Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair, Canning, Hay, Never a Dull Moment!

Can you believe he's 27?
I just had to give Apache the mascot photo this week because he posed so nicely for me.  Doesn't he look wonderful?  He has put some weight back on this summer despite the dry weather.  Equine Senior and joint supplements are keeping him young.

So I missed posting last week.  It was not a normal week schedule-wise, and I just didn't get enough photos and I had planned to post from my motel room over the weekend, but I could not seem to download photos to my laptop.  I think I have never installed the CD that came with my camera to that laptop and things just weren't working.

It has been a busy 2 weeks.  It went from not a lot going on to many things happening around the farm.  First, I had to get ready for the Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair that I attended this past weekend.  There was not a lot to prepare since I had gotten so much ready for the festival I did in May and I still had most of that on hand.  But I had to make lists of what to take and I made another "yarn tree" (on which I was complemented at the show by another vendor for being so clever as to think of using a Christmas tree stand) to hang yarn and roving on and I had some roving to weigh out and package and some labels to make.  So this is how my booth looked.   I think the show was successful for me.  I sold the rest of our maple syrup from this year, as well as several skeins of yarn and some roving and alpaca socks.  I also met a lot of nice fiber people, both vendors and show attendees.  And of course, I "enhanced my stash" a little bit as well.

I canned a batch of tomatoes the day before I left as we had so many.  Yesterday I canned a batch of peach jam and a second batch of  Roma tomatoes.  There are many more on the vine and I will likely dry a few more batches.

 After I was finished canning yesterday, it was time to pick up hay out of the field.  Our nice creek bottom field was mowed on Sunday, tedded on Monday and yesterday it was raked and baled.  It is funny to me that every year when Sam starts baling, he says "we are going to get a lot more hay off this field than I thought we would get".  Every year.  Even this year.  So at 3:30 in the afternoon, with thunder rumbling in the distance and the sky turning black, I am rounding up people to help us get 300 + bales in the barn before it rains.  We ended up with all kinds of help and, despite the dark clouds and distant thunder, NO RAIN!  It passed us over with only a few stray drops.  So our loft is 3/4 full.  Today Sam is mowing our other hayfield, which is larger, but not as well established, and a small field of our neighbor's that we put in hay every year.  Apache and the alpacas will once again eat all winter.  It is nice that our alpaca herd is reduced because it will likely be even more difficult than usual to find hay this year as dry as most of the country has been.  Prices will be sky high.  It makes 2 days of hard work well worth it.

Lacy really enjoyed the hay work yesterday.  She was in and out of the truck and up and down the hayfield and behaving like a good farm dog should.  Rowdy made himself at home on the passenger seat of the truck (I drive the truck) and never left his spot until we were finished.  What a difference between a 1 year old dog and a 7 year old dog.    Lacy was not so good while I was away last weekend.  I know she chewed on at least 2 shoes (not a matching pair) and I don't remember what else.  This morning she chased and caught one of my chickens, again.  She was on her long line, so I was able to pull her away.  We are just not able to leave her loose in the yard.  Rowdy is teaching her how to pose for the camera, though, as you can see.

Lacy does know how to listen and we are working on basic obedience skills and I hope that with maturity we can overcome some of her annoying habits.  It is not fair to compare her to Rowdy, she is still an adolescent with much to learn.

Of course we still make sure we get in our walks every day I am home.  I took my camera along on a hike on Wayne National Forest the other day.  It was a beautiful day as you can see.  This field is close to where the old house stood until it was torn down and removed last summer.  It used to be a hayfield, but now it is just a field of weeds.  A nice pathway has been mowed through it to make walking a bit nicer.  The weeds are higher than my head in many places.  The path through the woods needs some serious chainsaw action after the derecho storm that came through on June 29th.  There are some places where I have to either crawl through the branches of downed trees or go around them through the multiflora roses.  The dogs have it much easier.

 I was trying to get a photo of a butterfly on a thistle bloom and I heard a buzzing right next to my ear, and here was a busy little honeybee collecting nectar.  The photo of her came out much better than the butterfly on the thistle, so here she is.

I am planning for our annual Labor Day weekend party.  The guest house will be full of family, even though we will have fewer family members here than last year.  My Michigan relatives will not be here.  This party is always a good way to get a lot of stuff done around the house and yard.  I need to do things like scrub the deck and clean up around the pond and whack down weeds.  I think I need to repaint the cornhole boards and make new bags again.  And lots of other things.

I have been working on knitting a cropped sweater to wear to my niece's wedding next month.  I forgot to take a photo though.  I am also spinning up some alpaca/wool roving for a  big sweater project.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some Summer Rain

Happy wrestling dogs

Life is just moving along as expected for August.  The weather has been hot, but not like it was in July, and a cool off is forecast for this coming weekend.  70's, I believe.  A precursor to fall.  We also enjoyed a lovely day of rain on Sunday, though there was a break long enough in mid-afternoon for me to get the dogs out for a much needed walk.

 We really could use rain a little more often, though.  Our hay fields are in desperate need as are the pastures.  I know, we're never happy, it's either too much or not enough....

I got phone calls from both my sons this weekend.  That was a treat.  Younger son is still at Yosemite and sounds like he will be staying at least through the winter as plans are now.  He says he is tired of moving.  Older son is in Portland, OR and is currently planning to make this his home for now.   I think younger son is planning to visit him in Portland around the time we were trying to plan a trip to see both of them in November, so that might make travel plans easier, though I would like to go back to Yosemite.

Sam has been away since Sunday and should be back this evening.  He went over to western Ohio to help my younger brother, Larry, with a construction project.  So I have been on my own with the dogs and the farm and the business (which is not much these days).  But since I am coming in to the office, I have been getting the dogs out for a 2 mile walk in the mornings to try to make sure Laci is ready for some "down time" while I am gone.  So far she has done very well and I have not come home to any more chewed up shoes or yarn strung throughout the living room.  Of course I have been trying to be better about putting things away as well.


So this morning I took the camera along on our walk since it was a beautiful morning with the sun just coming over the ridge. 

These hay bales are on the neighboring property.

Trees reflected in the pond.

Of course the pond did not stay ripple free for long.

This next photo is the sorghum Sam planted.  I noticed this morning that it is getting some kind of bloom on it.  We have never planted it before, so we had no idea what to expect.  It kind of looks like spindly corn.  We were given the seeds by some local folks who have an evaporator and cook it down into molasses in the fall.  They said if we brought it over, they would run it through.  I'm not sure if we will have enough to bother with, though, due to the dry weather.  But no harm giving it a try.

Speaking of corn, I have had NO sweet corn this year.  Usually, there are Amish in town selling it, but I have not seen it once this year.  I LOVE sweet corn.  

Since I've been at the office so much this week, I finished weaving my 2 red, white and blue rugs.  I took them off the loom yesterday afternoon and still need to finish the ends.  This one will be fringed   

and this one will have a sewn binding.

I finished my maluka shawlette and am pleased with it.  Lovely pattern, but it is kind of small.  If I make it again, I will make it larger.  But it will be very nice to have on display at the Fiber Fair next weekend.  Wow, so hard to believe it is almost here!

2 weeks after the Fiber Fair is our annual Labor Day weekend party and 2 weeks after that is my niece's wedding.  And then we are into fall and all it brings:  festivals, crias, fine weather! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is it Really August Already?

Yes, that's Laci, trouble.  It has been so long since I had a young dog that I have forgotten how much work they can be.  I have to say, Rowdy has us spoiled.  I attribute a lot of her silliness and hyper-activity to her adolescence, and I hope that is the case.  Above, she is off at a run to what she thinks will be a good romp and chase with our 5 male alpacas.  What she does not yet know at this point is that I have covered the tube gate with fencing so she can no longer squeeze between the bars.  She is also easily capable of leaping over the bottom half of the dutch doors on our horse barn and into the previously dog-proof barn cat area.  I have had to come up with a solution for that so that the cats can still enjoy their ingress and egress from the barn, along with their favorite place to sit, without resorting to Sam's solution of closing the top half of the door.

We are still working on the chicken chasing, though she has not had a chance to really chase them in some time.  She is usually on a long lead when they are out and about.  She did chase poor old Apache quite a way up the hill and across the flat the other evening.  I did NOT see it coming.  Now I am on the lookout for that as well.  She is learning her sits and lay downs.  She is fully recovered from her spay surgery.  Work in progress.

In the last several months I have managed to reduce my alpaca herd by 50%.  I am currently down to 24 alpacas on the farm and I tell you, it is such a difference!  Since we are having a drought, the reduction has been a blessing.  One of my small pastures is resting and the others are no longer overcrowded.  I will need less hay this winter, which is good because unless we get rain, there won't be a good second cutting, which is what we count on.  We do have 7 crias due starting next month and possibly 8 (not sure on that one), but I will still be overwintering less than 35 alpacas as compared to last year's 50.  I may need to get a gym membership!  Our pastures are much less colorful however, as we now only have 2 females who are not either light fawn or white, but that's ok.

 Despite the dry weather, the tomatoes are doing great.  To the left are the romas, which are starting to ripen.  I will dry some of these and hopefully can some if they produce as well as they look like they will.

We have 3 rows of other varieties of tomatoes and have enjoyed several of them already.  These plants are almost 6' high.  I am pleased with the way the cattle panels have worked as supports.

We are still getting 6 to 8 eggs a day from our 8 hens.  Sam found a nest up in the loft last week that had about 8 eggs in it.  He eliminated that nest and now they are back to using the nest in the corner of Apache's hay feeder, which I have put a wooden egg in so that they will continue to use it instead of looking for a new hiding place.  Silly birds!

I have been into the bee hives twice since I last wrote. I was hoping to find a comb of capped honey in the top bar hive, but most of the combs were only half capped (which was why I went back a week later), so I just left them.  The new hive is thriving and they stung me twice the first time I got in there, but just through my pants, which was not bad at all.  In fact, I thought I had been stung only once till I undressed.  That hive is definitely more aggressive than the top bar hive.

Sam has been diligently working on cutting up logs that we have acquired due to the June 29 storm.  He is cutting some up on the sawmill and more is being cut and split for our firewood for the winter.  And most of this wood has not come from  our farm.  He is still hoping he can get a timber buyer to come and look at the good useable trees we have down, but I think all those guys are pretty busy these days.  Sam is planning to get his dozer running and start hauling them out.

In 2 weeks I will be preparing to head to Newark Ohio for the Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair   where I will be a vendor.  I guess the good part of not selling much at the festival in Troy back in May is that I don't have a lot to do to get ready for this festival.  This is the second year for this festival and I am told it was well-attended last year.  Most fiber festivals are at fairgrounds in barns, but this one is in an indoor venue and will be air-conditioned, so maybe I will get to wear a shawl.  It is almost a 2 hour drive for me, so I will need to stay at a hotel Friday and Saturday nights which really cuts into any profit to be made, but I will try it out.

Speaking of shawls, here is my "Maluka" shawl, which I am knitting from some of my hand-dyed alpaca.  It is a free pattern on 
and I love how it is coming out.  It will be kind of a cross between a scarf and a shawl.  And yes, it's purple!  

I am putting warp on my loom for 2 red, white and blue rugs.  I hope to have those done by next week.

I really tried to get Laci to pose with Rowdy in front of the hibiscus, which has just started to bloom, but this was the best I could do! We'll work on it!