Saturday, June 28, 2014

End of spring review!

Wow, I'm pretty excited to finally be writing this. This has been a crazy spring with tons of ups and downs but I can say we made it through and it's been one of the best seasons I've ever had. Folks have been amazingly supportive and encouraging all spring and for the most part they have done all they can to make my job as easy as possible (for sheep shearing!) I added up my numbers and figured out I've sheared a hair over 7,000 sheep since January 1. I'm pretty excited to be doing so well and look to have a new high year tally by the end of the year.   

Let's sum up the spring, February and March were extremely cold and delayed many folks from their normal shearing schedules. April and May were perfect weather wise and I was able to get a ton of animals done with almost no weather related interruptions (with a little help from Kevin:). June has been very wet and hot, the weather shifted so quickly but I have seen fewer cases of fly strike and sheep have only been minimally stressed because of the milder weather in the earlier months.

A year ago as of July 3 I hurt my hand. This year has only been mildly overshadowed by that injury. My hand is still not 100 percent but for the most part it doesn't phase me. It's just harder to trim feet and shear big goats, both of which I didn't enjoy doing before so giving that up entirely didn't hurt my feelings at all:) Last week I had a "life pass before my eyes" moment once again when a big ram charged me and bruised up my leg but Ill take that any day over surgery! 

So as I reflect back on spring of 2014, I'm grateful for all the wonderful people I am privileged to work for, the beautiful sheep I get to handle, the lustrous wool I get to harvest and the honest work I love to do. So many of my clients have become family to me and your constant encouragement and support keeps me going when I'm exhausted, frustrated and tired. I can't thank everyone enough for keeping me going. 

As I write this I am sitting at my second home in Iowa enjoying a blissful easy day off. It is time well earned and I am happy to finally be back working with Kevin. We are both looking forward to getting married at the end of August and we are now finalizing all the plans for that:) It's going to be a ton of fun!

As my last course of business I was so busy after getting back from Ireland that I never announced the winners of my prize giveaway! I have 3 shirts and one skein of yarn to giveaway so if the following individuals could shoot me their addresses ill put their prizes in the mail this week! Thanks to everyone who follows my sheepy adventures and lives vicariously through my travels:)

Elizabeth Milosevich

April Miskimon

Adelaide Lewis

Ruth Lamb

Thanks to everyone who shared out my blog while I was away! Ill be heading to two competitions in the next week, the first one will be in Holstein Ontario Canada and another in Eastern Iowa. Ill keep you posted on how it goes:) hope everyone is having a beautiful summer so far.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Back in America:)

I'm sending this blog post from the Chicago airport. I wrote it while flying over the North Atlantic. We flew out of Dublin at 10:00 this morning while it was (in Kevin's words) "hosing down" outside. So we didn't get to see much on our trip over Ireland but the clouds finally cleared somewhere over Canada and we could see nothing but lakes and trees and snow as far as the eye could see. It was beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and getting back to work since I have gotten many panicked phone calls from people saying their sheep are "dying" from the heat so Ill be back at it as soon as I land. 
Our last day in Ireland was spent at the National Museum of Ireland- Archeology and walking around downtown Dublin. It was a perfect end to a wonderful trip. 
We walked about 3 miles from our hotel to downtown Dublin. After finding our way to the Archeology museum we were able to wander around and see some unbelievable exhibits about Irish history, the bog bodies and hoards, Vikings and see many artifacts from the Irish Middle Ages. It was mind blowing and I kept thinking about friends an family who would have enjoyed seeing this as well. If you get to go to Ireland you have to go to this museum. It's free and full of amazing exhibits in a gorgeous building. Here are some of the exhibits I enjoyed...

Model of the Hill of Tara passage tomb

Bog Mummy, this guy was murdered horribly...

A panel from one of the most ornate pottery found in the bogs, it is one panel depicting a fertility god 

A sample of some of the beautiful items found in bog hordes, bronze ax heads, golden fasteners, bronze bracelet, amber beads.

A giant ornate gold fastener found in a bog horde

Artists would practice carvings on bone and wood before using them in bronze, stone or gold work

Real middle age swords, they didn't look comfortable to hold as the handles were short but I saw skulls that had been damaged in battle and they were deadly

I saw some beautiful bits made in the Bronze Age, found in burials

These Celtic dogs decorated the handle of a bishops staff

Shearing moccasin? Nope! A shoe found in a bog from the Middle Ages!

Hard to see but I saw numerous examples of ancient wool fabrics and weavings...

Decorations on a relic, the craftsmanship and detail blew my mind

A carving from the cover of an ancient book 

Ivory carving commemorating the virgin and presentation if baby Jesus at the temple 

A stone carving of the dragon devil leading the goats to hell

Another etching from a relic...

Here is the restaurant we ate at in the temple district. It was amazing:)

My last Irish lamb meal...the food has been amazing. I've gained about 10 pounds from all the beer, lamb, bacon and butter I've been eating...BLISS :):):)

Airport selfie and still smiling! 

Oh and the most important part of this! I had so many awesome folks repost my blog while I was away, I decided to get several prizes and share the love:) I will be posting the winners names tomorrow! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

A confession, and then lots of fun:)

It is past due for me to post this. I had hoped to blog about each day during the competition but I have a confession to make...Saturday was such a tough day for me, I didn't know what to say in this blog. Many of you went online and watched the YouTube video of me shearing in the Ladies Machine Shearing Competition. I placed 4th. Many of you have sent your congrats and I have tried to be positive about being 4th place but it was tough. I should have won it, I hoped to win it. I beat all those girls in the intermediate competition the day before...I was pumped to win. But the sheep were horrible. They were tough strong solid beasts. In the video you can see the sheep moving around the board while I try to hold them still, at one point you see the sheep get up on me and I had to put it back down. I couldn't hold any of my 3 sheep still enough to do a good job. It was horrible. I left a huge chunk of wool on the back of my last sheep because she had me pinned up against the wall and I couldn't see it and I had already pushed my button. It was one of my worst runs ever. It was just as embarrassing as having to shear 2 sheep by myself, on stage, with the blades, in the last world championships. I was so slow I still had two sheep to go and everyone else was done. That was horrible. This took less time but was just as frustrating. So while I'm grateful for the enthusiasm, I should have done better. So that is why I haven't blogged. It's been tough processing my disappointment but I came up with a game plan. Work harder, do better next time... 8-)
Once I had moved past that, I was able to once again enjoy my remaining time at the Golden Shears. Here is a sample of some of the festivities:)

This was the sidewalk at the show grounds...solid mud.


Some tapestry, embroidery work I saw...


Sheep show

For some odd reason the Suffolks were orange colored for show...

New Friends:)

Ready for the competition!! All the girls were first class:)

Waiting backstage...

Waiting for the finals on Sunday

On the road Monday, we headed south to Johnstown Castle and the Irish Agricultural Museum outside Wexford.

They had a bowtop Gypsy Trailer!!!

The inside...

Other museum sightings...

Chicken paraphernalia 

Milk bottles and cans

Old milking machine 

Butter molds/stamps

Last night we stayed in Enniscorthy in a beautiful riverside hotel. This was a sign outside the "Bah" where we had dinner:)

Today we visited the Irish National Heritage park. We walked through centuries of history and saw homes the Irish have lived in starting in the Stone Age. It was really neat. 

Stone Age thatched communal home

Thatch from the inside

Replica stone circle

Replica megalithic tomb

A fulacht fiadh or cooking pit using hot stones...they were cooking bacon in it

Viking art

After that we went to the town of New Ross and visited the Dunbrody Irish Emigrant Experience Museum. We saw and got to explore how tiny a vessel that would have brought Irish emigrants to the USA really was.

The inside of this replica of a real vessel was very small and one can only imagine the smell, the bad food and what it was like to live with no privacy with up to 310 other people for up to 50 days.

Bunks shared by whole family's or multiple adults. Folks were only allowed on deck for 30 min a day, this was used to wash, empty toilet buckets, and cook bread.

Tonight we head into Dublin and tomorrow is my last day in Ireland. I'm gonna try to eat as much butter as possible;) Ill be home very soon...