Monday, June 30, 2008

Saturday dyeing

Over the weekend, I got to do some major enabling with two friends. Both have been knitting about 2 years now and I thought it might be time to start expanding their horizons (addictions). Another friend who teaches spinning often hosts dye workshops and so I signed the three of us up for a day of playing with yarn and dye. I did dye 2 skeins of Knitpicks sock yarn and some roving from my sheep, but mainly I was there to cheer them on their maiden voyage into the land of no return. (Next on my agenda is spinning. They both profess to have very little interest in learning to spin, but just give me a little time!) It was so vindicating to hear them say over and over again how much fun it was learning to dye. I see more dyeing "play-dates" in our future.

My two skeins don't look like anything I have ever done before. I made myself pick colors and combinations I wouldn't be likely to wear. The one on the right is Country Classics Mt. Aqua and Key Lime and has new grand baby written all over it. The one on the right is a combination of Chestnut, Tomato Red, Pumpkin and a little of Cantaloupe on top of it all. Though I thought it wasn't for me, now I'm thinking it just might be! And, yes, that is the beginning of yet another sock toe already cast on. (How else, I ask you, could I really see what it was going to look like?) Country Classic dyes are really easy and basically fool-proof. They're a great way to get started. We used Knitpicks 70% Merino/30% Silk dyeable sock yarn and it took the dyes beautifully.

And no, I don't feel a bit guilty for my part in the beginning of my friend's new found obsession. After all, what are friends for but to share all the good stuff amongst us?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer supper

You know how sometimes (and for us, especially in the summer) you just throw together whatever for supper? It happens here because we choose to stay outside mowing, weeding, tending sheep, on and on and on.......until suddenly it's dark, nearly 10 pm and we're starved.

Not tonight! I've been thinking about tonight's supper for days now and have happily spent the last little bit preparing (boy, will Mike be surprised to have food actually waiting for him!). This salad is a summertime treat. Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil splashed with some good olive oil and really good balsamic vinegar. I've been rationing the balsamic vinegar you see drizzled across the tomatoes and cheese. A friend brought it back from her trip to Italy a few months ago and it is unbelievably good. I have never seen anything like it for sale here. It is thick and sweet and makes everything you put it on taste better. After the picture was taken , I added some regular balsamic to the dish because you want the mozzarella to soak it up so that it looks like brown bread. Add a little salt and pepper and you're done. Along with the salad, we're having crab cakes, fresh corn and a good French baguette.

I recently finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:A Year of Food Life and really enjoyed reading about her family's experience. I would like to say I could eat only local for a year, but I don't think I'm there yet. Reading that book did inspire me to put out a rather large garden this year and I'm hoping to grow plenty of fresh vegetables for eating now and preserving for the winter. These tomatoes aren't from my garden (how I wish), but very soon they will be. Here's what the tomatoes in my garden look like today. It won't be long.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Uh Oh!

That's what I said a few mornings ago. I heard an unusual noise while I was feeding the chickens and you can guess what it was----sounds of a rooster learning to crow! I don't know why I hadn't noticed that one of my new "hens" was sporting a big comb these days. Sometimes when I'm doing chores, I'm on auto-pilot. I try to pay attention to the general behavior of all the animals, just to make sure everyone is feeling all right and at the moment he seems to be feeling fine and dandy. I somehow missed this change in detail. I am pretty sure he is a Silver-laced Wyandotte. I knew there was a chance we could end up with a male or two and was hoping if that happened it would be a banty rooster rather than a standard. All the banty's I've had before have been docile and friendly, but I can't say the same for the standards. Here's hoping he is a nice boy and doesn't get aggressive. Luckily, we already have a home for him, if he doesn't work out here. One of my husband's clients just happened to mention that if we had extra roosters, she would like to have them. So-this guy is on probation at the moment. He had better be on his best behavior!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer time and the livin' is............

Not exactly easy---at least not here on the farm. When the weather is pleasant, it sure makes most chores easier and I want to be outside all I can. We've had perfect summer weather these past few days. Only in the 80's during the day and down to the 60's at night. I decided to take advantage of this nice spell and have some friends out for dinner last night. Nothing fancy, just grilled a pork tenderloin, made some tabouleh, fresh broccoli from the garden and roasted sweet potatoes wedges. And because the grocery has had some wonderful blueberries at a reasonable price, Blueberry Crumble for dessert. Aside from an evening of talking and laughing with good friends, the best part was having dinner on the screened porch. We love eating out there. No bugs, nice view and the sounds of nature all around us. We know we are fortunate to be able to sit outside and not have to worry about what the neighbors are seeing or doing. The privacy is one of the best parts of living in the country. Don't get me wrong-there are plenty of not so great things too. Driving 10+ miles for groceries (or anything for that matter) and not being able to do things on the spur of the moment are two that come to mind right away. Every choice requires a certain amount of compromise and, all in all, it usually seems worth the effort. Last night was perfect. Late in the evening, while we lingered over coffee and dessert, a gentle rain started to fall and we all decided that in this weather a sleeping porch would be heaven. Such a southern thing and in the days before air-conditioning it offered a little relief from stuffy houses. I will confess that when it is really hot and sticky, I'm oh so grateful for air-conditioning.
I'm looking forward to the weekend and having some quality knitting time. That has been really scarce since I came back from Knitter's Connection. I came home so enthused and full of ideas and then the reality of life on the farm hit me.
Have a good weekend, doing all the things you look forward to during the week!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Too much fun!

(Not that I would ever admit to having too much of anything--especially fun!) We had a really good time and I have nothing but high praise for the city of Columbus. It was just beautiful and every single person, and I mean every person, we came in contact with was so pleasant, friendly and helpful. And everything we saw in the downtown area where we stayed was sparkling clean.
The workshops were fantastic--all of them. I took a class from Candance Eisner Strick on knitting backwards, one from Lucy Neatby on double knitting, Sally Melville on stranded knitting, and Cat Bordhi on the mobius. They were all wonderful in their own way. They made it fun and informational and I can recommend all of them. I'm surprised that more people don't know about the Knitter's Connection. If it had not been Father's Day weekend, I would have stayed through Sunday because there were many more classes I would liked to have taken.

Saturday night I went to the Ravelry talk. It was fun to hear how Ravelry came to be and get to know Jess and Casey and Mary-Heather's personalities. I did learn a lot about the features on Ravelry that I had no clue about (which seems to be most of it!). They have so many plans for making it even bigger and better, it's hard not to catch their enthusiasm. It is an unbelievable resource for all of us fiber people and I think we should support their efforts by using it and donating to make it possible for them to continue.

On the yarn procurement issue, I did rather well. My favorite vendor was briar rose fibers and I managed to bring home several skeins of gorgeous hand-dyed yarns. I know----I raise sheep, spin and dye my own wool, but the briar rose yarns were just too beautiful to pass up. Besides, (I tell myself) I can use them for inspiration!!
The only downside to the whole experience was that when I got home, I faced a pile of laundry (how did he manage to use that many pairs of socks?) and a garden gone wild with weeds. It will take me the rest of the week to reclaim and restore order around here!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Knitting "Camp"

What fun!! A friend and I are off to Columbus, Ohio tomorrow to attend workshops at the Knitters Connection being held Wednesday through Sunday. We are taking workshops from Lucy Neatby and Sally Melville on the first two days and then we are going to learn the magic of the mobius from Cat Bordhi (sorry about no link-Blogger doesn't want me to do it! just go to ) on our last day. I'm really excited about this because it's the first time in several years I've been free to take advantage of such opportunities. The yarn shop kept me pretty close to home all that time. I am feeling just a little bit of guilt leaving my husband to cope with all the animals. I still have three lambs taking two bottles a day, plus chickens, llama, dogs and cat----plus the garden. The heat has been stupendous for this early in the summer and when it is hot like this, everything takes more effort. But---I'm not feeling guilty enough to stay home and I'm going with his blessing. I'll be sure to report back on the experience. The most difficult thing I have to do is get my knitting supplies together and decide what to take. Packing my clothes is a secondary consideration!

Saturday was one of those days when we accomplished quite a lot. I sold my first two ewe lambs, though because they are not weaned yet, they won't be leaving until the end of June. It is a bittersweet thing for me. I'm glad I can raise animals nice enough to be wanted by someone else, but it is sad for me to let them go to situations where I have no control. I do have a good feeling about the woman who bought my girls. She has other sheep and angora goats and I liked the way she handled the lambs as she was looking over them. After separating the lambs from their mothers, then ewe lambs from ram lambs, we gave them all their second vaccinations and wormed them again. We don't seem to be having any parasite problems this year. Everyone is remarkably healthy (knock wood!). Having temperatures in the 90's makes it stressful on all involved, so we try to work early in the day.

I'll be back next week with a report on fun times in Columbus.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chicken update

Remember those tiny chicks from not long ago? Well, they are on their way to being all grown-up chickens. I took this picture sometime last week and you can see that they are mostly feathered out now and growing bigger everyday. These guys can really put away the food!

Early last week, they hatched (pun not really intended) two escape plans. There was a tiny hole in the wire that surrounds their enclosed pen and, of course, 8 of them found it and made their bid for freedom. The chicken round-up that followed was a comedy routine---at least for anyone looking on. I, personally, did not think it that humorous at the time! I closed the hole, looked closely for any more and thought all was secure. So, when I got to the barn the next morning, I was dismayed to see that Holly, the new Pyrenees puppy, was just getting ready to chow down on one of the chicks. Yes, there was yet another tiny hole and more exiting the safety of their pen. Once again, chicken round-up, this time minus one casualty. Now, I'd be the first to point out that given the size of a chicken's head, there can't be a lot of brain matter contained in there, but why oh why would you leave your friends, food, water and comfortable surroundings just because you saw a hole in the fence? When they are fully grown and have figured out that they should lay their eggs in the nest boxes provided (rather than in the barn loft, inside the hay-baler or the lamb's creep feeder), they will be let out of the pen every morning and put back in at the end of the day. In the meantime, Holly will mature and learn the rules of co-existence.

Every day on the farm brings a new challenge. Believe me, I'm never bored!