Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Visit to Under The Son Farm

I have done a lot of reading about sheep and especially Shetland Sheep, since that is the breed I decided to raise. Today, I was very fortunate to be able to visit Theresa Gygi at Under the Son Farm in Greencastle, IN and see her beautiful Shetland ewes and rams. I learned about what makes a good fleece for a Shetland. She breeds to the standards established fot the Shetlands. The colors were gorgeous, whites, light grays, dark grays, browns and even blacks and colors in between. The fleeces were from soft to very, very soft. I learned that Shetland sheep are quite bright in many ways and actually know their names. I liked the way the barn was arranged for the sheep and the feeding areas and the room in the loft that her husband made for her to keep and work with the fleece.

We spent time looking at different types of fleece Click to see larger picture of the Shetland sheep fleeceand talking about the qualities that made them good for knitting or weaving. She suggested a hand drop spinner, until I can afford a good spinning wheel. I learned that weaving takes a great deal of wool, so I might just want to relearn how to knit and crochet. Theresa showed me some of her work and it just confirmed to me that I really want these sheep. We talked about the need to set my goals and then adjust as time goes on but essentially start slowly and stay on track. I don't want to get overwhelmed by starting too much this Spring.

After touring her pasture, barn and basement, I think I may need another building, if this adventure ever gets off the ground. But that is for another day. Thanks Theresa for your wonderful hospitality, I had a wonderful afternoon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Challenges

The cold and freezing weather has caused me to be rather inventive. I have a 210 gallon plastic tank for my truck, which is used to carry water that I purchase from a nearby city. 210 Gallon Water Tank

I use it to fill the water tank in the upper pasture, since there is no access to water up there. Whatever is left, I add it to my well tank, since my well only produces a small amount of water.

Because of my inexperience, I was having a difficult time emptying the water from the container before it would freeze in the hose, spigot and then the tank. Two days ago, the cattle needed water and it wasn't going to warm up anytime soon. There was no way I could give it to them. I ended up shoveling snow into their tank, hoping it would melt with the heater in the tank and they would have something to drink. That solution wasn't working very well. Even if I got more water in in the transfer tank, it wouldn't flow because of the ice. I had to melt the ice. I figured if I filled the tank with water and added a heater, the ice would melt. I got the water and bought a the smallest heater I could find, with enough power to heat at 200 gallons. The heater had a protective wire cage to keep the heating element away from the sides and bottom of a tank. Unfortunately, it wouldn't fit through the opening on the top of the transfer tank. I removed the cage, put a metal rod through the element and positioned it in the tank, keeping it away from the side.Tank Heater Apparatus

I didn't worry about the bottom, since it was ice. I left it in all night, checking it every couple of hours, to make sure everything was ok. In the meantime, I brought the hose in, thawed it and dried it out. By morning, the ice was gone. I grabbed a bale of hay and drove up to the pasture. I filled their tank and gave the steers some hay.

The steers were very happy.Happy Cattle

When that was finished, I was able to drain the tank into the well. I love it when a plan works.

As a reward to myself, I did something I have been wanting to do for a long time and made Shiner Bock bread. I made four small loaves. I am eating one and froze the others for another snowy day.Shiner Bock Bread

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowy Days

It has been a long time since I had to deal with winter or any amount of snow. I found this week's snow beautiful and peaceful. I enjoyed watching it snow, shoveling the walks and taking pictures.

View of our snowy neighborhoodSnowy field

 

My dogs, Sadie and Freckles, had a wonderful time in the snow.

They looked for things to play with,

Sadie

layed in it

Freckles

and generally rough housed.

They really like each other.

It may not look like it but they really like each other. No animals were injured in this horseplay.

Once again, my neighbor proved to be a great neighbor, by plowing the roads and my driveway.

Snow Plow 2Snow Plow

Friday, January 7, 2011

Little Gifts from God

Calendar 1981When I was young, I bought baby books to fill in for each of my children but was a total failure filling them in. When Sarah, my youngest, came in 1981, I was bound and determined I would get it right, so everything she did, I wrote on a calendar. I had planned on having my brother-in-law with the gorgeous handwriting transfer it into the baby book. We moved alot and I lost the calendar. In 2001, our little girl passed away in a car accident. Today, as I finally unpacked the last box of books, I found her baby book with the calendars for her first year tucked away in it. As I read it, I teared up but thanked God for his wonderful gift.

1992 letterLast week, I was searching for some sewing supplies and came across a letter from Sarah, when she was almost 16, telling me how much she appreciated all I had done for her and how much she loved me. It was as though God knew I needed to hear from her. At the end she writes, "Oh yeah I know this wasn't written on my birthday but you get the point." which brought laughter remembering her sense of humor. She added a P.S. to the letter, "I am a daddy's girl but I have my mommy's heart!" What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Small Town Life

As I am unfamiliar with small town country life, I occasionally find certain things that happen unusual. I finally had my well and the new tank working well, maybe I should say pretty good, since I still can't use my dishwasher without it having a problem with water pressure. It stops with lots of flashing lights and a code telling me to call a repairman. I go to the circuit breakers, turn it off and on and start it again on the quick cycle. It usually gets through the second time. The rest of the pump functions were working well. I went out to the barn to get some hay for the cattle and noticed the pump panel had the red light signifying low pressure. I called the pump guy, who came out to check what was going on. It had been working when he left, the week before. He checked the voltage going to the panel and found it was very low, so he had me call the electric company. The electric company came out and everything on their side checked out ok. That meant something had happened with the new wiring by the garage pad, which provides the power to the barn. I called my electrician, a sweet local guy who could have retired years ago but just loves what the does and who he does it for. He came out tested his box and figured it had to have something to do where they dug up the old wires to the garage and spliced them to the new ones. He and his assistant dug up the wires and found that the wire had been nicked, when they did the wiring and had corroded. He fixed it and everything worked, again. The unusual happening is that everyone came out within a 24 hour period and got the problem fixed promply. No extra charge from anyone. I like living in a small town.