Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Forward to the New Year

The end of the year has brought a couple of snowfalls, the most recent this past Saturday  morning, where we awoke to a good 4" on the ground and snow still coming down.  It looks so peaceful

The snow seems to muffle the sounds, or maybe it is just that early on a snowy  morning there is little extraneous noise, and the quiet is wonderful.   The dogs and I enjoyed our walk down the road to feed the alpacas. 

 We also had to go up and uncover the entrance to the new beehive so the bees can come and go as needed.

The hive entrance is only about 4" off the ground and the bees actually do need to be able to leave the hive in the winter on "cleansing flights".  Yes, even bees have to poop.  And they don't like to do it in their home. 

Sam's idea of playing in the snow is a little different than mine.  Probably more constructive as well.

With cold temps and snow on the ground, it has been good weather to stay inside by the fire and knit.  I got all my Christmas knitting done and have been working on a sweater for myself.  I could not post n\my Christmas photos prior to sending them out, but now I can.

 I made 3 of these orange and white hats for my 2 nephews and one for my brother.  And Sam saw me knitting them and said that he would like one, but in Ohio State colors (and I had thought my holiday knitting was done!).  So I made this one for him

He said he did not need his name on his.

I also made socks for my sister-in-law (below) as well as another pair for my son Ian's girlfriend.  All my Christmas knitting has been done with "superwash" wool yarn, which is wool that has been treated so it can be machine washed without shrinking.  It just makes it easier for the recipients of gifts not to have something they have to hand wash.

The snowy weather kept my mother from driving over here the day after Christmas, so instead, I plan to go visit her tomorrow (Jan 1) and stay for a few days.  Fingers are crossed that the weather does not interfere with plans once again.

On the 8th of January, very late, our younger son, Sam/Zac/Satchmo arrives at the Pittsburgh airport from Yosemite.  The lodge he works at closes for the month of January and so we are delighted to have him come home for a couple weeks, though I know he will be off to various other locations in Ohio to visit college friends.  It has been almost 3 years since he was home last!  Rowdy will be so happy to see him.  So will Carter.  Have I mentioned that Carter is happy to see everyone?  

There are other things to look forward to in 2013 and maybe I will write about upcoming events in my next post.  Until then, Happy New Year!
This yarn needs dyeing!!

Endings Aren't Always Happy

Apache  1984- Dec 28, 2012
We have come to the end of another year and I feel I have come to the end of an era.  This past Friday, we lost our beloved equine companion and friend, Apache, after almost 20 years together.  For some time, he has had trouble getting up, especially if he is on his left side.  He did better with joint supplements that I put on his feed every evening, but I think I knew that eventually that would just not be enough.  I won't go into details here because it was an ordeal that I will not easily forget, but suffice it to say, somehow, during the early morning hours of the 28th, Apache got lost.  How, I'll never know.  My guess is he was up in the pasture and was chased or scared into the woods  and found himself 1/2 a mile from home, thankfully in a place he could be seen by a passing car.  When discovered, he was down and had been for hours.  He is now buried on the farm next to us, which is where he was found.  I wrote a post about Apache in the past, which you can read here: 

Some day, I may get another horse, but now is not the time.  Apache, I miss you.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Frost, Fiber, a Festival, Friends

This is why I have a mudroom!

I missed posting last week.  I had one of those days where I had not slept well the night before and I just couldn't get my mind in gear to think about it.  Not only that, but our weather had been grey and drizzly and dreary, so I had no photos to share.  

We have had rain.  Lots of rain in fact.  Enough that the pond has gone from being down almost 2 feet to flowing out the overflow pipe.  Carter is somewhat fascinated with the pond.  He always goes out on the end of the diving board and peers down into the water.   We are trying to discourage the dogs from actually getting wet.  I am sure the water is quite cold, despite the warm December weather.

We have also had some very cold, bright frosty mornings.  Personally, I love these mornings.  I love being out in them.  Everything sparkles with frost and each stem and blade of grass is coated with tiny crystals.  

 You can tell it has been oddly warm by the green leaves on the multiflora roses.  

 Once the sun comes up and hits the fields and buildings the frost will disappear.  The alpacas do not seem to mind the cold.  I can usually tell where they have spent the night by the ovals of unfrosted ground in the pasture, created by warm, kushed alpaca bodies.

The Christmas Festival went quite well.  I sold a lot of my Made in USA Alpaca Socks.  I send 5 pounds of fiber to a fiber pool in New England along with some money, and they send me a dozen pairs of socks.  I have been doing this ever since the Fiber Pool started and the products have been getting nicer and nicer.  I usually only get socks, though they have lots of other products available. 

This past Friday, my friend Tari and I went to Apple Creek Ohio to Morningstar Fiber Mill and picked up my latest batch of 100% alpaca yarn.  I have about 11 pounds in 46 skeins of sport weight.  It is white and just screaming to be dyed!  I also dropped off another 9 pounds of fiber to be spun into a 3-ply worsted weight yarn.  While in the area, Tari and I also went to Wooster and visited Calla Lily Yarn and Gifts.   While I go to Wooster every Memorial Day weekend to attend the Great Lakes Fiber Show, I have never made it to this yarn shop and so we made the trip.  It is a very nice shop with a good selection of yarn.  The owner even seemed as though she might possibly be interested in carrying some hand-dyed alpaca yarn.  Hmmmm.....  It was just fun to spend a day with Tari and we stopped at some bulk food stores in Amish country and had lunch out and talked about kids and dogs and gardening and knitting and spinning and..................

In other news, we have finalized travel plans for younger son, Sam/Zac to fly home in January.  He will be here for 2 weeks, though I am sure he will be borrowing a car and taking off to visit college buddies for part of that time.  But it will be so good to see him.  Older son Ian, has completed his first semester at Portland Community College and has made the dean's list.  I am immensely proud that  he is taking this on, though not surprised that he is doing so well.

Christmas knitting is finished!  All of the projects were small and could be finished in a period of a couple days or so and I tried to alternate them with a few days of my personal knitting on my shawl or on this sweater I have started.  It is kind of a blue spruce color and the yarn is a commercial blend of 50/50 merino wool and alpaca.  So far I am very happy with the progress on it.

  Carter is doing very well.  I am thinking of removing the dog crate from the living room as he really hates it and has now been left alone for up to 8 hours (with Rowdy) uncrated and  does very well.  Some dogs like their crates, it is a safe den for them to retreat to, but not so with Carter.  He resists going into it, though he settles after a few minutes.  

 He is thoroughly enjoying the life of a farm dog.  He is still kept on a lead most of the time around the chickens, but he really doesn't seem to care about them.

I am still not able to get him to "pose" for a photo, so most pictures I get of him are of him coming toward me.  His coloring also makes it hard to get a good picture as the white seems to get over-exposed.  We will work on it.  I have been spoiled by taking photos of Rowdy.  He is an excellent photo subject.

And aren't these girls cute?  This is Mayhem and Caley taking advantage of the fact that all the adults are in the barn eating grain to be the first at the newly filled hay feeder.  They are almost 3 months old now and will hopefully start eating grain themselves soon.  They all figure it out in their own time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's All About Carter

Well, Ok, it's not ALL about Carter, but he has kept my hands busy the last week and I have not been able to take any outdoor photos.  Acclimating a new dog into our routine is something I take seriously because I want the dog to succeed and become a good member of our family.  Bringing him home the week of deer season did not help.  Our schedule was crazy and there was much more traffic than usual on our little unpaved road and there were lots of guys with guns in the woods.  That all ended on Sunday and we have since been able to take some walks and allow Carter some off-leash time.  We have also been perfecting our two -dog two-flippy flopper sessions in the yard.  I throw Carter's first and then fire Rowdy's off in a slightly different direction.  So fun, especially when they both leap and catch.

And of course, there is indoor play as well.  

In my experience, a tired dog is a good, happy dog.

This Saturday will be the Christmas Festival in Woodsfield.  I will have a booth set up in the courthouse along with many other crafters and will have yarn, rugs, socks and other alpaca products for sale.  I usually take my spinning wheel along in case I have time to spin.  The very first year I had LOTS of time to spin, but the festival has kind of caught on and lots of local folks attend, as well as some of the people who are staying in town and working on gas and oil leases, etc.  

Which reminds me, they are once again drilling within earshot of our place and are working on preparing a drill pad within  sight of our place as well.  

I have finished up the rugs that I started before Thanksgiving. I removed them from the loom last week and tied the fringes over the last couple days.  I am pleased with how they came out.  

 The one on the left is a little short because the yarn I used was a little thinner than the yarn on the other 2.  I can't just measure the length of the rugs on the loom when I am doing color changes, I have to count the number of "pics" or passes of the yarn.  The rug yarn is rather rustic, so it varies in thickness sometimes and I should have taken that into account on that dark rug and added a few more pics.  But it is fine.  These rugs will be available for sale at the festival.

I also finished up a couple more small gift projects.  A neck warmer with alpaca yarn that I spun from fiber I had made into roving and then dyed.  Love how the colors came out.  I only had a small amount of this yarn and this project was perfect.

 And for an even smaller amount of yarn, I knitted up a quick headband.  This is the same yarn as the mitts I posted about last week, I believe.

Sam and I really have no special plans for the holidays.  We will go to his folks' on Christmas and I figure my  mom will come to visit the  next day or so.  She has to get around to visit all 3 of her kids and generally spends Christmas morning with my younger brother who still has young children at home.  I miss those days.  I am pretty much finished with holiday shopping.  I did most of it online.  Everything should be arriving in a few days so I can ship things off to the west coast.

My sons will be spending the holidays in Portland and Yosemite.  However, younger son, Sam/Zac, is planning to be home for a couple weeks in January.  He is the sous chef at Evergreen Lodge  
just outside Yosemite and they close for the month of January every year.  Last year, both sons were working at the Grand Canyon on the south rim and were not able to get any time off.  I am looking forward to Zac's visit as I have not seen him since August last year at Tahoe. By the way, I highly recommend Evergreen Lodge if you ever plan to visit Yosemite.  It is nicely located and the cabins are wonderful as is the restaurant.  It is not cheap, but it is California!  I look forward to visiting there again hopefully this year.

After Zac's visit, we will be pretty close to February and I have a trip to Florida planned.  Will be driving down with my sister-in-law Jill and joining my mother, aunt and cousin, Tracey.  When I get home from that jaunt, it will be maple syrup season.  I hope we have better weather for the sap run this year.  Once syrup season is over, we will be into spring in no time.  We really have not even had winter yet here, although my thermometer registered 19 degrees this morning when I got up!