Thursday, July 31, 2008

Misty morning

While I am trying to get lamb updates together to post, this is my way of shamelessly wasting blog space. It was very foggy this morning, which always makes for some interesting photos....not much to blog about, but here they are.
Jake, Jasmine and Morgan out in the pasture....probably a good thing that they are obscured by the fog. I gave them all a bath last night and they weren't entirely dry when I returned them to their pasture. Those of you who have horses know how the rest of this story goes. As I turned them loose, one by one, I purposely herded them out onto the long pasture grass, because I am wise to their devious plan. They did not disappoint me. As expected each of them trotted back into the dirt paddock and promptly threw themselves into the powdery dirt and proceeded to roll until every inch of clean, wet, horse was covered in caked on dusty goodness.

"You should have dried us off first, mom".


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Yesterday morning I got up a bit earlier than normal. I was thinking that I could finish my chores, set up my canopy and put out my baked goods for the RAGBRAI bikers before they started to make their way down our road toward their final destination. Let me tell you, there are some serious bikers in that bunch...a few started trickling by at 6 am. Considering that they started out that morning from a town 32 miles away and were already arriving here at 6 am.....I'm just sayin' I was impressed.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had lots of family and friends at our place to watch the entertainment roll by. My grand-nephew, Zach, watched intently hoping to gain a spot in the never-ending flow of bikers. Unfortunately for aspiring biker Zach, his mother had other ideas.

By late morning the slow trickle of bikers turned into a steady stream of bicycles, spandex and crazy costumes....Not sure what this was about....

Here is some serious bikage.

There was every configuration of bike imaginable.

I think this one looks like something plucked from a Dr. Suess book.

Above Zach is trading stories of the road with one of his new found friends.....under the watchful eye of his mother....oh, yeah, Zach is a hard core biker-boy.
There was such a flury of activity that we missed seeing some of the stand-outs. I was told that there were a couple of unicyclists that made the trip, as well as a group calling themselves "Team Bad Boy", that travel towing coolers, a mini bar and a grill so that they are ready for any situation. Totally missed seeing the rider that was dressed as a banana....that's okay though. We did, however, see and meet an endless array of wonderful people from almost every state (where were you Hawaii?) and all around the world. Our front yard turned into a make-shift rest station where riders stopped to sit in the shade, nap on the lawn, repair their bikes, and just eat some cookies.....a LOT of cookies. At various times I would run in the house, mix up cookie dough, put the cookies in the oven and run back outside while the cookies baked...I only lost track of time on two batches, they got a little 'overdone', shall we say.

The great part about RAGBRAI is that it is a ride, not a race, so people feel free to stop and visit along the route, some of our guests spent nearly an hour at our place. They took pictures of the sheep and llamas...and us. And we took pictures of them and listened to their stories.....SO much fun. I love meeting people from other places, and what better way to meet people than lure them into your front yard with homemade, fresh out of the oven, chocolate chip cookies?

Here are a few pictures of some of the people we met showing some of the places represented.

Team Great Britain


Team Italia......these guys (and girls) were awesome....thanks Kate for showing us your bum! So friendly and happy......didn't understand a word the guys were saying, but boy were they fun!

Here is Marie with some of the team. Okay, Okay, so I have a LOT of pictures of team Italia. Give me a break, who doesn't want to see handsome Italian men in spandex?

Minnesota was represented.

These are some of the nice 'Loons' that stopped to visit with us. Very nice Minnesotans.

It was a wonderful day, and I want to thank all of our new friends for stopping by and taking the time to let us get to know a little bit about your lives. I am kind of sad now that RAGBRAI changes it's route every year and will probably not pass this way again. Perhaps I will have to ride it someday..........hmmmm.....471 miles on a bike...........maybe not.

As for Zach, all that tricycle riding up and down the driveway, chatting it up with the riders and yelling "have a good ride", as they left the property, was a bit much for this three-year-old hard-core biker dude. He and Bosco had to take a little mid-afternoon snooze.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just when I was starting to think I was normal...

Every once in a while, I start to get the misguided notion that perhaps I am just like everyone else, maybe I am not quite as off the wall as I had suspected, maybe I am just like all the conformist 'soccer mom' types living in Pleasantville...........then I get a reality check. I was downloading pictures off of my camera the other day, and discovered that apparently, my charming husband decided to take some pictures (through the screen) of what goes on every morning when I head out the door to do chores. The only saving grace is that he is not a great photographer (sorry honey), so the gory details of my-straight out of bed, no make-up, hair tucked into my baseball cap, lovely morning routine, are not too obvious.

First thing in the morning, I let the 'girls' out the basement door (in this instance 'the girls' refers to the dogs, we use this term interchangeably for the dogs, the ewes, and the laying hens, strangely we seem to always know to whom the other is referencing). Upon opening the door I normally find Cinnamon (yellow cat) waiting, flanked by at least one chicken. In this photo we find (left to right) ; Jordan (Dalmatian), Junior (other yellow cat near barn), White Chicken (self explanatory), Bailie (golden) followed by Cinnamon, above Bailie's tail is Frostbite (named after there was an unfortunate winter freezing incident), and closest to the barn is Brown Kitty. Yeah, we are good at thinking of names. Oh yeah, I am in there too.Anywhoo, everyone follows me out to the back to potty the dogs, feed the rams/wethers and then......
We all make the trip back to feed horses. Now I have been joined by Betty (black chicken to my left). Her name was Ugly Betty, but then her feathers grew back....another story.
Just a glimpse into my strange little world.....I was never meant to be a conformist anyway!

Other goings on. This Saturday, RAGBRAI is going to be traveling right in front of our house. This is an annual bike ride across Iowa (471 miles) in which there are approximately 10,000 registered riders and probably another 6-7,000 that just jump in. Each year there is a different starting point on the west side of Iowa (this year Missouri Valley, Iowa), and a different ending city along the Mississippi river on Iowa's Eastern border. Our daughter Nicole and her boyfriend Andrew are riding this year and they will stop here for a short time before finishing the ride in Le Claire, Iowa. The riders traditionally dip their tires in the river at the end of the ride.

Normally, I do the Farmers' Market on Saturday, but we were informed that we would probably not be able to get in and out of our driveway for most of the day until the riders thin out a bit. So I figured, why not set up a booth out front and sell my cookies and salted nut rolls to the hungry masses? Needless to say this entails a LOT of baking. Nicole has been giving me reports along the way as to what the riders are buying to eat and drink....sounds like some of them have been drinking too much! Sounds like a wild group, should make for good blog fodder.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Enough with the Japanese beetles!

The Japanese beetles have totally destroyed my plum tree.

And now they have moved on to my flowers....... I just thought you should know.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New guy

I am so excited! I finally decided to stop drooling over/stalking Stephen Rouse's sheep and actually buy one! Introducing..........Uhhh, he doesn't have a name yet. Crosswinds new flock sire.
BTW I totally ripped off this picture from Steve's Kodak photo album, so I must give him credit.

Isn't he gorgeous? No solid color lambies next spring...well maybe a couple, I have a couple of solid ewes that I can't give up.

I don't actually have rammy lambie here yet, I am trying to make arrangements to get him here since Steve's place is in Michigan and obviously, I am in Iowa.

Now comes the hard part of reevaluating my ewe flock to determine which ewes best fit into my flock goals. Of course I have some ewes that will stay no matter what as pets, but I have WAY too many sheepies right now so I have to make some very difficult decisions :-(.

One of my adult ewes that I will be selling is Sheepy Hollow Red Trillium S22320 (Sommarang Claire x WVF McGyver). Nice moorit flecket ewe with good conformation and tail, fleece is soft, crimpy, shorter staple length. Excellent mother, twined this year with no problems. This is not a recent picture. Trillium's fleece is rooing right now so currently she resembles the creature from the black lagoon. $300

I still have some lambs available on my website. I will add others once I am done evaluating.

Other exciting news...for me...It looks like I will be able to stay for the whole weekend at the Wisconsin Sheep and wool festival. Originally it looked like I would only be able to go for the Saturday show, but my dear hubby offered to stay home and care for the menagerie whilst sister Marie and I go to Jefferson.....My sister Marie...not Sister Marie, as in a nun...she is not a nun...not to say that she is a bad person or anything like that...she is just clearly NOT a nun.....okay..let's move on. Love you Marie :).

Let's see a show of hands...err comments, anyone else going to Jefferson? I will have to try to post a picture of myself so you can find me...or avoid me..whatever suits your fancy.

I better get back to work, Farmers' Market is tomorrow. I got my 17 dozen cookies baked, eggs collected and ready, polymer clay figurines packed, I will go out and pick my produce and get that packaged, and "they" (the weather guessers) are calling for an 80% chance of rain for tomorrow, geeesh, I may be canning green beans tomorrow night.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

2 weeks in a nut shell

I have been a bad blogger!
I was getting tired of my kids reminding me to update my blog, until I realised that the last entry I made was about the baby barn swallows....and they have long since left the nest and ventured out on their own. So, here is the short version of the events of the last 2 weeks (or so).

About a month ago I got a brilliant idea (as I often do). I decided that I needed to tear up the old brick sidewalk leading up to our house. The bricks had all settled and were not so much a sidewalk, as they were kind of a mini obstacle course of different heights of bricks...when it was dry...and a squishy, oozy mud track when it rained.
This was going to be great, I would pull up all the bricks, lay down some fresh sand, and put the bricks properly in place again.....As it turns out, I really hadn't thought this process through (as I often don't), and upon pulling up the bricks and standing back to gain perspective, I came to the realisation that the whole 'putting down fresh sand and laying the new sidewalk' thing just wasn't going to happen. So, after trying for the last several weeks, through all of the rain, to find someone that could put a sidewalk in for us, we finally got it done on Friday. Yeah!

My cousin's beautiful daughter Celina was visiting from Germany earlier this month with my Aunt and Uncle from Minnesota. They brought her out to the farm to see the animals and to spend a little time with us. I hope she had a good time...............

I think my uncle did! It's not often you see a retired Airforce Master Sargent getting all slobbery with a llama......
Or a dog.....I wonder what his Airforce buddies would say??

We spent a quiet Fourth of July lounging by the pool.
Recently, I have been doing battle with the arch nemesis of my garden. The Japanese beetles. Oh sure, they are pretty, and iridescent, and shiny. But, this is what they are doing to my trees!This is my old plum tree that I am sacrificing to the beetles to keep them from eating my apple trees.
White Chicken and I developed a system that worked out pretty well for her.....not so great for me. She followed me out to the tree and waited. Then I grabbed a branch and shook it. Lots of the beetles fell to the ground where she could gobble them up, unfortunately, the buggies that didn't fall to the ground, flew in all into me mostly...and they have those creepy little barbed legs that stick to you.....we only played that game once. Some of you may not know this, but we are lucky enough to live very close to the "World's Largest Truck Stop", which we happen to drive by every time we go to Iowa City. Yesterday, our son Justin and some of his friends were having a "circus" in Iowa City to raise money for flood relief, so as we were passing the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, we noticed that the annual 'Trucker's Jamboree' was going on. This, surprisingly, was something that I have never attended in all of my years living in this area...go figure... so we decided to stop.
See, I told you! It's the World's Largest, the sign says so.
There were lots of shiny trucks. This one looked angry at me.
But apparently, they were glad we were there...the sign says so.
When we got to Iowa City, we went to dinner with our daughter and some of her friends. The restaurant, like most of the buildings in the flood stricken areas, still was surrounded by sandbags and probably will be for some time. Clean up is going to be a long process. Then we went to The Cirque Stupendo. I wasn't able to get many photos since the venue was a bit dark...which may not be a bad thing, actually, as illustrated in the following photo.

This is Will, one of the performers, doing....well.. Will stuff. He is quite amusing.
Justin and his lovely assistant/girlfriend Kristin preparing for one of his acts. Justin, some may be surprised to learn, possesses a veritable treasure trove of bizarre circus skills, many of which he displayed at the show and did a phenomenal job at all of them...not bad for a physics grad student. Kristin is a master balloon animal maker. Justin and his group of friends that juggle, The Juggalos, have an amazing fire juggling act that was planned for outside after the main show. Unfortunately, the local fire marshall had other ideas.

As always it was fun to spend time with the kids and they did a great job putting their unusual talents to good use!
So now you are up to date.
Tomorrow Lambs are getting shots, tags and deworming. I am going to post pictures of those that are still for sale, really, I will.

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