July 7, 2012

Oregon Conclusion

I went up to Oregon for the annual Black Sheep Gathering, and to visit my friend Dusty, on the Morgan River Ranch. My dog Shae went along as co-pilot. Here she is out in front of the barn at Cormo Sheep and Wool farm. (where there are still a few incredible fleeces for sale.)
Here is the barn;
and one of the barn cats.

My objective for BSG; a long(ish) staple fleece to add to the fiber intended for the Cover That Armchair project. Something more medium than fine, and off white if possible. (No worry about colorfast dyes, and one less step for the project.) I found a suitalbe Romney fleece in the wool sale area (pictured in earlier blot), so my mission was accomplished. I was pretty drunk on fleece fumes, I'm not sure how I managed to stick to my self-imposed limit of one fleece. Maybe it was because I kept thinking I might just have to pick up one of those Cormo fleeces. I don't really need more fine white, soft, fluffy, wonderful fleeces. Of course I came back with just a few (really!) other items that I thought were good deals; some weaving tools and some dyed roving, pictured in an earlier post.

While at BSG, I met up with my blog pal Michelle over at Boulderneigh. Michelle is a hand-spinner and shepherdess who breeds Shetland sheep, so she knows what spinners like in a fleece. Or maybe it's more accurate to say, I like what she likes in a fleece. I've been lucky enough to purchase two, and they are both delightful to spin.

The rest of the time was spent on and around Dusty's place, the Morgan River Ranch. They raise a few Murray Grey cattle for breeding stock, and keep a few sheep for training their herding dogs. And of course the dogs. Some of the cows, and other animals;
bull calf
Bull - This is Roar, and he's really mellow
cow - she is shedding, but the hair is coarse. no spinning fiber there.
not cows, ducks. for training young/inexperienced dogs. really!
one goat, one horse and some sheep
The horse is Pony (he's retired) and the sheep and goat are his "flock". They cluster around him for protection, and go where he decides to go. As a group, they are "Pony and his Minions." He runs up the hill, they follow. Very funny to watch. By the way, those sheep might look wooly, but really they aren't. They are mostly 'hair sheep' crosses, and the wooly winter coat roos out in the spring and summer. It is short and full of hair, and doesn't feel very nice at all.

Just up the road from the ranch is the Hull-Oakes Lumber mill. It was, until recently, the last steam powered lumber mill in the country. They made steam by burning the wood chips and sawdust produced from processing the lumber. New air quality regulations caused a shift to other power sources. Now the wood chips and sawdust are used for mulch and paper.
wigwam burner
it move logs. big ones.
old logging trucks
wise words
This place has been around for a long time. Its also one of very few mills that can handle really, really big logs. Need a 24"x24"x really-long beam? They can do it.

I love the history in this part of Oregon. Around the corner from the ranch lives the man whose family owns and runs the mill, he is still involved, and so are his children and grandchildren. On a previous visit he took me past stands of Douglas Fir he planted before I was born, and he showed me the site of the original family homestead, set up by his fore-bearers. Southern California mostly lacks that history of family and place. It is an unfamiliar and wondrous thing to me.

Besides shopping and sightseeing and visiting, I helped out around the ranch. Where I could. Collect eggs,feed the barn cats, fill the duck pool? Piece of cake. Drive the putt-putt around the pastures? Sure. Chase a very pregnant heifer around the pasture in the rain in the middle of the night? You bet! Get rained on almost every day I was there? Well, okay. Not like there's much choice. Most important thing that happened? Getting some Veterinary work done on my dog, Shae. That's why I stayed so long. I now know a very good Veterinary eye specialist in Corvallis, Or. And Shae came home minus the hemangiosarcoma that had been growing on her eye. I offer many, many thanks to my friend Dusty for helping set that up.


  1. What wonderful photos. Yes, Oregon is a beautiful place. Glad Shae had a successful surgery, that must be a huge relief. PS The family histories in California have all been covered with housing tracks and strip malls...but they were, indeed, once here. You'd just have to look hard now to find the remnants, few as they are. Very sad.

  2. It was wonderful to see you at BSG, but I think your ranch experience was even better.