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Christmas Ewe by RonChristmas 2008...

Christmas Day... and here we are, well into our fifteenth year here on the farm and it is hard to believe how quickly the years have passed.  That is, right up until we start cataloging the aches and pains that nag after both of us! On balance, we really had a very good year, with both of us in reasonably good health.  Elizabeth's spinning and weaving workshops have kept her busy through-out the year and the wooly critters gave us the best year in breeding stock sales as well.  Not too bad for a couple of old geezers... particularly since we got out of the hay making business last year!  Eureka!

Starting out a few days after New Year day, Elizabeth hit the ground running with first, a weaving student, followed with a spinning student.  In between students, she even attended a sheep producer symposium at Virginia Tech, dodging, in mid-month, our first snow of the year... just to remind us that winter had really arrived: lovely to look at, but not too great for the wooly critters who quickly get cabin fever when cooped up in the barn for too long.

Then in February, things got a little dicey... no, not a blizzard, no ice storm either, just a gale that almost blew us off the the top of our little hilltop!  And just in time for the arrival of Kevin Ford, our sheep shearer.  As he drove up to the house, we were clearing away a sixty foot tree that knocked out our power lines and blocked our road!  It turned out, we had been in the midst of an area-wide wind storm.  Thank goodness for a hand blade shearer and always the good boy scout, Ron was prepared with our generator so we were able to get the bunkhouse humming and Elizabeth soon had some hot coffee brewing and we were off to shearing the critters.  Three days later, thanks to an emergency crew that arrived from Tennessee, we had power back... and some needed hot showers!

In April, Claire and Barrie Brozenske once again came to our aid with strong backs and willing hearts to help us rebuild a major section of the lower pasture fencing.  Beau Leech gave us a helping hand by bringing his post driver rig to make short work of driving the wood posts.

Above shown , before and after... thanks guys, for a job well done!

Also in the Spring, our grandson Adam got his driving learning permit... and all of the anxiety that wrought upon mom, dad and grandparents!  He is now a full fledged teenage driver, passing his test in December.  Somebody please pass the antacid tablets...

Here are some of Elizabeth's students from this year and their wares.  Her workshops are intensive one-on-one sessions... and satisfaction is guaranteed!  Diane B. was so impressed that she came back and bought Mr. Green Jeans, one of our breeding rams!

Tina F. Tracey C. Diane B. Mary F.

In April, Elizabeth switched role from teacher to student by participating in an intensive weaving colors workshop (Shimmering Colors with Bobbie Irwin) where techniques of colors and intensity can be combined to create iridescent effects in a plain weave.  It is magical and quite remarkable.  Ron refers to this weekend as a "weave out!"

Also in May, Elizabeth had her first international spinning student, Tracey Camacho.  Tracey's spinning weekend was a birthday gift from her husband, who with her, operate an Africam Safari park a couple of hours south of Mexico City.  With exotic fibers on the hoof, so to speak, Tracey wanted to learn how to spin and make items spun from the various critter's fibers, like baby camel down, for their gift shop... pretty neat!

A writer from the Mid-Atlantic Farm Chronicle called and asked to come by to talk about our little boutique sheep operation (they call sheep, small ruminants!).  But they did an excellent job explaining what we were all about here on the farm in a feature piece in the June 16, 2008 issue.  Complete with several photographs of yours truly and Elizabeth... pretty nice.

We received a complementary copy of a devotional book based upon the "Good Shepherd's care for His sheep, taken from Psalm 23," just published by Phyllis Benigas, who visited the farm about four years ago with her husband.  We gave her and her husband permission to take some pictures for her book.  She enclosed a note with the book: "...hopefully you'll recognize some of your beautiful sheep that grace its pages."  Many the photographs used in this lovely little book are from our flock.  The book is entitled:  Intimate Moments with the Shepherd.  Thanks, Phyllis.

For Miss "D," who just had her tenth birthday in April, and with the dog days of summer just around the bend, it was time, for the first time, to get her sheared like one of her sheep... so off to the groomers she and we went!  Here she is, unhappy about the result, but she survived the indignity and eventually  came to appreciate her cooler duds as the summer heated up!  Thanks to Sarah Dudley for doing a yeomen's job...

All of the dogs are getting a bit long-in-the tooth... Gailen (aka Momma Dog) is almost fifteen years old, and still hanging in there, still thinks she is a pup at times, but her hearing is going.  Still she makes the daily walks with Ron and the rest of the wolf pack, Harley, Bear, Mac, Wil, Jack and of course, Miss D! 

Erlene Irwin, an old neighbor who recently moved to Englewood, Colorado, came east for a family reunion in North Carolina and spent a few days visiting with us... she brought along her Border Collie, Bailey, one of Ron's original litter "boys."  After many minutes of slurping Ron in delight, Bailey (and Ron) finally came up for air... we thought we would never see him again after they headed off to Colorado, so what a pleasant surprise!  Here's Erlene giving Jack a treat with Bailey looking on.  She had rescued Jack from a shelter before moving west, and subsequently convinced Ron that he needed another Border Collie... and so it goes.

Early in January, Ron came across a female golden retriever in our lower pasture who became know by us as 'Lost Lady.'  She was a lovely dog with a new red collar but no tag, and she had been worn down by being clearly lost and on the road... thus she became number eight!  We posted "lost dog" flyers around the area with no avail.  Six weeks of Ron's ministration had her well on the mend and putting on weight and she blended right into the "wolf pack," joining them in the daily walks and, like the rest of the pack who all dine together, she had her own dining spot.  She was at home!  Then after six weeks we had a phone call.  It was her owner and she had been missing for twelve weeks when they saw one of our flyers: a happy ending for her owners, but a sad one for us.

Frequently we have folks call out of the blue  asking to visit after reading about the farm on our website... one couple, Tim and Nicole, were celebrating their seventh anniversary and wanted to visit a sheep farm since the seventh was the "wool" anniversary.  Elizabeth made them a special gift of a felted woven wool pouch.  They seem to enjoy their visit.

Another, a grandmother from Knoxville, Tennessee, called asking to bring her three grandchildren from Lexington (where she had been pressed into baby sitting service) to visit the farm... the youngest, Wiley, was quite excited to see a "real cowboy."  The hat makes the man, right Ron!

In the Fall, Elizabeth stayed busy by participating in a spinning retreat at Hawk's Nest State Park in Ansted, West Virginia.  She had the opportunity to finally met Lynn Cossell, originally from Lexington, Massachusetts, who now raises Merino sheep in Pearisburg, Virginia.  Elizabeth even deftly talked the local constable out of a speeding ticket!

Alex and Andrea visited several times during the year... both are staying busy with their careers.  Andrea had a bout with a nasty bug called C.Diff.  Between the bug and the medical insurance companies, well, you can imagine.  She seems to have overcome both.  The O'Neill's, Bob, Theresa and their daughter Shannon from Tallahassee, Florida, also stopped by in July, during a run to the annual MoPar meet in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  Next year Bob says he will be bringing two cars!

Ron's cousin's son, astronaut Colonel Terry Virts, Jr. is assigned as pilot on the crew of Space Shuttle STS-130, targeted for launch in December 2009.  We wish him god speed and success.

Elizabeth's nephew, CAPT Allen Avery, is back at his base in Germany after a full tour in Iraq, now enjoying his wife Denise and his new baby girl, Sarah. 

After some trouble with his left eye vision, Ron opted for cataract surgery earlier this month... his conclusion: I can see!  I can see!  Can't beat that.

We are still astonished by this place and the adventure we've had... here's a morning sunrise just a week or so ago:

Can't beat this either!!!  Come see us if you can...

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