Monday, December 20, 2010

Deck the halls...

For the first time in about 9 years, I put up a tree.

It’s not that I’m opposed to them, it’s just that it never seemed important, or I was not going to be home, or I was (frankly) just not in the mood.

My cousin, Glenna, is coming up to spend Christmas weekend at my house. She’s the nearest female cousin in age to me (my sister and I are the youngest of our generation). Over the years, particularly as adults, we’ve become the dishwashers after family parties. I’m not sure how that happened, frankly, since I really hate doing dishes. However, with a glass of wine and Glenna, it became really fun. We got to catch up on all the gossip, avoid the crush of the rest of the family, and sometimes, got well and truly toasted (like after our grandmother died and we had the first Christmas ever somewhere other than her house).

Glenna’s parents (my aunt and uncle) both passed away within 3 weeks of each other this spring. This will be a very difficult holiday for her (and me…). My uncle was my dad’s last remaining brother, and my aunt was the last remaining wife of the original 4 couples. My dad is now the patriarch of the family. So, she’s been feeling the need to escape San Diego. When I heard about this, I immediately invited her up. She flies in Thursday am. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

I apologize in advance about the picture quality - these were taken with my new iPhone! I finally got tired of having no signal at home, unless I was standing mid-pasture by the pumphouse. I broke down and joined (partially) the new world order. I've downloaded 2 apps, and have figured out how to transfer photos, music (purchased Mannheim Steamroller's 25th anniversary set). I know there's lots more it can do, but I'm kind of a luddite, and refuse to do texting.

So, in putting up the tree, I found ornaments that I had either a) never used them, or b) used only once. To take the picture, I had to leave the new led lights off – they are really, really bright!

Some of the cooler ornaments:

 Spike, the devil dog (thanks, Amy!!)
Beaver (thanks, Mary)

Because some of my ornaments are small fruit, and Lyra loves apples, the dogs have been banished to dog jail. Last night I had to discourage her from “trying” one out numerous times! I know they don’t smell like fruit, but her search image for apples is finely honed.

Harry’s tail is also hard on ornaments. That, coupled with his obsession with balls, prompted me to leave the red balls off of the tree. He would have spent every waking hour staring at the tree saying, “Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball…”

To my knowledge, the three mouseketeers have not seen the tree yet – I’m hoping it is still upright when I get home…

I also rearranged my living room with the added benefit of having room for the tree. The configuration makes my small room seem much, much larger. I live in an 840 sq. ft., 14 x 60 mobile home with no weather tight outbuildings, to which I moved from a 1436 sq. ft. 1.5 story antique house with a large attached pantry and covered storage. To say I have no room for all my stuff is an understatement. My power tools are all scrunched into a small cupboard – more a testament to my puzzle solving ability than a comment on the number of tools I own. In the previous post (here), I mentioned the involuntary stash reorganization – it was really a blessing in disguise. Now if I could just do that with the rest of the house!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Of cats and wool (and rain)... Picture heavy

Before going on a tour of the Creekside Fiber Mill, I’d like to introduce you to the rodenators-in-training:

Chaos and Mayhem


I went through many possibilities of names for Chaos and Mayhem, and ended up coming back to the original idea after all. It’s hard to tell them apart, though possible if you get close, but the end result by either one is still the same – chaos and mayhem!! Ted is the anti-social one – you can tell, since the picture was taken of him hiding under a desk behind a box!

Unfortunately, after I picked up the fiber from Creekside, I attempted to organize my stash.  I have a garden bathtub under which the floor is rotten, so the bathtub can't be used.  Perfect, non-floor covering stash location!  However, the kittens did very naughty things and ruined a significant amount of the wool that was stored there.  I have two contractor's size trashbags full of stinky wool in the back of my truck to go to the dump.  The good news is that I got it all organized, labled, and stored in a kitten-proof manner.  I borrowed the idea of hanging bags from Mim - I call them the pod people.

On to the mill. It’s nice to have a fiber processor within driving distance that can do everything. They wash, blend, card (bats or roving), spin into your choice of yarn and make needle felt. Check out the website (Here). I have no affiliation, just a satisfied customer, yadda, yadda…
The front Door

Drying lovelyness

The Picker/Blender

After going through the Picker once

Through the carder once

After going through the carder twice - into roving

The pin-drafter

The spinner

The plyer

The needle felter with some alpaca felt

And here are some of the results of their efforts:

Yarn porn

This is 47.2% wool, 37.3% alpaca, 10% Mohair and 7.5% silk, sport weight, 2-ply. It knits up at 6.5 sts/in on size 3, and 6 sts/in on size 5 needles. The wool is from a crossbred sheep – Rambouillet, Romeldale, Montadale (known as a Rommanot), and was a nice variegated gray with really nice crimp. The alpaca was white, as was the silk, and the mohair was brillo pad gray (though not texture!). You can see the sheen of this yarn in the photo – it’s really luscious to work with, and I’m sure will dye really well. I have calculated the info for a couple of scarves – one on my loom (4 shaft) and one on my Mom’s (8 shaft). Should be as fun weaving with this as it is to knit.

Merino Alpaca Roving

The picture doesn’t accurately show the color of this fiber (it's much darker). It’s 50% moorit merino, and 50% Rose gray (though it was really chocolate brown) alpaca. It’s also really wonderful to handle, and I need to work a little on my slow skills for this – otherwise it becomes very thin rope… I’m hoping to make something for myself out of my half – Correy contributed the wool, I furnished the alpaca, so we’re sharing the result!

I've been knitting a baby sweater for a co-worker - pictures next time.

Current rainfall since November 1, 2010: 21 inches.  I'm trying not to float away...

Friday, December 10, 2010

I think I had too much fun...

I got back from Thanksgiving and crashed (got a cold…). It was a great time, the turkey was wonderful, if I do say so myself. It was fun to see my sister’s new house – she has a great view of Mt. Rose. Here is a sunset view:
She also has a *very* large cat, Watson (he weighs about 22 lbs.). This is a standard size barstool that he’s sitting on:
He is really a golden retriever in a cat body. He loves water so much that you have to close the toilet lid so he won’t play in it. He will curl up in a sink and beg for you to turn the faucet on. He also fetches, and particularly likes the little plastic spiders you can get around Halloween. He and my dad’s dog, Snickers, have reached détente – this picture makes Snickers look really tiny (she actually weighs about 18 lbs.):
The trip down was uneventful, mostly rain, and no snow, and I could actually see Mt. Shasta, though it looked like the mother ship was parked on top:
 While there I got to visit with my friends in the area: Friday I got to see Allison’s new horse and Amy gave me a Wolf pup stuffed animal, that was appropriate, as the Wolf Pack beat Boise State on Saturday; Saturday I drove up to Mim’s and Sharon’s into this:
I had to use 4wd to get to Sharon’s and decided to park at the top of their driveway instead of driving down and having to chain up to get out. I managed Mim’s driveway in 4-low.

All of us forgot to take pictures of ourselves together… I guess we were having too much fun!

I probably could have gotten the trailer, since it didn’t snow on the way home, but it was much less stressful to drive without it! The view of Mt. Shasta was even more breath-taking on the way home:
There’s something about that mountain that says, ‘Here I am’ – there is a presence about it, and it never ceases to awe me. I guess I should say all volcanoes do that, since the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Rainier, to name a few more local peaks, do the same.

I picked up some loveliness from Creekside Fiber Mill last week – next post will include a photo tour of the mill (I love those machines), and a picture of the products that I had done. I have to say, that the yarn I had done is really, really nice, and I have 7.5 lbs. of it (roughly 12,000 yds)!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As promised - pictures, and SNOW!!

You'd think that leaving Reno on the heels of a winter with 3-4' of snow and sub-zero, lamb-freezing nights for 2 weeks would make me not like snow.  However, since my roots are farther south (about 5 miles from the Mexican border to be exact), snow is always fun to me.  They were predicting snow to fall last night, and it did!  These views greeted me as I did "farm snow maintenance" before going into work:
This is in my back pasture, looking north (more or less).

Even though I'm a competent snow driver, most of the people on this side of Oregon are not.  I was able to drive into work in 2-wheel drive until I got 5 blocks from work, when I had to shift into 4-wheel drive.  It's a mess in town, and they only got about an inch.  There's glare ice everywhere, and not enough sand down on the roads.  Since that's the Division that I work for (though not the section - I monitor the swarming behavior of motor vehicles), I was a little disappointed.  Hopefully they'll catch up during the day today, so I can get out of town to get home!

I called my dad last night - since it's going to be snowing all the way home for me on Sunday, I made the decision not to try to get the trailer.  My dad is pleased, other than having put $110 of diesel in his van, since he can drive his car, which is much easier on him.  Maybe in the spring, around Memorial Day, I can get down there to pick it up.  With the new chain rules, Even with 4-wheel drive and traction tires, you have to have chains on the tow vehicle AND the towed vehicle.  Since I've always maintained that if you need chains on a 4-wheel drive, you shouldn't be on the road - this makes much more sense and will be safer.
Here's a picture of the turkey stock (isn't it gorgeous??):

We had a potluck on Friday, which included two deep-fried turkeys.  During clean-up, I asked what they were going to do with all the bones, etc., and since no one else wanted them, took them home to make stock.  They also threw away the necks and giblets (horrors), which I retrieved, and the dogs enjoyed them for dinner.  I simmered all the leftovers for about 6 hours with a chopped onion, some celery (including the leaves), and some carrots.  When it was done, I took it outside to cool (it was 40 degrees).  When I checked on it later, it was still rather warm, so I bailed some water out of a stock tank, set the stockpot in it, and went to bed.  30 gallons of water does a marvelous job of cooling 16 qts. of liquid/bones, etc. down!  After straining out the biggest chunks, I warmed it back up, and put it into the jars.  Now for the neat thing I 'unvented' - since I knew that I hadn't gotten all the solids out, I poured the stock through some butter muslin (a tighter woven cheese cloth).  While it's not clarified, it's definately chunk free!  Amazingly, even though the turkeys were deep fried, there was very little fat.  The broth is really rich in flavor, probably because of the caramelization that happens when the bird is fried.  Yumm!!

Speaking of turkeys, here is a picture of my Auburn tom and one of his hens:
These are a very rare, heritage breed.  Because these particular birds spent a lot of time in my house, he thinks I'm one of his hens and displays to beat the band when I'm around.  Both hens are also very friendly, as well.  These are basically a "brown" standard Bronze - a Moorit Turkey!!

This is a picture of my Black-winged Bronze pair.  They're about 3 yrs. old, and I really like the hen's structure (which isn't very visible in this picture).  I'm hoping to get some poults from them this year.

Ok, so here's the final picture - my sister's sweater, so far.  Now, I know that I am not enamored of the color scheme, but there have been some other opinions floating around.  Here's your chance to comment (not that it makes any difference!!) on what you think of the colors!  It's actually a sweater from "Color Style," and the colors in the book are more my style!  However, I think the pattern is written weirdly, so I'm doing it my own way (bigger steek, not shaped, duplicate stitching in some of the colors instead of having huge long floats on the back).  Since this is actually iteration no. 5, I'm hoping it meets with Mary's approval - I'll know tomorrow evening!

I'll be taking my computer and camera down to Reno with me. It'll be fun to take "touristy" pictures! 

Monday, November 22, 2010


After some discussion with my sister and Sharon, I will post a picture of the sweater whose colors I don't like.  Sharon was surprised that the "Queen of Overdye" couldn't fix them, until I explained that they had been chosen by the recipient, and weren't subject to change!  I will gladly entertain your opinions of the color scheme!

I also canned 11 qts. of turkey stock yesterday - I'll post pictures of that, too, since I think they're beautiful!

We're in for some cold weather, just in time for me to be out of town - dang.  Last year, when it got this cold, my well pump froze and I had to replace it.  I'll be scrambling tonight to get the pumphouse secured and heated so that doesn't happen when I'm in Reno!  I'm thinking about stacking strawbales around the outside (some large equine or other used the pumphouse as a rubbing spot, so it's all cattywhompus, and needs to be straightened up).  Of course, until the straw bales get wet, the 4 footed animals in the pasture will nibble on them. 

As of today, I have had 10 inches of rain in the month of November.  I usually start my rain year the first of November, since that's when I got my rain gauge 3 years ago.  The first year I kept track, I had 89.75 inches of rain.  The next year, I had 68.5, and last year I had 52+/-.  Since I'm on the coast side of the coast range, I get lots of rain and some snow.  Right now, the ground is saturated, and the rain is just pooling or running off.  The guy I get my hay from lives in the valley just to the north of me, and speculates that in our area, the land can only hold so much and all the rest runs off.  I'm not sure, but right now that's the case!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It only takes time...

As you can see from the following photo, I've had another set-back in the knee healing process.  I jinxed myself last Sunday by saying they felt almost Normal...  After going to the doctor, he prescribed being in an imobilizer brace for 2 weeks, and then we'll recheck. He thinks it's the chip from when I ran into the truck hitch (back when I was still in crutches), but I'm not convinced, since the discomfort is on the other side of my right knee.  The brace actually feels good, and I slept with the "real" imobilizer the other night, which I think helped.  Considering that I had both knees done, and that the right one has always been the weaker of the two, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's being a little slow, but geez - let's get on with it, already!

A Merlin update:  He has, after 6 months, decided that I'm more or less ok.  He seeks me out in the pasture if I'm out there doing something, and follows me around out there.  In his own unique way, he's "joining up."  I'm really looking forward to working with him, and more so, riding him!  He's a very sweet horse, kind of a turd to his own kind, but is really softening his attitude towards people.  Interestingly, he really likes men, of which I have few around, so when a male type visits, he's all over them - pretty funny, since he's 16.2 and seems rather large (until you get around Chris, who is 17.1 and makes Merlin look petite). 

Both boys have had 2 trims by a natural hoof farrier, and their feet look like horse feet should.  With the biotin supplementation, their crappy thoroughbred feet are looking much better!  My new farrier is about 5'2", and rides her Haflinger in dressage.  She really admires Merlin's conformation, and thinks he will be really good at dressage (assuming I can get his brain to stay with his body!).

The last of the turkeys have been butchered and delivered.  I have an Auburn trio left, a pair of Blackwinged Bronzes and the Peafowl pair.  I'm going to move them down to the front of the barn, along with the chickens (in a separate pen) so that it's easier to feed them in the rain.  This has the added benefit of moving the peacock away from my neighbor's bedroom...  I learned alot this year (as I do every year after harvesting the livestock): A)I had about equal numbers of people wanting big birds and littler ones; B)The Auburns don't get that big (the toms dressed out in the 12-13 lb. range); C) I need to be able to separate the smaller, slower growing birds from the faster ones; D) I'm going back to getting standard Bronzes for the big ones, the Auburns will be the mid-sized birds,and I may get a few Midget Whites for those who want a really small turkey.  I need to get an incubator, and have a brooder room for the eggs that the girls lay this coming spring.  I'm thinking about a permanent "bird pasture" and turkey building that I can move them through to use the pasture effectively.  Of course, this will involve using, you guessed it, a tractor and power tools!  Arr, arr, arr.

I've been dithering around with fiberish things.  I have a sweater that I'm knitting for my sister; unfortunately, I think the colors are hideous (sorry, Mary), and it's really hard to work on it!  I have a couple of things on the needles for me, including this shawl:

As a bonus, when the turkeys were butchered, I was able to save some wing primaries from the Auburns - Is this just too cool, or what?

It has all sorts of possibilities, now.  The yarn is a mohair/viscose/nylon that was in Mom's stash that I inherited.  The shawl is loosely patterned on EZ's Pi shawl, but knit back and forth instead of in a circle.  In the increase rows (yo, k1, repeat), it leaves these lovely spaces to put things, like leather stips with silver cones and turkey feathers...

Somehow, I've not found the time/inclination to spin lately, and as such I'm taking my mom's wheel back to my dad at Thanksgiving.  He has more room, and can gaze on it lovingly and remember putting it together and finishing it for mom.  Eventually, it will come back to me, but maybe by then I'll have more room!!

A friend of mine and I are driving down to my sister's in Reno for Thanksgiving - I'm bringing the bird.  It will be fun to see the Homies while I'm there.  My dad is bringing up his travel trailer, an older 19.5' Komfort, which he is no longer using, and is giving to me.  I'm going to use it as guest quarters, and the party pad at sheep shows!  In addition, if next summer is too hot, I'll just go in there, since it has air conditioning!  I'm hoping that I won't have to drive back through snow, but it's not looking too promising...  Gotta get chains, dang it.  I'm planning to split the drive home up into two parts, which will make it way easier, and I'll be able to drive during the day, when it's warmer, and I can see...

Friday, November 5, 2010

What I do in my "not so" spare time...

When I walked into work today, the guys (I work in a building full of men) were all saying that I was famous!  Turns out my picture is in the paper - ok, sort of the back left side of my head, but still...

A local reporter did a story on the City Singers, of which I'm a part, and came to our rehersal yesterday to take pictures.  The story appears Here - click on the "photo" tab to see the picture.  I think the article was pretty well done, actually.  As it says, we will be performing tonight, about an hour's program.  It's always fun to sing at our library; we stand under the "rotunda," a large 3-story tall space between spiral staircases.  The accoustics are awesome!

In other news, I have acquired 3 rodenators in training.  Unfortunately, I accidentally knocked my camera off my desk at work, and it's not working.  I might just have to follow Michelle's lead and go to Costco.  As soon as I have picture-taking abilities again, I'll post their pictures.  Only one has a name, Ted (as in Kusinski) - he's a Maine Coon looking kitten, really pretty, but not at all socialized.  They're in my spare bathroom, where he's usually found hiding under the toilet...  The other two are brothers, all black (black tabbies, really), and they are much more friendly.  Both mothers of these kittens were feral, and I got them from a gal who caught the kittens when they were older to get them off the streets.  I'd like to name the black boys Chaos and Mayhem, but those don't really fit.  Oh well, I'm sure in a couple of weeks, with liberal applications of margaritas, I'll come up with something!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RIP, Golgi, wherever you are...

The one member of the family that I’ve never introduced you to has disappeared. He’s been gone for 60 hours, something that he’s never done. Since he was such a hedonist, and loved sleeping on the bed with the dogs during the day, I can only infer that he’s no longer around. Last night, I went out to see if I could find him, and the Golgi presence is gone from the world. In preparing for this post, I discovered that the only pictures I had of Golg were from when I lived in Reno, with his late dog, Ceili. She passed on 4 years ago, and left a huge hole, somewhat filled by Lyra, whom you’ve met.

Golgi and Ceili

I got Golgi and his brother Quark after my cat, Sigmund died. Amy (purple fuzzy mittens)was instrumental in bringing them home from the Humane Society for me, and getting them settled, as I had taken the previous day off, and then the HS said they had to re-treat them for ear mites, could I come back tomorrow? Not with my psycho boss… I had the kittens for 2 weeks, trying to think of names, and then one night, in a tequila-inspired haze, came up with them.

Golgi was an indoor cat for most of his life, until I got tired of his peeing on my stuff when he got his nose out of joint. The final straw was when he peed on some brand new roving… Out he went. He didn’t really understand, but enjoyed having the great outdoors and the accompanying rodents to play with. It wasn’t until later that I found out that he needed to be an only cat (when my munchkin, Otter died), and that solved the peeing problem.

Golgi and Otter

When I moved to Walton, Golg was the first one to figure out the dog door (before Harry, the border collie, even). He enjoyed his freedom, survived a bout with bad cat food (almost died, actually), and generally had a great life. He loved hanging out on the hay in the barn, waiting for rodents to appear. He would follow me into the back pasture while I was feeding or filling water troughs, enjoying the company. If I sat down for a minute, there he was, with Lyra wanting to be in my lap too.

When Lyra arrived, as a 7 week old puppy, he never unsheathed his considerable claws on her (he weighed 16 lbs.). He let her roll him around on the floor, and when he’d had enough, he’d bite her cheek until she let go. He put up with Harry, but he adopted Lyra as a replacement for Ceili. Sometimes, it seems as if she is Ceili reincarnated – weird.

Anyway, I’ll miss him. He was a good cat. I will have to replace him, probably with more than one, because I live on a farm, and have lots of juicy rodents to keep in check.

RIP, Bud…

Added:  Dad emailed me a picture of Golg taken when Dad was helping me recover from surgery.  I took the picture because my dad doesn't really like cats, but Golgi didn't care!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Turkey Re-cap, and " taking the scenic route"

Saturday was D-day for the Broadbreasted bronzes.  Correy's daughter, Brin, came over Friday evening for some knitting and dinner, and because it was too late to take her home, spent the night.  At O'dark thirty, we got up, had coffee and loaded turkeys in the dark and the rain.  It was actually easy to tell which was which - the Auburns were skinnier!

After hooking Brin up with her boyfriend, I headed north.  Belinda wanted a live hen for breeding some meatier, faster growing birds in her home flock, so I stopped there and her daughter, Elise, picked out the biggest hen.  Belinda came with me and off we went to Willamina.  After the birds were in process, we went into "downtown" Willamina to get ice to pack the birds in for the drive home. 

Ok, I'm weird - I have a compass in my head, and rarely get lost.  Google maps must have gotten in there and messed with it, because coming out of the grocery store, instead of going straight, I turned right.  I mentioned that I didn't think we'd come that way, and Belinda avowed that she knew where we were, so we kept going.  By the time it was too late to turn around, we were over half-way to the coast.  A 6 mile drive turned into almost 60.  It was very pretty, in a primeval, drippy sort of way (lots of fog, moss and ferns), but I'm not used to driving/sitting that long yet.  Fortunately, my knees came through it very well - I wasn't as stiff as I thought I'd be.

So weights: 16.95 lbs., 2 in the 17 lb. range, 2 around 19 lbs., 1 20 pounder, 1 at 21 lbs., a 23 lb., 2 in the 25 lb. range, 2 in the 27 lb. range, one 28 lb. and one 29.5 lb.  They were averaging 80% of live weight.  Since most everyone I talk to wants smaller birds, I am re-thinking my breeding program.  The standards will be mostly around 18 lbs. for toms, 15 for hens, and that will work, but I'm thinking about adding in some midget whites, who like their name, are smaller.  I was fortunate to find a buyer for 5 of the larger ones (I kept the "big guy"), so have only medium-big ones to find homes for, with more to come in November. 

Even with the addition of the new birds (none of whom are actually standard bronzes, but more on that later), the feed bill will be drastically reduced with the hoovers out of the picture!

I'll take some pictures for next post to show the difference in all the birds that I have...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The universe provides, even when people mess up...

Last week, when I was feeding/watering the turkeys, I suddenly realized that the bronzes were huge, and getting huger (is that a word?).  BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) - these are broadbreasted birds, not standards.  DOUBLE DANG - my breeding program will be set back for a year, and I need to get them butchered now or they will be 50 lbs. dressed out in November!  I'd like to see the oven that a turkey that big would fit in!!

I went in to the feed store where I purchased them - they checked their records, and the hatchery shipped the wrong birds.  I know they ordered the right ones because we had a long conversation about why I wanted the standards and not the BB bronzes.  They are really sorry, but really can't do much about it at this point.

Anyway, over the last couple of days, between Craigslist and phone calls, I have a) found 10 standard bronze turkeys - 2 toms and 8 hens, and b) gotten a butchering appointment this Saturday morning at 10 am. YAY!

Anybody want a turkey for thanksgiving a little early?  I don't have the freezer space to keep them all until then (unless I find one on CL), and only have 2 sold at this early date!  Special pricing is in effect...

Friday, October 1, 2010

The colors of October, sort of...

I have some new color at my house.  It's a pair, and they will be helping with the turkey project (now set back a year because the hatchery sent me the wrong birds...).  Ok, so all I wanted was Standard Bronze turkeys, and I think they thought I made a mistake, and send Broad-breasted bronze.  NO!  I need the standards because a) they can reproduce naturally (the BBT's can't), and b) crossing them with the Auburns gives me the sex-linked colors in the poults, so I can market a pretty close count of hens and toms.  Hmph.

So the new residents are (drum roll please) - a yearling pair of Peafowl.  Since the incubation period for both species is the same, 28 days, I can change out eggs and have the peahen hatch out the turkeys (turkey hens are notoriously poor mothers). 
As yearlings, they should start breeding this coming spring, which will give me a chance to try out the turkey egg swap.  It's amazing how long it takes those tail feathers to grow.  They are currently in with the turkeys, who really don't like their kind.  Bigotry in the aviary - who woulda thunk.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A disturbance in the Force.

Last week, I went to the Dr. for a knee post-op. I’m still doing really, really well, but have had some swelling and pain in and around my right knee. I hadn’t had x-rays since the 2 week post op visit, so I got some more. He looked at them, and turned around and said, “See this? You broke your right patella (knee cap). How did you do that?” I said, “I don’t know, how could I do that?” Needless to say, he was not pleased, and I left feeling like a school kid caught throwing spit wads (don’t ask how I know how that feels…)

On the way home, I started thinking about how I could have done that, and remembered a week or so before, when I was first back at work, crawling under my desk to plug in my laptop. I have way better tunes on it, than my work computer. It wasn’t very comfortable to kneel, but since the nerves are currently deciding whether or not they will resume their pre-surgical duties, I can’t feel anything. That’s the only time that I could have loaded the patella, and caused that chip to happen – it’s just a small piece on the bottom end, which will heal by itself. He said no more heavy lifting for several weeks. I had to call back to ask him to define heavy, since I was sure our definitions were very different. His medical assistant called me back. Since she also has a horse, she was laughing and said that 50# feed sacks were off-limits for about 3 weeks. Dang. I have 300 lbs. of turkey feed to get into the feeder, and have to, um, hmmmm, ask for help. It’s really hard to feel dependent on others, but I’m glad they are there to help, believe me!

So my physical therapist was worried that I was despondent over this turn of events – I told her that I had been smacked up-side the head with the cosmic 2 x 4, and understood that I needed to back off, and quit pretending that I was Wonder Woman (complete with wrist bumps). I’m not sure she believed me until I went back in this week! I’m back to simpler, strength building exercises (they’re easy, so I do them…). Since I was so far ahead of the curve before, I can take my time and cruise for a little while, and then start the Wonder Woman routine later.

On a happier note, I went to Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this last weekend. I only took 3 pictures – shame on me! I camped in my truck at the fairgrounds, and brought food, etc. Correy and her daughter, Brin, camped in their rig next to me. I fed us. This is Saturday morning, none of us is really awake yet (no caffeine yet), but I made hash out of left over tri-tip, potatoes and onions. With salt, pepper and ketchup, there’s nothing better!!

The American Romeldale/CVM Association (ARCA) had a booth in the barn, along with our national show this time. Here is the booth, partially set up.

Correy got a couple of champion awards, as well as Best of Breed.  She has really awesome sheep.

I spent most of my time spinning some alpaca/silk that Mim (Desert Peach Farm) gave me to try. It took me about 12 hours to spin, and another 1 ½ hours to ply it, but I ended up with just under 3 oz., and just under 300 yds., which works out to 1600 yds./lb. I double checked it on the McMorran Yarn Balance, and it came out the same.

I think I’d like to weave it with some black silk, either in a color and weave pattern, or in plaited twill. I don’t think I’ll dye it, since the color is so sophisticated on its own.

I also handed off the latest edition of 'fiber porn.'  It's going to be a blend of Romenot (Romeldale/Rambouillet and Montedale) in variegated gray, iron gray kid mohair, bombyx silk and white alpaca.  I'm haveing it spun into a 2-ply sport yarn, which I can then dye, weave, knit, or whatever.  I didn't do much shopping, but I bought a dark brown alpaca fleece, after talking with Correy about one of her merino fleeces.  I'm going to drop them off at the processor to have half put into yarn, and half into roving - Correy and I will split it. (Alpaca on the left, Wool on the right).

I got to see Michelle (Boulderneigh), and try out her turkish spindle.  I'm too ADD for spindles, but it did spin nicely.  I also met Wanda, who's husband makes the spindles - very fun.

I also acquired/rescued another alpaca. He had been living at someone’s house who had agreed to watch him for a friend, and it turned into a long-term proposition. He didn’t fit in with her two older alpacas, and hasn’t been worked with much, so she just wanted him gone. Since Correy has a female llama, and he’s intact (they will cross breed), I said I’d take him. His fleece looks like a reddish fawn underneath, though the outside is pretty bleached. I'm hoping that I can salvage some in the spring - it's really nice fiber. His name is Mr. Higgins, but I’ve been calling him Mr. Stinky. I need a new name for him. I was going to take a picture this morning, but I forgot how dark it is! 

We got him into my truck, and he shook all the way home. I had to pull him out of the truck when I got home – he was concerned about the dogs, so I backed them off. He would walk a couple of steps, and then lean his neck into my side. We made slow progress across the front yard, and then he saw the chickens – OMG, they were scary. He had just recovered from that, when Merlin stuck his head out of the barn, and whinnied. I thought he was going to leave town! He finally made his way through the barn and into the pasture, where I took off his halter, and let him go. The horses were very interested, and he kicked at them, something Merlin wasn’t expecting (no one got hurt). Then the other boys began sorting out the pecking order. By yesterday, it’s more settled, but evidently, he’s been pestering the horses. When I went to feed, Merlin picked him up by the scruff of the neck, and then Chris picked him up by the fleece behind his shoulder (not at the same time). I think he’s been trying to figure out if these animals are just big, ugly alpaca girls (NOT), and the horses are tired of it. Looks like I need to get the winter quarters put together more quickly than I thought…

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ok, Ok, I'll tell you...

I know you were all wondering: “what critter is she getting now!”

Hah! It doesn’t eat. Ok, so I have a fair amount of work to get it into service, but it’s not a vehicle, either. It will take one to make it work tho…

Ok, Ok:

15.53 tons of ¾ minus gravel for the “mud free zone” for the horses! To give some scale, the geo-textile on the ground underneath the pile is 24’ long, and when the fence is moved, will be 24’ wide, as well.   Needless to say, I'll be renting a tractor/bobcat (they're too fun) to move this around - no shovels and wheelbarrows for this girl - mainly because I backed over my wheelbarrow several years ago, and still haven't replaced the broken handle...

I’m going to pen the horses on this for the winter, separately, so Merlin the punk can’t pester Chris and steal his food… This will also give my pasture a rest, and let it grow for the spring.

The alpacas will have their own separate enclosure, off the south side of the pole barn in the photo (you’re looking at the west side). They are also quite pushy when it comes to food, or mom doing interesting things in the pasture with this little box she puts in front of her face…


Friday, September 17, 2010

Something (not wicked) this way comes...

I'm getting a big delivery of something this weekend.  What could it be, you ask?  Fiber - surely not.  The master bathtub is filled to overflowing.  Yarn?  Ditto.

Photos and explanation on Monday.
Edited on Monday: Ok, tomorrow, I promise - I forgot to take pictures.  Fortunately, nothing's changed!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The "mostly" Whole Story

What I learned in my 5 weeks off:

• Doing 2 knees at the same time is not for the faint of heart. There were some really tough days in the beginning (I don’t do “dependent” very well). Thank goodness for Belinda and my dad – they did yeoman duty taking care of me and the “farm.”

o Because I don’t do dependent well, I’m the perfect candidate for doing 2 at a time.

o At 6 weeks out, I’m functioning at 10-11 week level. My physical terrorist, with an evil grin, said I’m going to be fun… I wonder what that means…

o When you’re in bed, on really good drugs, the funniest things happen. I had lots of chemicals while in the hospital, and I was seeing things, hearing things, talking to shadows standing next to people in the room, and sometimes words would come out of my mouth that my brain wasn’t aware of. I only knew because of the puzzled looks, so I would ask that they please just ignore what I just said. In hindsight, it’s pretty humorous, but not having ever done recreational drugs, it is not an experience that I’d care to repeat. The aural hallucinations took almost a week to go away – it was like having a radio playing in my head all the time – geez!

o Walkers only work if you take little, geisha steps. How can I learn to walk again (and I did have to) if I can’t walk? I tossed the walker after 1 week, and used the crutches. At about 2 ½ weeks, I got up without the crutches, and didn’t realize it until I was in the bathroom. So I started walking around in the house without them, but used them outside. Merlin thought they were potential torture instruments, so wouldn’t come near me. Chris wasn’t perturbed in the least.

o When you’re stuck in bed, there is not much to do. You notice things like the weird patterns in your ceiling.

o Sometimes I was too bored to even knit.

• Dad did a wonderful job as “Farmer Lane.” He admitted that it was an “interesting experience,” but that he wouldn’t want to do it all the time. Did you know that animals don’t care if it’s Sunday, or Labor Day – the still want to eat! He got so comfortable with the big animals that when Merlin discovered Pig Beer (more later), my dad was waving his arms and yelling at him to get him to move – a big step!! He found the pigs very entertaining, and was glad that he was going to be back home when they became little white packages.

o I did manage to finish his sweater before he arrived, but forgot to take a picture. I had my nephew take one .

 I only steam blocked it, so he’s going to try to find a weaving friend in San Diego to wet block it for him.

o My boss came out to help unload feed – I had about 700# in the truck. Since I wasn’t moving that well yet, I supervised, Dad directed to the correct container, and Tom unloaded.

o I finally am using the Turkey Feeder (holds about 500# of feed) for its intended purpose. Dad helped me extract it from the encroaching berries and move it (in the back of the truck) up to the turkeys. This helps with my evening chores enormously. Every two weeks, I top it off, and in the meantime, only have to do water. I had previously used it for a lamb creep feeder, back when I had sheep.

• Pig Beer – it’s what’s for dinner! Basically, it’s 50# of whole wheat, 50# of rolled barley, mixed together with 2 cups of sugar, and covered with water (with some extra headroom). It ferments nicely, the pigs (and everyone else, as it turns out) love it. The last time I bought feed before the piggies left, I over estimated what I’d need, so have about 200# left. Since it’s still in the dry state, the horses are getting most of it, but the chickens are trying to cage their share. Here’s my favorite picture of the piggies before they met their destiny.

• Driving was scary at first, but I discovered that not only could I drive the automatic Volvo, but I could actually drive the truck, so long as I didn’t have to stop and go too much (the clutch tires me out). This is a good thing, because getting someone to drive me to pick up feed falls into that “dependent” thing, and I’m not good at that.

Last week was my first (mostly whole) week back at work. It was amazing how quickly I was absorbed back into the routine. I thought I was doing great. Friday night, four of us from work went out to see “Eat, Pray, Love.” It was really fun, but I forgot about sitting without moving for 2 ½ hours. I was completely stove up when we left the theater. We were talking about the moving and stuff in the parking lot, and they noticed the 600# of feed in the back of the truck. I was accused of being Wonder Woman – what could I do but tap my wrists together! So then they wanted to know what my super power was, and without thinking, I said, “Persistence.” They argued that my new knees were my super power, but I said, “No, I got them because of persistence.” My physical therapist cracked up when I told her this story, and now uses that gesture when talking about me – pretty funny!

Ok, so it’s not all rosy. Saturday, I slept all day, and I mean all day. With the exception of breakfast for me and the critters, lunch, and then dinner and book reading, I was comatose. I guess I really needed it. Sunday was much better, and I went into town to go shopping. I can’t wear jeans yet – the scars are still too tender. So I have to dress as a girl – eww. I got some skirts, a pair of shoes and several tops, since it will probably be awhile before I can handle denim on my raw skin.  (this was after the staples were removed - before they were totally "Franken-knees"!!)

And, because she’s never been in my blog, here’s a picture of my 55# lap dog, Lyra.

She’s almost 3, a pit bull, and all she wants to do is lick you and sleep under the covers. Along with my border collie, Harry (8 yrs. Old) and cat, Golgi (10 yrs. Old), that is the total of the indoor pets. Interestingly, when I was first home, Lyra was on the bed, and Belinda came down the hall – all Lyra could see was her shadow. She stood over me and growled, even after Belinda turned on the light and came in the room! I finally got her calmed down. I told Belinda that my dog had put her on probation – she came, took me away for a week, and the brought me back broken. The pack doesn’t like the alpha to be in less than perfect condition… She’s much happier now, and has forgiven Belinda.

The next project is to get the chickens moved, so that I can remove the roof on their current coop. It drains lots of water directly into the horse barn. Then, I have to put up a shelter for the alpaca boys, and separate the horses (so Chris gets all the food he needs), and mud-proof their stalls and give them an area to escape the mud. The rain is coming, the rain is coming!!