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Thursday, February 25, 2010

March is almost here!


But meanwhile, it continues to snow and be colder than usual! Our local paper says we have had 31 inches of snow so far and more is in the forecast for the next couple of days.

I was having fun outside after evening chores and made a "picket fence" using huge icicles that I broke off the back of the garage. Of course, you can see we also had many on the front porch as well. How cool it would have been had I been able to light those up at night!

I did finally manage to get barn doors to close,
so most of the alpaca herd has had their monthly wormer shots. It's amazing how quickly I can inject 35 animals by myself once I have them confined in a small space. I still have the 7 adult males to do.

Sam got the electric fencer hooked up so that my 25 year old horse is no longer going to visit the neighbors, which is good. Even though Rowdy does love to herd him home.

Sam said he tapped a maple tree in the yard today just to see how it went. Nothing. Too cold still. I figured we would be tapping trees 2 weeks ago, but we need days above freezing and we just haven't had more than one or two.


I dyed some more roving last week. I think it came out
beautiful and is for sale on line in my etsy shop, which I have not had much luck with yet. I call this colorway Tangerine Dream. I won't mind spinning it myself if it doesn't sell.

Otherwise, I am working on my 100% alpaca cabled sweater in a light fawn color. It will be beautiful, I think. It seems I always start on a sweater in late winter and then have to wait until fall to wear it. That's ok!

Saturday I go to Buffalo NY to pick up my younger son, Zac. He is bringing home his belongings and moving back to California. So Tuesday, I drive him to Columbus and put him on a plane. He is a chef at a lodge out at Yosemite, so I think he will owe me a wonderful meal while he is at home!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mid-February

The last couple of weeks have been an uncommonly snowy for this part of Ohio. We generally get a few inches at a time and then it melts and we get a few more inches, which then melts. You get the picture. We probably have had about 18" of snow in the last 2 weeks or so, and most of it is still with us. It can be pretty, especially when the sun is out, but it makes daily chores around the farm a bit more difficult. Gates and exterior barn doors are stuck open, making it hard to shut the alpacas in if I need to. Pasture gates have to be forced open so I can squeeze through. We are having to move hay bales around with the tractor since our little 4WD utility truck would bog down in the snow. And once this melts......MUD!

My husband, Sam, and I went to Pittsburgh on Saturday, the day before Valentine's Day. It is about a 2 hour drive for us. My cousin and his wife live there and his sister and her husband were in town for the weekend, so we all went out to dinner. It was very nice. The weather even cooperated!

The weather has not been severely cold. Mostly in the 20's, which is better than single digits or below zero, which it seems we often get a couple of days of this time of year. But we are still waiting for the warm up so we can start tapping maple trees. I think we are going to set 20 taps and see if we can get enough sap to produce a gallon of syrup and see how that goes. I would really like to produce 3 gallons this year, but it will depend on how our system works out. This is our first year to try this, so we don't want to be too ambitious. Ideally we want days in the 40's and nights below freezing. Should be happening soon.

I have finished spinning the yarn for my sweater and started working on it. I might spin up the rest of the fiber, though, since there is not that much left. I also finished the pair of mittens I was working on. I don't have any photos yet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February Winter Storms




Mother nature is letting me know that spring is not quite around the corner just yet. While we have not suffered the significant snowfalls that the east coast is getting, we still got a good 8 inches over Friday night and Saturday, following freezing rain Friday during the day. Our power went out about 4 am Saturday and was out until 8 pm Monday. Fortunately we have a natural gas powered generator that powers most of the house and we have a woodburner to make sure we have heat. Another storm moved in yesterday and left another 3 to 4 inches of snow and we could get another 3 to 4 today.

The alpacas are not big fans of the snow, but the young ones, just like human kids, will venture out to play in it. It is a heavy wet snow (hence the power outage) and makes everything look like a Christmas card. The dogs and I enjoyed getting out and walking down the plowed road . Rowdy really likes the snow.






The weather is good for staying inside and near the wood stove in the living room, so I was able to get a lot of spinning done for my planned sweater. I also knitted one mitten and hope to start the mate to it today.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Early February



Once February has arrived I always feel spring can't be far off.

As promised, here are a couple of photos of our pond now that it has reached it's maximum fullness. My Aussie, Rowdy, can hardly wait for warmer weather so he can swim. It doesn't even have to be that warm for him. I predict he will be in by March.

Sam and I are going to try a new venture on the farm this month. We are going to try tapping maple trees and producing our own maple syrup. With about 180 acres of trees, we have quite a few sugar maples, but will start out this year tapping only a few to see how it all works out and figure out what kinks need ironed out. I attended a class this past weekend and we have also visited another local farm during sugaring season. Right now we are gathering the equipment we need and should be able to tap some trees in the next 2 weeks. The sap flows best when the daytime temperatures are above freezing, but still below freezing at night. It is a lot of work, as you need to collect and cook down anywhere from 40 to 60 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. And during the evaporating process, the syrup needs to be tended constantly. Fortunately, all this work occurs during February and March when there is not a lot else going on on the farm, so it could be just about perfect. I'll post our process and results on this blog.

The rest of the
farm animals are doing well. The alpacas are all wearing nice heavy fleeces, which they will need to be divested of in another 3 months or so. We generally start shearing after mid-April. We have started earlier than that in the past, only to have a cold snap and have to find old sweat shirts, etc to put on shivering animals.

Aren't they cute?

Since I spend a lot of time working with our alpaca fiber, I will be posting what I am currently working on as I write each post. Right now I am spinning a 3 ply 100% alpaca yarn to knit a cabled sweater. I just completed a cute pair of knitted fingerless mitts from some hand-dyed 100% alpaca and will probably start a pair of mittens this evening.