Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guess who's going to Texas?

Guess who found it harder to say good-bye than she expected?!? (Don't worry; I've recovered. :-)

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, July 30, 2012

Down to seven

We lost Muffy as feared, so we are down to seven hens. Since Laura has a bunch of pullets, I asked her if she wants to sell any. Sounds like a couple of beautiful buff-colored hens will be coming to Boulderneigh!

In the meantime, Brian and his grandpa have created a couple of small chicken tractors out of leftover horse fencing, which Brian was eager to use. I think the poor hens were getting dizzy with all the swapping around he was doing to let everyone have a turn out on grass! Welsie-the-Welsummer is his current favorite; she does seem to accept him carrying her around pretty well:

Why does my boy look so old??? I still think of him as a young boy most of the time, but when I see him in photos I realize that he really is on the cusp of adolescence. Yikes.

Today is my dad's birthday, and the last day of their visit. We celebrated yesterday (Brian loves to plan a party!); it has been wonderful to have them here.

That's it for today from . . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Henry and Hermie

Although this will be news to my husband, this is Henry (as in Ford). Rick's grandfather purchased this 9N tractor nearly new, and it has been handed down through Rick's dad to him. Don't tell me men aren't sentimental; Rick wouldn't consider selling this thing in spite of its limited usefulness and I'm sure Brian will inherit it someday.

This is Hermie, a little Kubota my folks hauled all the way from Texas for us (yes, with their car). With a diesel engine, four-wheel drive, PTO and a front-end loader, it's like we've just gained a whole crew of hired hands! And the trailer it's sitting on? They are leaving that, too – just in time for hauling hay. Oh, how blessed we are!

Brian got first driving rights, then I got to try it. I am thinking our ability to continue living this rural lifestyle has probably been extended a good 20 years.

Speaking of rural living, Muffy is in the "hen hospital." I have no idea what is wrong with her, but am giving her lots of TLC in hopes of pulling her through it. This morning I set an x-pen up outside the chicken yard (she's too weak to consider flying or hopping out) so she can be near the other hens without getting picked on.

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Company's coming!

After three days of hard driving from Amarillo, TX, my folks should arrive sometime this evening. We are waiting with eager spirits, open arms – and berries!

Why would my folks drive all the way to Oregon from Texas in the middle of a brutal summer? Because they love us, and are incredibly kind and generous.

Brian has gotten the idea in his head that he could ride back to Texas with his grandparents for his first solo visit. The adults in the equation are contemplating this possibility. Stay tuned.

Oh, I finished plying the last of my yarn for the Tour de Fleece. Still need to skein and measure it, but I think it turned out well. I'm calling it Berries and Cream (53g, BFL/BFL-silk two-ply):
Think I have berries on the brain? Hmmm?

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, July 23, 2012

How we/I did

1. Pick and freeze blueberries. Picked 120 pounds of big, beautiful blues; I ran out of room in the freezers after 18 gallon Ziplock bags (5# each).

2. Haul hay. We located hay locally; they have enough for our needs and can keep it in the barn until we are able to pick it up. The price is higher than average; Rick is going by to look at it this week before we commit.

3. Trim sheep hooves. Too pooped to "prune."

4. Chop and bag thistles. Check – and then some! Packed two feed sacks full of thistles and some tansy from around the arena and the middle and upper pastures.

5. Take measurements for BLM Adoption Application. Nope, but I have more time to do this than I thought.

6. Ride Larry. Too drained to "dance."

7. Ply spindle-spun yarn. I got a late start and ran out of time. Will finish today.

8. Take final tally photo for Tour de Fleece. Taken just before midnight. The last of Inky's roving, spun and plyed on a Jenkins Turkish spindle; 4 oz. of superfine Merino spun and n-plyed on my Hansen miniSpinner; white BFL and purple BFL/silk spun and being plyed on Jenkins Turkish spindles.

9. Scrub master bath. I didn't even have time to scrub ME!

10. Continue continual watering. Check.

Headlong into another busy day at . . .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sunday's to-do list

Pick and freeze blueberries.
Haul hay.
Trim sheep hooves.
Chop and bag thistles.
Take measurements for BLM Adoption Application.
Ride Larry.
Ply spindle-spun yarn.
Take final tally photo for Tour de Fleece.
Scrub master bath.
Continue continual watering.

Hoping against hope I get a good night's sleep at . . .

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friendship & fiber Friday

 Bing has finally forgiven me. He was a friendly chap before we banded him, but that didn't go well and he lost all trust in humans (a band broke, then Rick pulled a band too tight, so it took three tries). While he and Bittersweet were separated for weaning I worked on gentling both of them, and he's slowly come back around. Now he's a sweet tail-wagger again; I'm so happy!

Last night I finished plying the superfine Merino on my miniSpinner, completing my Tour de Fleece goals (but for the skeining of this) early. So I set myself a "dash to the finish line" goal of spinning the white BFL that Laura used as packing material for a horse bit she sent me. I'm spinning this fingering weight to ply with the very fine purple single on the spindle in yesterday's post; the fine single will add visual interest but very little weight to the final yarn.

Friday's floral offering:

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

To Saipan, with love

My best friend is moving tomorrow, flying off to Saipan with her little girl to teach for two years. (The education system in this state is disintegrating and teaching jobs are as scarce as hens' teeth.) I wanted to give my friend a special going-away present, a long-distance "hug" – but a tropical island is not a place for hand-knits. Then I saw some shiny cotton/rayon yarn, and an idea for a summery shawl was born. I got my friend's input on color and pattern (free on Ravelry) and have been busily working away for the past month to get it done. I delivered it yesterday – and then spent the rest of the day helping my friend clean her house. She didn't want to model the shawl in her grubbies, so I told her to send me a photo of her wearing it in Saipan. Here it is blocking (in my rush to get it done I forgot to check the pattern and didn't block out points):

Yarn is slowly accumulating on spindle and miniSpinner for the Tour de Fleece. Now that I've finished the deadline knitting, I think there's actually a chance of finishing the fibers I'm working on, and maybe even getting the superfine Merino on my miniSpinner plyed. (The fiber on my spindle will be plyed with some white BFL that I haven't started yet.)

Current homegrown treat: Bing cherries. Yum!

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Coincidence? I think not

Flag of Sweden

Flag of Shetland

My maternal grandmother – my favorite grand – was born in Sweden, and I've always identified strongly with that heritage. The other day I saw the flag of Shetland for the first time (on Jamieson & Smith's blog) and was struck by the similarity.

Of course, Shetland sheep and the sheep of Scandinavia are all part the Northern European short-tailed  group of sheep breeds, and those fierce Scandinavian Vikings were well acquainted with the Shetland Isles. 

Now here I sit in the NW corner of Oregon, me descended from Swedish (and German and Danish) stock and my little flock of Shetland sheep. It's a small world in so many ways.

Life is good at . . .

Friday, July 13, 2012

Here, here!

Why I Knit, by Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post

And another good article in response to an "Are you SERIOUS?" reaction in the media to a public knitter.

Almost finished with my WIP at . . .

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A "state of the homestead" report

We returned from horse-camping to full-fledged summer. The pasture grasses have gone dormant; landscape plants and the garden need regular watering. The strawberries are about done; we ate a lot fresh and put 25 pints in the freezer. The raspberries are going strong now; lots of those are going in the freezer as well. The vegetables we planted are growing well and there are various blossoms and some green tomatoes promising produce later.

On the right, seven bales of "sheep & Larry hay"
In the middle, the remaining certified weed-free hay for horse-camping
On the far right, a small stack of valley hay
The horses and sheep all need hay to supplement the limited grazing/browse remaining, and the barn is nearly empty. We haven't purchased any of the local valley grass hay yet in hopes that the one local producer who irrigates to get second and third cuttings of orchard grass and alfalfa will have some for us (demand outstrips his supply). He called yesterday evening to say he has 54 bales of second cutting orchard grass and a ton of second cutting alfalfa. It's considerably more expensive than plain ol' valley grass hay, but also has far more nutritive value, so we'll take it. With the alfalfa, we can get by with the balance in valley hay for the horses. The sheep do best on third cutting orchard grass; hopefully we can get several tons of that from the same producer later.

Lambies three on halters be

Since the sheep don't think their pasture contains anything appetizing, I usually have to halter and lead them all to get them where I want them to go during the day. While a bit labor-intensive, it helps in halter-training the lambs and gives everyone else a regular "refresher course."

"Look busy – the boss is coming!"
The chickens are on summer break, apparently; two eggs in one day (from EIGHT hens) is cause for celebration. :-/  You can see July's pathetic tally over there on the right. I could understand this if we were suffering from the extreme heat that much of the rest of the country is experiencing, but we aren't. Humph.

We do have flowers; the daylilies are showing off now, my astilbe are revealing their assorted colors for the first time since I planted them a year ago, and the Centaurea continue to bloom. I noticed this pink flower among the self-seeded starts:
I'm thinking the blue and white varieties I purchased (you can see them in the background) cross-pollinated!

My token Tour de Fleece spinning continues except for the allowed "rest day;" I'm knitting frantically  on the gift shawl whenever I can. I started the last chart last night; I figure I have six more hours of knitting to do, plus washing and blocking. Yikes!

That's it for now from . . .