Wednesday, February 17, 2016

All Kinds of Weather and A Fabulous February Trial

I meant to post last week, but time got away from me.  Our weather has been typically crazy, so maybe it is just normal.  Who knows?  Rowdy has been happy with the snow.  In fact, last Thursday night it was 2 degrees F at 9 pm and I could not get him to come inside.  He laid on the dog bed on the front porch for an hour and a half and stared me down every time I tried to get him to come in.  He loves the cold.
But only a few days prior to that night, we had a wonderful warm weekend with bright sunny skies.  It was so warm that I heard a lot of buzzing coming from under the big maple in the back yard and found honey bees raiding the bird feeders in search of protein.  This photo is at the base of the tree where a lot of the seed gets dropped, but the bees were actually in the feeders as well. 

The three female alpacas took advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures to get out in the pasture in search of something green to eat. I'm not sure how successful they were.

And 2 days later, it was back to snowy, frigid February.  

 This past weekend, Grover and I attended the dog trial put on by our dog club in Zanesville.  Our last trial was in December, so it was fun to be running again.  Going into the trial, Grover had 2 of 3 legs of his Excellent title in Jumpers with Weaves and 1 of 3 legs of his Excellent title in Standard.    We had a really great day on Saturday, getting qualifying scores in all 3 of our runs!  In addition to Jumpers and Standard, we ran in a class called FAST at the Novice level.  This was only the second time we have run in this class, so we have to start at Novice and work our way up like with the other 2 classes.  One of the reasons I entered this class is because it is the first class on Saturday morning and Grover is usually pretty wound up in the first class he runs, so this kind of gave him an outlet to burn off some of that craziness, which he did, getting a Q and second place.  He then went on to Q in Excellent Standard, with a third place and then a Q in Excellent Jumpers with a first place.  So he earned his Excellent Jumpers title, which moved us up to Masters level for Sunday.  I was so thrilled with our day.  There was no way I was expecting Sunday to be as good.  And we started out with Standard and a couple mistakes that caused us a no Q there, but our Jumpers run was wonderful.  Out of 16 dogs that Q'd, we were number 11 and we ran it in 9 seconds under the official time.  So we got 9 points toward our eventual goal of a MACH.  But we need a LOT more!  Here is our run in Jumpers on Sunday:  

Masters Jumpers Run 2-14-16
After the trial, Grover and I went over and spent a couple days with my mom before we headed home yesterday.  So things have been rather busy.  I think Sam is planning to tap maple trees today, so I may have more on that next time.


I warped up my small loom for a couple of scarves this past week, but haven't taken photos yet.  And I continue to work on the long sweater.  I am onto the second sleeve and still have hopes of finishing while it is cold enough to wear it.  I think I'll make it.  I will possibly finish it while I am feeding wood into the fire under the sap evaporator in the next couple of weeks.  It is so nice having the evaporator enclosed in the sugar shack.  It stays toasty warm in there.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

January is Behind Us.

I am finally able to access my photos I took with my phone in Oregon last month.  So here I am with my 2 sons, Ian and Sam/Zac/Satchmo in front of one of the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park, which is where Ian and Michelle will get married in just 4 months.  

And here are the bride and groom to be.  The park is gorgeous and I hope I get to do the whole 10 falls hike, which is about 7 miles, when I return for the wedding.  I will be sure to take my camera and not depend on my phone as the resolution is not so great.  But I think the photos are nice anyway.


Ian took this photo the next day from a park on top of a mountain in Portland.  That is Mt Hood in the background.  It was a lovely day. 

All our snow melted this past week.  It was unseasonably warm for several days and on Sunday the sun was shining and it was 60 degrees.  Wow.  The dogs and I went up to the pond and I spent a couple hours with the chainsaw and the brushcutter clearing out the briars and undergrowth on one side of the pavilion.  We have one side done and it is parklike with just the big trees and no brush and Sam can get in with the tractor and mow it.  It is our goal to do this all around the pond.  Here is what it looks like prior to clearing it out.

And afterwards

Sam will go in here with the tractor and push those larger downed logs down to the burn pile next to the pond, which looked like this after my work on Sunday.  I added to it on Tuesday, but did not take a new photo.  It is easily twice that size now.

Most likely this pile will get burned while we are cooking down maple sap.  Still wondering how the weather will affect that....

I finished the dyeing for my big weaving project this week.  I still need to spin a skein of black alpaca because what I tried to dye just did not work out.  In hindsight, it was silly to try to dye black when I have some lovely black fleeces in the summer kitchen just waiting to be processed.....I think I will be skirting fiber this weekend to send to the mill for processing.  But I have already washed what I need to spin for this project and will start carding it this weekend.  I only need about 4 oz.  

I had a tiny bit of dye left in the pot when I decided my skeins were dark enough, so I took an extra skein and dyed it to exhaust the dye and I got this:

It came out gorgeous and I can hardly wait to knit a small project with it.  When I say exhaust the dye, what I mean is use up every bit of color in the pot.  The dye molecules "strike" the fiber, kind of like iron filings jumping onto a magnet (we all did that in science class, right?).  The heat and the acid in the dyebath are what make the color stick permanently to the fiber.  So if you exhaust your dyebath, there will be no color left in your pot, just clear water when you remove the fiber.  In this case, I did not let all the color in the pot grab onto my original skeins of yarn because I did not want them any darker, so I pulled them out while there was still just a little color in the pot.  Then I hung this skein over a big spoon handle and let just the ends down into the pot for a few minutes before dropping it in all the way,  So I have kind of a gradient skein.  Dyeing is fun.  I like to experiment sometimes like this.  The best part is if I do not like what I get, I can overdye the yarn with another color and get something completely different and possibly awesome.  Too bad we can't fix all our mistakes so easily! 

Last but not least, I finished the binding on the grey rug.  It is a couple inches longer than the white one, which I dropped off at the Arts Center last week.  I will probably take this one in there as well.  The Monroe Artists have their big annual show in April and if I have some rugs for sale during the show I may sell another one or two.  I think I sold 9 rugs through the Arts Center last year, which is pretty good.  It pays for more yarn to be processed which means my fiber shed will not be as full!