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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2 Days Until Christmas and it is 60+ Degrees in Ohio

Some dogs have a hard life....not mine, though.  I wish they all had a comfy warm place to sleep.
 
It's true.  We are forecast to have highs near 70 in Ohio today.  I believe the old record was 62 degrees for this date back in 1957.  We had some rain the last couple of days and the overnight temperatures over the weekend were in the 20's, but now the forecast is showing highs in the 60's the next several days.  No white Christmas here.  I'm ok with that.  It does mean a lot of mud though, here on the farm.

Since my last post, I have traveled to Grand Rapids Michigan with my mother to visit our family there.  My cousin, who is 6 weeks older than my older son, and his wife had a baby in early December.  This is me with little Easton.  This is the first grandchild for my aunt, who is my mother's younger sister, and she is so happy to finally be a Nana.  I am happy for everyone.  It is wonderful to have another new baby in the family.  

The other big news, which is closer to home for me, is that I have a deposit check from a man who is buying 12 of my remaining 17 alpacas.  I have been wanting to make things simpler, especially since my sons live so far away, and this will definitely make things a little easier.  But is is so hard to think about having only 5 alpacas out there after having had them for almost 17 years.  The ones who are staying are Chiquita, 17 years old,  Peg and Bodhi who will both be 17 in the spring, Truffel, who doesn't belong to me and is getting up there in age and Lightning, our white male.  The buyer does not want a male.  So mostly seniors who deserve to stay here and be buried here.  The rest of the herd will be leaving for Tennessee in January.  This weekend, Sam and I need to microchip 8 of them and Monday the vet is coming to do health certificates to make them legal to be imported into Tennessee.  It is hard to say what might come along to live in our soon to be empty pastures.  I had planned to get some sheep, but with traveling to the west coast a couple times a year, spending time with my mom in western Ohio and going to agility trials, I think it will be easier to just buy lamb and wool as needed.  



 And speaking of trials, at our last trial, which was in November, Grover earned his Open Jumpers title.  I am very pleased to say that at our most recent trial this past weekend, Grover Q'd both days in Excellent  Jumpers!  He got 2nd place on Saturday and 1st place (only 20" ex dog who Q'd) on Sunday.  I was thrilled at his Q on Saturday and amazed when we did it again on Sunday.  So he needs 1 more Excellent Jumpers Q to move up to the Masters level.  Our standard runs, while respectable, were not good enough to Q (weave pole issues again).  I was not UNhappy with those runs, but we can do better.  We have only 1 Q so far in Excellent Standard, so need 2 more qualifying runs to move up to Masters in that.  Our next trial is mid-February.  We will start back to class in January.  
 




Look what I got in the mail last week.  33 pounds of rug yarn in 4 different colors.  This should keep me busy weaving rugs for months to come.  And I still have a lot of fiber in storage that can become more rug yarn.  I am planning a new rug warp and may start to count it out today.





Last post I mentioned waiting for parts for my loom.  They arrived shortly thereafter and I was able to start (and finish) my weaving project.  Here it is on the loom.  It has since been removed, but needs to be washed and hemmed.  More photos next post.  I am very pleased with this project.



My shawl is coming along nicely.  I am now using the second color and need to finish a large mesh panel with it before I move on to color number 3.  Considering I really did not like the colors of either of these 2 yarns, I think they work well together and I just love how this is coming out.  


Yesterday the dogs and I walked to the beaver pond in the afternoon.  After 2 days of rain, it is quite full.  There is plenty of sign of beaver activity, but no sightings of beavers.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Beautiful Weather is Hanging Around

After some rain last week, we have enjoyed some truly fabulous weather for early December.  Blue skies and temperatures up into the 50's.  No complaints here.  We have had no measurable snow so far.  There was a very light dusting one morning last week on the deck, but it did not even stick on the grass, as the ground was too warm.  This nice weather is supposed to continue into the coming weekend, I believe.  However, I will be traveling to Michigan with my mother to visit family and meet my brand new second cousin.  I am looking forward to that and I hope the weather stays nice for our trip.  I'd prefer not to have to drive 7 hours in snow coming home.

This past Saturday I had a booth at the local Christmas Festival in Woodsfield.  It was a very successful day and I sold all 5 pairs of those fingerless mitts I made.  I guess I need to have a couple more than that for next year.  I wish I could be disciplined enough to make a pair  a month.  I think I will try for that.  

Then on Monday, I went to the Christmas Party for POTC, the Parkersburg Obedience Training Club.  There was also an award ceremony, and Grover and I got a plaque with title tags to hang on it.  I have yet to put everything together.  NA  is Novice Agility,  NAJ is Novice Agility Jumpers, and OA is Open Agility.  We have since earned our Open Agility Jumpers, but we will not get that award tag until next year (and hopefully some more).  Our next trial is a little over a week away.  

Otherwise I have not been too busy.  I've been getting my Christmas preparations underway, but there is just not that much to do.  I don't shop much any more.  I've had a rather Grinch-ish attitude about Christmas since my boys both moved out west.  I just cannot get excited about it.

 

I finished the socks I have been working on for Sam.  I'm glad they are done.  I am not a huge fan of knitting socks.  I like to wear them, but otherwise I find the knitting somewhat tedious.  Its a good thing they don't take too long.  These came out quite nice.  


 

I have a couple of other things I am looking forward to knitting, one of which will be a big project, a sweater that is more like a coat.  And a 3 color shawl I just started.  I am using some yarn I had in my stash.  Th yellow color I think is downright ugly.  I bought it in a kit a couple years ago and did not know exactly what the color would be.  It is an UGH in my book, but I think it will go nicely with the 2 other colors.  I'm not overly fond of the green either.  Sometimes when you order yarn online the colors are just different in real life than on a computer screen.  However, I love the variegated.  I won that from a podcast contest.  

My rug loom is naked right now.  I will get to work on that next week.  I want to try something new.......My small loom at home is ready to weave on, BUT I need some parts for the loom to make all 10 treadles functional and I cannot proceed with my project until I get them.  They are on order.  I was hoping I could finish the project that is on the loom before Christmas, but I don't think it will happen.  It has been one of those things.  I had hoped to have this project done by Thanksgiving, but one of the yarn colors was back-ordered and took forever to get, so then I warped for my first ever 8-shaft project, and I don't have enough treadle ties, which never occurred to me until I wanted to start weaving.  Ah well.

 






So that's about it for this week.  I will finish with some photos of late fall on the farm





 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mild Weather Continues into December

A culvert down near the beaver pond got washed out and they brought in gravel to repair it and closed the road for a few days.  Not long ago, Rowdy would have been right up here beside Grover, but despite everything we do, he is just painful most of the time.  He still enjoys life, just at a slower pace.

Since last I posted we have managed to stay busy.  Grover and I attended a 3 day trial in Zanesville last weekend, right before Thanksgiving.  This marked our one year anniversary of trialing.  Grover earned his Open Jumpers With Weaves title on Friday, so we moved up to Excellent in Jumpers.  We did not get any other Q's that weekend, but I considered all our runs to be successful.  The weave poles were done perfectly 50% of the time, which is ok, but we still need to work on that.  We have no classes in December, but I went to the building to practice anyway when we normally would have had class this week and plan to go once a week if weather permits the rest of the month.  It has been rather wet to practice outside.  We have another trial, a 2 day trial, the 19th and 20th  of December.

Sam got a very large 8 point buck on the evening of the 16th with his crossbow.  The deer was large but definitely not a trophy rack.  Sam got over 100 pounds of meat off the deer which has been frozen and canned and shared with Sam's mom and dad.  We had decided earlier this year that we would like to learn to tan a hide with the brains of the deer.  So Sam saved the hide, which is huge, and worked on it and we now have a tanned hide, though it is stiffer than we would like.  Sam's brother says he should have started with a smaller hide.  But this is what we have.  Sam is already planning better ways of doing the next one.

And this week is gun season for deer in Ohio, so I have come to the office an extra day so far so that Sam can hunt with the local "gang".  We would like one more deer for the freezer and I know Sam's mom and dad would like some more venison as well.

Thanksgiving was last week.  We drove to Dayton with the dogs on Thanksgiving morning.  I baked pies and bread the day before, including a pumpkin pie with my homegrown pumpkin.  It was yummy.  I also took along the finished runner that Mom had commissioned for her entryway.  It looks wonderful on her new hardwood floors.  I was so pleased when I took it off the loom and the finished measurement was 9'4" X 30".  There is math involved in weaving and things like take-up (once the rug is no longer under tension on the loom, it can lose up to 20% of its length) to consider.  I was going for a 9' runner and I can be mathematically challenged, but I checked and re-checked and was really quite pleased with the finished rug.





 



I also finished the last of the warp on my small loom.  This was supposed to be a sample, but came out as a full towel, though smaller than the other 2 more colorful towels.  I have to say this one is my favorite of the 3 I did.

I also finished a quick gift knit, which I will post a photo of next time and another final pair of mitts for sale at this week's Christmas Festival in 2 days.



This pair of mitts is from some more really old handspun.  The first time Tari and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival was in 2003 and I bought a lovely jacob fleece there.  Jacob Sheep   (click for photo) are interesting as they are 2 colored, being white with big spots of black or varying shades of brown.  They can also have up to 6 horns!  This was a lovely fleece, soft and crimpy, and I blended it with alpaca and spun it.  I have a pair of socks from this blend as does Sam.  I came across a nice ball of leftover yarn and the mitts are very nice.  That makes 5 pairs I have ready for sale at the festival.

A really cool thing:  Sam and I have had salad and also pizza with arugula from greens that are under our little hoop cold frame!  It has been so nice to go out and cut fresh lettuce in late November.  We may finish it up tonight because while it is not freezing, it is not really growing much anymore.  But to have fresh lettuce from the garden in December in Ohio is a treat!  A salad should go nicely with marinated seared venison loin.  



 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Home from Yosemite

We have been home from our trip to Yosemite to visit our son, Sam/Zac/Satchmo, who lives and works at Evergreen Lodge just outside the National Park, for almost a week.  He has lived there on and off since 2008 and this is our 4th trip there to see him.  We love it, but wish he weren't so far away.

Both Sam's and my mothers went with us on this trip.
They were tired of hearing how beautiful it is out there and wanted to see it for themselves.  We had a great time and excellent accomodations at Evergreen Lodge

Since we were there last, there is a beautiful pool and hot tub with a fantastic sunset view which we took advantage of on a snowy day. 

 











The lovely sunset view was unfortunately  enabled by the fact that so much of the landscape adjoining the lodge property was devasted by the Rim Fire in 2013.  After evacuation of the lodge personnel, including our son, 250 firefighters stayed onsite and prevented the lodge property from burning.  It is amazing to see how close the flames came and how untouched the lodge property is.  It gives me great respect for the men and women who fought that fire, which is the 3rd largest in California history.

We arrived home to absolutely fabulous weather for mid-November.  Sunshine and temperatures in the 60's and even 70's.  And it looks like it will continue to be nice for a while at least.


The beavers have been busy getting ready for winter, with a new layer of mud on their lodge.

 And with the leaves off the trees and the undergrowth  frost-killed one can get a better look at their pond from the road.  In this photo 
<<<  you can see the old bridge in the center and their lodge is on the right side of that old collapsed bridge.  You can see the railing in the photo above.  Maybe now I will be able to get a glimpse of the beavers again.  

 



Everyone is enjoying the sunshine



And the dogs were quite happy to swim in the pond on Monday.  

Sam shot a big 8 point buck with his crossbow Monday evening, and spent all day yesterday butchering it.  He got 100 pounds of meat off this deer and we will share some of that with his parents.  Tomorrow I will be canning some.   Sam is also going to tan the hide using the brain of the deer, which he has never done.   I apologize for no photo, but it was late when Sam got in with the deer Monday and he got right to skinning it since the weather is too warm to delay.

Upcoming, Grover and I have an agility trial this weekend in Zanesville.  It is a 3 day trial, so we have 3 attempts to finish our Open Jumpers title.  We need only 1 Q run to move up to Excellent in Jumpers.   Another Q in Excellent standard would be nice as well.  But I really want us to get that last Jumpers Q.

 


I took a couple small projects with me on our trip, a pair of socks for Sam, of which I finished one.  I think I got most of it done on the plane.  Socks are great plane knitting.

The other project was another pair of mitts for sale at the Christmas Festival.  I have been delving into my yarn stash and using up small amounts of leftover yarn for these mitts.  This particular yarn is some of my very first handspun.  The grey is from an alpaca named Jillian, who we acquired in 2000, and the blue is some merino wool top I think I bought on ebay.  I plied the 2 together and I am sure I knitted something from this years ago, but I have no idea what.  I like the way the mitts came out and this used up most of the remainder of that handspun yarn in a lovely way.

In case I do not get a chance to post next week, Happy Thanksgiving!!




 

Monday, November 2, 2015

We Turn the Clocks Back, It Gets Dark Too Early!

But you just never know what will show up on the farm.....Over the years, we have had random animals just show up:  a horse (my son thought it was one of ours, but it was a stray), cattle, 5 pigs, and a donkey among others.  And now, a giraffe!  My father-in-law heard I loved the giraffe mailbox I pass occasionally and he made this for me.  Kinda awesome.

Yes, we turned the clocks back this past weekend and it is now dark by 6 pm.  That makes me sad, but in reality, it gives me that more time to spin and knit and weave after dinner.  I have to fill those hours between sunset and bedtime.  Might as well be productive.  I do have a 9' runner on my loom at the office.  It is for mom and not a secret:





 





And I wove some colorful towels for my bathroom.  Maybe too colorful.  Once I took them off the loom, I started weaving the remaining warp in one color and like it better, the pattern is much more obvious.  It's just a sampler as I don't have enough warp left for a full size towel.      
 I am still spinning for my big project, but yesterday I spun up a sample of the gorgeous alpaca/shetland wool roving I had processed.  It spins wonderfully and I hope to ply the sample tonight in a 3 ply and wash it and see how it looks.  I would really like to spin this for sweaters for Sam and myself.



The fall weather has been gorgeous.  I think I take a photo just like this at the pond every year.  But I just love this view.  

I took advantage of the fabulous fall weather this week and did some fence work.   First, I tore down a stretch of fence between the garage and the garden.  It was either tear it down or replace 4 of the 8 posts which had broken off. We do not plan to keep animals over there anymore, so I tore it down.    Then, I used the woven wire fence I removed there to replace this stretch of fence.  This was at the very back of the alpaca pasture and all that was holding it up was weeds.  There was new fence on either side of this 40' stretch, so it was not a huge job.  I had to tear out the old cheap welded wire fencing and I took the easy way out and replaced the 2 broken posts with metal T posts.  And I came up with a makeshift fence stretcher.






The stretcher did a great job and now I don't have to worry about Buck and Star going on walk-about.  And it just looks so much better



 














While I was out there working on fences, I got a couple photos of the 2 crias from this past spring.  They are now 5 months old.  This is Trillium and her cria.  Cria looks almost as big as her mama.  This is the cria who continues to nurse from her great-grandmother, Tunita, as well as from her mother.  Everyone seems very happy with this arrangement.  I still find it amazing.





 And this is B'Nita, who is the mother of Trillium, daughter of Tunita, and her cria, who is probably a little smaller than Trillium's cria.  But then she is getting milk from only one source!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our First Q in Excellent!

Well there is a lot going on, but I think this accomplishment is one to be proud of.  Not only did we get a Q, which means we had no mistakes at all, but we were the only 20" dog who qualified at all in excellent standard at the trial last Saturday, so we got a first place ribbon as well.  Our biggest challenge lately has been our weave poles and we have been working, working on them at home.  He got them perfectly in 3 out of 6 runs over the weekend, and I know a lot of his "failures" are due to my nerves in the ring.  




<<<< Here is the course we ran.  There is a time limit that we have to meet and we lose points for every second over that time.  We were about 7 seconds under, so I think we did great! 

Here are the obstacles as numbered on the map:

1  Jump    2  panel jump    3, 4 & 5 jumps   
 
6 Teeter    7  tunnel   8  double jump  9  pause table  

10  weave poles  11 & 12  jumps  13  a-frame  14 tire junp

15 triple jump  16 chute   17  dog walk  18 & 19  jumps  and 20 tunnel.  



On the pause table, the judge counts down from 5 and then we can go on.

Grover usually is very interested in the judge at this point and I need to get him to focus on me and not leave the table to go meet the judge.





We were in the home stretch with a clean run so far as we came off the dog walk.  Only 2 jumps and a tunnel  to go!   And we have blown it on the last jump before, so I am being very careful.  We really celebrated when we finished this run clean.  Believe me.


Our next trial is right before Thanksgiving and it will mark a year of running in trials.  We did get one more leg of our open jumpers at this trial, but we still need one more to get our title and move up to excellent.  So that will be our goal in November.  

At home on the farm things have slowed down outside.  We had our first hard frost overnight Sunday, so I had brought in everything I wanted out of the garden on Thursday before the trial.  I froze peppers and cooked the last 2 pumpkins and pureed them.  And on Saturday, Sam made a frame to cover the lettuce. We keep it covered except when it is nice and sunny and warm and we have had 3 salads this past week from it.   I planted garlic and hauled loads of maple leaves from the yard down to give it a nice deep bed of mulch.







That is asparagus on either side of the garlic.


We have had some beautiful fall days over the last week, despite downright cold temperatures over trial weekend.






Friday, the dogs and I took a walk through the maple grove, or sugarbush.  This is up on a hillside and ridge above the pond and the colors were fabulous.  To the left is the road going up   and on below is the maple grove itself.   It was so beautiful and the bright sunshine made the gold leaves almost glow.  



 In only 4 months we will be gathering sap and boiling it down into syrup once again.  


Below is one of the trees we have tapped in years past and you can see the healing scars left by the taps.



As for fiber-y pursuits, I am in the process of warping my big loom for Mom's custom runner, which will be 30" wide by 9' long.  Definitely the largest rug I have made to date.  I also skirted 30 pounds of fiber to be made into more rug yarn and somehow managed to stuff it all into a good sized box.  I use a lot of packing tape when I do this.  First I vacuum all the air out of the bags the fiber is in and then close the box quickly because any little hole in the bags will allow air back in and the fiber will expand to fill 5 times the space I want it to.  Always a challenge, but it is boxed and taped and ready to go to the post office.  

I also took a couple of towels off the small loom, but I still have to hem them and then I will photograph them.  


  

And I have gotten 4   4oz bobbins spun toward my big secret project.  This is all natural colored alpaca, but it will eventually be dyed.  I need at least 3 times this much, maybe 4.  I will know better once I ply these into 2-ply yarn and see what kind of yardage I get.  But I have all winter to get it done.  

And Oh, I got a box of roving in the mail this week.  I bought a gorgeous shetland fleece at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in May and paired it with a fine brown alpaca fleece and sent it off to be processed into a ready-to-spin roving.  It is lovely and I can't wait to spin some of it.  I hope to spin this for sweaters for Sam and myself.  Don't watch for those this winter though.  Maybe by next fall!
The End