Monday, December 29, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
One of the best things to happen in the last few days was a hike my husband and I took on Christmas afternoon. We decided to hike down to the creek that runs from the back of our farm and it was such a reminder of all the good things about where we live and how lucky we are to live here. We can walk out our back door and in 5 minutes be in a totally different world. Why we don't take the time to do it more often is beyond me. One of the things about living on a farm is that the list of chores never ends. There is always some task we could be working on and the challenge is to take time to enjoy our life, without becoming completely worn out by it. I'll confess that I had to be persuaded to go along yesterday because I thought I had too much to do to get ready for the family get-together today. Once we were down in the creek, all the to-do lists just floated out of my head. It was a wonderful little stretch of breathing space.
I'm confused about what day of the week it will be in the morning, but I really don't think it matters. My plan for tomorrow is to feed my animals and knit---period!
I hope you all had just the Christmas you were wishing for this year!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
My husband stayed home today because our farm road is treacherous in this kind of weather. It is one quarter of a mile long, down a hill, across the creek and up a hill on the other side. If you happen to slide off the road, it could be a while before you came to a stop. When I walked out this afternoon to get the paper and the mail, I could see lots of little rabbit prints and a few deer tracks, but otherwise, not much had been stirring.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp honey
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 1 inch cubes
6-8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (they say optional, I say required!)
salt & pepper to taste
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over med. heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to turn golden, about 5-10 minutes
2. Add the honey and cook until it bubbles
3. Add the squash and 6 cups of the stock to saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until the squash is very tender, about 30 minutes, adding more liquid as needed. Remove pan from heat and cool for 15 minutes
4. In blender, puree a few cups of soup at a time. Strain for a smooth soup. **I use my stick blender for this and do it right in the pan**
5. Return soup to the pan. Add cream, salt & pepper. Heat until very hot, but not boiling
In a way, I needed this day to ratchet down some of the pressure I'm starting to feel about not being ready for Christmas. On the other hand, you could say it's been another excuse for procrastinating a little longer. In any case, my "snow day" is coming to an end and tomorrow means back to the real world.
ps-I had the name of the magazine wrong. It is Organic Style and not Organic Life and in a strange sort of coincidence, Susie Quick, the woman I've been sharing some Saturday Market time in Midway with, was the food editor of that magazine. I never cease to be amazed at how small the world really is!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday I spent the day in Midway, which is a wonderful village here in Woodford county. It was the day of their Christmas Open House and all the shops were decked out for Christmas. I set up my little display in the Honest Farm Market and was pleasantly surprised to sell quite a few of my hand knitted mittens, hats and Christmas ornaments. If I can manage to get a few more knitted this week, I may go back next Saturday. Susie, who owns the Honest Farm Market, had wonderful baked goods and beautiful arrangements of greenery and holly. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon and I managed to get in some knitting time, too. My impression was that people were looking for smaller and more personal gifts this year. I know the economy is in a worrisome state, but I think it would be a good thing if we could all think smaller and more personal, not just this year, but always.
We have a winter storm warning on for this afternoon and tonight and I am so happy about it. I'm off to the grocery right now to get cookie making supplies. The annual Christmas baking marathon is about to commence!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
One small success story is this purse. I knitted and felted it many, many months ago. Finally got the handles and closure flap sewn on a while back and will hopefully finish the lining this week. The pattern for the purse is from the Pursenalities book. The fabulous leather handles were purchased two summers ago in Napa Valley at a knit store in St. Helena, Muse. (I have seen them advertised in some knitting magazines.) I bought two pair even though at the time I had no idea what I'd use them on. The yarn I used is some of my own handspun, hand dyed, plus some handspun natural colored charcoal gray for the bottom and trim around the closure flap. I'm not sure about the button at this point. It's not really necessary because there will be a magnetic closure under the flap. I'm pleased with the way this turned out and think I will actually use it a lot.
The Christmas knitting is not going so well this week. Revisions are under way.
Monday, December 8, 2008
If you have a few hours and are feeling creative, give these little houses a try. One of the best parts is taking a walk outside and trying to think of ways to use all the supplies nature is providing at this time of year. I'm thinking I want to make a village now and my husband has suggested a "model" of our own farmhouse. Not so sure I'm ready to tackle that one yet, but I do think I see a barn taking shape.
ps-sorry about the weird layout. Blogger and I cannot agree on picture placement this morning and, so far, Blogger is winning!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Speaking of patients, here's one waiting his turn (though he doesn't know it yet). Buddy is wondering where all the girls have gone! His work is finished in that department. I separated him from the ewes last weekend and he is not very happy about it. He's in the pasture with Strawberry, Pippi and Big Boy for the moment. They are pretty much ignoring him and he is busy pacing the fence, gazing longingly at the ewes. Our plan is to make a wether out of him (same as gelding a horse) and after a few weeks and the testosterone has gotten out of his system, he can go back in with the big girls or the little girls. He has bred the adult ewes and is related to all the ewe lambs, so that is the end of his career as a ram. He's such a nice boy and has a gorgeous fleece, so he's getting to stay (even if it is in an "altered" state).
Be sure to check out Kristin Nicholas' blog post today. She has a great Christmas craft tutorial for making really cute little birch bark houses. I'm inspired to round up the supplies tomorrow and try this with two of my grandsons, who will be here for the weekend. They love this kind of thing and since it is going to be cold (in the 20's) the whole time they are here, it will be fun to have this project on the to-do list. We might even fit some Christmas baking in there, too.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sorry, I just couldn't help messing with you a little bit. That's just one of our uninvited guests grazing beneath the bird feeders. I feed black oiler sunflower seeds to the birds and I guess the skunks really like it too. There are at least two of them that have been showing up and staying for an hour or more nearly every evening. This is not a good thing. It is a miracle that I haven't accidentally walked too close to them. I often go to the barn after dark and sometimes don't remember to fill the bird feeders until late. Needless to say, this is a delicate situation and I'm afraid the eventual outcome is not going to be favorable to the skunks. They are kinda cute, but not cute enough to risk my being rendered unfit for the company of others through the holidays.
Thanksgiving was great. Way too much food, a house full of relatives and then the usual collapse on the couch in front of the fire. Now, Christmas is coming at a gallop. Thanksgiving was later than usual this year and now it is just a little over 3 weeks until Christmas day. The Christmas knitting list may undergo some revision if I don't get really busy this week. Which seems to me a perfectly good reason to build a fire and settle on the couch to watch "A Christmas Story" (for about the 50th time, but I never get tired of it) and put in some quality knitting time.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Barn chores don't stop for the holidays. I've been feeding twice daily since back in the fall because of the drought, though we have had some rain lately and the grass has greened up a little. Some mornings I can hardly make myself put on the coat and boots and hat and gloves to go to the barn, but once I'm there, I end up staying longer than I really need to, just observing and interacting with the animals. There's no doubt, life would be so much easier without them, but also, maybe not as interesting. I mean, look at that face. How could I wish he was not here? There's always a trade-off.
Of course, in the midst of all the cooking, I really want to sit down and knit. I started one of those scarves and it is the perfect "pick up and put down" project. No patterning, no increasing, decreasing, cabling, just two rows in one color and two rows in the other---and short rows, at that. Love it.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
I thought there would be a picture of my finished Jo Sharp "everyday sweater" to show today, but you're getting an almost finished picture instead. I actually wore it to Wednesday knitting, but decided it needed a partial do-over. It has a rolled neck and is supposed to be the same on the bottom and the sleeves, but I didn't like the roll at the bottom, so I knitted a turning row and knitted a hem. Didn't like that either. So, I have cut a stitch, detached the hem and have picked up the live stitches and am knitting downward on a knit two, purl two bottom edge. I sure hope I like this version. The bottom edge is starting to get some mileage on it already. The Wednesday knitters decided this sweater is just about as good as your favorite sweatshirt for comfort. Now that I have the bugs worked out I'm thinking about starting another. I used Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed Aran in Brindle (it's more interesting than it appears here). It was knit from the neck down, has raglan sleeves and is an easy, fast knit. Not the most exciting sweater I've ever knit, but I'm thinking it will be worn a lot.
The weekend is here and we might have snow flurries! (That makes me unreasonably happy!) I hope your weekend weather is just what you're wishing.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I also made two more loaves of oatmeal-whole wheat bread from a recipe I got here. I made two loaves last Monday and they tasted great, but looked a little homely. I think I didn't knead the dough long enough. Today's loaves look better, but still seem a little flatter than I would have hoped. Next time I'll try slightly smaller pans. The only bad thing about me baking bread is that I want to actually eat it. I mean all of it!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Like father, like daughter! Now you can really see where Miss Priss gets her good looks.
Monday, November 3, 2008
And speaking of farm animals, the picture shows that someone around here has been on the job! Those orange patches mean that Whitey has been breeding the ewes and, hopefully, we will have some lambs in late March. He has covered 5 ewes so far and the other 4 ewes that are in with him should be cycling any day. Now it is just a matter of watching to see if any of the ewes get re-marked and keeping my notes on the calendar up to date. One of the professors in the Agriculture department at the University of Kentucky tried to drill into our heads a favorite saying of his --"The faintest record is better than the fondest memory". The older I get, the more true that saying becomes!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Since I didn't do any driving, I did do some knitting. Did I finish up any of the many projects I took with me? Why no! I cast on for a new project, but one I've been wanting to make for a long time. I am knitting Eric's Glovelets from Green Mountain Spinnery I have had the pattern forever and am embarrassed to admit that I had not actually read to comments describing the pattern. I assumed Eric was a man and the glovelets were man sized, but I liked the design so much I was intending to change the pattern to fit me. Turns out, Eric is a designer and musician (woman) who lives somewhere close to the Spinnery. I have finished the first glovelet and am working on the second one. It's a pretty quick knit and would be great for Christmas presents. The baby cable pattern keeps it interesting and I am loving the mossy green tweed. I'm using 2 balls of Rowan Scottish Tweed DK (color # SH015) that I found in a sale bin on my last trip to Cincinnati. (It looks as though it will take about 1 1/2 balls.) I did lengthen them enough so that they came further down my fingers and if I knit another pair, I will make the thumb smaller. These are likely to become my every day mitts this winter.
Friday, October 24, 2008
This morning, I brought everyone up so they were either in the barn, or had shelter under one of the shed roofs. I know that is a little over-protective, but because it is going to get cold tonight, I didn't want them to be wet and cold. The sheep, especially, can handle the cold and usually prefer to be outside, but not if they are wet. The Bluefaced Leicester fleeces part right down the middle of their backs in the rain and they seem miserable. So, in they came and settled right down for an afternoon of snoozing with the sound of the rain on the metal roof of the barn. I love hearing the sound of the rain and of the animals quietly resting. It inspired me to stay in my work room in the barn and spin up some roving I recently dyed. I'm in the process of taking pictures and setting up a shop on Etsy. (I need to develop actual useful skills for this.) I have only been selling my yarns and roving locally, but Susan Anderson has given me the encouragement I needed to extend myself a little and see what happens.
I have spent the last hour or so sorting through knitting projects to take on the road tomorrow. I'm meeting two friends at 6 am and we are driving to the Southeastern Animal and Fiber Fair, just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Driving down and back----tomorrow. That's 9 hours of road knitting time. Actually, since there are three of us, and if we take equal turns at driving, it is 6 hours of knitting time, give or take a little for eating and other necessities. I am definitely up for a little road trip. I was so disappointed to miss Rhinebeck this year, but am planning on next year already. So, I've settled on socks, a scarf, a nearly finished sweater and there's the outside possibility I may cast on for some mitts. Well, you know, I might get tired of working on just one thing. It's good to be prepared!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Weird looking eyes on those sheep. They don't actually look blue like that..more like a goldish brown. That ewe on the right is one we call "Crazy-Eyes". She was really, really sick about 6 weeks ago and did her best to die on us. Somehow we pulled her through, but she still has those wild looking eyes! (If you are a Larry David fan--"Curb Your Enthusiasm"--, you may remember a show with a character called Crazy Eyes---not quite the same!)
Monday, October 20, 2008
This is what my living room and front hall look like right now. I've turned them into drying rooms for wool! Thank goodness I have a husband who tolerates this kind of foolishness.
I'm in the midst of washing fleeces right now and that's the only reason I forced myself back inside for a while today. I'm getting ready to take some fleeces to the mill to be carded into roving and I like to wash them myself, rather than have the mill do it. Ohio Valley Natural Fibers is about 2 hours from me and I like to make an appointment and take my fleeces for processing and bring them home the same day. I usually take my spinning wheel or some knitting and just hang out while the fleeces are being done, although sometimes I drop the wool off and drive on in to Cincinnati and make a Trader Joe's run! (Sadly, we have no Trader Joe's in Lexington.)
So, I've spilled out onto the screened porch and guess I'll have to quit for today. I don't think I can get away with spreading wet fleece on the kitchen floor!
Hope you are having great fall weather wherever you are and can get outside and enjoy it.