Thursday, April 20, 2017

Everything is Blooming and We Say Goodbye

Luca and Rowdy 2012
I love this photo of these 2 dogs when they were young and healthy.  Sadly, last week I got an early morning call from my mother and I drove across the state to be with her as she said her last goodbye to Luca, her companion of 13 years.  Luca spent a lot of time here with us on the farm both when my mom was traveling and also when she was here to visit.  He loved swimming in the pond and running in the fields and woods.  He was a year older than Rowdy and he will be missed.  His ashes will be interred here on the farm up by the pond he loved so much.  Rest easy, Luca.

I also said goodbye to our foster dog, Boomer.  My brother's family has moved into an apartment which will allow them to have their dogs while they are having a house built.  I am pretty sure that Grover misses his buddy Boomer.  And while I am happy to have a 2 dog house again, Boomer will always be a welcome visitor.
Since my last post, Grover and I attended an agility trial in Columbus, Ohio for 2 days.  We had some really good runs, though only 2 of the 5 were qualifying runs.  Both were Jumpers with Weaves (JWW), so we got some points toward our goal of a MACH and no double Qs, but we did get our MXJ title, which is a Masters JWW title.  

Tomorrow Grover and I are off bright and early to Zanesville for 3 days of trialing.  This will be our club's last trial until fall, though I have plans for other trials, no worries there.

Everything is greening up outside.  Flowering trees have been in bloom for the last week or so.  Redbuds, apples, peaches, dogwoods, everywhere we look on the farm something is blooming.  I love it.  Sam has been morel hunting for the last couple weeks and has had a great deal of success recently.  This is the batch he picked last evening.  He has already dried 2 quarts in the dehydrator.  We love having them dried in the pantry.  As they age, they get a wonderful earthy smell and I take them from the jar and crumble them up into soups and sauces.  They don't really need to be reconstituted when I use them that way.  Of course, we also use them fresh as I did last night.

I make this pasta dish with chicken breast, fresh basil (or frozen basil cubes this time of year), home dried tomatoes, fresh garlic and artichoke hearts.  I use some chicken broth and white wine and last night I added fresh morels and fresh ramps, which is a plant that grows wild here this time of year.  The root is a bulb that tastes like a cross between onion and garlic and the leaves can be put in salads or cut up and used in a dish like this similar to spinach.  The greens have a spicy flavor and Sam made pesto with them last week which was very good.  I topped this pasta with goat cheese just before serving.  Yum.

Which reminds me that last week after the trial, my sister-in-law and her kids came for a visit.  We had a great time.  Sunday was very warm and sunny and we took a walk to the beaver pond and also up to our pond and then ended the day with a fire and weenie and marshmallow roast.  The next day we went to Ohio University in Athens (from which my son Sam graduated 10 years ago) and took a tour as my niece is thinking of attending there.  It was a gorgeous day and there were students enjoying the weather everywhere we looked.  Jill and the kids headed for home early Tuesday morning.  We really had a nice visit.

 Another sign of spring is a tom turkey, or gobbler, strutting his stuff for the hens.  I got this shot  while he was distracted and before the dogs realized the turkeys were there in the hayfield.  It was about 6:15 in the evening.  I have seen a lot of turkeys this spring.  The 17 year cicadas of last spring are being given credit for an increase in the turkey population.  They emerged around the time the mama turkeys were probably having to find food for their new broods.  And they did not have to look far to find cicadas.

 The flooring is done in my studio and I have painted the window and door trim and I just had to take my rug out and get a photo of it in place.  It seems small, but there is nothing else in the studio at this time, which should change soon.  Sam will be cutting the baseboards and I will need to paint them, but then the interior is pretty much finished and I can start moving things in!  We still have exterior work to do including staining the siding and putting up bat strips, gutters and downspouts, and railing on the deck.  I am looking forward to moving my loom and sewing machine and other fiber-y stuff into my own dedicated space.  Maybe next time I post there will have been progress.

   I still have the napkins on my small loom at home, though I am almost finished with the third of six, so close to halfway done.  At the office, I have some fine cotton in a natural color on the big loom.  I am doing about 5 yards of this lacy pattern which will become new valances for my dining room windows.  This is something else that is new to me.  I will weave the yardage and then cut it into 2 pieces and sew hems and rod pockets.  The weaving will take some time, especially since I am usually in the office only 2 days a week.  If I can weave a yard each day I am at the office, it will be well into May before I am ready to start sewing.  I just hope I did my math well and am weaving enough to account for shrinkage, which there will be with 100% cotton.  I think I did.  We will certainly find out.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Definitely Springtime

Yes, it is definitely spring.  The weather has been cold and rainy and grey one day and then warm and sunny the next.  The grass has become almost blindingly green as it is only in springtime, and the little wildflowers are starting to pop out in the woods and along the roadsides.  Daffodils are blooming and when it is warm, I can't seem to stay inside.  That being said, I have planted a few things, some new blueberry bushes, which I tried to grow once before and they got lost in the weeds and eventually were accidentally weed-whacked.  I won't allow that to happen this time.  I have a lot more time to devote to gardening now that I have so many less animals to take care of.  I planted a new rhubarb plant, which I had also planted before which suffered the same fate as the blueberries, though it did last a little longer.  And I put in some more asparagus.  I keep looking for little asparagus spears to starting poking up....

I am now a little more than half done with the syrup clean-up.  All the bucket lids and the sap pan are cleaned, along with about 1/2 the buckets.  This job has to be done outside and I can't avoid getting wet doing it, so I do require warm sunny weather which is why it takes so long.  I decided that this year's clean up was not worth the small amount of syrup we produced.  Let's hope for a better year next year.

One of our small population of barn cats, all of which are spayed/neutered, disappeared last fall. Timmy came here from the Humane Society as unadoptable because he was terrified of people.  After 3 weeks in our barn he was the friendliest cat we had. But while I see that our barn cats are fed every day and get medical treatment when necessary, they are free to come and go as they please and sometimes they don't come home.  Now it seems that Timmy's replacement has come along and this kitten looks very much like him.  This little guy just showed up.  We started catching fleeting glimpses of a half-grown cat around the place and then last week he started coming out of hiding in the barn when I would put the cat food out every morning.  I really don't want another cat, but he/she is here and I will feed him/her as long as he/she is around.  I would guess this cat is 4 to 5 months old and I have been able to pet him briefly as he eats.  I sit and talk to him while he is eating and touch him just a little to get him used to me.  He will need to be handled enough to be taken in to be spayed or neutered.  My biggest fear is that this is a she not a he and will have kittens before I can tame her enough to get her in.  I do not want to add to the population of unwanted cats.  Wish me luck.  Since I don't know if this is a Timmy or a Tammi, I have dubbed him TimTam for now.

This past Sunday morning as I sat at my computer drinking coffee around 8 am, there was a boom, similar to thunder, and the whole house shook briefly.  It kind of freaked me out a little, but it was so quick, I didn't think too much about it until later, when I found out it was an earthquake, centered about 3 miles away.  3.0 magnitude, which I understand is fairly minor, for which I am grateful.  Considering there are several deep-well fracking sites close to us right now, there is a good chance that that is the cause.  Disturbing.

In other news, Grover and I are heading to Columbus on Friday for an agility trial.  The trial is 3 days, but we will only be attending on Friday and Saturday.  This is a new venue for us and I am really looking forward to it.  We have only trialed 3 days so far in 2017, but we are entered in 2 more 3 day trials coming up, one this month and one in May and I am looking at several this summer.  Wish us clean runs!

Sam is working on putting in the laminate flooring in my weaving studio.  I think it will be fabulous, especially with my wonderful hand woven alpaca rug, which I finished this past week.  I am so happy with how it turned out, and I have enough of the dyed yarns left to make another rug that size.  

The finished rug is 6' X 43" .  I can't wait to see how it looks in the studio!



I finished the lace shawl I was knitting.  It came out gorgeous.  The yarn is hand spun by me, but I did not do the dyeing.  These are most definitely my colors, however and the shawl was fun to knit.  The "wingspan" of this is about the same as my wingspan, so it is a very nice size.  Now if only I had someplace to wear it!  The yarn is wool and silk and bamboo with some sparkle and while they are hard to see, there are beads as well.  Love it.


I have also finished weaving some hand/kitchen towels on my small loom.  I wove 4 towels, but I got to keep one for me since it had a couple little mistakes in it.  These 3 are for sale at the Monroe Arts Center.  I was very pleased with how they turned out.  They are about 18" X 28".  

And I already have the next project on that small loom.

These will be napkins in 100% cotton in a pinwheel pattern.  I plan to make 6 of them and I don't know if I will keep them or put them up for sale.  I guess I will decide when they are finished.

I am also planning my next project on the big loom.  I will be weaving valances for the 2 windows in my dining room.  I have some lacy valances on them now that are really old and very discolored as I discovered when I took them down to measure last week.  Washing did not really help.  These windows are on either side of the main entry to our house and since I will be getting a brand new door soon (!) I think new window treatments are in order as well.