Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Trip Out West and Suddenly It Is August

Rowdy is doing all right.  He doesn't move around a lot anymore, but yesterday he walked down the road to go see the sheep that are being pastured in our unused alpaca fields.  He is now on 100% homemade food and that has helped with his water consumption, as in he is no longer drinking huge amounts of water.  His food now has the moisture in it required to digest it.  Food for thought on feeding dry dog food....

So yeah, I took a quick trip out west to Oregon to visit my older son, Ian, who is going into his final year in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University(Go Beavers!).  My Mom went out with me and we had a really lovely trip.  We stayed in a very nice little 2 bedroom AirBNB apartment right next to campus.   Corvallis is a lovely town and is surrounded by beautiful farm and forestland. Ian gave us a guided tour of the OSU Campus and the downtown area and we also visited the restaurant where Michelle works which was very nice.  We hiked in OSU's research forest, which like most places we went in Oregon, is very dog friendly.  I don't often see off-leash walking being allowed.  But when you consider there are bears and cougars in these forests, you may want to think twice about how good your dog's vocal recall really is.

We also visited Mary's Peak, the highest point in the coastal range at just over 4000 ft, which was about 1/2 an hour from Corvallis.  It was hard to get a photo that did the view justice.  And that is Mt. Hood in the center, over 100 miles away.

There was record breaking heat in Oregon while we were there.  Triple digit temps were forecast for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so Tuesday Ian and Michelle took Mom and I to the coast where it was in the 70's with a stiff breeze.

We saw some lighthouses, including this one at Yaquina Head near Newport, where we had lunch outside on a deck overlooking the bay. We enjoyed dinner in a town farther south on the coast called Yachats after visiting Seal Rock Beach and a state park with a spectacular view.  We didn't return to our apartment in Corvallis until after 10 pm.  It was a wonderful day.

As Mom and I were driving back to Portland on Wednesday afternoon for our flight out early Thursday morning, the thermometer in the car got as high as 107.  We stayed in our air-conditioned hotel all night.

Oddly, I came home to much cooler temperatures after torrential rains again on Friday.  We have had highs in the 70's and low 80's since then.
I am afraid this weather has not been good for my tomatoes.  There are a lot of tomatoes out there, but they are not ripening and many are rotting on the vines.  The ones that have ripened do not have the flavor I think they should have.  However, the lettuce and cucumbers have done quite well with all the rain and the squash and pumpkin plants are now taking over.

They are literally moving into the agility field.  The corn is disappointing as well.  According to the local meteorologist we have had over 19" of rain here since May 1st.  It's just too much.  


I caught this little guy and one of his siblings in among my squash and pumpkins and relocated them away from the garden.  He's pretty cute, but I really don't want him eating my lettuce.  I just wonder how many I did NOT find.

A few weeks ago, some nearby neighbors approached us about using some of our empty pastures for their sheep.  We agreed because we have already had to mow said pastures twice this year and it was about time to do it again.  So we now have a flock of Tunis ewes in one pasture

And their weaned lambs from this year along with 2 six month old Pyrenees puppies in the field across the road

Darn it those puppies are cute!

I haven't been brave enough yet to venture in with them.  I have a feeling it will be a slobbery experience.

In addition to everything else Sam does, he has been weaving hammocks from "mule tape", which our friend Lee has brought us in large quantities.  My understanding is that the electric companies use the mule tape to pull cables through pipes and conduit and then discard it.  It is fairly indestructible.  Both Sam and Lee hate to see things go to waste, so Lee brings some of it here.  I think Sam is working on the third hammock and is still trying to perfect a hammock chair.   

I have been weaving as well.  I have some potholders made from loom waste on my loom at home.  There is always waste when weaving.  This is the second time I have made these potholders.  The colored parts are the loom waste from towels I have woven.  The ends will eventually be hidden inside a binding.  I save the waste (called thrums) until I have enough to do a batch of potholders.  And they match towels I have made, so it is nice to give them to people to whom I have given towels.

I am warping my big loom to do a couple rugs.  I sold a rug through the Arts Center in June and the woman who bought it wanted a second one just like it.  I had to wait until the pillow covers I was weaving were finished to start that.  But I'm now working on it.  The pillow covers are just waiting for me to find time to sew them and they will be done.

 I also did some more yarn dyeing this week.  I tried another new to me technique and while I didn't really get the result I was looking for, the yarn came out okay.  I kind of like it.  So someone else will as well.  I have the Wool Gathering coming up in about a month over in Yellow Springs Ohio and I need to dye several batches of my newest yarn to be able to offer it for sale there.  

And speaking of upcoming events, Grover and I will be in Dayton this coming weekend at a trial held by the Gem City Dog Training Club.  We have attended this trial once before, in 2015.  So we will be staying with Mom for a couple of days.  We need a few good runs.  But however the runs go, we will have fun!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Difficult Diagnosis

No, I did NOT get a new puppy.  I was looking for a specific photo of my son last week and I came upon  a treasure trove of photos of Rowdy as a puppy.  I have been carrying this one with me.  He came to live with us in early July of 2005 and I think this was taken after he had been with us a few weeks.  

Rowdy has been dealing with arthritis for several years and it has gotten pretty severe, so he has really slowed down, but I had noticed other signs lately that he was not well.  So we had blood work done and it indicated that he might have Cushings disease.  Two weeks ago I took him to Columbus to have an ultrasound of his abdomen to look at his liver and kidneys and adrenal glands and the diagnosis was confirmed.  He has pituitary based Cushings, which means he has a tumor on the pituitary gland which is at the base of the brain.  The tumor is telling the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol, which is a stress hormone.  Treatment is difficult and somewhat risky.  So right now I am looking at changing his diet and using some holistic herbs to try to mitigate his symptoms.  Sadly, I have had to greatly reduce his pain medication for the arthritis and he is also losing his lovely coat.  He is not moving much and drinking copious amounts of water.  But I look in his eyes and see the dog I have loved so long is still in there.  This is very hard on me.

Well, now I have to shake that off and try to be more upbeat.  Grover and I attended an agility trial in the Cleveland area last weekend.  We had 7 runs and we qualified in 3 of them, no double Q's sadly.  But we had fun.  If you were to ask Grover, I am sure his favorite part of the entire weekend was his trip to the beach on Saturday after the trial.  He discovered that waves are a blast.  Grover at the Beach
He also got to go to a dog friendly microbrewery.  I wish there were more places that were so welcoming to dogs.

Back at home I have been busy with the garden and other projects.  I spent some time this week staining bat strips for my studio.  These cover the gaps between the vertical boards we used as paneling.  I still need to stain a lot more, but it has been SO hot.  Maybe I will move someplace I can plug in a fan and get out of the sun while I finish.

Inside the studio I had Sam put up a peg board to hang things on and my cube shelving is starting to fill up


Now if only I had air conditioning out there I could actually use it!

On Monday I harvested and canned about half the beets in the garden and I will do the other half sometime in the next few days.  
 We like picked beets best and its nice to have about a dozen pints to get us through the year.  I got 6 pints from the first batch and should be able to get at least that many more.

We had so much rain again the last couple of weeks, though now it has slowed down and gotten very hot and humid.  My tomato plants are doing great, some are taller than I am, which really isn't saying much.  

The sunflowers are getting ready to bloom and one wee little short one has bloomed already . You can see the the tomato plants are taller than it is.  I think this one got broken off after I transplanted it but it managed to survive, which is why it is so short.


We have many varieties of tomatoes growing.  Lots of Romas and Amish paste tomatoes for canning and sauce and some beefsteak, rainbow heirlooms and several others. If it stays hot like this, we'll have tomatoes soon.

The herbs are doing well and I may make some pesto this weekend.  I'm not sure if I have enough pine nuts, though.

I got a message yesterday from son Sam, who lives in Groveland CA just outside Yosemite, that he may have to evacuate due to a wildfire that started in Mariposa.  In 2013, he was evacuated from the Rim Fire that raged around Yosemite for several weeks:
Rim Fire 2013
I hope it doesn't become necessary for him to evacuate, but hopefully he will keep me posted on his whereabouts if he does.

Just yesterday I removed a project from my big loom.  It is 4 panels, each 18" or so wide and approximately 36" long.  They are an overshot weave with a rayon pattern on a cotton background and will become throw pillows once it is cool enough to work in my studio (early in the morning maybe).  I am very pleased with how they came out.  The fabric would make really nice upholstery, I think.

 There are 2 in the darker color and 2 in the lighter color.  At first I was worried that the lighter color might be too light, but I actually really like the shiny contrast of the rayon against the cotton and the photo doesn't do it justice.  The pillows should end up being 16" square.  If the fabric doesn't shrink up too much when I wash it. 

I got 17 pounds of alpaca/cormo blend fingering weight yarn back from the processor a couple weeks ago.  I attempted my very first gradient dye, and despite careful  calculations of percentages and measuring, it didn't come out quite right.  My colors are too close and the difference between the yellow and the first color with the orange in it is not close enough.  Over-dyeing will happen.  Maybe I will have an update next time I post.

I knitted a bear for the Mother Bear Project, which is a charity that sends hand made bears to Africa to distribute to children whose lives have been impacted in some way by AIDS.  I knit a couple of these last summer and plan to do another.  Like last year, I'd like to send off a boy and a girl bear.  They are quick to knit and can be done with small amounts of yarns leftover form other projects.

My other finished item in July  is a linen/cotton blend summer top.  I've never knit with a linen blend before and it seemed the prefect size before I washed it and then I washed it and it seemed to shrink.  But as I wore it, it stretched out and fit just right.  And Grover had to make an appearance as well.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

And Just Like That It's July

Hangin' out on the studio deck

The year is half over.  I have to admit it has been kind of a tumultuous year around here so far and I don't know that the second half of the year will be much of an improvement.  But we'll hang on for the ride and see where it goes.  That's about all I'll say about that right now.

Relaxation time at the pond.
Since my last post the weather has varied from quite cool overnight (we were in the upper 40's a couple of mornings last week) to typical hot humid sticky weather.  I've been watering the gardens, though not every day, and everything is looking good.  My second crop of lettuce is coming up and ready to be thinned.  We have been harvesting cucumbers and Sam makes pickles and eats them almost as fast as more can grow.  The beets will be ready to pickle and can soon and there are oodles of little green tomatoes.  The pepper plants are also producing and the basil is finally growing.  I made a really good wild raspberry pie last week.  One of the best I've ever made.  And the day before yesterday, I made blackberry cobbler with the first of the wild blackberries.  So yummy.
The beehive is thriving.  I gave them another box to grow into last week and in thanks they stung me 3 times on the left hand.  It was itchy for several days.  I don't think I've had 3 stings so close together before.  I can do without that.  I'd been feeding the bees, but right now they are doing really well on clover and orange butterfly weed.  Need to take a new photo of that.

And now sad news.  The township trustee where the beaver pond is got permission to go in and tear out the beavers' dam. When I saw what had been done to the dam I contacted the local game warden and he said we would have to talk to the National Forestry service because the pond is in the National Forest.  So Sam called and spoke with them.  There is a road slip up above the pond and for some reason this trustee thinks he needs to drain the pond to repair it, so he was given permission to breach the dam.  But from what we can see, the road needs repaired from the road, not from down below.  In any case, the dam has now been breached twice and  no road work is commencing.  The beavers are still there.  Unfortunately, if they decide to relocate, their option will likely be private property and if they flood someone's pasture or hayfield, I am sure they will be erradicated.  My hope is that they will be able to stay where they are.  They had created such a nice wetland habitat where before there was nothing but an overgrown weedy hayfield that was no longer maintained.  And I have enjoyed watching their progress.

I have totally finished the first project I started in my new studio, some towels and dish cloths for my own kitchen.  I have also spent some time carding fiber to spin.  The drum carder is under the window.  I think I will use it more now that it has a place of its own.

And here you can see where Rowdy likes to be when I am in the studio, though often he is over to the right where the alpaca rug currently is.  He enjoys being out there with me and his presence means the world to me.

And here is what Grover likes to do while I am busy in studio.

He will lie either inside the door looking out or lie on the deck keeping an eye on his territory.  Or maybe he is hoping a cat will emerge from the barn across the creek so he can chase it.  That's probably it.

I also finished some cotton napkins.  They really came out nicely.  They will either be a gift for someone or maybe I will have them for sale this fall.  

I also finished the Mystery Knit Along I was participating in.  So now I have a nice big warm wrap to take along to agility trials to use in the air conditioning. 

Speaking of trials, Grover and I will be traveling to North Olmsted, Ohio next Thursday for a 3 day trial starting on Friday the14th.  This is the venue we went to in May where we took the dogs to the beach on Lake Erie.  I will be going with fellow club member Missy and her 2 border collies this time.   Is it too much to hope for as much success as we had at our last trial?  

Upcoming:  At the end of the month Mom and I are flying out to Oregon for a few days to visit son Ian and his wife, Michelle.  We have not seen them since the wedding over a year ago.  They now live in Corvallis, which is an hour and a half or so from Portland.  I am looking forward to spending some time with them.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Solstice is Past

A new front door.  Rowdy-approved.
It is the true beginning of summer, though it has felt summery for a few weeks now.  The hours of daylight are long, with true dark not arriving until well after nine pm.  Though now that we have passed the solstice, the days will begin to be shorter.  I kind of hate that.

There is so much to do on the farm this time of year, even though we have very few animals anymore to take care of.  There is a lot of mowing to do and we have had a lot of rain, which makes the weeds and grasses grow that much faster.  Sam is already thinking about getting firewood cut and stacked for next winter.  Outdoor maintenance needs to be done on buildings and fences and trails and wells and compressors.  And then there is the garden, which is starting to take off with the warm weather and rain. And right now, wild raspberries are ripening and so Sam is picking those and I am planning what to do with them.  First, jam.  Then I will bake a pie tomorrow.  And I will make puree to put in the freezer to be used for raspberry chocolate chip ice cream at a later date/dates.  Sam will be brewing a batch of raspberry wheat beer.  So much yumminess!

As I've said, the garden is really taking off.  I think I also said I do not use herbicides on the garden, so since I was away for 3 days this past weekend, I had a LOT of weeding to do.
  This is one garden.  I weeded it Tuesday and then it rained again.  A never ending battle.  But I do not worry about eradicating every single weed.  Life is too short for that.

Here is the other garden.  My use of cardboard boxes as a weed deterrent is definitely helping, but again, nothing will get rid of all the weeds.  The tomato plants are large enough now that I can "weave" them through the spaces in the cattle panels, and soon I will also need to tie them up.  Most of the plants now have flowers on them so soon I will need to start using my essential oil/water spray as an insect deterrent. 

We lost a hen this week.  Sam found her dead in the chicken coop while I was away.  We have no idea what happened to her.  So we are down to 3 hens.  I am contemplating getting some new ones, but haven't decided yet.  

The bees seem to be thriving.  I have been supplementing them with sugar water and they will go through a quart a day if I keep up with it.  I need to check in the hive this weekend and see if they are ready for another box.  I suspect they may be.

Sam and I did stain most of my studio almost 2 weeks ago.  It came out all right, but we used a sprayer and I think there is a learning curve to getting a nice even coat.  The studio can be seen in the background of the garden photo above.  I think it looks ok.  Now we need to get some railing on the deck and gutters and downspouts.  I purchased some shelving units at Ikea last weekend and have them put together and am quite happy with them.  Now to fill them up!  

Grover with his Double Q ribbon
Grover and I were away last weekend.  We went to 2 different agility trials, the first near Columbus on Friday and then one in the Cincinnati area on Saturday and Sunday.  We had a great weekend.  On Friday, we had 3 runs and we qualified in all 3, resulting in a Double Q (our 7th), our MX (Master Agility) title, and a Premiere Q.  We then drove on to stay at Mom's over in the Dayton area while we attended the other trial.   Saturday was a no Q day for us, though after Friday's success I didn't let it bother me.  Both runs were very good runs and we missed qualifying by just one little mistake each time.  On Sunday we Q'd on both our runs for another Double Q.  Which brings us to 8.  We only got one run on video, our standard run from Saturday, where Grover jumped off the teeter.  I truly think he was startled by the judge because he turns to look at her as he goes on to the next obstacle:  Standard Run Saturday

We had a very nice time with my Mom and came home Monday to find that Sam had replaced our old drafty, clawed up wooden door with the new one he got at an auction a few months back.  I am so pleased. Here is how it looks from the outside and of course Rowdy is showing us how it looks on the inside att he beginning of this post. 

I have had so little time for weaving lately, so my projects look pretty much the same as they did 2 weeks ago.  However, I was able to finish the knitting on the Mystery Knit-Along Wrap I was participating in just yesterday.  It still needs to have ends woven in and trimmed and to be washed and blocked, but I am overall very pleased with it.  It is huge, but I think it will make a great wrap to take with me to agility trials that are air-conditioned in the summer and never warm enough in winter.  


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Making Hay in the Sunshine

Grover is practicing his jumping over the windrows of raked hay while Rowdy watches.

Hay mowed.  Note the blue sky and light clouds indicating low humidity.
 As I was wring my last post, Sam was mowing our hayfield in preparation for baling.  It was not real hot, but the humidity was low, which along with sunshine, dries the hay in a timely manner.  We do hay twice a year, first cutting and second cutting.  First cutting is usually the end of May or beginning of June.  It all depends on the weather.  A minimum of 3 days without rain in the forecast are necessary for the hay to dry.  Hay that is baled damp will mold and be potentially harmful to livestock that consume it.  Either that or so unappealing to the animals that it will go to waste. First cutting hay is usually a higher yield, but is stemmier and less nutritious and less palatable to some livestock, such as alpacas.  Second cutting, which is usually done in the heat of August, is not as tall and stemmy and is softer, being more blades of the grass than stalks.  We have always "square-baled" the second cutting to feed to the alpacas, as that is what they prefer, and first cutting is round-baled and fed to cattle (which we do  not have so we plan to sell it).  Square baling is much more labor intense since each bale must be removed from the field and stored inside.  Ours goes up into the lofts of the barn.  Round bales can be moved only with a "bale spear" on a tractor and can be stored outside.

This is only the second time Sam has done round bales and I think this year was much more successful for him.  These are some big bales, about 6' in diameter.  I forgot to ask him how many he got.


A good agility dog can scale the side of a 6' round bale with ease.

Speaking of which, Grover has been on the injured list for the past week.  He was favoring his right hind leg quite a bit, so we went in for Xrays and the joints look fine, so a muscle pull or strain in the hip area was diagnosed.  He has been on leash exercise only and on an anti-inflamatory and we skipped agility class last week.  Tonight we will go to class and hope that he shows no more signs of lameness.  If he does, we will have to pull out of the 3 days of agility we are entered in this coming weekend and probably go see another vet.   Fingers are crossed he will be fine...  

It has gotten very hot this week after almost a week of below average temperatures.  I noticed this morning that the tomato and basil plants in the garden seem to be shooting up, finally.  They do like the heat. The garden is doing well.  And it will be doing better now with the warmer temps.  I use no herbicides or insecticides on my garden.  I rake and pull weeds by hand or sometimes use a little Mantis tiller, so I will always have weeds in my garden.  It never looks as nice as many gardens I see, but I don't like the idea of Round-Upping my food.

The chickens have a volunteer sunflower in their yard.  I was careful to weed-eat around it the other day.  It is just to the right of the coop and growing very fast.


 I have one very strong beehive from the swarm or swarms we caught in the horse barn a few weeks back.  I have determined that the bees that were in a bee box in the barn are indeed queenless.  Whether they were a separate swarm that lost their queen, or part of the big swarm we scooped off the ceiling, I don't know.  I put their box next to this one, and maybe some of them integrated into this colony.  However, this colony is doing very well, the queen is laying well, and I am feeding them a quart of sugar water every day.  I put a third box on  for them to grow into and will need to check their progress again next week.  I have them across the road from the horse barn where it is very easy to keep an eye on them and change out jars every morning.  

My daily exercise has been kind of curtailed due to Grover being sidelined for a week.  We have taken only short walks with few hills.  Rowdy is still walking with us on these, but it seems he lags further and further behind all the time.  It is so hard to see him like this at only 12.  There are occasions where the "old" Rowdy comes out and these occasions usually involve water and a stick.  These times make me so happy because I know he is still happy despite the arthritis in his legs.
On Saturday, Sam and I worked on staining the exterior siding on my studio.  It came out darker than I thought it would be and we got low on stain, so the sprayer would no longer work, so we are not quite finished.  I am still getting used to the new color.  I'm not sure I like it a lot, but it is what it is.  Now I feel I need to paint the window frames and the door once I get the rest of the staining done.

 On the inside, however, it is starting to have that "lived in" feel.  I put a new warp on the loom over this past weekend and am weaving some waffle weave towels for myself.  I feel like maybe I have a definite color pallette.  I hope to get some cubical shelving from Ikea this weekend and paint a piece of pegboard to attach to the wall to the left of the window on the yellow wall.  There is no A/C out there, so I may need to do my weaving in the early mornings in the summer instead of in the evenings like I usually do.

 On my big loom here at the office I have some fabric that will become throw pillows.  I think it is coming along very nicely.

I have been continuing to knit on the Mystery Wrap I started about a month ago.  It is almost finished and has gotten very large and unwieldy so I will wait to photograph it when it is finished, which should be this week.  But I do have a busy weekend planned, so it may take a little longer.  It is really colorful and fun.  There is a photo of it in progress in my last post.