but the Diamond is just too over the top for me. It's just too extravagant. Now, all of this may change if I hit the Lotto. Ha!

OK, so what do you think about a sewing machine that costs that much? Do you just shake your head thinking of the prices and how they change them every few years so you'll upgrade to a flashier version of the old one with a few new bells and whistles? Do you think it's your only hobby so you're worth it? I'm just curious how some of you feel about being extravagant on something like this. Would you go into debt for one?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

And the winner is.....

Toby Aguilar's Coop De Frille (I added an "e")! The "byline" will be "a classic convertible lace scarf". Isn't that a fun name? Like a classic convertible Cadillac?

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for entering the contest. I loved all of the names really. It was difficult to choose. Might have to come up with another design just so I can take some of those other names too. : )

Happy trails. And Toby.I'm emailing you to get your address, girl! After I get this in order, I'll be listing a bunch of things in the Etsy store and getting set for fall.

On the sheep front, hauled cull ewes to market today. Four productive good ol' girls that just either had some issues or got mastitis or something. Always sad to see the old ones go but hey, that's the sheep business.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Name the scarf pattern contest!

Prize - Our newly released Cooke Creek Sheep Co. knit pattern kit (includes the yarn and the pattern) for a beautiful lacy, Coopworth scarf designed by Janelle! Check out her beautiful design work. Janelle did us proud. See the picture at right or in the previous post.

And on our farm website you can check out the beautiful Coopworth yarn for this new pattern. Coopworth is a dual purpose breed of sheep with great mothering attributes and known for having twins although I have a couple of ewes that have triplets every year. They are derived from Romney and Border Leicester breeds originally and so their wool has the luster of the BL and the crimp and length of the Romney. It's a nice yarn and easy on the hands. It's a natural color although it loves to be dyed if you're up to that. But I digress....back to the contest.

Rules - The name of the scarf can be anything that represents it well but it MUST include the word Coopworth...or Coop....or Coopy (if you're thinking along the lines of rhyming with Loopy, for instance) as we want to share with the knitter that this came from a certain kind of sheep that lives here on our farm. I don't care how long the name is, as long as it's catchy and to repeat, represents your impression of the scarf design. Please enter your choices in the comments section below this post. You can enter as many times as you like but please keep the comments short and sweet for this contest. You can write a novel any other time!

The winner will be announced on August 15th so please check back and don't forget if you're an anonymous commenter/entrant I will need your email somehow. This is not a draw-a-name-out-of-the-hat kind of contest but rather what name I like best from your entries. If it's a combination of 2 suggestions, both contributors will win the pattern.

Have fun, be creative and thanks for participating! The winner will be the first person to see the new pattern besides Janelle and myself. Can't wait to see what kind of creative minds we have out there.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Drumroll please.......

It's here...the sneak peak into Cooke Creek Sheep Company's first two knit designs! These lovely patterns were concocted by Janelle. She did an awesome job and I look forward to working with Janelle again on more designs from our yarn. This is a TOTALLY LOCAL product, designed in Ellensburg and the yarn comes from our very own ewes here in Ellensburg too! I am very excited to venture into this new venue with our wool.

Mercy, my friends, it's been a busy week. First off, my mom had an appointment with her surgeon in Portland, so yesterday took her to the appointment. It went well considering the "C" word was brought up...yup, cancer. It's a watch and see kind of thing but hopefully it all came out with the gallbladder. We'll see with forthcoming CT scans.

Okay, so it's time to market lambs, the rest of the bunch. Took 21 last month. So, we weighed the remaining lambs and and they all made weight except for one little Rosebud, the bummer of the bunch. I'll just keep her for now. She'll grow out just fine once she catches up. But, this week the phone began ringing for ewe lambs. Now, keep in mind, I am happy for the sales but folks are calling the week I have to promise how many lambs we're bringing to the buy day on Saturday so it's a rush-rush type of thing. We can't take more than we reserve truck space for. I am hoping it all works out. I don't want to be stuck with lambs and there isn't time to do deposits and so forth like normal. So, Saturday we truck to Moxee to take market lambs and then have have 2 buyers coming for ewe lambs and a ram. Monday brings in another person for aged ewes. We'll separate the ram lambs out of the group and put the keeper replacement ewe lambs in with the older ewes and start thinking of breeding time in the fall. It's time to do the sheep shuffle!

Today kind of feels like a fall day. After the incredible heat we've had over the past 3 weeks, it is actually cool and sprinkling a few drops of rain, cloudy, breezy. I am wearing a long-sleeved shirt! Mercy, it feels great. Just a reprieve probably, nothing permanent I'm sure.

Well, here is the unveiling of the new Cooke Creek knit design patterns. I want help naming these patterns and we're going to have a contest soon to do this. For now, here are the pictures. The first is a lacy scarf made from our Coopworth light sport weight yarn. Yarn doesn't have to be lace weight to make a pretty holey scarf.
Here are the boot socks from our Texel yarn. It's a heavier DK weight. I like the name Boot Scootin' Texel Socks. What do you think?

I am working on a Cooke Creek Facebook page. Any of you doing FB? Have you done a business/fan page? It's not as easy as I would have thought.

Oh...I did figure out the Ipod downloads. I downloaded a country "album" of remade songs to a specific beat for exercise. It's really pretty hilarious as they sped up songs and had different artists do the singing to songs we all know from the radio. Cheesy but it's better than techno music I downloaded at first. I was about ready to throw the stupid thing in the canal by the time I got to the end of my walk.

I am finishing up a wedding gift today, got to make a wool pillow insert for the cotton cover I whipped up Tuesday and get this puppy in the mail. DH is going on a pack trip up in the hills next week and I'm looking forward to not only taking care of things around here (it's fun once in a while to do things MY WAY) and to crafting the nights away without feeling guilty about leaving him alone in front of the tube.

Signing off for now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm so excited...and I just can't hide it....I know, I know....

Gosh, what brought that on? 80's disco fever? You should all know that's not me but today it just fits the bill.

For starters, I got up and took my 3.5 mile walk/run this morning and decided the run part wasn't going to happen today after my knee felt stiff. Think I overdid it over the previous 5 days. But, Tess, the border collie, loves the walk and so do I. This morning's 75 degrees at 7:45 am was not very welcome but a cool shower did the trick to stop the sweat.

So, then on this Monday's agenda was a stop in town to my friend, Janelle's. Janelle is a knit designer and she has come up with 2 "ewenique" designs utilizing Cooke Creek Sheep Company yarns from our girls here on the farm, both our Texel yarn and the Coopworth. I am not by any means a knit designer. I am a knitter and a shepherdess, so I felt Janelle was best suited for this idea of mine. She was and is and I plan to see what else we can come up with down the road but for now....the unveiling of the patterns and yarns will be very soon. I'm still doing the tech-y stuff to get pictures and what-not. I'll keep you posted!

Another thing I did this morning was purchase an IPod Shuffle to take on my walk/runs. It is not as intuitive as I had hoped and so far I have nary a download on the little neon green stinker. I need a teenager to help me I guess. Clearly technology is in the passing lane and I thought I could always keep up. Not so. I will have my daughter-in-law help me. Think she's a whiz at this stuff. Son is out of town.

Well, just wanted to check in, say it's hotter than hades here in Eburg and that I will be traveling to see my mom and dad for a couple of days but hopefully I'll have some pics tomorrow of the new and EXCLUSIVE Cooke Creek Sheep Co. knit designs by Janelleknits! Woo hoo. Thanks again Janelle. Great job on the designs and the beautiful samples which I will show off soon. More later.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Got a new boy on the farm, "Moses" who is named for the WSSP sale we bought him from in Moses Lake. He's a real dandy and hopefully will put some frame size onto lambs from our Texel ewes. We are going strictly crossbred this coming year and will do a purebred breeding fall of 2010.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid July

Hi Guys:
Hope you're all having a great summer. Summer weather has waxed and waned here. Hot day, cool day, etc. Kind of breaks up any boredom, that's for sure!

Marketed 21 lambs last Saturday with 23 hopefully going next month if they make weight. So far the grass is holding out rather nicely, probably helped by the cool weather. Marketed wool to the pool on Monday so now we get to park back in the garage! Woo hoo!

Hey, I got a new horse a couple of weekends ago. Her name is Molly. She's a 3-year old Quarter Horse mare. Black with a white star and a "skunk tail" or think of Lillian Munster's hair. That's what her tail looks like. I'll get pics soon.

Gardening - raspberries are ripening nicely. Mmmm but I do love raspberries! Made a chocolate fudge zuchinni (spelling) cake last night. Nummmy.

I am trying to keep track of everyone through your blogs but it seems you're all as busy as I have been. This weekend is the ram sale in Moses Lake. If you're around there, stop in and say howdy and see a lot of sheep!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Making hay while the sun shines

Hello out there!!!! I hear an echo and I don't blame you for not tuning it because I haven't been into posting much lately. Life has been busy and duty calls so been taking care of business.

We're baling today...yeah! Always good to get to that point. Rain threatened to postpone us some and did but not too badly with the nice breeze (LOL...Ellensburg and a nice breeze, go figure!)

Weaning lambs tomorrow. Hasn't time just flown? Here we were lambing and now we're weaning. Off to market for half of them in July.

On the fun front - I've been sewing a heckuva lot and having fun. I even have been spinning some too! Took a road trip to Wyoming...I'll have pics on my Flickr soon.

On the working front - about ready for the ram sale in July. This is my last project as WSSP secretary. The new gal is getting up to speed and she'll do just fine.

Oh, joy...I've gotten into Facebook. Any of you in FB? It's a bit too much fun because I've hooked up with people I truly have known face-to-face in my life but lost touch with. There's just something about that. Even some relatives I've never met have found me and we're keeping in touch. So my profile is in the sidebar if you want to find me there. Well, I gotta go hang out some more laundry on the line and let this slight breeze do it's work!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Third time's a charm

Okay, I've written 3 posts and once the ISP kicked me off and another time my pic wouldn't load. I spent so much time messing with my new camera software and then it hung up my computer when I tried to close it...I just gave up!

Been sewing and knitting and working and watching lambs grow. Here's a purse I just finished from Uncommon Crochet. So I haven't been really knitting but rather crocheting. Duh. Anyhow, let's try the picture and see if I can seize up the computer again.

Hey, wa-la! It worked. This new software on my new digital camera doesn't make it easy to shrink the picture sizes for online use and quicker loading. That was the problem.

So okay, this is a bamboo yarn...pretty eco-friendly I guess. Then the handles are 100% wool washed in my Wonder Wash table-top hand crank machine. I had to crank it for a while but it worked well. Good exercise, right? Then there is sewing on a crocheted bag. Guess this is where the uncommon comes in...mixed media! I made a lining with pockets and a clasp for keys, etc. It turned out pretty big though and the handle is too wide and too long for a sling type of use so it's a mailbag type of purse...over one shoulder and bag hangs on the other side of the body.

The lambs are growing like weeds. Here's a funny story - the yearling ewes run and play with the lambs in the evenings. The lambs have races from hill to hill every evening and they play king of the mountain. Butt heads and buck and act really silly and race around like gyroscopes. Well, the yearling ewes are as big as the mother ewes almost and they are running with the lambs. It makes me think of a study in sheep psychology...have to wonder if the maturity of sheep would be slower if they were allowed to be kids for a while longer. Usually they get bred and have kids around now but this year we didn't breed up the youngsters. Just something to ponder.

Been outside a lot gardening, mowing, planting bedding plants in my new flower beds around the house. One of the dogs has been digging and I have a feeling it's the Boston Terrier, Daisy. Of course, I can't catch her so I can scold her. After years of chickens digging in everything, I am not going to let the dogs destroy my new beds so "it's on, baby...just let me catch you!"

Later. Jami

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sore muscles...means it's spring!

Oh friends, what 4 days of outdoor chores can do to a girl! I have been moving border paver stones and setting up new flower beds around the house. It's almost instant gratification, I mean you stand up and there's another step closer to the finish. But evenings I've been a bit on the stiff side...only when I sit down and stop do I notice the sore muscles. Sunburn too...had to wear long sleeves yesterday to cover up the red arms. The weather has been wonderful, close to gloriously perfect. Honestly I don't think you can get any better than this. About 80 degrees yesterday, no wind but a breeze cooled things off last night. Think we left the sliding glass door open all night last night for the first time since last fall. The sheep and dogs were both on the panty side yesterday seeking out shade.

Here's a sheep pic for today....just for fun. That's Leroy in the middle of the lamb pack...he's a big boy and seems to be the leader at the moment. He's really friendly, likes to come up and have a scratch behind the ears. My Texel rams are always sweethearts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The creep area

No, not creepy people but a creep feeder for the lambs. I have no idea where that word came from but it means an area that the ewes cannot get into and the lambs can "creep" in and out at-will to get some nutrition other than mother's milk. When the lambs begin ruminating this is the feed they get....until our pasture comes in and then it's grass! The grass is certainly growing of late but it's not quite ready yet. We don't want to overgraze and kill our nice pastures so we're careful about waiting to start them on it. So for now it's dry-lot time...a bit dusty and the lambs and ewes are rather dirty and bored but it's just another week and they'll be out on pasture with a gradual titration up until they are out full time.

Here are pictures of the creep area for the lambs with homemade panels DH made and feeders from old irrigation pipe cut in half and scraps of lumber. It's working out great.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lambing is over, onto gardening!

Around 2:00 a.m. the last ewe had a set of twins in the cold night. We had a hard frost last night but no wind, thankfully. Hey, it could have been the night before when we woke up to 3" of new snow and snow on and off through the day! Will it never end? It's supposed to be 70 degrees this weekend. I'll let you know if that happens or maybe I won't...I'll be outside if it's that nice.

Got a lot of spring crop seeds planted in the garden last weekend, broccoli, spinach, lettuces and snow peas. Onion sets both red and yellow will get planted today. Then most of the rest will wait for Mother's Day. I have some potatoes sprouting in my store room so they are next. I made some homemade protective cloth out of sewing feed bags together and making little frames out of woven leftover sheep fencing. Ha. is creative! What a mess the feed sacks made in my sewing room. I had to clean the whole room...which wasn't a bad thing really. It's looking nice and spiffy. I even took down my indoor clothes dryer (a folding wooden rack thing) and now am using the outdoor line again. Of course with the weather, I haven't been able to do laundry when I please but the wind makes up for it...dries them quickly if I can keep them on the line!

Have a great day. I'm going to clean up my lambing supplies kit and put it away for another year and get those onions planted today. Later.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Barely got this one out!

Oh boy, did we have a big lamb born on Friday. He was a single in a smaller sized ewe and he was so fat we scraped off a bit of hide off of his back getting him out of his mother. This girl got too much food and should have had 2 moderate sized twins in her but instead had a big single. He's really lazy...all he does is eat and sleep. We've named him "SloMo". He's like a big slug but he's built really nicely. We only have 2 ewes yet to lamb so almost done.
Here are some pics of SloMo showing himself...then after quite a long labor, called DH and asked him to come home because I couldn't get this lamb out. Then we found out why. He weighed 16.4 pounds!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who is the April Fool?

Okay, 2 posts in one day...I gotta get a life.

This morning the phone rang at 5:50 a.m. Scares me when that happens. It's a Seattle police officer (I don't live in Seattle but my daughter lives near there and my brother and family do also) prefacing the phone call with "this is not an April Fool's joke." So my heart starts beating hard....and I'm preparing myself for some awful accident, death in the family, oh my gosh....just say it!

He asks if I'm Jami and I answer yes. Asks if I'm part of the Washington State Sheep Producers. I answer yes. My heart stops pounding when I hear the word least I knew my daughter and brother and family were safe! They have nothing to do with sheep!'s the deal. The police found 2 sheep wandering in downtown Seattle or Shoreline, not sure which. They had to catch them and had them in "custody" and they wanted to know how they go about finding out who they belong to! The officer thought it might have been an April Fool's prank and I have to admit I did find it a bit comical but remember I have had a real lack of sleep lately so I'm kind of slap-happy and the relief of knowing this was not a truly serious event like a death in the family made my heart a bit giddy. I explained to the officer that the sheep should have ear tags with flock of origin scrapie tags that the state vet office could trace in their database to locate the owner...hopefully.

Anyhow...then get an email from another person in our sheep organization and they police had called her as well! I have to wonder why they didn't take the sheep to the animal shelter and let them handle it? I don't know but it was a conversation piece. The officer told me he wouldn't be surprised if the whole capture would be on U-tube soon. I'll have to check for that.

There ya go...2 posts in one day, a rare occurrence, kind of like sheep wandering in downtown Seattle!

A stab in the dark

Well folks, I know all I seem to talk about is sheep, sheep, sheep, but that's what things are about here on the farm right now. I could talk about the weather but you don't want to read cuss words, now do you?'s been that fun. Joy.

Last night ran out to check on the ewes before midnight to find 2 lambs laying in the alleyway like they were part of the flock, just resting there like they had always been there. It was funny because they were all settled in and had had a meal apparently and dried/licked off. Gave them their shots and put little coats on them and belly buttons dipped and went to cleaning out a jug for them (I should have done this the day before but I got lazy). We had opened up the jugs so the still-expectant ewes had somewhere to go with the extremely cold wind we had going on last night. Remember, we sheared just a while back and they don't have heavy coats on like normal so they need out of the wind. Well, I have my headlamp on, go get the wheelbarrow and the pitchfork and shoo the girls out of the way. Got the ewe and the new lambs locked up in an area where she can't escape and they are out of my way. Get to pitchforking the messy straw and ick into the alley to load into the wheelbarrow...grab the fresh straw out of the wheelbarrow and throw it in the clean jug. Wa-la, right? Well, go to start pitchforking the old straw into the wheelbarrow to take to the pile (remember it's midnight or so by now) and I accidentally stick the pitchfork into the tire of the wheelbarrow...that sucker went flat so fast it made my head spin. If it wasn't fun trying to take 2 loads out to the pile with a flat tire in the pitch dark and cold wind! Oh well, half of the contents blew away on my way to the pile anyhow. This morning I'm taking the tire to be repaired. So....I get to town and run my errands and such and go by Ellensburg Tire. It's totally packed--like cars across the road and forget about getting into the parking lot! Today is take off your studded tires day/deadline and it seems the whole town procrastinated to the last minute of course. Well, I fretted for a minute but thought I might drop off the tire and DH could pick it up on his way home from work. Ya know what? Those awesome guys at Eburg Tire fixed my tired right away! I have been a customer of theirs for a while and I guess it paid off, huh? Plus it didn't cost nearly as much as I had expected, an added bonus. I was out of there in 10 minutes, tops. So, there's my silly story with a happy ending for today. I know we all have way bigger fish to fry but we read these blogs for a that's what that story was about!

Fun on the continues.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly

Good Sunday morning friends. Last night was a no-lamb night but nevertheless I did get up and check on the ewes 3-4 times in the ever-blowing, never-ending wind we're having. Whew, it was a cold one, let me tell you. Had a set of twins right before bedtime and had them under a heat lamp with coats on in the back of the shed.

Night before last, the vet was out at 2:30 a.m. to deliver a dead lamb and a live lamb out of one of our best ewes. She was in labor for a long time and we tried and tried to sort out the lambs but this was meant for a professional and even he had troubles getting them out. We're actually pretty good at getting malpositioned lambs out so when it's too tough for us, it's just a plain mess.

So, lost one lamb so far, have 30 lambs out there and we're about halfway through our lambing. We've trimmed feet on the ewes as they leave the jugs/pens, lambs are vaccinated with the selenium booster, tagged and banded for tails or castration or both. We take off their coats and they are out to the blending pens to get used to sticking with their mothers in a small group before they go out with the larger group.

Yesterday I took 3 naps! Today is also a day of rest although we're out checking on ewes at regular intervals. Another week and we might be done! I'll get some more pictures soon.

Happy trails! Jami

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Looong night but 2 sets of triplets!

Well, we had a long night with 2 sets of triplets and a set of twins born in this nasty, putrid, hateful, exasperating cold WIND. Can you tell I'm growing tired of it? LOL. The lambs get chilled quickly and that essential colostrum is so important to get into them. I made those lamb coats this year and they are working out nicely with the cold weather. We try not to use heat lamps much but I do have one setup for the triplets that were born in the wee hours this morning.

I went out to check on the ewes and here under the shelter in the alleyway were a bunch of ewes trying to stay out of the cold wind plus 3 lambs in their midst. Two ewes were licking the lambs but only one was the mother...poor Selma, one of my best ewes, has not lambed yet but she had decided one must be hers! She has been baahhing for "her" baby ever since. I'll be glad when she lambs and she'll figure it out. But there is no way it was hers or anyone else's as I know how to tell.

I do hope you have a great day. The sun is shining....that's a good thing!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Some lambs pics

Here are the pics of lambs so far. We had 2 ewes lamb yesterday, this one with a set of twins and another one with a large single ewe lamb (in the coat at the bottom). Stay tuned!!! Lots more on the way.

First set of twins of 2009, 2 ram lambs.

A big vigorous should see her eat!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Lambs

Well, isn't it appropriate that the first day of spring has brought us our first lambs of 2009! Two ram lambs were born to Alice, or CCS0752, beginning at 4:30 this morning. It's a cold morning of course and the days have been so nice but the babies like to come into this world with odds against them. I guess this makes them tougher? These boys are doing fine so far, got a meal or 2 in them and their little coats on to keep warm and a heat lamp until the sun comes up. One is quite a bit smaller than the other. And so it begins...

I'll be back with pictures after a while. Gotta get ready for work right now.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ewes to the drop pen

Last night we moved the ewes to the drop pen...the maternity ward for sheep. This is a production of sorts as we have to put the guard dog somewhere else. In this case, we put him in with the ram lambs for the time-being. He can't be in with the ewes lambing...just don't trust him that much! We'll let him back in with his girls when the lambs are a couple of weeks old. When moving sheep from pasture to pasture we must also move feeders, water troughs, minerals, portable shelters, water trough heaters, extension cords and so on. Refill the water troughs, move the dog house for the guard dog. It's just a big shift. It's weird not having the ewes out back where I can see them out the window easily. We have a covered shelter with lambing pens or jugs as we call them. The ewes that lamb go into the jugs with their lambs for a couple of days and then are put into a blending pen where we put several ewes with their lambs and then out a back gate to a small pasture with a shelter where they have access to pasture. Of course the pasture is not in yet but I see a few blades of grass trying to grow. It's been so cold but it's supposed to warm up soon. Once we get some good temps the pasture will grow in nicely. Until it's in we are feeding twice a day. The ewes look great. Tomorrow is the first day they are due but we might have a surprise tonight, just never know! We're on "butt" patrol from here on out at regular intervals through the night.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Read with caution, gross farm story

A few ramblings about my week so far....first off, I saw a robin yesterday. Considering we woke up to 3" of new snow and the wind blowing 40 mph this was a surprise. Today the sun was shining DURING a sideways snow...go figure this weather!

Yesterday when the fog lifted I see a ewe, legs up, dead as a door nail. Oh heck, right? Yup...she was due in 2 weeks, full of lambs, very healthy looking but hey, she was dead and that means so were her lambs. The guard dog was helping himself to some real icky stuff along with the magpies. It was a lovely site (not) so first off I got the guard dog out of that pasture and locked the gate. Luckily the rest of the flock was in the shelter with the snow/fog and so I didn't have to herd sheep out. The magpies continued their feast. There was no sign of a coyote kill, no blood or any sort of "fuss." Mystery death. We don't have many of those and we've never lost a ewe like that during pregnancy before.

I called the state vet's office because we're in the scrapie flock certification program and this means when we have an adult ewe die they may opt to test her for scrapie. The vet came and did the "off with her head" thing and sent off samples from her brain, lymph nodes and salivary glands for testing. Yup, that's how they test for scrapie. In case you don't know, scrapie is a disease similar to Mad Cow in cows but it's the sheep version. The USDA has a nationwide program going to eradicate the disease by 2010. We will be a certified scrapie-free flock this summer 2009 which is a 5-year process. We have yearly flock inspections by a state and federal vet and have to keep real tight records on the flock. So, in a few days I'll know the results but the vet said she didn't have any signs of the disease...he just wanted to do samples for their surveillance requirements. The USDA wants more surveillance and testing on sheep but most producers (especially those not in this certification program) don't want the feds or state guys on their place so don't report dead ewes much. I don't blame them but I want our farm to be scrapie free and certified so we've jumped through their hoops. Personal choice. So, I got to see upfront and close how to extricate all sorts of lovelies out of a sheep's head and I tell you it was rather interesting. Once I got over her head being separated from her body and he flipped it over to where I couldn't see her face, the bottom side was pretty interesting with its parts and how he finds them. He did a good job of explaining it to me. I'm sure I told you more than you wanted to know! Sorry. Over and out for now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The birds are back

Well, it's somewhat official that spring is here...the red-winged blackbirds are back. The temperatures don't reflect this but nature usually proves to be correct on weather and seasons so I'm going to trust it on this one.

I was planning on attending the Sewing Expo in Puyallup yesterday and woke up at 4:30 am to take off only to find out the pass was getting dumped on with snow and the west side was having traffic accidents left and right with the snow and icy roads. So I said forget it and instead I went online and spent my fun money I had planned to spend at the Expo getting some new patterns for some basic clothing items. Now to find some fabric! I was out the money for the tickets/registration but didn't drive 4 hours to and fro so saved the gas money so guess it's a wash on that end.

This weekend I'll be skirting some of the fleeces in the garage. Got quite a few more to do although I've gotten a good start. Think I'll start some seeds for the garden inside and see how that goes. We start lambing in 2 weeks. Everything hits at once, good weather, lambing, farm work, etc. Winter does seem sooooo long but spring hits hard and then you forget all about winter! Once the robins arrive, we'll be set!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Peter Pan horse - in memory of Tommy

I've been not in the blogging mood the last few days. My 26-year-old best animal friend, Tommy, died last Sunday. He and I were partners for 24 years and it's been a tough loss for me. He was my Peter Pan horse - never grew up and acted like a colt his entire life and brought me so much joy. He was full of personality. He loved people and loved to keep things fun and was always up for a new adventure with me. I really miss him.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shearing is done! Yippee!

We sheared yesterday and so glad it's over and done! We had a new shearer and he did a beautiful job in a short time. My parents came and helped too which was fun for all of us. They enjoyed it and helped so much. Really appreciated the extra sets of hands. My mom wrote out the labels as the sheep came through as we keep track of which breed and if it's a lamb fleece, etc. We sell our fleeces individually to spinners and such so it's important to know this stuff. Dad hauled the fleeces to the garage where they all sit to air dry for a couple of days before we begin skirting them. It was a frosty morning so there was a bit of frost when we began but the sun shone and it warmed up nicely so they dried off quickly.

Rams were first and they got a hoof trimming too. DH provided entertainment by slipping in the mud a few times and falling over a few times. We were sore last night...just not doing lots of activity over the winter contributed to this as we're out of shape this time of year. Even though I exercise almost every day, it's a different kind of "exercise" to wrangle sheep around and such.

And, by the way, the red spots on the fleeces are not blood but rather washable "paint" that we mark the ewes with after they got their shots a month or so ago. No worries, very few got nicks this time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Postponed Shearing

Well, in the end the weather just didn't cooperate for shearing yesterday. I baked some homemade bread and we roasted a leg of lamb and had an inside day...well I did. DH was outside doing things like he always is. Got the new cover on the Costco carport we use for lambing. Yeah, I keep reminding you of how thrifty we are, but this carport hooked to a shed we have has worked great for lambing the past 3 years but now the cover has gotten torn up in the winds we have. Found a company in Moses Lake that makes replacement covers for them, so wa-la! Another year we have postponed having a barn, all for about $100. Can't beat that!

So we shear next Thursday and the forecast looks great for it, so let's cross our fingers! I'm off work today so best get outside for a couple of pruning projects.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lamb Coats

My friend, June, from Starshire Ranch is new to sheep but she is selling these cute polarfleece lamb coats on her website for sheep producers. At first, I have to admit, I wasn't too sold on the idea of coating the lambs. I don't know but it seemed a bit silly to this farmgirl, BUT...I witnessed the results of these on her first crop of lambs last year. The lambs were busy eating to grow instead of using that energy to keep warm and she only left them on for a few days. So, she gave me a couple as a gift and last night I found a large remnant of polarfleece I bought at a yard sale last summer ($2) and decided it would be perfect for the lamb coats. I don't have pink and camo like June's, which are adorably cute for little boys or girls (sheep) but I wasn't going to buy anything to go that far. Ha. You know, I'm a practical girl and a bit on the cheap side too. You probably have figured that out already, huh?

So, I got 7 coats out of this remnant using June's for a pattern and we'll just see how it goes. It's the first I've sewn in a few weeks to be honest. I've had the winter blahs and I can see I'm coming out of it, thank goodness. Super easy, cut on the fold for the back section, 4 slits for the legs and only sewing is the front chest seam. I used my rotary cutter to make the leg slits. I made all 7 in about 15 minutes. I am wondering what my ewes will think of having their lambs in these coats. I have a few sheep friend folks who use them also and they tell me it doesn't matter if you wait until the lamb is dried off to put these on. Just in case you don't know, newborn lambs are wet and gooey and mothers like to lick and lick and lick on them. Their tongues are very warm and it actually helps the lambs to get up and nurse. So there's the sheep lambing lesson for the day and my confession that this old dog can learn new tricks!
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