Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No Reveal - Yarn Along

It's been a while since I participated in a yarn along. I'm not quite ready to do my holiday reveal, since a few gifts are still in progress and others haven't been received yet, so we'll look around at a few other things in the works.

First, we have my mindless project, the Done by Monday afghan that has been so soothing to work on. One more set of skeins to go and it should be ready!

And I'm working on some hand warmers (pattern: Gimme Some Love Fingerless Mitts) and reading All the Light We Cannot See. It's a great book for people with tiny attention spans. Each chapter is 2-3 pages long, but it is a page turner because each new chapter is about the other story line. So you can't stop. 

It's also new score study time! I ordered it yesterday and it arrived this afternoon. I'll admit that I already numbered all the measures! And listenend to the piece about 20 times. I might be excited!

Find other yarn along and book posts here and enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Circle of Life

The great turkey raising of 2015 did come to a close Thanksgiving week.

The birds produced 7 and 4.5 pounds of meat, and were thus roasted together with a topping of thyme from the garden.

Our dinner guests enjoyed the feast. I leave you with a picture of my friend's pardoned bird sitting in her stairway:

There are 6 new Astrolorp chicks (AKA Peepers) growing up in the garage. 
I'm lobbying to keep them around for their egg laying and nurturing skills, but with our luck, their feistiness may be foreshadowing a flock of roosters.

It's Christmas soon, which will finally give me a chance to show you some secret knitting projects that are the works. Can't wait! 

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...

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!