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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Time

After what seemed like (I think it really was) weeks of gloomy weather, we enjoyed a couple of days of beautiful sunshine this week.  And with it, some warm temps.  I think it is supposed to be in the 60's today, much too warm to have a white Christmas tomorrow.

1990 or 1991
Tomorrow is indeed Christmas.  I will be glad when the barrage of Christmas shopping commercials are over.  I am glad I don't actually have to deal with the traffic and everything else that goes along with the craziness of the commercialized holiday season.  Or maybe I would enjoy it more if I could participate.  I just don't think so.  I will enjoy going to Sam's folks' tomorrow for our annual Christmas dinner.  Its always nice to see our niece and I think she will be there.  Its just not the same once the kids are grown and moved away.  

Grover and I are entered in our second agility trial this weekend.  It is again at the Fieldhouse in Zanesville and it is just Saturday and Sunday this time.  We are running in both novice standard and novice jumpers both days.  We will be staying overnight instead of driving back and forth.  I am not as nervous this time as the first time, at least not yet.  We have had the opportunity to practice some this week, which is good.  The ground is really soft, though, so our weave poles are leaning every which way after each run through.  I'm looking forward to getting back to classes in a couple of weeks.


 Sam and I went over and checked out the beaver pond on Sunday.  It has really expanded.  They have dammed the creek in 3 places and what used to be a field is slowly becoming a marsh.  This is on Wayne National Forest and there is really nothing close by that could be damaged, so hopefully these critters will be allowed to live there in peace.  




I am fascinated by what they are doing and one of these days I will get to see them.  I think I will need to sneak up without dogs, however.  

The otters have moved on.  I think they left the pond within 24 hours of when I discovered them.  We won't know for a while if we still have any fish.  I would think a few might have been overlooked.  

 Sam is building us a sugar shack to enclose our syrup evaporator so that we will be able to sit inside while we cook down sap in just a couple of months.  It's always been under the shelter, but just at the edge so we could have a chimney, and it was ok, but not wind and rainproof.  Having an enclosed shelter will keep us nice and warm.





Here's another view of the pond.  If you look closely you can see the Utica shale drill rig in the center of the photo.  This is the one that is to the south of us and is being drilled under us right now.  There is another one that is to the west which they are done drilling, but it can still be seen from the pond in the winter. 

I have finished my first project on my new loom, and I will post photos next time.  It is a bit different from my rug loom and from the loom I sold, so it has taken a little getting used to, but I do really like it.  I have my rug loom warped and ready to start some new rugs on.  I will be starting on one today.  I have had people come out to the farm the last 2 Saturdays and purchase yarn, which is really nice.  Now if I could only sell a few more rugs.  I love weaving them.  



I used some of my yarn to knit a cowl recently as a sample.   This is natural white and some kettle dyed teal in 3-ply 100% alpaca.  






I likely will not post again until 2015.  On Tuesday, I am flying to Minneapolis and will be picked up at the airport and taken to a Dodge dealership to take possession of our new dual-fuel pick-up truck.  I will then drive home and I hope to stop and see some friends in Indiana and also stop at Mom's in Dayton for a day or 2.  I really hope the weather is good, considering I am flying through Chicago and then driving from Minneapolis.  At least I will have 4 wheel drive. 


Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Great Year in 2015!

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pond Invaders!!

With deer season ended, I could once again hike in the woods and up to the pond on our farm.  The pond is located almost a mile from the house and it is uphill most of the way.  It is a man made pond we had put in 5 years ago and it is a run-off pond, meaning that it is filled from a couple of streams that are formed from rain and snow-melt run off, so no spring or creek flows into it.  We stocked it with  fish and Sam likes to throw a line in it on a summer evening when he and the dogs and I stop by there on our daily hikes.  Imagine my surprise last Thursday when, as the dogs and I approached the pond for the first time in over a week at about 3 pm, I saw several things bobbing around in the water. 
At first I thought birds, but as I got closer I realized I was seeing sleek heads.  Five of them.  Beaver was my first thought since we have been observing the beaver habitat which is about a mile and half from our pond.  But no, I remembered Sam had told me that a neighbor had seen otters in another pond nearby and that he hoped they did not find our pond.  And once I got close, I realized that yes, these are otters.  North American River Otters to be exact.  Capable of eating lots of fish.  Every day.  


I cursed myself for not having my camera with me, but it had been gloomy and overcast when we left the house.  The otters were much more worried about the dogs running along the bank staring at them than they were about me quietly watching them swim about in our small pond.  However, it did not take Grover long to discover the fine aroma of otter crap and to think that maybe that would make a nice doggie cologne, so I headed back to the house.  By the time I got home, the sun had come out, so I grabbed the camera and headed back to the pond in the "buggy" with Grover riding shotgun.  I was able to get several photos, but could not get all 5 otters in the same photo.

Sam was not happy to hear the news and he went up to the pond very early on Friday morning to encourage the critters to move on. But whether it was the presence of the dogs and me the day before, or there being no fish left for them to eat, they seemed to be gone.  They did leave nasty smelling otter poop all over the dock and around the pond.  Sam and his brother both agree that there are probably no fish left in our pond.  Those guys could have been there several days and as I said, it is not a large pond.  And yes, Grover has had to have an unplanned bath!    I will admit it was rather a thrill to see these animals so close to home in the wild.  Now if only I could arrive at the beaver pond at the right time to see them....

Otherwise, not much new.  Christmas is next week and then right after Christmas Grover and I are entered in our second agility trial.  It is in Zanesville Ohio again and is Saturday and Sunday.  We are entered both days, so we will be staying in a hotel in Zanesville Saturday night instead of driving back and forth.  Our weather has not been real conducive to getting out and practicing, but we manage every few days.  Unfortunately, our weave poles are just pounded into the ground and the ground is so soft that after each run through, they are all crooked.  But we work with what we have.  Classes are suspended for the month of December, but will resume in January.

I have a reservation to fly to Minneapolis on the 30th to pick up a new natural gas powered truck that we are buying and drive it home.  This really is not the best planning, flying into Minneapolis via Chicago in the winter.  What can go wrong??

A couple days ago, I caught our rooster enjoying the porch swing.  I think he has a beer hidden behind his back, I'm not sure......





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All's Quiet.....

I say all is quiet, but that's because there is a lot behind us now.  For instance, this past weekend, I had a dinner for the Humane Society to attend on Friday evening, then I was at the Woodsfield Christmas Festival all day on Saturday and on Sunday I went to Parkersburg for the POTC Christmas party.  And last week was gun season for deer here in Ohio, which means that I came to work an extra day so Sam could be out with the rest of the guys.  It was a miserable week weatherwise, with lots of rain, so the hunting was not very successful.

 




The Christmas festival seemed well attended despite the rain.  I sold a lot of alpaca socks and not much else, but that's ok.  I set up some of my yarn and of course had my rugs for sale, including these 2 new ones I finished up last week, but don't usually expect to sell that stuff.  I really like the way these rugs came out.  One is 42" long and the other is 45" long.  Both 28" wide.  I plan to start measuring out warp for more rugs today.  I am still debating what I will do colorwise however.






For the POTC party, we did a gift exchange and since it is a dog club, most gifts were dog related.  I knit a hat with a paw print design and made up a gift bag with a dog toy, a dog drying towel and a canvas basket with dog embroidery on it.  I hit Home Goods on Black Friday and got great deals.  






 


I am really pleased with the finished hat and plan to make myself one with the same colors, but reversed, after all the holiday knitting is done, which it mostly is!  




 I also have a sweater I started that I allow myself to work on a little bit once I finish a holiday project.  Lots of cables.  I'm using a commercial alpaca/wool blend yarn, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, which I made a sweater from a couple years ago that I wear all the time. 



Christmas is only a couple weeks away now.  I have sent off a box to my brother's family in Arizona and still have to put together the box for my boys and Michelle out in Oregon.  I should probably send a little something to my new grand-nephew in Toledo also. 


Rowdy is back on the meloxicam and it just does wonders for him.  We are trying it every other day to see how that works out and it seems to be working pretty well.  Dr. Dyce, the orthopedist, recommended having blood work done in January to check for liver issues and I will certainly be doing that.  I broke out 2 brand new flippy floppers and they are hanging inside the mud room door and they are getting some good use.  I throw to the right for Grover and to the left for Rowdy and usually they each go for their own.  Sometimes, they go for the same one but Grover is faster, so he is most often the victor in those cases.  Sam is the best thrower and Rowdy will often refuse to go unless Sam throws for him.  Sam can throw it low flat and fast and Rowdy chases and does not have to jump for those.  Really cool to watch. 

Here's another interesting fungus.  I need to put the zoom lens on my camera and try to get a better photo.  This is up high on a tree on a fairly steep bank above the road.  I love it because it looks like a flower in bloom, a rose or a peony.  If we get a sunny day soon I will try to get a better shot.

Monday, December 1, 2014

1st Trial and Thanksgiving Behind Us

I think when all is said and done, that Grover and I had a successful first agility trial.  Had anyone asked me on Friday evening, I may not have thought so.  But we entered on Friday and then again on Sunday because I thought we (Grover in particular) needed to spend some time getting used to totally new surroundings and experiences.  I was right.  If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you may already have read this post about Friday, but since I print all my blog posts to book form at the end of each year, I want to include this here:

Ok, in case anyone is wondering how we did at our first trial yesterday, here goes. Our first run in jumps with weaves was great. It was at around 10 am and Grover and I both did really well, tho he knocked down a bar which is an automatic dq. But otherwise I was really happy with how we did. BUT, ever since Grover has been with us, he has refused to pee in strange places. Despite being taken outside 4 times during the day, he never so much as lifted his leg. Not once. I should have known. Really, I should have. Our second run was novice standard which came around 3 pm. So Grover has not peed since we left the house at around 6:20 am. You can see where this is going right? I was sure we were going to do great. The course was something we could do. I was sure we had it. Or would at least get through it. First jump was the tire. No problem, but before we even got to the second jump, Grover was off sniffing around at the wall of the ring. Totally unresponsive to me calling and calling him. So not like him. This was clue #2 that trouble was coming. Finally, after what seemed like minutes, I got his attention and he seemed ok, for a while, went over and greeted one of the people who sit in the ring to replace knocked down bars, but came back to me and we continued. I was flustered by now. He did the teeter and table fine. I think he missed a weave pole, but we continued.
He did the tunnel and I forgot which obstacle was next, but we figured it out and he did the chute ok, and then it was on to the dog walk and after that there was only one jump, I think. Never got there. Instead of running happily up the ramp on the dog walk like he normally does, he went to the left of it, hiked his leg and peed on it. Yup. Right on the dog walk. It was so nice. A guy brought me a bucket of cleaning stuff and the judge stood there and watched me clean the ramp of the dog walk and the turf underneath while one of my instructors held Grover on his leash. Uh huh. Pretty humiliating. My first reaction was I wanted to cry and never come back. But I had the whole car ride home to think about it (really) and I was already finding the humor in once I stopped at McD’s for a latte for me and plain hamburger for the GroverGator. And really once it is all said, the worst has happened, right? Right? Tomorrow, we go back but are only doing the novice standard. I am working in the ring in some earlier classes, so he will get to spend some time in his crate before our class. Somehow, I need to get him to pee before we go into the ring!

Sunday was much better.  My biggest goal was of course to get Grover to relieve himself in an appropriate place, which was accomplished by walking him around outside multiple times.  Sam and my in-laws showed up about an hour before it was Grover's and my turn in the ring and I think they enjoyed watching the class prior to ours.  It is entertaining after all.  I was SO nervous as our time to run got closer and closer.  Much more nervous than I had been on Friday.  However, with his bladder empty, Grover was attentive to me as he always is and we did great.  He went into the tunnel the wrong way and I re-sent him and he did just great after that, hitting his weave poles perfectly, until I confused him at the A-Frame and he missed that.  But I turned him around (after he jumped on me in protest) and got him onto it and we finished the course with no more problems, with a score of 90, which is a qualifying score!  We also got 3rd place.   We are entered in our next trial the end of this month, Dec 27 and 28 and will be running in both jumps with weaves and standard novice both days.  It is at the same facility in Zanesville.




 Here is a look at the ring for the excellent standard class (I think, I don't really remember) taken from the out gate area.      










And on the other side of the gate is where a lot of the handlers and dogs spend their time waiting for their turn. 








 We had a stretch of very warm weather last week, I think it was around 70 degrees on Tuesday, and on Monday we had extremely high winds.  And when you live in a place with lots of trees, high winds often mean trees falling, and frequently they fall on things.  We had been watching this tree for some time but it was in a place on a steep creek bank where  we could not get to it and we knew whether Sam cut it down or it fell down it would fall on our fence.  And it did.  







On Wednesday, Sam got the top part of the tree cut up for firewood and was able to pull the fence back into shape.  I think he had to replace one post, which isn't bad.  


 
Then is was off to my mom's for  Thanksgiving, which I admit is my favorite holiday.  It was somewhat quiet this year, with just Sam and myself, Mom, my brother Mike and his wife Jean and their daughter, Krista with her husband Paul and baby boy Blake.  A neighbor of Mom's also joined us, since she had no plans for the day.  I last saw Blake over Labor Day weekend and he is now 4 months old and seems to be a happy content baby.  Its funny to think of my younger brother as a grandpa!  

We avoided the post-Thanksgiving craziness for the most part,but did go to a brand new Field and Stream store right on I-75 on Friday, mostly because it was a handy place to meet a woman driving up from Kentucky to buy the loom I had listed for sale on Ravelry.  That worked out really well.  Then Mom and Sam and I had a nice dinner at the Golden Lamb in Lebanon, which is an historic inn, Ohio's oldest according to their menu.  Sam had wanted to go there and I had not been there in many many years.  It was very nice.  Saturday, we drove back home.  

This week is gun season for deer, and today the weather is miserable.  My weekend ahead will be hectic, as I have a dinner for the Humane Society volunteers on Friday night, the annual Christmas Festival in Woodsfield on Saturday, where I will be set up in the courthouse again, and then the Christmas party for the dog club (Parkersburg Obedience Training Club) on Sunday.  Grover and I have agility class tomorrow night like usual, but then there is a hiatus on classes until January.  I just hope the weather allows Grover and I to keep practicing outside  the rest of the month.