Saturday, September 26, 2015

Commence Mindless Knitting

I've had a hankering to do some serious knitting for the last few months, but always felt exhausted at the prospect of thinking about swatching, thinking about the stitch math, and following a pattern. These days my brain just seems to be so full of other things that figuring out one more thing is just not possible. So last weekend before I left on a road trip, I took the plunge and started an afghan with pattern #5 from the "Done by Monday Afghan" booklet.

A friend of my mother's friend was a hand spinner in Maryland and sent her several large boxes of handspun skeins a few years ago. My mother graciously handed them off to me so that "I wouldn't have to buy any yarn." (I don't think she considered that hunting for the perfect boutique quality yarn is part of the knitting fun.) I am using this hand spun yarn held double and knit with size 13 needles to achieve an rustic chunky blanket. As with most hand spun, there are lots of tiny straw pieces still falling out while I knit, adding to the country charm.

I think the hand spinner went to fiber fairs to sell her product. Every single skein has a personalized, hand written tag attached. The yarn I am using was from a Romney ewe named Rachel. This information makes the product so much more personal. I wish I had a picture of the sheep! Something to keep in mind when we get around to selling our own yarns soon.

I am so happy that I decided mindless knitting is OK for this fall. Knitting just a little bit in a spare minute or two has made me so much more relaxed and grateful. It's a good lesson that I don't have to always over achieve in all areas all the time. This giant blanket will be be most impressive when finished and no one needs to be any wiser that it was easy. Nor does it have to be done by Monday, at least not one in the near future. There are several friends getting married soon, so this project might actually turn out to be a fun gift too. Bonus!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Too soon...

We lost our youngest alpaca early this morning. The vet came out to do an autopsy and found nothing out of the ordinary, which gives us great comfort that we didn't make a misstep in his care. But it does make us wonder what happened.

    Leven as a cria with his mom, Greta.

We will miss his sprightly prancing, bullying his brother Dark Star, playful attention, curiosity, slight skittishness, and racing around the pasture. 

Three years was not nearly enough time with you. You were our fun and adventurous alpaca. Rest in peace, Leven.

  Shady Grove Alpacas The Eleven:
          9/11/2012 - 9/25/2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

New Adventures

I know I am currently overly obsessed with the turkeys and should probably rename the blog something akin to "The Fairest Foul." The turkeys are definitely sucking the media space on the blog right now, kind of like Trump is always on TV these days. Trump Turkeys.

The turkeys are now released into their outdoor enclosure. They are enjoying their time out on pasture. Big adventures are keeping them very busy. 

The only problem is bedtime when they insist on laying right next to edge of the cage where a raccoon could easily reach in and strangle them. So we are putting them back into their little cage that is not near the edge of the enclosure.

Today we visited some farmers nearby who have Southdown babydoll sheep. They are quite possibly the cutest sheep I have ever seen.

After we get our dead Ash trees removed, we may decide to get a few. This little brown one was particularly adorable.

Nothing like a tiny, friendly sheep to make your day perfect. I'm up for that adventure! 

And maybe now that I have blogged about sheep, I can put together a post about a finished project. A project that was finished three months ago. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ya Look Like A Turkey

Need I say more?
They are definitely starting to look like the adult animals they will become.

Yesterday was the first day we let the turkeys on the lawn.

There was a lot of peering around for a while before they got used to the new environment.

Lots of fun was had chasing around a leaf, pecking at grass and bugs (but not quite getting them into their beaks), and bullying. The little one is still much more aggressive.

Most of their feathers are in. Soon they will be outside permanently and enjoying the fresh pasture and fall air for good. We are looking forward to cleaning the garage...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Needle Felting: Poking Fiber is Fun!

This summer my nephew and niece, "The Crafty Cousins," both got the Klutz Needle Felting Kit as a vacation treat. 

My godson took a particularly enthusiastic shine to fashioning all the animals in the kit.
Here he is showing off most of his felted critter zoo!

After he was finished, he asked what color owls he should make:
Well, that's easy: purple and green, of course! I am so excited that my nieces and nephews are developing an interest in the fiber arts. They will certainly become famous on this proud Auntie's blog if they keep it up!

Speaking of children crafting with felt: I was doing some cleaning and ran across this old kit that I made when I was a child! I was shocked that I basically finished the project, because I was never very good at completing anything that wasn't required. Having said that, check out my version of Grandma's hair on the right...

In other news, some wild apple trees in the garden area are getting ready to treat us to applesauce, jelly, and dried fruit slices. My mouth is already watering!

Of course you are wondering about the turkeys. They are growing nicely and their feathers are starting to come in everywhere. For some odd reason they are very tame. They like to sit in my hand and take a little nap if I let them. Very peaceful. The one I am holding is a bully, though. It takes every opportunity to peck the other turkey's beak or feet. 

Well, summer is most unfortunately over for me. Last week I spent a lot of time preparing for Orchestra Camp. The students come tomorrow for four long and fun days, followed by a three day weekend and then back to business on August 10. It's going to be a good year!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Peep, Peep, Gobble, Gobble!

The Farmer has a new project: TURKEYS! The chicks are so adorable and they are constantly making cute peeping noises. One of them is a bully and pecks the other in the beak whenever possible. I guess you have to establish pecking order immediately.

There is plenty of beauty in the yard right now. The side of the house has exploded with snapdragons. I have been pretty aggressive about cutting them after blooming and for bouquets in the hopes that they will continue to multiply the side shoots.

The last of the broccoli harvest came in today. Now I must decide what to plant in that bed next...

Last summer the chickens got to eat a lot of spoiling tomatoes that have reseeded themselves. Kind of a fun mess. It will be interesting to see what the yields are.

In the two days that have not featured rain as the main weather attraction, the tomatoes I planted on purpose are starting to get red! The sunny skies have produced a sigh of relief from many a garden bed. We'll probably be complaining about the lack of rain in a month again...

The gooseberries were picked before the chipmunks found them and immediately made into jam instead of getting frozen. I think I will give these cute jars away for the holidays this year.

Finally, the product of my rampant weed cultivation is finally dry and stored as a winter's worth of dried chamomile tea. But not to worry, new plants are sprouting, preparing us all for the fresh chamomile tea experience, as well as continued weeding.

Enjoy your summer days!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Celebrating Miracles and Life

The last week has been difficult and emotionally draining. In spite of the emotional roller coaster, there have been so many moments of good fortune, serendipity, blessing, luck, answered prayers, that I thought I would share some of them here.

A few hours after I posted for last week's Yarn Along, the intended five-week-old recipient went to the hospital with a life-threatening condition. After harrowing treatments, many question marks, and continued confusion in the NICU, it looks like the little one will finally be going home on Friday. So let's look at that completed sweater.

Never mind that I still can't place button holes on the button band in spite of excellent and simple instructions. I wrapped it up and The Farmer presented it to the family on Thursday afternoon. It has stayed with the patient in the NICU. There are many happy memories of Cooperstown, NY, and road tripping with two nephews knit into that sweater. Many wishes of healing and comfort to my little niece. I hope she feels the love and happiness.

Sunday afternoon, as we were leaving my sister-in-law's house, we got a flat tire. Her neighbor, whom she had not met yet, immediately gave us some tire inflating cans. The tire inflating cans proved ineffective, but it just so happened that another neighbor's lawn care people were finishing up their work and they loaned us their jack and some other tools. Less than 90 seconds after we were finished, a tire store van cruised down the street to drop a customer off. We flagged him down and he arranged an emergency appointment for us. It took longer than we wanted to leave, but we did finally get on the road. After a dinner break, I uncharacteristically continued driving, and narrowly missed not one, but two deer standing together in the middle of the highway. There was no question that The Farmer would not have seen them coming...

Finally, yesterday evening, we found our cria with an infected eye. We dutifully washed it out according to the instructions of my opthamologist brother. But after a picture text consult with the vet, she suggested that it was perforated and would not heal correctly, even possibly with surgery. It would cost us a lot of money or the loss of livestock. Commence painful discussion of what to do. We decided to take it to the emergency vet to have it euthanized. (Being a farmer is TOUGH business. You don't realize it until you face this situation.) A young vet tech in the back room fell in love with the cria and convinced us that she wanted the animal, would pay for the surgery, and take it home to her new farm. We were dumb founded. Really, we did not know what to do with this woman's generosity, it was so unexpected. The surgery was this morning and went really well. We are in shock and missing the little darling so much today (as is its poor mother), but what a gift for us, to know that this little life was spared. We were going to sell it in a year anyway, so the transaction was just earlier in this case.

Life is to be cherished. I am taking nothing for granted for the foreseeable future. 

(Joining Ginny again today. No book recommendations - too drained.)