Monday, December 23, 2013

It's the Holiday Season!

And here is Grover in all his holiday spirit.  He actually does not mind wearing a blinking Christmas light necklace.  He is just the most easy-going dog I have ever known.

Yes, the holidays are in full swing with Christmas only 2 days away and then the beginning of 2014 fast on its heels.  I have kept busy with my Christmas knitting and weaving, which I will share with you all after everyone has received their gifts.  I thought I was finished and today I decided that I had to come up with one more quick gift for this weekend.  Whew!  Plus last week I baked about 8 dozen cookies for a fundraiser for the shelter.  We had a "Cookie Bazaar" last Friday and raised about $500, so the Shelter has benefited this month from everyone's holiday generosity.
Our weather has been crazy!  We had several days where it did not get above freezing, resulting in beautiful scenes like this across the creek from our hayfield and like this of the chickens eating bird seed off the back deck

I do love it that no matter how cold it has been, there is still a lot of green to be found in  the woods.  And this moss is such a vibrant green.

Then, this past Friday, it really warmed up and we got about an inch and a half of rain.  While the warm up is nice, I could do without the resulting mud.  Another bad thing about a warm up is that the asian beetles (or lady bugs) that swarm into our house after the first frost looking for a place to overwinter seem to wake up and think it is time to move around.  This means they crawl through any crack and crevice toward warmth and light, which mostly seems to be into the interior of my house.  I spend about 1/2 an hour a day just vacuuming them off my bedroom and bathroom walls, ceilings and windows.  They stink and they make a mess.  I really hate them.  I also hate whoever it was who decided to import them into the US

This is just a few of the many clustered on my bedroom window.  As I vacuum them up, more arrive to take their place.  If I try to read with a light on next to the bed, they dive bomb me because they are drawn to the light.  There seems to be no way to get rid of them other than patient vacumming, over and over again.

I have mentioned in past posts that there is oil and gas drilling going on in our area and right adjacent to our farm.  It is still happening and another drill pad is being prepared now on the farm adjoining us to the south.  They have even torn up the hard surface of the county road and replaced with with something they can more easily haul the heavy equipment in on.  

Here is Grover up in our upper hayfield and you can see the drill rig which is on the next hill top over just to his left.  

I have started to get some fleeces ready to send of to be processed into roving.  My favorite mill for roving, which is in Michigan, usually offers big discounts when you send in fiber in January, so it is a good idea to be prepared.  I need to get out in my studio/fiber storage room and see what all I can send them.  So far I have skirted a rose grey, a black and a light fawn (which I plan to dye) which I hope to have done into a 3-way swirl roving.  I will make a sample up on my hand carders once I get the fawn fleece dyed.  The fiber I took to Morning Star in late October is due to be spun in January as well.  

Rowdy was sick this past week.  He decided to eat something in the woods he should not have eaten and it led to us making a trip to the vet a few days later.  The vet thinks he had pancreatitus and he was on several medications for the last 5 days and now we are down to just one pill twice a day.  He really did not feel well and I am so glad he is back to his old beloved self.             

Our Christmas plans include spending Christmas day at Sam's parents' house.  They live about 1/2 an hour away.  His brother will be there along with his daughter and possibly his girlfriend.  Then on Friday I will drive across the state to spend some time with my mother and see my brothers and their families.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!  See you next year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Cold, It's Snowy, It's December!

While as I write this it is rather bright and sunny outside, but frigid, most of the days lately have been on the gloomy side.  That does not mean we have to stay inside.  The dogs and I manage to get out for our daily trek most days.  Rain and dark sometimes stop us, but not alwaysGrover has perfect snowy woods camouflage: If he were to stop moving among the trees in the snow he would all but disappear.  Normally, however, he does not stop moving.

Rowdy has been undergoing laser treatments for osteoarthritis in his hips and right hind leg.  He has had 4 treatments over the last 10 days and will have 2 more next week.   I am not sure if the treatments are helping or not, but the medication we tried affected his liver, so this is our alternate choice.  We'll see how he does.

Saturday was our town's local Christmas Festival.   It was started probably 6 years or so ago and has grown into a nice yearly event.  It starts with Breakfast with Santa for the kids and then the local shops have specials all day and small businesses who do not have shops in town are allowed to set up in the county courthouse for a nominal fee (which I do), and there are free carriage rides and it all culminates in a parade in the evening.  I have participated in the festival as a vendor since the event started and I enjoy it.  I mostly sell alpaca socks and imported alpaca teddy bears, but I also sell small hand-knitted items (mitts and hats) along with honey and maple syrup.  I have my yarn displayed (just in case a Knitter comes along) and my rugs are around the corner.  It is always fun.  I talk to lots of people I know and of course my friend Tari is set up just across the aisle from me so we get to spend some time together.

Sunday was the last day of gun season for deer.  Sam was coming back toward the house as the dogs and I headed out for our walk Sunday afternoon.  No one was hunting on our property except Sam, so we were able to get into the woods again and hike up by the pond.  Of course the dogs and I saw 2 deer at the pond, a doe and her fawn from this spring.  The fawn bounded around my side of the pond quite close, which was fun to watch, as the dogs chased the doe off the other side of the pond.  My dogs only chase a very short way.  Usually once the deer goes into the heavy undergrowth, they give up.  

 I baked some more bread this week.  I found a really good recipe on line I like, though I have modified it a bit.  Sam hand grinds the wheat for me.  I make half a recipe and get 3 small loaves.  I reduced the amount of honey since I thought the bread was a bit too sweet the first time I made it.  I cut it by about a third and it still has a nice sweetness.   Really wonderful bread.  Bread baking has to be one of the best smells ever. 

 The last 2 mornings it has only been about 12 degrees F outside.  Everyone is always happy to see me but I think especially so when it is so cold.  Everyone is waiting for breakfast.

I am happy to see smoke coming out of the chimney because it means the wood I put in the stove before going outside has caught from last night's embers.  

You may wonder why we love our wood stove when we have free gas we can heat with.  The answer is that our house has almost no insulation (tax records show our house being built in 1870) and the furnace we put in 7 years ago would have to go all the time in order to keep the house warm.  As it is, my kitchen, which is farthest from the furnace, was only 57 degrees this morning.  The wood stove just makes a warmer more radiant heat.  Also, if the furnace comes on less, our bedroom stays cooler, which makes for better sleeping.  

I still have no fiber-y stuff to show since I am still working on holiday gifts.  I am down to one (!) which I hope to have finished by Sunday or Monday and  then I plan to be quite self-indulgent.  So maybe next week I will have something to show off.  Nothing finished, but something.

Now for something completely humiliating to dogs, though they know nothing about it!

 From the look on Rowdy's face one would think that hat really was on his head!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgivng is Behind Us, The Year is Winding Down

This is Sadie, our new foundling barn cat.  The Sunday before Thanksgiving as Sam and I were walking the dogs in the afternoon, we found her dumped along the side of the road.  I heard a meow, and looked over the bank above the hayfield and there she was.  How the dogs did not hear her I have no idea, but we kept walking so as not to draw their attention and I returned an hour later after our walk and she was in the same place and came right to me when I called.  The temperature was forecast to drop into the teens that night and she was so skinny and little, I could not leave her.  So she has joined the other barn cats and seems quite happy.  She has put on a lot of weight in a week and half and holds her own at feeding time.
 Here are all the cats at morning feeding time.  If you look up in the right hand corner, you can see Road Runner, who was found running the road at the shelter and has been here at least a year and still won't usually come near the food while I am in the barn.  I have petted her a couple times, but she is happier left alone.

Thanksgiving was nice.  All my family was there minus my 2 boys and my nephew, Cody, who is serving in the US Army and is stationed in Colorado right now.  

My sister in law, Jill, and her daughter, Haley, and I all did the Miamisburg 5 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning despite the 20 degree temperature.  It was cold!  But it was sunny and not windy, so it wasn't too bad.  I managed to run/jog most of the 5 miles and finished in 1:00:49, which I thought was quite respectable.  Of course 14 year old Haley left Jill and me in the dust.  

I always bake apple pies to take to Mom's for Thanksgiving, and this year I did an apple pie and a butternut/acorn squash pie.  I had a small piece of the squash pie and it was very good, but hard to tell from pumpkin.  Both pies disappeared fast and I didn't even get any pf the apple.  Usually I end up taking pie home with me.  Not this year, even though there was also pumpkin, apple and pecan someone else had brought.  I did have some of the pecan.  Yummy.

Not much is going on on the farm.  Gun season for deer is in full swing and so the dogs and I have not been going into the woods.  I have been at the office all week so far except Tuesday, so it hasn't even been an issue.  Tomorrow I will stay home, but rain and freezing rain are forecast, so we will be staying in.  I have some preparation to do for the local Christmas Festival, which is Saturday.   This is the festival where local crafters and retailers can set up in the county courthouse and my friend Tari will be set up next to me, so it is usually a lot of fun.  I have to label some alpaca bears and socks, but otherwise I already have the car loaded since I knew it was going to be nasty weatherwise tomorrow.  I have knit a couple pairs of fingerless mitts and a hat to take, but mostly I will have bears and socks and some rugs for sale. I will display some of my yarn, but I do not expect to sell it at this event.  I do sometimes sell a skein or 2, so who knows? I also have some honey and syrup to take, but very little.  I have sold most of it.

 Most of my knitting time is still being spent on Christmas gifts, so no photos.   I have finished my last weaving project (also a gift).  Here is the warp on the loom.  I am looking forward to being able to knit for myself again and have a lot of projects in mind.  Plus, I still have to spin lots of alpaca for the blanket I hope to weave sometime in 2014.

Buck and Star are doing their job watching over the alpacas.