Saturday, November 21, 2015

Snow Bird

These are some cold turkeys today: first snow!

This turkey needs some straw...

Looking to get to Florida...
OK, probably not. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Less Shady, Less Grove

Sadly, the Emerald Ash Borer has laid waste to a majority of trees in the back section at Shady Grove Alpacas. We were afraid that some of these trees would topple over onto the barn and animals, so we hired some heavy duty equipment and people to help us remove all of this dead wood.

End of Day 1: lots of work remains.

Less woodsy.

Day 2: trees all down. View from back fence toward house and road.
The barn looks a little out of place now that all the trees are gone...

Fortunately, there are some live trees on the property line, but it is a much thinner look.

Many of the neighbors are helping haul the wood. Some have wood burning stoves, others want sawmill lumber to rebuild their cute historic wagons. All of them have antique tractors. So quaint and charming! 

Looking toward one of the brush burn piles and imaging a fun party soon! Also pondering how long it will be before we have a beautiful pasture here.
Let us know what inspiring ideas you have for land usage. We have a few ideas up our sleeves too...

I can't sign off without a great picture of a puffed up turkey!
Happy November!

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Long Time in Coming... Of Sweaters and Quilts

(This blog post is overdue by a good 4.5-10 months.)
Then again, some projects like to percolate for a while.  

Like when your mother sees a beautiful yarn and talks about it until your grandmother buys it from your aunt's hobby shop and sends it in the mail. There's no telling how long ago that was: +/- 20-30 years is a good guess. Then it gets handed to you after if has been discontinued, and has no ideas for you to work with. Not that you don't enjoy over-indulging in endless web surfing. But then when you find a remote pattern possibility that works with the yarn, it does not fit the taste of the recipient. Or then there was that pattern that was impossible to get sized right.

Well, let me introduce you to Trigere, which ended up as the winning combination of yarn and sweater. It still took me two years to finish this sweater. Wouldn't you know, the yarn is made of flax and cotton, which is oh-so-hard on the hands. But enough of the complaining. The smile on my mother's face when it was finally finished was worth every minute of indecision and discomfort. The compliments she receives from her friends and neighbors are heart-warming, and I am glad that I could take part in the creative process that made it possible.

I have enough yarn left over to make another smaller sweater with another pattern for me. I'll think it over for a few years maybe...

Another gift that took a while was a gift for me and The Farmer from my mother. It was discussed in 2002 after our wedding, at which point my mother and I went to the library to look at quilt patterns. I am super picky about quilts, but we settled on this tulip pattern:

The fabric squares also sat around many years for the perfect sets of inspiration to strike. I started joking that I might be finishing my own wedding quilt some day. Imagine our surprise when it materialized last Christmas as a gift!

It turned out way better than anything I could imagine. The quilting was all done by hand by a circle of ladies who gather to do such a thing once a week. The quilt is a true heirloom piece in its beauty and construction. I was speechless.

So worth the twelve-year wait!
And Happy 44th Anniversary to my own parents this day! Thank you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Greedy Gobblers

Watching turkeys grow up: can you think of anything more interesting? I'm having a great time watching them change and grow up. Maybe for the rest of you it's like watching paint dry?!

They are eating us out of house and home. We refill their food containers twice daily on occasion.

They're still adorable though. And still peeping instead of gobbling.

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...