Thursday, August 31, 2023


I don't know how old she was.  She'd been here for probably at least ten years and she was already full grown when she arrived.  Full grown, but incredibly small...about half the size of the Crowing Hen...who isn't big either.  I never figured out what breed(s) she was. 

She was terribly scared any time I picked her up and just shook like a leaf, but she always knew I was helping and bravely let me gather her up every night. She'd been sleeping in the Wool House every night for the past couple of months.  I didn't mind it at all. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

As The Way Most Things End...

A couple of weeks ago I had a decent sized pumpkin starting to grow from one of the Big Moose pumpkins.  Most of the rest of the plants have died off.  While I had my hands full hauling out some potentially diseased vines I left the gate sidetracked...sheep got in...pumpkin got eaten.  

That one was completely on me.

I've pretty much given up on the Great Pumpkin making a showing here.  I'd add "this fall" to that sentence, but at this point I don't think I'll ever give pumpkins another try.  How I could have so much fun last year and so little fun this year...  

I just started to have one more potential pumpkin making an effort to save the day.  This is one of the extension office plants.  As I was checking on it this afternoon I saw a little blemish...looked closer...a stupid chicken had pecked it!  

My last grasp at success...pecked. by. a. chicken.

My first thought was "Well, that's going to be a goner now.  Those little holes will let bacteria in and that will be the end."  

I decided it couldn't hurt to try to cover the hole.  I was thinking masking tape would be the least destructive...but my masking tape has apparently run off with my half empty glass.  The only tape I could find was some vintage sheep duct tape from Auntie Reg.

Maybe the sheep will end up saving the day!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Back On The Wagon

"Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately."

"I wouldn't exactly say I've been missing it."

Bonus points if you can identify that movie ;-D.

After feeling pretty good about everything we accomplished back in the late winter/early spring (that didn't even make IG except for some clips at the end of the April month end video :-/), I completely fell "off the wagon" this summer and barely got anything done.  

One of my favorite quotes is something to the effect of live your life so that your 8 year old self and your 80 year old self would be proud.  My eight year old self would have killed to have nice (heck, they wouldn't even have had to have been nice ;-) horses in her back yard.  She'd have ridden the hair off them, too.

You can know these things and be aware of these things and know you are disappointing your eight year old self (and your 55 year old self to be honest) and still not be able to do anything about it.  That's the summer I've had. 

(Picks up self, dusts off pants, knocks cobwebs from helmet, remembers another favorite quote "I didn't come this far to only come this far.")

I am planning on returning to the National Drive this fall.  Bea and I had a ton of fun last year, not only doing all the horse activities, but also camping and hanging out with some new friends who coincidentally messaged me on a day I needed some encouragement to make sure we were coming back this year.  

I would never ask Frankie to go to an event like that without adequately preparing him.  I am not great at doing things for myself, but I'm very reliable doing things for others.  If I have to do this for Frankie, not just because it's what I love to do, then at least my 80 year old self will be proud.  She'd understand about being tired, but would also not want me to miss out on the fun...which it is...if you just go out and climb back on the wagon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Gone Batty

Knitting small stuffed animals seems to be my go to summer project.  Remember that cute frog from last year?  This year designer Claire Garland came out with a bat pattern.  You know that one went straight to the top of my queue!

The pattern called for size 0 needles and fingering weight yarn.  The smallest needle I have is a size 2 so I picked out some sport weight yarn knowing I could still knit the pattern, but that my bat would just be a little bigger.  

The pattern was well written and fun and knit up easily.  When I got to the part where I needed to cut out the felt wings I realized that my bigger bat was not going to fit those smaller wings so I drew a bigger design.  

Since I was drawing a new wing pattern anyway, I changed a couple of elements.  First, since mine was now a big brown bat, I edited the wing design to more closely match that species.  I also thought it would be cute if the wings would fold around the body so the bat could go to sleep and changed the placement just a bit so they would tuck cleanly under her face.

I didn't have any matching brown felt so I took a piece of gray and dyed it myself.  For as "anti-colorful" as I am, I really do like to play with making colors for special projects. Instead of stitching the bat's "fingers" as folds in the felt, I used a tiny crochet hook and made crochet chains that I then needle felted and stitched them into the wings.

One last thing I tweaked was to insert short pipe cleaners into the toes.  I did that with a needle and just threaded them down through the foot and out the toes.  I left them sticking out a bit on the ends, folding them up behind the toes when she's awake and ready to fly and unfolding them when she's ready to go to sleep so they can securely wrap around a branch or a loom rod :-).

The next fun part was trying to figure out how to get the best pictures of her.  I started out in the Wool House, but that's one of the worst places to try to get accurate pictures of dark I moved outside...where it's also really hard to get pictures of dark yarns if the sun is still shining, even if you move into the I made one last effort last night after the sun dropped below the horizon.

"Miss Bat?" (Now named Stellaluna :-)


"I know it's a bit early yet, but I was wondering if you could fly about for a bit so I could take your picture."

"No problem.  I'd be happy to!"

Bats really are pretty agreeable if you aren't yelling at them and trying to swat them with towels.  Bats are very beneficial and, like so many other animals, are really struggling now.  I love having bats in our barn and I encourage everyone to do what they can to help protect these hard workers.

I used the Rocky and Jared sons and daughters Lamb Camp Legacy dark gray/brown yarn for the body. For the belly patch and the details around her ears I un-plied a strand of the medium gray and held it double with the dark brown.

The eyes are black glass and glued into the eye holes.  I've never tried that before, but it seems to be working just fine.  For the nose and mouth I took a short strand of the dark brown yarn and dyed it black.  I didn't add any fangs or teeth because she wanted to be a smiling bat :-).

The felt, before and after.  The felt is 100% wool I believe.  If it's not, it's only a very small percentage of acrylic.  It took the dye wonderfully.  It did shrink a little, but I was prepared for that.  Once it was dry I took a steam iron to it and it pressed into a luxurious fabric.  

Auntie Reg found a perfect button in her button box.  Not only is the size and color perfect, but if you can zoom in enough, the design looks very similar to the "spokes" of the bat's "fingers"!  A little early evening sunlight shining through topped it all.  We used velcro to fasten the wings/cloak so we didn't need to make a button hole.

As the barn bats started flying out last night, I set the little knitted bat out on the fence so she could watch them and she decided to stay out all night.  I hope she had a fun out flying around with them

.Good morning, Miss Bat.  Sleep well :-).

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

'Morning, Lancelot

In the morning I first check the field for the horses.  Sometimes they are both out grazing, but if I only Frankie is out there, I know where to find Lancelot.  He loves standing in his stall watching the sun rise.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023


I always like to see what happens when I post something sort of cryptic on Instagram.  How long it takes before someone comments that they've gotten it.  If I just get questions.  Or is the picture not even interesting enough to catch anyone's attention.  No takers so far today.

I agree.  It's not a very interesting picture...unless you zoom in.

Here's one half of the story.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Last year I grew a completely accidental pumpkin patch and it was the most fun thing I've ever grown.  I had the best time watching the plants overtake a pretty big section of the side field and the pumpkins were all different sizes and colors and the sheep had two big pumpkin parties at the end of the season and I decided I was going to be a pumpkin farmer.  Pumpkins at Punkin's Patch!

This spring I picked out three different varieties of seeds (including one called Big Moose!), figured out my plant date for fall pumpkins and then found out the extension office was going to do a "Who can grow the biggest pumpkin in Harrison County" contest and I was All In.

I waited with great anticipation for the date I could go pick up my free pumpkin seeds and in the meantime strategized as only I can over-think things and gathered up special dirt and compost and researched and watched YouTube videos and created a baby pumpkin nursery and went ahead and planted my earlier chosen seeds out in a special safe zone in the yard, fenced off and everything.

Since all the volunteer pumpkins last year grew so well just laying out on top of the pasture, I thought if I made a little effort to amend the soil for each seed this year they'd really take off.  And I thought the Big Moose pumpkins could just live in the fenced area with the other pumpkins. I mean, how big could they get?

When I got the educational handouts from the extension office I found out that the Big Moose pumpkin getting labeled as a "giant" meant it was going to be...a giant.  Who knew.  I carefully dug as many of  those seeds as I could find back up and put them in starter pots along with the extension office seeds.  The rest of the seeds sprouted, but have not taken off in any sort of manner.  Pumpkin farming, not as easy as I'd hoped.

Four of the five extension office seeds sprouted and four of the five Big Moose seeds I found sprouted as well.  As the babies grew I made their fancy growing mounds, which involved lots of shoveling and moving of heavy materials on some really hot and humid days.  I was becoming less enamored with pumpkin farming by the day...but the baby pumpkins all grew well and looked good.

When the plants got big enough to transplant, I moved them into their respective mounds.  Four Big Moose plants and three of the extension office plants (I'll try to remember to come back in and update the variety) were planted in Del Boca Vista.  I put the biggest and strongest extension office plant out front, next to the driveway so I could really keep an eye on it, in preparation for the October 27th weigh in at the office.

I lost one of the Big Moose pumpkins in a wind accident fairly early on.  I moved a tiny volunteer from just outside the Wool House into it's open spot and babied it through some hot weather and it survived and is now doing a great job trying to catch up.

I'm concerned about these leaves turning yellow.  This is my biggest Big Moose plant...of course.  It's also the first one to produce any female flowers and now has two pumpkins growing along it's reaching vines.  I haven't decided if I'm going to limit it to only two in hopes of growing a true giant.  At this point I'm probably just going to be happy if I get any pumpkins.

This Big Moose plant did not look good yesterday and has not rebounded today so I'm afraid it's going to be a another casualty.  I've been carefully watching the plants for bugs and mildew and all sorts of other problems.  I've used diatomaceous earth and a couple of careful applications of organic Neem Oil in the evenings when the bees are long gone, but I don't have any control over the too wet conditions that may be causing some of my issues.  

Three of the extension office plants.

While my volunteers last year were big, hardy, heavy producers, the volunteers this year (probably a different variety) have been a bust except for a couple plants here and there.  This nice volunteer is growing out in the barn lot, so I have zero expectations for a pumpkin to reach maturity surrounded by sheep, but it's helping provide pollination for the female flowers in the main patch.

The bees, hard at work.

Oh, here's a funny story.  The first morning I knew I had a female flower ready to open it was drizzling rain.  The flowers are only open for a short time on one morning so there's just a small window where they can get pollinated.  I didn't think the bees would be out until the rain stopped, so I read up on how to manually pollinate it, grabbed my paint brush, picked up some pollen from a male flower and when I went to dust it into the female, two bees popped up and scolded me.  

"Do you mind?!?"

I shouldn't have doubted them :-).

I think this epistle basically catches everything up on the 2023 great pumpkin venture.  I have lost any expectation that it will be a Great Pumpkin venture, but I hope I'm wrong and will have some happy updates through the next couple of months.  

I'm glad I'm just trying to find something fun to do during my least favorite time of the year and not trying to feed my family.  Farming is not for the faint of heart and we all need to be cognizant of that fact and remember that food does not miraculously appear at the grocery store.

It would be nice to be able to feed at least a couple of pumpkins to my sheep family.

It is really hard to type pumpkin instead of Punkin.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Power Couple

I was planning on FINALLY writing up a post about my pumpkin patch, but when I downloaded my pictures I really wasn't super happy with them so I'm going to try again, maybe in the morning.  

I did get a sweet picture of Jared and Short Round though.  I call them my "power couple".  When they were grazing in the yard over the winter, I frequently found them together.  I loved that.  

Short Round is still creaking along, but the old man is slowing down.  I know he's old, but I also think he misses Rocky.  He still loves to stand out with me in the mornings and watch the sun rise though and I treasure those times.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2023


July was hot and humid, but we got plenty (and then some) of rain so the grass grew and nothing turned soul crushingly brown and crispy.  I already know it's going to be hot.  I can live with the extra humidity if it's from rain.  I'd prefer it didn't flood the barn, but we can deal with that. 

The B Garden has been a real treat this summer.  We've had several monarch appearances already (usually not until August) and have seen several caterpillars!  I'm not sure if this is just going to be a good monarch year all over (finger and toes crossed) or if we've just added enough habitat that our farm has made their map.

Our year supply of hay and straw is in the barn.  The Tour de Fleece was fun and productive.  I pulled the big girl camera out and enjoyed taking some nice pictures.  Archie only nearly fell off a couple of things this month, Possum has fully embraced the air conditioner life, and Bea has learned what a "pup cup" from Dairy Queen is.   

Onward into August!


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