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Christmas Ewe by RonChristmas Eve 2010...


Global warming, you say???

Be damned!  We've had the coldest windy December on record hereabouts... a few single digit nights with most of the past month's daytime temperatures not breaking the freezing point... Baa Humbug!  With six inches of snow on the ground, the border collies (Will, Mac and Jack) have taken over the bunkhouse, and the sheep are entrenched in the barn suffering major cabin fever!  The forecast calls for a day or two with temperatures near forty, then a white Christmas expected with more snow forecast for Christmas eve...

 But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves...

Snowy GazeboLast January, following a major snow storm, we found ourselves back at Lewis Gale Medical Center where Ron had a second stent installed,  Ron says that the two stents are working pretty well, but not quite as well as the triple-bypass.  Too bad that two of the bypass grafts closed up.  That was a disappointment... but with both stents working, the cardiac doc says Ron can tackle anything he's up to trying... so life on the farm goes on.

In February, we had another 18 inches of snow, just in time for our annual February sheep shearing undertaking.  Our shearer, Kevin Ford, did not have a four-wheel drive vehicle, so Ron ended up shuttling him up the hill for the two days of sheep shearing... being thankful for small miracles, at least no major trees falling to block the road or taking out our power line this time!  Another "Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep" yarn, pun intended!  But with the weather abating, and Ron able to fend with the critters, Elizabeth managed to make it to her semi-annual spinning retreat at Hawk's Nest Lodge in West Virginia, albeit she had to return one day earlier than planned to dodge another snow storm... global warming my butt!

Ron the RooferIn March, following a "good-to-go" checkup with his cardiologist, Ron undertook replacing the bunkhouse roof.  This was a major undertaking, since the interior ceiling had to be torn out and replaced as well.

During this enterprise Ron stepped on an old cracked purlin, which snapped off and he fell through the old roof to the ground.  What a bummer, but with just a few bruises, he seemed to escape any major damage. 

Ethan AlexanderEmily AnnIn March, daughter Andrea paid us a surprise visit to fill us in on her planned relocation to the Seattle area to join Amazon's legal trademark group.  Since never a dull moment with Andrea, she subsequently announced that she was also expecting to become a single mother-to-be.  Twins, you say? A boy and a girl?  Whew!  What a ride this has been... twins, born August 27, delivered three months premature, weighing in at about one pound each.  Now they're about ready to go home, Emily Ann, 6lbs-12oz, Ethan Alexander, 7lbs-4oz.  Welcome to the world, you two!

Now back to more of our boring lamb tales?  With Spring arriving, it was again lambing time... we never get tired seeing the lambs racing and frolicking around the field.  When the weather is tolerable, Elizabeth takes the flock down the hill in the morning and brings them back up in the evening.  The forage is good eating for the flock although it can get pretty dry even if the forage is good.  Lots of critters stop by to wet their whistles in our big pond... deer, turkeys, ducks, herons, foxes and coyotes et al.  They generally don't bother us and we don't bother them.

A month or so back, while bringing the flock up the hill, Elizabeth encountered a "big boy" black bear!  Now that was exciting!  The bear was looking for a drink and he was heading for the big pond.  Unfortunately Elizabeth and the flock were between him and where he wanted to go!  After the ruckus with the flock stomping he finally decided that he didn't want a drink that bad and he ambled back the way he was coming from.  Elizabeth normally walks down with the flock, when bringing them back up, she drives her Pathfinder.  This time she was in the truck and not afoot!  Good thinking, Elizabeth!!!

After fighting with her right middle finger frequently locking up, Elizabeth opted for surgery to fix an erstwhile tendon.  Quick to test the surgery result, she headed for a guild weaving workshop in Christiansburg: "Weaving Beautifully with Naturals" conducted by Betty Vera.  The finger worked perfectly!

Uncle RobertIn May, Elizabeth's uncle Robert, cajoled a couple of his lady friends, who were interested in spinning and seeing our farm, to spend a weekend in Lexington and stopping by to visit us at the farm.  Hungry lambs are always a hit with the city folks, and they enjoy bottle feeding the eager eaters.  Enjoy!!!

Elizabeth was also back in the saddle with her fiber arts workshops.  She had a spinning student who arrived from Alaska and Elizabeth particularly enjoyed their spinning together and taking in Gretchen's travelogue stories, she having lived and travelled all over the state of Alaska.

RomulusGailenHarleyIt was a tough year, losing too many of our special four-footed friends.  In January, we lost Romulus, our gate-keeper and the galloping greeter as visitors arrived at the top of our hilltop farm.  He was fourteen.  In July, our Momma Dog (Gailen) passed away just two weeks short of her sixteenth year.  She was always on the job during shearing day and always accompanied visitors to the barn to show off "her" sheep.  Harley, mourned her and never recovered from the loss.  He left us just two weeks after losing Gailen... he was fifteen.

DoraMiss Dora, who was twelve years old this past April, had to undergo surgery a week or so before Christmas to remove a benign mammary tumor.  She's on the mend and will get her stitches out right after the Holidays.  Meanwhile we are all suffering from cabin fever thanks to the frigid weather!  She wants to be out of "jail", and we do too! 

Dora, Mac, Will and Jack are keeping the "wolf pack" together as well as they can.  Our granddaughter, Gina, who manages the wolf pack when she is visiting the farm, is quite despondent about this year's canine losses, as we all are.

Senior PromIn June, Elizabeth headed north to Massachusetts to attend our grandson Adam's graduation from high school.  It was good to be able to visit with our daughter Eva's family and some old friends and see the changes that had transpired in the twelve years since she had last visited the area.

Here Adam and his girlfriend, Ellen, were ready for the Senior Prom with an approval nod from his beaming mother, Eva.

Eva, reciprocated with a solo visit to the farm.  She is now an official “Road Warrior,” having arrived from Massachusetts in mid-November for a week visiting with us.  We thoroughly enjoyed her visit, particularly having her all to ourselves.   This was her first time driving solo and that twelve hour drive is no fun.  Elizabeth can attest, having just drove it solo herself in June.  Eva is turning into a real farm girl... go Eva!  Watch out for the barn doors!

Farm Girl

Son Alex is staying busy with his software job, travelling non-stop and he loves it.  He swings by the farm whenever his travels brings him this way... he made it for Ron's birthday in June and took Ron and Elizabeth out for a haute cuisine dinner at Ron's favorite, Olive Garden!

Bob and Theresa O'Neill stopped by on the way to their annual summer pilgrimage to the MOPAR car show in Carlisle. Bob has totally restored this buggy and it looks pretty damned good too... a Daytona, you say?

Well done, Bob!

In September, Elizabeth took a Women’s Handgun Class sponsored by the National Rifle Association.  She was concerned about coyotes attacking her sheep, so now she is entitled to carry a hand gun.  We are taking to calling her Annie Oakley!  Her firearm instructor didn't think her small 22 cal pistol would do much of a job on a coyote.  I wonder what he would think about her recent encounter with that bear!

Our friend, Erlene Irwin, stopped by for a visit on her way home to Colorado.  She also brought along her companion dog, Bailey (a.k.a. Beetle), one of Ron’s first litter border collie pups.  It was good to see her and Ron sure enjoyed his visit with Bailey who is now a 13 year old senior citizen.

Installing the room with a viewRon's cousin's son, Colonel Terry Virts, Jr. successfully piloted Space Shuttle STS-130, during the mission in February 2010. Terry made his first trip into space.  Some pretty neat doings! Congrats, Terry! 

Shown here is the cupola "room with a view" being jogged into place, finally providing a spectacular 360 degree view of the earth below.

For more details on Terry and the team's mission, check out this NASA link:

  STS-130 Mission Information.

  Image credit: NASA

Elizabeth's nephew, CAPT Allen Avery, and his family are back home from Germany, after Len's tour in Iraq.  Len had been undertaking specialized training stateside, and last month was redeployed, again into Iraq.  We're hoping for a successful assignment and a safe return to his friends and  family.

We've missed visits from some of our old friends.  Come see us if you can... but, we recommend that you wait until next Spring!!!


Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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