S|NO|wpocalypse ’17

We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store).  I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.

We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I  beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow.  We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.

This was our glorious snow storm:

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SO DISAPPOINTING.

It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.

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So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?

First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.

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Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.

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Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.

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I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.

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It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do.  It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those  juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).

I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.

I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.

Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!

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Still Waiting

Waiting for winter, waiting for spring, waiting to see if my ewes are bred. If they are, they’re not telling.  If they aren’t, they are getting pretty fat anyway.

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I’ve been organizing my lambing supplies and ordering what I need, just in case. I’ve also been trying not to bother them too much, though that isn’t as easy.  I want to keep my hands on them to make sure they’re gaining enough weight, and checking their mucous membranes for signs of anemia. So far, everything seems okay, but one thing I’ve learned is to never count on it staying that way!

Last year’s baby chicks are finally starting to lay and/or crow, and I’m dreaming of ducklings now. I won’t order any chicks, but if one of our hens decides to go broody, I’ll put together a little maternity ward and hatch some eggs that way.

Signs of spring are definitely everywhere. The buds are really popping on the trees, and daffodils and forsythia are blooming everywhere. Mine are a little bit behind, owing to our little micro-climate in our hollow. It’s tough not to be out every day prepping the garden beds and getting the seeds started, but it’s only February.  Winter has been known to come back and smack us hard in March, so I’m not counting on this warmer weather to last reliably.  I have been out covering over troublesome weed areas with cardboard and feed bags, though. The war against weeds knows no winter!

I’ve also been cleaning up my beehive components and getting them ready for new occupants.  For Valentine’s Day Paul ordered me a new colony set to arrive in April from a local source. It’ll be so good to have bees again! I’m debating moving them a bit closer to the house and away from the neighbor who sprayed bifenthrin all over their property the summer before my previous colony failed. They haven’t done so since, and I’m hoping they won’t again.

On cooler days I’ve been trying to catch up on making stock from the leftover chicken carcasses from dinners. I’ve been keeping them frozen until I had a chance to let them slow cook, and whenever I can, I put them on the stove in my giant  pot and make up gallons of stock. It’s one of the most satisfying things to make in your kitchen!

Despite the warmer temperatures, Pussy Hats have been flying off my needles. I’m on my fourth at the moment, and keep getting requests for more. I’m more than happy to oblige, though I realize I could have finished my Chimney Fire sweater a few times over by now!  It is gratifying though to have smaller projects that work up quickly and are portable enough to bring to appointments during the week.

Maybe my sweater will be done before winter is, but it’s not looking like it. Secretly (or not…), I AM still hoping for one good wallop of snow before spring.

Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

No Sleep ‘Til Rhinebeck

Have I used that title before? It’s apt, every year, I think. And not just for me. Every fiber crafter I know has something they want to complete before the festival each year. Last year, it was my Shepherd Sweater. This year, Chimney Fire. I’m about done with the length – I just need to complete the ribbing on the bottom – which leaves the sleeves. Can I manage it in time? Your guess is as good as mine.

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I can’t wait to wear it.

The girls are all working on various items for the festival, too. Emily is sewing a top, Neve has started her first hat, and Oona is working on a fall-colored scarf.

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Trying to wind yarn in this house is rather challenging.

Speaking of cats, our hospice patient has been responding very well to the prednisone.

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She’s been perkier, more playful, and even put on a bit of weight.

Of course, everyone’s feeling better with the cooler temperatures lately. It actually feels like fall. Which means we are feeling like baking every day.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread. I used the Cinnamon Bread recipe from King Arthur that I always do, but instead of mixing the cinnamon for the filling with eggs and water, I substituted pumpkin. Divine!  (I tried to link the recipe here, but I’m using my iPad, which makes things difficult. I’ll try editing later to add it).

We haven’t yet gone apple picking, but I’m going to make that happen very soon. So many apple treats to make!

Spring Farm Update

It’s the busiest time of year here, farming-wise. We still have school full-time, and on top of that seedlings have been started and need tending-to, garden beds are needing turning and deep-mulching, hooves need trimming, coops need freshening, fences need mending.

Plus we got a few ducklings! And 18 chicks will be delivered in April!

Somewhere in between all that I’m trying (and usually failing) to keep the house clean, keep everyone fed, and knit.

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We also just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. We woke up to rainbow garlands all over the house, along with little paper pots of gold, and a banner covered with shamrocks (we got married on St. Patrick’s Day).  We have the best kids.  Our friend Kim came for dinner, Maddie made festive cupcakes, and we had a wonderful evening.

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We’ve called them Bourbon, Waddles, Dipper, and Flapjack.

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I even got my Cormo/Mohair skeins dyed pink.  They came out perfect, I think. There’s some subtle variegation going on that doesn’t really come across in the photos, but it’s going to make a lovely throw blanket.

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Little miss Poppet likes it, too. She kept trying to roll in it and steal it.

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Last but certainly not least, we got a nice, fresh delivery of hay! It might be expensive, but it makes me feel so happy to see so much put aside for the flock. This should get us through until fall.

Today I’ll be cleaning all day, and tomorrow we’ll be spending outside getting the gardens finished for seeding before we color our eggs. Much to be done!

A First Finished Object

I’m proud to say my Oona has finished her very first knitting project!

Our friend Kris had sent some lovely yarn down for us, and Oona chose the multi-color Noro to cast on for a scarf.

It took her all of two days.

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This is why loving the yarn you are using is important – it ensures you keep at it!

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And keep at it she did! She was so determined, in fact, that those aren’t knitting needles in her hands; I didn’t have any spare at the moment and she didn’t want to wait for me to dig for some.  She went up to her room and grabbed two pick-up sticks from her game.

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They worked perfectly, and she is very, very proud of her scarf. In fact, she immediately cast on for a second.

Blanket Project

I really, really do NOT need to cast on any new knitting projects until I finish my Chimney Fire Sweater (which is going swimmingly, by the way!).

BUT.

I really want to make this in the nice dark grey Findley I have:

(photo by our friend Joel Eagle!)

My sister currently owns this one, and can’t stop raving about how comfortable it is. I’d love my own for summer.

In addition, I’d been thinking about how much I’d love a blush-colored, cabled throw for my bed. I was surfing Ravelry looking at patterns and thinking about how on earth I could make it happen with what I have in my stash, when I remembered!

I have several undyed skeins of Cormo/Mohair and a whole box of dyes.

AbracaDUH!

Bet you can’t figure out what I’m doing this weekend.

Sunny Leap Day

Happy Leap Day!

It’s too bad Leap Day didn’t translate into a three-day weekend. The weather’s been warm and dry, and perfect for farm projects.

Unfortunately, my laptop is FULL and won’t let me upload any more pictures for blogging until I dump like 30,000 photos, or something insane like that.  In the meantime, crappy iPad pictures it is!

For a while this weekend I played around with some sock yarn and the dye pot. Specifically, I was interested in seeing how well I could manage multiple colors in one pot. It was a blast, I have to say. Every skein came out a bit different depending on where in the pot it sat,many where the colors were added. It’s definitely more efficient (and less messy) than hand painting each skein, but with less control over the finished product.

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With these colors  I was going for an “Easter Eggs” feel. Even within that theme, and the same colors with each pot, the results varied wildly.

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I may, in the future, open an etsy shop to have an outlet for my fun.

After playing with wool and color, I took advantage of the sun and painted two beehive boxes that hadn’t gotten done last year.  And, having seen a slogan for a cosmetic company that essentially said “Happy Bees Live in Beautiful Houses”, I decided a beautiful color was in order.

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When I was done, I painted the front garden gate the same color. Now we just need new bees and for spring to arrive!