Saturday, December 3, 2011


The cold weather is setting in. I am very excited that I still get to eat fresh veggies from the garden. The cold frame plus a warm-ish Fall really helped my plants mature nicely.

Spinach salad: it's what's for lunch almost every day! I am only plucking the outer leaves so that the plants keep producing more from the insides. We had a wonderful spinach salad with mustard greens, mache, and early turnips for Thanksgiving.

Here are some mâché and turnips. The turnips are touching the top if the cold frame plastic and got a little frost damage this week. I may decide to harvest most of the greens and little turnips soon so they don't go to waste. I put some greens and baby turnips into a soup last week - divine!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yarn Along

Just popping in to say hello and join the yarn along at small things today. I tried to post last week and it didn't want to upload from my phone, so here we are, back to the old school way of blogging from the computer. How spoiled we get!

I'm still knitting a scarf with Brooklytweed's Wayfarer pattern. I am in the middle of chart C and keep making mistakes and ripping it back... Sigh... Almost finished with Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Just in time for book club on Monday night! It took me a while to get into the story, but that dry British humor was certainly enjoyable.

Happy Knitting and Reading!

Monday, November 14, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast **sniff**

After seven long weeks, our little darling cria boy and his mom returned to the Shady Grove Farm on Saturday. Dark Star is a little more than twice his original size now. He is already eating hay and grain and is much more solid than his former gangly self. He is ten weeks old today.

The Alpaca Farmer decided to re-breed 'Greta, which meant a little visit to the farm of origin. Alpaca crias for all - put in your order! They're awfully cute, as you might note...

It is nice to have the whole herd re-united again. Or for the first time, if you consider that Bella and Dark Star have not co-existed together yet. As you can see, Bella is separated from the others because she has a tendency to gobble up all the hay and grain while chasing the others away with her neck. She will even go so far as to eat the dog food. I have started calling her Miss Piggy.

Moonstar is lurking in the background... She is either plotting a play session or a domination match with her new pen-mate. The two "Stars" are hilarious to watch!

Till soon... HUM!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Winter Gardening

With the coming of the cold, I am looking forward to trying out some winter gardening. Unfortunately, my cold frame is a seriously drafty work in progress.

I recently read that it takes two 4x8 foot gardens to feed one person in the winter. I only have one box in that size and two people to feed, so I'm thinking that the draft won't really matter if I finish eating the goodies by November! I'll just start planting earlier in the spring.

Here is some spinach that is very tasty in salads.

Mâché and turnip greens are not quite as advanced. There are also some tiny carrot plants that may not make it. Additionally, the mustard greens and lettuce have re-seeded themselves in another bed. I should also post a picture of the colossal kale plants that will be consumed in great quantities soon.

I promise I'll do some knitting soon. I'll leave you with this inspiring photo of my mum plant.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Someone is gaining a lot of weight-about 3 pounds in one week!

We weigh Dark Star once a day on a hanging scale, much to the dismay of his mother.

Greta also enjoyed an additional grazing opportunity on a little walk into the pasture on Saturday.

Here's to good eating!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Of all the gifts, LIFE is the greatest!

Yesterday morning, the Alpaca Farmer said that there was a lot of humming going on in the barn during feeding time. Our animals are not usually very vocal, so this was interesting news. Mid-morning I was out gardening and I decided to check on the animals. Greta was lying on her side humming a mile a minute and I thought that there is no way we were not going to see a cria today. I left for five minutes to check on something and when I returned, the nose was already poking out, followed soon by legs and then the body. I got the whole scene on the video camera on my phone. I cannot recall a time when my heart beat faster and I was more nervous. If something went wrong, it would be all on me to fix and not kill the new cria. Fortunately, the breeder told us later that the whole process was exactly "by the book."

Anyway, enough about me. Let me introduce the new little boy "Dark Star" to you. Born in the 11 o'clock hour here at Shady Grove Alpacas on September 5.

He is wearing a little coat because it is cold and windy here. Alpacas do not thermo-regulate their body temperature during the first few days of life, so the coat is critical. Since it was freezing, we had to blow him dry with a hair dryer!

Greta is an outstanding mother. She was humming and bonding with Dark Star all day. And she was standing properly for nursing. She is very protective when we have to weigh Dark Star or bathe the umbilical cord. She has already spit off the house dog!

Dark Star stood up in record time, under an hour. And he was nursing within two hours. He was also already prancing around and trying to roll on the ground. The breeder said he is thriving more than the average cria!

Above everything, this little guy is eye candy. How can anything in the world be so CUTE!!!!

Have a "humming" day!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Saddle Mountain Hike 8/1

Our trip has taken us from the wonderfully mysterious and foggy Rainier National Park, through the waterfall filled Columbia River Gorge (pictures to follow) to the Oregon coast. This day was particularly unusual because it was clear throughout the whole day and the mountains were not shrouded in any clouds. The wildflowers were stunning and the views exquisite.

Way in the back you see three volcanoes. They are a bit faint, but are identified as (left to right) Rainier, Mount St. Helen's, and Mount Adams. Also visible but not on photo were Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson in the far distance.

View of Pacific Ocean.

The mouth of the Columbia River flowing into the Pacific.

Indian Paintbrush.

Some sort of geranium?? Still need to look this one up.

A beautiful succulent known as Common Stonecrop was blooming everywhere on the higher rocks.

Lilies and daisies with a back drop of green hills. I was obsessed with the lilies and must have close to 100 photos of different ones with various backgrounds.

An Iris


Tall Purple Fleabane

Fox Glove. These line the roadways throughout Washington and Oregon. Heal-all is at it's base.

Finally a view of Saddle Mountain from halfway down the trail.

This is turning out to be a most satisfying hiking trip. Happy Summer to you too!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ahhhhhh.... holidays! This year's hiking and camping trip is to the Pacific Northwest where we are starting with Mt. Rainier National Park. The flight in was clear and beautiful, but then more typical weather took over for yesterday and this morning. The sun is showing itself in spurts.

There are lots of great waterfalls in the park, including Sylvia Falls below. The trees are giant, old, and spectacular, often towering almost 200 feet above our heads. It is difficult to get perspective without a person in the picture or just being there. The sun showed itself just as we hiked to Box Canyon. Just behind are the hints of the mountain!

Happy hiking/ camping/ vacationing!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blogging on my phone...

The world is a truly astonishing place. Who would have ever guessed that one could write and take pictures on a lazy Saturday morning and have it broadcast all over the WORLD... using a TELEPHONE!!! That very thing is what I am attempting right this minute.

Let's go look at the garden.

Some of the yummy veggies and pretty flowers that I have around here.

And here are some alpacas for good measure.

Stay cool. Hopefully this heat wave will break soon!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yarn Along - 2

Hooray for Wednesday! Why? Because I am joining the Yarn Along at Small Things again this week. So much fun!

Yes, I am feeling a little ADD about my knitting this summer, as this is the third unfinished project on parade. I am hopeful for a fast turn around on this one though... This week's knitting is the Wayfarer Scarf by Jared Flood. I am using some of the hand spun yarn that was gifted to me last weekend (see yesterday's post for details). I love the variability of undyed hand spun yarn as some different colors stripe themselves into the knitting. So far I am loving both the wool and the pattern. This is only the third brooklyntweed pattern I have tried, but I am always amazed by how much I am learning about construction, or in this case, stitch patterns.

Today's book is The Solar Food Dryer by Eben Fodor. Constructing a food dryer still seems awfully daunting to me. I think I will wait until a friend who knows his/her way around a toolbox and construction is on site to help me with this one. But the whole concept of harnessing solar energy is fascinating to me.

Hope summer is treating everyone well!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wooly Wealth

Last weekend was not only filled with family, but I also received some unexpected fiber-related treats.

These hand cards belonged to the great great great grandmother of my step father-in-law. His mother wanted the cards to go to a home in which they would be appreciated, which they certainly will be here! The woman who originally owned the cards is Cynthia Catlin Miller and she lived from 1813-1883 in Warren County, PA. She was an abolitionist who established the Female Assisting Society and the Ladies Fugitive Aid Society in Sugar Grove, PA. Her son Franklin Richard Miller founded the Miller Foundation Tree farm, the first tree farm in Pennsylvania.

The cards have "Sargent & Co, New York" printed on them with a galloping horse in the middle. It is unclear which era of the Sargent Company produced these cards. One article reads that J. B. Sargent's father's company made wool cards for the mills in the New England area. When J. B. Sargent took over around the 1860's, it sounds like the company he headed made more hardware and locksmith items. At any rate, the cards can be solidly attributed to the early to mid 1800's.

While the cards are in excellent shape still, I will DEFINITELY NOT be using them for carding fiber. The leather holding the metal teeth is in good condition, but the teeth are just a little rusty. They will serve as a nice decoration in my study!

A friend of my mother's friend is a very active spinner in Maryland. She must have run out of space to store all of her yarn goods, and so she is passing some of them along to me. I am very grateful, as I was about to order another batch of Jared Flood's lovely American-made SHELTER yarn for a hat and scarf project. I am sure, however, that he would approve of me using handspun, American made yarn for his Fortnight hat and Wayfarer scarf patterns in place of the SHELTER yarn.

She prepared some of the yarn for sale at the Maryland Wool Show in 1990. The little tag on the gray yarn states that it comes from a Copworth Gray sheep named Norman. The brown skeins come from a Romney Brown sheep named Helga. It's fun to have a "personal connection" to the yarn one is working with.

So now, if you will excuse me, I think I will cast on a project!