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.

Up Next in Knitting

Now that we are quickly heading into fall, and I’ve finished my Shepherd sweater, I’ve been itching to cast on some fun new knitting projects. I’ve got several in mind, and I’d like to work something up for each of my girls, but until I decide what to pick for them, I’ve got another pair of socks started.


The yarn is from last year’s Sock Club, in my favorite colorway, “Susan’s Stuffed Pumpkin”. I’m knitting the “Little Pumpkins” pattern again, just because it seemed so fitting!

The socks will be my portable project, and something I can work on when I need something easy and a bit mindless (since I’ve done them before I can kind of knit this pattern on autopilot).

My more ambitious next project is the new Shepherd Sweater (but of course!) from Pam Wynne.


I am SO looking forward to casting it on!

Along with all this knitting I’ve been baking like a madperson.  I am just so ready for fall and all of its yummy treats.

One recipe I’m excited about is Susan’s Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever from By Hand Magazine.  I’ve made them several times now and I CAN’T. GET. ENOUGH.


The great thing about this recipe is that not only is it luxuriously delicious, it is super straight-forward and easy to make. AND you can freeze them and them bake when you’re ready.

Perfect for chillier mornings!

Shepherd Sweater, Complete!

Almost exactly two years after casting it on, my Shepherd sweater is DONE.

I used farm yarn taken from the backs of our colored sheep for this project, figuring that a a shepherd I should wear the fruits of my labor!

However, it wasn’t always easy sailing. It took many frustrating attempts to attain the proper gauge; even so, the finished product is still a tad snug. I’m not overly concerned about that, but it adds to my “swatches lie” conviction!

The knitting itself was very enjoyable. I love Kate Davies, and I was thrilled that she collaborated with Susan on this. I can definitely see myself knitting this again; probably in the cream color it was original designed for in order to show off the cables better.


I got lucky that it was my birthday so I had Maddie here to model for me.


It’s probably a bit nit picky of me, but I do think some of the stitch definition gets lost in this yarn.  Still, I love the color.


I haven’t gotten the buttons on yet. In fact, I haven’t even picked any out. I should really get on that!


This wool will make this sweater a very hard-wearing garment. It should last quite a long time.


It’s also super warm. Maddie couldn’t wait to get it off in the heat outside this evening!

I’ve already cast on a pair of socks and ordered needles for the next Shepherd Sweater, designed by Pam Wynne. What do you think, another two years? I hope not!

Delicious Scotland

Ever since we got home we have been meaning to re-create a delicacy we enjoyed in Edinburgh.

Deep-fried Mars bars.

Deep. Fried. Mars bars.

We had heard about them from Jessie before we went over, but it wasn’t something that necessarily sounded appealing at the time. Would we try it? Meh.

But then, we got to Edinburgh, and our first day was cold, rainy, and windy.  We traipsed all over the Old Town and though the sun occasionally made an appearance and briefly warmed us, the weather was mostly a cold, grey, bucket of suck. (Not that that would deter me from moving there in a heartbeat!)


Firth of Forth bridge – our very first view of Scotland.


We walked all around this part of the city, taking it all in, trying to keep warm and dry, and failing.


We kept passing this little hole-in-the-wall advertising Deep Fried Mars Bars, but we were trying to sample more traditional Scottish fare.


And though we were fairly successful at finding good Scottish food, we did have a challenge finding a dinner spot we could get Neve into. In Scotland, under 18’s are not allowed in restaurants past 8 pm. The rule is they have to be “In by 6, out by 8”.

So after wandering, cold and damp, we gave in and decided to try the fried candy.


It was delectable! Warm, gooey, full of sugary goodness to give us that boost we needed to make the trek back to the hotel.

On our last night in Edinburgh we tried them again – along with deep fried Snickers – with our friends.


Eating deep fried chocolate bars and tasting authentic Scotch Whiskey with our best friends is still one of our favorite memories.

Back home, we knew we could get our hands on some Mars bars from World Market. But how to go about making them?


First,  I knew they had to be frozen pretty solid. But beyond that, I wasn’t sure what batter would be best.

So, the other night we tried our first round. I made batter from flour, corn starch, milk, baking powder, and salt.


I’m going to give it a B+. The batter was a bit too thick and too bread-y, and the Mars bar was not gooey enough.

Paul, Oona, and Emily were sold, but they hadn’t tried the original.

However, based on this first try, Neve and I are pretty confident we’ll nail it.

Then we can enjoy them and pretend we are looking at this view:


September, Honey!

It’s September, and it’s sweeter than ever around here, because we got our first honey harvest!

I’ve been keeping a careful eye on the hive all summer, after they attempted to swarm this past spring. Actually, they may have actually had a successful swarm, but if so, it was a very small one.  The hive has been crowded and busy and super productive.  I administered two feedings of sugar syrup early in the season, but they’ve done well on their own since. One entire 8-frame “super”, or box, was filled to the brim with beautiful honey.  They actually began making comb and filling it with honey in between supers as well, and every time I picked one up to check on them it would break and leak, so I gave them an extra box to fill.

As it turns out, they didn’t bother with it much, but it was also late in the summer at that point.  Out of 8 frames, I took 3, so I could leave them with plenty to get through the winter.  That gives us enough for a decent amount to enjoy and I don’t feel like we are robbing them entirely. Especially since I keep them expressly for pollination; honey is a secondary benefit!


To get the honey off the frames, I used the “crush and drain method”. You can get special centrifuge extractors, but with only 3 frames, it didn’t seem worth it.  I managed to get the comb and honey off of 2 frames without damaging the wax frame, but I mangled the third.  Oh well. Can’t win ’em all!


I drained it all over a very fine mesh sieve to filter out the wax and any bee parts.

In the end I got 9 jars’ worth, or about 5.5 lbs!


I’m so proud of my little honeybees!