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Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's a Long One This Week as we Welcome in Summer!

We still have 6 of these pups available for adoption!  7 weeks old, pure labs.
Ok, it has seriously been an incredibly busy week.  These weeks in summertime make up for the slow-sit-by-the-woodburner weeks in January!

First, Friday started off the long holiday weekend with 90 degree temps, which hung around until Tuesday, so it was blazingly hot, the kind of weather where the activity of choice is sitting on the deck in the shade sipping a cold beverage.  Or maybe even staying in the air conditioning.   We did turn our a/c on.  It was nice to walk from 95 degrees into a 73 degree house on occasion.

Our first priority has been getting the alpacas all shorn.  We started at about 9:45 on Saturday and Sam and I sheared 13 alpacas by 4 pm, with a 1 hour break for lunch (thanks to neighbor Judy).  Hot, dirty, itchy work.  We sheared until we just couldn't stand to do another.  As of today, we have everyone in the main barn done and there are 11 left to do.  Our plan is to get them done this Saturday.

After shearing, it was decided that the pond was the best place to be.  We met some of our neighbors up at the pond and did some zip-lining to cool off.  I think some adult beverages were enjoyed as well.

Sunday I went to the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster.  I arrived around 10:15 am and the first order of business was to drop off my 16# bag of fleece to Morningstar Fiber Mill. It will be made into 2 ply sport weight white yarn.  I had some items on my shopping list, so I bought some rug warp in red and blue (m-i-l has requested a patriotic alpaca rug.  Need to dye rug yarn) and some other goodies including a hand made pottery honey jar (in blue!) which I love.  I love hand made pottery anything.  And of course I had the obligatory lamb sandwich for lunch.  Oh, and my skein of yarn took 4th out of about 8 entries.  Not bad.  I have to admit the first place entry was well-deserving.  Wish I had photographed it.

Then, I took my dyeing class.  Very fun and informative.  The instructor was Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic yarns http://www.kimberbaldwindesigns.com/  We mixed dyes and each participant was given two skeins of yarn to dye in their own colorway.  Now remember, it is 90+ degrees and this building had big fans, but no a/c.   It was HOT!  But I did learn some things and the printed materials that came with the class will be of use to me in my own dyeing endeavors.  Plus, I now have 2 more skeins of yarn.  These are "superwash" merino yarns, which means they are machine washable fine wool and each skein is big enough to make a pair of socks or a small shawl. 

Here are my skeins, drying at home.  Surprise...Purple!!  And I did one which was completely outside my usual color preferences.  I do like it.

I arrived home at about 7 pm and Sam was helping the neighbors put their hay in.  So I changed my clothes and went over and helped.  They helped us the previous weekend, so we help them.  

Monday, again, very hot.  We sheared a couple more alpacas in the evening and took the dogs for a walk.

Tuesday, it poured rain in the morning.  We needed it.  I had a bee meeting on Tuesday evening and I completely forgot to take my camera, which I am upset about.  It was a very cool meeting.  We met at a farm just outside town where there was a hive of wild bees in a hollow log.  The idea was to "capture" the hive.  The log was about 2.5 feet long and about 18" in diameter.  A year or so ago, one of the local beekeepers had capped off both ends of the log by nailing a piece of wood over one end and a bucket lid over the other.  There was a big knot hole in the log where the bees could come and go.   There are some pretty experienced beekeepers in our group and they did all the work while the rest of us observed.  The bees were quite calm through all  this and no one was stung.  I was amazed.  First, the guys leveled off a stump close by.  Then, they removed the wood covering one end of the log.  They then screwed a larger piece of board over that end and carefully lifted the whole log and moved it so it was now standing on the end with the new board on it on the leveled stump.  They then screwed the whole thing down to the stump through the new board.  Remember, there is a knot-hole in this log which has not been covered up, so the bees can still come and go from the log.  Once the log was in place, now standing upright as opposed to laying down as it had been,  the bucket lid, which is attached to what is now the top of the log, is removed.  This is replaced with a board that has a 6" X 6" hole cut in the center.  This board is screwed down to the top of the log.  Then, a bee box similar to this one

was placed onto the board with the cut-out hole in the center.  The board acts as the bottom of the bee box and the box has frames in it.  The idea is that the bees will move up into the box as the log becomes full of comb and brood and the beekeeper can now place additional boxes on top as the colony grows and can easily harvest honey, or he can remove the boxes once the queen has moved up into them and start a second  colony from the one that was in the log.  I so wish I had photos.  The whole thing was fascinating to me.  Hmmm, I need to go weed-eat around my hives.  I hate weed-eating!


By Tuesday the weather had cooled appreciably.  It is now back to normal late May temps and this weekend they are actually forecasting lower than normal temperatures.  Perfect for finishing up alpaca shearing!  


And of course throughout the week, Sam has been mowing like crazy to keep the weeds at bay around the creek and buildings.  He put up some cattle panels in the garden to use to tie the tomato plants up to.  The lettuce is doing well.






 


Our next big project will be replacing this:



And this:







I am ashamed to admit that these are actually sections of fence which are containing our 8 male alpacas.  Barely.  I think the weeds and creek on the other side of the fence are what is actually keeping them in!  


So, Sam has been putting up a temporary fence of cattle panels in the back yard at the guest house and the plan is to move the guys into the back yard while we tear down and replace several hundred feet of fencing.  





I think Sam is kind of looking forward to letting the boys mow the yard for him for a few days as well!  



Our big hayfield was mowed and baled this week by our neighbors up on the ridge.  They round bale it for their cattle since we cannot possibly use all that first cutting.  I love how the big bales look sitting in the field in the morning light.

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