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!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I really haven't fallen off the face of the earth...

I'm back at work, and have lots to say, but I'll have to do it this weekend.  Pictures are promised - piggies, dad's sweater, my knees - all the good stuff!!