The hibiscus is in bloom, it must be August!
The past week or so has been busy as usual here on the farm. Sam mowed 2nd cutting hay on Sunday the 1st because the weather forecast wasn't calling for rain until after midnight on Tuesday. I tedded it Monday, which means I drove the tractor over the cut hay with an attachment on behind that stirs the hay up and turns it over and lets it dry more thoroughly and quickly. We planned to rake and bale Tuesday, but the rain came and it rained pretty much all day Tuesday. Wednesday we had a very intense thunderstorm with very high winds, lots of lightning and heavy rain in the early evening and our power went out until 10 am Thursday. So much for the hay!
But, Sam re-tedded it on Friday and it dried out and he raked and baled it Saturday afternoon. It won't be as nice or nutritious, but at least it is not wasted. We also had 300 bales delivered and stacked in the loft on Sunday and will be raking and baling the last field later today. It will be good to have it all in and stacked! It is early this year. It seems we are usually finishing up hay right before Labor Day. Making hay is hot, dusty, itchy work (the hay seems to make its way into every article of clothing!), but the critters have to eat each winter.
This Saturday, one of our spinning guild members, JoAnn, hosted a "Dye Day" at her beautiful farm in Kipling Ohio. I hope that if I live on my farm for another 20 years mine could look half as nice as JoAnns' with her beautiful perennial beds. She has a nice picnic pavilion and the dyeing paraphernalia was set up there and she also had a big tent, where the food table was set up and anyone who brought their spinning wheels could grab a chair and spin away.
The guild provided us with silk scarves and we dyed them in a rainbow of colors. Here is Sue applying dye. We soaked the scarves in vinegar water for 5 minutes, crumpled them up, applied dye with squirt bottles and then microwaved, yes microwaved, them for 1 minute to set the dye. We then rinsed them and hung them to dry:
Look at those colors! What a fun and easy project.
Each guild member also brought their own fibers to dye. This is just a "play day", a time for us to get together and make a mess and have fun. I brought some spun yarn, some which was 50/50 alpaca and silk and another skein which was 75/25 alpaca and wool. I also brought some carded batts I had done up, which are a blend of alpaca and wool. Here are some of those batts in the process of being dyed.
The batts are dyed in a way similar to the scarves: soaked in water, dye is poured on, the fiber is sprayed with vinegar, wrapped in plastic and microwaved until heated through to set the dye. You will note that vinegar is a common "ingredient" in the dyeing process and this is because we are using "acid dyes", which means the dyes need acid to react with the fiber. Vinegar is the acid we use.
Here are 2 more of our guild members, Bill and Karen, both dyeing skeins of yarn. Karen is doing the proper thing and wearing gloves to protect her hands from the dyes. While the dyes are not harmful, they will leave one with colorful hands!
And of course, no meeting of the Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers Guild would be complete without food! Here is our food table following the whirlwind of hungry spinners and dyers! As usual, everything was great. Loved that corn and bean salsa, Debbie!
Once I got home with my dyed yarns and batts and scarf, I washed them with a wool wash and hung out to dry. Turned out pretty didn't they? I am now spinning up the batts into what will be a 3-ply yarn to be used for socks. Watch for the finished product next week.
Since we have been putting in hay, some work has been required to get the lofts ready for this year's hay. So, while I was moving the 70 or so bales left from last year which I am still feeding to the alpacas, I was able to get a cute photo of some of our barn residents, snoozing away during the heat of the day. Yes, those are bats, way up in the top of the loft. This was only a few of them, but I love how they are all lined up with their little heads showing.
Bats cute? I think so. We have so many types of wildlife on our farm. Many of these critters are a nuisance, such as racoons and possums. They invade my barn and get into my feed bins and just generally make a mess. There are coyotes, who might possible kill crias and barn cats if Cheetah was not around to keep them from coming too close. The bats however, are helpful wildlife. On summer evenings, they come out of the barn and swoop around eating thousands of mosquitoes and other insects. I love to watch them just before it gets dark. I will admit I do not care to be up in the loft when they are waking up!