Blizzard Coming and Going

 

 

Today my heart is broke.

 

Blizzard (?-February 12, 2016)

My Blizzard died this morning at 5:30 am after a day and night of severe pain.  I know that it is better that she is gone and no longer in pain, but my heart is broke.  I hate losing an animal and know that they all have their “sell by dates” but when one goes and it isn’t an easy passing it tears at my heart even more.

Blizzard

Blizzard was a lovely border collie that we adopted in December 2006 while living out in Colorado.  Blizzard came to us that December and today it is a howling blizzard outside when she was leaving us.

She was a blue eyed double Merle border collie.  a Double Merle is a breeding done between parents that both carry the Merle gene.  There is a a 1 in 3 chance of the dog being Deaf, Blind and having genetic problems.  Blizzard was deaf and mostly blind.  This type of breeding should never be done but some breeders do it under the mistaken thought that they will get MORE Merle dogs to sell at a higher price.  We had adopted another double Merle Aussie with the same sort of problems.

She didn’t interact with people or with other dogs like a normal border collie and although it did take a long time, she did eventually bond with Charlie and I.  She was lost from her first family and was in a shelter.  I drove across Monarch Pass to the western slope to get her, meeting the shelter lady in Gunnison, CO. Blizzard and I drove back across Monarch Pass in my CJ7 Jeep that December.  It was one of my first long mountain trips to get an animal. Charlie and I had both seen her on different adoption ads at the same time and were emailing each other about her.

Blizzard

If the shelter was correct on her age, she was approximately 11 years old.  (She was with us for 9 years and 2 months.)  That would make her the YOUNGEST of my older dogs and I seriously did not see this coming.  We went into the vet on Monday because she had vomited on Saturday and wouldn’t eat anything that day.  She did eat a bit on Sunday but not like usual.  She looked bloated and was walking funny.  We found that her pancreas, gall bladder and liver were swollen.  Her blood work showed her pancreas and liver functions were not right but her gall bladder was fine.  She was also anemic.  We were treating her for pancreatitis and I had to change her diet.  She was getting cooked rice and chicken and had started to improve and was eating again.

 

Blizzard

Yesterday, I woke up and Blizzard wouldn’t take her pain meds that morning and refused to eat all day.  She did drink water but her bloated look which had started to decrease was back.  By bed time, she was starting to stagger because she appeared to be weak but still would not eat.  I called the vet and I was supposed to bring her into the vet at 7:30 am when they opened this morning, but she passed at 5:30 am.

My Darling Blizzard is gone and is already missed.

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Goat Milking Machine and Antique Desk

This weekend we finally got the milk machine put together.  I have been gathering photos, instructions, bits and pieces and all the various things we would need to do this.  There were a few problems with some of the bits so I had to go back to the hardware store several times to get ones that worked.

Hand made portable battery goat milk machine

But it is officially together and had suction on it just find inside.  Today I will be trying it outside to see how things go.  It achieves suction inside just against the palm of my hand so it will work with the teats.  I don’t know for certain if I need a smaller teat cup, so I have a couple of smaller ones ordered in case these are too big.  We used nylon washers and rubber washers on the underside of the lid so that there is NO big dollop of poxy crap that others have used and tote as “food safe” even though that horrid poxy is in the milk all the time.  We also don’t have any of the brass nuts inside either which the milk can corrode and cause toxic problems.

I stopped into a little antique shop last week, looking for an arm chair similar to the one that I used at A Sisters Act in Hart, MI on the UFO day.  I was spinning with my Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel and liked the feel of the chair and position of my legs.  Recently, sitting on our couch even with the pillows and such behind my back to give me extra support and get me out of the back of the deep couch, has been causing pain.  After spinning for several hours at A Sisters Act, I thought to try to find a chair similar to the chair there.  It was one from the grandmother of the lady there brought over from Europe so there would be no buying that specific chair.

Birdseye Maple Antique Writing desk

I did not find a chair, but my eye was caught the instant I walked through the door by a lovely Birdseye Maple antique writing desk.  I went back later that day with Charlie to show him but they were already closed up for the day.  I did manage to find a phone number and talked with the shop owner and arranged a time to go see it the following day.  We were not sure going there but did come home with the desk.

Charlie had to fix the chains which had been put into new holes in the incorrect location so the fold down desk part wouldn’t sit properly.  He wood filled the current holes, fixed the old ones and a few days later attached the support chains correctly.  Cleaned up and ready to use.  We will need to find a new set of castors for it as the original ones are in the drawer but not in good shape at all.

Birdseye Maple Antique Writing Desk

I still haven’t found my chair, but the next time I am in Hart at A Sisters Act, I will stop and get a photo of it so that it will be easier to find one for my own spinning at home.

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Final Stone Projects for 2015

2015 has been a year doing a lot of out door projects.  Some stone, some planting, some gardening, some tree clearing, and a lot of general clean up as there has been a lot of junk on the property prior to us purchasing here.   The stone projects are numerous and seem to be ever growing as my creative mind gets loose and the property starts to take shape.  The Stones tell us where they want to be, so as we clear and tidy things up, it will become clear where they will end up eventually.

 

Stones waiting for placement next year

Field Stone Retaining embankment

We are clearing a small area that already has a merry go round and swing and have dubbed it “the park”.  We do plan on having a fire pit area and setting a lot of standing and recumbent stones for a stone circle and sacred place.

 

I have been working more on my garden area as the three stone raised beds that I planted this year yielded a large crop and even today on December 31, 2015 with snow and ice outside, still has Kale, onions, beets and some Rainbow Swiss Chard in it.  Many of my herbs are still growing, although I have lost my chives, basil, tarragon, and one of my more delicate thyme plants.

 

Dry stack raised stone beds and walk ways

I built three more dry stacked raised stone beds and did some path and walk ways around it in stones and gravel.  We did line those areas with some plastic underneath and used a deep bed of pea gravel because the soil is fertile and the weeds seem to run wild.

This will allow me to plant up a lot more vegetables for my family to grow our own food.  I have been trying to buy organic produce as much as I can, but there isn’t always a large selection in the area as well as the quality isn’t always the best.  I find eating the non organic produce and fruit a risk all the time.  Some is covered more in pesticides than others and I get sick or slightly sick depending on how much is on it.  I can’t wait until our fruit trees and vegetable garden is productive enough that I can grow our own food.  I have a lot to learn in how to do gardening successfully, how to control pests naturally, and how to preserve and can the food once I do get it grown.

Sea berry walk ways

I also did a section of two walk ways between the sea berries and most of the beds that are flower and ornamental around the property were lined with field stones to give a definite edge that was still organic.  It certainly helps when mowing and striming to know where to STOP when approaching the flower beds.

I was the only one that knew exactly where things were in all the beds and I still managed to strim off the heads of several of my lilies.  Although Charlie says that is due to me being “dangerous” with the strimmer!  I mean really, me???

Walk ways and curbed beds

Overall, I do believe the look is coming together.  I recently had someone asking me if I was going for a “show garden”.  BWWWhhhhaaaa, again….ME?  NOT!  It will never be a show garden as I hate weeding way too much for that.

I did hand pick out almost all these rocks and transported the bulk of them to the ranch myself.  I did have a few loads brought of large rocks and boulders, and also some loads of the field stone.  This is an on going project that will take a fair amount of years to complete.

I have the ideas in my head but have had a lot of help executing them with several local workers and Charlie helping out.  Charlie and I did place the paving and stones mostly ourselves but a lot of the prep work was helped with from others.  I have had several folks ask my how long it took me to build the three raised dry stack stone beds.  I usually respond that “We will not discuss that”.  It was not easy, I had to tear down most of what was there and re build it several times and I honestly don’t know if they will stay standing up.  Dry stacking stone walls is fun, difficult, beautiful, an art form and something I am uncertain if I ever wish to try again.  It sounds a lot easier in the books I read before attempting it.  Isn’t that how it goes?

Stone beds

The edgings all lined with rocks serves several purposes.  The rocks give a definite edge to the beds, they keep the weeds down and stop the advancement of the grass, it is organic and looks great, as well as it surrounds everything with lovely stone and rock energy.  It doesn’t hurt either that is just LOOKS cool!

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Two go and One arrives

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 was a sad day and a not so sad day.

 

Tessa Jane (December 31, 1999- September 22, 2015)

 

 

Tessa as a pup

Tessa was my first Border Collie ever.  Charlie and I had been married about 2 months and he had to go offshore for his very first trip offshore after we were married.  Being on my own was no big deal, however it was a bit different being that I was in Scotland and knew next to no one.  He was only gone for about five days that I recall but I got Tessa during that time.  She was just 8 weeks old.

 

Hector, Charlie’s da holding his Tessa

My sister Jessica came to visit later on when Tessa was a bit more grown and gave her the middle name of Jane, and Tessa Jane she was forever after know as.  Tessa was a blue smooth border collie.  She had blue eyes until she was about 5 months old when they finally settled to the darker color that they were the rest of her life.  We never got our next border collie, Abbey, until Tessa was 18 months old.  So she had Charlie and I all to herself for that time.

Hector, Charlie’s Da, adored Tessa.  He never really forgave us when we got Abbey our second border collie until we got our third border collie, Prue.  Than it was not so much that he forgave us, but that he gave us for lost.  Apparently we were crazy.  Charlie never figured out why he was so stand offish with Abbey until he saw a photo of Teddy, Hector’s child hood Border collie.  Abbey was the image of Hector’s Teddy.  Abbey of course is an intelligent border collie so she eventually won Hector over by bonding with him watching Aberdeen and Celtic footie game.  We had made a VCR tape for Abbey of bits of the game and bits of Animal Planet and she and Hector watched that tape for hours together.  The TV would be off and Abbey would find Hector in the sitting room.  She would go and sit pretty in front of the TV.  Pause and wait.  Turn and look at Hector.  Turn and look at the TV and repeat until he turned on the TV and popped her tape in.  Abbey trained Hector to turn on her tape and all was well between them.

Tessa at Aden Park, Mintlaw Scotland

Tessa never did watch Footie with Hector and Abbey.  She did have Hector wrapped around her paw equally but in a different area.  Tessa was afraid of heights, specifically bridges and horribly so with bridges she could see through.  When she stayed with Hector, they went for walks daily.  Upon coming to a bridge in Buckie on their walk, Hector would pick her up and carry her across so her paws didn’t have to touch that scary old bridge at all.

Charlie and I took Tessa frequently to Aden Park for walks and outings.  Aden Park is a stunning location in Mintlaw, Scotland.

She always enjoyed meeting new dogs and the bigger and stranger they were the more that she wanted to play with them.  We walked at the beach in Peterhead, Scotland or down at the dunes frequently.  Tessa never seemed to have much interest in small dogs, but those great big snarly boisterous tough dogs had her attention from first woof!

Rolling in dead seagulls was another favorite pastime of hers as well as drinking the sea water in order to throw up all the way home in the car.  You will be missed Tessa Jane.  She had reached 15.75 years old.  A ripe old age for a Scottish Border Collie.

 

Domino (? – September  22, 2015)

Domino, on the Colorado Ranch

Domino was a double merle Australian Shepherd, Aussie.  We adopted him in summer of 2006 but I first heard of him December 2005 where he had been dumped by his previous owner into a kill shelter in California.  I called the shelter from Scotland and they said the owner stated Domino was 7.5 years old.  He was adopted and returned the next day and later adopted by an Aussie rescue agency.  The agency foster homed him for about 6 months and we got him after moving back to the states summer of 2006.

 

Domino

Domino was with our family for a little over 9 years.  We know that he was probably at least 4 years old by the time that we got him but don’t know if he was really as old as 7.5 years.  Either way, he wasn’t a spring chicken when we let him go.

A double merle is a breeding that should never be done.  It breeds a merle to another merle in the mistaken hope that they will get a litter of all merle pups.  Usually this is done to try to get more money as Merle pups are in higher demand due to the public liking the color and pattern.  The problem with this is that you don’t necessarily get more merle pups in the litter.  You do have a 1 in 3 chance of getting a deaf pup that may also be blind and have a lot of other genetic mutations and abnormalities.  Domino was mostly blind and he was deaf.  Towards the end we had to do eye drops for him every day for over a year.  One morning he had woke up with his blue eye all yellow orange because it was bleeding inside the eye and I couldn’t even see the blue any longer.  Once we got the swelling down and the bleeding stopped after a few months, we did eye drops for maintenance to try to stop that every happening again. This was some of his genetic problems due to being a double merle.  One of his eyes was smaller than the other, had very little color and was his mostly blind eye.

Domino

Domino was all bull moose!  His idea of fun and play was to run over the border collies and he loved a good tussle.  He loved being outside as well as inside by the fire on a cold wintery day.  Oddly enough, Domino and I didn’t get on as much as I had hoped.  We did have an understanding and got on most times, but he decided from the off that he was Charlie’s dog. He loved Charlie through and through.

He sat many times next to Charlie and would drape his front paw over Charlie’s hand and just rest it there.  Or he draped his front paw over Charlie’s ankle if Charlie’s feet were up on the settee.  He was happy and content to just sit there with his paw draped over Charlie as if he was holding hands and that was all that he required.  Now if Charlie wanted to pet him, hold him tight in a death lock and love on him….who was Domino to ever say no.

Domino and I had quiet moments where he draped his paw over me as well when we were alone.  With no one around, I could give him a little treat and he took it from me ever so gentle.  I was always amazed at how white he was in color and how soft his fur was…superbly soft.  Many folks have bought some of Domino’s fiber to spin in their projects.

Domino you are missed and now you are free from pain.  Whatever age you were, you had a full and long life.

 

One Arrives (September 22, 2015)

I did say that we had two that left us Tuesday and one arrived.  During the time that Charlie and I were letting Tessa and Domino go and burying them in the pet cemetery with our other dogs, we had a new arrival here on the ranch.

Llama Cria still wet

Glenda, our black llama mama, had an all black male cria.  He is ever so long legged and scrawny looking.  But look at all those curls stop those stilts for legs.  Baby is doing well so far and up and moving around this weekend.

Glenda seems to be settling into motherhood as this was her second cria.  She lost her first cria in CO a few years ago due to a dog interference.  We were unsure if she would bond with this baby after her last traumatic experience but she has done well.

Cria baby with mom and another llama

We still have a few llamas that we believe are pregnant but with no idea of their breeding date we won’t know when the crias will arrive until they are here.  The first cria lived for 10 days and that all happened while Charlie was offshore.  This is the first llama we have ever had born that Charlie was able to see.

Two left and One arrived.  What a surprise that made a very sad day just a little bit better.

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“Antique Traditions” in the Journey to Golden Fleece Museum Show

I was one of the students two years ago in the very first Journey to the Golden Fleece Course.  Our final project was supposed to be completed around Christmas 2014.  I was up to date with my Module 1-7 yarns but stalled a bit in my Module 8 final project.  There was a second graduation at the later date of March 2015.

“Antique Traditions” – Final Project Part 2

Unfortunately, in Feb 2015, I had an accident on the ranch that involved about 40-50 pounds of snow, ice, wood, and my face and head that left me with a broken nose and head injury.  Believe me when I tell you that really stalled my final project. I am healing albeit slower than I like because as my husband says I was at the back of the queue when patience was passed out.  I generally tell him that is not true….I wasn’t even in the room when the patience was passed out!!!

I let Suzy and Arlene know that photos were on the way a few weeks prior when I got close to completion.  I had sort of given up the idea of my piece being considered for the museum showing, my ability to travel to the show, or even if Charlie would be available to be onshore at the ranch.  Imagine my surprise a few days later when I received an email from Arlene and Suzy that included the following information:

_________________________________________________________________________

The Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania will be showing a collection of Journey to the Golden Fleece pieces from October 2, 2015 to November 22, 2015.

The collection being shown will contain approximately twenty pieces.  The museum has asked that we submit the pieces from the following artists for their final selection to be included:
Simone Broersma
Susan Bruck
Pam Crichton
Elysa Darling
Clare Des Bruyeres
Cari Jarman
Sandy Lyons
Jan Massie
Joelle McCarthy
Clare Chapman
Randi Winters
Arlene Thayer
Suzy Brown
Virginia Schlomiti
Silja Devine
Emma Nicholson
Esther Rodgers
Debra Lambert
Melissa Yoder Ricks
Melisa Morrison
__________________________________________________________________________

“Antique Traditions” – Final Project Part One

 

My final project is in two parts.  Mod 1-6 is in Part One with Mod 7 being Part Two.  It is a mixed fiber medium piece.  All the yarn is hand spun during the course.  You can see all the Mod 1-7 yarns HERE.  Various parts are woven on a rigid heddle loom, woven on a circular loom, wet felted, dry needle felted, free form crochet, woven felt, and the backing was sewn on my vintage 1954 Singer 99K hand crank sewing machine.  I don’t really know how to sew so that was a fun experiment starting on such a large piece.  Most of it was pieced together with hand sewing or free form crochet.  Part One piece is approximately 5′ x 5′.

1954 Singer 99K Hand Crank Sewing Machine

I set myself the challenge to spin traditional yarns with architectural plies, to keep it all white, and to use the same fiber with the same prep through out the entire course.  All the yarn is spun from 15.5 micron merino in a commercial combed top preparation.  The only added bits are some white natural fresh water pearls strung on a white silk thread and Mod 6 yarn which includes garnet seed beads strung on a white silk thread.   There is some white silk hankies used in the felted parts but not in the spinning of the seven yarns.  I am excited to be included and very happy that I am going to be able to go to the exhibit.

 

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