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Christmas Ewe by RonChristmas 2009...

Another Christmas Day... and we are still here, sixteen years and counting.  Although on balance, it was a tough year.  With the down turn in the economy, demand for Elizabeth's spinning and weaving workshops have been slower than in previous years and the demand for the wooly critters and their wool was similarly down.  Fortunately, we had planned to down scale our flock size and that made the downturn impact somewhat more manageable.  In July, we did have a buyer from Canada for a pair of our yearling breeding rams.  This in itself was an interesting bit of business involving both U.S and Canadian agricultural requirements with a flock survey and inspection, health checkups for the rams, ear tattoos and certifications up the gazoo!  If this wasn't enough to deal with, in the middle of this, Ron ended up in the hospital for cardiac triple bypass surgery, leaving Elizabeth to deal with dueling bureaucracies, not to speak about taking care of the menagerie.

Ron bounced back quite well, undertaking cardiac rehab with no difficulties and followed that with a workout program with the local hospital's Living Fit for Life  workout program.  All seemed going well until just before Thanksgiving when he began having chest pains.  First the doctors thought it was associated with his "chest cracking" wound.  No such luck!  It turned out that two veins of the three by-pass grafts were closed up and a rush to the emergency room was in order!  An angioplasty and a stent got things under control!  Ron got home the week before Christmas, with a return visit to the hospital scheduled for later in January for a second stent.  But, of course, the day after he was released from the hospital we were hit with the Blizzard of 2009 with twenty-six inches of snow!  Baa-Humbug! Of course no snow shoveling for Ron, doctor's order...  sorry about that, Elizabeth!  Mucho thanks to Beau and Charlie Leech for plowing us out!  We would still be stuck up here if you two hadn't turned-to for us.  Above and beyond, guys!

And finally, our thanks for the work done by the doctors and staff at Lewis-Gale Medical Center  for getting Ron through this trying period.  You guys were great!

For Miss "D," who just had her eleventh birthday in April, and with the dog days of summer just around the bend, it was time, once again to get her sheared like one of her sheep... so off to the groomers she and we went!  She sulks, unhappy about the result, but she survives the indignity and eventually  comes to appreciate her cooler duds as the summer heated up!  Thanks to Sarah Dudley for once again doing another yeomen's job...

A live lamb comforter... neat!The pond overflow culvert makes for a brisk shower!Eva and the grandchildren visited in April and that made it a perfect Spring.  The kids always enjoy the "wolf pack," particularly Gina, the Wolf Master, and there are always newborn lambs chasing one another!  Anyone interested in a cold shower?  Thankfully, Adam was able to help Eva with the onerous driving chore this trip... thanks, Adam! 

Bob and Theresa O'Neill stopped by on the way to their annual outing to the MOPAR car show in Carlisle.  They pitched in to help us refinish our huge cedar deck... not a trivial effort!  Thanks, guys!!!

As we reported last year, the dogs (like us) are getting a bit long-in-the tooth... Gailen (aka Momma Dog) is fifteen years old, and still hanging in there.  She thinks she is a pup at times, but her hearing is gone.  She still makes the daily walks with Ron (rain or shine) and the rest of the wolf pack, Harley, Mac, Wil, Jack and of course, Miss "D!" 

We are missing Bear.  Last August, we lost him to a fast growing and inoperable tumor and it hasn't been the same around here without seeing his excited wagging tail, racing ahead of us down the road to the sheep barn each day.  He was our special needs pup, born deaf, but never really knew it.  We trained him to work the sheep around the barn using hand signs.  He loved to work.  He was a very special guy, and we really miss him, more than we can say...

STS130-S-002 -- STS-130 crew portraitRon's cousin's son, Colonel Terry Virts, Jr. has been assigned as the pilot on the crew of Space Shuttle STS-130, scheduled for launch in early February 2010.  Commander George Zamka will lead the STS-130 mission to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Endeavour, with Terry as the pilot and four mission specialists:  Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire.

Terry will be making his first trip to space.  Pretty neat, huh?  We wish him and the crew god speed and success.

From left: Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick, Pilot Terry Virts, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Kathryn Hire, Commander George Zamka and Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson.  Image credit: NASA

For more details on their mission, check this NASA link:  STS-130 Mission Information

Elizabeth's nephew, CAPT Allen Avery, and his family are back home stateside from Germany, and after a full tour in Iraq, he's undertaking specialized training at the Army's Signal School at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia.  Their daughter, Sarah, is growing like a weed and had a recent birthday, entering into the terrible twos... sorry about that, folks!

Before his coronary bypass, Ron did a little work replacing the ridge vent on the shop barn... this was just after his 70th birthday.  Never a dull moment!


We are still astonished by this place and the adventure we've had...

Come see us if you can... but, please, wait until next Spring!!!

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