Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Renauld: In Memorium April 8, 2008 - November 18, 2013

Okay, I must admit, there has been a pathetic amount of blogging activity here.  And I must also admit, I worry that my blog is becoming an animal obituary.  Yet this post has been weighing on my mind and I have to get it out so I can move on.  As most of you know, I lost my dear ram, Renauld this past November to urinary calculi.  I miss him.  Everything in the sheep pen is different without him.

I love sheep.  It is no secret.  And when I was ready to get sheep again in 2008, I knew I wanted Icelandics.  Its the triple threat thing - fibre, meat and milk that sealed the deal for me.  And I have used my sheep for all three.  Renauld and Freya were my first purchases.  Purebred, registered sheep from an excellent breeder on Vancouver Island.  I went to Chilliwack to pick them up in my minivan.  I really had no idea what good quality sheep I was getting.  I was lucky.

Icelandic sheep came to Canada in the 1970's.  The first sheep imported by an Icelandic woman in Quebec.  I believe all Icelandic sheep in North America are descended from those first sheep.  Shortly thereafter Iceland closed its flock - no sheep in or out.  The only way to get new blood now is to use artificial insemination which is quite an ordeal.  But people who have the farms and the budget to do this get to choose from the best rams in Iceland.  Both Renauld's paternal and maternal grandfather's were AI lambs.  Here is his progenitor in Iceland:

You can see that Renauld very much has his body type.  In Iceland sheep are used mainly for meat and the wool is just a useful byproduct.  Renauld has a meaty type body - a bit shorter and heavier.  And he certainly did have meaty offspring.

But a rare quality in a sheep, he also had amazing wool.  He was by far my best wool producer.  He would grow up to three times more wool than anyone of my ewes.  This is a pile of freshly shorn (harvested!) wool.

Renauld was a happy, friendly ram.  He had to be respected as a ram and I never went into the pen without tying him up lest he playfully ram me when my back was turned.  But he was always happy for chin scratches and ear massages.  He was always first to the fence to meet anyone new to the farm.  You can also see in this picture another common trait of Icelandic sheep - he is 'rooing' which means he is naturally shedding his wool in the spring.  He did not like his sides being touched so I never got to pluck any of it off and it has only fertilized the ground in the sheep pen.  But his fall harvest was always plentiful and gorgeous.  He was also very healthy and never had any problems with parasites or other illnesses.

He was so tame that if he ever got out of the pen, all I had to do was call his name and he came running to me.  He knew his name.  Anyone who thinks sheep are dumb has never really known one.  Even though he came to weigh 200lbs at full maturity, I could always handle him by his horns.  Really by that point, he was far stronger than me and could have easily overpowered me, yet he allowed me to continue to handle him this way.  Unlike the ewes, he seemed to enjoy having his horns touched.  They were a fascination - so warm all the time.

He took his breeding duties very seriously.  By the time he was two, almost all my lambs were born in March or early April which means he was on the job as soon as the ewes came into estrus.  But he was always checking just in case.

I loved Renauld but he was not my pet.  He was my partner in sheep farming.  Truly your ram is half your flock.  His good genes live on in his daughter, Lifa and his granddaughter, Daenerys who remain in my flock.

I went out November 16 to give the sheep their juice pulp from Nature's Fare and he was down by the back fence.  It became evident by the end of the day that he had a blockage in his urethra.  Monday morning the vet came but the blockage was not easy to get.  He thought Renauld had a good chance of surviving if they could get it out in the office with a catheter.  So I took him into Armstrong Vet in the back of my Toyota Corolla.  Two vets worked on him but the blockage turned out to be in an inoperable spot.  They couldn't get it.  In which case, urinary calculi is fatal.  I had a choice to make.  I could have the vet euthanize him or I could have him slaughtered.

It might seem that the thing to do would to be to have him put down.  However, the drugs that they use to cause death would render him toxic waste.  Although the idea of holding his head while he passed peacefully seemed like the logical thing to do, I just couldn't have my ram turned into toxic waste.  It just seemed wrong.  I called the guy who does my slaughtering and he was available.  A 5 year old ram in full rut (breeding season) whose meat could possibly be contaminated because of his inability to urinate would not be fit for human consumption but a 200 lb ram would feed our 4 dogs for sometime.  So I loaded up a now very sedated Renauld back into my car and drove to the slaughter house.

That drive was one of the hardest I have ever done and while I drove I bawled my heart out.  I cried and cried.  I did not think Renauld and I would be saying good bye for many years.  He had been the father of my flock, their leader and protector for 5 years.  He was a fixture on our farm.  An animal always happy to be petted by children.  And I loved him.  I loved him more than words can say.  I had tried everything to save him and now I was saying good bye.  On that car ride I told him all of that.  I thanked him for his service, for his life, for his friendship and oh, how I wept.  I helped him out of the car and I sat with him on the ground and I looked into his amber sheep eyes  said good bye.  He looked back at me and I know he knew how much he was loved and appreciated.  I left before his life was ended and cried my way back to Coldstream. 

The sheep pen seems a lot emptier.  Although it is certainly easier to do the chores without a full grown ram in the pen, I miss him.  It is unlikely he will be replaced anytime soon.  What I have learned over the last 5 years is that although I had an excellent ram, I don't really need one.  In that time I have never sold a live lamb.  My sales have all been for meat.  Having him meant that doing anything with the flock took careful arranging and there was lots I couldn't do alone - like move the entire flock.  With just ewes and lambs, they crowd around me and follow me anywhere like a pack of dogs.  No ramming.  Renauld, like most rams, loved with is horns...  It is the end of an era.

He and Zeus (our guardian dog) were only 5 days apart.   They grew up together and loved each other like brothers.  It is Zeus who misses him the most.  His buddy.  They played tag almost every day.  And anytime Dean went to spend time with Zeus in the  sheep pen, Renauld was not far behind, running along like Dean's black dog.  Now Renauld's remains are nourishing his old friend and although psychologically this is hard, somehow it feels right.  Better than his remains being disposed of as toxic.  And they are just his remains.  What was Renauld, that ethereal, mystical substance that illuminated his black sheepy form is no longer in the sheep pen.  But I think he is still here, watching over my little farm.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why I do the IPE (Armstrong Fair)

It is that time of year.  The time for the Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong.  The time that Armstrong swells to triple its size (or more).  The time of bad traffic, difficult (but not really expensive) parking and the midway.  Over the 20 IPE's I have lived in the area for we really have gone to only a few.  From time to time (what feels like forever ago) when my kids were young, I would take them to the IPE.  I wanted to look at the animals.  They wanted to go on the rides.  It was hot and dusty, or it was rainy and muddy but we had fun.  I remember one time in particular.  It would have been in 2001.  I was still recovering from 2 broken legs and was in a wheelchair but had figured out how to drive.  I went with Kaetlyn and Drew and Rhiannon was a babe in arms... or in my lap in the wheelchair, at least.  It was a muddy year and Kaetlyn and Drew pushed me in the wheelchair through the mud.  I remember a friendly but large pig sticking his nose out between the slats of his pen right at Rhiannon's face level and scaring the crap out of her!

For whatever reasons, it was a long time before we went again.  It became a time for a Calgary visit for back-to-school shopping.  Calaway Park was so much more fun than the midway.

Then things changed again.  No more kids in the school system.  Clothes shopping ceased being an 'event'.  And it found us in town during the fair.  So, 2 years ago, we decided to try entering some rabbits in the fair and we got involved in volunteering in the rabbit barn.  We had SO much fun!  Which led to last year where we entered ALOT of rabbits in the rabbit barn and ended up being the ONLY volunteer...  Not so much fun...  Which led to this year where in the end, we entered a few rabbits in the fair, volunteered for a limited number of days (2 - I'm done already!) and (before I entered any rabbits) made sure that there were sufficient volunteers to properly care for them.

This year it is definitely not as fun.  A disinterested-almost-13-year-old is not a fun companion at the fair.  She's only there for the rides, anyway.  Although I like to look at the exhibits, I don't have anyone who likes to look at them with me.  And the fair stupidly (in my opinion) moved all the hobbies over to the Norval arena which is as far away from the bunny barn as you can get and is actually across the street and not on the fair grounds.  So, with lack of companionship to motivate me, I never made it there.

Rides, animals, cakes and zucchinis aside, that's not why I do the fair.  Why I do the fair is this.  For most of the time that I am volunteering in the bunny barn, I sit in a chair with a rabbit in my arms.  And the children come.  Animals in general and especially rabbits bring something out in people.  Perhaps because they are unlike dogs and cats who are predators like us, they are prey and so we must interact differently with them.  We must be gentle, move slowly, calm down.  I see it in children but especially in toddlers.  The wonder in their eyes as they reach out their hands and touch the rabbit - their innate ability to connect without words or instructions.  I feel it in the rabbit in my arms as it relaxes and connects with the child.  Some need only a touch.  Some stand beside me for a long time, petting the rabbit.  For those who are big enough, some I will even let hold the rabbit if it isn't busy.  They sit there in the chair and it looks like a prayer.  Head bowed, eyes in a far away place as they pet the rabbit and wonder at that warm body snuggled into them, trusting them, accepting their affection.  It is a sacred thing in those few moments where soul connects to soul.  I see it in some adults, too.  They are often apologetic, too.  They often murmur something like, "I had a rabbit when I was a child" or "my husband is allergic"...  And its amazing how many adults won't touch the rabbit when invited by the children they are with - that connection to the natural world too suppressed or feeling too vulnerable to enjoy the satin-y softness of a rabbit.  But for these children, for that sacred connection, that is why I do the fair, despite the noise, and mess, the crowds and the dirt.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


It's hot tonight. The air in our campsite is stuffy and close. I get my bathing suit on again and take my two companions and walk to the beach.  I stop when I can see the lake through the trees. I love this view. The trees, the forest floor, the indescribable colour of the water, the blue and dark green of the mountain opposite. There is magic in it.

I slip quietly into the water and dive down into the dark blue green depths. Then I glide with just my head above the water, the water rippling molten gold around me.
 I glide almost silently through the water like a meditation. In that moment I am the golden water, the glowing sky, the dramatic mountains, the blue and purple hues in the opposite side of the valley where the sunlight has already faded.  This moment a prayer. This lake a sacrament I partake.

I sit lightly in the water with just my nose and eyes above the water and absorb the serenity and peace and incredible beauty of this place still so powerful and natural.  Even the dogs, my companions, are quiet in this magical moment.  I am aware of my body half floating in the water, my muscles and bones but in this moment I am not separate from this scene. I am one with the landscape.

Eventually I gather up my dogs and walk back towards camp. A light breeze comes up off the lake, the air soft and warm, a silken caress.

I go back and get the iPad to take pictures for you. I sit and use the new blogger application and write it right here in this spot. The light fades more from the sky. I am replenished again.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

New Denver 2013

This is our 6th year here at the Suzuki violin institute. The first year we camped as a family: Kaetlyn, Andrew, Rhiannon, Dean and I. Rhiannon was just 4, turning 5 a month later. That was the only year Dean was with us for the whole week. After that he would come for the weekend before and the weekend after to camp with us. One year Kaetlyn stayed for the week with Rhiannon and I. One year my Mom came which was probably the best time I've ever had with her in my life. Two years Ronni and Meg stayed with us and this year it is just Rhiannon and I. It's a bit lonely camping with a almost 13 year old. She has many friends at the institute and for the week she runs with 'the gang'. She hardly needs me in class at this point.

But it is beautiful and peaceful here. We brought Jodi and Jasmine with us so they keep me company and I have friends amongst the parents. I have time to blog! I've taught Jasmine to fetch in the water which she loves. I've been in the lake almost everyday.mi love Slocan lake! It is one of my all time favourite lakes. Time for contemplation, reading, journal writing...

Here are some photos of our week: Rhiannon's master class, Rhiannon and her friends reviewing in the camp gazebo and my Jo-dog chilling under the picnic table.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Yesterday was one of those days... It started off nice enough.  A beautiful sunny morning to drive out to the Shuswap to pick my girl up by 9am from camp.  We stopped by Bozenka's on the way home to drop off her chickens.  She made us lunch and I pruned some of her tomatoes for her.  We made it home in the early afternoon.

Sometime after that it turned into one-of-those-days.  I am not sure exactly when it turned.  But it did. Dean was busy doing his share of shovelling out the chicken coop.  We wanted to get it cleaned out before we put the young layers who had been raised with the turkeys and meat chicks and the turkeys into the main coop.  A bear had come two nights before and helped himself to Sarah's thanksgiving dinner and an extra.  Dean did a great job.  Powdered down everything with diatomaceous earth, put fresh hay an shavings down.  And then after eating a rushed supper, he was off to the recording studio to finish a recording started awhile ago.

In the meantime while I was making an easy dinner (warming up previously made and frozen spaghetti sauce and cooking noodles) I decided now was the right time to clean out the upstairs freezer.  It is an upright freezer that people are constantly leaving the door ajar to and then it all frosts up and the stuff in the door thaws... makes a mess.  Since getting a big new freezer off of freecycle and installing it in the basement, I have been meaning to give this one a good defrosting.  (third one this year.  After this no one but me is allowed to open it...)  I stuffed the downstairs freezer and the one on the porch (meant for meat for the dogs) and got almost everything in.  Just had to use two coolers with the rest.  I scraped out all the ice I could, breaking it off with a rubber mallet and set the kettle to boiling inside to melt the rest.

After Dean left I decided to move a ewe and her lamb who have been in sick bay out of the fenced acre onto a patch of pasture that hadn't had sheep on it for a couple of years (guaranteed worm free - we've been struggling with worms due to the weather - almost killed this ewe who ended up severely anemic but she is rallying now).  So I hefted all the portable panels for lambing pens that my dad made me a couple of years ago and made them into a little corral and walked her out on a leash.  (that really upset the dogs! haha!)

As dusk settles, I start watering my garden, moving my hose every 15 minutes or so.  And I am still going back and forth with the freezer, emptying water bowls and wiping up water and cleaning behind it so it is ready to be plugged in and pushed back in.

Now the turkeys and young layers need to be moved.  I start before it is very dark and get two turkeys into the coop.  These turkeys are less than a month from their butcher date.  They are big and strong and when they whack you with their wing, it hurts!  Its hard to catch them in the chicken tractor because they are all down at the other end and I have to lift it up and snatch one from underneath.  And I am only one person.  No son or husband to help me.

With the second turkey in my arms, a rabbit gets loose and in seconds Hugo and Belle (his pup who was visiting) both have it.  I am sure I am going to witness it being torn asunder in front of me.  The dogs are over the top and far to excited to listen to me.  Somehow, miraculously I manage to step between the dogs and rabbit and catch the rabbit.  So now I have an almost full grown meat rabbit in one arm and a turkey in the other.  I put the turkey down on top of the rabbit tractor and put the rabbit inside.  The turkey lays a huge dump on the top of the rabbit tractor... better there than on me, I suppose...

I realize that Dean has forgotten about picking up the compost and juicer pulp from Nature's Fare.  I am pretty sure they would have just put it out the back, so before it gets too dark, I drive down there and sure enough, there it is.  I pick it up, come home and distribute it to the sheep in their temporarily fenced area and some to the ewe and lamb in the little 'corral'.  Its full on pitch black now.

On I go.  I can't stop with the freezer now because the stuff in the coolers will be ruined. I am intermittently working on the freezer, moving the water around in my garden and catching birds and tending to my recovering ewe.  At one point the dogs bark frantically at the back fence and I am pretty sure they see/smell the bear.  Which adds just an edge to my tasks as I collect birds.  I try to carry this air horn that Sarah gave me last year and juggle it between turkeys and chickens.  I am feeling a little nervous now...  What if the bear comes now?  I'm all alone...  But I can't really stop either.  Because what if the bear comes now?  These birds I have worked so hard on raising...

Then they are barking frantically in the direction of the railroad tracks I shine my flashlight over there and see eyes shining back at me.  My first thought is bear? but then I see multiple eyes bear with cubs?  No... of course not... too many eyes!  It is the sheep.  They have broken out of their temporary fencing and want to get into their main paddock.  They are all clustered at the gate which is closed but not locked.  They could have just pushed on it to go in but they don't.  So here I am.  Alone.  And  having to deal with a 200 lb ram in the dark.  So I drive the car over to a place I can climb into the sheep paddock and then I go to the gate.  Renauld is right there.  If I open the gate, he will run in but then I will be right there.  Will he butt me?  Just in friendliness?  Or because he is expecting to eat carrot pulp even though I already gave that to them in the field?  How will I get out with out him running after me?  I need him to get distracted but he doesn't.  He just stands there and looks at me looking at him.  After what feels like forever, he moves over around the corner.  I open the get and dash over to the place I can climb out.  (later I wonder how I ran without thinking about it...)They all file in.  I close the gate.

I am fumbling with the chain in the dark.  Renauld is standing there watching me.  I have both my hands round the post when... WHAM!!!  For a reason known only to rams, at point blank range and with all the strength of his considerable neck, he rams the post right at my hands.  He manages to get both my hands.  Incredible pain - like having a car door slammed on both hands at once.  (I can hardly move my left thumb today...)  I manage to get the chain attached with him still ramming.  I don't think he meant to hit my hands.  I think I was just a casualty of his urge to ram and maybe scratch his horns on that particular post...

Now with hands throbbing I stumble through the dark after that half hour (at least) detour to get another bird...  Finally I finish thawing/cleaning/drying the freezer and the floor under neath it and manage to get it pushed back into place and the stuff out of the coolers and back inside.  Its doing remarkably okay considering I put it in there around 6pm and it is now 12:30am.

Sometime in there I give the ewe her last drench for the 'evening'.  It is now 1am.  I am starting to think that this night is going to go on FOREVER and I will NEVER get to bed...  But there is nothing for it but to keep going...  Just then Dean drives up.  I was so glad to see him.  Although I might have said something like, "Why are you  home so late?!  Go put that stuff down and help me catch the last of the turkeys!"  By this time I had only 1 turkey left and about 5 of the layer bunch.  With him it seemed like a breeze.  I picked up the tractor and he grabbed birds.  By 1:30, after washing the sheep manure off my ankles, I was in bed and zonked.

Yesterday that was my life.  And there was nothing for it but to ride the wave until it was done.

Today?  Today was a much better day.  Although I woke up at 6:30 with my ewe on my mind and I worked hard around the farm until noon, after lunch I had a well deserved nap while Dean fixed the fence to the sheep pen (replaced some broken posts).  Then we got Subway and went down to Jade Bay as a family and swam and ate and it was wonderful.  Doesn't get much better than that.  I love that I live in a place where I can have my farm and work hard and then drive for 10 minutes to an incredibly beautiful beach where we were pretty much alone and swim.  The water was delicious!  I do love the smell of a lake! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Might Just Be Addicted...

I cannot remember when I first wanted to have my own sheep and angora rabbits and to spin my own wool.  It was always part of my plan.  Chalk it up to those feisty, independent pioneer genes, maybe but whatever it is, I have wanted to do this since I was a child.

It will be 5 years now since I have had my Icelandic sheep and 4 years since I have had my angora rabbits.  I've learned a lot about them both and harvested a lot of fibre.  And I've hired someone to spin it for me.  Actually spinning sounded like it would take patience and a lot of time to learn to do. But it was still there on my list of things I want to learn.  Its actually a long list.

Last spring, my angora rabbit mentor, Sue of Daisy Hill, gave me a drop spindle and some roving and showed me how to do it when I went down to her Washington farm to get some new angoras.  After I got home, I faithfully spun all the roving.  And my dreaming got a little more close to the surface, a little more urgent.  Occasionally I would watch YouTube videos about how to spin angora and about different spinning wheels.  I contacted the Spinners and Weavers Guild about how to join and learn how to take my raw sheep fleeces from raw to yarn.  I talked to my spinning friend.  I percolated. And I was inspired by Amanda Soule on SouleMama who got some Shetland sheep (very similar to Icelandic) last year and learned how to spin and then made herself a shawl.  Look she was doing it!  I wanted to do it!

Then, I came across this video, suggested to me by YouTube because of other videos I had saved to my playlists.  Its one of a 4 part series by Knitpicks.  I watched them all.  I couldn't help myself.  I ordered that drop spindle from knitpicks.  It arrived today.

Then I found this video and then I just couldn't stop myself.  I grabbed a paper bag of wool.  It happened to be Blackberry's - my black tort Satin Angora buck's first (and only so far) harvest.  I made rolags and listened to all the spinning videos over and over again.

Can you see the rolags there on the bed?  My first pile of rolags!

And then... I did it!  I hooked up the fibre from those rolags and I started to spin with that turkish spindle.  And it worked!
I went very slow.  I took my time.  I pinched, I spun to the right, I parked, I let the twist up, I wound and I did it over and over again.

I cannot describe with words the joy, the deep happiness and excitement and sense of serenity that came over me as I did this thing that I have wanted to do since I knew that one could do such a thing - since I was younger than Rhiannon.

Here is my Turkish spindle and my growing cop of yarn.  Its all I can do to tell you about it here and force myself to go to bed and not stay up all night doing more of it...

In my mind while I was doing it, I just kept thinking... "Oh my God!  I am doing it!  I'm doing it!"  Why yes, I am!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No Longer Anonymous

It has been years now that the meat I eat has mostly been the flesh of animals that I have known.  It is something that people often ironically think is barbaric as they go on eating the flesh of animals who have actually been raised in truly barbaric conditions with no respect for their animal souls.  But that's another story. 

Since I got my first sheep in 2008, I have been hoarding their wool in paper bags in my basement with many dreams of what I would do with all that luscious fibre.  Slowly I have been having some of it spun up.  And then it sat in balls.  I felt so much pressure about what to make with it.  I had to be good.  It had to be significant.  It had to be meaningful...

And so it sat until this last Christmas.  I tried to knit Kaetlyn something out of Renauld's lamb's wool.  I thought it would be cool to send some of his Icelandic wool back to Iceland...but it was too bulky and heavy for what I wanted to do and I gave it over for some black angora.  Then when musing with some of my dance mom's who sit and knit during dance class, one of them suggested this: for Renauld's full bodied wool.

I dove in and made the short one with Renauld's black wool.  It really is as quick as they say.  Even though I had to frog it several times until I got the lace pattern right and I, in fact, knit it entirely up only to realize that my characteristically tight tension had made a shawl for a thin 11 year old... before I sent it to my niece, Natalie, I frogged the entire thing again and relaxed while I knit.  Even all that I did in the matter of 2 maybe 2 1/2 hours.  Perhaps this yarns isn't quite as thick as the rasta recommended but I still think it turned out.

It was a curious thing when I came to put it on (and I've worn it a couple of times)...  This was not anonymous yarn.  This was 100% the wool of my beloved ram, Renauld.  It was his wool I was wearing on my back.  And a whole idea opened up to me... like how all that wool I have been knitting with, all those balls that are taking over my (house) knitting room (?!) come from animals who have lives.  This was not anonymous yarn from an animal I did not know.  It is a significant connection to my sheep, to this land that grew the grass that fed the sheep that grew the wool.  A glorious, grateful connection. 

How much we have lost in this industrial age that has separated us from where 'things' come from - from the cows our milk comes from, the chickens our eggs come from, the animals our meat comes from, the sheep our wool comes from....  We have lost more than we are even aware of.

So I dedicate this post to Renauld to whom I am grateful for the gorgeous gift of his soft lamb's wool. And perhaps more importantly for the gift of awareness of my connection to all that is. 
Renauld 'mighty one'

Freshly shorn wool

Fresh off the needles


On my shoulders...

Friday, February 15, 2013


December 29 Jasmine gave birth to 7 puppies 5 females and 2 males.  They have pretty much predominated our lives ever since.  Great plans to blog about them were swept away with all the time spent cleaning up after them.  It has been alot of work and very fun.  Its almost over.

Originally we were going to wait another year to breed Jasmine and Hugo but I discovered that living with an un-neutered dog in the house was not really my thing.  Jasmine didn't go into her first heat until she was almost 1 year old so we decided to go for it and get Hugo fixed once we were sure he was successful.  So this will be his last litter.  So we are enjoying it all the more.  And they seem to have mostly Hugo's genes - like he had to get it all out in his one chance to pass them on.  Hugo is a sweet, lovey, affectionate dog.

This is Jasmine just before Christmas with her taut belly beached on the couch with Sampson.

On December 29, we knew she was in labour all day.  She occasionally whimpered and went in and out of the den we prepared for her in the downstairs bathroom - often lying in there for long stretches of time - very uncharacteristic of this active dog.  Just as Dean and I were sitting down to watch a movie, the first one arrived with very little fanfare after all that whimpering all day.  She just popped it out with no fuss at all.

 Here is the first born pup.  We called her 'first born' for a long time and then Eryn named her Daisy.  We kind of have a flower theme when it comes to female dog names.  You'll see.  Daisy has been sold to a friend of ours originally from Coldstream who now lives in Vancouver.  She'll be heading down there on the 23rd.  She has markings almost identical to Hugo's Mom in Penticton.

Dean and I sat there, watching our movie and helping as needed.  Dean had a heating pad in his lap and everytime a new one was coming down the pike, we picked up the others to keep them out of the way.  As long as they were warm, they were quiet and then Jasmine didn't mind.  Jasmine just set to work efficiently and with very little fuss.

 We settled them in a kiddie pool under the table in our downstairs bathroom - very den like.  They were pretty happy there.  Every so often we took all the bedding out to wash it.  Here they are waiting for clean bedding in a laundry basket.  You can see they are all mainly black except for the one brown one whom we call Rosie.
Here's JJ (Jasmine Junior)
And here's Rosie
 They grow so fast from fat sausages with their eyes closed and tiny little drooping ears.  At 10 days their eyes started to open and they started to move around - mostly flailing with their limbs as they laid on their tummies.

At 4 weeks we listed them for sale on Kijiji. The following are shots from their official puppy photo shoot.  It has become the trend to advertise and take deposits on puppies even before they are born or when they are just hours old.  I wanted people to be able to interact with the puppies and look into their eyes so we didn't put them up for sale until they were 4 weeks old.
This is Lightning
Lightning has a white jagged stripe down his underside.  Kind of like a lightning bolt.  He is also known as fluff bucket.  He will have border collie type fur.  He started off as the shiniest and now he is just the fluffiest.  He is one of the smallest but he's got swagger.  We adore him.

Another one of Rosie
 This one is either Hugette or Blue - both little Hugo clones.  Hugette is a female and Blue is a male.  Dean has always wanted to name a dog Blue.  We think its a dumb name but he got to name the puppy.  Unlike Hugo who is completely black, they each have very small white spots on their chests and Hugette has about 6 white hairs on the tip of her tail.  They have short fur like Hugo.  Blue is the biggest of all the pups and Hugette and Daisy are the second largest.

Sadly Jasmine doesn't really get to play with the pups as all they want to do is suck on her.  However, Hugo plays for hours with them.  They have learned to wrestle and play and they can frequently be seen climbing all over him with various pups chewing on his tail, his ear and his paw at the same time.  He loves it.  He's a great dad!

Here is their first day outside into the snow.

Daisy playing with Papa
7 pups in the snow
 Did you know that black animals have the hardest time getting adopted from shelters?  Its because black animals are so hard to photograph.  Look at these 7 pups.  So hard to see an individual.  Even Rosie looks black in this picture.
 And here they are today in the sunshine.  The snow is quickly melting around here.  You can get a much better view of them.  That is Lightning sitting beside Hugo.  You can see how shiny he is with the sun reflecting off his soft curls.
Hugo with Lightning and Daisy
Belle Star
 This little girl is Belle Star. she is all black with a white star on her chest and 3 white hairs on the tip of her tail.  Eryn is planning in keeping her.  So we'll get to see alot of her as she grows up.  The whole expression on her face here is so 'Hugo'!

Rosie on the stairs
Lightning and Belle Star
Daisy, Rosie, Belle Star and JJ have all sold.  That leaves Lightning, Blue and Hugette.  Three more to go.  Hopefully they will all find homes this week.  As much fun as they are, I am looking forward to the time when my day does not revolve around mopping floors....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christmas for Kaetlyn

 This Christmas was the first one that we were not all together as a family.  Kaetlyn remained in Iceland getting the full Icelandic holiday experience - so different from North America.  This post is for her.  I have to write about it so I can move on with the other posts piling up in my brain.  Here are the photos of Christmas Eve that we spent at Gardom Lake with my friend, Bozenka and her family.  She is Croatian so Christmas Eve is the main event.  We were so honoured to be included!  These are just grainy non-flash photos I took with my iPad.  Notice the waves and the smiles, Kaetlyn.  Those were for you!

Bozenka in the kitchen!
Goranka and Eryn chatting (see my apron on the chair?  I got up to take the picture.  Insert me in that chair!)

Jelena madly wrapping right up to the last minute!

The line up for the food.... ah, the food!
The food....

Waiting to dig in!  It was awesome!
 And that's it.  I didn't get any photos of present opening or even Christmas morning.  I was too busy just being there.  We had a dinner for 10 at our house Christmas Day.  The biggest turkey we grew (22.5 lbs)was consumed along with the usual fare.  All good but there was always someone missing!  Love you!