Sunday, October 31, 2010

(apple)Sauce Sunday

After a special breakfast at the church this morning, followed by visits with a couple of our church members who were in the hospital, followed by a trip to Salem, I finally got started on applesauce this afternoon. I had the pleasure of Laura's company while processing of the first batch; she stopped by on her way home. Before she left we indulged in some fleece fondling, taking an undercover look at my three rams. She had admired Blake's fleece photo on my blog, and seemed as pleased with it in person. Interestingly enough, she didn't think Bunker felt as soft as Blake - or as Blackberry. Laura has a LOT more sheep and fleece experience than I do, so it will be interesting to see if the fleece histograms on these three next spring prove her hand. And if my two homies indeed test out to have nicer fleece than the ramling I purchased, I won't be at all disappointed!

By the time I quit this evening, 14 quarts of applesauce were canned. I probably have enough apples to do 35-40 quarts more; I'll be back at it tomorrow morning. Oh, and Blake got put back in the bachelor pad tonight; he was butting Katie this morning and Bramble tonight. Don't know if he's just frustrated because no one was receptive or what, but beating up on the ladies is not allowed!

That's it for now at . . .

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scenic Sabbath

We don't have a lot of fall color at Boulderneigh yet, but there is plenty in the area to enjoy. I stopped and snapped the photo below when I entered the church parking lot this morning; the blazing color put me in a right-worshipful mood.

Yesterday afternoon I got to take Russell for a short ride down the road. The vista from our gravel drive was spectacular; one small photo can't do it justice - although if I'd remembered to use the panorama setting on my new camera, I might have come closer.

Three rows into the vineyard along the road, I spotted some red leaves among the green ones. Since I haven't yet trained Russell to hold his breath and stand absolutely still, but needed the height from his back to capture the shot, I snapped away without much hope of a successful capture. When I downloaded the memory card to my laptop and saw the photo below, I felt like I'd bagged a trophy!

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, October 29, 2010

FOs for Friday

(FO=Finished Object)

When looking through Ravelry for small-yardage projects, I saw lots of patterns for cowls. My favorites were the button-up versions; I dislike pulling things over my head (and wearing hats). Besides my own, I thought of a few other necks that might appreciate a warming layer. So I grabbed some burgundy Bernat Big Berella Bulky yarn left over from a vest, and cast on Lavande on Monday. By Wednesday, it was done, and I'd cast on another with the same yarn in grey, left over from a cardigan I knit for Brian. Finished it yesterday; whee! Now to add buttons . . . and unravel that burgundy vest that never did fit right to make more cowls. But first, I'd better tear myself away from the high of instant gratification and finish this pair of socks so I can cross off one more item on my Christmas gift list!

I was also going to include some fiddling for Friday, but the videos I took of Brian and his teacher playing together at Brian's lesson yesterday are just too big to upload. Gotta investigate that manual, to see if I can shoot them in a lower resolution. The camera did a great job, though!

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thrilled-with-it Thursday

I thought about waiting until tomorrow to call this post "'Fess Up Friday," but dear friend Lois might have shot me. (Actually, Lois would probably be the last one on earth to pull the trigger, no matter how much she might want to! ;-)

I got excited about this camera after my friend's enthusiastic endorsement, followed by checking out its good reviews for myself. And seriously? A Leica (!) lens in a point-and-shoot digital? SOLD! But after a couple days of playing around with it, culminating in these photos of Inky and Bronwen taken yesterday morning, I've moved on to thrilled. I mean, how can you NOT love a camera that loves your sheep? So what is my new main squeeze? It is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS6. (My cost, complete with 2GB card, battery, charger, and case, was far lower on special at Costco.) Of course, our relationship will deepen and grow exponentially if I spend some time with the manual, but I find him pretty sweet straight out of the box. He even captured a pretty decent shot of the moon Tuesday night:

That's it for now from snap-happy. . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Woodland Wednesday

This morning dawned foggy but clear. Hurray, we get a one-day break in the rain! The sheep are out frolicking, and I WILL ride my horse this morning.

The light coming through the trees during morning chores was pretty. After taking the photo above, I decided to play with my new camera a bit. I took the photos below using some of the settings it offers, and love the variations. This new relationship is looking very promising!

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

So last night we made a trip to Costco, and I bought a new camera (the new Fujifilm was returnable). I'm not going to introduce him yet, since we've only just met and I don't know for sure that we're a good match, but our first date (morning chore time) was promising. I will say that he is no one that any of you suggested nor was he on my radar until I asked my friend and neighbor what she uses, and she tipped me off to the wonderful reviews this camera has garnered and the special Costco was running. Good thing I acted fast, though. The special ended yesterday.

Teaser Tuesday could also be called Twofer Tuesday:
I've decided that Blake gets to see if all the girls have settled. The weather is supposed to stay wet through the weekend, so using one clean-up ram means no one has to go out in the mud. Not sure what to do with Inky, except to put her in with Browning for the weekend (which means putting Bunker in with Blackberry). Part of me says to leave her with the girls, and if she just so happens to be cycling, I'll get to see what she can produce with the smooth-polled brown boy. Her condition has improved a wee bit and she's moving more comfortably, but I'm still worried about how well she would handle another lambing.

Teaser Tuesday could also be called Taming Tuesday:
With a functioning camera, I was able to capture the Sussex girls coming up to eat out of the can I use to fill the feeder. I think their colors are so rich; Rick is not enamored with the "splotches." Too bad for him!

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mournful Monday

Don't worry, it's nothing big or important. I'm just dejected over my camera circumstances. My beloved FujiFilm E550 that I purchased used on eBay is mostly dead and therefore completely undependable. When I really want to take a picture, it sees magenta.

So last week I bought a replacement FujiFilm, an inexpensive little AX200. I guess you get what you pay for. It's almost too small (hard to stabilize) and the shutter speed is really slow, the picture quality is disappointing and my HP All-in-One won't read its SD card. In other words, the near-instant gratification and blogging inspiration I depend on from my digital camera is sorely lacking. Perhaps we just need more get-acquainted time; I don't know. If I can return it at this point, I probably will. Otherwise, I guess we're stuck with each other.

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Simmering Sunday

I didn't get nearly as much done today as I planned; isn't that the way it always goes? I did get two double batches of green tomato salsa put up (six quarts and six pints), though, and the house smells deliciously vinegary.

Between and amidst the rain showers and downpours, Rick and Brian got the rest of the wood stacked in the woodshed. We're going to get a load of maple from a friend to keep that oak going, and then we'll be set with wood for the winter. Brian has been begging to have a fire, but it really isn't cold enough. Rick did turn on the furnace this weekend, though. Since it was his birthday, I bit my tongue. After all, he couldn't have his usual from-scratch German Chocolate Cake. I did, however, make him a very tasty lower-fat cheesecake, which we topped with pureed raspberries from our own patch. The filling was neufchatel cheese, fat-free sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla; I made the crust with graham crackers, a bit of sugar and Smart Balance. Brian liked it so much he wants it for his birthday!

It's supposed to be a wet week here, but that's fall in NW Oregon for you. Plenty of opportunity for indoor activities - like making the applesauce that didn't get done today!

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo Friday

Grape harvest is underway; hopefully the noisemakers will quit soon!

A rare focused capture of Oreo. (Tippy update soon, I hope.)

Ready for the ribbing! (Definitely fraternal twins.)


turned into this:
Heart-healthy, homemade, condensed tomato soup - YUM.

Sign of the season:
Prepared for the weekend rain storm:

Sunday I'll be inside turning these
into applesauce, and these
into green tomato salsa!

Good-bye, Byzantine; sire lots of beautiful babies!

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spinning on

I made a decision to add the final four ounces of alpaca singles to the eight ounces on my bobbin and get it done. I've never tried to put this much fiber on a bobbin, but it looked to me like there was room, and it is so much easier and faster to spin on a started bobbin than an empty one, at least for me on an Irish tension wheel. Hopefully my final three 4-ounce two-ply skeins due the alpaca farm owner will be pretty uniform, a result I wasn't sure I'd get if I did the last four ounces on my miniSpinner. But look out. Once I get this alpaca done, I am going to put some serious fiber-stash-busting mileage on that miniSpinner! I am looking forward to spinning roving from my own beautiful sheep, other pretties in my stash - and some colorful stuff I'm trading for undyed roving via Ravelry.

Other miniSpinner owners (even Beth of HansenCrafts, the maker of miniSpinners) have shared that when spinning in public they often get snarky comments about how they're "cheating" by using an electric spinner. I find that attitude sad and fascinating and amusing. Did the first people to use newly invented spinning wheels get those comments from other spinners who were still using spindles? (Probably.) Do we make those comments to people who put their clothes in a washing machine instead of scrubbing them on rocks in the nearest stream? Or shout ugly accusations to passing motorists because they aren't using a horse and buggy - or walking? While I love spindling and have had my own horse and buggy, I embrace and give thanks for the modern conveniences that give me, the homemaker, easier/faster ways to get what I need to done, so that I have a little time left over for those non-essential pleasures we call hobbies.

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dandy boys

Yesterday morning I took the time to catch and halter the little boys so I could put a coat on Bunker, put a bigger coat on Blake (size E on both of them), and keep Byzantine from interfering while I worked. Of course I took advantage of the opportunity to indulge in "fleece porn," practically drooling over both my boys' wonderful fleeces. Bunker's fleece is so dense that there wasn't too much VM to pick out/brush off; he is soft-soft-soft and has a super-fine crimp. Blake's is also very soft and dense, has a lovely crimp, a longer staple - and isn't it the most gorgeous color? (If you're a fellow fiberholic, prepare to swoon if you click to biggify. :-)
The jury is still out on his genotype, but to me it looks more modified than Ag.

Both ram lambs' fleeces will be tested next spring along with the rest of the flock. At this point in time I am very pleased with the quality of my three rams, and can see several years of mixing and matching them with my girls to produce wonderful Shetlands!

Random photo for the day:
The sky highway directly over our place.

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On again, off again

As evidenced by yesterday's photo-heavy post (the top photo is yesterday's sunrise), my camera can still shake off its sensor-sickness sometimes. But it seems to be sick more often than not lately, when it sees everything in disturbing shades (second photo). So today I'm going to check out the Fujifilm digital camera that a local store has on sale. I've liked my Fujifilms, two of which I got used (another was stolen), and if I stick with the same brand I can utilize the memory cards I already have. We'll see.

The new chicks are doing well. The Speckled Sussex are already living up to their reputation for being calm, curious, and friendly. They will let me reach out and stroke their backs while they are eating, and yesterday they mobbed me to eat out of the can of Start & Grow I brought in to refill their feeder. The two Easter Eggers are far more wary. The one with a hint of blue I'm calling Muffy:

The lighter one I call Buffy; she's a "mean girl" to the Sussex girls which does not please me. I've thought about throwing her in with the older hens to give the babies a break and so she can experience being the "pickee" instead of the "picker," but really don't want her dead, so I just catch and hold her and tell her she can be nice.
During the day the two breeds stay mostly segregated, but at night they all pile together in a feathery fluff to stay warm.

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, October 18, 2010

Simply spoiled by the weather

This weather is going to be hard to give up when the rains come and wrest it from our clutching grasp. I've been able to ride whenever I can fit it in (which led up to a successful clinic yesterday), the breeding group has been able to stay out 24/7, and we've gotten some projects done to make chores easier/nicer this winter.

Yesterday Rick and Brian finished the gates on the Ram-ada Inn, hung the second feeder on the back wall so I only have to carry hay to one side, and put the battens on as well. Here are Inky and Browning enjoying the day next to the handsome shack that has been sheltering them during breeding season:

We also moved the chicken yard so that we don't have to walk through the muddy muck to take care of the hens this winter. They now have a "pop door" for access to the yard, the much smaller opening of which will also serve to keep the henhouse warmer in the winter.

As of now the flock at Boulderneigh is almost at its winter census. Today Franna brought Blackberry home and picked up Barish. All the girls are together again (Katie is really picking on poor old Inky), with Blackberry and Browning in the Ram-ada Inn and the three little boys still in their lot together. (Byzantine leaves on Friday.) Here are final portraits from my 2010 breeding group. Ladies first:
Beautiful Bronwen, who could give me black gulmoget, black katmoget, black gul-kat or solid black lambs - or modified versions of any of those.

"Mean girl" Katie, who could throw black, grey, black katmoget or Ag grey katmoget lambs.

Sweet Bramble, who could throw all the same colors and patterns as her half-sister Bronwen.

Annabelle, who could throw white, black or black katmoget lambs.

And finally, the alien that was in their midst:
Seriously, don't you think the Klingons from Star Trek were inspired by breeding-season rams?

That's it for now from . . .