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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Season and Deer Season are Upon Us.

Thanksgiving was last week and that is pretty much the beginning of the Holiday Season.  As usual, Sam and the dogs and I trekked across Ohio on Thanksgiving morning to my mom's house to share the day with her and my brother and his family.  It was a rather quiet day, compared to Thanksgivings past when there have been over 20 people at Mom's.  Next year may be noisier....

Unfortunately, I did not get to do much "Black Friday" shopping because Rowdy got very sick about 11:30 Thursday night and at 3:15 am I decided he needed to go to the emergency vet clinic just down the road.  It was after 5 am by the time I got home and I was really in no mood to go out again. I won't go into details, but Rowdy was pretty sick and was given medication and sub Q fluids and was on a bland diet for a couple of days.  I am happy to say he is fully recovered and back to his old ways and habits.  

We arrived home from Mom's in the early afternoon Saturday and then Grover and I headed out at 5:30 the next morning to Zanesville for the last day of an agility trial.  I am glad we did so well in Morgantown because we did not do well at all on Sunday.  Our next trial will be the end of next week.  We will be running Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the IX Center in Cleveland, which I understand is a huge dog show.  

Monday was the start of gun season for deer here in Ohio.  Sam got another deer,  so we are set for venison for the year.  

Yesterday was a beautiful day for the end of November, bright and sunny with highs in the mid 60's.  I took the cover off the lettuce and arugula in the garden.  It is doing quite well.  Actually, we still have uncovered arugula growing, despite a few nights of well below freezing weather. 

I also spent some time putting up insulation in my studio yesterday.  Sam bought several packages of the batts that don't need to be cut at the auction last month and I probably put up about a third of it.  Sam has most of the siding up, but not all.  I really like the way it looks so far.  


 During gun season, I generally stay out of the woods with the dogs, even on our property.  Even though Sam is no longer hunting, we allow the neighbors to hunt on our place and it is just best to stay out of the woods.  So yesterday, I walked down the road to the beaver pond with the dogs in the mid-afternoon.  The beavers have been very busy preparing for winter and I was surprised at how much they have done.




They have really built up their lodge and have been working close to the road.



Rowdy is standing by the road and I am down along the water and there are cut trees everywhere and clearly defined pathways.

In the photo at the top of this post, Grover is standing on the far side of the lodge from where these 2 photos were taken, and you can see where the beavers have stockpiled cut branches in the water close to their home for easy winter access.  I would love to get another glimpse of these busy creatures, but they seem to do all their work in the dark.  I guess I don't blame them.  

 



I have also been busy.  I have been finishing up items to take to the Christmas Festival in Woodsfield which is this coming Saturday.    I finished 4 woven runners and 3 baby blankets and also made a pillow.








 

 
I am still working on fringe on scarves, but those are almost done.  And of course I have rugs and socks and yarn and maple syrup and a few alpaca bears to sell as well.  It will be a fun day sitting in the courthouse chatting with people and visiting with my good friend Tari.   I always look forward to it.





 



I knit myself a new hat and Sam's sweater is coming along well.  I am almost done with the back.

 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

First Frost, Frosty Agility Trial


I don't recall a year where the first frost has come so late.  We had a very light frost in late October, but it was only down in the low areas, like where we live.  The first real frosts have come only in the last week or so.  I'm not really complaining, but Grover suffers from seasonal allergies to something in the environment that begins in late summer and ends only with the frosts.  He scratches out much of his coat during that time.  This year, allergy medication helped a lot, but he is now off it and still scratching, though it is lessening in severity.

My husband, Sam, is a hunter.  He loves to bow hunt and spend time in a tree stand watching the deer.  He has seen young bucks sparring and he has watched a bobcat chase a rabbit across the snow.  I am sometimes envious of what he sees from those tree stands, but then I think of all the hours he spends sitting up there and how seldom he sees anything but squirrels and chipmunks.  Sam gets a couple of deer every year and that is a lot of what we eat all year.  However, like most hunters, he has been dreaming of getting that big buck someday, and on Nov 4th, he finally got it.  He generally hunts in the evening and he will disappear a couple hours before dusk and reappear 1/2 an hour or so after dark, just in time for dinner.  He usually "unloads" his crossbow into a target by the driveway and then comes inside.  This time, he pulled up to the back door instead and I knew he had shot something.  And the way he was acting, I knew it was something big.  He said it was too big for us to lift into the back of the buggy, so he drove the tractor to the very back of the farm and I followed in the buggy to help.  It is a very big deer.  I think the outside antler spread (widest part of the antlers) is over 23".  He is having it mounted, but all that meat (90 pounds processed) was in our freezer by Sunday evening.  I have never wanted to hunt and I don't approve of hunting just to kill something, but harvesting a deer to put meat on the table is different.  Sam enjoys spending the time he spends outdoors and it puts meat on the table.  Meat we do not buy at the supermarket.

can you spot Grover in this photo?
Earlier that same day, Grover had a vet appointment in town and afterwards I decided to drive over to a local county park called Piatt Park and take our daily walk.  This park is kind of a little gem in our county and there are almost never very many people there.  There is a hiking trail, about 3/4 of a mile long, that goes along the rim of a gorge to some sandstone caves.  What I like to do is go in dry weather, hike the trail to the caves and then go down to the creek in the bottom of the ravine and "scramble" back up the creek.  It is full of huge boulders and overhanging rock formations.  It is not a long hike, but I do not recommend it for everyone as both the trail and the creek scramble are uneven and rocky and there are very steep stairs from the caves down to the creek.  Grover had a wonderful time.

I took a few photos with my phone because I did not have my camera with me. 




Grover and I attended a trial In Morgantown, WV this past weekend, which is a little over 2 hours away.  I have not been to this trial location before, but many of my club-mates have and I was warned that there is really no heat in the venue.  It is like being in a huge tent.  If the sun shines, it warms it a little.  Very little.  And of course, the overnight temps dropped into the upper twenties.  Let's just say it was extremely cold in there.  It was a 3 day trial and we were there all 3 days.  I think we had a fabulous weekend.  We Q'd all 3 days in standard and on Sunday we also Q'd in jumpers, which means we added a second Double Q to our record.  We also got 29 MACH points, which gives us a total of 81.  I was extremely pleased with our runs.  Our next trial is less than 2 weeks away, but we will be attending only one day, the Sunday after Thanksgiving (which is next week!).  


 The studio is coming along.  This is not the most updated photo.  This side is entirely sided now and 2 of the other sides are partially sided.  Today Sam is at his dad's because his dad said he had some logs long enough to cut 12' boards from which we need for the front and back  where the peak of the roof is.  He will mill the boards on his dad's sawmill and bring them home.  He will also be bringing home some insulation he bought at the auction last week and I can start putting up insulation in the interior walls.

Life is going to be very busy the next few weeks.  Next week is Thanksgiving and we will make the trip to my mom's as we do every year.  Then Sunday Grover and I have the agility trial and on Monday gun season for deer starts in Ohio.  This means Sam will be hanging out with the guys playing cards every night for a week.  Then December comes in with the Woodsfield Christmas Festival (for which I have been weaving things), the dog club Christmas party, and on and on.  And one of these days it might snow.  Actually, I believe that is in the forecast for this weekend.  I'm glad I have no plans.

early morning frosty fencepost

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Still Enjoying Warmer Than Usual Temperatures


There's nothing like a warm sunny day in late October to warm an old dog's bones.  And Rowdy knows it.  Our deck, which is so nicely shaded by 2 huge maple trees all summer long is now a nice place to enjoy a warm fall afternoon.  After the removal of 6 inches of maple leaves, anyway.

A lot has happened since my last post.  Grover and I headed off to an agility trial and we had quite a weekend.  After a long spell of almost no qualifying runs, we started off Friday with a Q in all 3 runs!  We Q'd in Open FAST (which gave us our title in that, so now we are in Excellent FAST), then got our very first Q in Masters Standard, followed by our second Q in Masters Jumpers.  I was so excited because this gave us a Triple Q for the day and our very first Double Q toward our MACH title.  Now I need 19 more.  Oh, and 750 MACH points.  We earn 1 MACH point for each second we run under the SCT, or Standard Course Time.  We earned 18 points for our Standard run and 9 for our Jumpers run.  Here we are getting ready to leave the ring realizing we have earned our first Double Q.  What a great feeling.  We finished out the weekend with 2 more Q's in Jumpers (so we were 100% for Q's in Jumpers) and earned a total of 44 MACH points.  Our Standard runs were good, and Grover got his weave poles and hit his contacts every time.  It was other errors that caused us to no Q.  So I considered it a very successful weekend.   We will be trialing in Morgantown WV in a little over a week.

We got a light frost on the farm while I was away at trial (and then at Mom's for a couple of days).  Not a hard freeze, but enough to pretty much do in the tomatoes and peppers.  Then the temperatures soared back up into the upper 70's during the day and we have had some truly lovely fall weather.  I spent some time this past weekend cleaning out the tomato and pepper plants and now all that is left is one big parsley plant.  In the other garden, the arugula is still doing well and the swiss chard seems to be hanging in there as well.  We have lettuce and arugula in the cold frame, but it has not needed to be covered lately.


 Most of the leaves are off the trees, but there is still a bit of color left.  I took some photos up by the pond on Monday, which was Halloween.  This is the pavilion and the sugar shack.  Before we know it it will be syrup season again.  We still have plenty of firewood.




The outhouse is on the far side of the pond from the pavilion.  




This is actually on the path on the way up to the pond.  In the summer, this whole path would be in deep shade.  I love the fall light and the brightness it brings, especially when the sky is a deep blue.  And there is no way you could sneak up on anyone in the woods this time of year.  Walking through the dry rustling leaves is quite loud.  




I found these mushrooms growing on the road coming down from the pond.  They must be Halloween mushrooms.  They are kind of creepy looking.

Sam is working on cutting all the boards for siding my studio.  While I was away he got skirting all around it so that it should stay warmer.  I may put insulation underneath as well.  Sam has kind of talked me into waiting to see how warm it stays without my doing that.

Meanwhile, I have projects going on both looms.  I have 2 baby blankets on the big loom here at the office.


Both have peach cotton as the warp and the first one uses a natural cotton for the weft and for the second one I am using some thick and thin natural colored yarn that I think is cotton.  It has no label on it and I acquired it in the same estate purchase as the peach yarn and the yarn that I did the blue baby blankets from this past summer.  There is a pattern in both blankets, but I don't know how well it will show with the nubby yarn.  I will find out once I get them off the loom and hem and wash them.

On my smaller 8 shaft loom at home I am doing some holiday table runners.  This was a hard pattern to get my head around when I started the weaving and I had to cut off the beginning and start over.  But once I made a cheat sheet for the treadling pattern it did not take long for me to "get it".  I will get 2  4 foot runners from this warp and I hope to do a couple more in red when these are done.  I'll tell you, though, it was too nice outside this past weekend to be inside weaving.  On the other hand, if my studio was finished it would have been really nice to open the door and windows and spend the day in there!



I finished my Socktober Socks (I am wearing them today) and now I need to start a sweater for Sam from the alpaca/shetland handspun yarn I have been spinning for a while.  Which reminds me, I have also started spinning some chiengora, otherwise known as dog hair.  I have been saving some of Rowdy's undercoat for some time and 2 weeks ago I washed it and carded some up and got it on the wheel.  I need to finish it.  I started some secret gift knitting as well.  Something I hope to give for holiday use this year.  Time may get the better of me, however.  It has a way of doing that.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It's Been HOT This Week

We've had temperatures near and exceeding 80 degrees.  Pretty amazing for this time of year.  Sam and I have been able to eat dinner on the deck, as long as it isn't dark yet.  We had a very light frost last week, but not enough to kill anything.  As a matter of fact, I have still been harvesting tomatoes and basil and peppers from the garden.



Tuesday I picked all the banana peppers there were and pickled them for Sam.   The peppers did not do well in the heat we had in August, so they have come on rather late.  There are now a lot of green peppers, but I don't think they will ripen to the red peppers which I prefer.

I cleaned out the corn stalks and gathered up all the butternut squash into one place to let them harden off.  I still have some arugula growing and swiss chard. 



 

 I wish we liked the swiss chard more.  It seems to have a long growing season.  But while we can eat it, we're not crazy about it.  I probably won't plant it next year.  










I have a new crop of arugula, lettuce mix and romaine coming up in the cold frame.  We have only covered it one night so far.  


Despite the warm temperatures, it is time to think about the coming cold weather.  So Saturday morning Sam and I cleaned the wood stove and the chimney in preparation.  This is a pretty involved process as the stove insert needs to be pulled out from the fireplace  to clean out the chimney pipe.  


It is big and heavy and awkward and it is difficult to get the pipe put back together when we are done.  But it had been put off long enough.  It's nice to know that now when it gets cold we can go ahead and light the woodburner.



This week my studio got steps up onto the deck.  Sam closed off the back, so this is now the only entry to the building.



Sam has also been pulling logs out of the woods to cut for the siding.  On our walks lately he has been sizing up trees that are already down in the woods for their potential as siding boards.  He thinks he may still have to cut a tree or two, but has has pulled a lot of logs over to the sawmill.



 I have not done any knitting I can post on here as it has all been gift knitting.  Both my looms are about ready to weave on, but I really don't have any progress to show.  It has been so nice outside that I have not wanted to be inside when I've been at home, which leaves little time for weaving.  But the weather will be changing soon, as will the clocks and it will be getting dark much earlier.  



Grover and I are off to an agility trial tomorrow in Zanesville.  It will be our first one since August and I hope we do well.  We are about due for some clean runs.  I know we can do it.  


We have found several of these large puffballs in the woods lately.  They are so odd looking.


And the colors are at about their peak right now.  I know by next week all the leaves will be gone and everything will be shades of grey and brown again.  So I will enjoy it while I may.
 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October is Here

I carried my camera with me a few times over the past couple of weeks, but I don't seem to have gotten many good shots.  October has really had some ups and downs weather-wise so far, with the last 2 mornings being in the 30's.  Yesterday there was even a film of ice on the car windshield.  But the days have been lovely with bright blue skies and highs near 70.  Except for Saturday.  There was a huge hurricane coming up the east coast on Saturday and it was very overcast here all day until evening when the edge of it started to slowly pass over on its way east.  There was a very definite line between the far edge of this vast storm system and the clear skies from the west.  The clear skies brought the first cold overnight temperatures on Saturday into Sunday, but more pleasant weather.

Our garden is still producing tomatoes. There were even new blossoms on the vines yesterday.  But there are a lot of green tomatoes that just won't ripen.  This past weekend I used fresh tomatoes, fresh peppers, basil, arugula and  parsley.  I have over 2 dozen nice butternut squash which will get us pretty much through the winter and I just planted more arugula, romaine and mesclun lettuce mix which we will be putting the cold frame over, hoping to enjoy fresh greens through the end of the year like last year.

My studio now has electricity to it, as well as gas and a door and windows.  Next will be the steps up to the deck so Sam can close in the back of the building.  Right now there is a 4' X 8' opening that was left to make access easier before the deck was added. The door and all the windows came from the auction at Rogers, Ohio that Sam and his dad go to every month, so they don't all match, but that's ok.  There is a window on each of the 2 sides that are not visible in this photo, so there should be plenty of light.



 I took this photo from inside looking out towards the house.  I think the deck will be a nice place to sit and spin or knit.  It will have a railing on it eventually, but the steps and siding take precedence at this point.  Sam will be milling wood for the siding from trees on the property.  Most are trees that are already down and just need to be hauled to the mill.  There will be a variety of woods.  I will be using a stain, but I have not yet decided what color I will use.  I think I have time to think about it.  It will not likely get done until the weather warms up in the spring.

Wetland area created by the beavers


Saturday afternoon Grover accompanied me as I finished clearing my walking trail on Wayne National Forest.  I have come to the realization that Grover and I need to get out on more strenuous walks than Rowdy can keep up with.  We need to do it a few times a week, which means leaving Rowdy at home and just doing it.  It is almost physically painful mentally for me to leave Rowdy behind.   All his life our days have usually included a nice long walk in the woods in all seasons.    Rowdy is 11 1/2 now and I know the hills are just not good for his joints.  There are 1 to 2 mile hikes we can go on that are easier on an old dog.  However Grover and I both benefit from more challenging hikes.  So on Friday morning Grover and I got in the car and went to Lamping Homestead and did the 4+ mile hike over there that I love.  It was very enjoyable, even without my other best friend along.  



I have been doing some spinning, still working on the alpaca/shetland blend that I plan to knit sweaters from for both Sam and myself.  I plan to start his no later than November 1st.  The only knitting I am doing currently is gift knitting, so it will just have to remain a mystery for a while.  And both my looms are waiting to be dressed with warps which are already measured out.  This loom will have baby blankets on it using a peach warp and white weft.  No special baby in mind, I'm just trying to use some of the cones of yarn I have on hand.  I had to purchase additional heddles for this project as it has over 700 "warp ends", which are the threads that go from front to back on the loom.  Each end needs to go through a heddle and I was 20 short.  But as of today, they are installed and I am ready to start putting the warp on the loom today.  I have warp ready at home for the other loom for some Christmas table runners.  This is a green warp and there will be a pattern in natural of trees and snowflakes. I am only waiting for time to start putting this warp on the loom.  I probably won't get to start it until Thursday this week.  I have nothing on the schedule for the weekend, so I may get in some weaving time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wow, Today it Feels Like Fall!

Yup, it was 42 degrees down in the holler this morning.  Yesterday was gorgeously sunny with some wind and a high in the 70's.  Quite a change from just a few days ago.  It is most welcome, though we have yet to  turn any heat on in our office (or at home) and I think it is around 60 in here.  But I am wearing a nice warm wool poncho that I finished knitting a couple of weeks ago.  When Sam took this photo is was about 80 degrees outside.  Today it is much more comfortable for the wearing of wool.

The bounty from the garden has continued, though I think it will sadly come to an end soon.  There was a comment on last week's post about making tomato jam with a link to a recipe:
smoky spicy tomato jam   that I decided sounded really good.  I made it, though I made a bigger batch and I ended up with 3 pints.  Boy is it yummy!  And so much easier than ketchup.  It is kind of like a ketchup with texture.  Thanks Karen, for that suggestion.  I also made another double batch of pesto and divided it up and put it in the freezer.  I am glad I did because the basil won't last a lot longer now that it is dropping into the 40's overnight.  I have lots and lots of butternut squash still on the vines and just a few sugar pie pumpkins, including this one that is growing on the fence.  And there are still oodles of tomatoes in the garden....


 The studio is coming along nicely.  Sam has run electric and gas lines to it and I am trying to figure out lighting.  There will be a central ceiling fan with lights, but I think I may want more lights.  It's hard to visualize at this point.  

My small loom is now warped and has 1 scarf about 3/4 of the way woven on it.  I will get 2 on this warp.  I plan to start warping the big loom today for a couple of baby blankets.  They will be pink and white.  No special reason except that I have a huge cone of peach-y colored cotton and I want to use it.  I figured since I have a blue baby blanket in my stash I might as well do a pink one (or two).



I did some charity knitting recently.  I made these 2 bears for the Mother Bear Project, which sends them to Africa and distributes them to children whose lives have been affected by AIDS, usually having lost one or both parents.  They are fun and quick to make, so I will  likely do more in the future.  They are about 12" tall.


I don't recall if I mentioned that I took a class in pastels at the Arts Center back in August, but I did.  Here is my resulting picture.  I really liked working with the pastels and I hope to acquire some in the near future.  I have tried to do drawings of Grover and Rowdy, but pencil just does not do them justice.  I think they would be much nicer in pastel.

There is not much upcoming on the farm.  This past weekend was nice with nothing on the schedule.  I managed to fill the time, however.  Never a problem there.  October comes in on Saturday, already.  Another quiet  weekend seems to be in the works and I hope for some really nice fall weather.  Bow season for deer started last weekend, but it was much too warm for Sam to think about hunting.  He may get out this weekend.  Then Mom will come the second weekend in October to pick up her dog, Luca, who is here with us while she travels.  Grover and I have an agility trial in Zanesville Oct 21, 22 and 23.  The month will be gone before we know it. 

The trees have yet to start to change color, but in the woods, the undergrowth has died back and the unmowed fields are full of goldenrod.  Change is definitely in the air.

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Up Before the Chickens

Rowdy seems to love to nap in this position.  Maybe it is cooler for him.

Summer is really hanging on here.  I am not complaining, really, I'm not.  We have had above average temps, upper 80's, during the day for the last week or so.  And yet the sun is rising later and setting earlier and I am generally up and out before the chickens are even stirring in the coop.  That will change once it is cold in the mornings, though.  But for now I will continue to be up before the sun.  

The extremely warm weather made for a hot weekend for me at the Wool Gathering.  Storms were forecast for Saturday and while there was a big gust of wind at one point and very dark and ominous skies a good part of the day, there was minimal rain, for which I was grateful.  I do think it kept some attendees away as sales were a little slower Saturday than on previous years, for me anyway.  Sunday was just plain hot and humid.  But in general I would say it was a successful event.  I have not decided whether I will attend next year.  I should.  But I really hated missing the agility trial this past weekend.  I need to see if the 2 will coincide again next year.  I fear that they will.
 
 Meanwhile, back on the farm, the garden continues to pump out tomatoes like crazy.  Sam made a huge batch of salsa on Sunday, which I canned most of on Monday.  So far, we have a dozen quarts of marinara, a dozen quarts and 7 pints of whole romas, a dozen jars of salsa, 2 pints of ketchup, and 2 pints of dried romas.  Plus we have had BLTs, pasta with fresh sauce and even fried green tomatoes.  It has truly been a bumper year for tomatoes.   Monday I made a double batch of pesto and I think I will make more this weekend as I have a lot of basil.  I have also frozen basil in ice cubes, which is nice for cooking in the winter.   The pesto was wonderful on some cheese tortellini.

I still have sunflowers to harvest seeds from. I have been giving some of the flower heads to the chickens since there are way more than we can eat.  There are still 3 large flowers waiting to be cut and several smaller flower heads.





I am glad this gal chose to make her web on a sunflower stalk from which I had already cut the flower.  She seems have no trouble securing a meal.



I have lost the weakest of my 3 bee hives.  I will take it apart this coming weekend and see if I can determine what happened.  They never really got up to speed over the summer.  The other 2 hives however are doing very well.  I may harvest some more honey this week.  There have been so many bees on these yellow flowers that grow wild at this time every year.  We will stop next to a big patch of them on our walks and stand still for 30 seconds and soon realize the entire patch of blooms is in motion with honey bees.  It's pretty neat.

My studio is coming along.  This photo is from last week and since I took it, the rest of the OSB board has been put on and the windows have been cut out the rest of the way.  The deck is also on, but there are no stairs as yet.  Sam put his back out last Thursday, so he spent most of the last weekend taking it easy, which is hard to get him to do.  I know he is suffering when he sits in his chair all day.  But at least he got to watch football.  


I finished this sweater a while back, but finally got Sam to photograph  me in it a few days ago.  It really has not been sweater weather, and still isn't.  I also just finished a hooded poncho I have been working on and I love it.  I hope to get Sam to take a photo of me wearing it when I get home this evening.  It will be kind of warm to put on a wool poncho with a hood, but I have to take advantage of opportunities for photos when Sam is home (and I am not in grubby farm clothes) when I can.

Both my looms are empty right now and I have no big knitting projects going.  That's how busy the canning and gardening has kept me.