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....