Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer is Flashing By

This is how Grover rides in the Honda Pioneer, also known as "the buggy".  He loves to ride in it, but insists on standing with hind feet on the seat and front feet on the dashboard, with his ears blowing in the breeze.  Obviously, I was not moving very fast when I took this photo since I can't really drive and shoot at the same time.  Rowdy gets the passenger seat and is more than happy to sit on the seat.  Things get a little crowded when Sam joins us.  Sometimes Grover will hop into the bed then.  Not always.

I dug up our garlic this week.  With the continual rain, the weeds were rampant, so I first used the weed trimmer around the perimeter, cutting down the last of the asparagus as well as weeds.  Oddly enough, I found about 5 new stalks of asparagus, which I brought home and put into pasta salad.  I did not expect to see new asparagus in late July, but it has been cool and rainy.  I will check for more later.  But the garlic did well and I think we will have enough to get us through til next year.  For now it is hanging in the summer kitchen to dry out.  Some bulbs will be set aside for replanting in October.

I also checked in on the bees on Sunday.  The hive is strong, lots of baby bees in various stages and honey being made and stored.  I gave them a 5th box with new foundation to draw into comb.  I had to pull all the wax from most of the frames that were in the hive that died over the winter and get rid of it.  It had dead bees and stuff in it that was just unpleasant, so I put new wax foundation into those frames.  The buckwheat seems to be done flowering for now, but I think it will flower again.  It has definitely gone to seed.  

If you click on the photo to enlarge, you can see the clusters of brown buckwheat grains under the flowers.  I think I would have to gather a lot of these to make a batch of pancakes!  

Another crop on our farm this year was put in by my neighbor's grandson:  corn.

 This is way up in what used to be horse pasture and its purpose is as a food plot to attract deer.  It is field corn, not sweet corn.  I think he has also planted turnips and clover.  He also has several trail cameras up to see what will be attracted.  I like to know where those are so I can avoid them on my walks.  

Grover and I have now completed 16 weeks of agility classes.  We are enjoying it.  He gets very excited when I tell him it is time to go to dog class and he likes to practice in the yard.  We are up to working on 6 weave poles out of the ultimate 12.  He is doing pretty well and I set up my tripod yesterday in the yard to get a short video of us practicing.


Turn your volume down if you don't want to hear my high-pitched encouragement to Grover through the poles.  I do not know how to edit video, so you will see a false start at the beginning.  The dog must always enter with the first pole to his left shoulder in order to be correct.  This is one of the hardest things for dogs to learn and we started with 2 poles, then added 2 more and now we are up to 6.  We are still doing 6 in class, so I will add more when the instructor says we will add more.  Last night in class, we did a sequence starting with a jump, then the weave poles and then into a tunnel.  Then we did jump, weave, tunnel and back through the weave poles coming out of the tunnel.  That one was tricky.  

I didn't post last week.  Just didn't have enough photos and content.  My mom visited and she and I spent a good bit of time organizing the new kitchen, figuring out what to put where, etc.  And then on Sunday before she headed for home, Sam's parents came over and I cooked beer can chicken on the grill and we had a nice dinner on the deck.

As for fiber-y stuff, I finished spinning a bobbin (approximately 4 oz) of fawn alpaca singles for the blanket project.  It is not very inspiring spinning and now I need to do another one to ply it with.  That will give me a pound of 2-ply fawn to add to the black I have done and the white I am still working on.  I plan to do some brown as well, so 4 colors in all.  

Have not started or finished anything else, though I should have my lace-y purple cardigan off the needles today.  I sure hope so.  I will be able to make good use of it yet this summer and it will be perfect for early fall.

We have had a lot of thunderstorms this past week.  Monday morning, I looked out the back door to see this incredible lighting.  This was about 7:30 am.  I have not edited it at all.  It was gorgeous!  There are a couple places (just above the alpaca barn and then up to the right) where the sun coming up (which would be to the extreme left in this photo) was touching the treetops on the hill and lighting them up.

And here is a shot of a "teazel" just beginning to bloom, looking down on it from above.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hops & Summer Camp & Spinning & Weaving

The boys are enjoying the cool comfort of the ceramic tile floor in the mostly complete kitchen (is anything really ever completely complete?)!  So look at that view and then look at this one:

 Same kitchen as it was when the property was purchased 12 or so years ago.  It went from that look to this one:

And actually had a couple re-paintings prior to its new incarnation.

Here is the other side of the room

A bit of an improvement, wouldn't you agree?

Sam actually brewed his first batch of beer in the new kitchen this past weekend while I was away.  And speaking of beer, here are a few photos of this year's hop crop.

 The hops are a perennial and they like to climb.  These are the first ones he planted and they do very well in this spot.

The other batch of vines is growing in a field and Sam rigged up guy wires for the plants to climb.  These don't seem to be as prolific.  They are also several different varieties, so that may explain the smaller vines.  I don't know.  These hop cones will soon be picked and Sam will dry them and freeze what he doesn't use right away for use in future batches of home brewed beer.
I traveled to eastern Maryland this past weekend to attend a knitting summer camp hosted by the Twinset Designs Podcast  which is an audio podcast I listen to hosted by twin sisters.  They put together a retreat at a rather rustic summer camp Ramblewood Resort which was attended by myself and about 14 others.  It really was great fun.  It went from Friday through Sunday and we had campfires at night and lounged in the pool during the day and learned some new crafts, such as Tablet Weaving.  Everyone brought snacks and drinks to share (there was a huge cooler FULL of beer and wine and other wonderful stuff that we all shared) and we had our meals in the camp dining hall.  The meals were not standard camp fare.  The owner takes pride in serving locally produced food whenever possible and it shows.  I look forward to attending again next year.

So I've had a bit of fibery time.  I managed to finish spinning and plying 625 yards of fawn alpaca which is part of the ongoing woven blanket project.  I need about another 600 or so yards of this color before I move on to dark brown.

In last week's post I said I had been spinning at the festival in town and I worked on the same fiber at my spinning guild last Thursday.  It has black and grey alpaca and about a 1/3 of the fiber in the roving was dyed in a dark teal color.

I also warped my small loom for some gift weaving.  It was fairly quick to warp because it is only 9" wide and I am used to projects that are much wider.  The weaving will also go fairly fast and it is fun so far.  I am anxious to get back to it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Loving Summertime!


The bees are certainly loving summertime and the bright orange blooms of the butterfly weed.  They were all over it this morning, as well as all over the buckwheat, which is now chest high on me.  I could have stood out there just watching them all morning today, but I had to get in here to the office.

I got into the hive on Sunday afternoon and was pleased to see them thriving.  Lots of baby bees and lots of honey being made.  I added a 4th box to the top of the hive to give them extra room to store honey since we seem to be having a nectar flow right now.  I don't know that I will be able to harvest any honey this year, but if I don't give them room to store it, I certainly won't.  

The garden is doing well. We have had adequate rain, which is nice.  I am trying to keep the weeds at bay, but they like the rain as well.

There are little green tomatoes on many of the plants, but it will be a while before we can enjoy any. 

I canned another batch of beets on Monday.  The beets were smaller and so I got only 4 pints, but I still have a lot of beets to harvest and process over the next week or 2.  The new lettuce is coming on well and the first lettuce is pretty much done.  The corn, well, let's say I will not have a great crop, mostly due to whatever ate it from beneath.  Disappointing, but I should be able to purchase local corn from the Amish like usual.

 I love the individual droplets of dew on this tomato plant which is in my herb gardenThis is an heirloom variety grown from seeds from a couple of tomatoes Tari gave us last year.  They are Moskvich and they were very tasty so looking forward to having more of them.

In other news, the kitchen is progressing nicely and the finish is in sight!  I'll have to find a before picture and post before and after next week.  Sam is anxious to get done so he can brew some beer.

I spent Friday and Saturday in town at the Bicentennial celebration for Woodsfield.  Fortunately the weather was ideal, sunny, not too hot and low humidity.  Sales were very slow, but I sold a skein of yarn, a couple bears and some socks and scarves.  I also got some knitting and spinning done.  The event was nice and I could tell a lot of effort was put into it, but attendance was low, especially on Saturday.

This coming weekend I am traveling east to Maryland to attend a knitting weekend.  I will leave Friday and return late Sunday evening.  It will be similar to the retreat I went to last summer, but much smaller, with only about 15 to 20 people.  It is at a camp, so there will be a lot of outdoor activity.  More on that next week.

As I said, I got some knitting and spinning done this past week.  Progress has been made on my Hitofude cardigan  and I hope to have it finished by the end of July.  

I also made some progress on the spinning for the blanket I hope to weave eventually.  I had 2 bobbins of singles spun and I got about 1/2 of that plied into a 2 ply yarn.

I hope to finish the rest of it in the next couple of days.  Not that I will actually be finished.  I need to spin 2 more bobbins of singles in this color and then I still have more white to spin AND a dark brown fleece that I have not even washed yet.  This is definitely a long term project, but it will happen.

Silly dogs at play early in the morning!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Really? July Already?!

Sometimes one just has to stop and smell the clover.

There is not a lot new to write about this week.  Mostly the same old summer stuff: doing chores, working in the garden, spending long days outdoors and collapsing on the couch after a late dinner.  

This past week, Sam picked wild raspberries.  He gave me about 6 quarts, which was enough to do 2 batches of jam and 1 pie.  I spent a great deal of time on that last Friday.  I'm not sure if it was the berries, or what, but that is one of the best raspberry pies I have ever made and I didn't even put chocolate in it (which I do sometimes, just a little).  So we are stocked up on jam, but I will make peach if there is a good peach crop this year and I manage to procure some.

Then on Tuesday when I went to work in the garden, which I had not done since Sunday, I realized I had a lot of beets that were ready to harvest and I had better get to it.  I had enough ready to do one batch of pickled beets.  I will continue to do a batch at a time as they get to harvesting size.  I usually get 4 or 5 batches which each produce 5 pints or so.  
And in between the jam and the beets, I drove to Pittsburgh on Saturday to get the cabinets mom had chosen for the kitchen project.  The cabinets came in 78 pieces, all of which were flat boxes and plastic bags of hardware, so guess what I did Sunday and Monday afternoons?  You got it, I assembled cabinets.  I only put the boxes together and now Sam is working on installing them and then I will put on doors and drawers and all that fun stuff.  To the right is how the kitchen looks as of this morning.  The cabinets will be brown once the doors and side panels are installed and we went last night and purchased some stock laminate counter tops that look like (but aren't) granite.  So it is all coming together.  I know Sam is anxious to get this project done.  He is out of homebrew, and this is his brewing kitchen! 

 I went up yesterday morning in hopes of getting some photos of bees on the buckwheat, which is blooming like crazy, but I think I was too early.  However, I was amazed at how tall the buckwheat had gotten.  To the left, the white you see in the center is the buckwheat blooming.  
                                    And closer a closer view.

The butterfly weed is also starting to bloom and here it is before the buds open.

 And after.  I just love the colors.  

This weekend, our county seat, Woodsfield, is celebrating its Bicentennial along with the traditional 4th of July festivities.  As part of that, I will be setting up a canopy in the town square in front of the court house tomorrow and Saturday and offering my alpaca products and maple syrup for sale.  The weather is forecast to be perfect, upper 70's to low 80's and low humidity.  How lucky is that?  I'm not sure if I will sell much, as our county is very small population-wise, but it costs me nothing and I will take my spinning wheel and chat with people and on Saturday my friend Tari will also be there.  To give you an indication of how small town we are, Woodsfield, the county seat, has a population of about 3000 people.  It also boasts the only 5 traffic lights in the entire county and if you stand in the center of town you can see all of them from one spot.  Think about that!