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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April is Moving Right Along.....

Rowdy has been banned from the barn for eating alpaca feed and is intently watching a barn cat on the other side of the creek.  However, it is one of the older wiser cats who will not run from him, so he knows there is no point in racing over there.     

All right, I can check one more thing off my To-Do list:  I finally finished skirting fleeces for rug yarn.  I now have about 120 pounds of skirted, sorted fiber to take to the mill and have spun.  I'm not sure if I will take it all at once, though, because they will want payment ahead of time and at approximately $15/pound, that's a lot of cash to put out.  I will decide in the next few days how much I will take.  Always keeping in mind that shearing season is almost here. 

 The 9 bags of fleece on the right side of the shelves and the one on the floor are all ready to go.  I found a few fleeces that were too nice to go into rug yarn as well, so they will be held for roving or regular yarn or for sale.  Notice my box collection?  I have never had to purchase a box to ship anything (ok, once I shipped a big drum carder) because I hoard boxes.  Living where we do, we buy lots of things by mail order, so boxes are always coming in.  My collection is rather modest right now.

I purchased some stain for the walls in my studio this week and hope to do that by the end of the weekend.  I also purchased some foam floor panels that are like big jigsaw puzzle pieces and plan to buy a big woven stall mat to put over those.  Whatever I use has to be hoseable for easy cleaning.  

Another item I checked off my To-Do list was to go up on the National Forest where I hike several times a week and clear off 6 months worth of downed trees.  One in particular had come down in October and it was quite dead and very large and the top of the tree with its multitude of branches was the part across my path, forcing me to go around through the plentiful multi-flora roses in order to get past it.  So, I got out my Christmas present and had Sam drive me up on the 4-wheeler and drop me off since I did not feel like carrying that chainsaw up that hill wearing my heavy duty chainsaw safety chaps.  Yes, I wear safety gear, chaps, ear and eye protection.   I managed to get my trail well cleared in the hour before I met Sam for a ride home.  Now, my biggest problem with the chainsaw is that every time I start it, I acquire a new lovely bruise.  The butt end of the chainsaw must be secured between ones legs just above the knees while the operator holds the saw with one had and pulls the starter with the other.  Even with jeans and chaps on, this is what I end up looking like by the end of the day. I have always bruised easily.  


OUCH!


Sam has our top bar beehive almost finished.  We are debating the "roof" for it.  We were planning to use metal, but on thinking more about it, I am afraid the metal roof will act like an oven in the summertime without any insulation.  Cedar shakes would be nice.  Need to learn to make those.  Here is the hive as it was this morning in Sam's workshop:

 There are 2 sliding end panels and the 2 bars you see are what the bees build their combs on.  The combs will hang down from those.  As the size of the hive increases, you add more of the bars and move the end panels to give the bees more room.  The end panels and top bars will all be slid together to form a secure enclosure and there are entry holes drilled in the sides of the hive.  The "floor" is made of mesh for air circulation.  I am anxious to see how this will all work.

 Remember those "whiny weaners" from last week's post?  Here's what they look like after 2 straight days of rain!  Everyone is wet and muddy.  For some reason, these guys prefer to sleep under the pine trees in the rain to going into the building.  Alpacas are odd that way.

I had the vet out Friday to "float" Apache's teeth.  He had checked them when he was here 2 weeks ago when 'Pache was down and having trouble getting up.  He needed some dental work, which is basically using a rasp like tool to file off sharp edges.  'Pache had to be sedated for this and my job was to hold his tongue out of the way while Dr. Kemp applied his dental tools.  Not sure if the teeth are the reason Apache lost weight this winter or if it is something else, but Dr. Kemp says he is in about perfect body weight.  He has always been somewhat overweight and he looks good.  Now I need to find someone to trim up his feet.  They need it.  It's hard to find someone who will come just to trim one horse's feet.  I'm working on it.  Apache is still having pain in his hip, especially the left side, I think.  I have started him on a supplement I put in his feed every day which is supposed to help the joints and hips.  I am worried that  if he is still having trouble by fall, I may not want to put him through another winter.  These things are hard to think about, but necessary. 

My neighbor on the road up the hill has hundreds or thousands of daffodils planted all along their road frontage.  It is so pretty.  This photo shows only a portion of them.  A true sign of spring.

Another sign of spring are ticks.  Picked the first one off Buck the puppy the other day.  Ugh.  I keep the dogs Frontlined, but they don't make a Frontline for people, so Sam and I do regular "tick checks".  They used to really creep me out, but anymore they are just one of the bad parts about country living, which are so outweighed by the good parts.   

We also have some asparagus starting to poke up through the ground!  Can't wait to eat that!  It is about time to till up the garden and plant some lettuce as well.  We will eat salads almost every day from early May through to July.  The sad part is that we can never get lettuce to thrive when the home grown tomatoes are ripe.

As for fibery pursuits, the fleeces are skirted.  I am still working on the purple lace shawl, though I expect to have that off the needles here in the next few days.  Then it will need blocked.  I am about 2/3 done warping my loom for more rugs and should finish that today.  Tomorrow night is my spinning guild meeting, and since I have not attended one since January, I am looking forward to going and doping some spinning and socializing.  


Next week and the week after, I have Head Start (pre-school) classes coming to the farm so I need to think about that.  I'll take pics of each class to post here.  


I kinda like that old CCR song "Lookin' Out My Back Door", so once again, here's the view lookin' out my back door at about 7 pm last night after 2 days of rain.  The creek's up and the grass is green.  You can see a green haze on the hills in the background as the leaves get ready to open up on the trees.  Promises of outdoor weather to come!

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