Friday, November 11, 2011

Unwelcome Guests

We moved the corn into the shed about a week ago. Our corn cracker just ran out of energy so I just decided that it would be easier to put it in the shed which is more on my way to milk the cow and not locked. The shed is not the most secure place.
Thankfully 5 am is too early for most pesky visitors to the shed. Afternoon is not however. :( The mouse and I have met in one way or another almost daily. We tend to scare the beejezus out of each other every time. The first time I made the mistake of not closing the corn bag well enough so that when I reached to scoop out some corn the scared mouse ran up my arm and made a flying leap to the corner of the shed. I think we both screamed. The next day I headed out for the afternoon milking assured that I had secured the bag better. I stepped into the shed reached into the bag and was pulling out a scoop when the mouse decided to run from one corner of the shed to the other across my foot. Again, I am amazed at the automatic responses of the human body. My foot with no conscious direction from me flung itself forward as soon as the mouse reached it helping the mouse to it's destination a little faster.
Our third encounter was another mouse stuck in bag only this time it ended up in the scoop and then in the bucket. No corn just mouse running around in the bucket trying to find a way out. The way out was through the door by way of tossing him OUT of the bucket. Thankfully my husband took pity on me after laughing so hard tears came to his eyes - and left the shed door open the next day with the cat posted outside the door. Haven't seen the mouse since!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Farm Stories

Last week, I went into work two hours late. We had a situation at home. We, not on purpose mind you, gave the local large animal vet a first. The first time he has had to remove a bungy cord from a calf's nose. Yes, you read that correctly.
What strikes me in this encounter as with the one other time that we had to call the vet, is that the vet usually offers you the option to do it yourself. Granted we are do-it-yourself kind of people. We have learned however that it is never as easy as they make it sound. "Well, really all you need to do is poke the calf in the butt with a syringe full of something that will put it to sleep or at least make it groggy." RIGHT! So my husband called with the option to do ourselves, we could just go pick up the stuff from the vet office and do it ourselves. Yeah, hmm. NO! I didn't want to deprive the vet of a first, truly.
It took the vet three syringes full of the groggy med to get the calf to lay down and it still jumped up as soon as he grabbed the bungy cord. So we received a vet bill but we weren't chasing the calf around either...we had already done that in the morning with no success and she knew us!
So, warning to all those with animals - leave no bungy cords ANYWHERE! LOL
I am aware this could have been way more serious than it was and we are ALL extremely thankful that it was just something silly.
Enjoy the fall weather - even the rain - gives me more time to knit.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yarn Dye - Success!

Hi all,
This past weekend my #2 daughter and I dyed some yarn.  It was our first foray into this and we used Pokeberry a noxious weed as our coloring agent.  We went out around our property and collected two five gallon pails of berries.  Then with gloved hands we pulled the berries and put them in our pot.
We chose pokeberry because we could use vinegar as our mordant and we didn't need to use or buy any metal mixtures for our mordant.  We used the recipe from the book I referred to in a previous blog and which I can't recall the title of at the moment.

It was an afternoon to evening project but was very fun and exciting.  Here are our results:

this is the yarn - it started brown and became this gorgeous color.  Planning to knit a shawl with it.

Still more pictures!

The effect of diversity planting.  Mixing perennials with annuals and things that go up and things that go wide = LUSH!

More Pictures!

Next came fledgling plants.


As hinted in the last post here are some pictures.

In the beginning we had cardboard.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Long time - very busy summer

I am sure that you are stunned to see something new here. I had plans many times to come post. They just never seemed to coordinate with making sure that I brought appropriate pictures. I have decided to just write and post pictures at some future time when that all falls into place.
We have had a very busy summer. Our CSA filled and we have been feeding ten couples for the past four months. We have four more weeks to go! It has been hard for the dh to watch all that food walk off the farm, so next year we are growing food just for us. He has been planning it out for several months. How much we need to grow to meet all of our caloric needs. It is a lot of food!
We have transformed some areas on our farm. Those are the pictures that I kept wanting to bring and post and it just doesn't seem to be getting coordinated. I will try to do it next week. I may have some time at a computer that has internet long enough to work it all out.

Along with growing food, I have been knitting furiously. I created a shawl for my niece's wedding and have finished five pairs of socks. I am learning techniques that work well for me. I like knitting two socks at a time and I discovered a way to do that doesn't create too much of a gap on the sides. I have read MANY knitting books over the summer. I am learning intrelac. It is a lot easier than it looks and people are so impressed because it looks so hard.
I have also been learning more about how to take care of my fleece and how to dye things. I am going to try this weekend to dye some yarn and fleece. I am very excited and can't wait to try. The book "Harvesting Color: How to find Plants and Make Natural Dyes" has great easy to follow recipes. This book is going on my wish list! It is well written and she goes through and discusses how to harvest and find things in your neck of the woods. I will try to keep you posted on how this experiment is going.
I will also be processing my own wool this year. I think I know how to clean it but I don't have the other equipment yet to process it further than a wash. Working on that too - I am thinking this will be a weekend of wet fun. I need to get it done before it gets too cold.

I will work harder at picking a day and posting so that you don't think I fell off the edge again. LOL

One more thing- I will be teaching a class "Living Well on Less". I will try to let you know how this goes too. See why I haven't posted in months? So busy!
Our next step is to figure out how to make money (grow it on trees?? ha, ha) on the farm so that I don't need to leave the farm to work. May need to leave the farm to promote and advertise. This is a long term goal that is creeping up on us due to vehicle with over 200,00 miles.

Take care!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Talking with Trees

When I married my farmer, I didn't think that he would one day be conversing with apple trees. About two months ago, that is what he was doing. He needed to shape our apple trees. Something we hadn't done since planting them. We have come a very LONG way from those first years. We have become more proactive about caring for our small plot of Green Acres.
When we first planted our trees we took care how we planted them but thought once planted our work was done. Twelve years later with no real edible fruit appearing we decided to change tactics. This winter we read a book, as a family, about some children who took over the care and maintenance of an orchard. The story did a good job of explaining the hard work that they had to do. It also explained ways to save on cost and sowed realistically the type of profit to be made.
After reading this story, my farmer checked out some books on orchards and discovered some new good information. We made the decision to follow some of the advice recommended. This is how my farmer ended up standing in our front orchard asking the trees to show him their shape.
As farmers, we learn more each year, month, and day. Tis the nature of the work. The plants, trees, and animals have much to teach. it is up to us to stand still and listen.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

School Budgets

In our state, the local schools are looking at reductions from the state in funding. The schools are advocating that we complain to our state reps so that they won't have to make cuts. Of course the first cuts they propose are those things which the community most enjoys.
I don't plan to complain that these cuts shouldn't be made. Rather - I think the schools do need to cut their budgets. Their communities are full of people who have had to cut their budgets by 25 -90%. That the school will have a 4% reduction is something they will HAVE to do. There is no more money. There is not going to be more money. They have programs that the students see as worthless. The fact that school districts need an HR department because the unions have taken so much power away from administrations to negotiate is just ridiculous. There are real places to cut besides just athletics and art programs. The admin offices should look to cut staff there first. It just seems like a lot of money goes to fund office staff. How about cutting coaching pay? Or is that in the union contract too? It just seems pointless to talk to anyone because they all think they should not have to give up something. Most people in the community have had to, so why do schools get to be the exception?

Random Thoughts

It's been a while and I have been thinking of several different topics lately. I'll try to keep this a little organized. I went grocery shopping this past Friday and was heart sick when I got done. I am VERY blessed to not have to buy too much on a regular basis. We like to have corned beef for St. Patrick's Day so we thought we would pick up a good cut of beef not too expensive and pickle it. I haven't looked at meat prices in a very long time. I was shocked - I know I shouldn't be as we keep up on rising costs of feed and other "commodities". It was still hard to see that the cheapest cut of roast that my mom used to buy was now 2.99 a pound. The beef brisket which is the cut that typically gets corned/pickled was 5.99 a pound. The store had a six pound unpickled beef brisket - it was $40!
When I look at this I don't understand how people in similar situations to ours are surviving. It makes what Bernanke says to Congress even more disgusting. Of course, we don't have price inflation due to printing money like nobody's business so that my banker buddies can continue to make a profit and pay out big bonuses. Of course the rise in oil prices won't harm the economy. Right! The fact that butter rose $.35 in one week is not a result of any of this! How stupid are we?? How can you walk into the store and look at the prices and NOT see any change?
So this is an outrage that just hurts my heart. If you can be generous to food banks please do so.

Take care and be safe!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dream - how to plan your life

I sent a letter off to my oldest a week or two ago. I advised him to take some time and dream about how he would like his life to look. What would he really like to do? Where would he want to live and so on.
I found out on his face book page that he is now engaged. Not where I thought he would be going but they are his dreams.
I have been practicing the same thing before I go to bed every night. What would my day be like if I could live it the way I want instead the way I need to at the moment? Still very busy - but I think a lot calmer - of course the caveat would have to be that what makes me not live this life now would be gone in this dream world.
One writing workshop I participated in encouraged us to create goals in this vain. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years. Dream big! If you don't put it out there you don't create a way to get there either.
So when work is getting me down I think of that day when it will be as I dream it to be. It motivates me to save to get there.
Here's to dreams - the things that carry us through some awful moments.

Take care all

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Christmas presents all done!

Larry's scarf is first and made with our wool.

Finished my last three Christmas presents this past week. Larry got to wear his to church! Yeah, me! I have two projects on needles for upcoming birthdays. I plan to start one that will probably take me awhile. Haven't really created it yet - still looking for patterns but now I know what I am looking for.
Mary Kate's slipper socks Mike's keyhole scarf

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wonderful Christmas Present!

Wonderful Christmas Present My husband made me my Christmas present this year. I actually received it on Christmas this year. I absolutely LOVE it. It is called a Noddy. It is for making skeins. In 2007 we had our wool carded and spun. They left some oil on the yarn so I need to get off the spool and clean it then knit with it. I still have LOTS of yarn on the spools because this was such an onerous job. I showed my husband a picture of a noddy and asked if he thought he could make one. Silly question – he is a mechanical engineer. So he made me one and it works wonderfully! I can unwrap the yarn from the spool to the noddy in about 20 minutes – that’s how much yarn is on the spool. Then I tie the yarn in several places to keep it’s shape. Next I wash it, dry it and voila! I have yarn I can knit with that came from out own sheep! It is bulky yarn so I am working out how to make smaller skeins so that It doesn’t look so daunting. I have decided to do 50g skeins. Below are pictures of some of the process and my new wonderfully useful Noddy! (Frustrated with my inability to make the pictures show up the way I want) Enjoy anyway!