Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Navajo TearDrops Afghan

this is an afghan my mother made and actually kept. Most of her afghans were given as gifts to friends and relatives. This is the Navajo TearDrops pattern. Very easy to make. It is just crocheted across and cut off leaving fringe on each side.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Shearing Barn Cleaning

One of my greatest challenges every year is barn prep for shearing. We have had a commercial flock of mostly Rambouillet sheep for nearly fifty years here at my ranch. My grandfather traded some purebred Hereford cows to a neighbor for his first flock of sheep.

Now we’ve all heard the stories about how the old Cowboys hated the old Sheepherders! My grandfather was no exception to being the “Old Cowboy”. At age 13 he was hired with another boy to trail a herd of horses from Dalhart, Texas to Corona, New Mexico. They were in charge of about two hundred fifty head of horses! We don’t even let our thirteen year old boys out of the yard now, let alone charge them with getting a herd horses across about three hundred miles without an adult along. He was put in charge of a “line camp” on the ranch to which he brought the horses. He was charged with keeping those sheepherders away from the waters and off the grass.

Since he bought the flock of sheep in the early 1950s, he had to build a “shearing barn” that would work for other things during the rest of the year. A barn is necessary to keep the floors a bit cleaner here in the desert southwest. It keeps the spring winds out of the freshly sheared wool.

The floor in the barn, at that time, was portable being made like pallets. Each of these pallets was eight foot long by one foot wide boards with narrower boards nailed underneath, and with inch gaps between. This was for the trash to fall through but not the sheep or shearers. It worked well for years. My dad decided to pour a concrete floor to make it easier to work on the trucks and other equipment. This makes for oil spills and other sins.

Every spring we have a barn cleaning party. Anything not shearing or sheep related must be removed from the barn. This includes snowmobiles, ATVs, tool chests, welding equipment, dirt, oil spills, blown in vegetable matter. When we get through with the barn party the barn is cleaner than my kitchen. In order to keep the wool in as near to pristine condition, it must be sheared in a clean barn. And the barn must remain in a clean condition all during the shearing operation.

Oil spills are first blotted up with kitty litter, a concrete detergent used to scrub the floor, and a very thorough rinsing.

Things like rocks, cigarette butts and soda cans are strictly forbidden on the shearing floor. My floor boss is in charge of keeping all trash off the floor. This person is given a push broom and a lawn rake. They sweep the area immediately after a sheep is let loose and the fleece is picked up. Prevention of contamination being the operative word for the floor boss. During lunch hour, the floor boss gets to sweep the floor completely and rake the area where the sheep are kept, off the edge of the concrete. Then at the end of the day this process happens all over again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Raising Dogie Lambs

What is a dogie? it is an animal who has lost its mother for one reason or another. In the case of sheep, Rambouillet Ewes usually have twins and in our dry desert southwest, they will forget they have two babies and leave one asleep at the feed bunkers or waters. I pick these babies up and try to raise them on the bottle.

Ewe milk is about twice as butter fat content as cows milk. So just feeding them a regular dairy suppliment milk is not an option, neither is giving them regular powdered milk. They have to have a special formulated milk.

Another problem with raising lambs on a bottle is that sheep are born with the notion that they will die and when they do there is nothing that a shepard can do to prevent it.

I have a little tightly enclosed pen out by the bunkhouse with one of those large dog igloo dog houses in it. I put trash wool in the bottom and change it out about once a week. The other day the gent who lives in the bunkhouse decided that the bottom needed to be off the dog igloo. He cleaned the thing out and instead of putting more wool in it and putting the top back on, he just sat the top half on the ground.

This morning the three babies we had in there were frozen!! It got much too cold last night for them to survive that way. It is fine not to have the bedding and bottom on the dog igloo in May!! But in March we are still likely to have zero degrees nights.

I am so aggravated this morning because we had those babies going very well until he decided he knew best how to shepard them. Sometimes it seems to me that the men on and around this ranch have absolutely no common sense.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Disaster Happens

Some of the more fun things in my life are getting demonstrations of my crafts set up at fairs, faires, and festivals. Most of the time things go very well and we have no trouble at all. But then again, once in a while Disaster strikes!!

We have been setting an information booth up at the New Mexico Ag Expo for about 11 of the 13 years this event has been happening. One year I had to cancel due to a death in the family. Most years the weather in February is atrocious! But this is what is needed to bring active farmers to the festivities! It is too cold to work in the barns and too nasty to plow, so they and their wives come to the Ag Expo.

This year started out promising!! The wind was blowing at around 50 miles per hour across the plains and creating the look of the Dust Bowl Era. But things went downhill from there very rapidly. The wind settled, the temperatures hit the 70s, but that wasn't the Disaster!!

As I was getting the spinning wheels and woven and crocheted things out of the truck, my husband was going to pull my tables out of the trailer. I still have no clue what happened back there. When I came back out of the building he was laying on the gravel drive area, half under the trailer on his back. He had a sort of glazed look to his eyes! He answered all the questions as if he were with us!! How many fingers am I holding up? Can you raise your arm? Can you smile at me? What happened?

We let him stand up and then sit in a chair I pulled out of the trailer. He flatly refused medical help and refused to let me take him to the hospital ER as well! I finished setting up my display and came back to the truck. I moved the truck and trailer to the back of the building to unhook the trailer. His right eye became increasingly bloodshot and was turning black around it. But he fell backward out of the trailer? Maybe he hit something I can't see.

I should have ignored him and taken him to the ER then!! But no, I let him have his way. Our granddaughter came later in the evening to take us to dinner. He didn't want to go, said his head hurt too much to think of eating, but did drink one of those Fuze drinks. It promptly made him sick to his stomach. Still, I didn't insist that he go to the hospital.

I left him in the motel the next day, worrying about him all the time I was away. Granddaughter went back over and checked on him several times. That night he still wasn't in the mood to eat but did conceed that he might have a concussion.

The next day he went with me to the Expo and mostly sat in the corner of the display booth quietly. I took everything apart that night and loaded it and we came home. The next morning he decided he definately needed to see the doctor. So I took him to the ER. The CT scan showed that he did have bleeding on the brain, and the ER doc gave him a very bad time for not appearing in an ER sooner.

Hey, girls!! Don't let your hardheaded guy get away with this!! They suffer much too loudly!! They won't suffer any more or less by being taken to the ER immediately, but you can worry less.