Author Archives: Karise

Adding interest to a Monday afternoon…

If you’re searching for a project that will both amuse and annoy you, allow me to suggest hand-shearing a pet sheep, without really knowing how.  That is, I did print off instructions from the internet for guidance, but there’s nothing like a little experience.

As a side note: Not just any brother would cheerfully assist his sister with shearing her pet, but mine did.

As you can see, everything is in order.  Sheep in a (supposedly) helpless position, brother holding it in place, shearers–and bucket of soapy water to clean them–handy, and instruction paper secured to the ground for easy reference.

We started on the belly, but never really finished it since it was too easy to cut her.  We proceeded up the neck, around the head, and down her body.  Grant actually took to it much more naturally than I did, so he did the tricky parts.  At first Karisey (the sheep’s name) protested vehemently.  She then decided to be good for a while, (probably just so she wouldn’t get heat exhaustion), then renewed her attempts to escape.

“In case you wondered, this is NOT fun!”

Emerging from her stifling coat.

Free at last! Doesn’t she look so funny! I may try carding some of the wool, just for fun.

Our Fish Story

Monday afternoon I was walking past my grandparents’ pond (the one we use for irrigating the blueberries) on the way back from checking on the sheep.  (They started having lambs Sunday and now we have twelve.)  I saw something floating in the water at the edge which I first thought might be an animal of some kind.  Then I realized it was this.  (That’s a yardstick below it, not a ruler, just in case you weren’t sure. 🙂 )

Now, there is a family legend from almost thirty years ago about when my granddad, my dad, and one of our family friends were dragging a net across the pond and caught two of three huge grass carp.  The third grass carp flipped out of the net (much to the scare of the friend, who was in the water with the net) and hadn’t been certainly sighted again since.  No one could be sure if it was alive or dead.

To my excitement (yes, one gets excited at some strange things here in rural Missouri), once I had retrieved Grant to pull the thing out of the pond and show it  to our granddad, he confirmed that it was a grass carp and probably the same one from almost thirty years ago.

Grant and I were quite pleased at our catch, even if it was dead when we captured it.  So we had to take pictures.

It weighed around sixty pounds.  We decided to leave it in the front yard for a while to see what happened when Abriana and our dad came home.

Later, Abriana documented what Her Royal Highness thought of it.   She didn’t care for it.  A little too large for her taste, I suppose.

“What is this beast doing in my domain?”

“It stinks.”

Update on the Construction Zone

Burning to make the grass grow better and greener!

A worker handling hazardous material.

A beautiful March evening.

And, as an end note, the herb seeds from Thyme Garden arrived today.  We’ve never ordered from them, but the seeds arrived promptly…we’ll have to see how they grow.  The reason I got the seeds from them was because they had an astounding variety of herbs, almost anything we would have wanted.

Construction zone

Daddy and Grant’s latest project has been transforming the area south of the main blueberry patch into a scenic herb garden.

Well, it’s not scenic yet, but it certainly has made a lot of progress.

Taking a breather while they survey their work.  Notice the delightful sturdily-crafted rustic bridge!

Now you can see where they are, from a different angle.

Another rustic bridge in progress.

As for the herbs, some of them are getting their start in the comfort of our house at this moment.  Currently growing herbs are cilantro, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon, two kinds of parsley, and three kinds of basil.

I recently ordered more  herb seeds, including angelica, calendula, rue, fenugreek, sweet marjoram, mullein, sheep sorrel, and creeping thyme for a ground cover.

A Woolly Addition

The newest member of the flock and definitely one of the cutest…but she feels like a bit of a black sheep, wouldn’t you know.


She really is completely black but her wool is bleached out from the sun.  Having wanted a black sheep for a while, I was very excited to make a trade (back in August…I’m a little behind with the blogging) with our friend Mrs. Miller, giving her the former “Lucy” (one of my grown-up Katahdin bottle lambs) and receiving the adorable former “Karise”.  Now, Karisey and Lola Lulu each seem happy in their new homes and Lola Lulu, I was informed, had twins this week, her first lambs.

Karisey is part Finn, part Romanov, and will require a shearing every spring unlike our Katahdin hair sheep, so in a few months I  may be learning to shear a sheep by hand. Thanks to Mrs. Miller, Karisey is friendly and hopefully will tolerate an inexperienced shearer with grace.    🙂

New Contraption

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Here is our latest method for beating the weeds: a weed burner.

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Just wave the deadly flame for several seconds over the offending plant, and it supposedly sizzles the life out of it.   Death takes place gradually however…results are not immediately obvious.

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Warning: Care must be taken not to burn things you do not wish to burn.  (Such as a blueberry bush, your irrigation drip-line, or your shoe.) You must use extreme caution around dry mulch or sawdust or you may have a smoldering fire on your hands.


Of the sheep population, that is.  Since about two weeks ago, we have acquired seventy-two  new members of the farm…complete with three sets of live triplets!

Two weeks ago we were on a week-long trip to Orlando, FL. to attend a conference.  During the course of this vacation we found out from our neighbor (who kindly undertook to take care of our animals) that there were lambs coming on the scene.  By the time we arrived home, there were over twenty!

Being gone during the beginning of lambing afforded the perfect opportunity to try a method of lambing we had wanted to implement this year anyway–more of a hands-off arrangement without constantly moving the new mothers into lambing pens after birthing for special care.   Sometimes I still put a ewe into a pen with her lambs if I think they need bonding time.  Only about six more ewes to lamb and we will be set to go for the year!


When I feed the ewes in the late afternoon or evening the “youth group” loves to frolic.


Their chaperone looks on, unamused.


Who could resist taking a picture of this ADORABLE face?

IMG_6782Some of my favorites, one of the triplet sets–would you care for dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or vanilla?

IMG_6745A very new lamb.

On another note, last weekend we finally finished pruning the blueberry bushes for this year! Cheers! 🙂 If you had traveled down Lost Branch Way Saturday evening between eight-thirty and nine, you might have seen a very odd sight: Two pruners rushing to finish the last of the bushes by the illumination of the truck’s headlights.  Unfortunately, we did not document that with a picture, but the one below is from earlier this year–Daddy instructing us about pruning.


Below are Daddy and Grant fertilizing the bushes last Saturday, which was a gorgeous day perfect for working outside.



The buds are starting to swell…not too long from now we should have a beautiful field of white blossoms!

An Update Concerning January & February

For one thing, not too long ago we  sold the rest our Katahdin lambs from last year!!  Here are some of them ready to leave in January, although these were not the last to go.


A couple pictures of the ever-present donkeys.


Not too flattering, Jessie, but kinda amusing.


Blueberry plants in the snow.


And shortly after that, in early February, we got a REALLY big snow…at least, for us.  Northerners would probably laugh.  But as young northeast-Missourians who haven’t seen much deep snow in our area, we thought this drift outside our front door was amazing!


The dogs analyzing the situation.


Our latest adventure…

Since there isn’t a whole lot exciting going on as far as the farm goes at this time of year, I thought you all might like to see a few pictures of our trip to the Grand Canyon this September.  It was a completely awesome trip and we even made it clear out to California to spend a little time with some of our wonderful family out there.  Yep, it was a LOT of time in the car, because we drove all the way out and back…in our old Buick, no less.  Some of us were more than a bit nervous as to whether our car could make it back in one piece, especially over the mountains.  But the Lord really blessed us with safety and a great time.  So, without further ado, here is a sample of the many  pictures we took of the Grand Canyon.

To begin with, we rode the bus around a lot during the first day (we spent two days at the Canyon).  This was very convenient and nice, but at times crowded.


Wow! Awesome is the only word to describe it, and pictures DEFINITELY can’t get it across.  You lose perspective looking at it because the proportions are so vast.  Unfortunately, this probably makes for not realizing what imminent danger you could be in on the trails…but more on that later.


After a while, we decided to venture a ways down the Bright Angel Trail.  Our first moments on it were quite exhilarating.  There’s nothing like knowing you could accidentally fall down a huge precipice! If you are afraid of heights, this is most certainly not the place for you.  No guard rails and spectacular views…it was amazing!

The next day, since the Bright Angel Trail was such a big hit, we determined to try the South Kaibab Trail, which was even better–more steep, and more treacherous.  🙂


Daddy and Grant get ahead of us on the trail, making for a cool picture.


Mother and Abriana in front of a scenic drop-off.  They were convinced I was taking pictures on the trail at the risk of life and limb.  🙂


Trailblazers! 🙂

IMG_5629Unfortunately, we didn’t have time or energy to go clear to the bottom and come back up, so when we approached this large boulder (which partly overhung the edge) was about the time we turned around to head back up the trail.  Grant found that it was an excellent seat and vantage point for a view.

IMG_5639“Grant, will you PLEASE come down from there? The agreement was for you to stay on the PATH!”

And a few other random pictures…

IMG_5671We got to see a sunset as we ate supper.  A bunch of people were taking pictures of the sunset, but it was a  quiet atmosphere even with all the people. A few dedicated photographers really DID appear to be risking life and limb.


Daddy enjoying the view.


A fabulous time had by all!

Asparagus, Coming Soon

This post comes a little late, but this spring we did plant about 300 asparagus plants, hoping that when they get established (about 3 years) we will be able to offer U-pick asparagus as well as the blueberries.  If you’d like to read a little more about how the asparagus rows were plowed up, go  here.

You have to prepare the rows by adding composted manure first, since the soil is so clay like around here.  Here Grant is shoveling it into buckets to be transferred to the rows.  That wagon, by the way, is our most invaluable farm tool! (At least, I personally think it is one of them).  We really can’t get along with out it! It has hauled dozens and dozens of loads of saw dust and absolutely everything else that needs to be taken from one place to another! Recently, however, I fear it is beginning to show serious signs of aging. 


I, knowing virtually nothing about how asparagus works except that we had a very poor patch of it in the garden, did not realize that we would be planting many spider-like roots instead of real plants.  Most of the roots thankfully sprouted into wispy green plants not too long after these pictures were taken.