Our Blog

Being nearly technologically illiterate, I am still struggling with removing photos that no longer seem to be there, and replacing them with photos in the spaces that I want to have photos.  Never mind.  I am still trying to figure it all out.  I will do my best.

One of my pet peeves is when I hear folks express that sheep are stupid.  Have you ever noticed that animals raised for food are regarded as "stupid"?  "Sheep are stupid.  Cows are stupid.  Chickens are stupid.  Turkeys are stupid.  Oh, but dogs and horses, not only are intelligent but they have psychic abilities."  Food animals are NOT stupid.  Sheep are actually quite wily and intelligent, as I have good experience to know.  I don't know much about cattle, but certainly cows know enough to hide their calves, protect them from predators, find food and water, and figure out electric fencing.  I think folks have the attitude about farm animals being "stupid" in order to justify eating them, and to justify cruel factory-farm and slaughter house practices.  

Transitional Climate Beneficial

posted Feb 19, 2020, 1:16 PM by Lynn Moody

Blue Oak Canyon Ranch, home of many Santa Cruz Island sheep, as well as other critters, has been accepted into Fibershed's Transitional Climate Beneficial program.  This means that all our wool and fiber, and products made from those, are and are "made from the fiber of animals that are grazed on managed landscapes in a system transitioning to Carbon Farming."  Big step for us, but a natural step.  At the present time, mainly we are employing targeted grazing using our sheep.  Targeted grazing looks like this:

on the grasslands (before, left; after, right)
and on the woodland/brush lands targeted grazing is like this:
(during)

The goals are to remove carbon from the atmosphere and put it into vegetation and soil, and to reduce wildfire fuel load.  Those are the targets.  As well the process works to feed the sheep and give them new "scenery" from time to time.  Happy sheep.

The saga continues.  We are beginning work on a Carbon Farm Plan.




Sheep Eating Brush

posted Feb 6, 2020, 2:15 PM by Lynn Moody


A couple photos of some of our Santa Cruz Island rams helping us with brush control.  These guys enjoy pine, oak, California buckwheat, California broomsage, yerba santa, and many more. The objectives are, to feed the sheep (believe it or not, they relish this browse!), to reduce wildfire fuel load, and to sequester carbon into the soil via trampled plant material, woody and otherwise, that they don't eat, and of course, sheep poop.  

It's not just the rams, either, the ewe/wether/lamb flock is doing their part too!  The brown sheep with her head stretched up is sampling juniper.  They also enjoy California buckwheat, pine, oak, sagebrush, and others.  Grass too.  Filaree.  Star thistle (newly sprouted and end-of-season dried).  
Good sheep, helping us out!

Announcement...

posted Jul 23, 2019, 2:19 PM by Lynn Moody

Just real quick, I am announcing that I am in the process of reviving our Etsy shop, BlueOakCanyonRanch, and I put a link in the page "OUR SHOP."  So far, just Santa Cruz Island roving is up for sale but more items coming soon, including yarn, Navajo-Churro roving, eventually some batts for spinning or felting, maybe other stuff too. Gosh I hope the link works.

Blog of the Week - A Brief Update, and a Rant about Humans' Farm Animal Attitude

posted Jul 12, 2019, 9:19 AM by Lynn Moody

Being nearly technologically illiterate, I am still struggling with removing photos that no longer seem to be there, and replacing them with photos in the spaces that I want to have photos.  Never mind.  I am still trying to figure it all out.  I will do my best.  That's the update.

One of my pet peeves is when I hear folks express that sheep are stupid.  Have you ever noticed that animals raised for food are regarded as "stupid"?  "Sheep are stupid.  Cows are stupid.  Chickens are stupid.  Turkeys are stupid.  Oh, but dogs and horses, not only are intelligent but they have psychic abilities."  Food animals are NOT stupid.  Sheep are actually quite wily and intelligent, as I have good experience to know.  I don't know much about cattle, but certainly cows know enough to hide their calves, protect them from predators, find food and water, and figure out electric fencing.  I think folks have the attitude about farm animals being "stupid" in order to justify eating them, and to justify cruel factory-farm and slaughter house practices.  Let's treat our animals humanely, with dignity that they AND we deserve.  Respect them for what they provide for us.  That's the rant.

Brief blog on the blog

posted Jul 3, 2019, 3:16 PM by Lynn Moody

It has been so long since I updated this blog, I have forgotten how!  I hope to revive our whole website and have updated the home page, "About Us," "Processing our Fiber," and "Our Shop."  Bear with me while I slog through this stuff, and I hope to keep updating this blog, the shop, and will let you know on Instagram when I have done so.

Hope you and yours are well!

Ranch Update

posted Nov 30, 2016, 12:01 PM by Lynn Moody

It has been so long since I blogged last - we have been that busy! - it seems like I have time for email and to do quick postings on Instagram.  But, finally, here is a ranch update for those of you who are interested which is, I hope, as Google says, Everyone in the world -

On November 18 we left in a rented minivan, to attend the annual Wool Symposium of the northern California Fibershed.  I went as a vendor this year - last year (our first) I was a speaker, subject Santa Cruz Island sheep.  The symposium was in Pt. Reyes Station, and wonderful friends Sandra and Rob at Black Rock Ranch let us stay in their beautiful home at nearby Stinson Beach.  This year Jim was kind enough to go with me and did most of the driving, and dear friend and neighbor Devon was kind enough to ranch-sit for us.  We took scads of wool as roving and raw fleeces, as well as some llama/cotton blend drum-carded batts, some yarn, and a few loom-knitted hats.  Sandra brought Santa Cruz Island wool batts, an herbal smudge stick, home-grown eggs, and some lavender arrangements.  The weather forecast for Pt. Reyes Station included 100% rain prediction for the Saturday (19th) of the symposium so instead of the planned 10 foot by 10 foot space, we were limited to an 8-foot long table with a little space in front.  Most of the fleeces and roving had to stay in the van parked outside.  The llama/cotton batts sold very well, and the Santa Cruz Island wool yarn, and one Navajo-Churro fleece sold (thank you beloved customers!!!!!!!!!!!) and the rest of the wool etc. came home with us and most of it is advertised on Etsy right now.  A couple items have sold already, wonderful, and thank you beloved Etsy customers!!!!!!!!!!!!).  Sandra sold a batt and some eggs.  We had fun, and the talks and panel discussions in the symposium were VERY interesting and timely.  Amazing what folks are doing.  Fibershed is awesome.

Speaking of vendoring and selling stuff (or not) my plan is to have a booth at the San Miguel Christmas parade and craft fair on December 17 from 2 pm to after dark.  So if you are in the area come on by.  We didn't make it last year as Jim was ill and it was raining and cold.  No way am I going to let my spinning wheel get wet.  So if it rains this year I will not take the wheel(s) but will bring knitting instead.  Always plenty of that to do.

In the normal course of doing business, I had taken some photos of the young Santa Cruz Island rams - born in 2015 - several of whom are casually for sale (meaning I haven't officially listed them yet!) to serious breeders or future breeders of Santa Cruz Island sheep.
This is Buster, ear tag number 30, handsome dude, wouldn't you say?
This is Thirty-three (ear tag 33, naturally).
This is Thirty-five (35), through the fence.
Here is Twenty-One (21).

There are more, some of the photos won't upload, don't ask me why.  Feel free to inquire if you are in the market for a very nice Santa Cruz Island ram!

There is a group photo, Blake with the black legs is not for sale, nor is Peabody who is a member of the same cohort.

Other than the aforementioned, we have had a little rain - a little over an inch in late October which I already blogged about, 1.6 inches on Sunday Nov. 20 (after returning from the Fibershed symposium), and last weekend 0.3 inch from a couple quick storms.  The hills and especially the canyons are greening up.  Jim is looking at next week to plant our barley fields, in the meantime the ewes, lambs, and wethers along with Georgie the llama, are in the west and middle pastures to eat down the stubble and green grass which volunteered.  The young rams, some of which pictured above, are in the east field with Sahne the llama, doing the same.  We are in a bit of a dry spell now but hoping for more rain after next week.

And that's enough blogging for now.  If you haven't already be sure to check out our Instagram posts.




The Green and My Worry

posted Nov 7, 2016, 2:21 PM by Lynn Moody

So far this autumn - in late October - we got/have gotten 1.15 inch of rain.  (we measure, yes)  One inch of it came as a subtropical storm, was warm, and I think that is why the seeds in the soil sprouted right away and have been growing like crazy.  In places the grasses are two inches tall already.  Seems like in past years, the annuals grow more slowly in response to rain.  It's glorious.  So on Sunday Petunia and I went for a walk and I documented some of these crazy growing little plants.
Here's a view of mixed annual grasses and forbs (herbaceous non-grasses).  Can't tell yet what they are but I did see lots of filaree sprouting up.
Here's a view of another stand, even further along, mixed grasses and forbs.  This is the floor of the small canyon that contains our house.
And a close-up of some of the plants in the scene above.  See how rocky our canyon soils are!  Clay and rocks.  Our floodplain soils, and the river terraces, can also be rocky and are very sandy.
This is a little way up the canyon wall.
And, for a macroscopic view, here is a shot looking downstream, more or less southward, toward the mouth of the canyon.  You can just see the floodplain.  Also you can see part of the roof of our house.  The reddish brown plants in the foreground are California buckwheat, the red tops are last summer's flowers, hopefully containing some seeds for the quail, other birds, and small animals (or big animals) to feast on.

Here is my artistic statement of the day - a barn owl feather perched picturesquely on a small chamise shrub.

With all this green, it's very difficult to not feel good and encouraged.  But I'm one of those people who, if I don't have anything to worry about, will find or manufacture something.  So now my worry is that we won't see any more rain for a long time - I would very much like the rains to continue to keep the green going!  The 10-day forecast has no rain in the prediction for our area.  Well, worrying won't help...  If you are in California, enjoy the green!

Kangaroo Rats

posted Oct 29, 2016, 10:24 AM by Lynn Moody

The other evening I was in the chicken yard, putting the chickens to bed, and encountered this little creature, a kangaroo rat.  I read a little about them, and decided to share.

I know these two photos are very similar but there is a subtle difference between the photos and I like them both, so I am putting them both in!

Kangaroo rats are in the same family as pocket mice (who knew?!) and the family name is Heteromyidae (if you're interested in such things).  They make underground burrows - we have their burrows all over the place - which they use for shelter, nesting, and caching food.  They eat seeds and some green vegetation, the greens get eaten right away and the seeds are stored.  Some species never drink water, instead their bodies manufacture water from their food.  They have litters ranging in number from 1 to 8, in late spring through early fall.  I guess that explains why we have so many, judging from the number of burrows we find.  They drum with their hind feet (like rabbits) and this might be to establish territory, or a response to predators.  They can run or hop and we have seen them at night doing both - they are nocturnal as you could guess from their big eyes.  We very rarely see them during the day.  Kangaroo rats take dust baths or sand baths for grooming and to mark territory.  At burrow entrances, we often see imprints of their long tails.  They are eaten by any nocturnal carnivore, and I believe the barn owls (probably other owls too) prey on them.

There's a photo of a barn owl sleeping in the barn, on an airplane wing, waiting for night to hunt.  This is the parent of a nest of owlets.  As of last night, the owlets were flying around and beginning to disperse - I hope they stick around to continue to keep the nocturnal rodents in check.

Kangaroo rats are very numerous around here, some species are endangered, not sure what species ours is but we have plenty of them.  They don't seem to be pests, most likely their numbers are kept in check by predators, we can't see that they do any harm - unlike the woodrats which eat my garden plants and chew up the wiring in our pickup truck which is too big to park in the garage.  The barn owls are welcome to the woodrats too.

Santa Cruz Island Ewes and Lambs

posted Oct 18, 2016, 9:33 AM by Lynn Moody

We are in somewhat of a holding pattern with respect to our sheep - shearing is finished for fall and is nowhere near to starting for spring, we haven't started breeding yet - because of my work schedule, we lamb late in the season and thus breed late in the season.  I am planning breeding schemes - as in, what ewes go with what rams - but we aren't moving sheep around yet.  They are growing wool, flirting with each other through the fence, lambs are growing, and we are feeding them hay.  It is too early to put them out on range - what little forage is left is dry, and it is too dry here to risk electric fencing - and the barley in the pastures is nearly eaten down.

Here are some photos of some of our ewes and lambs.  Some of these may also be on our Santa Cruz Island Sheep page of this website, or will show up there sometime. 


Maybe that is enough for now.  More later.  The last photo, of course, includes a llama - Georgie the guard llama.





Nighttime Phenomenon

posted Oct 12, 2016, 12:23 PM by Lynn Moody   [ updated Oct 12, 2016, 12:26 PM ]

The photo above was taken on August 30, 2016, and the sky is so red because what is left of the sunshine is travelling through smoke from the Chimney and Soberanes Fires.  You have to look closely but if you do, you might be able to make out the Evening Star, Venus, low in the west.

This photo was taken almost a month later, September 26, and the sky still has a little light, and Venus is barely visible in this one too.
I've been experimenting lately with taking photos at night (can you tell?) both with the phone and with a digital camera.  The photo of the moon (a few nights ago, a waxing crescent not quite a quarter moon) is my favorite of several photos I tried that night - there are some branches across the moon which give the photo a little depth.

Did you know that sheep's eyes glow green in the light of a flashlight?  Eerie but pretty.  But I couldn't get a photo, not quite bright enough.  Maybe I'll try again sometime.

Later that same night, I found and photographed, with the help of a flash, this little critter in the chicken yard as I was putting the chickens to bed (that is, shutting the doors to their coops).  It's a kangaroo rat.  Very cute.  Nocturnal, you could guess by the big eyes.  It (he or she?) comes into the chicken yard at night to eat some leftover chicken feed - along with lots of mice.  Wait, I don't mean the kangaroo rat eats mice, I mean the mice also eat leftover chicken feed.



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