Friday, July 26, 2013

Showing some gratitude

I've been reminded several times from several sources lately that I made a personal vow to be a more positive person this year and a big part of that for me is remembering to be grateful.  By that I mean grateful for right now, for what's happening right where I am in this moment.  Since reading this post by Rona Roberts several weeks ago, I can't stop thinking about how fortunate I am to be where I am at this time in my life and how much I have to be grateful for.  I'm not thinking of the quantity of things in my life, of which I believe there are quite likely too many.  Rather I'm thinking more about the quality of my life.  I'm fortunate to be reasonably healthy, which when considering the fact that I've already outlived both of my parents, is not something I take for granted.  The abundance of this time of year, in the garden and around the farm, can sometimes incline me to complaining, rather than being grateful, so I'm trying to remember to take time every day to be thankful for all the positives in my life.

Look closely at that rather inadequate photograph above and you will see plenty of green grass, green trees and fat ewes.  It's the end of July in a southern countryside and we are rarely ever this lush and enjoying these pleasant temperatures at this point in the yearly cycle of farm life.  That's just one of the things I want to remember when the natural order of things brings heat, humidity, no rain and anxiousness to my days. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Tour de Fleece:  Yes, I'm actually spinning some every day this time.  I believe it's because there is magic in Olive's fleece.  She was my dearest girl and I can finally think about her and spin her wool without feeling so sad.  The stack of yarn balls is about 3600 yards of singles that will eventually become 1800 yards of two-ply.  I needed a little over 1200 yards to have enough for the Antler cardigan that I'm planning to knit.  Why are the balls numbered?  Because I'm not a totally consistent spinner.  Some days I spin thicker, some days it's thinner.  When I'm spinning for a big project like this, I attempt to make up for my lack of discipline by averaging things out.  The first ball will be plied together with the last one and so on, in hopes that all the skeins will end up close to the same gauge.  Those darker skeins are the last of Poppy's fleece and those 500 yards will possibly be combined with the rest of Olive's yarn for something stripey - maybe - still thinking on that.  I've loved participating in the Tour de Fleece this year and for some reason, it hasn't been a struggle at all.  I've allowed myself to spin a little every day, but haven't felt pressure to accomplish huge amounts every day.  I hope this feeling carries over to the actual knitting of my memory sweater for Olive.

Fleece preparation:  Yes, I'm still washing fleeces, but I'm down to the last of the alpaca fleeces.  My trip to Echoview is scheduled for week after next.  I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do for the 2013 version of "Fresh from the Farm Yarn".  I'm thinking of adding something special to the wool/alpaca blend.  I'm excited about having something that's a little different to offer this year.  Now it's on to thinking about the color palette for the dyeing that will commence when the yarn arrives back at the farm.

(a cloud of alpaca fiber drying in the greenhouse)

More sewing:  I made another Squam smock and this one fits.  Yay for getting it right!  I'm really happy with the way this one looks and can already see that I'll like wearing similar ones with a t-shirt and jeans for cooler weather.  I bought some really cute plaid, cotton flannel a few weeks ago and just thinking about it makes me wish for fall weather, even more than I already do.

(Lying low til darkness brings some cooling)
And speaking of weather - this is the main daytime activity on the farm these days.  It's finally decided to be summer here in Kentucky, which means hot and humid.  Low activity level during daylight hours is the only way to get through the misery.

(Speaking of low activity - Carson knows how to beat the heat)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In the garden this week

(Won't be long now)
It's hit or miss in the garden this week.  Some of the squash plants have been hit, though I'm not seeing squash bugs, so I'm not sure what's up with that.  The weeds are doing fantastic!  I can't keep up, but we've got some cooler weather coming this weekend and I plan to make an all out assault on the planting beds and see if I can knock them back some.

(I see pesto making in my future)

The basil is going great and I need to start making and freezing pesto, right now.  I have a big pot with herb plants close to the back door of the house and I use those when I want to add something to whatever I'm cooking, so these plants in the garden have been undisturbed.  I'm having to pinch blooms off the tops now, so I definitely need to start harvesting.

(Harvested this morning)
Bread and butter pickles are on the schedule, too.  For the first time in several years, I'm getting a nice bunch of cucumbers.  If the squash bugs show up on the plants (and I know they will), that will finish them off, but in the meantime, I'm eating them every day and have my supplies ready to stock the pantry with homemade bread and butters.

There's not much else quite ready.  The tomatoes are still several weeks from ripening and I can hardly wait.  We live for summer tomatoes around here.  In the meantime, I need to buy some vanilla ice cream because we're just going to make do with blackberry cobbler!  (Try this recipe for something easy and delicious.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday is wash day

and so is Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and even Sunday right now.  I'm in the throes of washing fleeces in preparation for taking this year's clip to the mill for spinning into our 2013 Sheep Dreams yarn.  I've been washing non-stop for days now and still have a pile more to do.  The greenhouse has been a wonderful drying facility - no more fleeces on old window screens or in the hammock or scattered about on the floor in the studio and house.  Fleeces dry quickly in the greenhouse, even without the sun, which is a good thing because we have had day after day of rain lately.  Finally, yesterday the clouds parted and the sun came out.  Today we've had sun all day and it has shown me just how much weeding there is waiting for me in the garden.  :-(

(Ivy was very intrigued......finally, someone about her size!)
Our weekend was lovely.  Baby Atticus paid his very first visit to the farm and was on his best behavior.  Taylor, Crimson and Atticus came down from northern Kentucky on Saturday and spent the night with us, so we had a nice long visit with lots of cuddle time.  We discovered that Atticus loves to be outside, especially when we would spend time sitting on the porch swing with him.  Of course,  that's all the excuse we needed to give up on the chores and spending some time swinging.

So, what else happened this weekend?  After years and years of owning a Night-blooming Cereus, we "accidentally" witnessed the blooms opening.  It has bloomed a few times before this year, but it always seemed to happen in our absence.  I was heading to the barn to close the chickens in on Friday evening, just at sundown and noticed the buds looking awfully plump.  A few hours later,  it was obvious that the blooms were going to opening.  Mike and I both were thrilled to finally see what all the fuss is about.  Mike remembers his grandparents staying up late and inviting people over to see the blooms open and I've heard of people having parties for that purpose.  Obviously, we're not quite organized enough to have a party, but at least I can share by way of pictures! (and, apologize for the bad iPhone pictures.  I've gotten very lazy about taking pictures lately and I know I need to get the "real" camera out and start working on getting better.)

So, it's back to washing fleeces and planning for this year's edition of "Fresh from the Farm Yarn".  I'm thinking worsted weight, but maybe with some special additions to the mix that will make it different from last year's version.  What's your favorite weight and fiber blend?