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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.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June So Soon?

Grover is doing is cat impersonation
Yes, it is now June.  We had a very rainy cool May and today is bright and sunny and quite nice.  

Today Sam is mowing the hay in our big creek bottom field.  It really could have been done a couple weeks ago, but he was in the process of getting ready to leave for a 9 day fishing trip, so it just had to wait.  This is how the field looked on Monday.  The grass is about as tall as the fence posts.  Today is Thursday and there is a chance for storms on Sunday, so here's hoping the hay will dry in a timely manner so it can be baled Saturday afternoon.  Sam is planning to round bale this.  My guess is I will be tedding hay tomorrow while he is at the office.


 Though they are done now, these irises were in full bloom last week.  They were given to me by a friend who is no longer with us, and I think of him every year when they bloom.  They are such a lovely deep shade of purple.

My garden is pretty much planted, which is nice.  Now for the weeding and watering.  I have been thinning the lettuce a little and adding it to the romaine that we over-wintered.  Fresh picked salads are wonderful.  



I did some mowing myself on Monday.  It took quite a while to get through the grass in the empty pasture across from Mom's house.



 Sam and I also sheared all three of our alpacas on Monday afternoon.  It is really different to only have three to do when we remember years we sheared 50 plus.  And these are all old ones that we have had for up to 17 years, so they know the drill and don't give us too much trouble.  I think getting ready to shear and then putting everything away afterward took longer than the actual shearing.

Sam had a nice fishing trip.  There is a lot of fish in my freezer, but we have not had any of it yet.  He brought home pike and wall-eye.  I prefer the wall-eye.  

While Sam was traveling home on  Saturday, my friend Tari and I drove to Wooster Ohio and attended the Great Lakes Fiber Festival.  The weather was wonderful and we saw some old friends and did a little shopping and I dropped off about 25 pounds of alpaca and wool fiber to have spun into yarn.  It was a very enjoyable day all around.

I finished weaving some 2 color napkins on my loom at home while Sam was gone and I have even gotten them hemmed and pressed.  I need to trim threads still, so I have not taken a finished photo.  They came out very nice and I have no idea what I will do with them.  I am starting some throw pillow covers on my big loom, though having some trouble with it since I seem to be missing a crucial piece of the pattern.  I have asked for help online and hopefully someone can come up with the piece of the puzzle I need.  

And for knitting, I am still working on the mystery knit-along wrap.  Here is how it looked yesterday.  There are 2 identical pieces like this that will eventually be joined to become a rectangle in the next 2 clues.  It is fun, but it is getting tedious to knit on one triangle and then immediately repeat it on the second.  I will be ready for something different when the next clue comes out.