New Pen, Nearly Complete

Paul has spent a lot of time outside working hard to get a new fence in place.  As of this evening, it’s about 99% complete.  Paul has some finishing “Orzo proofing” touches to put on it first. And by “Orzo proof”, I mean, “cross your fingers”. We think we’ve got it worked out, but we don’t want to be overly cocky.

It’s a fairly small pen, given what our needs are, but we are going to do it one section at a time, as we can afford it.

It did make me very happy to bring the flock up and put them out on fresh grass this evening while Lucy ran around and played without being tethered.


A very impatient Orzo surveys the progress.





Oona likes how the new gate is looking.


Lyra and Willoughby



Alabama and Carina


The flock and dogs will spend the winter in this pen while we work on the remaining fencing and property.  For now, I am going to enjoy sitting on the front porch and watching my lovely flock graze.

Tiny Bits of Progress

Despite the terribly wet weather, Paul managed to get some work done.  He set some posts in place and started stringing up lines to mark where fencing will eventually go.



10.05.15cHe’s also been out on the tractor clearing a wider swath though the trees so the fence won’t be a difficult to place as it was last time.

I’m frustrated with how slowly it’s happening, but there’s limited time and money, so I’m going to have to suck it up and be patient.

The sun actually came out today for the first time in what seems like years, so I will be doing my best to knock out the rest of the dyeing that needs to be done.

Dyepot, ho!

October, But No Fest

Today would have been Oktoberfest at the Frontier Culture Museum, but the weather had other ideas.  I’m pretty sad to be missing out on Bratwurst, beer, and Oompa bands.  They’ve rescheduled it, but it’s on a day I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it. So, to console myself I made pretzels and bratwurst, and I’m going to enjoy a good pumpkin ale brewed locally.


The recipe is from Sweet Paul, and it’s my favorite soft pretzel recipe (and yes, I’ve tried quite a few).  If you make them, it’s worth it to be sure you have some pretzel salt (or coarse, or flake….just not regular ol’ table salt) on hand.

The rain is still coming down in buckets, and I’m still trying to slog through yarn dyeing.  I can’t use the multi-burner stove we have outside, so I’m down to one pot going at a time, and between the humidity in the house from the steaming dye water all day on the stove and the solid walls of water coming from the sky, the yarn is not drying well. Very. Slow. Going. Still, it IS going.

Paul is out gathering fencing supplies for the front yard. We are having to start very, very slowly, and small, given the expense. Even so, just seeing any amount of progress is comforting. These poor dogs are so OVER this lockdown nonsense. It has been heartening, just how many neighbors and locals I’ve talked to that have been supportive. It’s also kind of frightening just how many of them have been seeing coyotes. Giving the dogs the ability to be outside a bit more is going to be good; even so, we are nowhere near being able to enclose the entire acreage.

I’ve been drowning my sorrows in food, as usual (my baking knows no bounds lately!).  Paul, on the other hand, had a different idea.

A crazy idea.

An idea that I cannot believe is happening.




One of his coworkers found a bunch of kittens abandoned in a dumpster. The situation ended up being “we need to find them homes or they are going to the SPCA”.

One coworker took 1, and I found a home for 2 others with my sister.  The remaining 2 evidently are staying with us. All I can say is this: thank heavens I have a fantastic – and affordable – vet.



The black one appears to be female and the other male. I say “appears” because they are only 3 weeks old, and all of the vets and techs at the office couldn’t agree.  So, we haven’t settled on any names yet.


I think it’s a crazy idea to take in two more cats.  But then, Paul thought I was nuts to bring home chickens, goats, sheep, and several more dogs, so I guess I really have no footing here, do I?

The kids are over the moon, and i will say this: the little sneezeballs (as my hilarious and allergic friend Lisa calls them) ARE pretty warm and snuggly and a nice way to spend a cold, dreary October weekend.

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY

I think many of you on the East Coast know what I’m talking about.

We have had days and days of heavy rain and it has been AWFUL.  Between the mud and the sloshing, and the wet sheep……..I’ve had enough. Sadly, we are looking at getting the remnants of Tropical Storm Joaquin this weekend, as well.

The worst part of all of it is how damp and gross it makes the house – and cars – feel. And that’s even worse when you have several large, furry animals pooping everywhere.

Yes, pooping.

First, Cini and Lucy still hate the leash, and though they’ve agreed that they’ll pee when we walk them, pooping is still “optional”.

Anyone want to hazard a guess where they end up pooping instead?

The living room. The kitchen. The hallway.

So, picture going out to feed the sheep and sinking to nearly your knees in mud and poop, and then coming back in all wet and gross to find a pile of more poop in the house!

And it’s not just the house!!!

I took Orzo for his pre-neuter well-check this week. Paul suggested I take his car to save on gas instead of the truck.

“Just put a blanket down in the back”, he said.

I did, and off we went.

It’s about a 40 minute drive to Dr. Grover’s office, down a lot of winding country roads.

We got about 10 minutes into our trip, past the parts of the route where there are plenty of turn offs and stopping spots, when the smell hit.

I quickly realized we had poop, and frantically began searching for a safe place to stop.

There weren’t any.

To make matters worse, Orzo was moving around an awful lot in the back – squishing and spreading it – and THEN. Then he jumped over the seats and onto Oona in the backseat.

I managed to find a place finally to pull over and assess the damage. He had, in fact, spread it all over. You know how a lot of cars have cargo mats in the back? Those grooved things that are IMPOSSIBLE to clean?

Yeah. All ground in.

While I was trying to clean it as best as I could, cursing and yelling, a lovely gentleman wandered down from the road I had pulled off onto. As it turns out, he’s from Yorkshire, England, and used to train Border Collies for sheepdog trials.  He seemed to know everyone in the county, and when I told him about our recent drama, he really wanted to know who this person was threatening to shoot our dogs. I wish I knew with certainty so I could have told him. Just like many others, he reminded me having the dogs running about is a good thing, considering all the recent coyote sightings and attacks.

Small world, eh?

He helped me out a bit and sent me off on a very smelly ride to the vet.

Orzo is perfectly healthy and got his boosters, etc, so he can be ready for his neutering on the 12th.

Then it was another smelly ride home, with me desperately trying to keep his 75 lb self from jumping into my lap all the way home.

Oona and I emerged from the Prius into the rain, grumpy, covered in fur, with poop smears all over.

Paul spent the next 3 hours cleaning his car. He stripped it down to the bare metal to clean it.

Not even kidding here!

It is for times like this I’d really like to have a mudroom with a dog shower and floor drain.

For now we are doing our best to keep the dogs walked and happy, and I’ve been moving Sabine and Orzo’s tethers as much as I can so they don’t sit in one spot too long.

But I really, really need this rain to let up. It’s getting waterlogged out there, and I can’t get any real yarn dyeing accomplished when nothing wants to dry out.


I HAVE seen some lovely beginnings of fall color, though, and that’s a good thing.

Autumn Delights

It’s officially autumn now, and today it certainly feels it. It’s rainy and chilly, and the trees are showing the faintest hints of changing color. Only one mum plant from last year made it to this year, but it’s my favorite color, so that’s at least something!


I bought two more in orange and yellow; hopefully I’ll get around to planting them soon!

It’s also time again for me to play with yarn and dyes, and combined with all the baking I’ve been doing, the house smells of wool and cinnamon. It’s heavenly!



Apple pie is most definitely our favorite treat this time of year.  As always, I use Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. 

As for the filling, I sprinkle dry tapioca on the bottom crust, and toss in chopped apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar.  Add some dabs of butter, cover it with a second slab of crust, and voila!


We’ve been hogging out on the pie and my Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.  Last night I changed it up just slightly by adding a teaspoon of boiled apple cider along with everything else. It added a whole other layer of delicious.  The combination of all these things makes for such a lovely, cozy evening.

But, though it’s not all doom-and-gloom around here, it’s also not all rosy and rainbow unicorns, either.

We are still trying to raise as much as we can to better contain the dogs.  Orzo has an appointment for a neutering, in the hope it will quell some wanderlust (and make him gain enough wait to not be able to clear a 6 foot fence anymore!).  Paul is in talks with a few folks for estimates, and we have made a campaign of aggressive friendliness while out walking the dogs.

Now, let me ask you: have you ever tried walking dogs that have spent their whole lives off leash? It’s getting better, but my first efforts were nothing short of epic disaster.  CIni is 12, after all. They all sort of had this reaction of what fuckery is this???

Cini and Lucy flat out refused to do their “business” while on the leash for the first two days altogether, and there was quite a lot of cleaning up to do in the house from that debacle.

It’s getting better with them, but Lucy is still pretty upset about the whole thing and regularly digs in her paws and refuses to move.

But we’ve been doing our best, and trying to greet as many people as we can with them.  We already know quite a lot of our neighbors who are wonderful, but we’ve seen a few out and about we haven’t met yet. A couple have been unfriendly and refuse to wave back or acknowledge us; but they’ve been few. Oh, humanity. You’re a crazy, messed up, beautiful, awful thing!

Our nearest neighbor told us she misses having Lucy keeping guard over her and her dogs; Lucy, for her part, seems to miss them as well, and keeps pulling me hard to get over there to greet them.

Sabine and Orzo are firmly chained up at the moment. We have no idea how else to keep them close while we await fencing options. They are not happy at all; Orzo has been whining and barking non-stop. Sabine just seems defeated.  It breaks my heart. But, they have shelter and access to food and water, even if they are unable to chase off any threats.

I’m cautiously optimistic; we’ll figure out something. In the meantime, we are hoping to keep some donations coming in so we can be sure we area able do things right!

And, lest you think it’s only the dogs that are tough to contain, I leave you with this hilarity:


For donating, go HERE, or click the button on the right side of the page.

Call For Help

A few days ago, a nice county police officer came to my door to warn me about one of our neighbors.  Apparently, a gentleman down the road has been seeing our dogs on their chases and is very unhappy about the situation.

I’ve discussed here before, I think, how smart and stubborn the Maremmas are.  They have a job to do, and they are damn well determined to do it. The problem is, when they are chasing off predators or patrolling their domain, they’ve begun to cut a wider swath.  We’ve spent thousands on efforts to improve the fencing, keep them with the flock. They’ve busted under, through, and over welded wire and chain link. We’ve even resorted to putting them on long chains when we’ve been desperate in the past.  This does nothing but make them a bit crazy; and then they broke the chains.

So when the nice officer came to the door I was already at my wit’s end with the situation myself. The thing is, our county is almost entirely zoned for agriculture. As such, there are no leash laws or noise ordinances, and we are, in fact, required by the state to have protections (such as guardians) in place for our livestock. He reiterated that I had done nothing wrong, and that he realized that my dogs were absolutely not a threat.

However, this one man down the street has stated he will shoot my dogs if he sees them again.

Unfortunately, he is within his rights to do so if he claims he feels threatened by them.

We have had a GPS tracker on Orzo’s collar for a little over a month now, and I can tell you, that although they have been known to chase deer, coyotes, and foxes down towards that man’s house, they are never there for more than a few moments and they come right back. In addition, Orzo’s GPS movements show him in that area maybe 3 times last month.

We are not talking about an every day nuisance.

Either way, we are at a crossroads. We either need much, much better fencing in place or we need to decide we can no longer keep animals here. I can’t imagine losing them or giving them up.  Working dogs or not, they have become part of our family.

We can’t pack up and move.  Our house is still “under water” as it were, in terms of value. We are here for the foreseeable future, come what may.

We need as much help as we can get. We have decided to start a gofundme page in the hopes that we can raise enough money to put up a good, solid fence. This will not be cheap; we have just under 5 acres to enclose and we can’t simply do horse fence and welded wire anymore. We need high, solid panels.

I am hoping to have a professional estimate soon; in the meantime I am setting a goal that, although it looks super high, is probably a low ball estimate.

I will be posting a link shortly. If you can give, even a little bit, we will forever be grateful. But please, share, and share widely. Share with your animal – loving friends. Share with small farm supporters. Share with anyone and everyone.

And thank you for coming by here and sharing a bit in our lives. If we can get this accomplished, you’re all invited to the celebration.
There’s also now a widget on the right hand side of the blog main page.