Monday, September 30, 2013

And you thought I was exaggerating!

Four inches, that's how much was in the rain gauge this morning before I dumped it – and it has already rained some more. While I was gone – sometime on Friday – Brian dumped 1.5 inches out of it. So that's 5.5 inches in less than a week. I'm thankful Boulderneigh is on a hill!

They may not realize it, but the sheep are thankful not to be sodden, muddy messes. Here are Blake and Browning, contentedly munching hay in their dry stall. (I love the peek into their neck fleeces – and Blake's forehead tuft! :-)

This morning it stopped raining long enough for Annabelle to venture out of the Ram-ada Inn to look for her grain. The strong south winds of yesterday's storm blew quite a bit of rain into both the Inn and the Sheep Sheraton, but the sheep still had some shelter.

This morning after dumping the rain gauge, I checked on my herb barrel. Looks like there is still plenty of goodies available for the picking and using. I need to check on the garden proper, too.

The chive has a sweet little flower stalk:

The sunset maples planted next to the house's south wall are turning gold. The dogwood's leaves are getting rosy, too. The rest of the deciduous trees are still green. With the weather we've been having, my brain says the branches should be BARE!

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Whiplashed and awash

Wow, what a difference a day can make! When I last posted, the weather forecast was for a dry, sunny stretch of "Indian summer" through this weekend. But a typhoon in Japan made a beeline for the Pacific Northwest, so instead of sun, we've had record-breaking rainfall. Fortunately, the worst of it waited until my friend and I were back from our short road trip.

The trip itself was good. It was great to have the travel time to catch up with my friend; we had a wonderful little visit with my dad and his wife, and came back with a truck loaded with all kinds of goodies. There was the cart and harness my friend bought – the impetus for the trip; a chest of my grandma's that my dad has been keeping for me since my grandma's funeral; a lathe and some bubinga wood that my dad gave us to play with; and some goodies from Country Mercantile, a favorite foodie gift shop north of Pasco, WA.
My grandma's chest
My dad's lathe
One of my grandma's things I'd tucked inside the chest
A much classier transport vehicle for a spindle and fiber!
The road trip's most unusual sighting . . . by far!

I no sooner got back Friday evening than the ex-typhoon was upon us. Rick and Brian had gotten the hen yard covered, so the only creatures without sufficient shelter were the four sheep in the wooded lot. So part of our chores included moving Bart and Browning into Sammy's vacated stall (Sammy was Rick's old cutting horse) so the three wethers and Bramble could move into the Sheep Sheraton. The breeding group have been sheltering inside the Ram-ada Inn, so I'm pretty sure these four are happy to be inside right now, too:

Today I rowed sailed drove over to Canby for brief meet-ups with Laura and the Jenkins at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. Laura taught a class titled "How Do I Spin This?" and had a variety of fiber samples for her students – including roving from the half of Bart's hogget fleece she bought from me. I liked it so much I bought some back from her! I also bought some dyed merino/tussah silk roving from a vendor; I think they would look very nice together:

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The long and winding road

It took me almost three months, but I finally finished spinning and plying my first entire fleece's worth of roving (it still needs to be washed and measured). Since Browning is Brian's wether, I asked Brian if he'd "model" the yarn:
He said it was "itchy," but that could have been from the sheer amount and weight (approx. 47 oz.) of yarn around his head and neck. Still, I'm wondering if he'd actually wear a hat knit from this or not (he has requested a hat and fingerless mitts).

I am still spinning up the last of the Bubblegum roving on one of my Jenkins Turkish spindles; it will be  my "travel spinning" the next two days. A friend of mine is driving to Spokane, WA to pick up a horse harness and cart tomorrow and coming back Friday; I'm riding along for a brief visit with my dad and his wife. Long before Brian was born, this particular friend and I used to spend hours and hours together on horseback and hauling our horses to the beach and shows, so I'm looking forward to a "girlfriends' road trip" with her! I wish I had something on the needles to work on, but I'm too tired tonight to decide on a project, gather materials, and swatch. I think part of my weariness comes from attending a memorial service for my homeschool co-op friend today. She was only 39.

The rain falls, but then God sends His "bow of promise." Sorrow and sunshine. Such is life.

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Colors and creatures

I've noticed fall colors showing up here and there for awhile now. This gorgeous Japanese maple was at the entrance to a store I visited Monday.

My Japanese maples at home aren't showing much color yet, except for their samaras.

The handsome Nightcap at rest.

This HUGE slug was just outside the garage door when I came up from doing morning chores. I just had to place an egg nearby for scale, which made it pull in its optic tentacles and constrict a bit. I should have disposed of it somehow, given that it's a destructive, introduced species, but I just couldn't stomach it. Maybe a raccoon will munch on it tonight!

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, September 23, 2013


With the sudden onset of Fall, my DH has been busy battening down the hatches, so to speak. He and Brian moved some of the wood into our woodshed, and tarped the rest.

He's been busy building a roof over the new, bigger henyard.

Covering the old henyard with a tarp last winter made a HUGE difference in keeping hens, henhouse and eggs clean and dry. (I'm not sure why we're upgrading from a tarp to a structure that can handle a Minnesota snow-load....) Rick plans to use some translucent panels for natural light, and has also removed some overhanging limbs since I took the above photo.

On the far side of the henhouse is the wooded sheep lot, where Bramble, Bart, Bittersweet and Bing are spending breeding season. The trees provide some shelter, and the deluxe hay feeder Rick built keeps their hay and heads dry.

Browning (whose 2012 fleece I just finished spinning) and Blake are in the Sheep Sheraton, as much out of sight and sound of the ewes and visiting ram as I can manage. The arrangement seems to be working; Blake isn't acting like a frustrated ram at all.

The breeding group is the only one with both outdoor quarters and shelter, the Ram-ada Inn. (No, I haven't seen any breeding action, not even sniffing or lip-curling since the first 24 hours after I turned Nightcap in with the ladies. It's going to be a looong five months to see if I get any lambs by him!)
That's Annabelle standing in the doorway, trying to decide if she wants to elbow in for some hay after getting her hand-out.
Every morning after I serve up the breeding group's breakfast hay and the other three sheep go inside to eat, I sneak Annabelle a little grain. She is ten years old and a bit on the thin side; I want her to have sufficient calories to support herself and a set of twin ewe lambs. (I'm practicing the power of positive thinking!)  ;-) She produces a G2 Fine Premium fleece for me every year, has produced at least one ram (Bunker) with a G1 Superfine Premium mature fleece, and has given me two sets of ram/ewe twins with very nice fleeces as well. I know her lambs will not disappoint.

That's it for now from . . .

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I love a dynamic sky. To me, a clear blue sky isn't much better than a slate-gray sky; bor-ing. Give me blue sky and clouds – big and towering or wispy and veil-like; throw in a rainbow and you have a skyscape. Yesterday afternoon while Brian was at a youth group activity, Rick and I took a walk under a wonderfully dynamic sky. I took lots of photos, but none of them truly captured what was delighting my eyes. (And yes, unfortunately, my camera has some "artifacts" inside it that are showing up in my photos.)

Some of my "ground clouds:"

Taking a cue from the Autumnal Equinox, our first "winter storm" moved in today. It is not amounting to that much wind or rain at this point, but it certainly looks and feels like fall. I'm drinking peppermint tea, canning applesauce and wearing Polarfleece. What are you doing on the first day of fall?

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fat fiber

Doing the happy dance here; today I finished spinning the last of Browning's big bag of brown roving!

As the second bobbin filled, I was getting oh-so-close to the end of the fiber. I couldn't believe I was going to luck out and not have any drips and drabs left over! The flyer arms started brushing the yarn, so I increased the take-up. Things got tighter still, and roving remained. Hmmm. My WooLee Winder doesn't wind perfectly evenly; there's always more room at the far end of the bobbin than there is at the front. So I took the bobbin off my miniSpinner and squeeeezed it – I squeezed the other full bobbin, too. Then I packed more on each bobbin until the roving was gone. (Where there's a will, there's a way!)
Now those are FULL bobbins!

I'll let those singles rest until Sunday. In the meantime, there is still 'Bubblegum' to spin up. I'm alternating between different wind-ons to keep the cop from getting so tall on this mid-whorl Jenkins Aegean spindle. Top or bottom, it's rather addictive to watch the interlocking threads layer on!

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Harvesting photos and food

Images from home this week:

Images from the vineyard down the lane:

All I could gather without a bushel basket this morning:

I've got to head back out with a bowl for tomatoes. I think I'll make Zucchini-Tomato Toss and a rice pilaf with carrots and onions for supper. There's nothing like 'shopping' at home!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Can't stay blue...

...when yellows and reds grow out of trees!

Rick and I noticed this glorious fungus in its early stages last weekend. When I remembered it again this morning, it was in "full flower." I can only remember seeing it one other fall; don't know if I've missed it other years, or if it takes special conditions to grow. It's on the trunk of an ancient, mostly dead, cherry tree near the house. I assume it has a name; anyone know what it is?

I talked to my folks today; they were on their way home after having done most of what they could for my niece. They got a refund on their plane tickets to Oregon, but now have to start from scratch looking for reasonable fares and a time frame that works for their schedule. Sigh; I was so looking forward to seeing them now. :-(

I am enjoying our cooler, wetter, greener weather. My dahlias look pretty happy, too.
Not that I've been outside that much, other than to do chores and ride Lance. I've been spinning Browning's roving every chance I get; with the bottom of the bag in view, I've become a little, um, obsessed. The knitting part of my brain keeps trying to butt in with projects it wants to start, but the spinning part is on a roll and giving no ground.

That's it for today from . . .