A lot of passings…..Gracie and Rowan

A lot of passings…..Gracie and Rowan

I haven’t wrote for a while as there has been so many passings happening here on Alba Ranch that it feels overwhelming.  I know that loss is part of life and particularly of ranch and livestock life, but sometimes things just get you down.

On my birthday, April 13, I lost one of my Nigerian does.  I have had high hopes for this gal since the day she was born.  She was born first and was rather small but spunky.  Her sister was much larger and thrived, until things went wrong and we lost her at 4 months old.  So Gracie was still in my mind a lot.

Gracie as a kid with her mom and sister

She was a doeling off the only daughter I had from one of my best does.  I had worked with her mother for ages but she just would not work with me.  I sold her to one of my friends and she is as good as gold with her.  We all have preferences and I just was NOT hers!  I was greatly looking forward to little Gracie growing up and being a solid steady milker in my herd.  She was pregnant and went into labour on my birthday.  This was her first and ended up being her last.  She had one buckling that was huge and stuck.  We tried to help her pull it, the vet tried, we finally had to put her down after making certain there were no other kids stuck behind the first one.  That buckling was super huge and took up all the space and of course had passed during the trauma of this delivery.  I lost them both that day.  That was my first time losing animals like this and particularly with the Nigerian dwarf dairy goat breed.  In 10 years of having goats, I had never had to go or even try to go into the back side of a goat and help pull a kid.  My hands were too large for her and a friend had to help and with her small hands there was just no moving that stuck kid.

We have lost 2 of a set of triplets this year.  One at birth and another that was weaker around 4-5 days old.  I have heard others talk about this as common place but in my herd this is not common place and was hard to handle alone as Charlie was off shore working.

 

 

Rowan March 2006-May 13, 2016

 

My Rowan, big boy, mama’s boy, Roweeeeeena….these were a few of the nick names that Rowan had.  He came to us in 2006 out in Colorado with his brother and my first pair of dairy goats.  He has been a loyal buddy and although he would guard the goats when I asked him….he really preferred to guard me…MOM!

Rowan in his fav spot guarding mom

This last three years he has only guarded part time in the summers as he has never been able to tolerate the cold well.  And he had been full time retired this last year into the house. He started limping on his front shoulder a year ago and it would go away, come back, go away,…and repeat.  He seemed ok in between bouts of limping and there were no apparent wounds, injuries, swelling, sores or anything.  I wondered if he pulled muscles when romping out in the pen with the other dogs.  During the winter we added some pain killers to his daily routine to help with the pain as it was becoming more regular with the coming part and less of the going away part.  I knew that he was not getting better and we had to make the decision to let him go on May 13 as he just couldn’t walk without extreme pain and that was with pain killers.  His shoulder had finally swelled up and even with essential oils and lavender, the swelling was going down but the pain and limping was not. He had no other health issues but being the big Anatolian boy that he was, his not being able to walk was debilitating for him and impossible for me to help him due to his size.  He was ready to go and it was a smooth passing without incident other my my heart cracking.  I still remember the day when he was about 2 years old and had been barking all night long for approximately 9 months….yes I said 9 months..that I told my husband Rowan was not going to make it to his 2 year old birthday as I was going to strangle him.  I didn’t mean it..honest …..and I miss him dreadfully.

Goat Milking Machine and Antique Desk

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.

a bit of a catch up……

a bit of a catch up……

It has been ages since I have posted to my blog.  There is a reason.  I had an accident in February that crushed my head between and beneath about 40-50 pounds of wood, ice and snow.  I dropped the wood box lid with all the snow and such on my head when my head was in the box.  It crushed my head in between, hitting me both in the back and front of the head, broke my nose, split my face open and required stitches and an emergency visit.  That has all healed up, but the head injury part did not heal as quickly.  It has been a long hard six months but I am starting to feel better and starting to create again.  Before this it was very hard to be on the computer, type, text, talk on the phone ect.  Just too much input causing too many headaches.  That is why I have been absent….along with a smart phone and internet that has refused to play nice….or smart!!

Dry laid stone dykes

This last week, we have been building stone dyke walls outside around the flower beds.  Dry stacking sand stone and doing some in round field stones.  It will make it much easier to strim and mow.  I have found that all my lovely plants do not always obey and stay in their beds.  Some of the plants like Lily of the Valley in particular, like to wander out of their beds all over the yard.

Beautiful Lilies

We have had some super fab lilies this last week pop their flowers.  I love my double and trumpet lilies.  For a week, every time I walked past the studio the scent in the evening was almost over whelming.  Their blooms are past now and I am finding I am missing their scent.

Sunflower

The Sunflowers have started to bloom.  I planted a lovely variety of RED sunflower that I am still anxiously awaiting to open.  They are sooooo close.  The birds however, planted loads of Black Oil Sunflower seeds absolutely everywhere and those have been blooming ….well…everywhere!!

I have been working on my final project and should have it finished shortly.  The Fiber Face piece is complete.  The backing is sew together, hemmed, pressed and sewn to the front Fiber Piece.  I have to add two more tabs to finish out the top and steam block it.  Than it is done and photos will follow.  I stitched the entire backing, tabs, and hems with my new to me 1954 Singer 99K.  I adore this sewing machine and with it being a hand crank, I can go as slow as I want to.  It is wonderful.  I have been afraid of sewing for years and avoided it since my childhood.  It is so good to be creating and making things that I want to.  Isn’t this machine gorgeous?

1954 Singer 99K

I found two lovely hand cranks.  This 1954 Singer 99K and also a 1957 Singer 15K-80. Charlie has used the 15K-80 to sew himself a felt quilt padded pouch for his new lap top that is too big for his old computer bag.  We went to the Hen House on the east side of the state and met a lovely group of ladies that were quilting.  One explained to Charlie how to do a “french seam” and he did it for his first piece.  I didn’t pay any attention to them as I was more focused on sewing a regular seam somewhat straight and not my fingers included.  I thought he could show off if he wanted to.

I did get several other sewing machines as well.  Five all total.  I already showed you and told you about the 1926Singer 31-15 treadle.  She is an industrial sewing machine.  I also got a 1941 Singer 66 treadle.  I will use these two once I want to go faster than my hand cranks allow.

Last but not least, I got a 1949 Singer 15-91 electric for when I want to go really fast.  All told I bought five vintage Singer machines and have plans to get my sewing, weaving, and spinning nook sorted soon.  Currently they are spread out all over the place and it looks like a fiber and sewing shop exploded in the house.

Good News: we finally located my brand new never been used Juki Serger and the box of all the threads.  We haven’t been able to locate it in the storage units or semi for the last two years.  I was convinced that it was in a specific storage unit which was the only one of our units that was broken into last fall.  I was correct and it was in that unit but was not stolen thank goodness.  It was just very well buried and hidden….enough so that in about 4-5 trips both Charlie and I couldn’t find it.  It is found now so more progress and learning is on my horizon.

Goat Kidding Spring Season was in May.  We had five kids total born this May, with three being sold to new homes.  Fall Kidding season is about upon us.  I have several goats getting ready to kid at the end of August and into September.  Sweet Pea had a single doe in June and it was a hard one for her.  Her milk didn’t come in as good as it should have and the doe kid was very weak.  I was out there when she delivered so I sat with the kid wrapped in a towel zipped inside my carhart for hours.

Aileen around a week old in the barn yard

She was so weak she would have died had I not taken her into the house for two days.  She is now fat, sassy and running around every where.  A blue eyed blue pinto roan off one of my best does.  Her name is Aileen, which is Gaelic for “sunbeam”.  She is Sweet Pea’s last kid as we will be retiring her and finding her a pet home for her golden years.

All the llamas that we gave away have all come back to the ranch.  We decided to get two of them back around Thanksgiving and let the other two go for good.  However, those two also recently came back to the ranch.  All of them we think may well be pregnant.  So we are watching them as certain ones are getting rather plump and heavy.

It has been very busy here on the ranch.  Trees coming down, walls going up, flowers being planted, weeds being dug up, goats coming and going, llamas coming back.  So much activity.

I have started to learn how to sew with a vintage hand crank machine.  I did my first quilt bit that I made to be a pad under the dog’s water dish for drips.  I have been spinning.  Finally I have made three scarves with the Broomstick stitch in Crochet.  I had planned on doing that several years ago but moving state and injuries got me side tracked a bit.  Now that stitch is super fun!  I have woven for the first time with a bulky weight single ply as my warp and silk hankies shredded and used for weft.  There has been so much going on I forgot to tell you all about it.  I know that this is a feeble catch up for so many months of silence but I will do better as I am able to put in more computer time.  Off for now…..