Thursday, November 21, 2013

November Blahs

Yes, the woodburner has been going for the last week or so.  Our weather is fairly typical November:  It can be 25 degrees when we get up and then 55 or only 40 by afternoon.  One never knows.

This may be a fairly short post.  There is not a lot going on on the farm right now.  The chickens are all laying regularly and we are getting 5 to 6 eggs a day.  When you only purchase eggs from the grocery store and then have your own chickens, it is an eye-opener to find that not all eggs are perfectly egg shaped.  Here are 4 of the 5 eggs that were in the chicken coop when I went to let them out this morning.  Look how small and pointy that one is!  Sometimes we will get an egg that has a soft shell.  It will feel leathery and may not even be strong enough to pick up without breaking.  Grover likes these kind of eggs.  Most of the time, the eggs are normal looking, though they can vary in color.

I do love watching the chickens wander about the yard and barnyard scratching for bugs and worms.  That big ole rooster looks like he's watching over, but he will be the first one to scurry for cover at any sign of trouble.  The appellation "Chicken" suits him. 

I have decided I am going to sell off most of my alpacas.  I no longer want to breed and I have some very nice young females who I hate to part with, but I think should be in someone's breeding program.  So the other day was nice and sunny and I decided I needed to take some new  photos and update my website.  This is what happens when I want to take photos of individual alpacas.  They form a clump.  It's like they know which ones I want to photograph and those individuals hide in the center of the clump.  I understand this is "Basic Herd Safety 101" and has helped prey animal species survive throughout millennia, but it is annoying.  Thanks goodness for photo editing programs!

I spent last weekend in the Dayton/Cincinnati area visiting my mom and having a get-together with a group of high school friends.  It was very nice and I have to say it is wonderful to be able to get together with people after 30+ years and have a good time.  

Next week Sam and I will be heading back to Mom's for Thanksgiving weekend.  Most of my family will be there, minus my boys from Portland, and I am looking forward to it.  I am kicking off Thanksgiving day with my sister-in-law, Jill,  my niece and 2 nephews and Jill's mom by participating in the Miamisburg Turkey Trot, a 5 mile walk/run.  It should be a good way to start the day.  I do not get into Black Friday shopping.  I don't need anything so much that I will subject myself to that.  I did it a few years ago and we had a good time, but I would rather sleep and then make our yearly trip to Jungle Jim's in Fairfield.  Its about the only place Sam actually looks forward to shopping.  You should see their craft beer selection.

All my fiber projects this past week have been holiday projects, so I won't be posting them here for a while.  I did acquire some yarn (with money I got for my birthday) and will likely be planning a new sweater project for January.  In January I will also get back to working on spinning alpaca for the blanket I hope to weave sometime in 2014.  

Here I am in Portland with my 2 sons, Sam/Zac/Satchmo  and Ian.  Notice the hand-knit beanies?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Snow!

Yes, it has been a while, but I am back.  Less than a week after my last post, Sam and my mother and I traveled to Portland Oregon to visit our boys, Ian and Sam/Zac/Satchmo (hereinafter referred to as Zac) and Michelle, Ian's fiance.  And to be honest, when I got home, I was just too worn out to sit at the computer and think.  So I am now back on my normal time schedule and sort of my normal work/home schedule.  It is amazing how getting out of routine (and being in a time zone 3 hours off) can throw one off balance.

Ian, Michelle and Zac are now living in a 2 bedroom apartment together in Portland.  Zac was ready to leave Yosemite due to many factors, the biggest I think was the devastation caused by August's rim fire.  I think it was just so hard for him to see the place he loved turned to ash.  His long term plan had been to move to Portland anyway, but not until next spring.  So he is now looking for some kind of work in Portland.  He is not sure exactly what 
he wants to do.  I am sure he will come up with something soon.
Here are Zac, Ian and Michelle at Multnomah Falls which we visited the day before we came home.  It was raining and cold and I was unable to keep the raindrops off my camera lens as you can see.  It was a beautiful spot and I would like to visit the Columbia River Gorge another time when the weather is better and I can do some hiking.  A cool fact here, there were 6 of us in Zac's van on this little trip and 5 of us were wearing hand knits by me.  Both boys are wearing handspun hand knit alpaca beanies, Michelle is wearing the Willow Cowl (from my last post) which I gifted to her and she loves.  All 3 of us girls (me, Michelle and mom) were wearing hand knit socks and I also had on hand knit mitts.  Poor Sam was left out.  He left his hand knit hat at home.  I think he wished he had had it.

Another rainy shot of my 3 guys together at the falls.      We also hit some microbreweries, some yarn shops and did some wandering around in the Pearl District.  Probably one of the best things we did was go to the fabulous weekly farmer's market on the college campus in downtown Portland on Saturday.  It was really wonderful.  I would probably go every week if I lived there.   We also visited the Japanese Garden and rose garden.  Below is a photo I took in the Japanese Garden.
But now it is back to life as usual.  That is a good thing.  It was nice to see Michelle and the boys, but it is always good to be back home.  I just wish they were a little (or a lot) closer.   So on to farm news.  Things were good with our farm sitter while we were gone.  The dogs did well at their new kennel.  I did have some sad news before I left, however.  When I went to feed the top bar hive shortly after my last post, I found the hive entirely deserted.  The bees had not died, they had left.  Not a bee to be found.  I don't know if our moving the hive 20 feet to a sunnier spot upset them or what, but they are gone.  I am done with the top bar hive.  I think I will stick with what is working for me.  And speaking of that, yesterday I went up and put some old hay bales around the orchard hive, just as a wind break for winter.  
Here's how it looked this morning in the snow.  I did not see bees flying yesterday as it was cold and gloomy, but Sam observed them one day last week when I was at the office and it was nice and sunny.  I really, really hope this hive will survive another winter.  It has been a really strong hive and they have lots of honey stores, so we will see.   
Another loss was suffered after our return.  One of our chickens was hit by a vehicle in the road.  We did not observe this happening and whoever did it just kept on going.  So we are down to 6 hens and our rooster.  I hope we do not lose any more hens.  6 is a nice number and we are getting a 1/2 dozen eggs a day now. 

I spent most of this past Saturday at the shelter where I am a volunteer.  We have had a huge project going on there which started as a way to eliminate water coming into the building and putting on a new roof.  It grew into all new fencing and run areas as well.  The roof and dozer work we hired out and paid for with donations, but the fencing, etc is all volunteer.  Needless to say, it is taking a while.  It is finally coming together, though I don't think we will have grass until next year.  This is how it was looking as of Sunday morning.  We have a great group of volunteers, though there are never enough of us.  

And fiber!  I can now post photos of the towels I was working on last month as they were a housewarming gift for Ian and Michelle and Zac for their new apartment.  They did not have a color scheme, so I went with red, black and charcoal.  I was happy with how they turned out.  I am now warping my small loom at home for more secret weaving and need to warp my big loom at the office for rugs soon.  Our local Christmas festival is about 3 weeks away and it would be nice to have some more rugs done for that.  I'm not sure if I will make it. 

Other than that, I finished a spring/summer sweater I was working on.  Happy with how it came out.  I need to get Sam to take photos of me wearing it. Since my dress form is smaller than I am it doesn't show it at its best.  This will look great with a  bright solid colored cami under it next summer.  I am also working on more Christmas knitting and that will be what I will be working on for the next month and a half.  In January I will be knitting for myself again and spinning alpaca for my blanket I hope to weave.