Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Still in Winter's Grip

I don't think the dogs know what to make of this snow dog in the front yard.

Yes, we have had more snow and more below zero temps and more frozen pipes.  I checked my Syrup Journal from last year and we tapped trees on Feb. 19th. By this time a year ago, we were experiencing 45 to 50 degree highs. Not every day, but on several days.   I don't think we have been above freezing for more than a day or 2 in the past 2 weeks, so tapping trees has not even been considered.  Sam did all that work on our new sugar shack and has yet to put it into use.  Maybe this coming week we will be able to tap some trees and collect some sap. 

The good news is that I was able to try out my snowshoes!  However, I found it was easier to walk up to the pond in the tracks left by Sam's trip up and back with the buggy than to use the snowshoes.  The snow was wet and heavy and every step picked up snow on the snowshoe that was then flung off as I walked.  Good exercise,  I am sure.  But so is walking uphill in snowy buggy tracks.

I missed posting a couple of weeks this month.  That was due to the fact that I flew out to Arizona to visit my brother's family.  My mom and her sister (photo on left)

had a house rented for the month and my cousin and I made arrangements to both be there at the same time with our moms.  We had a great time.  We went out to eat, we went to a farmer's market, we went out to eat again, we went hiking, I went horseback riding, Tracey and I spent some time lounging at the pool, we spent time at my brother and sister-in-law's house, we went to my niece's soccer game and nephews' football games.  And I think we went out to eat......

The weather was quite nice, fabulous in fact.  Sunny and warm enough to sit by the pool during the day, though the pool wasn't heated so it was rather cool for swimming.  The nights were cool enough for a light jacket, or in my case a handknit shawl when we went out (to eat).  I really really enjoyed the time I spent with everyone, since I usually see them all at Thanksgiving and that did not happen this year.  

 Here are a couple of photos I took on a sunrise hike at Santan Mountains Regional Park, just a few miles from my brother's house.  This is also where I went horseback riding and is a fabulous park.  

So then I came back to 10 degrees with a wind chill below zero and a snow covered car at the Columbus airport.  I still say there really is no place like home.

Grover and I went to agility class last night.  Of course there has been no working on our outdoor stuff at home, but I have been working with trying to get him to stop jumping on me, which has become a problem in the ring, and it seems to be working.  Time will tell.  He was better last night at class.  One of the other women and her husband made me a set of weave pole bases and poles and brought them last night, so we now have weave poles that can be moved without a tape measure and 2# sledge hammer and spray paint!   Now if only the snow will melt so we can use them.  Grover and I also attended a trial since my last post.  We ran in both novice jumpers with weaves and novice standard both days of the trial and we Q'd in novice standard on Saturday.  Since my goal was to get at least one Q, I was happy.  We only need one more Q in novice standard to move up to Open, but we still have not Q'd in jumpers.  We have a trial March 7 & 8, so maybe we will get a jumper's Q that weekend.

I finished a lot of knitting projects, or at least everything I had on my needles, since last I posted.  I finished my cabled sweater (I need a better photo), 

a hat I made for brother Mike, who was actually in Phoenix when I got there, but who returned to Ohio the next day and

 a pair of socks I started Thanksgiving weekend with yarn I purchased when Mom and I were visiting my aunt and cousin last June in Michigan.  These socks were my travel project:

And of course I have cast on a new sweater project and a scarf/shawl and something that will be a surprise for someone who may read this.  So for now that's all I'll say.

I'll leave off now with a photo of some very snowy 'pacas enjoying their hay.  In case you think it is cruel to feed them outside, there is also a hay feeder under cover at which they could be eating.  They do not seem to mind the snow and often sleep outside in it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's Still Winter, But Spring is Not That Far Off!

That's what I tell myself, anyway.  I always feel putting January behind us is a big deal.  I find the last week of January and the first week of February are usually the coldest weeks of the winter and if we are going to have frozen pipes and other issues, this is usually when that happens.  It is plenty cold right now, but we got the negative F temps much earlier.  Instead, we have had snow, then rain, then freezing again, which makes for difficult navigation around our place.  We get ice built up in places that just do not thaw because the sun does not hit them.  Like right in front of the alpaca barn.
 This is the north side of the barn and the ice sheet is about 20' wide here.  I had to take hay over there yesterday and I discovered that the Buggy does not steer well or stop well on ice.  Big surprise!  Can you see Grover in the driver's seat?   His favorite place to be.

This is the road between our house and the guest house.  This was yesterday morning and we got a good bit of sun in the afternoon and it thawed out for the most part, but there is still a bit of ice to watch for.

Sam has made good progress on the sugar shack.  Notice the large covered vent on the roof.  Since producing maple syrup requires boiling down about 40 gallons of sap to end up with 1 gallon of finished syrup, that means an awful lot of water is going up into the air in the form of steam.  You really want that to continue on up and out of your building.  This is another reason one does not boil sap in one's kitchenWe still have a lot of nice dry pine left from last year that we will be feeding into the evaporator for hours on end.  I enjoy the process.  We will also be using this time to clean out more of the underbrush around the pond.  We get a little more done every year.

Upcoming:  Grover and I have our third agility trial this weekend!  I feel we have come a long way, even though our practice time has been limited to class time due to weather since  December.  So maybe we will have a qualifying run.  We will have 4 shots at it and I think we ought to be able to do it.  

Also, a week from today I am flying off to Phoenix to see my brother and his family, so unless I get enough material to post on Tuesday, I won't post until I get back.  I hope to  spend some quality family time and get in some good warm weather outdoor activity as well.  My camera will definitely be packed along.

While I am still working on the frogged and re-knit cabled cardigan sweater, I did finish the handspun gradient cowl I posted about last week.  I'm really happy with how it turned out and I think Sam even did a great job of taking some photographs!  You can see more about the project here :  Cathy's willow cowl


I also finished the bindings on the 2 rugs I took off the loom last week.  I am so happy with these!  They really turned out well.  I am just going to tie new warp onto what is left on the loom from these and use the same pattern to do a couple more.  The warp on these was black and white and I will change it to brown and white for the next rugs.

As usual, Grover is waiting to go for a ride.  What he is really waiting for is spring when we will fold down the windshield and he can once again ride with his paws on the dashboard and his ears streaming back in the wind.


This (now) empty bird nest is up in the barn rafters.  These clever birds "feathered" their nest with alpaca fiber and chicken feathers!