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Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 is Coming to an End


So hard to believe yet another year is coming to an end!  And this was a big year, as Sam and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and both turned 50 years old.  I think that makes it a year to remember.  I have a niece who is planning her wedding for September and she is excited and it just can't come soon enough.  She will be stunned how quickly the next 25 years will go.


I know I missed my post last week.  To be honest, I was busy and did not get any photos to post and there was not much of interest going on around here.  Things have changed since then!  Of course, Christmas Eve and Day have come and gone.  We spent some time on Christmas Eve at the neighbors' home, enjoying food and drink and family.  They have a new great-grandchild, a little boy who was 11 days old on Christmas Eve and I got to hold him for a little while.  So wonderful and special.  The older kids were excited and in the usual "waiting for Santa" stage, so I did get my kid fix. 


On Christmas Day, we went to Sam's parents house and enjoyed the day with Harry & Mary and Sam's brother, Tim and his daughter, Jessica and her boyfriend Alejandro. Both my sons called, Ian on Friday, and Zac on Monday.  It was so nice to hear from them both. 


I can now post photos of my weaving projects! These are the waffle weave dish towels I did for Mary to match a serving bowl I bought for her.  I was hemming and finishing them until 11 pm on Dec 23!  I think they came out very nicely.  They are NOT alpaca of course,  they are 100% cotton.  


The day after Christmas, my mother and my 12 year old niece Haley arrived to spend a few days with us.  My first batch of dish towels, which I did in November, were for my mom and they match the colors in her kitchen.




 
And since Mom had expressed some interest in weaving when she went to the Wool Gathering with me back in September, I just had to snap up a 20" rigid heddle loom that one of my spinning guild members brought in for sale to our November meeting.  So we spent some time warping up Mom's new loom.  
 

We just went through my "stash" and found some yarn she could use to do a sampler with and we kind of learned together since I have never used a rigid heddle loom before.

Haley and I dyed some alpaca roving because her other grandmother would like some yarn and Haley said she wanted some green.  I did not have anything in green, so we dyed and I will spin it up.  Haley chose the colors and we did it up yesterday.  It is GREEN let me tell ya!

It will be interesting to see how it spins up.  
I hope it is not TOO green!


And of course, other things have been happening, too.  First, Apache had been on and off lame on his front right leg for a few days, so Christmas Eve I decided I had better clean out his foot and see if there was something in it because I could see nothing wrong with the leg.  Once I got the foot cleaned out, I found a very tender spot that had a small hole and was draining.  So I knew he had a bruise that had abscessed up inside the hoof.  And I just wasn't about to call the vet out on Christmas eve or Christmas day, so I got some Epsom salts from Sam's dad, Harry (no drug stores open here on Christmas!) and soaked the foot on Christmas night and had the vet out Monday.  She dug into the foot to drain the abscess and then applied pine tar and copper sulfate to a dressing that has to stay on 3 to 5 days and he is on stall rest and 7 pills 2 X a day for 7 days.  Once the dressing comes off, the foot needs to be soaked at least once a day for another 5 days before he can go back outside.  Oh, so much poop to scoop and water to haul.  


Also on Monday, a foster dog arrived to stay with us for a while.  She is an abuse case that will be going before the judge in a couple weeks, so I won't say much about her for now except that she fell in love with my niece, Haley and will miss her.  We didn't really try to re-name her, but since it was obvious to us all that she looked just like Harry Potter's house elf, Dobby, we started calling her that and she started answering to it. 
Dobby


I had hoped to get a photo showing how her ears stick out and this kind of shows it.  

This morning on the way to work, I  (with Sam's help) loaded Buck into the back of the Honda CRV and dropped him at the vet's office for his long overdue neutering.  Poor guy was so scared.  He has not been off-farm since he arrived almost a year ago.  He weighed in at 111 pounds.  He'll stay overnight and come home tomorrow.  Keeping him "quiet" is going to be hard to do since he is so hard to contain.  

Sam took our big 4 X 4 pick-up truck in and had it fitted with a natural gas tank, so it is now dual-fuel like our white Cavalier.  We will likely actually drive it now.  It was just so expensive to drive that it mostly sat in the garage unless we needed to pull a trailer.  It will only go about 100 to 150 miles before needing to be re-filled with natural gas, but it will certainly help keep the cost of driving it down.


Otherwise, our weather has been terrible for the most part.  We did, to be fair, have nice sunny days on Sunday and Monday, but then it poured rain all day Tuesday, again, and with 4 dogs in the house, we went through all my dog towels more than once.  The forecast shows that we will be ringing in the New Year with lows below 20 degrees, Brrrrrrrr!  At least the mud will all freeze!


In January, I start "Bee School".  I will have a class every Saturday in January from 9 am to 1 pm.  It is about an hour away, close to where my spinning guild meets, which is handy because we have a meeting on Saturday Jan 7 and I will swing by there after Bee School.  


So from Rowdy and Sam and me and all the other animals on the farm, I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year weekend and that 2012 brings many blessings to you and your families.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Only 7 Shopping Days Left...........

Someone forgot to put a bow on this puppy!
And shortly after this photo was taken, over went the tree.  Good thing it is a fake.

I missed my usual posting on Thursday from the office because I just had not had a chance  to get any photos and in truth, there is not a whole lot going on around here that's noteworthy.  Of course, Christmas is a week from tomorrow, and if I ain't bought it yet, it ain't gettin' bought.  I have stuck to my resolve to boycott Wal-Mart this holiday season.  I'm sure no one there cares.


I have been busily working away on various gift items, and no I will not post them here til after they are given.  I did finish the first sock, an in-progress photo of which I posted last week.  The problem with finishing up a sock is that there is still a second sock to be knit.  Knitters have a term for those socks which the knitter just never has the heart or time or inspiration to knit a mate for:  SSS or Single Sock Syndrome.  This is why projects such as this headband I knit from hand spun hand-dyed  alpaca  are so gratifying.  When you are done, you are DONE!



My sock will get its mate.  I can be disciplined.





I also finished spinning up the lovely braid of roving I purchased back in September at the Wool Gathering when I was there with Tari.  It is a blend of merino wool and bamboo (which gives it a nice shine) and I got about 500 yards of 2-ply out of about 3 oz of roving.  It is very pretty.  Yarn bling.  I see lace and beads in its future.
Merino/bamboo







Another little project I finished up was some rose grey alpaca I had spun for the cowl I made for my cousin't mother-in-law.  I finally took the rest of it off the wheel.  Not much yardage, about 100 yards, but I have LOTS more of this fiber to process and spin.








rose grey alpaca


Weather-wise, wow, guess what?  It has been raining!  I have to be fair and say that last weekend we had about 3 days of clear, dry COLD weather.  The moon was full and the temps at night were in the teens.  If only we had had a few inches of fresh snow on the ground, a moonlight hike would have been called for.  Even without the snow, it was bright enough to cast shadows.  

Even the alpacas are tired of the mud, as you can see from Dulci and Grand Design, who are taking advantage of the rubber stall matt which has been laying out in the pasture for years now.  






We lost 2 of our chickens this week.  It was a combination of chicken stupidity and dumb-doggedness.  Last Friday night when I went into the barn after being gone all day Christmas shopping, I heard a definite "burble" (this is my description for the soft noises the chickens make) coming from the isolation/maternity pen.  Upon inspection, there was a slightly damp chicken in the pen missing many feathers.  I scooped her up and took her to the chicken coop and turned on the light to do a head count and came up missing 2.  The next morning I found them.  I am sure the dogs played with them until they killed them.  Poor dumb birds.  Obviously, 3 chickens flew over the fence and were unable to get back out.  They really aren't very bright.  Somehow, 1 managed to hide.  She is doing fine now.  I can't really blame the dogs.  Their job is to protect the alpacas from any and all threats.  They aren't all that bright either!








Last night about 4:30 pm I was in my studio weaving and I heard a 4-wheeler and then shortly thereafter a chainsaw started up.  When I came out to see what was up this is what I saw








That's Lee in the tree and brother Jesse on the garage roof.  It was decided that this tree needs to come down because it is too close the the garage and is damaging the roof.  They also brought good beer with them, the kind you cannot buy in our county.  The tree has not come all the way down yet as everyone has been out hunting all day today, but I figure it will soon. 








Meanwhile, there are a lot of branches that need to be hauled out of the yard.  It sure smells like Christmas!  Wreath anyone?




Sam and his dad made a run up to north east Ohio on Thursday and one of the stops they made was to Morningstar Fiber Mill where they picked up my rug yarn which was finally finished.  Looks like I have about 16 huge "bumps" of rug yarn, each of which will make  a 3 X 5 rug I think.  I guess I will be busy weaving rugs this winter!




Rug Yarn!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Indoor Weather is Here

Yup, the couch in the computer room is a favorite spot for Rowdy, especially when I am on the computer.

It seems I don't have much this week.  I forgot to take my camera to the Christmas Festival in Woodsfield on Saturday, so I have no photos from that to share.  It was fun and actually quite busy.  I sold a lot of alpaca socks and bears and a rug and some hand-knit items.  I had some of my yarns displayed, but this is not a yarn-buying crowd.  I was quite pleased with how I did at the festival, though I did not have room to bring in my wheel and do any spinning.  I think next year I will reserve 2 spots and hopefully will have more items for sale.

Sunday was the last day of gun season for now.  There is another weekend before Christmas and then muzzle-loader season in January, but for now it is quieter.  I was told 2 of our Amish friends who stay in our guest house during gun season got bucks, an 8-pointer and an 11-pointer.  I know it is  a badge of honor to get a big buck, but you can't eat the antlers.  We do eat the venison that Sam harvests from our farm every year.  He only takes what we can eat.

On Sunday, I cleaned the  mud room.  It has been needing a good cleaning for some time now, but inside chores take a back seat to anything outdoors when the weather is nice.  So, I cleaned it, and then it rained for 3 days!



This is probably one of my favorite rooms in our house.  Our house has no basement and when we bought  the place, we had only a small and quite creepy utility room, which is now the computer room.  In 2006 we added a 2-story addition to the house, consisting of a mud-room down and a bath and a huge walk-in closet up.  We also added a furnace at that 
 time and central a/c.  






I have kind of cleaned up the mess, but you can see the pile of muddy dog towels in front of the washer.  I was able to get out for a 3 mile walk yesterday, but we had to stay on the roads because it was just too wet to venture into the woods.  The roads are not paved and the dogs were incredibly muddy when we got home.  I have a whole cupboard full of old towels that do double duty as dog and cria  towels.  

 


What was once the creep utility room then became our computer room.  I love this room now.  Sam made the hardwood floor from a hickory tree that was down on our property.  I love hickory.  I think it is my favorite type of wood .  The color variations make it so interesting.  You can keep your cherry and oak!  

 


I really can't discuss what is on my looms until after the holidays.  But I am now knitting a pair of socks for myself.  I do love hand-knit socks.  I must admit, these are NOT alpaca.  I bought this skein of washable merino wool yarn from a fellow Aussie owner/Ravelry member,  http://www.macyarns.com/   I love, love the colors!  Very subtle and yet full of color at the same time.  I am also getting the urge to do some dyeing.  I have pounds of white roving just begging to be saturated with color.  This weekend weather forecast is for sunny but cold weather and I MAY get some dyeing time in.  But then again, there is Christmas shopping to do.  I'd rather dye than shop.  Ooh, I need a t-shirt that says that!!


 

This is a wonderful photo of my older son, Ian and his girlfriend, Michelle.  They are spending the winter working at the Grand Canyon, as is younger son, Sam/Zac.  I will have another Christmas with no kids at home.  So hard, really.  The holidays are all about family and I do miss them.  But, I will get by!



 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December? It Can't Be!!

I KNOW there's a squirrel up there somewhere!
Yes, I know, two posts in one week.  It's to make up for last week.  Besides, I just have lots of things floating around in my head AND I am spending an extra day at the office because it is gun season for deer this week and Sam is off in the woods during the day and down at the neighbor's at night.  The guys all like to play poker.

We had at least 2 days of steady cold rain this week.  Then yesterday the sun actually put in an appearance and with the clear skies, the cold has moved in.  It was under 30 degrees when I got up this morning.  And last night at chore time, it was as well.  So, that meant that for the first time this season, I broke out the insulated coveralls.  Rowdy hates coveralls because it takes me even longer to get ready to go outside.  He has a hard time with the whole concept of layers. I have to say I do like the coveralls in this weather because they ARE warm and because I can wear anything under them.  I can wear my comfy sweats and not worry about getting crap all over them.  The biggest issue with putting on the coveralls for the first time each season is "will I be able to zip them up".  Because I have to have properly fitting coveralls.  They can't be men's, they have to be women's which are not always easy to find.  And I wear a small women's size.  Even harder to find.  But the good thing is, a pair of coveralls lasts several years.  The zippers generally break before the coveralls themselves are worn out and I always keep the ones with the broken zippers for a year or two thinking I will replace the zipper, but I never do.  Anyway, they zipped!!  


Not having had chickens in the winter before, it will be interesting to see how the chicks deal with the cold.  I am sure they will need more feed as the bugs and slugs will be deep in the ground.  Still getting 11 or 12 eggs a day, and someone is STILL laying her egg in Apache's hay feeder.  It's a good thing he doesn't mind.

Speaking of Apache, the vet was here on Tuesday to do ultrasounds and I had him look at Apache as well since I had noticed a lot of scabby bumps on his skin.  All over.  One rather tactless vet we used to have told me Apache would likely succumb to skin cancer before he was 30 because he is white.  Well, he's really a roan appie, but I didn't argue the point.  So I had Dr. Kemp take a look and he diagnosed "Rain Rot".  A bacterial infection.  Gee, whodda thunk anyone could get rain rot with the year we have had!  He said betadine scrub works well on it, but it's too cold to bathe that poor old horse.

The good news from the vet is that of the 9 alpacas we ultrasounded, 8 got positive confirmations of pregnancySix of those are from our new male, Lightning, so I am quite happy.  The other 2 are from "outside breedings" where I trailered the girls over to another farm and we used a male there.  So that is good news as well as I don't necessarily want to haul them back in the spring.  The 9th is one of the girls we just brought in and I did not know exactly when she was bredWhen ultrasounding alpacas there is a window of time when the fetus can easily be seen with my vet's ultrasound.  That window is between 30 and 60 days.  Once past 60 days, the fetus is larger and the uterus tips down into the abdomen and a good picture is about impossible to get.  With this 9th girl, Dr Kemp could not rule out or confirm pregnancy.  And later that day I found out that this girl was bred on Sept 9th, which would put her well outside that 30 to 60 day window.  But based on behavior, I am pretty sure she is bred.  And she is bred to that pretty grey male I posted about a couple weeks ago.  I wish I had some pics of the ultrasounding process, but we did not have any extra hands to take photos.




 Sam lit the woodburner Tuesday night.  Another sign that winter is right around the corner.  


He also put up the plastic on the overhang on the south side of the girls' barn to give them more shelter.  Remember Kadi?  Yup that's her in her usual spot at the hayfeeder crabbing at someone who is too close to her.  She never changes.




Here is the outside hay feeder, which has not been in use the last few days due to the rain.  There is another feeder in the barn I use when the weather is inclement, but I don't like to use it when the weather is nice as they don't believe in going too far from the feeder to do their "business", so the barn is obviously messier on rainy days.  They actually prefer to be outside.



You can just see how frosty it is.


And here are the yearlings and weanlings.  I moved two of the spring crias to the weaner pasture last weekend and will move the other two this weekend.   There was a 5 th one, but her mother left the farm so she can stay in the main pasture.



There are girls on the left and boys on the right right now.  


I am still working on projects for the Christmas Festival this weekend.  Yesterday I finished up a pair of lacey fingerless mitts from hand-dyed yarn.  They are now "blocking" on water glasses on my kitchen counter.  Blocking is shaping by stretching so that the pattern can be seen better.  


They look funny, don't they?  The one on the left shows the palm with a cable on it and the one on the right shows the back of the hand with a lace pattern.

Below is how they will look when dry and removed from the glassware.  Kinda cute, huh?  Too pink for me, though!




I have more than enough of this skein of yarn to make a headband, so I will do that today.  






Look what I got in the mail this week.  Criminently, I'm only 50!  I guess we do not have to associate being retired with being old, though, do we?  Ask my husband.  He will tell you he feels like he has been retired for the last 13 years, ever since he stopped working for a corporation and began making his own decisions. 


As I tell my kids, I am the only one responsible for my personal happiness.  If I am not happy, I need to make a change.  It is not anyone else's fault if I decide not to make a change.  

I realized that when I was about 22.  I can almost remember the day it happened.  Change can be fearful, but we only get one chance at this life and we might as well make the best of it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgivng Week

Thanksgiving means driving across Ohio to my mom's in Dayton.  We leave on Thursday morning and return home on Saturday.  Since we take our dogs with us, the day prior to Thanksgiving means it is Dog Bath Day.  Doesn't Rowdy look just thrilled? 

And doesn't he look smaller when he is all wet?  

He also hates being away from home.  He hates being on a leash, which he must tolerate while in the suburbs.  The only place he likes as much as home is the farm where we board the dogs when we are away.  He loves it there so much I am afraid one day he won't want to come home.  But on the other hand, that makes it easier for me to be away.  

He tries to make himself small and invisible when he is uncomfortable.


At least he has not had a chance to get dirty, so maybe mom won't mind him on the window seat in the kitchen with me.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  All my family is together, except my two west coast sons.  My mom.  Her sister and her 2 kids and spouses and dogs (3).  My two brothers and their spouses and kids (5).  And Sam and me and our dogs (2).  Can't forget mom's dog!  We had a lot of dogs this year.  Mom has convinced my brother, Larry, to leave his huge yellow lab, who is only 2 and rather exuberant, home.  They only live 20 minutes away, unlike the rest of us.  

I have a lot to be thankful for.  Most days I am very aware of just how fortunate I am.  

Things are about to change where we live.  I am worried about how much change there will be.  We are very remote and live on an unpaved road and I can take long walks and often do not get passed by even one vehicle.  However, big oil and gas drilling is coming into the area.  One of the first wells into the Utica shale is being drilled only 3 miles from our farm.  I can hear it as a distant roar most of the time, especially early in the morning.  The drill is huge and is lit up like a carnival ride at night.  It can be seen from the highest ridge on our farm, above the pond.  

 
I hope that the peace in our little holler will not be ruined by future well sites, but from all I hear, change is in the air.  Time will tell.

I have written in past weeks about breeding season on the farm.  Tomorrow the vet is scheduled to come and do ultrasounds. I have 10 girls to ultrasound.  All were still testing positive for pregnancy when a male was brought in, as of yesterday.  

This coming Saturday is the Christmas Festival and parade in our county seat, Woodsfield, which is where our Real Estate business is located.  They open up the courthouse and small businesses and local crafters can purchase booth space.  This way businesses who do not have shops in town can participate without being outdoors.  I have been busy using up single skeins of yarn by making small items to sell.  I will also have my hand woven rugs and my made in USA alpaca socks and yarns for sale.  I try not to sell imported alpaca items, but the teddy bears are a big hit and so I have to have those for sale.  They also make nice door prizes as they are 1 size fits all.  




 So far, I have made a pair of mittens, a headband, and 2 hats.  I made the scarf earlier this fall.  I have to admit, the green hat is NOT alpaca.  I had that skein of yarn and I am pretty sure it is wool, but I cannot for the life of me remember where the fiber came from!  I am sure it was a roving I saw and just had to buy to spin.  It sure is my colors.  The hat need buttons on it, but I am having a hard time finding the right ones.  Today I plan to start some fingerless mitts out of a skein of the very first commercial yarn I had done up.  I found it tucked away in a bag in a closet and must have put it there with a project in mind, but who knows what?

I'm looking forward to having the festival behind me so I can do some more weaving and spinning.  And of course Christmas is just around the corner.  Followed by January, which will allow for a lot of fiber-nating time!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mid-November Already?

Trouble X 3 
I know, I missed my blog post last week.  I came down with a cold about 2 weeks ago and it hit me really hard last week and I honestly could not motivate myself to get my brain in gear and come up with a post or even any photos.  I am still not over it, but I would say about 90% better.  

November pasture
November has been a fairly nice month so far.  We enjoyed (as well as I could with my cold) a gorgeous true Indian Summer of 70 degree days and blue skies the first week and then, while it has not been so warm, the dry weather continued until a couple days ago, when November really showed itself.   I got my garlic planted and covered it and the asparagus bed with a mulch of moldy hay and composted 'paca poo.  Took some nice walks with the dogs and Rowdy was even in the pond a couple times.  Of course, daylight savings time ended which means it is now dark by 6 pm and on the days I come to the office we no longer get our walks in.


 
We have some new additions (I know I am totally crazy) to our alpaca herd.  Some good friends are dispersing their herd and I have taken in 4.  One actually came from here and 2  of her daughters came as well, along with a simply gorgeous rose grey male.  He is just old enough to start breeding and has incredible genetics and super fine fleece, so I may use him this spring.  His name is Opus One or "Opie" for short.  I plan to clip a sample of his fleece to have tested to give us a idea of how fine it really is.  I don't really breed for grey here, so I don't know if we will keep him or sell or trade him.  There's no rush.







With the nice weather, I spent some time with the camera in the pasture one day.  To the left are our 2 fall crias, Accoyo Laci (white) and Inigo Montoya (black) along with Miracle's cria from May, Stormwatch (fawn).  Stormwatch is ready to wean from his mama, but since I just drove her 2.5 hours each way for a breeding 3 weeks ago, I haven't wanted to stress her yet by removing her  "baby".  I will likely do that this weekend.  I have some moving around of alpacas to do and Sam will be here to help. 




Ok, since Laci's mom, Kadi, is not the nicest alpaca on the farm (she will spit at me as soon as look at me) I don't feel bad about posting this totally unflattering shot of her sitting with her head in the hay feeder chewing on a mouthful of hay.  This is her favorite position in the barn.  That is the look I usually get from her, no matter what I am doing.  She hates me when I give her a shot and she hates me when I feed her.  Equal opportunity hater.  And this girl can SPIT.   I hope her daughter turns out sweeter.


I have mentioned in past posts about our male, Lightning, who we acquired last fall.  With no pregnancies from him last spring, I have been worried about his ability to got the job done.  This Monday, I did another behavior-testing on all the females he bred this fall.  It looks like he may have several offspring by this time next year.  My next step is to have the vet out to do ultrasounds for confirmation.  Females can show a false postive upon behavior-testing and even blood testing if they ovulate but the egg is not fertilized and their body does not re-cycle properly.  Ultrasound is really the only way to be sure that there is indeed a fetus present and even with ultrasound it can be difficult to verify if the pregnancy is not far enough (<30 days) or too far (>60 days) along.  I plan to make my appointment for the week following Thanksgiving.




Sam has run electricity to the chicken coop so I can use a heater for their water and have a light on if I choose in the winter to increase egg production.  We are actually kind of looking forward to getting less than a dozen eggs a day.  But with holiday baking, I am sellin' 'em as fast as the girls are layin' 'em, so no worries.  This hen spent a good bit of time in Apache's hay feeder the other day, but I never found an egg.  I wonder if  Apache has taken a liking to eggs?


Speaking of Apache, Sam and I were late coming home this past Monday and 'Pache did not get fed on time, so he went under the wire fence and helped himself to the alpaca feed over by the garage, which is kept in a plastic garbage can outside the pasture gate.  In response to this, I have plugged in the electric fencer once again.  I sure hope I don't forget I have it plugged in......I HATE that.


All the projects I have been working on lately are gift projects, so I will have to wait and post photos post gift -season.  Except I will post this photo of some beanies I made of hand-spun, hand-dyed alpaca.  I sent them off in a care package to my boys and Michelle today and was told they should arrive on Saturday.  We'll see if any of them read my blog and go check their PO box!  I made 2 of these last spring, but I wanted to make 1 for each and the weather got warm, so I figured I would make the 3rd one this fall.  I had planned to make one for another of the Those That Kill (TTK) band members, but he moved to Minnesota, so the band is no longer together.  Of course, living at the Boundary Waters in Minnesota for the winter, Ryan might need an alpaca beanie (and socks and long underwear and anything else you can make of alpaca!).  If the guys think he needs one, I will make one.


And by the way, some friends of mine (who gave me Cheetah years ago) have a Pyr about to have puppies.  Anyone want one??  They will be free to good homes.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Brings Good Weather!

Rowdy loves a good game of "Squash Bomb" with an unripened butternut!
3 days into November and I think we have had some of the nicest weather of the fall.  It has been great for getting outside and getting things done and just enjoying the sunshine.  Rowdy and I went over to Lamping Homestead, which is part of Wayne National Forest that is about 5 miles from our house, on Tuesday and did the 3.5 mile loop trail.  It is nice to see the changes since the leaves came off the trees.  We have been getting over there about once a month.  Maybe next time there will be snow. http://www.scenicusa.net/060708.html   This is such a beautiful area and we usually have it almost to ourselves.  A true hidden treasure in the Ohio Hills.

If you have a farm, you pretty much have to have a barn.  When we bought our farm over 13 years ago, this is the barn that was here.  Of course, we have made changes:  a new roof to replace the leaky one, an overhang on one end to store equipment under, and paint.  The barn was weathered-grey when we moved here and one of our first jobs, after putting up fence and fixing up stalls to move our horses in, was a coat of paint.  

 It was nice having 2 strong sons to help out with scraping and painting.  This is older son, Ian, looking happier than I am sure he was.  

The barn has 3 parts to it.  There are 2 end areas which have hay lofts above them, and the center area, which has big doors on each side, is open clear to the roof so large equipment like tractors can go through.  You can see in the above photo that one end is for the horses (though we only have 1 now) and the other is the tack/cat room. 


I spent a good bit of time in the barn on Sunday and Monday, cleaning Apache's 2 stalls out down to the rubber mats in preparation of re-bedding them for winter.  He will spend more time indoors when the weather gets bad, so he likes a nice deep bed of sawdust.  Because of the set-up of this barn, when we moved in, we made one end into 2 stalls for the horses and to get to the second stall, you have to go through the first from outside.  There is a sliding door between the 2 stalls.  Now since it is only Apache, the sliding door is always open and he has the use of both stalls.  This barn was obviously used for milking cows at some time and the stanchions are still in the tack room end, behind a wall.  I took out the ones in the horse end.

 The ceiling is lower  in the tack end of the barn and it is somewhat smaller.  The cats can come and go through a pipe which used to allow cow manure to be hosed out of a trough in the cement floor.  

I am not sure how old this barn is.  I was told the upper part was relocated from another site and placed atop the cinder-block walls.  Unfortunately, whoever did this only set the block walls on a 6" foundation, which is resulting in the barn gradually sinking on one end, the horse end.  This has caused ever-widening cracks in the block wall and we can no long close the double doors that lead into the horse stalls.

 These cracks were not visible 13 years ago.  We had some barn experts out a a while back to give us an estimate on repair.  It seems they would have to jack up the whole building and put piers underneath it.  The cost was extravagant.  We decided we could just rebuild when this barn falls down and save money.  We hope it will stand for many more years, though.  



The door below goes from the center part of the barn into the tack room.  The screen door keeps the cats safe from Rowdy's invasions.  The drum holds diesel fuel for the tractors.  The ladders go up into the hay loft and there is another set on the other side.  I would have had SUCH fun in this barn when I was a kid.  At one point, Sam had a large wooden beam going from one loft across the center of the barn to the other loft.  He was using this to pull the motor out of an old Allis Chalmers tractor we had.  Wouldn't you know I caught my brother Larry walking across it like a balance beam on his first visit here!   
                                                                         




The former owners also put in hay on this farm and inside the center part of the barn, the tallies they kept of how many bales they put up in the loft are still there, penciled in  next to the door.   '82 was a good year.


    







  I have finished my thank you gift for my cousin's in-laws and will mail the package out today.  Here is the cowl I made for Jo, Tracey's mother in law.  I hope she likes it.  I have a couple of cowls and I wear them indoors and out all winter long.  They are so warm and soft and can go with so many things.  I am sending a pair of alpaca socks (not hand knit) for f-i-l and a pint of our homemade maple syrup they can both enjoy.




And speaking of pints, my husband outdid himself with this wild raspberry homebrew.  Look at the gorgeous color on that!  Even the foam has a reddish tint to it and let me tell you, it tastes as good as it looks!