Thursday, 14 June 2012

Lambs of 2012

Time has moved on and this blog is missing lamb photos. So here are some to keep you all occupied until I sit down to write... which may well be in the next couple of days since the forecast is terrible!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Poor Cuthbert: a sheep with an abscess

My poor tup Cuthbert has been in the wars these last few months and on Sunday I found that he has a big abscess on his jaw.

When I fetched him home from his wanderings, he had a puncture wound on his jaw which was infected but I treated it and it healed over... or so it appeared. On  Sunday it was suddenly huge and hot to touch. Poor Cuthbert had rubbed all of the wool off it.

Luckily with some help from my friend Elle and some Animalintex, I was able to put a poultice on it and bandage him up. Now I just have to keep replacing with clean dressings and wait for the poultice to work its magic. In the meantime, I'm not sure that Cuthbert is convinced about his new look!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Fleecy Experiment

Since these February days are cold and dark still, I decided that I would use my indoor time productively by doing something with my fleeces which have been safely stashed away but rather neglected.

I decided to use Sheilhope Girlsta's beautiful moorit fleece and took it home from the stables to process it. It looked lovely spread out on the driveway and I started by taking a quarter of it, washing and drying it before sitting down to decide how to use it.

I was about to card Girlsta's fleece when my mam, who was sitting nearby said, "won't you loose all of those lovely sun bleached twizzly bits if you card it?"

I stopped and looked at the wool. Shetland wool naturally forms little spiraled tips at the end of each "staple" which is the name given to a lock of fleece. It was really beautiful varying from rich chocolate brown at the root to bleached blond at the tips, but the staple formation is also very technical and is key to the Shetland sheep being able to survive on those wet windswept islands. Rain falling on a Shetland sheep is wicked to the ends of the staples and drips off the twizzly tips and in this way is kept away from the sheep's skin, leaving it warm and dry. It would be a shame to loose such a characteristic feature of my sheep's wool.

"Could you spin your wool so that those little twizzly bits stick out?" Asked mam. I could try this but I'm not the greatest spinner nor knitter sadly. Much more practicing to do.For now I decided to stick with what I know: needle-felting jewellery.

First I had to pull out all of the nicest twizzly staples.

Then I carded the remainder.

I made a bracelet as usual but then needle-felted the twizzly staples around the outside. I'm rather pleased with the result, perhaps I'll make a load more and sell them!

Thursday, 19 January 2012


In the last year, I've made a very special friend and in a short space of time we've had some excellent adventures together and really enjoyed feeding off each other's knowledge and passion for the great outdoors, animals generally and horses in particular.
Danni (Elle) Metcalf is an equine psychologist who is about to open her own riding centre at Bowkerstead, Grizedale, where Chris and I had our wedding reception last year. Elle has been travelling around finding horses for her riding school. Being without a bottomless pit of money to purchase her trusty herd of steeds, Elle has been rather canny in her methods of selecting horses and has had to draw on her experience, knowledge and ability to pick out a diamond in the rough and turn it into a safe and reliable trekking horse.
I wanted to share with you Tizzy's story because the transformation in this animal has been so rapid and it makes me so proud and happy to see Elle's talent so evident.

Tizzy's background is little known to us; there are a lot of previous owners on her passport. She is a 20 yr old Hanovarian x TB. Her shape suggests that she has had a few foals and she has had a big injury in the past. Elle was asked to take her on because the young man who had her could no longer afford to look after her.

She did not look great when we went to visit her but we put her in the horse box along with her pal Teeto, a little unbroken Section A Welsh.
The first time I rode her she was quiet and felt like a bag of bones. We didn't go far but we wanted to bring her back into work to pick her up, get her muscles developing and give her some interest in life.

After just a week she was beginning to look better, but Elle there was still a lot to do.
Three months on and Tizzy is a different horse. She is far more positive in her outlook (despite being a very stroppy mare in the stable) and is really becoming quite forward.

When I rode her a couple of days ago for Elle's new website photo shoot, she was really quite strong and excitable and at times I struggled to settle her down! Ignore the dropped rein please, I'd just ducked under a low branch when she shot off!

She is clearly feeling good and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better as we build up her stamina and give her some more experience of longer trails. Well done Elle!