Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Stills - No Zoom


For the Chicago folks :-).


I walked up late yesterday evening to put the grazing muzzles back on "the fat boys" and couldn't believe how many fireflies were hanging out in that big patch of weeds in the middle of the back field.  Fantastic find!


It's been super humid forever (thanks for the rain - no complaining for sure!) but earlier this week the humidity cleared out and the skies got super blue.  The view from out back.


Roll bales at the neighbors.


Sunbeams over the lavender garden as I walked in last night.  Robin on the right :-).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

And She's Off!

For the Tour, the TOUR!

Yeesh ;-).


Okay, here's the line up.  My main/overall goal is just to do something with wool every day. 

And by doing that,  making a good dent in the mongo bag of black wool shouldn't be so daunting.  It's a Texel/Jacob cross - to be woven into a throw - Hansen miniSpinner.

The silver is 2 1/2 pounds of Rebecca Boone, to be spun for Auntie Reg - Ashford Joy.

The white?  Why that's Blossom herself :-D.  Three ounces to be spun for socks - probably three ply - wheel TBD.

The orange is some Keebler dyed with walnuts two falls ago - a little over an ounce - various spindles.

Paper bag - 6 ounces of Buddy - to be hand combed and spun into lace weight for an upcoming Iknitarod challenge - Jensen Production wheel.

Missing from photo - Elizabeth - Great Wheel challenge for the Mountain Day - already up at the house...from a previous TdF challenge.  Sigh.

.

Yes, I finished the knitting portion of my Sheep Heid - a photo finish in the wee hours before the Tour de Fleece started.  Now to weave in a bazillion ends and add the final touches and blocking (my favorite part :-) and THEN official photos. 


Here's the Bag O' Buddy.


I started combing this afternoon.  I'm still loving my Valkryie Combs and I LOVE fluffy Buddy.  Can't wait to start spinning this!


I was concerned that dyed Keebs wouldn't draft like un-dyed Keebs (the way I like) so I ran him through the drum carder to loosen everything up.  Looks good!

SO, didn't do any actual spinning yet.  I'm counting any wool work - washing, prepping, spinning, sampling...  As far as fulfilling the nap portion today...hanging head.  I did sit down and watch a TED talk though over lunch.  I doubt Blossom would approve, but it was sorta restful.  

Tomorrow.

Oh, my groups are Team My Favorite Sheep, Team Iknitarod, Team Hopelessly Overcommitted...of course ;-).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'd Have Paid Five Bucks To See That


I watched Fat Little Maisie struggle under the fence, but turned my back and missed Big Unit Brat Willard get under.  That's Good Girl Blossom on the right side.  And you wonder why I'm the CRAZY sheep lady...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 2013 Tour de Fleece

It's that time of year again :-D.


This year's team captain, by popular request, will be Blossom. I'd probably have stuck with Petunia for a couple more years, but I'm unoriginal like that.  Petunia seemed a bit bummed about it though so I gave her one of the pretty sheep bells to wear and now she's all "I don't get to be the queen of the Tour de Fleece AND I have to wear a stupid bell?!?"  Actually, I think she kind of likes her bell :-).

Blossom will be a great captain.  The Tour will follow the usual format (from the official Tour de Fleece page):

  1. Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday June 29th through Sunday July 21st. Days of rest: Monday July 8th and Monday July 15th. (Just like the actual tour.)

  2. Spin something challenging on the challenge day (usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, it’s Stage 18, on Thursday, July 18th, when they climb Alpe d’Huez twice).

And include one extra requirement - naps :-).  Seriously!  Nobody napped in better style than Blossom.  Maisie gave her a run for her money on the couch the past winter, but no one could ever upstage Blossom sleeping on that cot in front of the fan last summer.  We could all learn something from a sheep.  It wouldn't kill us to "take five" occasionally.


"I used to sleep on the cot.  Now I just sleep anywhere I want :-)."

So, once again we'll run a team thread on Ravelry.  If you aren't already on Ravelry, you'll need to sign up (and wonder how you lived without it).  To join Team My Favorite Sheep, just use this link and "reply to thread" and tell us you're joining :-).  If you have a specific challenge(s) in mind, we'd love to hear about that as well.

As the tour progresses, keep us posted (if you'd like) and pictures are always exciting.  At the end of the Tour, if you're happy with your spinning (and napping!) let us know and we'll draw for some fun team prizes.  There are also all sorts of other great groups and challenges and daily prizes through the main group.  It's really a hoot and a great motivation to get some spinning done.  And take a nap ;-).


Monday, June 24, 2013

Garden Girls


I'm not the only one enjoying the lavender this summer.  A robin has staked a claim as well.


I've been watching her for the last several days and today it finally dawned on me she had a nest in the red bud at the corner of the garden.


And I'm assuming the babies are still very small as I couldn't see or hear them, but I heard plenty from momma!


Back and forth she goes, in and out, in and out...


Bad Betsy has noticed her as well :-(.  We keep her in the house as much as we can, but too much house time makes Betsy a Bad Betsy on other fronts, as we well remember!


Betsy's not the only one stalking robins around here.  Chicken No has apparently figured out the robins know where to find all the good worms.  It's a funny farm for sure.

Are you tired of lavender pictures? 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Up With The Chickens...Sort Of


"So there you are.  How's the water this mornin'?"


"Ooof!"


"Yep, looks a little low."


"At least it's still fairly cool.  Boy, it's sure been hot lately."


"Lady, you gotta wait your turn."


"So where you goin' now?"

"Away from you.  You talk too much!"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Maisie Days Of Summer

It's not quite summer yet, but it sure feels like it.


I think Maisie's been feeling a bit neglected lately.  Oh, she has several friends now, lots of things to do and places to go, but summer vacation has not gone like she'd planned so far.  She's been in a fair amount of trouble - breaking and entering/exiting, food stealing, fence testing...  If you tell her not to do something, she just tries all the harder to do it.  Even Hank lost his patience with her once. 


"Nobody understands me."


The sky has been interesting and busy all day.  Small wispy clouds in the morning, big sweeping clouds this afternoon.  The cloud of white fuzz in the foreground is Hank's.  He's finally started his big shed out and stands next to me and lets me pluck out big hunks of undercoat.


And as long as the sheep want to stay out, he will too, but he finds himself a cool, shady vantage point.


But he's happiest when he can crash in the barn.  Maisie came in with him, but wasn't ready to settle in.  I sat down in hopes she'd sit down with me, but she doesn't really want to hang out with her mom right now...but she doesn't really want not to.  Teenagers... ;-)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

As Blog As My Witness...


There WILL be knitting today.  Half (not quite) finished hat removed from bag for photo only.  That's ridiculous.

Here's a funny/odd story.  We've been under the impression that our sheep go to the barn at night and stay there.  Graham likes to wander out around the corner sometimes and B. Willard frequently has to be coaxed into the barn lot at dark, but once they are in for the night though, I believed they were in for the night.  I've made many late night checks and they are always asleep in the barn.

Last night I woke in the middle of the night to ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-linga...  I thought I was imagining it.  Our sheep sleep all night in the barn, remember?  Ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-linga...  I got up and walked out the door.  At least two distinct bells out grazing in the dark.  Graham?  Yeah, I could see that.  Petunia and Rebecca Boone (the other bell wearers)???  Never.

Now I'm wondering if they all have a secret life.  Does someone stand guard and watch for our lights to turn out and then wait just a little longer until the coast is surely clear and then all go back out???  What else are they up to?!?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Stills - Sunrises Or Sunsets

The other night I was mowing the back field up near Stella's house as the sun set. Looking down from "the hill" across our farm and our neighbor's farms I thought, well, I've got Sunday Stills wrapped up for this week.  The sun set as a brilliant orange red and the "valley" was golden.  So pretty.

I watched the skies (and the Weather Channel ;-) throughout the week and it looked like Saturday evening would be perfect.  We had a long day working though, including laying over 45 square feet of brick walkway/patio areas, and I was beat...and with a good hour of clean up and evening chores still to go.

I love how the sun sets through the side door of the sheep shed.  The sheep are in the side field right now too and that's a pretty spot as well and close at hand.  Sun setting on a sheep's back is just a different kind of sunset.  I'll make it up the hill another day.


I'm not sure if you can see all the bugs floating about.  The birds sure do.  One of my favorite parts of the day is watching and listening to the birds finish up and settle in for the night. 


Keebler


Beanie Baby and Popcorn PeePee Pants in the foreground.


Elizabeth, watching the sunset from inside.  She eats her dinner (she's very old and gets to come out in the barn aisle and eat) and then tootles off to bed.  Peabody and Jester (two other oldies who eat with her) sometimes stay in...and sometimes head back out.  You never know about the boys, but you can set your clock by Elizabeth ;-).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Graham A Lamba Dinga Linga Linga Linga Linga

I've been wanting some sheep bells for a long time. Dianne has some on her sheep and I love hearing the soft bells as her sheep move around grazing. I made a recent order from Premier and sheep bells popped up as a prompt on their sheep products page.  Added to cart.

I decided the first sheep to get a bell would be Graham Lamb.  I wasn't sure how the bells would go over and if a sheep is going to get "tortured" around here...it's gonna be Grahammy.  At very least we'd always know where he was ;-).

While in close quarters in the barn yesterday the bells were maybe a bit much, but when I woke up this morning and heard the ringing through our bedroom window it made me smile.


And it doesn't seem to be slowing Graham Lamb down any.


Which is important because it takes a lot of work to maintain that svelte figure.


"Why does everyone always pick on me???"


For new readers, this isn't Graham's first Ding-a-ling post ;-).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Blooms, Butterflies and Bees

I've had several questions about the varieties of lavender we're growing and also what plants are in the dye garden and what colors they create.

Regarding the dye garden...that's a post (or two) for later in the summer when the flowers are more blooming and I'm less blooming (busy :-/).  I'm close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (and hoping it's not just a train heading my way ;-) and looking forward to thinking about more than how much weed-eater string I have left.  Ah, it's a glamorous life here ;-).  Remind me!!!

The lavender.  I decided to experiment with several varieties and see what did best in our particular area:  Grosso, Alba, Munstead, Jean Davis, Twickle, Edelweis, a couple different Spanish varieties that I can't remember the names, a couple Kews, Hidcote, Silver Edge and something else I can never remember the name for, but resembles the Spanish varieties a bit.

My favorites so far are...well, they're all my favorites.  I didn't realize Jean Davis would look almost white and it's stunning.  The Grosso is HUGE, almost waist high and getting ready to bloom.  A friend brought me some Twickles from the end of the season that looked godawful.  She suggested I put them in the compost pile, but I stuck them in the ground and they look great this year.

The big plant with all the bees in the video is a Munstead.  That's also the host to the awesome spider nest from last year.  I thought I hadn't had good luck with those, but apparently I did.  Maybe when I bought the original plants, there was only one Munstead left - which would explain why it's by itself with no Munstead friends nearby making me think they'd not done well... 

The breeze tends to blow across the garden towards the front field.  When the sun is hitting the blooms and foliage just so and the breeze is just so, I can smell the lavender all the way across to the driveway as I walk to the barn.  In the late afternoon and early evening, the light hits it just so and the bees are buzzing just so and the butterflies bounce around it just so...

It's worth every weed I have to pull.

Some quick snaps and short video taken with my iPhone last night. 







Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Take A Picture - It Lasts Longer!

Okay, just to nit pick something (else) to death, I just realized that I completely missed taking a picture of the best perennial garden we have.  Sort of takes the fun out of a "Hey, you get a gold star for having pretty much the entire (too big) yard weeded and mulched!" post.  Sigh.




St. Francis (yes, he's in there) has been covered up before. 



I can't figure out how to take an interesting picture of the dye garden.  It looks pretty good though :-).


Back porch


I love this little corner - added in some thyme between the big steps.


It won't last long and it's not garden show ready, but it's not too shabby for a farm yard.  Well, unless it's Skoog Farm.  Weaslie and I are not sure how Lori does it all :-o. Anyway, moving on to the next project.  Ready Weaslie?

Weaslie?

The cats are asleep somewhere, too. 

Sigh.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lavender Bees

I had pretty good luck getting our lavender through the drought last summer and the long wet winter. I had to replace a few plants, but the tough ones that made into year two are blooming their hearts out. I love it.  So do Stella's bees!






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