Thursday, July 30, 2009

He's just a lonely boy.....

Poor Wally (short for Wallenda). His mom, Mrs. Dandy, has literally kicked him out. Not out of the nest, because obviously he's way past nest size. Just away from her personal space. This is new behaviour for Mrs. Dandy. Last year's chicks (the now noisy and rambunctious juveniles) stayed with her right up until this year's chicks hatched. They even camped out around her when she was on the nest. Only when she was defending Wally, as her one and only surviving baby, did she start running them off. I can't help feeling a little sorry for him. He's not quite big enough to hang with the juveniles and mom doesn't want him anymore! This morning he was standing around outside the chicken pen, as if waiting for the girls to come out and keep him company. As per usual, Mr. Dandy was out there showing his feathers to a totally unappreciative audience.
That Paul Anka song (boy, am I dating myself here), "I'm Just a Lonely Boy", has been playing around and around in my head all day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday scenes

I may be weird (really?), but I love Mondays. Weekends are great and usually crammed with so many projects that it's hard to catch my breath. Oh, but Mondays I especially love when I can stay at home all day. (And believe me, I know how lucky I am to be able to stay home and do my work, instead of dressing up and driving away from the farm.) I enjoy getting back to my little routines.......feeding the chickens, letting the girly lambs and Pippi out to graze for the day, doing the laundry. Truthfully, one of my favorite routines for Monday morning is stripping the sheets off the bed, washing them and hanging them outside to dry in the sunshine. I look forward to slipping into bed on Monday night and feeling the crispness and smelling that fresh air smell on the sheets. That little quilt on the line was an extra in today's wash. One of my grandmothers made that quilt for me when I was a little girl (I guess that makes it an antique---or, at the very least vintage!). It was made for my little twin bed and I distinctly remember having favorite patterns among the star shapes. (In fact, I still like looking at it and still have my favorite stars!)

This morning I noticed that the "surprise lilies" (that's what they are called around here) have bloomed. I have mixed emotions about these flowers. I used to really dislike them, but am starting to admire them for their sheer determination to show up every year. These were planted long before we bought this farm and I never seem to remember them until they pop up and are blooming.

You may have noticed on my sidebar, I've claimed my yellow jersey from the Tour de Fleece 2009. This was my first year to participate and I definitely enjoyed the challenge and the excuse (I mean reason!) to spin every day. And now that I'm back in the habit, I really want to work on spinning up some of my fiber stash. It feels good to be producing my own yarn from my very own animals again. That's the reason I got started in this shepherding life the begin with!
(Bess-twin sister to Lottie)
I hope you've had reason to enjoy your Monday. It's a fresh start to a new week and anything is possible at this point!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Over the line

I crossed the finish line this afternoon and I'm pretty pleased that I was able to stick to it long enough to meet the challenge. As of 2:09 pm today, the last of the Tour de Fleece two-ply came off the skein winder. My goal was to spin 1600 yards of two-ply, worsted weight yarn from one of my own fleeces, for the Shepherd's Jacket pattern from Peace Fleece. I ended up with 1725 yards. It's still unwashed, but I will get to that early next week. (I did wash it before it was carded, but it always needs to be washed and blocked just a little to finish the yarn.) It's fairly rustic and that's okay for the Shepherd's jacket. I'm on such a roll now, I'm tempted to finish spinning the rest of the fleece!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Almost there

I'm closing in on my Tour de Fleece 2009 goal. I've actually finished spinning the yarn I need (plus a little extra for good measure), but still have to ply it. That should happen sometime tomorrow and then, yay!, I'll cross the finish line!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Playing catch-up

I'm soooo far behind in my Tour de Fleece challenge. It's not looking good for the finish. My challenge was to spin 1600 yards of two-ply, worsted weight yarn for the Shepherd's Jacket (scroll down the page) pattern from Peace Fleece. I have wanted to make this jacket forever, but had never dedicated myself to spinning all the yarn for it.........and I really, really wanted to knit it with wool from one of my own fleeces. The Tour de Fleece seemed like the perfect set-up to accomplish this, then, as always, life interfered! I won't list all the other things I have done in the last two weeks, instead of spinning, but it is a long list. I'm a little over half way to my goal and I'm going to make a final push here to crank out the rest in the few days I have left.

One of those things that required my immediate attention was garden work. We suddenly found ourselves with ripe corn (it's "Peaches & Cream") and blackberries that needed to be dealt with right now. There's no procrastinating on that stuff. If you do, it's gone, and it's another year before you can redeem yourself! So, there's corn and blackberries in the freezer and pickles to be made in my future!

Anyone else out there struggling to the finish line with me or have you all treadled away and left me in your dust?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bee report

One evening last week, our bee mentor (Tommy Steele) came out and opened our hive with us. We had been thinking about doing it for weeks, but felt we needed someone more knowledgeable than we are to give us a report on how our bees are doing. Luckily, our bees are thriving. Something about benign neglect, maybe? Well, we've not really been neglecting them, but we haven't been messing with them much either. I had actually quit feeding the bees a few weeks ago, but after showing us all the emerging new bees, Tommy suggested I start feeding them again. And this morning I put on our very first honey super! That means the bees have probably stored up enough honey to feed themselves through the winter and now they can start making honey for us. We have so much to learn about beekeeping. It sometimes seems a little overwhelming. I feel that we will have to go through a full year cycle before we know what we are doing and when we are supposed to do it.

(try as I might, I cannot get this clip reoriented)

A few weeks back, the Bluegrass Beekeepers club that I belong to had a drawing for a hive to give to a young beginning beekeeper and my grandson, Coleman, won. (Coleman will be 14 in just a matter of weeks.) The hive is now established in his backyard, right next to his garden. Unfortunately for Coleman, he has been stung a few times already, but I think he is learning how to keep his bees well fed and happy and the stings don't seem to have discouraged him much.

(Coleman and his beehive)

There's plenty around here for the bees to be working on right now. I love, love, love the color of these phlox!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Independence Day

(If you have your sound on, you will hear the lambs baa-ing back and forth, but none of them ever lift their heads or stop eating! I guess the grass tasted really good after a few days of being confined to the barn!)

Yes, I know, it has already come and gone, but we are still working on gaining independence here on the farm. We decided, rather spur of the moment, to wean the lambs on the 4th of July. I didn't even bother to check the Farmer's Almanac on this one because it didn't seem to help poor Pippi much to be weaned during the "correct" phase of the moon. Actually, the lambs have done quite well. The first afternoon and night there was a bit of baa-ing back and forth between them and their mothers. Unfortunately, we don't have a good way to separate them enough so they can't hear each other. My solution is to turn the big barn fan on high and put the radio on an NPR classical music station, turned up quite loud. I think it helps and it's easier for me to listen to than the country music stations (not my favorite) I used to use at weaning time. Country music 24/7 is a bit much for me! Mid-week I separated the ewe lambs from the ram lambs, so I could begin to halter train the ewe lambs. (At this point in the year, I don't want to become anymore attached to the ram lambs. Their time here is coming to an end.) The little girl lambs went out to graze without their moms for the first time a few days ago. They do have "Grannie" Carmen as an adult chaperone and Pippi is still hanging out with them. A few nights ago I was able to turn the radio off, so I think we are through the worst of it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Daily surprises

Late last Friday afternoon, as I was leaving the farm, rushing down the farm lane, splashing through the creek (which is why my car is almost never clean), I passed the tenant house that sits close by the road. What I saw there made me catch my breath. I stopped the car in the middle of the road and scrambled to find my camera (now that I have a blog, it's nearly always with me). There in the yard of the vacant little house were two young foxes. We see foxes on the roads around here fairly often and nearly always at night, so I could hardly believe what I was seeing in broad daylight. I pulled off the road and cautiously got out of the car. One of the foxes ran down over the hill toward the creek, but the other stayed and watched me as I was watching it. The whole scene seemed somehow magical. She moved back and forth across the yard several times, stopping to stare at me. (I don't know for sure that it was a female, but that's how I have been thinking about it.) I will admit that after a while, I began to get a little freaked out. The population of rabid animals in this part of the country has risen in the last few years, so I didn't want to take any foolish chances. This fox looked healthy, alert and more curious than anything else. After maybe 10 minutes or so of our mutual fascination with each other, she decided to join her sibling and casually trotted off down the hill and out of sight. (you can click to biggify and this time it will work!)

I can't stop thinking about how the fox looked at me, somehow expectantly. Honestly, if I hadn't had my camera and been able to record the whole thing, I might have decided I'd imagined some of it. Now, of course, every time I leave the farm, I find myself looking for the foxes. I've said it many times and it is so true.....everyday is different around here and you never know what surprises are in store.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Game on

There's a new game on here. We are once again in danger of being outsmarted by some not very smart peafowl. The blackberries are getting close to ripening and the peafowl are checking them out---all day long! Sunday afternoon, Mike was working in the garden, weeding his precious corn patch, when he looked up and saw one of the juvenile peacocks snacking on some almost ripe blackberries. I happened to be standing where I could watch the whole thing and it made me laugh out loud (though I didn't let Mike hear me!). Mike is usually calm and quiet, but he went nuts when he saw the berries being picked off. He started yelling and running after the peacock. Instead of running out of the garden, the peacock ran in circles and Mike ran in circles after him. It took several laps around the garden before the peacock gave up and headed for the barn. Of course, he was back again in a matter of minutes.

A few days ago, I stopped at Fayette Seed store and bought some bird netting to put over the berries. Unfortunately, I didn't buy quite enough and there are still some unprotected berries, which is where I found one of the juveniles this afternoon. We are at war here people!