Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Stills - Going to the Dogs

Yeah, I know, we just did pets but this one is just dogs. It can be your dog or any dog.


"Yes, I'm down here on the floor like a common dog.  Do you know why?"
"Dexter is in. my. chair."
"Stupid cat."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Stills - In Your Hand

For this weeks it's anything you can fit in your hand and the pic must guessed it......your hand.

Spinning Pearls' fleece into yarn
And plying it into a 2-ply yarn
The upper picture was taken with the flash.  The lower picture was done on manual.  On the camera display the second photo looked very similar to the first in color.  On the computer it looks much different even after I fiddled around to improve it.  Apparently a reasonably hale and hearty person is spinning and some old fart with crappy hands is plying :-/
At least the yarn is coming out nicely.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snowy Weather

OK, I'm telling myself it's "festive" but the cold and snow are wearing on me already and it's not quite the middle of December yet. 

We are getting some lake effect snow from Lake Erie but it's nothing compared to the crazy-pants amounts falling east of Lake Ontario.  Last I heard towns such as Redfield and Lacona have gotten seventy inches (yes, 7-0 inches) and they are expecting a few more FEET daily for the foreseeable future. Yikes.

Our sheep are couch potatos who are more than happy to stay indoors eating and sleeping, having sheepy conversations with each other and not bothering to get up when I have to step OVER them......Bug!

"It's called 'conserving energy'.  Sheesh.
Crumbles ventured out into the yard to nibble a little fresh snow.  Water buckets and tubs get filled four times daily (after breaking and scooping out ice - sigh) but snow makes a nice change, I guess.
Kisses wanted none of it.  She looked out at us, pondered a minute and then went back inside.
"Um.... you know it's snowing.... right?  And you're getting it on you.....  Just sayin'. "
The rams were taken out of the breeding groups at the end of November but we left the ewe groups separated as they were.  Keeping bred ewes quiet during early gestation improves retention of an early pregnancy and mixing the whole flock back together would surely have led to lots of roughhousing as ewes tried to re-establish their place in the flock.  It's more fiddly to feed and water each group but it's really less chaotic than having 70 ewes all run back in the barn at once trying to get to the "best" spot at the feeder.  
The bottle babies and a few oldsters are housed together and get some grain. 
Daisy, Fortune and Flopsy popping up to say hi. Old Alexandria in the background.

Daisy is a bit of a brat and bosses her "sisters" around.  A lot.  She's also picked up the bad habit of jumping on people like a dog would.  I don't know where she got that.  We certainly never encourage that sort of behavior and yesterday she got bopped on the head with the handle of the sieve I use for scooping ice from buckets for jumping on me with my back turned.  Ha ha. Won't be so funny when I fall forward and break a wrist trying to catch myself.

"Daisy, Mom says you were bad."
"Grown ups have no sense of humor.  Now buzz off, twerp."
The day will come before too long when pens are combined and Daisy will find out she's not as big as she thinks she is.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Stills Challenge - Pets

 Sunday will be our 5th anniversary of Sunday Stills and that means our anual pet challenge.

Here's some found treasure - while on walkies with Holly today I remembered that my camera came with a card that didn't hold very many pictures and that I had bought a bigger one which I use all the time.  (Walking is a great way to let your mind percolate and sometimes the stray thoughts that bubble up are useful!)  I was pretty sure I knew where the card was - wonder of wonders! - so I got home and checked it out.  There are only a couple of pictures on it but they are such welcome finds.

This is Molly, Holly's predecessor, and a bottle lamb.  I'm not sure which lamb unfortunately.  It might be either Mouse or Raisin who are both long passed.  The date stamp is 3/29/2003 !

And also dated that same day is a Cotswold ewe and her lamb.  Again, I don't know who they are specifically, but it still gives me warm fuzzies to see them. 

 I could do this challenge every week and not run out of material :-)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Meet Burr-nie !

This is Burrnie.

Little Burrnie is a rescue.  We are not in the habit of acquiring sheep in any fashion other than as necessity to further a breeding strategy, and exhaustive health testing is required before anybody sets hoof on the farm.  Burrnie had the misfortune to be brought home by "people" who were.... let's be very generous and say 'clueless'.  The situation was near enough that we observed it on a daily basis for many weeks.  Without going into detail about the people and local humane agencies suffice it to say that we couldn't stand it any longer and offered to trade some hay to feed the surviving cattle in exchange for the lone lamb.

We had him vetted and the blood work has finally come back - negative for all the dire diseases we usually check for.  Yay! I haven't mentioned him to hardly anyone because I didn't want to jinx the blood tests.  Yes, we're very logical and rational here.  After three weeks of quarantine on the livestock trailer he's been moved into a lambing pen in the lower barn.  He's already gained a good bit of weight since the day we got him and almost looks like a normal sheep.

He is an intact ram lamb, probably about six months old and likely some cross with Shetland involved - clearly something very hardy :-/.  His face and legs have pretty cinnamon hair but his fleece seems white.  It's a terrible mess of burdocks and is starting to break due to severe "a-grocery-osis" but will be quite fine and soft next year.  He is very shy but took an instant liking to Nilla Wafers.  Thanks, crazysheeplady!  We'll keep him here for a while while we consider what to do with him.  I think he'd fare poorly in the ram barn.  Our ram lambs are three times his size.

"Well, it's pretty nice here and the food is excellent but I'm still scared.  Everyone is so BIG!"
We are fervently hoping he's the only animal we ever need to rescue.  But at least now we can sleep at night.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Stills Challenge: Night Shots

Any type of night shot.....

It's a bit grainy, but this was late last winter around 11 PM.  The moon was full, there had been freezing fog earlier and there was a fresh light snow on everything too.  The silo roofs looked like they were glowing so I thought I'd see what my point and shoot could do on a slow manual setting.  I like this especially since the two silos on the left are gone now. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your Kong be full of peanut butter and a shaft of sunlight warm your spot on the carpet!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Bit of Bling

Winter has arrived for real just in time for Thanksgiving.  Snow followed by rain followed by more snow has left a heavy, crunchy, sloppy several inches of white.  I'm trying to convince myself that it looks festive.  At least it certainly does make one thankful for having a warm dry house to retreat into following chores.

Andy finished picking the last load of corn yesterday and it fought him all the way.  Snow and mud made the tractor and equipment want to slide sideways on the hill and the frozen cornstalks kept getting jammed in the picking rolls and wouldn't feed through as they should.  To say he's glad to be done is an understatement particularly with the wet, clingy snow weighing everything down today.

The only ones truly happy with the weather are the dogs.  Holly's friends Angel and Brandy came over today for a playdate.  Brandy is older and more sedate but Angel and Holly were only too glad to roll around in the snow and pretend to kill each other and run, run, run in the pasture.

Of course if you burn off a lot of energy you have to get treats from Julie so you have strength to carry on.

"One for you and one for you and one for you."
And now for something completely different....

We're always trying to think of some new items to add to the various products we offer for sale from the flock.  Since we have Cotswold yarn on the shelf and I dyed quite a bit for the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival I thought maybe we should have some shawl pins.  They are useful, they can be quite lovely whether simple or elaborate and they could appeal to someone who isn't even "into" fiber since they can be given as a gift.  I had an idea and started looking around on the internet for components.  I found a lady (thank you, Etsy) who makes glass beads and I ordered some that I liked.  I had hoped to have them all done for the Festival but only got two finished and one of them sold that weekend.  With Christmas on the Farm coming up at Stone Edge Fibers (amythefibergoddess's farm) on December 7 I was motivated to get them done.

I really like jewelry although I rarely wear it.  It's usually not practical and sometimes not safe to wear things that dangle.  The sheep try to eat earrings when I bend down to say hello, rings and bracelets and dangerous around machinery, pins tend to get caught on anything I reach work and jewelry don't really fit well together.  However, making the pins is as much fun for me as wearing them would be.  Each bead is different and putting them together with the wire and findings I use was quite satisfying.

The beads are glass and each weighs about an ounce, so not too heavy or out of proportion except for perhaps very delicate shawls.  I asked about the strength of the beads - I mean there's glass and then there's glass.  The maker said she tested one by dropping it on the garage floor and it survived so I hope these would live through an occasional "slither off the chair onto the floor" moment.

I'll be eager to see how they are received at the event at Amy's. 

Oh, and Andy made the display stand for me after I described what I needed.  That Andy ;-)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finally, An FO !

.... or Finished Object in knitterspeak.  These come few and far between for me, so it's definately something to be waved about and pointed to.

This is the Multnomah Shawl I've been working on for too long some time, finally done and drying on my super expensive and high tech blocking board.   It's lacking a few rows of the lace pattern because I ran out of yarn but it actually works out OK since the intended recipient is a very small older lady.  This will work out just dandy.

I tinked the bind off row I had started back to the start, put on the new yarn I spun from fiber I found at the New England Fiber Festival, knit a row, bound off and then just because I had plenty I decided to get creative and added a border of crochet chain loops.  That's about the height of my originality when it comes to fiddling with a pattern but I think it looks OK.

Astoundingly, that means I have a knitted Christmas present done a month ahead of time.  Clearly, the planets are aligned in some magical manner so if you have knitting in mind do it quick and the magic may work for you too ;-)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gone But Not Forgotten

Monday and today a great big flatbed tractor trailer has ferried away the parts of the two silos that are going to live a new life on another farm.

The driver brought his skid steer as he will wear two hats and also be the person loading the trailer.  Happily the skidder is on rubber and not metal cleats.  He had to cross the road with each pallet and our road supervisor would have been Not Happy to have the road all chewed up.  Andy and I went out each time after he had left and scraped the mud and gravel out of the road with the barn scrapers so no one would suffer stone pecks on their car.

The first load comprised twenty-two pallets of staves - a bit over forty thousand tons.

The second load included about half the steel silo hoop sections bundled atop the pallets.

The third load included the last of the staves, the rest of the hoop parts and the skid steer.  I asked the driver if he would be done after delivering this load.  No, he had to go to Potter and pick up a load of apple boxes, do some maintenance on the truck and then head for New York City.  Eeesh.  Another hard working guy.
Speaking of hard working guys, That Andy has been picking corn.  The first few days of running was great, then we got three-tenths of an inch of rain and temps hovering around freezing so now it's a cold slog through mud.  He has about one more load from the first field then he moves to the next.
"I like that fella and all, but I just don't know why you're letting him take our stuff."

After corn picking he'll go back to cutting firewood.  Then the barns will need to be cleaned following the end of breeding season.  Then.....he can think about "tidying up" where the silos stood.  Sigh.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fiber Fun

The fiber I bought at the NEFF a couple of weeks ago to finish the Multnomah shawl has been spun up and washed.  The fiber wasn't as nice to spin as I had hoped and when washed it bled red like a wounded animal but I think it will work OK for just the last row or two of the shawl.  I swear the skein is not as red as the picture makes it seem.  I tried in natural light, artificial light, with and without a flash and have decided that either the camera sees red more strongly than it actually is, or my eyes don't see red as strongly as it really is.  :-/

Maybe I can make it look like I planned the border to be a different color.  Yeah, that's my story.  I've tinked back the section that I had bound off with the original yarn and will press on with the new color next time I pick the project up.

Lately I've been busy in the day working in the wool shop washing and dyeing Cotswold.

I've got a brown/chestnut, a black (that broke into black and deep purple) and a smaller amount of vermillion.  I'm going to have Diane at Acorn Works use her magic to give me a three way swirl roving.  I haven't delved much into dark or earth tone colors so the brown and black are an experiment for me.  Here's hoping!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bits and Pieces

With the distraction of the silo demolition out of the way for awhile we can get back to other jobs that need doing.  Andy split firewood in the morning and had a load to dump down cellar and stack after lunch.

He backs the trailer close to the cellar stairs and raises it until the load is almost ready to slide off....

.....but then uses an old potato hook to guide the chunks down in an orderly fashion.  There is a window directly above the cellarway and a boisterous piece of wood could create a whole new job needing immediate attention.  He built wooden wedges that can be bolted to the rear corners of the trailer and they help funnel the load into a more narrow area. Only eighteen more loads to go :-/

The apple trees are still loaded with fruit.  It's hard to believe that this many are already on the ground.  I can't begin to use them all nor give them away so the rams get half a bucket every day.  I wish I knew someone nearby raising hogs.  They would do well with them.

Holly rolled in something vile behind the corncribs this morning while we were doing chores in the upper barn. She got a serious spot-washing before breakfast and went nekkid all day while her collar dried out.

"Roll in something?  I'm sure I'd remember doing something like that."
"I'll just pretend I don't know what you're talking about."
Later in the afternoon we replaced some burned out light bulbs in the feed bunk area and the sheep were a bit alarmed to see Andy sidling along the beam halfway up the wall like a big spider.

O M G !!
That was about as exciting as it got around here today and that's OK.  So goes Monday, so goes the week.  Nothing bad happening equals good!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Done! Sorta....Well... Not Really

Late yesterday as the Hoovers were finishing work on the second silo it started to spit snow.

They had removed the scaffolding when it was no longer helpful and could finish while just walking on the surface of the silage.  For some reason there had been a lot of staves at the top of this silo that were more fragile than the others had been and they broke in the process of removal.  If they broke cleanly into two or three big pieces they were gathered up and stacked together for later repair.  When the silos are erected in the new location the new owners will have the inside ShotCrete-ed for strength and that will hold the pieces together like super glue.  Still, there were a lot that weren't salvagable.  As it worked out, the best place to put the rubble was on top of the silage pile.  It's not underfoot and when Andy gets time to start cleaning this area up he can just lift the front end loader on the tractor and toss the bits in.

I had assumed that they would stop taking staves when they reached the silage or maybe one layer down.  Not so!  They continued pulling them off right down to the ground. 

The column of silage has the consistency of plywood on the outside and shows no sign of collapse.  I'm sure it would slump over time but if plans work out as hoped there won't be an opportunity for time and wet weather to work on it.

We're pretty sure it's timothy haylage.  One unexpected delight is that it still smells like nice silage!  Hard to believe after all these years but there has been little deterioration where the forage was pressed tight against the silo wall.  I expect the scent will wear away soon but what a pleasure to smell sweet and tangy silage again. 

There has been some rot at the base of the silo on the side that faces the barn.  Here the silage just crumbles without support.The staves had been eaten away to the point that you could stick you flat hand under and between a couple.  This was a chief reason we really, really needed to address removing them sooner rather than later.  How much better to take them down than pick them up.  :-O

A daunting accumulation of staves on pallets waits for transport.  They said a tractor trailer would likely be here at the end of next week to pick the all up.

We're going to leave the caution cones up till they are removed.  We've never yet had anyone veer off the road here (that we saw!) but I'm pretty sure a car would come off the loser in an encounter with these. 

So for now it's back to our regular work - cutting firewood and working with wool - but with thoughts running through the back of our minds about when clean up could reasonably start and how best to address filling in the craters and fixing up the barn. 

I think we're not done yet.