Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weed Or Feed?

A quick visit to The Frog Pond.  I've seen a few more Monarchs this year than the last couple of years, but still not like "the olden times".  We are working on adding more milk weed areas to the back of our farm and the neighboring farms for next year.  I'm super excited about that.  We all do too much mowing around here.

When we moved here in 2003, we "landscaped" around the small pond out back.  I added quite a few Kentucky native plants and left some of the other "weeds" to fill in between.  The single Joe Pye Weed I planted  (that this butterfly is feeding on) has spread around almost half of the pond.  

It's probably ten feet tall and I can see it from way up on the hill.  It's a favorite!

Thistles are a conundrum.  Such a pest, but so pretty and everything loves the flowers.  I let them stay, but try to keep them a bit under control.


This beautiful butterfly has a beautiful blue body.  Hopefully you can see it if you click to biggify.

A weed that feeds :-).

A little puzzle fun.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Stella's Big Birthday Surprise

"A swarm in May is worth a load of hay.  A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon.  A swarm in July, let it fly by!"  A swarm in late August?  Oh you know it...  Too Busy Bees is back in business.

It's very unusual for bees to swarm this late in the year.  It's probably a bad sign about the upcoming season(s).  Or maybe the bees are just as confused by this year's weather as we are. Or...maybe they heard Stella needed a strong hive to combine with her weak hive (a spring swarm we picked up that has struggled all summer) and flew in to surprise her for her birthday. 

In  reality, a swarm this late in the year has very, very little chance of making it through the winter. They just don't have time to get adequately prepared.  If anyone can get a late swarm through though, it's Stella.  The bees may have known that (as they probably originally swarmed out of one of her hives from a couple years ago) and knew what they needed to do.

We  backed The Unit under the branch.  I stood in the back and brushed most of the bees down into our swarm box.  Set the box on the roof (that Unit is darn handy!)...

...and before too long, the rest had all flown into the box.  You know you have the queen (the most important bee) when they all follow her into the box.  Remember that for later.

Taped up and ready to head for the bee yard.

This is usually the easiest part of the program.  See the empty spot in the middle of the hive box? All you have to do is take the tape off, turn the box over, dump the bees into the open spot, carefully slide in the missing frames, put the cover on and you are done.  

I missed the hole (the bees were all clustered on one side of the box) and dumped almost all of them onto the ground next to the hive.  
(Blurring out big girl words that aren't fit for a family friendly blog... ;-)
And then I got an apiary birthday gift as well!  I looked in the swarm box and saw the queen, still safe and sound and not buried in tall grass never to be found alive again.  WHEW!!!!  I carefully dumped her into the middle of the hive box...

...and everyone (probably at least a thousand or more bees) marched up the concrete blocks and into the hive.  And they did it so fast that I didn't even have time to get a decent video!

Almost all in.

Now they're really all in.

Stella fixed them some sugar syrup.

And we'll cross our fingers (and Stella will work her butt off keeping them fed all fall ;-). 

Then, to make our morning even better, the neighbor stopped by with his new puppy, Skipper.  

Quite the birthday week :-D.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Skirt Work

Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever.

Over the weekend Saint Tim cleaned out the first bent of the barn (also known as and easily recognized as "the trash area").  He moved my wool shelves down from the middle of the barn (aka "the dungeon"), added a set of shelves to the side, leveled the floor, put down rubber mats, installed two shop lights and moved my skirting table in from the previous locations of the barn aisle, driveway, utility trailer, wool house yard...

And now I have a permanent skirting area, out of the way, with plenty of light, no wind or rain, cushy rubber mats, supplies always at hand and everything easily accessed and not "out of sight, out of mind".

Monday and Tuesday Miss B and Miss L came over and helped design and build a set of shelves (that are way bigger than they look in these pictures) to hold all the freshly shorn fleeces next spring.  

I'll be able to pull out a fleece, toss it on the table, skirt it, discard the trash, roll it up, grab a bag and label from the shelf and move it to the back wall.

Yes, I realize I have a lot of work to do before next spring ;-).

The barn swallow nest remains (along with Tim's best magnet tool that they used to incorporate into their home construction ;-) and as long as I get the top shelf of fleeces skirted pretty quickly (which I'll now be able to!), they'll still have a clear flight path in and out.

I just love this.

I really love this :-).

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?"


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