Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

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Time is fun when you’re having flies

“Time is fun when you’re having flies” is something my high school biology teacher used to say. He was a little… different. But he was also one of my favorite teachers.

I CANNOT believe how long it’s been since I posted anything on this blog. Over a year. Whew.

So much has happened. I went whitewater rafting and ziplining for the first time. Rafting was fun. Zip lines are terrifying. My niece showed Tango for the first time in 4-H and won Grand Champion in her performance classes. Old man still has it. Welcomed a new nephew (number six!) in August. His name, Everett Yates, makes me think he’ll be a poet. Finished another triathlon in October.

The biggest thing/change, however, came in December when I welcomed a new puppy into my life. She’s changed so much for me. All good. Her name is Lou.

Lou, my puppy, posing in her camouflage bandana.

This is Lou sporting her new camo bandana so the cats can’t see her.

That’s it for now. Hopefully, there will be more to come. Like a post about all the ways having a puppy is pretty much the same as having a kid.


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Thirty seconds

Spring lasted all of thirty seconds around here. Seriously, it was blowing snow on April 2, and it was 85 degrees today. I’m not going to complain… but I want to complain. Because it’s hot. I spent the weekend shearing llamas, and it was sweaty, dirty business. I only got 16 done, which means there are 48 still waiting on me. Oy.

I’m getting ready to do something this weekend that I haven’t done in four years. I’m going to compete at a llama show. Yes! Legit. I actually signed up, and I’m going. I’m totally unprepared and haven’t practiced AT ALL, but I wanted to do it, so I’m doing it. I had to sign up before I chickened out.

This show is actually the same one after which I stopped competing four years ago. At the end of that day, I drove home in tears. I was in agony. That was also the day I decided to get serious about the big surgery.

For the last two years, I’ve gone to shows and helped friends with their animals. I even went in the ring once or twice. But I never exhibited my own animal, and I certainly didn’t do the performance classes.

I’m pretty excited about this. I’m taking an animal that I trained years ago (but that I haven’t practiced with in about four years), and I enjoy him oh so much. His name is Zin. He’s big and fluffy and patient, and we’re going to go make fools of ourselves.

This is kind of a prove-to-myself-that-this-was-all-worth-it moment. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed!


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A llama


He’s so cute, I just want to smoosh his cheeks.

This is Normandy.

He was born on D Day. Hence the name.

My schedule has been insane lately, and I haven’t had time to write a post this week. I thought instead I’d share a sweet pic of a sweet little llama. He was about six months old in this pic. Now, he’s four years old and thinks the world owes him–he’s quite full of himself. He was one of the last two babies I bred, and I unfortunately broke my leg shortly before he was born. He never got the training I did with my others, and I’ve never shown him. He did spend one year in 4-H, so he has been halter trained and had some performance training. But he pretty just hangs out in the pasture, beating up all the old guys.

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Gypsy portrait

This is Stryker. He’s a seven-year-old Gypsy Vanner stallion. We joke about changing his name to Ferdinand because he is extremely (sometimes infuriatingly) laid back. Just like Ferdinand from the children’s story–the bull that would rather smell flowers than engage in the bull fights.

Gypsy Vanner stallion.

Someone should have scrubbed the mud off his face before snapping his picture.

I spent some quality time with Ferdinand this past weekend. We’re working on his ground training. He’s a big baby about, oh, pretty much everything. He likes to pretend that he’s not bigger than anything else on the farm and gets scared when he sees inanimate objects. It’s not his fault. He hasn’t gotten all the proper training. He’s been professionally trained under saddle and in a cart, but he hasn’t really gone too many places off the farm to learn that the world is not a scary place. It’s the lack of experience that shows up from time to time, and we’re working on that.

I tied three pie pans together with some twine–makes an awesome racket. The neighbors were probably, like, what the hell?! The lesson was brief, but it was a good lesson. It ended when I could rattle the pans on either side without him moving his feet and when he’d walk with me while I was rattling the pans. He was still tense, but it was his first lesson with the pans, so I think it went very well. He has no idea what’s coming because this was just the first in a long line of lessons I have planned for him. He’ll be “bomb-proof” eventually whether he knows it or not.

This ground work gives me something to do while I build strength and confidence in my ability to ride again.

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Random camera pictures

I take way too many pictures with my phone. Half of them are just extra shots taken in quick succession so I can capture the action. You’d need a magnifying glass to pick out the differences in some. I then go back through and delete pictures like crazy because no one needs three shots of the same image, and let’s be honest, I don’t really need most of the pictures I’ve taken. They’re not anything that I’d print out and hang on the wall. But I thought I’d share a few here. For no reason.

Re-paved road in park.

Who knew new pavement was so awesome?

This picture is über exciting. That’s new pavement on the main road in my favorite park. It’s so smooth! And so fast!

Deer in the park.


I always have my phone with me on my rides, and I managed to snap this as I breezed by some of the deer in my favorite park. You can’t stop completely to take the pic because then they get all suspicious and run away, so this is the best it gets when I’m on my bike.

Barn cat named Tarzan.

Tarzan. The (not so) wild man.

This little dude is Tarzan. He and his three siblings (Moxie, Batman and Tiny) were born early this spring in the horse barn. I was doing chores one weekend morning, and I heard what I thought was one of the barn swallows screeching. On further inspection, I figured out that a stray cat had given birth to a litter of kittens in the back of the hay stack on the floor of the barn. Tarzan was so named because he was absolutely wild when he first started venturing out into the world. We couldn’t get close to him, but we could pet and play with his siblings. That’s all changed, and he’s now the most ridiculous of the bunch. He comes to you immediately when you enter the barn, and you spend the entire time in the barn tripping over him. His purr is the loudest I’ve ever heard. As you can see, he likes to take selfies.

Llama in front of fence.


The most important thing about this picture is not the gorgeous llama. It’s the equally gorgeous fence behind him. Look at how straight it is! I built that damn fence with my bare hands.

Nephew on the playground rock wall.

Little monkey.

This little monkey is my five-year-old ‘phew. If anyone asks, he’s not my favorite. I love my niece and all my ‘phews equally. For the most part. He’s the only kid on this planet that has made me pause longer than 10 seconds and think that maybe I need to have my own kids some day. He gives super ultra mega hugs of doom. What is a mega hug of doom you ask? Well, he runs to the other side of the room and then runs full speed right into you and tries to squeeze you to death. Depending in whether he catches you standing or sitting, he’s fairly successful in squeezing the breath out of you.

Girl on a horse.

The niece riding Pie.

I took the niece and the ‘phew to the farm a few weeks ago, and my niece rode Pie for the very first time. I think she might be hooked. The ‘phew wasn’t quite convinced he wanted to get on Pie, but he was really excited about taking pictures of his sister from the other side of the fence. This is one of the 57 masterpieces he took that day. What bothers me most about this picture is that my niece is only 7, and her feet almost fit into the stirrups that were set for me.

That’s it for now.

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O summer, where art thou?

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? -Dr. Seuss

The days are getting shorter. It’s already the ninth of September. Labor Day came and went. The chill is back in the morning air. The cicadas are buzzing. All signs that summer is not long for this world. Fall will officially be upon us in less than two weeks.

Summer came and went this year like a flash flood. I’ve barely had time to enjoy the longer days, the sunshine and the general wonderful-ness of summer.


Mowgli and I share the same opinion when it comes to the suggestion that winter is on its way.

Winter was so brutal this year, summer was slow to make an appearance. It was March/April before I was outside on the bike; last year, I was riding outside in January. I’ve cut back quite a bit on the cycling for the last two months as I’ve done more swimming, and now I’m desperate to fit in more rides before it’s too cold or it’s dark before I get off work. I need more time!

Don’t get me wrong. Fall is, was and will likely always be my favorite season of the year. Just the smells of fall make it the best season, but then if you acknowledge the bonfires, the hayrides, long rides through trees of red and gold, football, the pumpkins and the crispness in the air, there is just no other season that comes close to Autumn. But this year, I don’t want it to come quite so soon.

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Shearing Sheila

Sheila is the first llama I owned. I’d shown llamas owned by other people for 10 years, and it was fine. I don’t know exactly what made me think I needed to own a llama. Except it’s Sheila, and she was meant for me.

I typically enjoy shearing llamas. At least, I enjoy the idea of it. After I’ve had time to forget about the previous year’s shearing season. There is some satisfaction in how the wool rolls off the animal. I like finishing things, and this is something that’s pretty clear when it’s finished.

There are 87 llamas on the farm, and we sheared all but one (he’s old and light-wooled; he doesn’t need it). Most of them are retired and get a quick cut that helps them stay cool in the summer heat. Some of them are on the show string, and those get a more careful cut meant to show off their conformation in the halter ring.

Sheila officially retired several years ago. She just turned 15 last month, so she’s one of the “old girls” now. I wish I could share better pictures, but I was alone on this particular day, and I didn’t even have an actual camera with me. Phone pics will have to do.

Before. Sheila, since she’s retired, doesn’t have to keep up appearances. So she was pretty dirty. I’d decided to give her a cut that takes off more fiber than I normally would because of the heat. She also doesn’t particularly like being groomed (she’ll tolerate it), so I figured shearing the fiber off would make it easier for the both of us.

Llama prior to being sheared.

Dirty girl before her spring hair cut. The fiber around her middle (the barrel) was what had been sheared last year.

After. She looks like some kind of fancy poodle. My friend, Sheila’s number one fan, asked if I’d left leg warmers on her when I texted her this after shot. Yes. Leg warmers.

Shorn llama.

Sheila in all her regal presence. You can see that Auggie was a huge help… laying there on the driveway. The llama butt on the right belongs to Street.

Though many people do, we don’t really use the fiber for anything after we shear it off the animal. Llama fiber is softer than most sheep wool, but it’s not quite as fine as alpaca fiber. One year, we shipped a bunch of fiber to help with oil spills (they use it to soak the oil off the water). This year, we gave bags of fiber to a shear guild. Most years, the fiber gets buried. There’s just too much left from so many llamas.

Llama wool after shearing.

What was left of Sheila on the cutting room floor.

Shearing the llamas is a hot, dirty job. It’s also sometimes painful because some of the llamas take exception to the shearing and kick. A lot. I’m quite happy that we’re done for the year. Now, we can do other fun things. Like bale hay.