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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We Say Goodbye to 2016 and Wonder What 2017 Will Bring

Merry Christmas from Sam, Cathy, Rowdy & Grover

We just celebrated Christmas this past Sunday.  It was a nice day, made nicer by the fact that our younger son is here with us.  He arrived from California on the 19th of December and he will be here until January 5.  He didn't really intend to stay so long, but air travel at this time of year can be quite expensive, so he is saving some money by staying longer.  We don't mind at all.  This is his first trip home in 4 years and it is just great to have him here.  We had a quiet Christmas morning and then went to Sam's Mom and Dad's place for an early Christmas dinner.  Sam's brother was there as were his daughter and her husband.  It's always nice to be able to spend time with family.  Sam, Zac and I will be going to my mom's on New Year's Day for a family gathering.

I can hardly believe the year is almost over.  A lot has happened, and much of it has been good.   The highlight of the year was probably the wedding of our son Ian and his longtime fiance, Michelle, in Oregon in June.  A large number of our family were able to attend to celebrate and it was also nice to meet most of Michelle's family.   Ian finally started his 2 year program at Oregon State and I so look forward to attending a graduation in a couple of years.  

We had a good year on the farm, though part of that was selling off most of our alpacas. It has been an adjustment for me to have so few to take care of, but it has allowed me time for other pursuits.  One of which was doing a better job of tending the garden, leading to a very busy canning season in late summer and fall.    And of course Grover and I came a long way in our agility career this past year.  Watch for more of that to come.

What will 2017 bring?  Well, the first big news is that my Arizona family is moving back to Ohio.  Right now in fact.  Sister-in-law Jill has a new job in the Cincinnati area starting in January.  I am so happy they will be back here within a few hours' drive.  But they still have a long road ahead, as their house in AZ will need to sell so they can buy one here.  They will be staying with relatives for now.  

At some point my new weaving studio will be complete and I will be able to move into that and do some serious fiber and equipment organizing.  I do look forward to that.

I am sure other things will come along as the year goes by, but right now there is nothing new looming in our future.  I will hope that anything new that comes along will be a blessing.



I received a pasta making attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas (which is funny because I sent one to Michelle and Ian!) and I watched Zac make pasta with it the other night.  He has made a lot more pasta in his career as a chef than I have and I was happy to observe his technique.







In addition to the pasta maker, I knitted some Christmas stockings for Ian and Michelle.









 



I knit Steeler's socks for Mary, my mother-in-law






And a hat for my neighbor.



I am still working on Sam's sweater, and will soon be ready to start the sleeves.    I haven't been weaving because my loom at home is put away while Zac is staying with us as the loom resides in the guest room.  I'm planning to start warping my big loom for some rugs in the next couple of days. 

Meanwhile, Grover and I will be running in a trial in Zanesville on Friday and Saturday this week.  It would be nice the end the year with another Double Q (or 2!), but anything can happen.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

First Snow

We actually got our first real measurable snowfall here in SE Ohio.  Not a lot, but Rowdy sure likes it.  He loves snow.  He loves to walk in it, run in it, lay in it.  I think he has an inner husky.  But he has no tail with which to cover his nose when he curls up in the snow.  

I have managed to stay busy since my last post.  On December 3rd, I attended the annual Woodsfield Christmas Festival with my various handwovens and alpaca socks and yarn for sale.  Crafters are allowed to set up inside the courthouse, which is nice and I have done this every year since they started the festival.  My friend Tari sets up next to me and it is always a fun time to talk to people and sell a few items.  I sold a lot of socks and some yarn, but none of my handwoven items sold.  It kind of surprised me.

The dog club Christmas party was on Monday the 5th and I attended that, so I skipped agility class on Tuesday because driving to Parkersburg 2 nights in a row is more than I want to do.  In addition, I was leaving on Thursday the 8th to go to Cleveland for the Crown Classic Dog Show, where Grover and I were entered for 3 days of agility.  It was really cold and it snowed, but it was an interesting show.  It was not just agility, it was conformation and obedience as well, so there were 20 some rings of dogs of all kinds being shown.  It was huge.  And there were lots of vendors selling everything having to do with dogs.  And Grover and I did very well.  On both Friday and Saturday, we got double Qs!  Sunday, we did not Q in standard, but we did Q in our jumpers run.  We also entered FAST every day, but we are at a level now where it is difficult for us, so no Qs there.  In all, it was a good weekend, despite a little mishap in the FAST ring on Sunday morning.  I was running all out to race Grover to the finish since we had already NQ'd and somehow, he cut in front of me and tripped me and I did a faceplant and slid on the artificial turf, removing a lot of skin from the bridge of my nose.  But after icing it for a while, I went on to run both our other classes.   This photo is today, 4 days after the incident.  Still ugly, but healing.  Double Q count: 4 total.  We need to get to 20!



Meanwhile on the farm, Sam has gotten just about all of the siding on my studio and I have put in all the insulation in the walls.  Next up, moving inside and getting drywall in.

This week I am getting ready for Christmas.  Our younger son, Sam/Zac/Satchmo is arriving on Monday.  This will be the first time since 2007 that either of our kids will have been home for Christmas.  When they both worked at Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite, the lodge closed after the New Year for about 6 weeks, so they came home for a week or so then, but they have been doing other things the last few years, so that hasn't happened.  It will be so nice to have him home, especially since Rowdy will be 12 in April and he and Zac bonded when Rowdy was a puppy the summer before Zac left for college.  I know Rowdy's eyes will light up when Zac comes through the front door. And I know Zac misses him as well. 

Today it is very cold here, with the high forecast to be about 15 degrees.  So yesterday I put a coat on Chiquita, my oldest alpaca (18), who does get cold when the temps are so low.  I also put a heated water bowl and heat lamp bulb in the chicken coop.  I put out a heated bowl for the barn cats as well, but it doesn't seem to be working.  I wish I had known that yesterday as I was in a place where I could have bought a replacement.  In 2 days, we are supposed to be back into the 50's.  The cold and snow do seem to have helped Grover with  his allergies.  His scratching has lessened quite a bit this week.  Finally.  

And that's about it.  I have finished some Christmas knitting, but can't post it yet and both my looms are sitting empty.  I'll get back to it soon.  I have plans, but just need to wait for time to do things.  




 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Season and Deer Season are Upon Us.

Thanksgiving was last week and that is pretty much the beginning of the Holiday Season.  As usual, Sam and the dogs and I trekked across Ohio on Thanksgiving morning to my mom's house to share the day with her and my brother and his family.  It was a rather quiet day, compared to Thanksgivings past when there have been over 20 people at Mom's.  Next year may be noisier....

Unfortunately, I did not get to do much "Black Friday" shopping because Rowdy got very sick about 11:30 Thursday night and at 3:15 am I decided he needed to go to the emergency vet clinic just down the road.  It was after 5 am by the time I got home and I was really in no mood to go out again. I won't go into details, but Rowdy was pretty sick and was given medication and sub Q fluids and was on a bland diet for a couple of days.  I am happy to say he is fully recovered and back to his old ways and habits.  

We arrived home from Mom's in the early afternoon Saturday and then Grover and I headed out at 5:30 the next morning to Zanesville for the last day of an agility trial.  I am glad we did so well in Morgantown because we did not do well at all on Sunday.  Our next trial will be the end of next week.  We will be running Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the IX Center in Cleveland, which I understand is a huge dog show.  

Monday was the start of gun season for deer here in Ohio.  Sam got another deer,  so we are set for venison for the year.  

Yesterday was a beautiful day for the end of November, bright and sunny with highs in the mid 60's.  I took the cover off the lettuce and arugula in the garden.  It is doing quite well.  Actually, we still have uncovered arugula growing, despite a few nights of well below freezing weather. 

I also spent some time putting up insulation in my studio yesterday.  Sam bought several packages of the batts that don't need to be cut at the auction last month and I probably put up about a third of it.  Sam has most of the siding up, but not all.  I really like the way it looks so far.  


 During gun season, I generally stay out of the woods with the dogs, even on our property.  Even though Sam is no longer hunting, we allow the neighbors to hunt on our place and it is just best to stay out of the woods.  So yesterday, I walked down the road to the beaver pond with the dogs in the mid-afternoon.  The beavers have been very busy preparing for winter and I was surprised at how much they have done.




They have really built up their lodge and have been working close to the road.



Rowdy is standing by the road and I am down along the water and there are cut trees everywhere and clearly defined pathways.

In the photo at the top of this post, Grover is standing on the far side of the lodge from where these 2 photos were taken, and you can see where the beavers have stockpiled cut branches in the water close to their home for easy winter access.  I would love to get another glimpse of these busy creatures, but they seem to do all their work in the dark.  I guess I don't blame them.  

 



I have also been busy.  I have been finishing up items to take to the Christmas Festival in Woodsfield which is this coming Saturday.    I finished 4 woven runners and 3 baby blankets and also made a pillow.








 

 
I am still working on fringe on scarves, but those are almost done.  And of course I have rugs and socks and yarn and maple syrup and a few alpaca bears to sell as well.  It will be a fun day sitting in the courthouse chatting with people and visiting with my good friend Tari.   I always look forward to it.





 



I knit myself a new hat and Sam's sweater is coming along well.  I am almost done with the back.

 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

First Frost, Frosty Agility Trial


I don't recall a year where the first frost has come so late.  We had a very light frost in late October, but it was only down in the low areas, like where we live.  The first real frosts have come only in the last week or so.  I'm not really complaining, but Grover suffers from seasonal allergies to something in the environment that begins in late summer and ends only with the frosts.  He scratches out much of his coat during that time.  This year, allergy medication helped a lot, but he is now off it and still scratching, though it is lessening in severity.

My husband, Sam, is a hunter.  He loves to bow hunt and spend time in a tree stand watching the deer.  He has seen young bucks sparring and he has watched a bobcat chase a rabbit across the snow.  I am sometimes envious of what he sees from those tree stands, but then I think of all the hours he spends sitting up there and how seldom he sees anything but squirrels and chipmunks.  Sam gets a couple of deer every year and that is a lot of what we eat all year.  However, like most hunters, he has been dreaming of getting that big buck someday, and on Nov 4th, he finally got it.  He generally hunts in the evening and he will disappear a couple hours before dusk and reappear 1/2 an hour or so after dark, just in time for dinner.  He usually "unloads" his crossbow into a target by the driveway and then comes inside.  This time, he pulled up to the back door instead and I knew he had shot something.  And the way he was acting, I knew it was something big.  He said it was too big for us to lift into the back of the buggy, so he drove the tractor to the very back of the farm and I followed in the buggy to help.  It is a very big deer.  I think the outside antler spread (widest part of the antlers) is over 23".  He is having it mounted, but all that meat (90 pounds processed) was in our freezer by Sunday evening.  I have never wanted to hunt and I don't approve of hunting just to kill something, but harvesting a deer to put meat on the table is different.  Sam enjoys spending the time he spends outdoors and it puts meat on the table.  Meat we do not buy at the supermarket.

can you spot Grover in this photo?
Earlier that same day, Grover had a vet appointment in town and afterwards I decided to drive over to a local county park called Piatt Park and take our daily walk.  This park is kind of a little gem in our county and there are almost never very many people there.  There is a hiking trail, about 3/4 of a mile long, that goes along the rim of a gorge to some sandstone caves.  What I like to do is go in dry weather, hike the trail to the caves and then go down to the creek in the bottom of the ravine and "scramble" back up the creek.  It is full of huge boulders and overhanging rock formations.  It is not a long hike, but I do not recommend it for everyone as both the trail and the creek scramble are uneven and rocky and there are very steep stairs from the caves down to the creek.  Grover had a wonderful time.

I took a few photos with my phone because I did not have my camera with me. 




Grover and I attended a trial In Morgantown, WV this past weekend, which is a little over 2 hours away.  I have not been to this trial location before, but many of my club-mates have and I was warned that there is really no heat in the venue.  It is like being in a huge tent.  If the sun shines, it warms it a little.  Very little.  And of course, the overnight temps dropped into the upper twenties.  Let's just say it was extremely cold in there.  It was a 3 day trial and we were there all 3 days.  I think we had a fabulous weekend.  We Q'd all 3 days in standard and on Sunday we also Q'd in jumpers, which means we added a second Double Q to our record.  We also got 29 MACH points, which gives us a total of 81.  I was extremely pleased with our runs.  Our next trial is less than 2 weeks away, but we will be attending only one day, the Sunday after Thanksgiving (which is next week!).  


 The studio is coming along.  This is not the most updated photo.  This side is entirely sided now and 2 of the other sides are partially sided.  Today Sam is at his dad's because his dad said he had some logs long enough to cut 12' boards from which we need for the front and back  where the peak of the roof is.  He will mill the boards on his dad's sawmill and bring them home.  He will also be bringing home some insulation he bought at the auction last week and I can start putting up insulation in the interior walls.

Life is going to be very busy the next few weeks.  Next week is Thanksgiving and we will make the trip to my mom's as we do every year.  Then Sunday Grover and I have the agility trial and on Monday gun season for deer starts in Ohio.  This means Sam will be hanging out with the guys playing cards every night for a week.  Then December comes in with the Woodsfield Christmas Festival (for which I have been weaving things), the dog club Christmas party, and on and on.  And one of these days it might snow.  Actually, I believe that is in the forecast for this weekend.  I'm glad I have no plans.

early morning frosty fencepost

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Still Enjoying Warmer Than Usual Temperatures


There's nothing like a warm sunny day in late October to warm an old dog's bones.  And Rowdy knows it.  Our deck, which is so nicely shaded by 2 huge maple trees all summer long is now a nice place to enjoy a warm fall afternoon.  After the removal of 6 inches of maple leaves, anyway.

A lot has happened since my last post.  Grover and I headed off to an agility trial and we had quite a weekend.  After a long spell of almost no qualifying runs, we started off Friday with a Q in all 3 runs!  We Q'd in Open FAST (which gave us our title in that, so now we are in Excellent FAST), then got our very first Q in Masters Standard, followed by our second Q in Masters Jumpers.  I was so excited because this gave us a Triple Q for the day and our very first Double Q toward our MACH title.  Now I need 19 more.  Oh, and 750 MACH points.  We earn 1 MACH point for each second we run under the SCT, or Standard Course Time.  We earned 18 points for our Standard run and 9 for our Jumpers run.  Here we are getting ready to leave the ring realizing we have earned our first Double Q.  What a great feeling.  We finished out the weekend with 2 more Q's in Jumpers (so we were 100% for Q's in Jumpers) and earned a total of 44 MACH points.  Our Standard runs were good, and Grover got his weave poles and hit his contacts every time.  It was other errors that caused us to no Q.  So I considered it a very successful weekend.   We will be trialing in Morgantown WV in a little over a week.

We got a light frost on the farm while I was away at trial (and then at Mom's for a couple of days).  Not a hard freeze, but enough to pretty much do in the tomatoes and peppers.  Then the temperatures soared back up into the upper 70's during the day and we have had some truly lovely fall weather.  I spent some time this past weekend cleaning out the tomato and pepper plants and now all that is left is one big parsley plant.  In the other garden, the arugula is still doing well and the swiss chard seems to be hanging in there as well.  We have lettuce and arugula in the cold frame, but it has not needed to be covered lately.


 Most of the leaves are off the trees, but there is still a bit of color left.  I took some photos up by the pond on Monday, which was Halloween.  This is the pavilion and the sugar shack.  Before we know it it will be syrup season again.  We still have plenty of firewood.




The outhouse is on the far side of the pond from the pavilion.  




This is actually on the path on the way up to the pond.  In the summer, this whole path would be in deep shade.  I love the fall light and the brightness it brings, especially when the sky is a deep blue.  And there is no way you could sneak up on anyone in the woods this time of year.  Walking through the dry rustling leaves is quite loud.  




I found these mushrooms growing on the road coming down from the pond.  They must be Halloween mushrooms.  They are kind of creepy looking.

Sam is working on cutting all the boards for siding my studio.  While I was away he got skirting all around it so that it should stay warmer.  I may put insulation underneath as well.  Sam has kind of talked me into waiting to see how warm it stays without my doing that.

Meanwhile, I have projects going on both looms.  I have 2 baby blankets on the big loom here at the office.


Both have peach cotton as the warp and the first one uses a natural cotton for the weft and for the second one I am using some thick and thin natural colored yarn that I think is cotton.  It has no label on it and I acquired it in the same estate purchase as the peach yarn and the yarn that I did the blue baby blankets from this past summer.  There is a pattern in both blankets, but I don't know how well it will show with the nubby yarn.  I will find out once I get them off the loom and hem and wash them.

On my smaller 8 shaft loom at home I am doing some holiday table runners.  This was a hard pattern to get my head around when I started the weaving and I had to cut off the beginning and start over.  But once I made a cheat sheet for the treadling pattern it did not take long for me to "get it".  I will get 2  4 foot runners from this warp and I hope to do a couple more in red when these are done.  I'll tell you, though, it was too nice outside this past weekend to be inside weaving.  On the other hand, if my studio was finished it would have been really nice to open the door and windows and spend the day in there!



I finished my Socktober Socks (I am wearing them today) and now I need to start a sweater for Sam from the alpaca/shetland handspun yarn I have been spinning for a while.  Which reminds me, I have also started spinning some chiengora, otherwise known as dog hair.  I have been saving some of Rowdy's undercoat for some time and 2 weeks ago I washed it and carded some up and got it on the wheel.  I need to finish it.  I started some secret gift knitting as well.  Something I hope to give for holiday use this year.  Time may get the better of me, however.  It has a way of doing that.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It's Been HOT This Week

We've had temperatures near and exceeding 80 degrees.  Pretty amazing for this time of year.  Sam and I have been able to eat dinner on the deck, as long as it isn't dark yet.  We had a very light frost last week, but not enough to kill anything.  As a matter of fact, I have still been harvesting tomatoes and basil and peppers from the garden.



Tuesday I picked all the banana peppers there were and pickled them for Sam.   The peppers did not do well in the heat we had in August, so they have come on rather late.  There are now a lot of green peppers, but I don't think they will ripen to the red peppers which I prefer.

I cleaned out the corn stalks and gathered up all the butternut squash into one place to let them harden off.  I still have some arugula growing and swiss chard. 



 

 I wish we liked the swiss chard more.  It seems to have a long growing season.  But while we can eat it, we're not crazy about it.  I probably won't plant it next year.  










I have a new crop of arugula, lettuce mix and romaine coming up in the cold frame.  We have only covered it one night so far.  


Despite the warm temperatures, it is time to think about the coming cold weather.  So Saturday morning Sam and I cleaned the wood stove and the chimney in preparation.  This is a pretty involved process as the stove insert needs to be pulled out from the fireplace  to clean out the chimney pipe.  


It is big and heavy and awkward and it is difficult to get the pipe put back together when we are done.  But it had been put off long enough.  It's nice to know that now when it gets cold we can go ahead and light the woodburner.



This week my studio got steps up onto the deck.  Sam closed off the back, so this is now the only entry to the building.



Sam has also been pulling logs out of the woods to cut for the siding.  On our walks lately he has been sizing up trees that are already down in the woods for their potential as siding boards.  He thinks he may still have to cut a tree or two, but has has pulled a lot of logs over to the sawmill.



 I have not done any knitting I can post on here as it has all been gift knitting.  Both my looms are about ready to weave on, but I really don't have any progress to show.  It has been so nice outside that I have not wanted to be inside when I've been at home, which leaves little time for weaving.  But the weather will be changing soon, as will the clocks and it will be getting dark much earlier.  



Grover and I are off to an agility trial tomorrow in Zanesville.  It will be our first one since August and I hope we do well.  We are about due for some clean runs.  I know we can do it.  


We have found several of these large puffballs in the woods lately.  They are so odd looking.


And the colors are at about their peak right now.  I know by next week all the leaves will be gone and everything will be shades of grey and brown again.  So I will enjoy it while I may.
 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October is Here

I carried my camera with me a few times over the past couple of weeks, but I don't seem to have gotten many good shots.  October has really had some ups and downs weather-wise so far, with the last 2 mornings being in the 30's.  Yesterday there was even a film of ice on the car windshield.  But the days have been lovely with bright blue skies and highs near 70.  Except for Saturday.  There was a huge hurricane coming up the east coast on Saturday and it was very overcast here all day until evening when the edge of it started to slowly pass over on its way east.  There was a very definite line between the far edge of this vast storm system and the clear skies from the west.  The clear skies brought the first cold overnight temperatures on Saturday into Sunday, but more pleasant weather.

Our garden is still producing tomatoes. There were even new blossoms on the vines yesterday.  But there are a lot of green tomatoes that just won't ripen.  This past weekend I used fresh tomatoes, fresh peppers, basil, arugula and  parsley.  I have over 2 dozen nice butternut squash which will get us pretty much through the winter and I just planted more arugula, romaine and mesclun lettuce mix which we will be putting the cold frame over, hoping to enjoy fresh greens through the end of the year like last year.

My studio now has electricity to it, as well as gas and a door and windows.  Next will be the steps up to the deck so Sam can close in the back of the building.  Right now there is a 4' X 8' opening that was left to make access easier before the deck was added. The door and all the windows came from the auction at Rogers, Ohio that Sam and his dad go to every month, so they don't all match, but that's ok.  There is a window on each of the 2 sides that are not visible in this photo, so there should be plenty of light.



 I took this photo from inside looking out towards the house.  I think the deck will be a nice place to sit and spin or knit.  It will have a railing on it eventually, but the steps and siding take precedence at this point.  Sam will be milling wood for the siding from trees on the property.  Most are trees that are already down and just need to be hauled to the mill.  There will be a variety of woods.  I will be using a stain, but I have not yet decided what color I will use.  I think I have time to think about it.  It will not likely get done until the weather warms up in the spring.

Wetland area created by the beavers


Saturday afternoon Grover accompanied me as I finished clearing my walking trail on Wayne National Forest.  I have come to the realization that Grover and I need to get out on more strenuous walks than Rowdy can keep up with.  We need to do it a few times a week, which means leaving Rowdy at home and just doing it.  It is almost physically painful mentally for me to leave Rowdy behind.   All his life our days have usually included a nice long walk in the woods in all seasons.    Rowdy is 11 1/2 now and I know the hills are just not good for his joints.  There are 1 to 2 mile hikes we can go on that are easier on an old dog.  However Grover and I both benefit from more challenging hikes.  So on Friday morning Grover and I got in the car and went to Lamping Homestead and did the 4+ mile hike over there that I love.  It was very enjoyable, even without my other best friend along.  



I have been doing some spinning, still working on the alpaca/shetland blend that I plan to knit sweaters from for both Sam and myself.  I plan to start his no later than November 1st.  The only knitting I am doing currently is gift knitting, so it will just have to remain a mystery for a while.  And both my looms are waiting to be dressed with warps which are already measured out.  This loom will have baby blankets on it using a peach warp and white weft.  No special baby in mind, I'm just trying to use some of the cones of yarn I have on hand.  I had to purchase additional heddles for this project as it has over 700 "warp ends", which are the threads that go from front to back on the loom.  Each end needs to go through a heddle and I was 20 short.  But as of today, they are installed and I am ready to start putting the warp on the loom today.  I have warp ready at home for the other loom for some Christmas table runners.  This is a green warp and there will be a pattern in natural of trees and snowflakes. I am only waiting for time to start putting this warp on the loom.  I probably won't get to start it until Thursday this week.  I have nothing on the schedule for the weekend, so I may get in some weaving time.