Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Ain't For Sissies

I labored to get out of bed.  I groped my way out of the down comforter.  My body inched forward to a sitting position.  I pushed my hair out of my face and blinked.  I am not old.  Not THAT old anyway.  But I was gripped with osteoarthritis.  Yesterday I walked, carefully.  Today, if I could not find a stable hand-hold and stand up, I would crawl.

My electric coffee maker refused to operate its heating element although the light indicator was bright.  I filled my stove top percolator with enough water and coffee grounds for two cups. Soon the kitchen smelled of fragrant, hot coffee.

I fished around for the doggie treats and called the dogs.  Only Moses showed up.  Probably Nadia slipped under the fence to get in the sheep pasture.  She and Moses were fighting again, I supposed, and she wanted to be alone.  Sometimes she can be a melancholy dog, dreaming of her sisters and the sheep farm in Oklahoma where she was born and learned to yap at the coyotes at night. No coyotes here.  Just a few cougars and a bad-tempered she-bear that shreds my electric fence.  Nadia would come for her treat and food later, after Moses had eaten, when he would no longer stand in the doorway brow-beating her.

I filled the sheep feeder.  First Athena dashed into the shelter. Then a few more rushed in.  I called the others. It wasn't like they trickled in. So long as I braced myself and held on to a post, I was safe from the air stream.  I went back into the house, pulling myself along and leaning against the redwood tree by the kitchen.

The bottom leaves of the moth orchid have suddenly yellowed and fallen off.  I spent hours trying to find out what might be the problem.  After reading through all the information in the garden blog, I decided they are not getting enough light.

I sipped my coffee and mused.  Light, humidity level, temperature.  They should be at levels where you and the plant are both comfortable.  They could go into acute dormancy.

I was in no position to quibble.  I feel like I could use a full-spectrum light.  I could benefit from someone fussing over my well-being and adjusting the thermostat, the sprinkler system and the humidity level gauge of the whole planet.

I'd really rather skip winter but somebody already scheduled it. Hopefully tomorrow will be another day of peace at Treecroft Farm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Treecroft Farm in December

I have been writing "Barn-cleaning Haiku" all of November, waiting for rains, waiting now for snow.  The sky looks like it is going to unload.  Something.  But I am still waiting, a bit colder. The sheep are only hungry, as ever, and breeding.  Xerxes is a calm king.  I tried painting his underbelly with blue marking paint. But that did not work out.  Because he is shades of brown and the ewes in estrus are all either black or brown, the paint did not show up.  So I will wait.  December is all about waiting.

Some of my handmade, hand knitted and hand spun work can be seen and purchased on  Annie's page does not include a hat that was made with Xerxe's lamb fleece.  If you are interested in this hat, created with 100% Lopi, please let me know.  Other hats, also not on display on Annie's page, are made with a blend of fur from one of the Great Pyrenees, the dogs who guard these Icelandic sheep.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life Learning Experiences

with no surprise,
I have managed to do it again.
I just have to be different.

I must be the only blogger who has ever accidentally clicked on Delete and watched in horror as the screen went blank.  There are no entries in General Issues or in Posting and Editing Issues in the Help menu that will help me find and restore my posts.

My friend and colleague Andy would ask, "What does this remind you of?"

It brings back fond memories of my mother screaming, "Don't touch anything!"

It also reminds me of the county building department's secretary (a Monica L. double (are we still talking about her?) with a tight black skirt, a tight red sweater, straight out of a Lee Child thriller) telling me, more or less, that I am a walking code violation.

So, why does this happen?  Why is there no UNDO button?  Or, if there is one, why am I the only one who can't find it?

Is all this happening because I am female?  A single mother? Post menopause?  A sheep farmer?  A PhD? Poor?  Fill in the blanks.  Oh, right, this has to happen because I am blind.  That must be the right label to slap on me.  Used to be if you made a typo or any other Freudian slip, it had to be for a reason that is now politically incorrect to mention.

My grandmother lived past her 100th birthday.  She never used a computer.  She didn't go to graduate school.  She never raised sheep.  She wasn't a single mom.  She never blogged.  She never swore or threw the All-Im-One across the room or wanted to hit any key with a sledge hammer.


I want my posts back.

It's almost Christmas.  Give me a break.

I knew I should have just sat around in my bathrobe and spun the rest of that Lopi grey cloud.  I knew I should have knitted another "Snoopy" hat, the fun hat with ear flaps that makes me think of Snoopy on his dog house, muttering to himself.  I knew I should have stayed in bed reading up on antique roses.  The Bourbons, the Chinas, the Perpetuals.  The Gloire de Dijon that D. H. Lawrence wrote a poem about.

Someday, soon, I must have one for my garden too.  After I buy more worms.   Big red juicy ones to set free in a worm bin.

After all, I have to do SOMETHING to amuse myself and get out of this funk.  I might as well go out and watch the worms when I hit the wrong key or get a paper jam.

<sigh>  <sigh>  <pout>

You can see some pictures of my handmade hats on Annie's page on

But that won't bring back my posts.


Lost Forever

It takes a century to create one inch of topsoil.  A whole one hundred years of . . .
of what?  It is beyond my understanding.

As I create compost, I am imitating those great forces of nature that carefully layer, mix and stir materials plucked from the universe.

When I first began raising sheep at Treecroft Farm, I worried constantly about the build-up of manure.  I joked with the shearer about an event in The Odyssey, where a river was diverted to clean out the manure from 3,000 oxen.

I experimented and in time have found a way to manage the manure on the farm.  My method also has a grand plan. Whether or not my plan happens to be successful remains to be seen. But right now I am happy.

I built the containers on top of the old driveway without removing the layer of asphalt.  Chuckle.  Won't those gophers be jealous when I convert these into raised beds for vegetables.  I don't think they can burrow under.

I created two containers.  One is made with six railroad ties stacked and butted together, about nine feet wide by nine feet long by two feet high. The other is made from old feeder panels I "deconstructed" to make a container roughly four feet wide by eight feet long by two feet high.  When I clean out the lower shelter, these bins fill quickly with the wasted hay and sheep pellets.

Since I laid down paving squares in the shelter, it takes less than a half hour to thoroughly rake up.  Nine sheep will produce about three cubic feet once every couple of days.

I add leaves, which are especially abundant now.  I added a pound of red wrigglers.

I take gardening seriously.  Just added "Mermaid" to the collection of roses.  Introduced in 1918, this scrambler was one of Monet's favorite roses.  Perhaps it will be as beautiful as my other climber, the giant "Belle of Portugal" (1903).  A few of her branches are at least three inches in diameter.

Oh, yes, the rose garden, star jasmine, ferns, strawberries and fruit trees are on "the other side of the fence."  The sheep may safely graze on their own side.