Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring is a Busy Time!

Everything is so green! The photo above is one of the paths that we hike/run on through the woods on our farm. It really IS that color this time of year. Just incredible. Soon, though, summer will be here with its heat and the tender spring foliage will dry out. But that just brings other beauty to the woods.

I finished up my Spin-Off entries. I judged 71 black,
grey and brown entries. The photo here is of my work area while I am judging: I have lettered the items and will explain the use of each. A (Zip-Loc bag in center left): is the actual entry as I receive it. It is a minimum of 2 oz.
B: white poster board onto which I spread out the entered fiber to judge. Anything that comes out of that baggie goes back in. You can see some dirt and little bits of fiber, which are called second cuts. That will all go back into the entry bag (and hopefully not on my floor).
C: Scorecard where I give or take away points and make comments.

D: Hand carders which are used to prepare the fiber for spinning
E: Rolag (brown curved object far right): this is what the fiber looks like once I have carded it and it is ready to spin.
F: Ball winder: Once I have spun the rolags, I need to make a 2-ply yarn, so I wind a center-pull ball which has an end coming from the center and one from the outside. I take both ends and twist them together into a 2-ply yarn on the spinning wheel.
G: Spun samples in skeins ready to be washed.
H: water-proof tags with entry numbers on them to identify each skein for washing.

This is a messy process and I get fiber everywhere. It is also very du
sty. Times like this I wish I had a basement so I could have a permanent work area set up. But I just make do.

Last spring we put in an asparagus bed and it has been exciting to s
ee the new stalks coming up. Hard not to pick and eat them, but we have to let it get established. Unfortunately, we have had frost the last 2 nights and have covered the beds as best we can, but some taller stalks have succumbed to the frost. In all, though, I think it will be fine.

Sam has also put in 14 more hop plants. Last year he put in 2 and ended up with about 2 oz of dried hops to put in his beer. Here are the ones he planted last year.
They are a climbing plant and like sunny locations. I'll post the new ones once they look like something. Might take a while.

Haven't done much more in the garden. It's getting to be time, though. Hopefully this was our last real cold snap.

Our first crias are expected any day now. It could be another 3 weeks or more though. Alpacas are not very exact in gestational times. They can go from 11 months to over a year. It is a watching and waiting game. I hope to be able to photograph a birth this spring to post on this blog. Timing will be everything. It does help that most births occur between 9 am and 3 pm. This is an adaptation that New World Camelids made to living in a high mountainous environment. If their young are born at night, they are liable to freeze to death, so they birth early in the day so the baby has time to dry before the cold nights set in.

We haven't started shearing yet. I'm glad. It was too cold the last couple of nights. But we need to get on it!

I'm still working on my mystery shawl. I'm now on clue 6 of 7. The last clue will be adding beads. It will be time-consuming and interesting. Here is a photo of part of the shawl up through clue 5:

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