Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wild Child

 A wee bit over four years ago, something really special happened here.
A foal was born.
An adorable, sweet, pinto filly with half a butterfly on her neck.
 Her mother had been gathered from the Paisley Desert in Oregon.
We held a naming contest for the filly, and the winning name was
Paint Me Paisley.
 Paisley was raffled off, via Mustang U, to a young girl who lived here locally.
This year, I was contacted by her mom to say that life was so busy...
and would I like to take Paisley back?
She had been sat on, but nothing more, in terms of being saddle broke,
but was quite easy to get along with, they told me.

I said, of course, YES!
I mean, why wouldn't I?  
She needed a new home, and I wanted to be sure it was the right one.

Paisley was just as sweet as I remembered her
She'd not been in a horse trailer since I'd hauled her over
there at the age of five months.
But she didn't hesitate to follow me back into the trailer.
Okay, she hesitated...but then she climbed right in.

Paisley quickly caught on to being saddled and bridled, 
though I believe it had been done a time or two before.
She had no problem with me climbing on, and while she was VERY lazy,
within a couple of rides we were trotting circles in the round pen.

Paisley is so laid back that I felt she'd be an excellent family horse.

And then I saw Wild Ones Youth Ranch.
Paisley would be, in my opinion, a terrific fit!

So I contacted them, and yes, they said, she would be more than welcome.
I am so very happy that this is happening.  

But I need your help.

We need, somehow, to get Paisley to her new home.
It is a 400 mile journey, one way.  For me to haul, double that.
I will need help covering the cost of fuel, 
or to find drivers willing to help transport her.

If you can help out financially, please click the paypal link provided 
and enter your donation amount.  
Anything is appreciated!


For those who contribute $50 or more, I will send an 8x10 portrait of

Thank you so much for your support!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hand Spun

It's been a few years, but I used to raise sheep.  Not just any sheep.  I had dairy sheep.  No, not dairy goats.  Dairy Sheep.  Like the kind of animal they milk in Europe to create Roquefort Cheese.  I loved my dairy sheep.  They were super friendly and easy to get along with. 

Flash forward a bit, and again I have sheep.  But not dairy sheep.  Oh, I WISH they were dairy sheep, because dairy sheep were so sweet.  These are Border Leicester Ewes.  Yes, that's right, like in the movie, Babe!  They are a bit more timid than my dairy girls were, but that's okay.  They're still relatively cute, and come spring?  I'll have mounds of soft, luxurious crimps and curls to spin!

 Natasha, a white two year old ewe.

Border Leicester sheep come in two colors; white or black.  In the sheep world, white is typically the more popular among commercial breeders because you can dye the wool to meet the needs of the consumer.  Black sheep (or other colors) are less sought after by the big time outfits, but small, local farms often find a market for what is called 'Naturally Colored' fleeces.  While black cannot be colored over, many breeds have lighter, silvery fleeces that end up with very deep, vibrant colors when dyed. 

Ebony is the black sheep of my flock.  She has a little Romney in her geneology, 
giving her a bit looser curl than Natasha.

Until spring, though, I cannot utilize my home grown wool, so I've been buying some fleeces and roving to keep my spinning wheel and hands happy.  Roving has already been washed and partially processed, and comes in long, well...what would you call it?  A thing.  It's a long thing.  Like a snake.  Okay, that works, it's a long thick snake of wool.  Sometimes I buy white, that I can dye, and sometimes I buy previously colored and carded roving, such as the one shown below.

Merino Roving

The bright stuff above looks like a carnival.  I thought it would make a fun yarn.  Boy, was I surprised when it spun out into these lovely shades of blue!  Who would have guessed?

And I shall call it Ocean Breeze, 
for it reflects the water, sky, and delicate shades of sunrise on the beach.

This yarn and more are available on my Cowgirl Shepherd Etsy Shop.  Please click your way on over to see what other scrumptious yarns I've been spinning up!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cowgirl Shepherd...In the Leather Shop

I am blessed, there is no doubt.  I've been fortunate to get to know a great horse trainer and leather worker, and am thankful to call him my friend.  He's taught me many things over the years, and recently he's taken me under his wing and helped me learn a little about leather work.  

Concentrating on the saddle

Horsemen know what they want in a saddle because they spend their days earning a living in them.  Talented, crafty sorts turn out beautiful works of art.  I can attest to the fact that once you've watched one being built, you'll never question the cost on a custom crafted saddle again.  NEVER.

Fitting the leather over the rawhide tree

It starts with a rawhide covered wood tree.  Don't let the salesman fool you into believing that fiberglass is better.  It's cheaper.  It's lighter.  But it's not better.  Wood and rawhide move with your horse, and they'll outlast the fiberglass, too.

Leather is cut from a heavy weight hide.  Heavy hides cost more.  Heavy hides, obviously, weigh more.  Heavy hides last longer.  Much longer.  Skirts and pommel pieces, jockeys, cantles, and fenders.  The list goes on.  Lots of leather, lots of cutting.  Lots of piecing together.  Nails and glue and lacing.  

Tools of the Trade

Depending on the saddle and customer, different designs are stamped or tooled into the leather.  This takes some planning and a lot of pounding.  The leather is wetted prior to working with it so that the impression will be deep enough to last.

The finished product

In the end, a beautiful piece of western art has been created to last many decades.

Would that I were able to create a saddle.  For now, I'm working on smaller projects.  Some are simple, yet functional, like split leather reins.  Others are a little more complicated, like the trophy headstall below.

But what I've really been enjoying are the little leather hand bags I've been working on.  Each one is hand cut, with hand cut and stamped leather handles.  Some are dolled up with pretty conchos, like this brindle bag.

I think my favorite bag to date is the leather and hair on hide bag with it's hand painted western floral design.

Yes, indeed, when I'm not out photographing something, I believe the leather shop is my favorite place to be (well, aside from on the back of a horse, of course!)

Happy Trails!