Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A walk in the snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
To (a friends ) house we go;
(I wish for a) horse to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood—
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go. ~ Lydia Maria Child (regretfully with my help here)

My sister called at 7:30 to see if I wanted to go for a walk so she could take pictures of the snow. Ruthie had just IM'ed me to see if my kids had school. I said to my sister, lets walk to Ruthies as this way I could give her the socks. I decided that since we ordered Ruthie to have coffee on for us that I should bring something along so hurried up and made some fresh English muffins from dough I had in the fridge. We tossed them in a back pack, bundled up and sis, #2 daughter and I started out with lots of vim and vigor.

We took the township road past the farm and on to the state road. We scared a flock of turkeys and they took off for the trees. Once out on the state roadI commented on how the township was doing a better job than the state….within a minute the state plow truck snuck up on us and we did not have time to cross the road to get out of the way. He got his chuckle for the day.

The road follows the river and you have to cross two bridges to get to Ruthies. The first bridge shows the ice chunks coming down the river and piling up along the shoreline.Further down the road two rivers combine and the ice from our smaller river builds up in sheets. Reminds me of the ribs in the Operation game. Walking alongside the second river we scared a flock of Canadian geese. Doesn’t say much for how we looked does it!

We finally get to the second bridge and by this time I was sweating and getting chilled. Luckily on the other side of the bridge we reached our destination.
After some coffee, English muffins with homemade jam and good chatter we decided to venture out again. We didn’t have the same enthusiasm as we did on the first trip and the snow has changed to sleet which hits your cheeks like shards of glass. You can see the change in the conditions.
By the time we were half way home my legs felt like lead. The slipping, sliddding and trudging thru snow that felt like you were walking on sand had my inner thighs aching. I felt like this tree...whipped! What the hell possessed me to walk a 3 mile round trip in this weather?

We stopped for little video of the ice building up, it's short and sweet as I was ready for home. video
And we arrived just in time as the freezing rains started soon after. Spent the rest of the day enjoying the view from inside by the stove with four kids running around while my sister went to my mothers and they took a nap! I guess her age caught up with her...she is my elder sister after all!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thinking Spring

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. ~ProverbThey are saying this winter is one of the coldest on record. We have had below normal temperatures since October. Saturday it was -5 at 8:30 in the morning. I can't say I have cabin fever...yet. What is wrong with me is I am sick and tired of being cold. I love snow but the cold drives me nuts.

I have been knitting things to keep everyone warm. First it was mittens and now it is hats.I knit this litttle devil hat because you can't get any warmer than his domain. Then I saw something that both keeps you warm and speaks spring to me. This fish hat. It is a very quick knit and uses up leftovers....a win, win, win, win.
I started it Friday and finished it Saturday. Then I continued in this "think Spring" frame of mind and ordered my chicks for delivery in April. Then I ordered all my seeds.

Sunday I went back to knitting to keep people warm. A friend of mine had a pair of slipper socks that I had made her years ago which she had put holes in because of nail in her floor. She had given them back to me to fix. I decided to make her a new pair and finished them while watching TV Sunday night. She wants a pair that goes over her pant legs when she has boots on but I thought leg warmers would work better for that so I started her a pair of leg warmers.

The man was sick on Sunday and stayed home yesterday, then #2 daughter came home from school early as she had a fever. #2 son was sitting here last night and I looked at him and he was all flushed...fever also. They are staying home today and with the storm coming they will probably be home tomorrow. So far I have heard 4-8 inches and 6-10 inches. All I know is that this weekend is suppose to actually go above freezing! I can't wait.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Did I become a farmer?

Let the Wealthy & Great
Roll in Splendor and State
I envy them not I declare it.
I eat my own lamb
My chickens and Ham
I shear my own fleece & I wear it
I have lawns, I have Bow’rs
I have fruits, I have Flow’rs,
The lark is my morning alarmer
So jolly boys now
Here’s God speed the Plough
Long life & Success to the Farmer

That poem was on the inside of a box Cyndy had given me oh probably 4+ years ago. It was just unearthed from one of the seemingly endless supply of totes that has been in storage while building.
This morning I was trying to decide when to have chicks delivered so I was going thru old blog posts trying to come up with weather info. While doing so I found out that while this little box with it‘s poem had been packed away alot had changed.
When I started the blog in January 2005, I had stated that the year before I had learned to spin and weave on a tri-loom. We had raised chickens both for eggs and meat, pigs and turkeys for meat and ducks for eggs.
Reading thru I was reminded that in 2005 I taught myself how to knit, had the usual chickens, pigs, turkeys and ducks but also added a “free” horse , angus steer (meat) and angora goats. We started to shear.

In 2006 We saved a Romanov wether from the butcher and also added two Finn sheep from Grace Hatton's farm and sheared more. The “free” horse went to be a companion horse when a friend lost one of hers and the angus went in the freezer.
In 2007 We added a ram from Hatton Farm and two steer.2008 gave us six lambs. I freaked and gave my ram away. I later gave two ram lambs to a friend, sent one to the butcher along with the steer and we did even more shearing.In those years, the gardens have grown, the food processing has grown, apple trees were added along with horseradish, asparagus, thornless blackberries, raspberries, currants and Nanking cherries. And we built the house and enjoyed a trip to Puerto Rico.
Wikipedia defines farmer as..."The term farmer usually applies to a person who grows field crops, and/or manages orchards or vineyards, or raises livestock or poultry. Their products are usually sold in a market or, in a subsistence economy, consumed by the family or pooled by the community." I guess we have become farmers.

So I now do eat my own lamb, chickens and ham, shear my own fleece and wear it. I just hope I get the long life so I can spin all the fleece.

Who knew that along with all her other talents Cyndy also was a soothsayer?!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

"Time for the weather report. It's cold out folks. Bonecrushing cold. The kind of cold which will wrench the spirit out of a young man or forge it into steel." Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider Northern Exposure. Lost and Found 1992

I use to love that show. Oh the thoughts of living in Alaska...except for the cold it would be wonderful! Friday morning it was -8.1 and Saturday it was -12.3. Now that is in no way shape or form cold to people in Alaska, but to me that is COLD enough. And it is cold enough to freeze up the river.Needless to say I did not move far away from the woodstove. #2 daughter was able to wear her new mittens to school on Friday as I was able to finish them Thursday night.
Mom said that my sister would probably like a pair so Friday I started to knit her a pair out of my own handspun Finn wool. Boy do I need more time behind the wheel. With intermittent bouts of spinning my yarn leaves alot to be desired. These mittens are also a test. The wool is mine, washed by me, carded and spun by me...no harsh chemicals. My sister is willing to be a guinea pig...she is allergic to wool but said mine always felt so soft and cushy unlike what she had been use to. So in February if you are flying to PR and see a blonde with raw red hands you will know the test failed!

#2 daughter went over to a friends for a b-day sleepover Saturday. #2 son went to a neighbors to help stack firewood while the man and I went to town. Even now with the kids being older it is not often we get out without them. It made us almost giddy to shop without saying "no we don't need that", "no I make my own" and "put it back". It's the little things.

We awoke this morning to snow. The weatherman's report of 2 inches was a little off as we got over 6. I sat and watched it accumulate while I finished my sisters mittens. Then I took the rest of the day off from fiber to cook and bake, if you can believe it. I am not known to be able to bake. But since I was able to make Danish Puffs on Friday with Mom's help I decided to attempt them solo....They taste the same but the puff dough part was much wetter than her's and didn't puff as much. Practice makes perfect and the man loves to eat the mistakes so I guess I will have to keep trying. In cooking, #1 son had put in a request for Mexican Lasagna so I made a double batch. He sent home a basket full of dirty laundry with his request, lucky me!

#2 son and the nephews spent the afternoon sleigh riding. When the nephews went home we picked up #2 daughter and called it an early night. Then while sitting typing this I got a little boost....Do you see what I see? A bud and Spring is only 61 days away. So while the snow blows and my sinus's freeze and then begin to drip everytime I go outside, I will still be warm knowing that however long it really does takes, be it 61 days or 80+, Spring will come. And for sometime until then I will get to see my sister suffer the effects of this weather! Misery loves company and someone else's is always good for a laugh.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Putting things into Perspective

“It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is." "And freezing." "Is it?" "Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately.”~ A.A. Milne

Compared to some parts of the country we are having a tropical heat wave. 8 degrees is one hell of a lot better than -20 with -40 windchill. And although I know it is going to get colder tonight, I know it is NOT going to be -20 and for that I am thankful. My sister who lives in Puerto Rico is coming to visit on the 21st. Boy is she is for a shock as we are not due to go above freezing until some time after her arrival. She did live in Buffalo though so she knows cold...which is why she moved to PR..she had to thaw out!

So yesterday was the PA Farm Shows Sheep to Shawl. You can find info all about it here. I had plans to spin the day away while watching the coverage. However #2 son was walking out the door to wait for the school bus with no gloves...he said he lost them. Another pair gone. So I changed plans to knit him a pair. Some people have washing machines that eat socks - I have a house and yard that eats mittens.

As I was sitting knitting I looked up on the mountain and saw the turkeys flying down from trees they had been roosting in. They came down to the feeders to see what they could find but the dogs making a ton of noise by floor to ceiling windows ten feet away was too much for them and they quickly decided to dine elsewhere.
I waited until almost 11 to let the chickens and ducks out. As I stated before I am only getting one or two eggs a day and here is why... They are moulting. Poor things are so ugly. I put lots of hay in the nesting boxes (which they are not using duh!) and on the floor to keep them warm. They sit on the roost instead. So when it gets this cold, I serve them lukewarm milk with bread/oatmeal, spaghetti, fruit and ground up leftover meat.

After lunch I let the two older dogs out to use a tree and decided to take a walk up into the woods to see what was moving up there besides the turkeys. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be. Bandit, the cat decided to join me on the walk. Other than long shadows and a couple of squirrel tracks there was nothing. As I was coming back I was met by Shadow and Digger who were probably tracking the cat.
By the time the evening ended (with a new national record for the most paid for a competition shawl...$3400!) I had one glove done. I quickly cast on for the other as my son is not Michael Jackson but then fell asleep without finishing.

Today dawned with a dusting of snow in the valley. The kids had a two hour delay which meant I could finish the mittens before he left for school which I did. Come to find out I didn't have to rush as they cancelled school and officially used up our last snow day. Tomorrow was a teacher's in service day in which the kids had off but they have revised that and are making the kids go to get one day back as we only have President's Day, Good Friday, the following Monday and Memorial Day as days off. There is one more teachers in service and then they start adding days on to the end of the year.
#2 daughter has decided she needs a pair of mittens like her brothers. She likes the fit. I was just talking about this pattern at spinning. It is from a kit Cyndy bought me years ago. The kit was the first time I had to spin the wool for a designated project. The pattern is Claudia's from Countrywool. I love it because it has a long thumb gusset so the cuff stays in place and doesn't get pulled upon your hand. So now I am off to knit another pair....seems like a good use of a cold winter day to me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Planning

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." ~ A.A. Milne

Or at least you hope that's how it goes. With this thought in mind we spent the weekend working on the house and planning for the future.

On Saturday the man and #2 son went to get feed and a load of firewood. They arrived home just as the snow started to fall. #2 Daughter had made plans for her friends to spend the night so she was cleaning her room... to make room (she will never get blamed for being a neat freak).
I spent some time unpacking. I had finally found my seed bin (aka old bread box) on Friday so I went through the seeds that I had and I was able to check alot off the list of what I wanted to get. I just have to place the order and I am done. The prices have definitely gone up. See the package in the bottom right...Ferry Seed Asters, only 15 cents in 1954...now I am looking at $3.85 and there are probably less seed.

With that task accomplished my mind wandered to what animals we wanted to mess with this summer. I continued to churn things over as I made some bread and plied some more bobbins of my worsted weight acrylic yarn for the rug.

After evening chores we picked the friends up and bunkered down for the "worst" part of the storm...which didn't come. We discussed animals and the man doesn't want to deal with any beef animals until we are able to install better fencing. Sheep fencing does NOT work on cattle even though the information stated it could be used for such. The beef presently in the freezer made quick work of it. The preivious one walked thru 5 rows of barb wire with plain wire tieing the top to the bottom strand so it wouldn't spread. When they say "tough as cowhide" they mean you can walk thru a barberry hedge and not feel a thing.

Sunday dawned early with only a 4 inch total snow accumulation. #2 son went ice fishing with my brother and nephews while the girls were out sleigh riding by 8. They made an appearance about noon for some lunch and they were out the door again. When son and the nephews returned empty handed they joined them on the slope. About 5 PM the girls Mom showed up to take them home. While the kids were occupied I had painted the hallway, and the man put the molding up around all the doors and archways. I unpacked two more totes, did laundry and crocheted some more on the rug.
We are only getting one egg a day from seven hens right now so we have decided to get some more layers. I think I might pick up a couple of pullets from Farmer Dave and then buy chicks to raise so I can get what I want. We have decided to stick with some breeds we had before: The light brahmas and the buff orps. Both were big, calm birds and both sat and hatched out chicks for me. Now we just need to decide when we want them delivered.

Right now the plan is to have 6 turkeys of which I would like to keep two to breed. I was thinking of the Rio Grande or the Standard Bronze. Rio Grande to me means a slightly warmer climate so I will have to see if they can handle our weather.

We have also decided to get 50 roasters....this may change depending on if the neighbors want us to raise some. And we will be going to Farmer Dave for three pigs.

With that all out of the way I am able to plan more immediate things today. I already washed a black Finn lamb fleece from my fall clipping... YUMMY! I only have two more of my own to wash. Then I have a LOT of Farmer Dave's fleece which I am going to wash and use it to stuff dog beds. But for right now....do I want to pull out the drumcarder or should I go ply/crochet more on the rug to finish it and get it out of the way? Of course, it sure would be nice to spin my own wool while watching the PA Farm Shows Sheep to Shawl on Wednesday. OH Decisions, decisions, decisions! I guess I will make that choice after I unpack another tote.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Predictions

"THE SNOW WILL BEGIN AROUND SUNRISE SATURDAY MORNING, AND BECOME HEAVY AT TIMES DURING THE AFTERNOON. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS EXPECTED TO FALL OVER THE NORTHERN TIER . BY THE TIME THE SNOW TAPERS OFF SUNDAY MORNING, 6 TO 10 INCHES OF SNOW ACCUMULATION IS POSSIBLE." ~National Weather Service


I listened to the forecast on the local TV station last night and heard 1-3 inches on Saturday. This morning, same station but different weatherman said 3-6 inches. I turned on the computer and read the above. Oh, who to believe? The "I want to vege in front of the woodstove" part of me says give me 10! The "I have chores to do" part says do we really need more? #2 Daughter has a birthday party to go to, while the man and #2 son were going to get more firewood.

Luckily it is happening on a weekend and the kids are not going to use another snow day. Wednesday they used up #6 due to the ice we received. The ice coated everything. The apple tree was no amused! The day was overcast and didn't do it justice but yesterday morning dawned bright and sunny. The sun shining on the ice made the tree's look like they were made of glass and studded with diamonds. I had to go to town and was hard pressed to keep my eyes on the road while driving. The sun shining on the icy trees hanging over the river was breathtaking. I tried taking a picture while going down the driveway but it fails to capture each little diamond twinkling. Because we have not gone above freezing the ice is still encasing the trees. If we get 10 inches of snow on top of that we will probably lose power.
I predict that I am going to take my mother to get her blood work done today. I predict she will want to stop at the store. I predict the weather is going to do whatever it wants and we will just deal with it. I predict I will be worried about #1 son and daughter as they are driving back up from a Florida vacation. And lastly I predict this non knitting funk I have fallen into will end.....sooner than later would be nice!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A whole new year

“Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure-they govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm.” ~ Jeremy Bentham

The old year ended and the new year started with that same ying-yang. My mother had a short stay in the hospital but the doctor promised to have her out before the ball dropped. Of course he kept his word but didn't factor in the snow storm in which I had to drive through to get to the hospital so I could bring her home. I hate to drive in the snow so was almost ready to be admitted to the bed next to her by the time I got there.... more likely my mother would have left me there and drove herself home.

From right before Christmas we had been basically living in two places but have now made the final move into the house. There is still lots to do but will have to be done working around me as I had had it with the old living conditions.

While unpacking totes that have been packed for 2+ years I have come upon things I forgot I even had! It has been like an extended Christmas. However, muscle atrophy seems to have set in since I packed these things. The only thing that has kept me on the damn New Year's diet is that I am so tired I couldn't lift the spoon to feed myself. I am exhausted.

The day the man hooked up the hot water was the day I fully moved in. I was ecstatic to be able to take a hot bath after years of nothing but showers. So after a long day of lifting, shoving, washing, pushing, pulling and bending I went in and turned on the tub to let the tub fill. I thought the water would warm up as it came down the pipe....it didn't. I froze but was determined to get in my first bath. I felt bad when I came out and the man asked how it was. I had to tell him it was awful, that the water never got above lukewarm. We turned up the hot water heater...still lukewarm. We turned off the cold and the tub quit. The one knob faucet set we bought is anti-scald and after a long call with the company we found we would have to unsolder everything to reset it...we went and bought a three knob faucet where I get to pick how hot I want it. The next bath was heaven. If I had remembered my book it would have continued longer than it did!

I went through everything when I was packing up and tossed a ton....now I open totes and wonder what the hell ever possessed me to keep some of it....so we are tossing tons more. Add to this, I have also accumulated during that time period. When I was helping my friend on her house I was cringing when she wanted to toss things so I took them. Then there was my aunts house. She was a gardener, crocheter and seamstress, do I have to say more?.....smack...what the hell was I thinking? We already had a tractor trailer to unload! So what we are doing is things we don't want are being shoved to one side and when we are done the rest will go on Freecycle. I will never ever move again unless it is done for me while I am on vacation. Of course when I asked the man on our first anniversary if he would do it over again he said yes. When I asked if he would ever build me another house he quickly said no so I guess I don't have to worry about moving again!

I must say I have settled into the house quickly! In the mornings I take my coffee with a book or knitting and sit by the woodstove for a bit before the day takes off. There are floor to ceiling windows on each side of the woodstove so I have an awesome view of the woods. Each morning the turkeys flock down out of the woods and into the yard. It is so peaceful watching them scratch thru the leaves for food....until one of the dogs spot them. The bellows of the coonhound and the yipping of the keeshound quickly ruin that peacefulness. The turkeys go about their business undisturbed by the clamour while I am yelling at them to get away from the window. They go into the kitchen and start barking by the full glass kitchen door that faces that same direction....I should have planned better as later in the afternoon the squirrels are usually out and about and we go thru this again....and then at dusk the deer come down. Last night the dogs heard something and went running to the kitchen door to bark at some unknown force lurking in the dark night while my son came up the basement steps unnoticed. I guess they are just better at protecting me from turkeys, squirrels and deer that mean to do me bodily harm than intruders.

I have also learned to use the woodstove as my dryer and a crockpot of sorts. The only downside to the woodstove would have to be the dust. I am told new houses have to "let the dust settle" and it may not be just the woodstove. I don't know about that because it has been swept and vacumned and the dust is still ever present. Maybe it reproduces like rabbits overnight?! What I do know is that all this dusting is cutting into my knitting/spinning time.

I have been able to finish the mittens for #1 daughter and knit two sets of baby booties. I just found the needle this morning so no ends have been woven in but here they will be today...
The mittens are made from Shadeyside Farm wool/bamboo that my mom bought me at Endless Mt. Fiber Festival. The booties are some angora I had spun along time ago and just found....it is a very thick/thin yarn. Thank God my spinning has improved.
Now I am going to go finish working in the ends and then get to work on more totes. Tonight I will be so tired I will sit in a daze, too tired to move but happy with the days accomplishments. And tomorrow it will start again...the same pain/pleasure. Life is definitely good.