Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Home from Yosemite

We have been home from our trip to Yosemite to visit our son, Sam/Zac/Satchmo, who lives and works at Evergreen Lodge just outside the National Park, for almost a week.  He has lived there on and off since 2008 and this is our 4th trip there to see him.  We love it, but wish he weren't so far away.

Both Sam's and my mothers went with us on this trip.
They were tired of hearing how beautiful it is out there and wanted to see it for themselves.  We had a great time and excellent accomodations at Evergreen Lodge

Since we were there last, there is a beautiful pool and hot tub with a fantastic sunset view which we took advantage of on a snowy day. 


The lovely sunset view was unfortunately  enabled by the fact that so much of the landscape adjoining the lodge property was devasted by the Rim Fire in 2013.  After evacuation of the lodge personnel, including our son, 250 firefighters stayed onsite and prevented the lodge property from burning.  It is amazing to see how close the flames came and how untouched the lodge property is.  It gives me great respect for the men and women who fought that fire, which is the 3rd largest in California history.

We arrived home to absolutely fabulous weather for mid-November.  Sunshine and temperatures in the 60's and even 70's.  And it looks like it will continue to be nice for a while at least.

The beavers have been busy getting ready for winter, with a new layer of mud on their lodge.

 And with the leaves off the trees and the undergrowth  frost-killed one can get a better look at their pond from the road.  In this photo 
<<<  you can see the old bridge in the center and their lodge is on the right side of that old collapsed bridge.  You can see the railing in the photo above.  Maybe now I will be able to get a glimpse of the beavers again.  


Everyone is enjoying the sunshine

And the dogs were quite happy to swim in the pond on Monday.  

Sam shot a big 8 point buck with his crossbow Monday evening, and spent all day yesterday butchering it.  He got 100 pounds of meat off this deer and we will share some of that with his parents.  Tomorrow I will be canning some.   Sam is also going to tan the hide using the brain of the deer, which he has never done.   I apologize for no photo, but it was late when Sam got in with the deer Monday and he got right to skinning it since the weather is too warm to delay.

Upcoming, Grover and I have an agility trial this weekend in Zanesville.  It is a 3 day trial, so we have 3 attempts to finish our Open Jumpers title.  We need only 1 Q run to move up to Excellent in Jumpers.   Another Q in Excellent standard would be nice as well.  But I really want us to get that last Jumpers Q.


I took a couple small projects with me on our trip, a pair of socks for Sam, of which I finished one.  I think I got most of it done on the plane.  Socks are great plane knitting.

The other project was another pair of mitts for sale at the Christmas Festival.  I have been delving into my yarn stash and using up small amounts of leftover yarn for these mitts.  This particular yarn is some of my very first handspun.  The grey is from an alpaca named Jillian, who we acquired in 2000, and the blue is some merino wool top I think I bought on ebay.  I plied the 2 together and I am sure I knitted something from this years ago, but I have no idea what.  I like the way the mitts came out and this used up most of the remainder of that handspun yarn in a lovely way.

In case I do not get a chance to post next week, Happy Thanksgiving!!


Monday, November 2, 2015

We Turn the Clocks Back, It Gets Dark Too Early!

But you just never know what will show up on the farm.....Over the years, we have had random animals just show up:  a horse (my son thought it was one of ours, but it was a stray), cattle, 5 pigs, and a donkey among others.  And now, a giraffe!  My father-in-law heard I loved the giraffe mailbox I pass occasionally and he made this for me.  Kinda awesome.

Yes, we turned the clocks back this past weekend and it is now dark by 6 pm.  That makes me sad, but in reality, it gives me that more time to spin and knit and weave after dinner.  I have to fill those hours between sunset and bedtime.  Might as well be productive.  I do have a 9' runner on my loom at the office.  It is for mom and not a secret:


And I wove some colorful towels for my bathroom.  Maybe too colorful.  Once I took them off the loom, I started weaving the remaining warp in one color and like it better, the pattern is much more obvious.  It's just a sampler as I don't have enough warp left for a full size towel.      
 I am still spinning for my big project, but yesterday I spun up a sample of the gorgeous alpaca/shetland wool roving I had processed.  It spins wonderfully and I hope to ply the sample tonight in a 3 ply and wash it and see how it looks.  I would really like to spin this for sweaters for Sam and myself.

The fall weather has been gorgeous.  I think I take a photo just like this at the pond every year.  But I just love this view.  

I took advantage of the fabulous fall weather this week and did some fence work.   First, I tore down a stretch of fence between the garage and the garden.  It was either tear it down or replace 4 of the 8 posts which had broken off. We do not plan to keep animals over there anymore, so I tore it down.    Then, I used the woven wire fence I removed there to replace this stretch of fence.  This was at the very back of the alpaca pasture and all that was holding it up was weeds.  There was new fence on either side of this 40' stretch, so it was not a huge job.  I had to tear out the old cheap welded wire fencing and I took the easy way out and replaced the 2 broken posts with metal T posts.  And I came up with a makeshift fence stretcher.

The stretcher did a great job and now I don't have to worry about Buck and Star going on walk-about.  And it just looks so much better


While I was out there working on fences, I got a couple photos of the 2 crias from this past spring.  They are now 5 months old.  This is Trillium and her cria.  Cria looks almost as big as her mama.  This is the cria who continues to nurse from her great-grandmother, Tunita, as well as from her mother.  Everyone seems very happy with this arrangement.  I still find it amazing.

 And this is B'Nita, who is the mother of Trillium, daughter of Tunita, and her cria, who is probably a little smaller than Trillium's cria.  But then she is getting milk from only one source!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our First Q in Excellent!

Well there is a lot going on, but I think this accomplishment is one to be proud of.  Not only did we get a Q, which means we had no mistakes at all, but we were the only 20" dog who qualified at all in excellent standard at the trial last Saturday, so we got a first place ribbon as well.  Our biggest challenge lately has been our weave poles and we have been working, working on them at home.  He got them perfectly in 3 out of 6 runs over the weekend, and I know a lot of his "failures" are due to my nerves in the ring.  

<<<< Here is the course we ran.  There is a time limit that we have to meet and we lose points for every second over that time.  We were about 7 seconds under, so I think we did great! 

Here are the obstacles as numbered on the map:

1  Jump    2  panel jump    3, 4 & 5 jumps   
6 Teeter    7  tunnel   8  double jump  9  pause table  

10  weave poles  11 & 12  jumps  13  a-frame  14 tire junp

15 triple jump  16 chute   17  dog walk  18 & 19  jumps  and 20 tunnel.  

On the pause table, the judge counts down from 5 and then we can go on.

Grover usually is very interested in the judge at this point and I need to get him to focus on me and not leave the table to go meet the judge.

We were in the home stretch with a clean run so far as we came off the dog walk.  Only 2 jumps and a tunnel  to go!   And we have blown it on the last jump before, so I am being very careful.  We really celebrated when we finished this run clean.  Believe me.

Our next trial is right before Thanksgiving and it will mark a year of running in trials.  We did get one more leg of our open jumpers at this trial, but we still need one more to get our title and move up to excellent.  So that will be our goal in November.  

At home on the farm things have slowed down outside.  We had our first hard frost overnight Sunday, so I had brought in everything I wanted out of the garden on Thursday before the trial.  I froze peppers and cooked the last 2 pumpkins and pureed them.  And on Saturday, Sam made a frame to cover the lettuce. We keep it covered except when it is nice and sunny and warm and we have had 3 salads this past week from it.   I planted garlic and hauled loads of maple leaves from the yard down to give it a nice deep bed of mulch.

That is asparagus on either side of the garlic.

We have had some beautiful fall days over the last week, despite downright cold temperatures over trial weekend.

Friday, the dogs and I took a walk through the maple grove, or sugarbush.  This is up on a hillside and ridge above the pond and the colors were fabulous.  To the left is the road going up   and on below is the maple grove itself.   It was so beautiful and the bright sunshine made the gold leaves almost glow.  

 In only 4 months we will be gathering sap and boiling it down into syrup once again.  

Below is one of the trees we have tapped in years past and you can see the healing scars left by the taps.

As for fiber-y pursuits, I am in the process of warping my big loom for Mom's custom runner, which will be 30" wide by 9' long.  Definitely the largest rug I have made to date.  I also skirted 30 pounds of fiber to be made into more rug yarn and somehow managed to stuff it all into a good sized box.  I use a lot of packing tape when I do this.  First I vacuum all the air out of the bags the fiber is in and then close the box quickly because any little hole in the bags will allow air back in and the fiber will expand to fill 5 times the space I want it to.  Always a challenge, but it is boxed and taped and ready to go to the post office.  

I also took a couple of towels off the small loom, but I still have to hem them and then I will photograph them.  


And I have gotten 4   4oz bobbins spun toward my big secret project.  This is all natural colored alpaca, but it will eventually be dyed.  I need at least 3 times this much, maybe 4.  I will know better once I ply these into 2-ply yarn and see what kind of yardage I get.  But I have all winter to get it done.  

And Oh, I got a box of roving in the mail this week.  I bought a gorgeous shetland fleece at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in May and paired it with a fine brown alpaca fleece and sent it off to be processed into a ready-to-spin roving.  It is lovely and I can't wait to spin some of it.  I hope to spin this for sweaters for Sam and myself.  Don't watch for those this winter though.  Maybe by next fall!
The End


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Well Into October Already

So far, the highlight of October has been a visit from our nephew, Wit.  My brother's family moved from Ohio to Arizona last year and this was a promise made to Wit, that he could come here and go hunting with Uncle Sam.  And they did.  They got several squirrels last week and even made stew from them.  Wit was here for almost a week and we really enjoyed having him here.  It is so nice that he loves to come and spend time on the farm.  He even helped me put together the corn shock and hay and pumpkins to make the yard festive for the season.  

Fall has come in wonderfully, with all its beauty and cooler temperatures.  I think we may get our first frost this coming weekend.  But we will still have some lovely days.  I have a lot to do outside.  I cooked some more pumpkin and made puree for the freezer this weekend.  Yesterday I prepared the garlic bed and planted a lot of garlic.  I still need to collect the  maple leaves from the yard and mulch the garlic.  I harvested a lot of basil yesterday and chopped it up and froze it with some water in ice cube trays for use in recipes this winter.  I still have lots of peppers in the garden to deal with, though last week I attempted to make hot pepper jelly.  I say attempted because it is not real hot.  It could use a little more heat.  But it is tasty and that's what counts.  Sam has been busy getting firewood cut and stacked and it is about time for me to get out and cover it with tarps to keep it as dry as possible.  

It is all work, but it is work that makes you feel good at the end of the day.  We also enjoy other outdoor activities in the fall:  Sam has been spending time in his tree stands as bow season is now open.  Last night he was able to spend time observing 3 mature bucks rattling antlers together not far from his tree stand.  He said they were all 8-pointers and were not seriously fighting, but maybe warming up for when the real competition for does in estrus starts.  He was thrilled to see this.  He said he has never had a chance to see this before.  No arrows were loosed.  

A late afternoon walk this time of year is wonderful:
First we pass some alpacas.

Then down the road and after about 3/4 of a mile we will turn and go into the woods

Then there is the creek to cross before we wind our way up the hill and across the hayfield to the pond


Grover finds it hard to stay out of the pond, but he refuses to jump from the diving board.  

The way home is mostly downhill.

An early morning walk earlier this week with my camera caught these images:

A big green caterpillar on a fence post

Another of my favorite trees, a huge old oak

  And proof that nature eventually prevails

Grover and I are off to another agility trial this weekend.  We were unable to get a qualifying run at all at our last trial, so we still need 2 Q's in Open Jumpers with Weaves to move up to Excellent.  We have been working so hard on our weave poles which has been one of our biggest problems, so maybe we will do better this weekend.  It is a 3 day trial in Zanesville, and we will be there all 3 days.  I think Sam will join us on Saturday evening so we can go to Weasel Boy Brewing, a craft brewery in Zanesville.  He and Rowdy will come and stay overnight with us and then Sam can watch Grover and me run on Sunday and then Grover can go home with him and I will stay and work the rest of the day.  That's the plan right now.  As always, it is subject to change.



Monday, September 28, 2015

No Doubt, Fall is Here

Yes, the leaves are coming down.  Not like they will in another week or two, but fall is definitely here.

 In the woods, the road is already blanketed in leaves and there is more light in the late afternoon on the westward facing hillsides.  This is a beautiful time of year to hike in the woods.  

We didn't do a second cutting of hay on our upper hayfield, as it just did not look like it would be worth it.  So there are now these patches of pretty lavender colored flowers.  The dogs and I were up there Friday in the evening light and I tried to get them to pose for photos.  

Grover sat nicely:


Luca, well he doesn't get the whole "sitting still for a photo" thing 


And Rowdy had other ideas altogether

And while not as lovely as some of the other fungi I have come across on the farm, this puffball is quite large.  It kind of makes me think if a dinosaur or dragon egg.


Saturday was a beautiful fall day here in Ohio.  I spent most of the day doing enjoyable fall type things.

I chose 2 of my "sugar pie" pumpkins out in the garden and put them in the oven and then made puree from them.  Do you see the hearts in this pumpkin?  So very beautiful.  

 I am thinking of pumpkin rolls and pumpkin bread and maybe even some pumpkin ravioli.  I have many more pumpkins still in the garden and I think I got about 6 to 8 cups of puree from these 2 pumpkins, some of which I have put in the freezer.

And while pumpkins were cooking in the oven, I enjoyed some time spinning light fawn alpaca on the back deck.  This is for another big project and I have a lot to spin.  I have been working away at that keg of raspberry wheat homebrew, but have not managed to finish it off yet.  It is getting pretty low if the amount of foam is any indication. 


I am at the office once again.  Sam and his friends came out of the Idaho wilderness early Saturday morning and had a long drive home.  Sam called me about an hour after I get here today and he was calling from home.  He was unloading the truck and then going to bed.  At 5 pm yesterday, they were outside Minneapolis, so I am sure he was tired.  I am looking forward to hearing about his trip.  And yes, he did get a bear.  So I will be looking up bear recipes for sure.

Here are the 2 rugs I finished last week while I was here at the office.  Both are done on the same warp, which was natural, red and black.  On the rug to the left I used grey, black and white alpaca and some leftover red.

 On the rug to the right, I used mostly white alpaca, but put in accent stripes of grey and red.  Both rugs are 28" wide and 40"  long and are available for sale at the Arts Center in Woodsfield.  

Next on the loom will be the 9 foot runner for Mom.