Road Trip to SD – Day 1 – Driving

I frantically got ready for this trip that I had been thinking about for six months.IMG_1354

This is why we were able to take a road trip in mid-August. It is finally sinking in for Dan that he isn’t going back after a summer break.

We still weren’t ready on Wednesday, the day of departure. I had told Dan that we WERE LEAVING IN THE MORNING. We did, but it was almost noon before we drove out of the driveway. The plan was to drive as far as we could, not stopping at all of the California and Oregon trail markers like we usually do because we wanted more time at the other end of the trip. For that reason and because I was not the driver-in-charge I have a lot of  “drive-by” photos. Many were deleted but some are OK and those are what I’ll share.

Fernly Sink & Hot Springs Mtns, NV

We were driving I-80. I love the scenery of the west, even in the Nevada desert. This is the Hot Springs Mountains that rise above the Fernley Sink.

Fernly Sink & Hot Springs Mtns, NV

According to Wikipedia, an irrigation system was constructed in the early to mid-1900s and “a drainage system was also constructed to carry away excess water and mineral salts from the farmlands. This system consists of channels (5 to 15 feet deep) dug adjacent to fields; it eventually terminates in the sink northeast of Fernley.

40-mile desert-NV

We didn’t stop at all the roadside points of interest but this was at a rest stop. Throughout this trip we thought about the pioneer trails. They are well marked in the road atlases that we have for each state and along the highways. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to pack up the family and head west in the way that the pioneers did. We drove through the 40-mile desert in a little over 1/2 hour.

East of Valmy, NV

The mountains east of Valmy, Nevada.

East of Valmy, NV

We remember Valmy for it’s rest stop where we slept on one of our road trips a couple of years ago when there was a tremendous moth invasion. We didn’t need to stop to sleep here this time. Still daylight.

Humboldt Range, NV

Humboldt Range, southeast of Wells, Nevada.

West of Wells, NV

These photos were looking back west as the sunset.

West of Wells, NV

I had to lean over the seat and reach behind Dan while holding and pointing the phone and the camera in the general direction.

Even though it was getting dark we weren’t ready to stop. If we had left earlier in the day we would made it to Salt Lake City. So Dan kept driving. There is a distinct difference in the town of West Wendover (NV) and Wendover (UT). Bright flashing (gaudy) lights and Last Chance To Gamble on one side of the border and dark and “normal” on the other side. Dan kept driving. We passed through the Great Salt Lake Desert in the dark and finally stopped at a rest stop at the east side of the salt flats.

Those of you who read my blog know that I have written a sort of travel journal with photos each year for the past several years when we have made our annual road trips. I have no idea how many people actually read these, but I write these blog posts because they substitute for the old scrapbooks and photo albums that I was never able to keep up with. I also like reviewing the photos and looking up some of the information that I may have forgotten. It helps me keep it all organized in my brain. If you are one of the regular readers, I’d love to know about it. Stay tuned for Day 2.


Getting Ready

It is always work to get ready to go somewhere. In my case I cram in all the things that I would probably put off if I were here, but now feel like they have to be done before I go. Part of it is to try and make things as foolproof as possible so that the people taking care of things don’t face issues.


Now that the tractor finally works (sort of) I spent some time mowing. Then I wanted to try “spreading” manure. Spreading is in quotes because we don’t have a manure spreader. I have a tractor with a bucket and me with a shovel. Not practical…


…even though I have made some darn fine compost.


To make good compost the manure pile needs turning now and then, but the dryness on the top is deceptive. It’s wet underneath and it’s easy to get the tractor stuck–which requires me with the shovel again. Move onto other things that need doing.


The ewes are on pasture and the white net fences are moved around to change the paddock to be grazed. I moved the ewes to the side of the pasture where there is less risk of them rubbing on a gate and inadvertently (or on purpose) pushing things out of wack while I’m gone.


It’s hard to see in this photo but I set up the next three fences so that my kids don’t have to do it. They will have to close one but then the sheep just go to the next. There are always tricky things (like where there is concrete so the stakes for the fence don’t go in all the way and where you have to block off the irrigation ditch so they sheep can’t go under the fence, etc)


I had the ram lambs grazing in the back but don’t want fence-to-fence contact with them and the ewes so they had to be moved. These are the panels that were keeping them away from the ewes while grazing the back. There is no water in that back field so they needed access to the corral for water. I’m going to leave this in place so that the ewes won’t be near the big ram fence (not a big fence, although it is double, but the big rams). I don’t need any more reason for the rams to try and mangle their fence while we’re gone.


They did this just yesterday.


Here is a temporary fix. They also beat up the other wall and pushed it away from the corner post. That green panel in the upper photo is keeping them away from that part of their shed. Not fixes, but hopefully stopping further destruction for now. I expect when I get back that wire panel over the hole will be mangled as well.


Rusty doing his job of keeping the rams away while we put up the wire panel.


I said that I need to move the ram lambs out of the pasture. Ginny helps with that.


You can see Ginny behind here. She doesn’t work with finesse, but she can do the job.


Back up at the house, the birds are starting to get to my black sunflower seeds. These are for future dyeing projects.


I put net bags and bird netting over the flowers.


I water the garden and picked coreopsis. A friend will come and pick during the week to keep the flowers blooming and take squash from the plant that is taking over. The beans in the foreground look great but haven’t produced anything yet.


This is the wether in with Peyton. He had his leg through the front of the coat the other day so I caught him to take it off. Don’t want that happening while I’m gone and I didn’t have a needle and thread handy to make it smaller.


I was watering my barrels that have been neglected. Ginny knew where my attention was and placed her ball appropriately.

When condense into a few photos this doesn’t seem like much but I was going non-stop yesterday. I realized at about 9 p.m. that all I’d eaten was granola in the morning and watermelon through the day–it was too hot to want anything else. I am now  gathering up the last of the stuff to take. Where is that book about my camera?


Here is a hint about the road trip. Do you think I have enough reading material with me?

More from the State Fair

The State Fair seem so long ago now, but it was only last weekend. I wrote a post about our sheep exhibit and our wins. But I also wanted to share some of my other favorites before I move on to my next adventure (coming up this week!!).


I didn’t venture far from the barn this year because it was so busy. However I always like to see The Farm. Here was one unique flower display.


This sign explains what many people who live in other parts of the country don’t realize about most of California.


Here is a further illustration of why much of California would be considered a desert if it were not for irrigation water.


Back in the barn, the longhorns are always a favorite.


As my friends know I’m not a big fan of llamas or other camelids (at least not up close), but they do make good subjects for photography.




Our neighbors to the back were some lustrous, fluffy Karakuls.


Julie, (our favorite bunny lady from our spring Open House and sheep and goat breeder) had a display down the aisle from us. This is one aspect of her display that shows fleece from a variety of breeds. Julie won several well-deserved awards this year for her display.


We had new neighbors across the aisle. Being Angora goat (mohair) exhibitors they were new to the Marketing Award competition, but they did a superb marketing display and won first in that category this year. We enjoyed getting to know them and teaching one of their members to spin (see the last post about the fair).


I watched from my sheep pens while they took their goats to the show ring on Saturday morning. The method was to open the gates and hope they all followed the leaders, which mostly worked.


Bringing a stubborn kid to the ring.


I wish that we could show rams beyond yearlings. This aged buck was impressive.


These photos almost make me think…


…about having an Angora goat again…


…but then I’d have to deal with a GOAT.

CA State Fair – 2017

Someone commented on a social media post something to the effect “It takes a village–no, it takes a Farm Club.” That’s so true. Farm Club came through again with helping me at the State Fair. Some other of our fiber friends were there as well.


This is what the main part of the display looked like. When you set up a display at a fair, the first thing you have to figure out is how to make walls. There are no walls, just sheep pens. A few years ago I came up with the idea of using corrugated tin. Do you ever see those DIY or garden makeover shows? They buy tin and then spray it with acid to make it look old. We don’t need to do that. We just go out back and find plenty of beat up, rusty tin.


The signs are mostly about Farm Club and include plenty of pretty pictures of sheep. I also had continuously running videos of the farm and sheep. That’s Jackie, Mary, Dona, and Doris spinning and making themselves available to talk to the hundreds of people who came by. DSC_2628

People admired Alison’s vest. The yarn is some that I spun during Tour de Fleece but plied at the fair.


This year I added a Touching Table.


Greenery is part of the scoring–or at least plant material is mentioned in some of the criteria. (20% Effective use of display materials. Paper, wood, metal, plastic, plants, etc.) I am always irritated that I have to go out and buy plants that I don’t need. It’s not that easy to find ones that look good for a display like this and then I can plant and keep alive here later. So this year I dug up shovel-fulls of the pasture and labeled them as such. Even though they weren’t “pretty” it made much more sense to me.


Deborah, Alison, and Kathleen were there on Friday.


This year signs in English and Spanish and having the plants and white chain (see upper photo) in front of the ram pen helped keep people away. Does it seem like overkill? The white chain was the last thing to take away when we packed up. When we went back in the barn to halter the sheep there was someone in the alleyway yanking on Buster’s horns. What can I say?


I don’t mind the ewes having any attention they can handle. This is Vixen who learned that chin scratches are nice.


Jude and Dona spinning on Saturday.


Saturday was show day. I had cleaned the sheep up the day before, including scrubbing Buster’s horns.


Here are the sheep at the ring ready to go.


Yearling rams showed first. Buster was the easiest ram that I’ve shown in the last few years. I don’t see a blog post with a photo of him after I got him, but there is a photo here of him last October. He won his class and then was awarded Reserve Champion Ram of the Primitive Breeds Division.


Doris was a huge help. She had her sheep showing debut at Black Sheep Gathering and she looked like a pro here. These sheep are the ewe lambs, Jolene and Jennie.DSC_8771

The next to last class is “Flock”. That’s one ram and four ewes. Not the best pose by Vixen, crossing her legs.


The last class is “Best Pair”. I pay attention to what the judge says and use the two that he likes best. That’s the lamb, Jolene, and Buster.


Most of my ribbons were red or white because there were some top notch Karakuls also entered in the show. They swept most of the awards. I’m happy with this award though and am satisfied with the others. The big competition was still to be determined.


I reward myself each day with cold chocolate milk. Fair time and road trips are the only time I allow myself the luxury.


Speaking of showing sheep, aren’t you glad you aren’t showing Suffolk sheep? Not only do you have to do all the work of fitting, they are the size of ponies.


Back at the sheep pens, more spinning going on. This is Pat, Dona, and Susan’s husband (and Susan) who learned to spin just before I took this photo.


And speaking of learning to spin, we added a couple of other new spinners to the ranks. I met Louis across the aisle from us. He is with Eureka Mohair and asked if he could try a wheel because he had started spinning on a spindle. I brought an extra wheel the next day and there was no looking back. He did well on the Ashford Traditional but decided that his favorite was the Ashford Joy.


And this is my view of helping an 8-year old to spin. I treadled while he drafted.


Eventually he was able to spin mostly by himself. (That full bobbin is mine however–I just let him add to it.) His family was showing sheep and he was glad to hang out with the rest of us who were spinning.


The first day I plied his yarn and he wore it as a bracelet. The next day’s spinning made enough to be worn as a necklace. (He was also very excited about his henna tattoo.)


On Sunday afternoon the Supreme Champion Ram and Ewe are selected from the Champions of each breed. This is the ram class. Southdown, Montedale, Dorper, White Dorper, Wether Sire, Dorset, Suffolk, Karakul (Primitive Breeds), Merino (Wool & Fiber Heritage Breed)  , Hampshire, Shropshire, Columbia, Natural Colored (can’t see that one), and All Other Breeds. In between the ram and the ewe class the other awards are announced.


We did OK. This is 1st in Herdsman, Best Educational Presentation (sheep), Best Educational Presentation (all the livestock), Most Creative (Marketing), 2nd in Marketing Program. Thanks Farm Club and friends!!!

Animals at the Artery

I worked at The Artery in Davis yesterday. The current gallery show by Susan Stoll (a member who does photography) and Nicholson Blown Glass (non-member) is fantastic.

Susan Stoll

I love how they matched the colors in the glass and the photos.

Susan Stoll-2

Susan has set the bar high for when I do my show in November.

Jenn Norpchen

As I walked through the rest of the store this sheep caught my eye. This is by a new member, gourd artist, Jenn Norpchen.

I decided to look for more sheep in the Artery. I found four artists’ sheep. Tile wall art by Eileen Hendren, photo by Deborah Lamoreux, candle by Jan Schubert, detail of painting by Marie-Therese Brown.

Then I decided that I could do a blog post about Animals in the Artery.

Horses are my other favorite animal besides sheep. Tile by Shannon Moore, detail of a pottery vessel by Marianne deBoer.

But I like dogs and cows too…


… even  especially politically satirical dogs. Painting (dogs) by Linda Miller, cow photo card by Jock Hamilton, dog & cat sculpture by another artist new to the Artery, Marcia Smith, painting (cow) by Phil Gross, stuffed cow by Sara Yost, and trivets by Leslie Zephyr.

There are other animals represented too.

Birds. Detail of art-quilt by Marjan Kluepfel, etching by a third new member, Laura Morton, plate by Sharon Bloom.

How about creatures in the animal world beyond mammals and birds. Not all are my favorites but they can be subjects for lovely artwork as well.

Wood by Diana Kwan, glass dragonfly by Linda Marie Bird, ceramic fish by Jeff and Jimee Taylor, octopus by Heidi Bekebrede, fish print by Chris Dewees, dragonfly pin by Anita Winthrop, and sand-dollar earrings by Janine Echabarne.

I will be adding to the Artery’s animal collection in November when I present a show at the Artery.


These are a preview of what will be in the show.

Random Farm Stuff

In no particular order, here’s some of what I’ve been doing. Photos with my phone.


Spinning with the Tour de Fleece (while watching the Tour de France). This is kitty supervision (or challenge).


Dealing with bad ram behavior. Notice that the welded wire panel is bent and pushed directly into the electric fence which is now not charged because of the contact.


Picking blackberries.


Farm Club was here (another post about that) and I introduced Peyton, the BFL ram I brought back from Oregon.


Peyton’s selfie.


While we were busy working in the barn, Maggie entertained herself.


This is what she did to both hoses that were hanging on the chicken house. Notice that all  accessible wood has been covered with chicken wire. That’s because Maggie has already chewed what she could trying to get to the chickens. That freshly chewed board was the latest place she chewed before I put up the chicken wire. That is where the Little Chicken got out and then Maggie killed her. Maggie has more than three strikes.


Coreopsis growing near the house.


Coreopsis in the dye pot.IMG_0895

A blanket woven with last year’s dyed yarns.


This is exciting–my 2017 yarn is here!!! The gray is a Timm Ranch/Jacob blend. The white is from the Anderson Ranch.


Cleaning G1 (that’s the garage) and looking through boxes that haven’t been opened in years. This is a box full of trophies and ribbons that belong to the kids.


And if you grow up in California you make a mission when you are in fourth grade. This is Katie’s.

Lambs Grow Up

I caught the ewe lambs yesterday to figure out which were still for sale. I’m planning to keep several this year and it’s always tempting to keep too many. I sold several adults this year and a couple have died so I can keep at least 6 or 8 as replacements.lambs to keep

These lambs are all on my list to keep. There are a few close-ups below.

17055 head

Meridian Jennie (bide a wee Buster x Meridian Jane). She won Reserve Champion Ewe at Black Sheep Gathering last month.


Here is what she looked like in April.


I just decided yesterday that I’d keep this one. She’s not named yet (Starthist Dragon x Meridian Alice).


Here is a picture from May. Notice how the wool in front of her horns is shedding out. Adult Jacob sheep are not supposed to have woolly foreheads but the lambs are often born with wool that will shed.

17088 head

This is Jasmine (Starthist Dragon x Meridian Jazz).

17088 Jasmine

The wool on her forehead is also shedding.


Here is what she looked like in April.


Take a look at this nice looking ram lamb in late March. Look below to see why I don’t want to make deals for rams at a young age.


This ram can not be registered.

Other lamb photos are on the website although I haven’t updated the listings this month. There are several ram lambs to remove. Ram lambs. Ewe lambs.