Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Keeping cool

Mama shows the way
Wait for us!

This is yummy, look here!
Suddenly, or so it always seems, it is Summer.  The days are hot and humid, the gardens are being planted, the flowers are bursting forth in a hurry, only to fade away in a moment with the sultry weather.  There are babies everywhere in the yard--mostly of the bird type.  We had a pair of geese walk through the yard with, I think, six goslings in a row.  They were going from the beaver pond across the road to the cow pasture behind the house.  I missed them going up in the morning, but got to see them coming home in the evening.  What a treat.  There are baby house sparrows in the box on the barn, baby tree swallows in the house in the chicken pen, and also baby robins in a nest in the wood shed, which got enclosed into the  chicken pen, too.  Probably that fact saved the baby robins, as they are in a really poor location. And of course, we have our own little babies, now running around the pen with Mama Hen, and they aren't even a week old yet!!  It is amazing the difference between raising them oneself or letting Mama do it.  I vote for Mama.

Soft and lovely
I am busy getting ready for the Town Wide Yard Sale.  I've got the lovely skein of blue and green turning into a very pleasing scarf.  I picked a lace pattern that is fairly easy, but looks very nice done up.  The other thing I am working on is getting everything labeled, sorted, the inventory written up, etc.   It is all stuff I need to have done, and once it is finished, I just have to update sales or new items.  But it is pleasant work to do, inside, when it is scorching out, with a nice iced coffee, the fan murmuring out a breeze and some classical music on the radio.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mama takes charge

Following Mama

Three little chickies
Mama hen decided on her own that she had given the last egg enough of her time.  I got back from my visit to Glo's and she had abandoned it in the middle of the cage.  It was cold to the touch.  Now she is very busy with her three.  I think they are all looking fine.
Eye candy
And what a fun time we had dyeing!  I did 4 jars of fleece from Warwick, as he is a lovely clean white.  I only had "seconds" to work with (those are usually the neck and shoulder areas) but I am thinking I will be blending them anyway, so it won't matter if they are short bits.

Part of the color way
More of the skein
The skein I did came out wonderfully well.  I am very psyched!  Pretty sure it is going to be a lacey scarf, knit up this week to add to my things that will be going to the Town Wide Yard Sale booth.  We (Gloria and I) know that most people who come to the Town Wide will be looking for bargains, but we look at it being there as an investment in exposure.  Besides, it's lots of fun. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Outdoor nursery
Chick #1 and Chick #2
Well, the waiting paid off.  I now have three darling little baby chicks.  There is one more egg to go, and Mama Hen is determined to stay on it.  So I have gotten her and the little ones out to their outdoor pen, with the egg coming along also.  She is sitting on it even now.   We decided to give it one more day, but if it doesn't hatch by tomorrow, we will call it a dud and remove it.   It is so much fun to have babies that I don't have to fuss over, as I did the group that Mama Hen was a part of.  Those six I had in a cage in the vestibule, with a lamp for warmth.  I had to make sure they didn't get too hot, or too cold, that they didn't eat wood shavings or get "pasted up" which is a condition where their little tiny bottoms get the poo stuck on and dried.  Very Bad.  As soon as that happens you have to wash their bottoms with warm water to get things freed up again.  Then I had to make a different pen when they got too big for the first, and then they had to be introduced to the other flock. 
Mama, showing how it's done
 I mean, I did enjoy all that, but it was a tad labor intensive.  This time I can let Mama do all the work.  I think she is going to be very good at it.

I am determined to finish spinning my white roving that came from the mill.  I plan on heading up to Gloria's tomorrow for a fun dye session.  I hope to hand paint the skein, trying for stripes again.  I love to try for stripes.  I am also going to bring some uncarded fleece to pot dye, as that will allow me to play with color blending on the carder.  Happy days ahead.
Sitting on the egg and 2 chicks

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Mama on her eggs
Anticipaaaaaaation is keeping me waiting....(think Carly Simon).  Little Red Hen #2 is still on the nest, and as I reckon it, tomorrow should be the day!! That is, if anything at all is to happen.  If not tomorrow, than within the next 2 days, at any rate.
I have a cage in the fenced off chicken pen ready for any chicks, with a hay filled box, for the mama and babies to sleep in at night.  I have the name of a lady who will let me have a small amount of chick feed so I can supplement their diet without having to buy 25 pounds of it--which seemed a tad excessive.  Will anything hatch?  If they do, will she be a good mama?  It certainly is keeping me distracted.
Lots of food
The party was a success, I guess.  Lots of food and drink and people.  The nieces grilled octopus appetizers ( I declined those) and made bruschetta, olive tapenade on bread with goat cheese, a cheese ball or two and this was just the beginning!  We had great things to eat.  I think there were about 25 or so people in the end.  Maybe more.  A surprise visit from dear friend with her husband--my rotten little girls knew she was coming, but didn't tell me so I could have a surprise.  I did, too!  It was great as Wendy is a terrific party person--she mingles well, can talk about anything with anyone, and makes great drinks.  Her husband was a great mingler, too.  He fit right in.  The grand girls kept busy with nephew Chapin, playing in the water garden, catching frogs.  He showed Maddy how to massage a frog's stomach to make it stay perfectly still.  It was wild!

Watching the Preakness
Wendy bartending
Maddy, massaging a frog

So this afternoon is spinning Tuesday for me.  I am looking forward to some nice quiet time, listening to "Lost in a Good Book" on my ipod and spinning some great alpaca.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Weekend

The daughter
Even though we are still having rain every single day, I am hoping that tomorrow we will be spared as it is Party Day at the house.   Two big number birthdays to celebrate between our daughter and our sister-in-law.   When it was noted that each of the families were planning a party on the same weekend, it became obvious that we needed to combine them, as basically the same people would be coming to both!   It will be nice to start the (theoretical) summer with a good party.
The sister-in-law
I believe there will be some time for spinning this morning as there is more rain to be had, so I won't be outside spiffing things up.  Fortunately,  yesterday was warm and sunny, so I got the outdoor party spaces ready.  Not much left for indoor except vacuuming, which won't take too long.
And, to no one's surprise, except probably Mama Robin, after she laid egg number four, all were taken from her nest.  Since it was so easily accessed, it could have been bird or beast, we will never know.  Hopefully she will try again in a better location.

Empty nest

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shearing Day

Shearing the alpacas
Finally it came--shearing day for the alpacas at Alnglo Alpaca Ledge Farm.  Gloria and her husband, Al, team up with four other farms in the area and hire a gentleman from New Hampshire who comes to shear all the animals.  The folks travel from one farm to the next, helping each other with all the many aspects of shearing day, including small things like sweeping the floor as the shearer works, to taking care of the fleeces as they come off the animals.  There is alway a communal meal or two, as well!  It usually takes two days of hard, physical labor to get all the alpacas shorn. 
Beautiful fleece!
This year Glo's daughter came with 5 or 6 of her church friends to help by doing all the meals.  That was so wonderful!  The host farm at lunchtime didn't have to think about the noontime meal, and yesterday, at shearing's end, which was at Alnglo Farm, they cooked an especially lovely supper of hot and sustaining food.   What a treat.

Black Velvet, with sock to catch spit

Happy boys in their summer duds
So now that shearing is all over with, we look towards getting all those fleeces washed.  That is where I come in, as I enjoy helping out with that.

Meanwhile, Mama Hen is still determinedly sitting on those eggs.  I am working on a containment plan for when they hatch-- some way to keep the chicks safe, yet allow Mama to be in contact with the other hens.  We figure on using a cage we had made for the current hens when they were still young, but when we went to check it out, found a robin had built a nest on it!  She had only laid one egg--while we discussed what to do, she laid another!  And this was only in an hour or two.  Finally we just had to move the nest, which we did to a wood pile only two feet away.  The good news is, after being suspicious for a bit, she accepted the new location, even laying a third egg. The bad news is, both places are really poor in terms of safety for babes.  We are not very confident she will be able to raise anyone to fledge.  At least now I can work on my containment idea.
The lovely eggs
Robin on her relocated nest

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finished things

A pair of socks
I finally got the socks off the needles and onto the feet.  They seem to be just a tad long in the foot, which really bugs me, as I purposely knit them from the toe up so that they would fit exactly.  However, I am sure that after a few washings they will be fitting the way they should.  It seems like socks always shrink up a bit as they age.  Sort of like people!

The other thing finished is my shop makeover.  I was trying to follow 
all the good ideas they have for newbies like myself to make the shop look spiffy, but finally had to figure out what I liked on other shop sites and apply it to mine.  I still haven't sold anything from there yet, so I might have to do a promotion.  The reason I hesitate to spend the money to promote is that I honestly don't think it will make any difference.  The two new items I added, the shawl and the scarf, will put the page up "front" for a minute or two, and then it slips into obscurity once again.  I am leaving it with less items for a while until after June 4 ,which is the Town Wide Yard sale day.  Gloria and I will have a space on Main Street even though we won't have bargains for the people searching for deals.  At least we get exposure, and, who knows, maybe someone may even buy something!  If they do purchase an item, I won't have to worry about renewing it for the shop.  That is why I am waiting until later to renew my listings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reddy the Fox

The chicken fence up
"The fox went out on a chilly night..." starts one of my favorite children's songs.  Only the fox was out in broad day light, trotting along the fence line by the neighbor's pasture.  Fortunately, Jeff and MacTavish were patrolling the yard and saw him, so MacTavish could give some warning barks, which had him turn tail and lope across the field.  But next time we might not be out there.  I did the only  sensible thing...now the chicken fence has been re-instated.  Hate to do it, however, I would hate more to loose one of the flock to feed the fox family!  It should only be for a few weeks, then, once the family is out of the den, they usually move on.

Friday, May 6, 2011

No rain Friday!

Wow--it is hard to believe, but at the moment there are no clouds in the sky and the sun is shining fit to bust.  It must be because it hasn't been able to for so long!  There is still very bad flooding up north, with Lake Champlain and all the tributaries still rising, but at least they will have a day of sun to lift their spirits for a moment. What with the tornadoes down south, it certainly has been a wild spring after a long, cold, snowy winter.  Wonder what summer will bring...
Still have Mama hen on her nest.  She has 4 eggs under her--I figured that was the amount I wanted to gamble on.  If they even reach the hatching stage, they may turn out to be cockerels, and I can't have even one more male in the group, so that they will have to go.  One way or another!  But the hope is that if they make it, they will be pullets.
Have to decide if I want to go to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival next weekend.  It usually is on Mother's Day weekend, and I wasn't keen on going then, but when it turns out to be the following weekend, I still am waffling on going.  Only because it is a 3 hour drive over and back, so that is 6 hours in the car  which means it is an all day venture.  I don't have anything that I am looking for, just want to fill my eyes with fiber delight.  I will have to decide soon....Maybe, if I went with Gloria, I wouldn't have to drive, and could use the car ride as knitting time.  Hmmmm. That wouldn't be so bad!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tentative excitement!

Little Red Hen # 2
It now seems as if I have a broody hen!  My Rhode Island Red, renamed Little Red Hen the 2nd,  has all the signs of one.  A broody hen is one that has gone all maternal and is setting on eggs with an eye to raising chicks.  She spent all day on the nest yesterday, and this morning, when I felt under her wing to see if there was an egg (there was), she growled at me.  Then I slipped another egg that had been laid very early this morning in under her.  So she has at least 2 to experiment with.  If there are any more eggs laid today from the other hens, I will slip those in, also.  I am cautiously excited, as there are so many variables to this situation.  Firstly, will Little Red actually stay on the nest for the 21 days, or will she tire of it before then? Abandonment is not uncommon.  Secondly, if any actually hatch, will she be able to raise them to bigger than a puffball before they succumb to any one of a number of dooryard hazards?  I will have to make a special place for the little family to live in while they get big enough to mix with the rest of the flock. 
When she was a chick
People who raise chickens for eggs don't want a broody hen as she stops laying eggs while she is setting.  I want to do it as a way to increase the flock without having to be the mama myself, as I was for her.  Theoretically, all I will have to do is provide the housing and food, she will take care of the rest.
So, we shall see!

Meanwhile, in the land of fiber,  I am determined to get my socks finished.  It shouldn't be much longer as I am on the leg now, so I will just knit until they are the height I want, or the yarn is used up, whichever comes first.  Am also spinning the lovely roving from the fiber mill, which is white, with an eye towards some more hand painting.  That is always tons of fun!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm tired today

Yesterday was spent driving across the state to attend the 5th annual Hunger Conference, put together by the Vermont Foodbank.  I volunteer for our local emergency food shelf and one of the directors thought I should go as I had found it so interesting last year.  I took another volunteer with me.  It is such a mind opening experience!  But the drive was two hours, one way, and after getting up at 5 a.m. to be on the road by 5:30, then sitting through several workshops, we decided to slip out early.  Still, we weren't home until almost 5:30 that night.  I was whipped! 
Greenhouse in summer
Today I have spent being quietly at home, sort of   ( I did go out to hydrofit this morning and then over to Daphne's house to work on our Taradiddle program for this summer) and was able to get all the seedlings out into the greenhouse.  Being a  rainy day, I felt it was a good time to do it as they can't be exposed to the sun when they are still small.  They have to get acclimated.  I took the precaution of having the propane tank filled up in case we have to put the heater on at night, due to temperatures dropping.  But I don't think they are supposed to drop, at least for the next few days.  It's nice to have them out of the cellar.  Now I just have a few packs left in the dining room.  They are very tiny and slow coming, so I think I will leave them there for a while.