Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fare Thee Well

Loki: February 1, 2001 - June 3, 2014

Loki at Age 3 1/2.

As you can see, this post is over-due by a few weeks, but I am having a hard time writing out all of my thoughts and stories. So I am just going to make a few lists and write about a few anecdotes. The Farmer and I miss Loki terribly; we constantly think that we are hearing him rummage around upstairs, think we have to take him out and feed him, look for him before we return inside.

What's in a name?
Loki is the Norse god of cunning and sneakiness, and this dog certainly lived up to the name. Commands of "Down. Stay." were dutifully followed, but in a few minutes when no one was watching, he would start a Marine crawl to the location that he desired. He also once chewed a perfectly round, but small, hole into a completely sealed moving box and skillfully removed and ate a chocolate bar. We have no idea how this happened. And when we tried to video record how he managed to eat all of the cat food that was placed way higher than he could reach, he simply wandered around the room for the camera, but as soon as the camera was off, the food was gone.
Some of Loki's nicknames:
Foul Beast
Stinky Dog

Gourmand, Foodie, Garden Pest
    Loki loved to eat. Breakfast and Dinner were always consumed with great rapidity and relish. And on occasion (when we were gone) he would manage to pry the lid off the dog food container and enjoy some "Snacken-liebe," roughly equivalent to twice the amount he would get for a regular meal. Rottweilers become overweight easily - Loki certainly had an obese phase - so we kept an eye on his diet. Especially when cat food was available in the same room...
    As a vegetarian family, Loki sampled many plant foods, and as you may guess, he enjoyed them. He especially loved to eat baby carrots (by the bag). We often joked that Loki would just as soon eat a plate of greens for dinner as he would his regular food. He would definitely "help" with dinner prep and clean-up, gobbling up any vegetable that landed on the floor.
    Several summers ago I made the error of throwing Loki a cherry tomato after he saw me pick it in the garden. He felt this was his invitation to help himself and proceeded to sneak off every time he was outside to feast. We did not eat a single cherry tomato that late summer. Last summer I almost made the same mistake with the blackberries. Fortunately, both of us are quick learners, and I saved the rotten berries for the chickens.

The Chocolate Cake Incident & A Leather Couch
    There was that snowy President's Day weekend when I decided to make an epic chocolate cake and then went outside for less than 5 minutes to clean the furnace filter. The cake was largely gone when I returned indoors, and my wrath was boundless. I ended up making another cake... for me.
    Most unfortunately, The Farmer came home from a trip one day to find that the arm of a nice leather couch was chewed up and gone. His wrath was boundless too... But we did keep the couch for a few more years. Loki would sleep on it when we weren't home. We only caught him in the act one time when we snuck up to the window. I don't blame him - it was comfy, and apparently also tasty!

Loki was always excited to take a trip - but only for a few minutes. Before the first hour of any ride was over, he would stretch out in the bottom half of his crate, groan, sigh, and take a nap which was interjected with many more groans and sighs.

Most Importantly
Loki was a terrific companion, always up for whatever adventure you wanted to include him in, a big lover and lap dog. He learned so quickly that it was scary to think of all the things he might be capable of. He loved people, loved to be petted and brushed, and was mostly content to just chill on the floor in the same room with everyone. He tolerated children - several young nephews got "rides" - and was easily trained to respect the cat and the chickens. We miss you so much. Hugs, kisses, and love to you!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shear Joy

At which repetition does a novelty wear off? Our fourth year of shearing on May 3rd had a little feeling of "been there, done that" pervade the activity. There was no trip in a cargo van , no shear team coming to our farm with us seeing the process the first time, no first shave of a cria. And there is a growing mountain of alpaca fleece piling up... Nonetheless, the animals were happy to be a little cooler without a big winter coat on.

Dark Star and Leven look fresh and glossy, post shearing. They enjoyed prancing around the pasture eating hay (!) while the ladies were being shorn.

 Yesterday we moved the fence panels so that part of the pasture can recover. We accidentally allowed the alpacas to over-eat one section. First accomplishments: the obligatory rolling, nap time, and lazy eating while laying down.

 While watering the new grass seeds, I noticed that Greta (back) was very interested in the hose. I took it up to the fence, and she could not get enough to drink! Bella, the bossiest micro-manager of all time (front), had to investigate as well. She preferred getting her face soaked to actually drinking. She kept getting water up her nose and sneezing. She may be the ring leader, but she is not intelligent...

Here's to new joyful experiences amidst the well-worn traditions! For the sake of tradition, I shall add that this is CERTAINLY the year to process alpaca fleeces. Right?!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

So Maybe I Cheated A Little

This Spring no time materialized to throw lettuce seeds in the ground, water them consistently, and keep them covered in times of frostiness. Just taking care of me properly was a struggle due to time constraints. 

So when I saw starts of butter crunch lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and romaine at Rural King over Spring Break, I couldn't resist the purchase. 

Eating a giant home grown salad several times a week is one of life's greatest pleasures. So glad we didn't have to wait over a month for everything to grow to edible size.

 The woodland rabbits are already raising their second or third brood, so I am keeping the greens covered with an old netting screen, hoping they won't find the gaping holes... The butterflies that favor broccoli have also stayed away so far. Look at those healthy leaves!

I decided to try several varieties of potato this summer: Russet (they were from the supermarket and sprouting in my cabinet), Yukon Gold, red-skinned potatoes, and Midnight Moon which is blue. The potatoes were started properly - no cheating with pre-raised plants!

I kept the strawberries under a winter garden cloth all winter and most of spring until about a week ago. Perhaps this is one reason the berries are ready a few weeks early! 

Another screen keeps the birds off the berries. The moldy and bug-eaten berries are greedily accepted by the chickens. (Ooops, I didn't mean to talk about poultry again... Maybe I should change the blog name to reflect my obsession...)

One and one half pounds of strawberries harvested on Friday night! They did not exist for more than a few hours on the kitchen counter. Hoping for a new batch tomorrow!

Enjoy what is left of your three-day weekend! Summer has arrived, and I am ready!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cheep, cheep!

Look at the time... the end of May already! Several posts are missing from this last month,  so hopefully this weekend will be a great time to catch up. Let's start with knitting...

Eleven eggs, two nests, and two chicks!

 Over Spring Break I became obsessed with knit eggs, which then eventually led to nests and then little chicks.

 Originally there were grand delusional plans of sending a nest filled with eggs and a chick to all nieces and nephews under a certain age. In the end, I enjoyed playing with my table decorations more than a lot...

Have you noticed that the last four posts have been all about chickens or eggs??!

Perhaps tomorrow we can focus on alpacas, gardening, yarn, etc., without slipping another poultry-related post into the mix. Ba-GAWK!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! The Farmer and I enjoyed our nephews and their parents as they visited for their Spring Break. This picture was a favorite of mine from today. We were dying Easter eggs this afternoon with the eggs that our chicken Athena laid. She was looking on for a while...
Can you just hear her inner dialog?

"My children! What have they done to them?!"

"I could tell they were MY eggs because they WERE white!"

"Darrell! Why did you jump off the cliff!" (To the cracked one.)

"Teen-agers! Why do they need to through the phase where they dye their shells in awkward colors?"

"Let me cuff your ears to straighten you out!" (While aggressively pecking the eggs.)

"The horror! The shock! My heart!"

"Checking the merchandise to make sure they are up to Easter Bunny expectations... YES! They pass! I rule at laying perfection!"



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Got Kisses?

Party time at the farm tonight! The graduate students were raising money for a school in Kenya again, by donating money and voting who should kiss one of our chickens. They all brought massive amounts of delicious foods and a lot of fun games to play. 

However, somehow the animals always steal the show:

First, alpaca admiring.

Heinrich gets some love from the students.
Last year's Kiss the Chicken candidate renews his friendship.

The Farmer/Professor himself gets to do the honors this year! One kiss for two chickens... I hope they don't feel cheated.

Ensemble cast of characters
More loving... Tenny and Athena are soaking up the attention, regardless of who won the contest to give the winning kisses! Come back tomorrow, will ya?!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


A list of things to be excited about today:
It's Spring Break!
These nephews are coming to visit next week!
Spring flowers are starting to bloom!
I'm obsessed with this knit egg pattern.

 I plan to add a nest and some chicks as well, before it's all said and done.

Between knitting sweet nothings and accidentally picking up my favorite Harry Potter book, I am not getting as much accomplished as I had planned so far this week. But I am enjoying myself for now!
Joining with Ginny's Yarn Along today. Have a happy day!