Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wow, it Finally Stopped Raining!

Ginger, the Pied Piper
Oh and when it stopped, it got really nice!  We were due for it!  Isn't that cute how the chickens are following Ginger?  Every day when I let them out, they follow us across the bridge.  I just happened to have my camera and was able to get this shot.  The chickens have free range of the farm and they often roam quite a way from the chicken coop.  Yesterday, I was getting hay out of they hay loft and there were several chickens hanging out in the hay loft on the opposite side of the barn (the one with very little hay in it).  It had been raining and I guess they were looking for bugs in the hay.  With the nice weather this past weekend, I had been leaving my sliding glass door from the deck into the dining room open 18" or so.  We have no screen doorI was repairing fence and came into the house for something and you guessed it, there was a chicken in the kitchen!  She was not happy and I could tell she had been trying to get out the window above the sink as she had knocked things into the sink.  I was able to pick her up and put her outside.  Silly  chick-chick!

The stretch of wonderful weather allowed for many outdoor activities.  Last Friday, I went to my friend Tari's house so we could do some dyeing using natural indigo.   Tari is the friend I went to the Wool Gathering with and she is one of the women who helped me learn to spin 11 years ago.  She is very much into natural dyeing and many other homesteading  activities.  On their farm, she and her husband grow a very large garden and can much of their year's food.  Tari has dairy goats and makes wonderful cheese as well as soap.  They have chickens and bees and sheep and Tari has border collies and trains them to herd.  

We started off with one dye bath that produces the blue indigo dye, but the plant had flowered and we were unable to get any blue dye from it.  So, we picked woad leaves and Tari made a "tea" with those and we eventually got our blue dye.  You can see the blue-green foam on the top of the dye bath.

 Once the dye bath is ready, we immerse wetted skeins of yarn into the dye for just a few minutes.  I was using white alpaca, of course, and Tari had a skein of wool she had previously dyed with golden rod for a very vibrant yellow.  


To the right is my alpaca in the dye pot.  It looks yellow, doesn't it?  But you can still see the blue bubbles on the surface of the solution.  With indigo, the fiber color does not turn blue until it is exposed to oxygen.  So, as you lift the skeins from the dye bath, they "magically" change color!

Here are those same 2 skeins after being lifted into the air.

 And below is Tari's yellow skein being lifted out of the pot.  If you look, you can still see the yellow at the lower part of the skein.  This skein turned out to be a beautiful lime green color.  


We just had a lot of fun that day, sitting on the porch spinning while our dye "tea" brewed and sampling some of Tari's wonderful chevre goat cheese and drinking freshly pressed cider.  Life doesn't get much better in my opinion!

Saturday, Sam and I had planned to go up to Medina Ohio, about 2 1/2 hours north, to attend a large alapca auction.  We have always wanted to attend this auction, but usually are busy that weekend.  Well this year, we weren't busy, so decided to attend.  But, the weather forecast for the weekend was so good that we just could not tolerate the idea of 5 hours in the car and several more hours inside  when there was so much needing done at home.  The wonderful weather was just begging for outside work and activities.

So instead of being wined and dined at an alpaca auction, I knocked a couple more items off my "to do before winter" list.  I replaced the frost free hydrant in the pasture across the road from the "guest" house and I replaced about 50' of fencing in one corner of the pasture next to the garage where we had been replacing fence a couple years ago and ran out of fencing before we ran out of fence that needed replaced.  Took me this long to get to it!  

We also took advantage of the 80 degree sunny weather to go up to the pond and haul out the trampoline float.  This of course required someone getting in the water and I just knew that "someone" would be me.  And if I was getting into 65 degree water, I was doing it in style with one last run on the zip line.  So that is what I did.

You can see how the rain has brought the pond level right up to maximum.  This time last year, the pond was down 2 feet.  This time last month it was down 14".  What gorgeous day it was!  Blue sky and colorful fall leaves.

Sam also mowed our big hay field for the third time.  It really grew with all the rain, but we still did not get a lot off it.  And we just did not have the required hours of sun to get it thoroughly dry, so we got about 34 bales of heavy hay off it.  I don't know that it will amount to anything.  It will depend on whether it molds.  If it gets moldy due to moisture in the bales, it will be no good at all.  But it was an experiment.

Tomorrow I head off to Chicago to meet up with my cousin Tracey, who lives in Grand Rapids Michigan.  We just decided we needed to get together since many years we only see each other at Thanksgiving.  We met in Chicago once before and our mothers (who are sisters) went with us.  This year, it is just us and we plan to eat and drink and walk and shop and maybe hit a museum or a show.  Not really sure yet.  I think the weather is supposed to be cool and windy.  Imagine that, wind in Chicago.  As long as there is no snow!

Here is a photo of our newest cria and his dam, Brooklynn.  I guess he is our last for the year.  I am pretty sure Elli, the last one due is not actually pregnant.  She is so large it is hard to tell, but I examined her pretty well the other day and I can feel no fetal parts through her abdomen.  Usually you can feel a bony protuberance such as a knee or elbow or something.  We will not be having any crias in spring either it seems.  The male I acquired last fall did not do his job and all the girls I bred him to last spring are still open. I am giving him another chance this fall as he is 3 years old now.  I'll know  how things stand in a couple weeks.  Keeping my fingers crossed that he was just immature and that he will now be functioning as required!

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