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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sam's Elk Hunt Was A Success!

Last time I posted Sam and his brother were preparing to head out to Colorado for an elk hunt.  They left a week ago Tuesday (this is Wednesday as I write) and Sam arrived back home this morning at 2 am.  They drive out and most of the way they are on I-70 until they reach western Colorado where I believe they go north and eventually drive up onto "the mountain" to where they camp and hunt on public land.  They meet up with  some other guys from our area.  Both Sam and his brother were successful in shooting a cow elk on Saturday, opening day of season, and one of the other guys got a bull elk.  They all broke camp and headed off the mountain early Monday morning and they usually drive into Kansas and get a hotel room for a shower and good night's sleep before driving the rest of the way home.  Today they are cutting and wrapping 250 or more pounds of meat.  I am looking forward to having some elk roast and steak.

So I have been covering the office while Sam is away.  Normally, Sam is in the office 3 days a week and I am in 2 days and we do appointments on weekends.  Before the gas and oil boom in our area, our Real Estate business was very busy, but things have really changed since all that came along.  Also, at one time we had over 50 alpacas on our farm and now we have only 3.  So we used to share 2 full time jobs and now it is more like sharing one.   So having Sam away for a week is not nearly as exhausting to me as it used to be.  But I sure am glad he is home!

 Before Sam left, he set up the frame over the lettuce, arugula and kale I planted in September so that I could cover it in case of frost.  We did in fact have some light frost the last couple of mornings, so Sunday afternoon I pulled the plastic sheeting over the frame.  I have also gathered our squash and pumpkins together to let them harden and sweeten in the fall sun.  I made a couple of pumpkin rolls to send out west with the guys.  Well, okay, I sent one and a half.  I wasn't going to do all that work and not even get a piece!

I just realized I completely forgot to take any photos of our new hens.  I picked up 10 new hens a week ago Saturday.  One of the reasons I have no photos is because they basically hid in the chicken coop for the first week they were here.  On Monday I noticed when I opened the coop door into the chicken yard in the morning that most of the new chickens were finally coming outside.  I also noticed that at night some of them were roosting up off the floor like chickens are supposed to do.  Until then, they had all been sleeping in a pile in the corner.  And last night 6 of the 10 were up on the roosts.  So today will be the first day they are allowed access to the world beyond their little enclosure.  Sam will let them out around noon as usual and I will be home at dusk to see if they all make it back.  They may never even leave the yard.  I always expect to lose a chicken or 2 at first.  It is just the way it is.  I'll have photos next time.

 Mom came to spend the weekend with me while Sam was away.  We had fabulous weather on Saturday for an outing and we drove the scenic route to Marietta visiting 3 of 4 covered bridges that are along the way, one of which is still in use for vehicle traffic.  We spent some time in shops in Marietta, had lunch and then walked along the Ohio riverfront for a while.  It was really nice.  There are some lovely condos right on the river that must have spectacular views.

 
On Sunday rain was forecast, though it did not arrive until we were eating dinner that evening.  We had indoor activities planned, one of which was making butternut squash ravioli from scratch.  With brown butter sage sauce, which is amazing in case you have never tried it.  And we had salad with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and garlic (in the dressing) from the garden.  Of course the squash and sage came from the garden as well.

It was a really nice visit with Mom.

Grover and I are off to an agility trial in Zanesville this weekend.  It is a 3 day trial, starting bright and early Friday morning.  This will be our first full trial since mid-August and I am really looking forward to it.  After this one, we have another one in early November, then one on Thanksgiving weekend.  December entries are not confirmed yet.

I finished knitting a pair of socks last week that I started way back in December.  Sock knitting is not my favorite knitting, but socks make nice small travel projects.  It was just time to finish this pair because it is sock-wearing season again.  

I also wove a couple of alpaca rugs while I was spending extra time at the office, though I still need to finish the hems on them.  Here is a photo of some of my rugs  and a Christmas table runner and throw pillow on sale at the Monroe Arts Center




I have actually sold several rugs through the Arts Center over the last couple of years as well as some handwoven towels.  I just took a in couple of the throw pillows which were pictured in my last post.  These items are all offered for sale on consignment.


I think this week will probably be the end of the fall colors for us.  We had some strong winds a week or so ago which took a lot of the leaves off the trees already, but there is still some color out there.  We are supposed to have lovely weather again this weekend.  I hope Sam will get Rowdy outside and maybe up to the pond while the weather is nice since I will be away and unable to take him.


 
 I did take the dogs up last week and it was almost raining leaves on the the pond.  We just hung out and I knitted and the dogs did what dogs do for a couple of hours.  I think we all enjoyed it.


 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Really Big News!

A trip to the pond on a warm fall day still makes this dog smile


I have probably the biggest news I could possibly have, so I think I will start with that.  Right before Labor Day weekend, older son, Ian, who lives in Oregon, called with news that he and his wife Michelle are expecting a baby!  I was literally speechless.  They have been together for about 8 years now, I think, and got married just a year ago in June.  They had told us that children just wouldn't fit into their lifestyle, and we accepted that as their decision.  It seems they changed their minds on that and did not tell anyone.  Michelle is a few years older than Ian, so they kept it to themselves in case it never happened.  I have to say, it was so hard to keep this news to myself until I was given the go ahead to tell people, which happened after last week's doctor appointment and ultrasound.  We expect baby in late April 2018.  I am delighted on so many levels!!!  So much knitting and weaving potential here.....

We have been experiencing fall in Ohio at its best.  Bright sunny days with blue skies and warm temperatures dropping into the 40's and even 30's at night, requiring a blanket on the bed.  And yet the hours of daylight are diminishing, so I find myself sleeping a few minutes later in the morning and preparing dinner a little earlier in the evening.  

The leaves are falling and an old dog can warm his bones in the sunshine.  Bow season for deer has opened, so Sam has been spending the last few hours of  daylight in a treestand.  I have spent some time sitting on the deck (still shaded) doing some spinning.  I love spinning outside in the fall.  It is just too hot to do so in the summer.   I have also been working on garden clean-up, gathering the squash and pumpkins and pulling the vines and weeds.  Which reminds me, I need to plant garlic soon.



Grover and I attended one day of an agility trial in Columbus this past weekend.  We had 4 runs and only Q'd in one of them.  It was a class we have never run in before, Premier Jumpers.  Our other runs were good, but it only takes one little error to NQ....but a fun day regardless.  That was Friday and on Sunday we went to a Seminar on course analysis at Incredipaws, a wonderful agility training facility just east of Columbus, with several of our POTC club-mates.  It was great fun and very informative and I hope we can arrange something like that again.   

Monday Grover and I went for a hike at one of our favorite local spots, Lamping Homestead.  We had the entire place to ourselves, though normally there are very few people there.  It is kind of off the beaten path.  I love it.  

Rowdy is no longer able to do many of the things he loved doing.  Between his arthritis and his illness, he is not the dog he once was.  Even short walks are really hard on him and he hardly leaves the yard anymore.  He does still get very excited to see Sam and me when we come home and he still "talks" to us when he wants something, usually treats.  



Yesterday I  loaded him and Grover into the buggy and took them up to the pond for an hour or so.  We wandered around the pond and went for a walk in the hayfield and Grover went for a swim.  I took lots of photos, and got a couple I really like of Rowdy.  He used to be so much fun to photograph, he seemed to know when I got the camera out what I wanted him to do.  It's harder now to get that great shot, but he's still one of my favorite subjects.

 Sam is heading out next week with his brother for an elk hunt in Colorado.  It has been several years since they went and even longer since Sam brought home an elk.  Since I am using venison in large quantities lately for dog food, an elk for the freezer will be very welcome.  And of course it is delicious, so I'd really, really like Sam to bring one home.  Mom will be coming  out for  a few days to keep me company while Sam is away.  I hope the good weather continues.

As for fiber-y content this week, I have warped my small loom for some Christmas towels, which I have neglected to photograph.  I am in the process of warping my rug loom for a couple of rugs and I have completed the finishing on the overshot pillows and photographed them.  They came out really nice.  They are for sale, though I have a friend who may want the lighter colored ones.  These are 16" square (approximately).


I also knit a hat for Sam for his birthday.  He is a home-brewer, so I planned out a beer-themed hat.  I am happy with it except that the lettering color is too close in value to the hat color and therefore hard to read.  It says "Just Brew It".  I should have made the background white....





And I made a hat for one of my agility friends who also does herding with one of her border collies.  Look carefully and you can see that there are two border collies in among the sheep, sitting with their backs to us.  I made them with markings just like Missy's dogs.  I gave her the hat last  night at agility class and I think it went over pretty well.  I love it when I can make something for someone that I can tell they really like.  I told her she can take the pom pom off if she wants.  I know now everyone is a pom pom person and that one came out bigger than I expected!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Wool Gathering and Fall is in the Air




Nothing like warm sunshine to dry yarn and induce dog napping.

Tomorrow is the fall equinox, so after today there will be less hours of light than of darkness.  It is always hard to accept, but the fall weather usually makes up for it in other ways.  For now, our forecast is for higher than average temperatures (upper 80's) for the next week and no rain.  Maybe some of the green tomatoes we have still on the vines will ripen.  That would be nice.

This past weekend was the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs Ohio, which is about a 3 hour drive for me.  I love this festival, which I have seen grow a good bit since I first attended as a shopper several years ago and then as a vendor since 2011.  There is something wonderful about the atmosphere of the farm (which is really more of a tourist destination, though they do have a herd of Jersey cows) and the tents and all the fiber-y goodness.  And of course ice cream.  In addition to knitters and weavers and spinners, families with children and curious passers-by wander through the tents.  These non-fibery folk usually arrive later in the day and you can tell they aren't fiber enthusiasts because they pass by with hands in pockets instead of touching the offerings for sale.  I have decided that this was my last year to be a vendor here as I have no more fiber to be made into yarn and I plan to concentrate more on making finished items to sell, which will require a totally different type of sales venue.  I will miss this festival, however.  I have met lots of fun people there, who I see year after year.

I will still keep yarn for sale on line and the best way to see what I have is to visit my etsy shop at  
https://www.etsy.com/shop/straightfork and I hope to have finished items listed here eventually as well.

Image result for musque de provence pumpkin The garden is also looking like fall.  I have several of these pumpkins which I posted about last time.  They were bright green and rather small 2 weeks ago and now are very large and dark green.  This variety is called Musque de Provence and will mature to about 20 pounds and look like the photo on the right instead of bright orange.  I am told they are excellent eating and look forward to trying them.  They keep well also.  

We also have several Sugar Pie pumpkins ripening up and a lot of butternut squash, even hanging on the fence.
I think some of my squash was pollinated by bees that had been in the sugarpie pumpkins because I seem to have several fruits that have the roundness of pumpkins but the coloring of the squash.  I just won't keep the seeds of those to plant next year.  I think they should taste just fine.

The new lettuce crop is getting large enough to distinguish from the weeds now, so this weekend I will clean that up a bit.


Far to the left is the lettuce we have been harvesting since late July, our second crop.  In the center is lettuce, which is easy to see.  There is kale between the new lettuce and the old and arugula to the right of the new lettuce and some romaine even farther to the right, though it doesn't seem to be doing as well, which has been true all summer.  The new crops will be covered before first frost and hopefully we will be able to enjoy fresh lettuce for some time to come.


This weird creature visited me last week as I sat outside spinning on the deck.  It crawled along the edge of the table for a long time.  It was only an inch or so long and I was fascinated by everything about it, especially its coloring.  I have no idea what it will become.  I hope not a stinkbug...


I got some good news on Rowdy yesterday.  He went in for bloodwork and we had his urine tested again.  He has been on 100% home made food and omega 3 and melatonin and holistic herbs now for 2 months.  His urine sample was almost normal!  His "specific gravity" had been closer to that of water, which is not good and now it is almost what it should be according to his vet.  I have noticed a decrease in the amount of water he has been drinking.  Now if we will get improved bloodwork results I will be even happier.  I find it sad that he seldom get his photo at the top of the page, but he is still with us and we are cherishing every day with him.

A week from tomorrow Grover and I will go to Columbus to attend just one day of a 3 day agility trial there.  That is Friday and on Sunday we are going to attend an agility seminar with a few of our fellow POTC club members just outside Columbus at Incredipaws, a very good training facility.  I am looking forward to getting back in the ring.  It has been over a month since our last trial (where we got 2 QQs).

 


I am getting ready to warp the small 8 shaft loom in my studio for some Christmas themed towels.  My plan is to take these to the Arts Center for sale in October.  The potholders are off the loom and awaiting finishing.  My rug loom is sitting empty currently.  I need to plan a project for that.  

I have finished a couple knitted items, one of which is a cowl or neck warmer and was used as a booth sample at the Wool Gathering. I knit it in my hand-dyed alpaca/cormo fingering weight yarn.  It really is blue not purple and I think I will wear it a lot in coming months.  

 


And I finished a light sweater that I just love.  It will also get some wear, but not this week!

I am starting to plan Christmas knitting.  I don't do a lot of holiday knitting, but it is time to get moving on it. 

Early morning mist
 


    


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer Comes to a Close

I know it is really still summer since we have yet to pass the equinox, but I think most Americans equate Labor Day weekend with the end of summer.  And to be honest, it has really felt like fall outside for several days.  This Labor Day weekend was year #20 for us having a big family and friends get-together on Saturday.  This year was what I think of as our first real  rain-out.  Yes we still had lots of family (12 overnight Saturday) and a few friends and we still played cornhole (in the poly-shelter) and volleyball (in the agility field in the rain), but there was a steady, light rain pretty much all day
An overnight storm knocked down the volleyball net
on Saturday, which kept a lot of us inside.  


But we had plenty of food and drinks and a lot of laughter and fun.  Sunday was a beautiful day and we headed up to the pond for some zip-lining and swimming before some of the family had to leave and then the rest of us finished up the day with pizza followed by s'mores around a fire.



On Monday the last of our family guests departed for home and it got very quiet as it always does.  The temperatures have stayed cool, with the high for today forecast to be only in the mid 60's and an overnight temperature in the upper 40's.  We are supposed to stay cooler than average for the next several days. 

I still have tomatoes in the garden, but not many.  I planted a new crop of lettuce, arugula, and kale, some of which is coming up .




The pumpkins and squash are taking over the garden, which is usual for this time of year, though I will have a lot more pumpkin than I have had in the past.  There are a lot of them out there.



These are just a few of the many pumpkins on the vines.









 

Coming up next weekend is the Wool Gathering  Fiber Festival in Yellow Springs.  Since I last posted I have dyed a couple more colors of alpaca/wool yarn.





I plan to dye at least 2 more colors before next weekend.





 


I also finished my second Mother Bear charity knit for this summer and both have been mailed off.







And I have 4 woven pillows almost complete, I just need to do the final finishing of the last one.  Two are this light color and the other two are the same background color with a darker pattern color.  I am really pleased with how these have turned out. 



I am knitting a small project with some of my recent hand-dyed yarn which I plan to have finished to use as a sample in my booth next weekend.  It is a neck warmer/cowl pattern 
 called Midsummer Haze  and I am using the blue tonal yarn I showed in my previous post.  I think the pattern and yarn are working very well together.

 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Still Rainy

We continue to experience higher than normal rainfall amounts for this time of year.  Our creek, which is normally dry from late May until October, has rarely been dry, and no sooner does it dry up than we have a deluge and it is running once again.  This has not boded well for cutting and baling hay, which needs to be done.  But starting today, there is a 4 day forecast of dry weather, sunshine, and low humidity, so Sam is mowing hay. The temperatures are supposed to be lower than normal as well, so maybe it will be a bit less uncomfortable for baling and stacking this weekend.

The garden is doing all right, though many of the tomatoes are rotting before ripening.  I have been able to can 5 1/2 quarts of home made marinara sauce, but we will not get anything like the harvest we had last year, which I think was exceptional.   Last year I made sauce and dried tomatoes and tomato jam and even ketchup and Sam made salsa.  I don't think we will be that lucky this year.  


 My garlic crop was nice, however.  I got a couple dozen nice bulbs of various sizes, some of which will be designated for planting in October for next year's crop.

Our corn has been disappointing.  The ears are very small and while it tasted good, there was not very much.  

I think the cucumbers may have finally stopped coming on.  There were SO many.  Sam made lots of refrigerator pickles.  We still have lettuce and I am about to plant some more and some kale.  And the squash and pumpkins continue to expand their territory.  I planted sweet potatoes for the first time this year, and they seem to be doing well.  I hope I get at least a dozen.

Last time I posted, Grover and I were getting ready to go to Dayton for a 2 day agility trial.  We had a fabulous weekend!  We had 4 runs for the weekend and we Q'd on every one of them.  So our QQ total is now 10, which means we are halfway to our goal of 20 needed for a MACH!  However, we also need 750 speed points, and we are not that fast.  We have 336 points at this time, so are not even half way there.  Most likely we will get our 20 QQs and then just need to accumulate the rest of the points.  We will be attending one trial day in late September and then a 3 day trial in October. So we have a little time off.  It is just working out that way. 

 This is the batch of dog food I cooked yesterday.  It includes about 7 pounds of venison, 1 pound of liver, 2 cans of salmon, 10 eggs with the shells, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, a little white rice, fresh ginger, turmeric, and kale.  This will last about 10 days.  Rowdy is getting 10 oz twice a day with some supplements added and Grover is getting some mixed in with his dry food.  I have a 40# bag of dog food to use up and then I may change Grover over to 100% homemade as well.  I will go through quite a bit more at that time, but Sam is going elk hunting this October and then he should be able to get a couple deer as well.  I have talked to the local butcher and I will be able to source some organ meat through them once they get busy again next week, and of course I will ask all the hunters in the neighborhood for livers and hearts again like last year.  Ghoulish, I know, but it is a lot better for my dogs I am convinced.  And if I can do it. I will.

I am in preparation mode now for two events, the first being our Labor Day Weekend party.  This will be the 20th one.  It started very small, with just family the first year we were here and became a yearly get-together with friends, family and acquaintances as years went by.  I think we will have at least 11 people staying over Saturday night, but family will start to arrive as early as Thursday and stay until Monday.  It is always great fun and then when everyone leaves on Monday, I realize summer is really over....

And then in mid-September, I will be a vendor once again at the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  So I have been inventorying my yarn and dyeing more yarn.  I also updated my online Etsy shop with the yarns I have on hand for sale  Straightfork's Etsy Shop  
 since I no longer have a farm website.  I have dyed this:
 And this (though the color is much more blue than this photo shows):
And this most recently:
These are all my newest yarn batch, spun just this June.  
 
And check out my studio.  The deck now has railing on it.  It is really almost finished.  I had to get some more stain to finish up one spot on the back of the building, but in essence all it really needs now are gutters and downspouts.  I do plan to put weed barrier and stone under the deck, but I may not get to that until later this fall or possibly spring and of course I need to clean up the construction scraps underneath.  I am so pleased  with how this has come out!


 Sam has been busy cutting wood for winter.  This is all wood that comes from trees that have fallen, usually across a farm road or into a field.  I will cover the stacks with tarps in October in an attempt to keep the wood dry.  We use a lot.  We don't heat our house entirely with wood, but our woodburner is in use pretty continuously from mid-November until April.


With all the rain, the mushrooms and fungi of various types are thriving.  Here are some mushrooms that popped up under the pine trees next to the creek a few days ago.  The bigger ones were about 6" in diameter.
 

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!