Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best Part Of The End Of Summer

Well, besides being able to put the words "end of" and "summer" together.

I like everything about Hay Day. From the reliable, professional, genuinely nice guys that bring it and the funny stories they tell on each other as they stack it in the loft for us...

After watching them maneuver that huge truck and trailer into the tiny aisleway of our barn...

The way the barn smells full of fresh hay...

Knowing you are ready for cold weather (or for having to start feeding hay now because the grass is all brown and crispy :-/).

The majority of this load is Bermuda grass. Lewis asked if I'd like to try some a couple years ago and I'm glad I did. Everybody likes it, horses and sheep. It's soft and easy to handle, smells good, doesn't get easily stuck in the wool the way alfalfa does.

And the loft is full :-).

Air Traffic Control

First off I've got to come clean about something. All the long wools got their ears lowered the other day. Or maybe I should say they got their ears raised. I had the shearers lop off their dreadlocks, thinking they were getting pretty ratty and probably should start fresh every few years...

They look awful. Woolliam without his cool 'do??? Keebler without his lopsided curls??? Buddy actually being able to see where he's going??? Rebecca Boone with no place to stick a feather or two???

What was I thinking?!?

Sheep shearing regret. Bald is not beautiful. :-(

Luckily the bees were able to save the day so I didn't have to post pictures of the multi-hair tragedy.

They are all over the sunflowers out by the Frog Pond.

Bees of all shapes, sizes and varieties.

Something interesting - hopefully visible if you biggify - is that some of the bees seem to just coat their entire body with the pollen.

And some gather it neatly in their pollen baskets. Any thoughts?

The reason I had the camera out by the pond is I noticed another traffic issue last night when I was checking the two Frog Pond hives.

A large writing spider had (cleverly I'll admit) constructed her web directly in the bee's flight path coming in and out of one of the hives. She had 16 bees cocooned and is working on number 17 in this picture. The following comes from the Weaving Today newsletter in my inbox this morning.

Beweave It!

A fabulous spider-silk cloth on exhibit at Chicago Museum of Art shows one of the more unusual ways in which we associate spiders with weaving. But perhaps the most famous connection is the Greek myth of the gifted weaver Arachne. According to the myth, when Arachne boasted that her weaving was better than that of Athena, the goddess of weaving, Athena became angry and challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. Athena wove a cloth depicting good deeds of the gods, but Arachne wove about their foolishness. When Athena saw Arachne's tapestry she became enraged at the insulting images, but also because Arachne's weaving was better than Athena's.

Arachne and Athena

In her rage, Athena turned Arachne into a spider, doomed to spin and weave her whole life long. While the Greeks saw this as punishment, it may sound pretty good to those of us who struggle to find enough weaving time.

I struggle with spider webs. I hate walking through them in the dark coming in from the barn at night. There's the obvious creep out factor, but also the realization that I just destroyed hours worth of amazing work. I try to live and let live. What was I going to do about this bee catcher?


"Me tooooooo!"

And down it came. I was gentle and tried to arrange it so all her stored work could be salvaged and I felt sorry for her...but you don't mess with the Too Busy Bees.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Of These Sheep...

...does not look like this anymore.

B. Willard and Renny. If you think Renny looks fat from this angle, I need to get a front on shot. Holy Moly. She's one happy sheep though. Loves all of her buddies, her cookies (not why she's so chubby! ;-) and is even learning to enjoy back scratches.

She's funny. She watches us. She watches the other sheep. You can see the wheels turning when Sherman, Marcel, Petunia, Graham, Henri, Buddy...come gather around us in the evenings. She wants to come closer...but at the last second chickens out.

Last night I got a good scratching in right over her shoulder blades. I stopped after just a few seconds though, so I was the one stepping away. A little reverse psychology.

So which sheep looks different and why?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chicken Guardian Sheep


"Baa-ck Baa-ck"

"Nothin' to see here. Just us chickens I mean sheep."

This is the Adventure Chicken Betsy tried to take out the other day. A little too much adventure perhaps ;-). For the chicken, not Betsy. Oh no. She tried to catch Little Jane (the black and white bantam) yesterday. And Betsy's not a big kitty.

But don't tell her that.

She might try to take you out, too!

So our near fearless Adventure Chicken is now grazing alongside the sheep. Safety in numbers?

"Baa-ck Baa-aaa-ack"

We have new fence out back. We were concerned there'd look like too many fences back there, but it looks good. Much neater than the trusty electric and no more worrying about cockle burrs from the creek bank :-).

Friday, August 26, 2011


By this time of the summer I tend to only see brown. Brown grass, brown leaves, brown flowers... There are actually some pretty shades of brown, but also still spots of green and all the fall wildflowers are starting to bloom.

So many people spun beautifully dyed fibers during the Tour de Fleece. I tend to fall into the "my sheep have plenty of natural colors all on their own" camp, but still...

A couple friends have pushed me into mix :-).

This is what I think I'm going to start first. Beautiful colors but still plain roving/top. I understand most of that language. These are from Petunia's new favorite aunt. She also sent me a little bit of Petunia too, but I'm not going to let myself touch it (oh that beautiful natural color ;-) until I've learned some about "other" colors.

These beautiful batts came from Woodenspinner. Now I've got color and texture.

There are three batts - the first is full of all sorts of fun stuff and each one gets progressively more blended. Any suggestions on the how to spin this?

I hope you too have a colorful weekend :-).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Still Life With Yarn...And A Thirsty Bee

I needed a bit of yarn to test a new cast on and wanted something white so it would be easier to see what I was doing. Dark colors can be more difficult. I had a small project sitting on needles that I wasn't enjoying very much and knew I'd probably never finish, so I frogged it (rip it ;-) and hand wound a new ball.

As I wrapped my ramen noodle yarn around and around I was completely taken with the beauty that could be found in a simple ball of yarn.

And (heehee) I couldn't help thinking "Beat that, Michelle! I might not be able to wind on a Turkish spindle like you, but I can give you a run for your money winding a ball of curly yarn ;-D."

The un-knitted tail. I love fuzzy, hand spun yarn. Is it just me or can you look at this picture and feel it?

This bee picture may seem random and "one of these things is not like the others"...and it is. However, if I hadn't noticed the yarn and taken some pictures and liked the pictures and decided to go to the house and post them while I was thinking about it (and get a cup of coffee ;-), I would never have noticed this bee.

She was checking out my non-leaking water faucet by the back door. I feel pretty confident it doesn't leak a drop when it's turned off. Either she knew it would leak if I turned it on or else she knew from other hydrants around the neighborhood that the potential for water was there. My basil needed a drink, so I turned the knob, hoping it would leak just a tiny bit.

She found what she was looking for.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I love great ideas.

This is one I've come across lately that has really impressed me.

I needed a stand alone, off to the side and behind you lazy kate at a recent plying workshop I took at Midwest Fiber and Folk Art. I thought the kate the comes built into the Ashford Joy would be just fine, but I needed one that wasn't under my feet. I had to borrow the instructor's. She was sweet about it, but still, I felt unprepared. And not ingenious.

Then, to make matters more complicated, when I spun up B. Willard for the Tour de Fleece, I used my Hansen miniSpinner. No problem. I have three bobbins. Spin singles on two and ply onto the third. The bobbins are huge and wouldn't fit a standard lazy kate. I ended up having to wind each bobbin off into a ball and ply that way. It works, but isn't ingenious.

Now there are all sorts of ways to make your own lazy kate. Heck, you can make one out of a shoe box and a couple knitting needles. Still though, I was curious as to what the other miniSpinner folks were using, so checked in with the Ravelry group.

That darn Ravelry - without a doubt the most ingenious website ever. Of course I found exactly what I needed to know. Most are using a ogledesign portable kate and I was able to find her on etsy, another ingenious site.

The kate comes as a small box, tightly latched with a magnet. Inside are all the posts, a support rod and a short post to create enough of an angle to provide gravity tension for plying.

And it's big enough for three miniSpinner bobbins.

When you are finished, you unassemble everything, stash it inside the box and stow the box in your bag.


This gorgeous sunset is pretty darn ingenious as well. Another great idea.

Monday, August 22, 2011

While It Lasted

Short, but sweet rain yesterday. Finally. We are dry. Not Texas or New Mexico dry, but too dry for me.

It started while I was out picking tomatoes. The rain felt so good I didn't hurry back to the house.

Eli, on the other hand, apparently had to ride it out under the Spirea bush...and didn't seem to have enjoyed it as much as I did.

Then, too soon, it was over and the sun came back out.

This is for Linda, the Queen of Rainbows. I think she could find a rainbow on a non-rainy day :-).

Just for fun I tried for a close up.

Wishing some gentles rains for everyone who needs it. And for those of you who don't, for goodness sake, send some our way!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Stills - The Letter B

B is for birthday! :-D. And a funny story Behind my Birthday Bounty. Saint Tim knew I was wanting a macro lens. Not sure what to get, he looked up Ed to ask some advice - one of the many reasons we call him Saint Tim :-).

He told me there was a funny story behind the gift and as I opened my package he explained looking up Sunday Stills, contacting Ed... I reached in the box, pulled out a Tokina lens and was dumbfounded.

Tokina? The story started to not jive.

"Really? A Tokina?"

Ed has on more than one occasion told me to only go with the Sigma.

Sigma, Sigma, Sigma.

Unbeknownst to Tim, that was the funny part of the story. Of course I had to pop off an email to Ed to ask and it all made sense, but still, first thing in the morning, the non-Sigma lens was a big, funny surprise.

Thanks Ed. This lens ROCKS!

We worked most of the day and I didn't get out to play with it until almost dusk. I really wanted to do the Sunday Stills challenge this week and I was determined to find something. I found lots.

I always try to put my favorite picture at the top, but can't pick a favorite here, so I picked my favorite flower. This is a geranium on top of our mailbox. Some Blooms.

A Bee.

Brown Eyed Susan.

Bugs. This is a huge yellow squash left out in our garden.

A ground view.

Sunflower Bud.

Borage Bloom. This plant was a gift from a thoughtful friend who told me all beekeepers should plant borage. Thanks Deb :-)

There's another tiny Bee in the center of this zinnia Bloom.

I had a Blast playing around with my camera last night - lots to learn. The day had been long and looking at the world in a new and different angle was sweet. A Happy Birthday.

For more Sunday Stills...


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