Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Snow Queen Strikes Again!

The storm that blew through here on Monday and caused all of the schools in the area to have another snow day (that's 5 or 6 for most of them), then crashed into the storm on the east coast causing chaos over there, luckily only dropped 3-4 inches on our area. The worst problem out here in the sticks were the 3 foot drifts across the drive way and in front of the barn doors.

By Tuesday morning the roads were all clear but we awoke to another visit from the Snow Queen and everything looked like an icy wonderland. Even the fences were lacy with ice crystals.

Callie's "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree that she still hasn't taken down off of the roof of her dog house was frosted with the frozen fog crystals and looked almost pretty. Rich insists on putting the mangled little tree up each year and I must admit that it is an endearing sight out there on the frozen tundra of our back yard!

Dear friends of ours have recently become grandparents for the first time so I took advantage of being snowed in and used the yarn made from Mango's baby fleece to knit a sweater for their new little granddaughter. This is a creamy white sport weight yarn from Mango's first shearing and it worked up into a lovely soft sweater that will not irritate tender baby skin. We have this yarn for sale out here at our farm store or on our Etsy store. The pattern is the 5 Hour Baby Sweater from If you are a knitter I highly recommend that you register on It is an on-line community of knitters and is full of free patterns and other record keeping tools for your knitting projects.

The pasture "girls" are all doing well and even on the worst nights prefer to sleep either in the open barn doorway or right out in the barnyard. Nikko, our herd sire, takes his responsibilities seriously and usually sleeps in the little sheltered area just on the other side of the fence from the girls even though he has a perfectly snug 3-sided "condo" on the other end of his pasture. Asterius and Brutus, our yearling males usually sleep in their condo in the center pasture. I can always tell which animals have slept out in the open because of the amount of snow or frozen fog on their backs in the morning when I go out to feed them. When we first got the animals three years ago, Rich and I worried all winter long about them sleeping out in the open. We have come to realize that the snow on their backs is a good indication that their fleeces are thick enough to prevent them from losing body heat.

Even little Mocha, the baby of the herd, seems unfazed by the snow and cold weather. The frisky little four-month-old leaps about in excitement when I pour out the food in the morning. He is always eagerly waiting in the front of the pack at the gate when he hears me open the barn door.

When I'm suiting up to go out to feed them on these zero degree mornings I grumble that these animals aren't so cute in the "bleak midwinter," but once I get out there they always make me smile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Snow Queen Visits Overnight!

My whole world looks like the snow queen has waved her magic wand and covered everything with a layer of sparkling, magic, fairy dust this morning! Blizzard Bill Spencer on channel 13 out of Toledo, calls it freezing frost but that sounds so mundane. I prefer the scenario that my own imagination created.

The herd apparently slept outside last night. Everyone of them has a light coat of frozen fog covering their back fleece. It showed up most clearly on Leezza, Mocha and Brutus, the brown members of our herd. The temperature was 2 degrees below zero when I went out to feed them this morning, but the lack of wind allowed me to remove one hand from my gloves long enough to quickly snap a few pictures.

How about our Buckeyes???!!! That's another fairy tale that actually came true in real life. The Ohio State Football team was apparently underrated by all of the "experts" who evaluate college football teams. Under the old system they wouldn't even have been in the playoffs, let alone be playing for the championship. I think I like this new National Championship playoff thing. It made quite  few of the "experts" eat crow, so to speak. You have to admire their skill and determination in overcoming the loss of not just the first string quarterback but also the "second stringer." I'm not an expert by any means but it seems to me that they had three "first string" quarterbacks and superior coaches and a entire team that worked together as a cohesive unit to support each other. And let's not forget the tragic loss of their teammate, Kosta Kerageorge. This team has made all of its fans so proud and has even changed the minds of some who were not exactly fans before.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

No Good Pictures Today!

The view outside my window this morning is deceptively sunny with clear blue skies. I use "deceptively" because it's actually -5 degrees outside and the temperature is not supposed to rise above +5 degrees! For the past two days I have intended to take some up-to-date pictures of the herd and post them on this blog, but yesterday when I tried to take my hands out of my gloves long enough to snap them, my fingers got so cold that I couldn't get them back into the proper slots. They were so numb that I actually couldn't feel them and so, just jammed my fists into the palm of the gloves.

Even Callie, gussied up in her red sweater and always eager to go outside with me, was more than ready to come in after 10 minutes. The cold, dry, brittle snow was hurting her paws leading me to consider buying her some doggie boots if this bitter cold continues.

The few pictures I got were of the derrieres of the girls as they huddled at the feed trough and little Mocha hovering behind them. Mocha is now eating solid feed as well as nursing. He's growing steadily and has a lush, full, crimpy fleece to protect him from the winter cold. Most evenings as the animals settle in to sleep, he can be found settled down between his mama, Mango and aunt Leezza. The girls take good care of the little guy.

I apologize for all of the blurry pictures. In spite of being bundled up like an miniature abominable snowman (complete with long johns) I was shivering so badly that I couldn't hold my hands steady; and I'm not at all sure that my auto-focus camera works as well as it should in this extreme cold.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

 Rich and I spent a quiet Christmas Eve at home this year, sipping champagne by the light of the Christmas tree. We were resting up for Christmas morning when we got up early and drove down to Dublin to spend the day with the kids. 

As we watched the movie, A Christmas Story, an annual tradition, I couldn't help but contemplate whether the alpacas would talk to each other at midnight like other barn animals are fabled to do on Christmas Eve. Rich and I would never know because, as usual, we went to bed early!

Every year I ask for just one Christmas gift and that's to be able to spend the day with our daughters, son-in-law and grand kids all in one place at the same time. This year my wish came true. Rich and I had the loveliest day at Amy and Steve's watching them all open their gifts together and then sitting down to an authentic Italian dinner together. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Olivia, Max and Zaidee just being cousins together; something that occurs so infrequently with Susie living on the west coast.

Amy, Steve, Susie and Olivia cooked a lovely dinner of Italian braised meatballs and fettuccine alfredo with assorted roasted vegetables, and I contributed an antipasti platter. 

This year we were fortunate to have my niece, Barbie, and her daughter (my great-niece) Riley, spend Christmas day with us, too. My sister, Laurie, (Barbie's mother) and brother-in-law, Steve, go south for the winter. Barbie had to work the next day and couldn't go to be with them so we got lucky. Riley and my granddaughter, Zaidee are both 10 years old and get along well. 

Olivia had assembled a craft for the little girls to do to keep them busy while dinner was being prepared. The two second cousins, under the direction of Olivia, made a lollipop topiary to take home with them.

Grandson, Max, spent much of the time playing one of his new video games down in what he calls "the squirrel hole" and avoiding my picture taking by hiding inside his new hat!

But I managed to sneak  a not very good one in anyway!

After the gifts were all opened and the dinner eaten we packed up Susie and Zaidee for the trip back to our house where they were spending the night in preparation for their ride back to the airport the next day. We had an uneventful trip to the airport where I dropped them off and turned back for home. On my drive home I could feel myself coming down with the same illness that Zaidee had.

As a result, Rich and I spent new year's eve celebrating at home instead of joining his brother and sister-in-law for dinner in Columbus as we had planned. We toasted with hard cider as the new year arrived in Australia, Hong Kong, and parts of Asia and Europe, then went to bed before it arrived here at home!