Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Stretch of Warm Weather

Over the last several days, we have enjoyed warm sunny summer-like weather.  It would be called Indian Summer, I think, but doesn't the warm weather have to follow the first frost in order to be so named?  We really only experienced a light patchy frost after the warm weather.  Whatever you call it, I'll take it!

A couple weeks ago, the dogs and I discovered a beaver dam on part of Wayne National Forest where we hike regularly.  It was several days before we got back with the camera to check it out and the "pond" created by the dam had already expanded.  I used to be able to jump over this creek just below where the dam is now.  The dam is in the center of this photo and I am upstream looking toward it.

 And here is Rowdy belly deep in water near the dam on what used to be dry ground.  I would love to actually see the beavers, so I may have to go and sit quietly without the dogs one day and just watch.

From nature to technology, the drilling rig has been brought in and erected on the well pad adjacent to our property.   This is it as seen from our hayfield up near the pond.  According to Sam, this is 106' tall.  Over the next few months it will drill 4 or 5 vertical wells 8500 to 9000 feet deep, which will then be drilled horizontally using hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as "fracking".  Another of these well pads is visible up above our creek bottom hayfield, though that one has been complete since last spring and is mostly quiet now.  This one is a good mile from our house, so hopefully the noise will not be too bad.  You should see it lit up at night though!

On Tuesday I wormed all the alpacas and since I have to catch everyone in order to do so, I took the opportunity to move the 4 older females from the pasture across from the guest house back to the main barn.  So now I have 18 females in the main barn and the 4 males are still in their pasture, where they will stay for the winter.  This makes it easier on me, since I only have to move hay to 2 locations instead of 3.  I could move the males up to the garage pasture, but in truth, I like having to get out and walk down the road to feed them every morning, even when it is cold.  It motivates me to get some exercise.

 The crias are doing well.  They are both 5 months old now and getting big.  This is Dulci's cria.

And Tempest with her cria.  You can see how big she is.  She is bigger than Dulci's little girl, but not by a lot.  I have been debating what to do as far as weaning them.  I usually wean around 6 months, but that is the end of November and I would have to separate them from their mothers, which would necessitate moving alpcas around again .  I may just see if the mothers will wean the kids on their own.  If notw, they will be separated in the spring.

I may not post next week.  Not sure.  On Wednesday the 5th, Rowdy and I are seeing an orthopedic specialist at Ohio State's veterinary college about the swelling/arthritis in his right hock joint.  Depending on how that goes, he may undergo an arthrodesis surgery on Thursday, where they will basically fuse that joint so it will be permanently immobilized.  This will require leaving him at OSU for a couple nights and me driving back and forth a couple times.  I'm a little freaked out about it, it seems so drastic.  But if it allows him to be less painful for the rest of his life, it will be a good thing.  He is only 9 and should have 5 or 6 more years in him.  I hope.  Send good thoughts his way.  He's one in a million.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

RhineBeck! And it Feels More Like Novermber than October.....

I know, I should not complain about the weather, but it has been grey and gloomy and damp ever since I returned from my trip to New York for the Sheep & Wool Festival at Rhinebeck.  Wow, this was a festival to be experienced for sure.  Huge.  It was about a 10 hour drive and the 3 of us managed to chat just about the entire way out and back.  We don't all get together often.  I chose not to carry my camera into the festival, which I think was a wise decision because inside the buildings it was hard to move without bumping into people.  We speculated probably 40,000 people were at the fairgrounds on Saturday.  I cannot seem to find any official numbers anywhere, but goodness, it was crowded!  We shopped and ate and watched a herding dog demo and tasted wine and cheese and basically wore ourselves out.  I had arranged ahead of time to meet a lady from New Hampshire who was selling a loom I wanted to buy and I met her in the parking lot around noon and money and loom changed hands.  I am now the proud owner of a 24" Leclerc compact loon with 8 harnesses.  Half the weaving size of my rug loom, but twice the number of harnesses which means I can weave more intricate designs.  This loom will be kept at the house.  So I now have a 4 harness 24" loom for sale.  Anyone?

 Here is most of my "haul" from the festival.  Left to right is merino/tencel spinning fiber, 100% tencel yarn (hoping to be warp for a shawl), a spinning bat which has wool, silk and sparkle.  This will be fun because you just pull from the center as you spin and it changes colors.  And rug warp.  Not pictured is a bottle of Cabernet Franc from a local winery.  A personal favorite of mine.

Speaking of rugs, I just took my 2 latest off the loom:


Very pleased with how they came out.  I will likely be re-warping the rug loom next week .

This morning, as I was getting ready to come in to the office, Sam was playing chimney sweep on the roof (I can't think of this without hearing Dick Van Dyke singing in my head).  It's about time to think of lighting the wood stove and we wanted to be sure there was nothing obstructing the chimney.  We had a chimney fire a few years back and don't want to have that again:  chimney fire March 2010  

I am sure Sam hates being up on that roof more than I hate him being up there!

Sam and I were discussing just yesterday how abundant  nuts of all types seem to be this year, walnuts, acorns, hickory nuts, buckeyes, etc.  The squirrels are very busy storing them away, but they don't have to look far to find them.  I thought I would write a bit about the black walnuts, which are prolific here.  The trees are the last to leaf out in spring and the first to lose their leaves in fall it seems.

This year, they are loaded with nuts a bit smaller than a tennis ball and about the same color.  The nuts have a thick hull on them that is just full of tannins which will stain everything it touches a yellow brown color.  It makes the hulls excellent for natural dyeing, if you desire a brown result.  In order to use the walnuts, this hull must be removed, which is very messy, and then the nuts in their shells need to dry for a while.  I think I have dried them on a screen in a cool place about 3 weeks.  Then comes the hard part.  Black walnut shells are extremely hard.  I have yet to find an easy way to crack them.  Conventional nut-crackers do not work.  The best method I have found is a cement sidewalk and a hammer.  Then, you have to pick the pieces of nutmeat from the resulting mess of crushed shell.  Not fun and very time-consuming.  This, along with the fact that black walnuts are much more bitter than English walnuts, is why I really don't bother with them and I leave them to the squirrels.

Upcoming events: Tonight I am hosting the first meeting of the Fiber and Textile Arts Group as part of the Monroe Arts Council.  We are hoping this will become a monthly event for anyone who has an interest in any of the fiber and textile arts.  We will see how it goes. 
Saturday is my 35th high school reunion, for which I will travel over to the western side of the state.  Another weekend away from home.  But it will be fun to catch up with some old friends and spend some time with Mom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I have not had a lot to write about nor a lot of time to write.  But things are picking up so I wanted to be sure to post this week, though the weather has not been conducive to outdoor photography, so I don't have many photos to share.

My dye day which had been scheduled for Oct 4th was cancelled.  I made the call on Friday afternoon due to a bleak weather forecast, and I am glad I did.  The high was only in the 40's and not only did it pour rain, but it hailed!  Fall weekends are either really nice, or really crappy it seems.  Had I scheduled it for the previous weekend, we would have had perfect sunny weather with highs in the low 80's.  Ya never know.....

Grover and I are still enjoying agility.  We are entered in our first trial the weekend of November 21 in Zanesville Ohio.  It's too far off to be nervous yet.  I am looking forward to it.

This past Saturday, I prepared my garlic bed and split a few of this year's bulbs up and planted for next year's crop.  Then I covered it all with a nice layer of maple leaves.

On Friday (that's only 2 days away!), I am taking off with a couple friends and we are heading to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival  otherwise known as "Rhinebeck".  It will be about a 9 to 10 hour drive, but is supposed to be the biggest fiber festival in the country and it's one I have been wanting to attend for a few years now.  We have a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night and will head for home sometime on Sunday.  We may stay somewhere along the way, depending on when we head out.  We shall see.  I am meeting up with a woman from New Hampshire there from whom I am purchasing a new loom.  More on that once I get it!

Mom came this weekend to pick up her dog, Luca, who I was dog-sitting while she was away for a couple weeks.  The day before she arrived, Sam and I attended a local auction, mostly because the real estate was being auctioned as well as other items and we wanted to see whether the real estate sold or not, and if so, for how much.  Sam's dad was already there when we arrived and he had purchased a small vintage hand-cranked ice cream freezer, which he gave to me.  So on Monday, Mom and I made ice cream in the sunshine on the back deck with the maple leaves falling all around us.  We used heavy cream and 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar and vanilla extract.  Boy, was that good!  The freezer is very small and we made less than 2 quarts, which is about perfect for a small household.  Next time, I will add a good splash of bourbon as well (Mom nixed me on that idea this time)!

 I am almost done with my sweater, which is good because I want it for this weekend.  Though the forecast for Saturday is looking a bit warm for an alpaca/wool sweater, with the high supposed to be upper 60's and mostly sunny.  Sunday is supposed to be a good bit cooler, however.  I will finish this today.  The photo does not do the color justice.

I also have rugs working on my big loom.  I'd like to use up as much of my rug yarn as I can in the next few months, so I can take some more fiber in to the mill in March, which is when I will be making my next trip there.

Tari (who is going to Rhinebeck with me) has a great rag rug book she had checked out from the library when we got together last week and I checked it out when she returned it.  It has a lot of great ideas for doing interesting things with the warp to make rugs that are a little different and these ideas will work well with my rug yarn as well as with rags.  Totally inspired me and so now I need to acquire more colors of warp (the threads that are strung onto the loom).  So watch for those in the future.

Yesterday morning I thought the sun was going to come out as I was doing my chores, but it only lighted the tops of the trees on the ridge to the west for a short while.  There was the faintest of rainbows.  I got off a quick photo, but the rainbow is so hard to see.  And then the sun went behind more clouds and we did not see it again.  Maybe you can see the rainbow if you  look closely.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Already?!

One of the nice things about having harvested some timber on our farm is that all the paths and roads are now wider and somewhat smoother and free of debris.  This is not always the case when timber is cut, but it was part of the terms with our timber guy that he smooth out ruts and push tree tops off of roads when he was doneBelieve me, in the real estate business for 16 years, we have seen some properties that were timbered and look like a bomb went off on them.  This is not something a land-owner should allow......

Not much to write about today.  The weather has been lovely, quite warm for late September and the start of October, but I understand that is about to change.  That is unfortunate since I am supposed to be hosting a dye day for my spinning guild on Saturday and the forecast is for a high of about 50 (today is Thursday and the high is to be 75 today), with rain showers.  Dye day is an outdoor activity, so not sure what will happen.

We are still enjoying fresh tomatoes daily.  
 We have had pizza with tomatoes, basil, peppers, and garlic (it was SO good!), bruschetta with tomatoes, garlic and basil, salad with tomatoes and peppers, pasta with fresh tomato sauce and (you guessed it) basil and garlic.  We still have lots of ripe tomatoes on the vines.  Not really enough to can anymore though. But if I have time this weekend or Monday, I will look into that.

On Saturday I opened the bee hive for the first time in too long.  I realized why they say to get in there every couple weeks:  the bees had everything so glued together with propolis that I had a hard time getting the boxes apart.  The top box was not very full, but the second box down had a lot of capped honey and I robbed them of one full frame, which looks like it has some dark buckwheat honey in it.  I haven't had a chance to extract it yet, though.  The bees seemed to be doing just fine, and I was surprised that they were quite docile.  I expected to get stung and pretty much shredded my nitrile gloves while trying to pry boxes apart and had bees crawling on my hands but did not get even one sting.  That makes me happy.

 On Saturday I also moved the 3 adult alpacas and 2 crias, who are now 4 months old, over to the main barn.  That just makes one less area I have to go to in the mornings to feed and clean up.  Plus, I now have that area next to the garage free to set up my agility stuff and I won't have to pick it all up if/when Sam mows (lawnmower problems in late Sept do not bode well for the grass getting cut again this year). 

 And speaking of agility, today I mailed in my entry for the Trial in Zanesville that is hosted by the Parkersburg Obedience Training Club (POTC) where Grover and I take classes.  We will be there on Friday Nov 21 and Sunday Nov 23 to run for our first time!  I debated about just going one of the 3 days, but decided on 2 (avoiding Saturday as the most busy), so that Grover could have one day where it was brand new to him and then a second day where it might be less overwhelming to him.  I hope Sam will come on Sunday and maybe get some photos of us.  

 Here's another swimming hole in the creek that the dogs love.  Even when the rest of the creek is dry, like now, somehow there is always water here and deep enough for them to need to swim.  Luca is still with us for another 10 days or so.

The End!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

3 Bags Full

Yes, the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, Ohio was this past weekend, and I came home with 3 bags of lovely, crimpy, greasy wool.
 My alpaca/wool blend yarn has sold better than the 100% alpaca yarns, so much so that I have only 1 skein of it leftI plan to blend this 12# of cormo cross wool with about 12  to 15 pounds of alpaca for my next batch of yarn.  The wool is "in the grease" which means it will lose up to 25% (or more, but I hope not) of its weight in washing and I hope to have 20# of finished yarn.  

Here's a close up of the wool.  I washed a sample of it and believe it or not, it is quite white once washed.  I neglected to photograph my washed sample however. 

The Wool Gathering was great.  The weather was wonderful, though extremely blustery on Sunday.  It was overcast in the morning, but cleared off by noon and there were huge occasional gusts of wind that made the whole tent flap noisily.  Here are some scenes:

Mom took this with her camera of me next to my yarn.

My booth.  Looks pretty much the same as last year.

I even had entertainment on Sunday as there was a group doing fencing demos between my tent and the next one over and I had the side of the tent open to let in light.  

I think the festival was a success.  I know there was quite a crowd on Saturday and a bit less so on Sunday.  Lots of wonderful vendors with fun things.  I purchased a novelty:  A turkish drop spindle that was made on a 3-D printer!  I forgot to photograph that as well.  Next week, I promise.  The spindle was only $10 and is so cute and colorful and novel that I had to have it.  The maker is a shop called Turtle Made on, but they do not have any photos of their spindles on their site, or I would link it.

I stayed with Mom and she attended the festival with me on Saturday, but was getting ready for a trip, so did not go with me on Sunday.  I brought her dog, Luca home with me to stay while she is away.  The city dog gets to visit the country dogs.  He loves being here and gets lots of exercise.  He especially loves to swim which he does not get to do at home.  This is one of the dogs' favorite spots on one of our walks, a deep spot in the creek.

Fall has arrived and it seems that the colors and the light change daily now.  Our forecast this week is for fabulous weather through the weekend.  This lone sugar maple is already golden.  

And the golden rod is in full bloom in the fields that have not been mown, like this one on Wayne National Forest that we hike through several times a week.

 Grover and I are still having a great time at agility class.  Just before I started to write this post, I printed off the entry forms for a trial in Zanesville, Ohio in November, which I plan to enter as soon as I figure out what to enter.  Grover got his AKC/PAL registration a couple weeks ago, so he is ready to go.  We still have 2 months to prepare!  We will be entered in novice and I observed the novice class at the trial a couple weeks ago and it seemed like something we can do.  A couple of my classmates (who are experienced handlers with novice dogs) were in the class and did very well.  We shall see.

On the fiber front, I started a scarf that son Sam/Zac/Satchmo requested.  He asked for a grey scarf.  Not the most exciting knitting, but he will wear it, so he gets it.  He bikes to his job in Portland, so I hope to finish it in a couple of weeks and get it to him.  It has a kind of basket weave pattern, which makes it a little easier to work on, as there is stitch variety.  

And I have still been working on my sweater.  I need to get this finished in a month so I can wear it to the festival I am attending in Rhinebeck, NY.  Knitting a "Rhinebeck Sweater" seems to be a tradition among New York Sheep & Wool attendees.  This sweater has a lacy pattern on the back and a solid front.  Here is the back as it is now:

This is knit in some of my hand-dyed wool/alpaca blend yarn that I reserved for myself.

I sold a couple of rugs at the Wool Gathering, so I am contemplating the next warping of my loom and hope to start that soon.  Maybe today, if I have time.  We shall see.

Just south of Young's Dairy, which is where the Wool Gathering is held, there is a field just full of sunflowers.  I stopped early Sunday and took a few photos on my way to the festival.  Here is my favorite.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back From Bend

No real farm stuff this week.  I missed posting last week because Sam and I flew out to Oregon to spend a week with our two sons and son Ian's fiance, Michelle.  Despite difficulties getting there (which involved flight delays in Pittsburgh due to bad weather in Chicago, which resulted in missing our connection on to Portland, which would have resulted in our sleeping in the airport at Midway Chicago and arriving in Portland almost 24 hours late, all of which culminated in our deciding to fly in to Seattle and rent a car and drive to Portland, arriving at 6 am Portland time on Saturday instead of 10 pm the night before) we had a great time! 

Last year, we stayed in Portland for a week and so we decided we would like to get out of town for the week and make it a real vacation for Ian and Zac and Michelle as well.  I suggested that they choose a place within a few hours' drive that they were interested in seeing and Bend, Oregon was the chosen destination.  It was chosen for its weather, outdoor activities, and its many local breweries.  We rented a 3 bedroom "cabin" on a private lake, which was one of 4 such cabins and for the 5 nights we were there, we had the entire place to ourselves.  The lake was shallow for the most part, but there were kayaks, stand up paddle boards and canoes there for our use and it was peaceful and beautiful.

 On Sunday, the day after we arrived, we went to a lava tube area and hiked about a mile or more underground through a cave which was formed by lava.  This was weird because there was no electricity in the tube, you either brought your own headlamps or you rented a lantern, which is what we did.  It was interesting, but kind of cold and spooky, though there were a lot of other people in there.

Through the week we also did some other hiking.  

Here is a view of Mt Bachelor from the ridgetop across the lake from our cabin that Sam and I climbed up to one morning.  

Tumalo Falls was accessed from a trailhead only a couple miles from where we were staying and we went out there with everyone one day.

And on Wednesday, Sam and I took a 10 mile round trip hike up another trail that was hiking distance from our cabin.

There was also a hot tub on the cabin deck, which was  really nice after a 10 mile hike!

And of course, there were the breweries.  My husband is a home brewer and beer enthusiast.  My boys also enjoy a good brew and I prefer wine, but am learning to like some of the wonderful craft beers that are to be found more and more readily these days.  So Bend has an "Ale Trail" Bend Ale Trail   Basically, you get a "passport" and have it stamped at 10 local breweries and you get a souvenir pint glass made of silicone with the Bend logo on it.  We all came home with Silipint glasses.  But it was fun.  Most of the breweries serve food and one, Deschutes, gives a 45 minute tour of their large facility (they are retailed in 27 states currently), which was very interesting.  The tour is free and includes samples.  Book in advance on line if you plan to go.

Most of the breweries will let you choose a sampler tray of their beers which consists of 6 to 8   4 oz samples.  They number them or mark them in a way that you can tell what you are drinking.  I believe these were 6 oz samplers at Brew Werks and we just shared them.

It was a great week, the weather was incredible.  Bend is in a high desert area and the days were around 80 or a little above with the nights dropping quickly into the 40's and 50's at this time of year.  I am totally sold on the area.  I could go back again and again.

I did do some knitting, but not much.  The photo at the top of the page is of some fingerless mitts I knit from some of my own hand-dyed alpaca yarn.  They are to be a sample in my booth this weekend at the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs Ohio and were a great small project for travel.   I leave Friday around noon for the 3 hour drive to Yellow Springs to set up and be ready to go on Saturday morning.  I will stay with my mom over in Dayton and she will join me at the festival, which will be nice since I was so busy last year and had no help. 

So since arriving home very early Saturday morning, in addition to preparing for the Wool Gathering, I have managed to keep quite busy.  On Sunday I attended the 3rd day of an agility trial put on by the club where Grover and I take classes.  I helped out a bit and asked questions a talked to a lot of people.  I have also been processing tomatoes.  I canned 7 quarts of tomatoes on Monday and started a big batch of sauce yesterday which will be ongoing for a few days, I think.  I hope to get another 7 quarts of sauce canned.  More on that next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall is in the Air

It may be 90 degrees out there right now, but the days are getting shorter and have gone from summer's dark green to the golds of early fall.  There is a constant insect hum and it just feels different.  
Plus Labor Day is now in the past.  We had our annual Labor Day party and I was astonished at how many little kids were here.  We had more babies and toddlers than I have ever seen before and older kids were in the minority.  I got to meet the newest member of the family, my niece's baby boy Blake, born in July.  He's a big handsome boy and seems a very content baby.

There were a lot of people here on Saturday.  So much food.  I am always afraid there won't be enough and there is always too much.  Unfortunately by the time I thought to get my camera out, it was getting dark.

 Cornhole is always fun.

Some of the vehicles by which people arrived.

The weather was hot but good on Saturday but the rain moved in early Sunday morning and stuck around all day.  It did not keep a couple of visiting teenage boys and my niece's husband from enjoying the zip line at the pond, however.

And of course there was dog play

Grover made a new friend who was about his age, but much larger.

And this is how a dog looks when there is no room for him in the ATV coming home from the pond in the mud and he runs along behind (much to his disgust)

So by the time everyone went home on Monday, I was wiped out and I think Grover was as well.  We were both a little off at agility class on Tuesday night, but we should recover soon.  

Here are a couple shots from around the farm this morning.