Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer on the Farm (Almost)

If one wants to be technical, summer does not arrive until the solstice, 2 days hence.  But in my mind, it is already summer.  However, we have had an incredible amount of rain.  May was actually quite dry, but June has changed that.  I know on Thursday (yesterday) there was 4" in my rain gauge and I am pretty sure I emptied that a week or so ago.  I think we got 2" on Wednesday alone.  So as you can see, there is plenty of water in the creek where Rowdy usually stops to cool off on our walks.  This spot was not much more than a trickle in May and now Rowdy can cool both sides at once.
I managed to get out last Thursday and mow all the pastures and finish up the weed-abatement between the alpaca field and the creek.  I usually do that over 3 days.  It takes about 3 tanks of gasoline in the brush-cutter and each tank is about 45 minutes of work, so I spread it out.  And it looks so nice once it is finished.  You can see water in the creek down in the right hand corner.  That was bone dry last Thursday.  I was walking in it.

The crias are doing well.  No photos of them this week.  They were kind of muddy.  If we get good weather this week (not in the forecast), I'll go see if I can get some action shots of them.

Grover and I attended our first trial in about 7 weeks this past weekend.  It was in Sharonville Ohio, very close to where I lived during my high school years.  We did well, Q-ing in both Open Standard and Novice Jumpers on Saturday.  That moved us up to Open Jumpers on Sunday and we failed to Q at all on Sunday.  Just  for fun, here is the map of our Open Standard course on Saturday (that we did Q on).  I have drawn in arrows to show more clearly the path we had to run.  We get the map shortly before we get to "walk" the course, which we do for 8 minutes.  Each time we go into the ring, the course is different.  We do not get to practice it with our dogs.  They see the course for the first time when we enter the ring at our turn to run.  Several of my high school friends and my mother showed up to cheer Grover and me on.  It was a lot of fun.   Our next trial is in Pennsylvania over the 4th of July weekend.  It will be our first 3 day trial.

I'm a little concerned about my bees right now.  The hive on the right, which is the stronger of the 2, is exhibiting this "bearding" behavior, and I don't know if it is due to the wet humid weather or if they are planning to swarm.  I made sure they had another box to move into and I still need to get another box on the other hive.  I am sure the excessive rainfall is inhibiting normal bee life.  However, the butterfly weed is starting  to bloom and the bees seem to like it pretty well.  We also have a lot of white clover which seems to love the rain and it is full of bees every day.

Yesterday I picked up 8 new pullets, which are young hens.  They should start to lay eggs in the next 3 weeks or so.  No photos of them yet as I just put them in the coop at 6 pm last night and they had not emerged into their enclosure when I left today.  In the past I have found that these young hens who come from huge production farms have usually not been on grass before, so it takes a little while.  I will keep them confined to the chicken yard for about a week before I allow them to free range.  This way they will know where "home" is and return there to roost every night.  I always get more hens than I want to have because it seems there is always some loss at the beginning.

I have finally started the actual weaving on my alpaca blanket.  There have been some challenges along the way,  but I have managed to overcome them for the most part and have gotten 4 inches or so woven.  This is "doubleweave" which means that there is a fold, which is on the right hand side where the stripes are, and the finished blanket will be twice as wide as what you see here, which is about 29".  One challenge I have is that the alpaca yarn is very fuzzy and it has a tendency to stick to itself, which can be disastrous.  So, when I step on a treadle to open a "shed", I need to make sure the yarn hasn't stuck to itself:

If it does, it creates a bad shed, which means there is not enough of an opening to put the shuttle (which holds the yarn I am weaving with) through cleanly.  You can see what I mean on the left

I cannot see the shed from where I sit, so if you look carefully you can see on the far end of the loom a mirror propped on a chair.  I can look in the mirror everytime I step on a treadle to see if my shed is clean.  If it is not, there are things I can do to make it better before I throw my shuttle. 

A clean shed looks like this  >>>>>>

I am also using a product that is meant to help untangle children's hair prior to combing to help keep the yarn from sticking to itself.  After all, my yarn is basically hair, right?  This product comes in a spray bottle and I just occasionally spritz the yarn with it.  It seems to be helping, so I'm goin' with it.  I'm just so glad to finally be weaving this blanket!  It has been so long in the works.  And check out the cool weaving bench Sam made for me on a rainy day (see rain can be  a good thing).  I need to sand and finish it, but wanted to "test drive" it first.

 Here's a shot of the progress on the beaded shawl I posted about a few weeks back.  I am into the lace patterning and the second ball of yarn.  I am almost at the point where I have to decide if I need to do another repeat of the lace pattern or just move on.  I want to use as much of the yarn as I can, but on the other hand, if I make the shawl larger, do I run the risk of running out of yarn before I am finished?

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