Monday, August 22, 2016

Horses In The Mist

If the (Is everyone seeing these two words jammed together?) morning in August is exceptionally foggy does that mean that the corresponding snow day this winter will be exceptional as well? I sure hope so!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


This is a beautiful collection of sunflowers and zinnias that I am enjoying immensely and want to make sure I repeat the planting next year, but in an even bigger area...and I can't take a decent picture of them to save my life.  

Flat, colorless and uninspiring.

Late summer.

At least I hope it's late.


Friday, August 12, 2016

It Might Help

Tilly swears by sleeping on the cool stone floor of the Wool House wash room.  Or under the porch. Hard to say which is dirtier ;-).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

One Good Thing

One of the only things I've enjoyed about this summer have been the beautiful foggy mornings.  It would be even nicer if they were cool foggy mornings, but... well, I'll quit complaining.

I love watching Hank and the sheep meander out through the morning mist.

I've mentioned the "early risers" before. Mostly it's the younger sheep...and B. Willard. You can't keep up that physique without putting in some early mornings ;-D.

Here comes the next group.

And some more.

And the later risers ;-).

Slowly crossing the bridge.

And everyone's clocked in.

I am having trouble with my index finger (aka my puzzle working finger :-o) so haven't even worked the last few puzzles I've made :-(.  When I logged in this morning to create a new puzzle with one of the shots above I was excited to see another of my puzzles has been selected as a Featured Puzzle!

After reading your comments about the hummingbird puzzle taking so long, I decided to look and see how the featured Country Lane puzzle fared.  Holy. Moly.  Someone worked that puppy in 11:49 minutes.  How on earth?!?  Now I'm really itching to work a puzzle!

I'm glad everyone's enjoying the puzzles.  I think they're super fun...when my finger doesn't hurt so much...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Yarn Along - It's Basically A Crime Scene At This Point

I could write an epistle on knitting the Renny sweater so far.  Or better yet, NOT knitting the Renny sweater.  Or more accurately UNknitting the Renny sweater.  Over and over and over and over...  I've lost track of how many times I've frogged a basic sleeve.  Or I should say TWO basic sleeves.

I've had gauge issues - too tight and too loose.  I've had knitting with hot hands issues.  I've had two sleeves not matching exactly perfectly issues.  I've had making sloppy turns for magic loop issues.  I've had skeins of handspun yarn not matching exactly issues.  And I now have friends who probably won't answer the phone if I call them one. more. time.

The latest?
The latest.

I was going to carry the most recent two sleeve starts to the house Monday night.  I sat them on the stone steps of the Wool House so I wouldn't forget them.  And forgot them.  They spent the entire Tuesday getting blazed by the sun...and then it rained on them.  And my 'looks just like Renny' notions bag.  

One of the last texts kbdoolin sent (before she's probably stopped talking to me) says "That poor sweater."  That was before this happened.  I was going to text her my latest tale of woe last night...and couldn't even find the words.  I just gathered everything up and headed to the house.

I pulled off a bunch of the wettest outer layers of yarn (which is surely to become the next crime - insanely tangled yarn when I try to wind it all back on) and spread them out as best I could.  This morning I carefully moved it all outside.  The yarn feels pretty dry, but the notions bag is still quite wet.  Luckily this is Renny yarn and not some fragile silk/merino blend.  If anyone can survive knitting with me, it's Renny.

Isn't this the perfect bag for Renny?

I did start one of my sleeves for the last time again last night while actually watching some of the Olympics for the first time.  I knit to the first set of increases and wanted to then start the second sleeve, but even though I had a dry ball of yarn that I think will match the first one, the needles (bamboo) were so wet that I knew I was just asking for yet another gauge issue.  I'm learning.  The hard way.  As usual.

Amanda Owen is another one of my favorite Twitter follows.  Frequently over the years though I've thought, hmmm, maybe a bit too "Hollywood".  A dress out in the field?  You're going to clip all those sheep yourself?  And you just had a baby? A real shepherd stopping to serve daily tea to hikers?
It only took a few more than 140 characters to convince me otherwise and now I've stuck her in my top five (or two) folks I'd like to meet and places I'd like to see if I ever get on an airplane.  The Yorkshire Shepherdess is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read.  

She has a new book out now, A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.  In fact, I might just go order that right now...instead of attempting to re-wind all that yarn ;-).  I believe that's spelled p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n.  Next week's progress report will. be. better.

Joining in with Ginny...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

We Are All Over The Migration Map

I looked out the other day and saw at least 15 barn swallows swooping around the front of the barn. Since we only had the two parents and three babies old enough to fly, I knew we had visitors. Sure enough, barn swallows migrate too.  We have another tour group stopping in today.

Dive bombing me and Kate.

See the bug in the closest bird's mouth?  I hadn't even seen any bugs flying around and swoop, another one gone.  We are in really good shape bug-wise around here this summer.  I credit the barn swallows, purple martins and bats.

And now we have four new barn swallows!  I've been watching the "bebbies" grow for the last few weeks - a second group in the same nest - and knew they were close to fledging.  Today was the day. When I first approached the barn this afternoon I saw six sitting on the swing and loft.  Two flew out and started yelling at me, so these four are the babies.

And one brave parent flew back in to keep watch.  Good job, everybody!

We've kept a steady stream of around 20 martins flying in every day or so and then they pretty much stopped last week.  But now some new groups are passing through.  I think it's so neat that they found us or remember seeing us last year or somehow got the word that this is a good stopping point.  

They don't stay long.

Well, most of them don't ;-).

"Hey, where'd everybody go?"

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sleepy Sunday







"I wasn't sleeping.  I was just resting my eyes."

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Having dinner with a shepherd friend last night, the weather of course came up.  We are long past complaining about just the relentless heat or just the relentless humidity.  The summer.  In its entirety. Has just been.  Relentless.  And there's still no break in sight.

"No break in sight?"

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Simple Gifts

This summer is really starting to wear on me. Really. Starting. To. Wear. On. Me. But there's this...

Thank you.

And a gift for you :-).

I'm glad everyone enjoys the puzzles.  I'm betting this is going to be a tough one!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Other Neighbor Kid

Another shot from up the lane.

"Ethel?  What are you doing down there?"

Going on 13 years ago now when I painted my first Equinox Farm Christmas card we didn't have quite so many "characters".  There were several new ones though and I thought a card introducing them would be fun.  I'd put a diagram on the back with everyone's names and thought that would be the end of that.

Of course, as I formatted the back diagram, I ended up with four names on one side and three on the other...and that's just wrong (:-o) I quickly added in a cardinal and named him "Some neighbor kid".  He ended up being the star of the card and every year since then he's been included somehow.  

So, speaking of Christmas cards, does anyone have a great idea for what everyone could be doing this year?  I'm drawing a blank and thinking we've covered pretty much all the wintertime activities.  

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Different Perspective

I've been stalking my neighbor's horse and cat.  Not just any "horse" and "cat", but her "horse and cat".  Traveller and Momma Cat moved in this past winter.  I didn't think anything about it other than we were happy to have some nice new neighbors and that they obviously took good care of their horse.

One morning Tim called just after he left for work and said "There's a cat sleeping in the hay roll out with that horse."  I could see that happening - hay would make a warm, cozy bed and with the early morning sun, heck, I could sleep out there :-).  He saw them regularly and frequently the horse was laying down in the hay, too.

I very seldom go left out of our driveway, so I never saw them.  Then I got busy with lambing and taking care of Bullwinkle and the grass turned green and the hay bale disappeared and I was disappointed I hadn't taken the time to go look.  Always. make. time.  

Not to worry.  It wasn't just the winter hay roll.  Traveller and Momma Cat are actually best friends and they live together year round.  Now that we have "The Unit" and are out and about in the neighborhood more, I see them all the time.  This morning I walked up the lane to see if I could take their picture.

Looking back, watching the sun come up.

I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful place.  

I need to put some work in to get the "right shot".  If I try to get closer or move around for a different angle everyone gets suspicious and the moment is lost.  I'll get it though.  In the meantime, here's a quick snap.  Could anything be sweeter?

How about a new puzzle :-).

Friday, July 29, 2016

I Believe We Are Officially On The Map

This is the second year for our purple martin house.  The first year we only had light interest from what I'm assuming were local juveniles, late in the season.  This spring we had a pair that moved in and raised two clutches.  Up until a couple weeks ago, we'd regularly have eight or so martins living here.

When the martins are hanging around, the noise is incredible.  When they decide to pick up and leave, they pick up and leave...and it gets very quiet.  It got very quiet last week.  And then a couple days later the chattering was back and I saw 20 martins sitting on the power lines.  And a day or so later they left.

Next thing I knew, 20 more martins were buzzing around.  And then they left.  And today there were 22 on the wire (and maybe even more in this picture now that I look closely).  I guess we meet approval and have become an official stop on the migration tour.  

I love that :-D.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Bellwether

The most frequently asked question we get from visitors to the farm is "Why does that sheep (Andy) wear a bell?"  

That's a very good question (they all are!).  I originally put bells on Petunia and Graham.  I picked Petunia because I knew she liked bling.  I picked Graham because, well, I had a feeling the bell might be a bit irritating to most sheep and if I was going to irritate one, it might as well be Graham.  Bless his heart, I think he loved it.

The bells started out just for fun.  I loved hearing the tinkling bells on sheep at a friend's farm. Turned out, having Graham belled was actually quite helpful because you could always hear where he was and usually quickly figure out what he was up to.  It wasn't uncommon to hear him out grazing in the middle of the night.  

One night I heard two bells and was surprised to find the whole flock out.  Up until that point, I'd believed the majority of the flock (aka everyone except Graham ;-) stayed in for the night. Without the bells, I might still think the kids were all safely tucked into bed each night.

Another reason I think the bells are helpful is the difference in sounds they make and what that might mean.  Tinkle tinkle tinkle - moving around grazing quietly.  RING RING RING - they are running.  Running could mean just racing back to the barn, but it could also mean something was chasing them.  We can hear them from the house...if it would just cool down enough that we could open the windows :-o.

I was sitting out on the porch this morning surrounded by fog.  I could see the martin house, but not much further.  One lone sheep was grazing down by the creek, Blossom.  Normally one sheep out by itself would be a red flag, but not Baba.  She frequently marches to her own drum.

Do you see her?

I was surprised though that no other sheep were headed down the hill to join her.  Seemed plenty light enough.  And then I heard it, Andy's bell.  Where was he...  I had to listen for a few seconds and then pegged him out in the lower small paddock.  They were out there and I just couldn't see them
 From Wikipedia: A bellwether is one that leads or indicates trends.  
The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.

You'll have to listen carefully, but it's there.  More towards the end, but I love hearing the doves and other birds waking up while I wait.  It's Andy, wearing Graham's bell.

Do you see them?

Interestingly, I'm not the only one listening for Andy's bell.  The other night I was walking in the front field with Bullwinkle, Kate, Tilly, Hank and Comby.  It was pretty dark and we were about halfway up the far hill when a group of late grazers (trying to beat the heat) meandered down to the creek.  Bullwinkle heard Andy's bell and took off running.  

Bullwinkle loves Andy and I think Andy considers him a funny kid brother.  They play fight at the water trough almost nightly.  Bullwinkle jumps on the wooden shade cover, which puts him right at Andy's level and they taunt each other and butt heads.  When he got down to Andy that night, he looked back at me excitedly, "Andy's here!  Look, Andy's here!"  

I wouldn't be surprised if Hank listened for the bells as well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Post A Picture Of Your [Dog]

A little change up for the blogging rule - "If you don't have anything else to post, put up a picture of your cat."

I cropped this down so Kate was centered.  But I wanted to leave as much of the sheep showing as possible.  Which makes the picture too narrow.  And I've been working on this for about 20 minutes. I am obviously too tired to be making photo decisions.  The heat and humidity is wearing me (and everyone else) down.

It's still a nice picture of Kate though.  There's also a fun video of her on my Instagram feed.  She's no dummy.  I think I probably need to join her :-).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Yarn Along - Popcorn Pee Pee Pants

One of the fun things about "the Tour" is how the "race" follows the actual Tour de France race. We take rest days when the cyclists do and on the "mountain days" we pick something extra challenging to do or try.  This year I decided to try to spin some sock yarn.

It hit me earlier this year that PPPP (Popcorn Pee Pee Pants) is 11 (!).  How on earth did that happen? If you don't already know, PPPP is the lamb on the bookmarks we hand out at festivals and include when we ship online orders. I looked back and found this recount.  How funny :-).

Like most all of our fleeces, she's kind of a mess.  

Like all most of our fleeces, she cleans up quite nicely.

PP is a Border Cheviot.  Border Cheviots have a down (the area, not like feathers) type fleece - very medium in length and softness.  At 11, she's not as soft as she once was.  Well, maybe pretty close to the same softness, but now getting more hair and kemp fibers mixed in.  

The combs did an exceptional job pulling all that and any hay chaff...out and if you put your hand on top of this pile and gently push down, it feels exactly like if you let dish washing detergent foam way up and pushed down on that. 

Miss B was over and she worked on a scarf she is making from some yarn she picked up at the Yarn Swap.  

And Yarn Swappers will recognize these socks as well.  She's making the rest of us look bad been busy!

Tilly, always busy as well ;-).

Meanwhile back in the Wool House...  This is ridiculous.  Not so much the lack of dusting (that's normal), but the fact that my wheels all have so much dust and cobwebs to boot!  Sadly, also normal now it seems.  Ridiculous.

All cleaned up and oiled and happy to be spinning :-).

At first I thought I'd over spun and over plied my sample.  It's also spun pretty well worsted (combed top, all the fibers are same length and direction and smooth) and it didn't have any stretch or bounce left to it.  Didn't panic though and gave it a quick soak in some hot water and once it dried it was back to what I'd hoped for.

The yarn wraps at 18 wraps per inch and I knit this small sample on size 2 needles and got 6 1/2 stitches to the inch.  I like the thickness and I like that it's a 3 ply, which makes the yarn more round and cushy.  I'm not a thin sock person.  I think I'll continue the sample on with a size 1 needle just for curiosity.  And then to pick a pattern.  

I just finished the most recent No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book.  I'm all read up on that series. Hopefully he's writing another.  Any suggestions for something fun?

Oops, almost forgot to include this.  From near the end of The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine (No. 1 Ladies D. A.) "In this hot weather a sleep in the afternoon is always a good idea."  Yes ma'am! ;-)

Joining in with Ginny...


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