Friday, December 31, 2010

Plans, plans, plans.

I like scheduling things. Plans give me comfort. I like taking the time to do all the thinking and then - once the planning is done - jump in and get the actual work done with gusto. Just plow through it because the path has been decided.

In the world of Myers-Briggs, I'm a pretty strong J. A scheduler.

So, yesterday, I scheduled 2011.

Well, I made goals. I also made contingency goals, so that if all the initial goals are completed, a back up plan has also been scheduled. The goals are broken into three key areas and are as follows:

  • Get Sheep - Such a simple statement! There is a lot of work involved with this one. The barn needs some repairs and the fence has to be reinforced. Plus, I have to find sheep. The plan is to start with 2 older ewes of any acceptable breed. I'm not too particular at this point with breed, as I don't have much experience and there are so many types it's a bit overwhelming. As these will be practice sheep and we won't be breeding them, to be acceptable, they should be hardy and have a desirable wool. Once we have more experience, we'll be looking for a good dual purpose breed for a sustainable flock.

  • Can 20-30 quarts of veggies - About 95% of the canning around here is fruit. I'd like to put up some beans, tomatoes and other veggies this year.

  • Build raised bed and plant fall greens - Extend our gardening beyond spring and summer.

  • Drive pickup truck - It's time to reacquaint myself with a standard transmission.

  • Kill chicken - Really not looking forward to this one, but I eat the meat and I think it's time I earn it. Plucking is certainly hard work, but it's not fair that I rely on Bill to do the really unpleasant part. This one is going to be hard - but it's a reality I'm (nearly) ready to face. Plus, Aaron Sorkin broke my heart with a ridiculous blog post about Sarah Palin and hunting which made me realize that until I take this step, I'm not really fully involved in what it means to eat meat. Blech.

  • Convert 25% of Sugar's food to homemade - This is related to the chicken killing. Pet food is the major source of CAFO meat in our house. Feeding the dog 3-4 meals a week of homemade food is a pretty easy goal, especially in the summer when the chickens are laying prolifically.

  • Learn to shoot rifle and shotgun - Also not excited about this - I've been promising Bill I'd learn for about 2 years now, but I keep wiggling out of it. However, I am even less excited when a raccoon kills our poultry. The goal is specifically not to learn to shoot well enough to hunt or defend our animals - but just to learn to shoot and not hate it. Small steps. I'll be putting this (and the chicken killing) off as long as possible, I'm sure.

  • Paint and re-roof woodshed (stretch goal) - It needs it but it's a big job.
  • Make curtains for Bill's Room and Guest Room - I can't think of anything more boring that sewing curtains, but the ratty lace has got to go.

  • Trim 2 hearths - It's just wood and a little bit of grout. I don't know why we haven't done it yet!

  • Paint bedroom floor, decorate walls - Our walls are a spunky orange, but the room is still pretty stark.

  • Make upstairs landing into library nook - Move crap, paint floor and walls, make curtain, furnish.

  • Strip wallpaper in upstairs bathroom (stretch goal) - Yeah, it's just wallpaper, but it happens to be on the ceiling, 12 feet up.
  • Complete 12 projects in Self-Imposed Yarn Club - Based on the brilliant idea of the Yarn Harlot. I took 12 yarns I've had in my stash for 2-3 years, but am still very excited about using, and packed them up with a matching pattern. They are wrapped in packing paper and each month I'll pick a random package to knit up. There is a mix of socks, shawls and other accessories.

  • Knit sweater from handspun, hand-dyed yarn - We had a lesson on our wheel at the knit shop yesterday. I'm feeling confident!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Knits

It's been pretty lazy 'round these parts. Making bread. Knitting. Keeping the home fires burning. Shopping at Goodwill.


Uh - no photos of the bread. We ate it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I remember the exact moment I fully understood the purpose around celebrating the winter solstice. We were in Iceland, the day after Thanksgiving, and decorations were being hung in Reykjavík - evergreen boughs and festive lights.

It was cold (though the natives weren't bundled up as much as me and Bill) and dark. The sun rose around 10 and set by 4. Here is it just before noon:

A mere 6 hours of daylight, and it was still a month away from the shortest day of the year. So much darkness!

As I watched Reykjavík be decked with signs of life and light, I understood that marking the shortest day of the year - the longest night - was a big deal.

Since we moved to the farm, we definitely notice the change in seasons and enjoy celebrating the cycles of the year. For the past few weeks, we've been watching our supply of firewood dwindle (and our stock of eggs, since the chickens have stopped laying [which is related to the shortened day light]). Tonight, I pulled a cart of wood out of the shed - and through the snow - knowing that we've made it half-way. It will start getting easier, and lighter, and closer to spring tomorrow. Tonight, we celebrate!!

One of our celebrations involves this Yule Log. I don't know a lot about Yule Logs, but we took the concept and made it our own. The log was cut from our property, by us, and decorated with tokens to represent things we hope will prosper (or be abundant) over the next year.

It contains: a turkey feather for the productivity and health of our birds, pancake mix, wool and bacon (three things we hope to never run out of - ever), corn from our garden for a prosperous harvest, and wine to represent wine....and grapes ;)

The Yule Log is burning right now and the celebrations continue!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday Snow

We've got about 4-5 inches of snow on the ground and it's still falling.

It's lovely!

Indiana isn't very pretty in the winter - lots of empty brown corn fields. It looks a lot like a wasteland, so it's nice when the snow blankets the ground.

The chickens don't like it much, though. These two ladies are trying to determine if it's worth venturing 6 inches outside of the coop for the corn we threw just beyond the door.

They decided not.

The turkeys, however, have been out playing. They're staying pretty close to home, but at least they're outside.

When I venture outside, I make sure to wear my newly finished mittens:

Not really. These are fancy mittens and when I go outside it's to do dirty chores like fill up the birds' water or bring in firewood. But...I thought it was a nice transition.

Happy Snowy Saturday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30 - First Fire, 2010

Indiana finally decided to be seasonally appropriate with the weather. On Tuesday (I think) a big ole storm blew through and left behind autumn. Today is our first we-need-to-heat-the-house fire (opposed to an aesthetic fire). It's actually pretty warm outside - mid 50s - but our dang brick house is holding on to the recent cold. So the wood stove is lit! Last year our first fire was 3 weeks earlier - we went away to California, drank some wine and came back to winter.

Fortunately, I got some knitting done, just in time, including Bill's Six Animal hat. It's made of undyed alpaca from at least 4 animals (a gift from my mom from her first Rhinebeck) and the white stripes are a handspun merino and possum blend from New Zealand that Chris and Kelly were so kind to spin and gift to us. New Zealand possums are an invasive species and there is a big effort to encourage folks to kill them. Often when an economy is built around an animal there is an incentive to maintain the animal at profitable levels - which is contrary to wanting to eradicate it. In NZ (at least when we were there) it is illegal to keep (farm, breed) any possums. They all need to be wild-caught.

Also, in case you are wondering why anyone would want a possum hat, NZ possums don't look anything like ours. They are more like badgers. But, that's enough ecology. On to the knitting!

Bill's hat:

And a cowl for me:

Sugar, helping with the photos:

Bill, being artistic. Apparently cowls make great egg cozies:

Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 22, 2010

This autumn evening in pictures

Mostly Sugar Pie and knitting...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Report of....not from...Rhinebeck

This weekend is the NY Sheep and Wool festival, and I am not at it. It is about 800 miles away - you can't just make that trip willy nilly for every festival that happens to come up.

Worry not, fair reader. I am here to prove, mathematically - and beyond any doubt - that I am completely, totally and one million percent ok with that.

The weather report for Dutchess County is sunny and cool - perfect wool weather. Last year it rained. But....I'm ok with that.

These were my purchases last year (in the rain):

Surely, that looks like enough wool to keep a knitter happy for multiple years, right? You are correct. From that pile, I have completely used up 4 of the 15 yummies and 4 more projects are currently in progress. These projects represent only 47% of my total Rhinebeck purchases. I'm ok with that.

Clearly, if I knit at a consistent pace from last year, I still have a year to go before I run out of lovely, hand dyed yarn...that I can't purchase anywhere else and have to wait until one lousy weekend in October that requires me to drive 900 miles to obtain.

I also wound and attempted to knit with 4 additional yarns in the past year. Here is one failed attempt (Do you see the stripes?! I couldn't abide by the stripes):

So, there are 4 more only slightly molested yarns wound and ready to try again on a new project.

For the visual folks out there, let's take a peak at this information in a graphic format:

That sure looks like a lot of arrows. Eep.

But, we're still doing ok. Right? Still TONS of yarn to use in the next year or two before we need to go back to the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful, fun...I mean plain ole, boring, crowded Rhinebeck.

Just to make us all feel better, let's take a graphical look at the yarn we haven't even thought about using yet. The yarn that was so wonderful and soft and lovely that it was purchased (in the rain) and dreamed about the whole 1,000 mile drive back to Indiana, but just hasn't been allowed to be amazing yet. The virgin yarn I still pet lovingly and can't wait to find the time to cast on with.



I know it just looks like three projects worth of yarn. Three little, tiny...projects. But, we're not panicking. Nope. Not panic...three?? Just three?

Uh. Think....think... It's ok. That's still 27% of the yarn. That will last until...let's get out the calculator here. Still not panicking....punch in some numbers.

Um. Ok. That yarn should last until...January, 2011. I will run out of Rhinebeck yarn during the coldest, darkest most miserable month the year.

I'm not ok with that.

I've got to go... my mom should be wandering through the lovely buildings of the fairgrounds right about now. Gazing among the booths overflowing with the best yarn on the planet. I think there is still time to give her a list and my credit card number.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bernie in the fall

Bernie has been venturing out to the field with us these past few evenings. When we go to check on the birds and walk Sugar, the cat follows right on our heels.

He wanders around the pasture, but is never far from us. The turkeys find him to be endlessly fascinating and they follow him everywhere.

This freaks Bernie out. He puts his ears back, squats real low to the ground and runs to the nearest person as fast as his little legs will carry him. As amusing as that is, I'd rather our turkeys show a little fear of carnivores (no matter how tiny and ill equipped to eat them). The turks have a curiosity that is adorable, but I imagine they would also follow a raccoon or a fox right into their hole for dinner.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Socks of Autumn

I finished a new pair of socks this morning. They are the perfect fall socks - a great color, cozy and casual.

I also started my first ever colorwork. It is WAY FUN and I don't think I'll be able to stop. Ever. Except for when I'm squeeing with delight and asking Bill to "look at how awesome this is" every 28 seconds. He's very patient and sufficiently awed. It's one of the eleventy billion reasons I love him. (Another being his sweetness in taking the photos above.)

The design for this sock calls for yarn which is dyed in a gradient from one color to another. The sock starts like this:

...and ends like a photo negative - reverse of the colors it started with. In the middle it gets all blurry and muddled. It's wicked awesome.

This picture shows the colors much better.

I'm a little stuck at the moment on the instructions, but I'll get started knitting again soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Wool Gathering

Yesterday, Bill and I traveled to Yellow Springs OH for A Wool Gathering - a sheep and wool show at a dairy farm.

It was a very nice day. Our first stop was for lunch in town. Yellow Springs doesn't seem like it belongs in seems to be a little bit of California transplanted to the Midwest.

The town was full of diverse people out enjoying the day. There was a farmers market, which drew a lot of folks, and the sheep and wool festival brought people in from out of town, but it seems like a place that is always buzzing (and I mean that in more ways than one). Though it's a small town (population around 3,700) it seemed like an engaged, active community.

It was a fun town to visit. We admired well-maintained old buildings, ate some pizza and yielded the right-of-way at a stop light to one of Yellow Springs notable residents - Dave Chappelle.

Then it was on to the fiber! There were lots of fiber farmers there with their animals. We pet all sorts of sheep and stared at a very intense llama.

The gathering took place at a fabulously agro-tourismy dairy farm. There was mini-golf, tons of playground space for kiddos and lots of fun animals to feed. We saw the fattest Barred Rock chicken ever and had goats chewing on our shirts

Naturally, there was ice cream.

And yarn.

It was a pretty nice day!

Write a a dog.

You all know Sugar, right? Sugar Pie, Sugarino, Puppy Pie, the Fuzzy Bear.

We like her. She keeps us warm in the winter, and licks our plates clean so we don't have to scrub so hard when we're doing the dishes. And she's super cute.

We found her at the fabulous Indianapolis Humane Society and knew right away she was our dog.

I have a confession. I don't like puppies. They're a lot of work and kind of a pain in the butt, and you don't know what kind of a dog they're going to be. How big? Will she like people? Want to snuggle? Will she eat my cats?

That is why I, personally, am really glad we adopted A Dog (though, if you want the trouble of a puppy, the Humane Society has them too).

Sugar was only at the Humane Society for a few days when we snagged her. They treated her, and us, awesomely. She was spayed, given some shots, and played with by great volunteers. We were sent home with tons of great info and the best dog on the planet.

If you are so included, check out the the PEDIGREE Adoption Drive on Facebook. Pedigree is raising awareness for homeless dogs by donating a bowl of food to shelter dogs for everyone who becomes a “Fan” or “Likes” The PEDIGREE Adoption Drive on Facebook. So far more than 1 million bowls have been donated.

Sugar Pie thanks you.