Friday, December 24, 2010

Pictures! And a story!

Because pictures will totally distract you from the lack of content for the last month, RIGHT?!

...Well, maybe not. At any rate. Look! Finished Objects! (That I totally already posted on Facebook, but not everyone is on my Facebook and really, you can probably deal with them a second time because I am proud of myself, alright?)

My first quilt!

The back of my first quilt! Hand quilted, baby.

My first real lace shawl, because I always would bugger them up, get frustrated and wander off before!

The local hippies will love this shawl.

Pointy edges!

Now I'm working on more quilts. Yes, plural, because this is me and you know I can't possibly only have one project of any type going on at a time. There's a long term scrap quilt that I'm literally only going to be working on when I finish other quilts, so they get represented in said scrap quilt, and my main lap quilt. I went into Joann's with A Plan (TM) but it was so not crowded that I ended up poking around and swapping out the planned fabric for another that I totally fell in love with. I still giggle about finding beautiful fabric, bringing it home and cutting it into little pieces. Quilting is weird, yo.

Whilst shopping, I had a really fun little encounter. Daven and I were standing at the fabric counter, waiting to get all of our stuff cut out, when an older gentleman and what looked to be his 10 year old grandson walked in. The grandfather had a scarf and some knitting needles clutched in one hand and asked the girls working if they could help his grandson, since he'd knit a scarf and now he wanted to knit a hat, but needed different needles. After the reply of "Oh...I don't knit..." was emitted (LAME, CRAFT STORE WORKERS. AT LEAST ONE OF YOU SHOULD KNIT.) I volunteered my services. I brought them back to the knitting aisle, talked about DPNs vs. circular needles and he decided that circulars sounded less scary. I grabbed him a set of size 10s, to match his straight needles and off they went. It really made me happy to help someone, and it reminded me how much I miss teaching. (I spent a year or so as an Event Coordinator for Michaels, which involved making a lot of displays and teaching some classes, including a weekly kid's craft class. It was fun, though hard on my knees, since when I wasn't in the classroom, I was working the floor.)

Also, because this is me, I'm second guessing everything I did. I told him to cast on and make sure that the stitches weren't twisted, but does he know what that looks like? I totally should have grabbed the scarf and made admiring noises at it, though I did say it was really awesome that he was learning how to knit. Ah, well. I hope he's knitting on 'em and isn't too frustrated. They were so thankful, it was really touching.

In other craft news, I gave my mother 4 pairs of socks that I'd hoarded over the last year and she still wants more. I think I'm going to be trying that sock-a-month thing again, just to keep Mrs. ColdFeet in socks. :) I'm still working on Daven's never-ending cabled sweater (just a few more inches on the first sleeve, then all of Monkey-Arm sleeve 2). Let me tell you, learning how to cable without a cable needle was like discovering fire. So. Awesome. And it save so much time! There's also the great big knit blanket that I'm doing the second tier of cabling on, a pair of fingerless gloves that I cast on in hopes they'll help me whilst at my computer and my purse sock, which gets worked on whenever I have to wait anywhere. Oh, and the weaving, which I have sorely neglected due to general malaise towards it. The same applies to spinning, which hasn't been worked on in a while. It'll happen. But first, I'm going to go quilt some more. A girl has to have some variety in life! *grin*

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Because I don't have enough hobbies, right?

In addition to the knitting and the weaving that were already on-going, I dragged my cross stitch back out, and over the weekend, started quilting.

Since Saturday, I washed and ironed and cut and sewed and ironed and sewed and ironed and sewed and cussed and ironed and sewed until I have a baby quilt basically together. It needs the binding put on, but aside from that, just the tracing of the stencil and the hand quilting is left. I know, that's the long part, but I really enjoyed using the sewing machine, which is astonishing. Way back when, I learned how to sew by hemming sheer silk in a costume shop as part of my theatre major ways. Sheer silk has no sense of humour, and it left me with a terror of sewing machines. Thankfully, the last couple of days has helped a lot with that, even if the first sewing machine I used ended up breaking three times and now needs to go into the shop. The second workhorse, which is much more powerful and aggressive (my poor lightweight cotton!) got me through, even if it isn't ideal for such work.

The quilt is very fall-coloured, and I think it looks nice, if a little 70's-retro. Photos will happen eventually.

I also finished up the actual knitting on the Maelstrom shawl of psychedelic colours yesterday evening, and just need to block it. That will likely happen today. I'd been pouring most of my hours into this, so hopefully there will be forward momentum on other projects now that it is done.

My weaving has been sadly neglected, since I got distracted by many "ooh shiny!" things. Today is Wednesday, so it is for weaving, dammit. I shall get some work done on it. (The problem being that I'm not sure I love this project, and it is hard to work on something you're "meh" about.)

The cross stitch is hilarious. This is a sampler that I started...well, there is a notation on the pattern about buying my sister's 25th birthday present, and she's 35 now. Yeaaaaah. I also immediately remembered why I had put it down. It is done on 22 point fabric, generally over two blocks. The parts I have left are all over one thread, so this is reaaaaally fine work. I'll do it, but you can only look at something that closely for small amounts of time before your eyes start stabbing you in the brain. There really is not very much left, and maybe I'll eventually finish it. I also dug out all of my previously finished, but un-framed cross stitch projects. I really need to get those framed and up somewhere; there are some really beautiful pieces in there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Day

As I was posting this enormous comment on the Pioneer Woman in response to the question "How was your Thanksgiving", I realized I should really make it into a blog entry on its own. So, here you go:

Well, the meal was a little hit or miss. And it inspired me to wax poetic and become rather verbose in the description thereof.

I was up until 01:30 the night before, waiting for the brine to cool because we forgot about the darn stuff until midnight, and it takes a while for things to cool off. Even when sitting outside in the 10F CO night, it took a while. But the end result was an amazing turkey.

Due to my husband and myself being on some rather strict diets, we only cheated a little bit...the "cheat" involved about a cup of homemade applesauce (no sugar, organic apples from our local CSA...SO GOOD) and a couple of pieces of my homemade bread. The bread was challenging, as I made a double size loaf and forgot to take that into account with the baking time. The first time I cut it, the knife came out...gooey. Ew. Back in the oven it went, and was the last thing to be served, but was by far the most popular item on the table.

My mother in law handled the gravy (I am not a gravy girl, so I don't try), whilst my husband took care of the turkey. The turkey, that was supposed to have a coating of canola oil to give it a beautiful brown glazed appearance. My intrepid love realized we had none in the house, so used Pam.

...

So, whilst the in-laws and the husband were out giving the yaks treats, I was babysitting a turkey that set off the fire alarm constantly due to the unfortunate flash point of Pam. I also had a neighbour's cat underfoot, as she randomly showed up yesterday and decided she wanted to be with us for the holiday.

But though the food was beautiful and made from scratch, with only the veggie stock in the brine coming from a box, the one real downer was over napkins. For, you see, three days ago, I had in my hot little hands about 3 dozen cloth napkins. They got "tidied", which means they will never be seen again. I was tearing around the house with the one solitary napkin I could find in my hand, getting unreasonably worked up. When I was told for the four thousandth time "it's FINE" I had a little explosion of noise that startled the heck out of my in-laws. So. Aside losing my mind and yelling at everyone over napkins, we had a great meal, and were pleased that my husband's folks were able to fly in from the East Coast to join us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Finish-it Friday

Part of my grand scheme of having thematic days includes Weaving Wednesday (which didn't work out this week due to...I don't know. I was distracted in the morning and in pain in the evening. I failed, but I'll climb back on the weaving horse, promise) and either Finish-it or Forgotten-Object Friday.

This one has been working out pretty well. Basically, either I finish something that has been sitting on the edge of completion and just needs that last little push, or I work on something that I haven't worked on in at least a week.

Today ended up combining the two, and I finished two hats that are gifts (for a mother and daughter) that have been sitting on my desk for the better part of a month. It was the pom poms that stopped my progress.

I hate pom poms.

I like the look, but making them irritates the piss out of me. These managed to finish off one of the teeny tiny balls of yarn I had left from making the hats, so that was semi-useful, but as my sister can vouch (she called me mid-pom pom creation), I swear a lot when I'm making them.

I'm sure some people enjoy these, otherwise they would have fallen out of favour. I am not amongst that population.

Right. Enough bitching about pom poms. The upside is that I finished the hats, and I should be able to ship them out tomorrow. I hope they fit!

Related to this: last night I finished the fingerless gloves I was knitting for Daven. They match a hat I'd knit him a bit ago, and he'd requested them since hands get cold when using keyboards. Between those and the house slippers I knit him a few weeks ago, he's slowly getting kitted out in hand knit goodies.

Now, if only I'd finish his darn sweater. The hold up? Not pom poms, but good guess. No, it is that he has these monkey arms that go on forever, and though I've got the body finished, it has no arms yet. I'll get to it. Maybe next Friday. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

In case you have interest in such things...

I started a new blog that I'm using to track my progress with my new bodybuilding program. It is located here: http://braveharlot.blogspot.com/

Feel free to ignore this at your leisure. :)

In fibre progress, I've been spinning and weaving and knitting like a mad woman, as per the usual.

I finished the weaving project that seemed to take forever, and I do have photos that I'll eventually get up here. I had some fascinating weaving-related drama, where I found that my math was Totally Messed Up (TM), and I had about twice as much width to my current project as I needed. This necessitated chopping off some of my warp, which was somewhat nerve wracking to do, and starting over. Three times. Kept getting narrower. Hopefully I've got it set up correctly now. Bloody thing. It is a stole for my mother, in two contrasting shades of purple. The sett is for a honeysuckle overshot pattern, though I'll just be using that in three stripes on each end of the stole, with the vast majority in the darker shade. This is for Lent, so I've got an actual time frame involved, meaning I have to *work on it* to get it done in time. We'll see how that goes.

I finished up spinning the two shades of teal alpaca I had, and decided to navajo ply them, as well as pair them up with a beautiful unprocessed fleece I picked up from the Estes Park fibre festival. I've broken out my drum carder, and have been enjoying making big floofy batts to spin from. I have plots in my mind for a sweater, if I get the yardage for it. Since I'm processing the lion's share myself, I'll probably tweak a pattern so that it customized for me. I'm envisioning another Norwegian style sweater, though I think I'll want to pick up some white alpaca to have as a third contrast colour. And maybe a purple. But first, I work on the silvery gray.

I've been knitting on this for the last couple of weeks, in a perfectly wonderful obnoxious colourway of Zauberball (fuchsia). It is very trippy, and the bright colours make me ridiculously happy.

I, of course, have a billion other projects on the needles, but those are the top ones right now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We're frolicking! We're frolicking!

video

Hopefully that'll work. Sorry about the quality of the video; I was using a little point and shoot, in addition to trying to follow fast-moving yak-beasts. Also, my voice is weird. I blame the fact that I apparently use baby talk on the yaks. I should stop that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cautious optimism

So far today, I've had no head-spinny incidents. If this keeps up, I'll restart my workout routine tomorrow.

Since I've already wandered off the supposed topics that this blog is about, now I'm going to go into further uncharted territory. Specifically the amazing ability for the human mind to strive for change and then be surprised when it happens.

Today, I finally broke down and admitted that with the weight loss that has happened on the incredible diet/exercise program I've been following, my bras didn't fit no mo'. Luckily, I throw nothing away, so I had all of my "thin" bras to go back to.

I feel like I'm turning back the clock. The weight I'm at now I was last at 3.5 years ago. The clothing I am wearing now is from that time frame, too. Back to my 20s, woo! :> As I said to Daven, I can only go back so far, since I was at my lightest when I first met him 4 years ago, at 175. Anything beyond that is uncharted territory for me as an adult, and that is only 12 lbs away. Considering the changes I've had so far, it isn't out of the question for me to reach that again.

This time, however, I will reach it via good diet and exercise, and I will reach it with growing strength. Before my whole "my brain is trying to escape" week, I had hit a new strength record for lifting 15 lbs more than my body weight in my favourite lift. This is more than just a relative strength increase; I had previously topped out with this lift at 175 for three reps, but I got 7 reps at 205, and I felt I could increase the weight. (If you lift, I was doing Romanian dead lifts, which I really enjoy. Full dead lifts are too hard on my knees, and I'm not built for 'em, but Romanians are fantastic for me.)

The last time I was thin, I was "skinny fat". You could poke me in the middle and your finger would keep on going. This was great from the corsetry standpoint, but not so good from the "being strong" standpoint. Now I've got muscles behind the rapidly decreasing layer of squish. This is the leanest I have ever been, and the happiest I have been with how my body looks. I still have a lot of work to go, but with the awesome guidance of my trainer, and the support (and cooking) of Daven, I am going to achieve my goal of being every inch the amazon I want to be!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not having to do with anything else...

Yet effecting everything.

Since last Monday, I've been dizzy. Specifically, I've had vertigo. On Thursday, I figured that this should have passed if it was going away on its own, and I went to a walk-in clinic. A nice long wait and a blood draw later, I was placed on bed rest and given a Rx for anti-dizziness.

I'm still dizzy.

It comes in waves, and it feels like the whole world is rushing past me. I haven't fallen yet, but it worries me.

I'm sleeping a lot. I've averaged a 3-4 hour nap every afternoon since seeing the doc, and I'm sleeping in, too, but I'm still tired and woozy.

The best way I can describe it is like being slightly drunk. All. The. Time. With none of the fun parts associated with being drunk, because this isn't on purpose and therefore just isn't a whole lot of fun.

I should have the blood work results by Monday. I hope they are indicative of *something*. Because otherwise, the doc told me to find a neurologist and see about getting an MRI.

I don't think I have to tell you that the combination of "bed rest" and "neurologist" freaks me the heck out.

This is part of why I haven't posted my September photos. My attention span is ridiculously reduced. I've got a sore neck from tensing it during the dizzy spells, and usually have a nice stress headache from the neck tension.

Amusingly, I've started on a really elaborate and complicated project and it is going well...because I *have* to stick to the chart. I don't feel like I can "cheat" by memorizing the pattern. Almost every row is unique, and that is working out just fine with me.

So. If you could cross your fingers that it is one of the suspects that the doc had in mind (anemia or my thyroid freaking out), it would be appreciated.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pet Peeve

You know what I want?

I want a knitting book that shows what a finished product looks like. I want to see it from the front, and I want to see it from the back. A side shot would be nice.

You know what I don't want?

An extreme close-up on a sleeve, rather than showing me what the HELL the *whole* damn thing looks like.

Artistry has its place, and hooray for having interesting shots, but don't sacrifice showing me what the fuck I'm making for an artsy shot that tells me nothing about the finished product.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mmm.

In something that could be ironic, but actually is just irritating, I hired a personal trainer in August, just when the fruit crop share that I'd signed up for was picking up speed. Guess what wasn't on my diet? Sugar! This includes fruit. So, this has forced me to Learn Stuff. Specifically, I've been canning like it is going out of style.

So far this year:
2 pints of apricot preserves
4 pints raspberry jam
7 quarts (and 1 pint) of peaches in syrup
12 half pints of honey spiced peaches

And today? Today brings pear port compote. 4 pints so far, and another batch on the stove. I was planning on putting some of the pears in syrup, but Daven isn't a fan, and this just smells so heavenly that I'm going to use all of the pears for it.

At some point in my future, I am going to have some really awesome food. In the meantime, I will preserve and look forward to fruit again.

(Is it worth it? Since I moved to CO at the end of May, I've lost 30 lbs. The majority has been on this program. Hell yeah it is worth it!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

As long as it's practical, right?

...I don't think I approve of this.

Tuesdays are for...something or other.

Mostly for random updates, I think.

The yaks are settling in well.

Grunt is full of The Frolic (TM), which is funny as hell to watch. He's so bold and friendly, until Snort beats him down a little to keep him in line. He always comes over to investigate when we go into their paddock, in hope of treats or a bit of a skritch.

Snort may have been misnamed (even though he really does snort a lot)...we're thinking we should have called him Cookie Monster. *grin* This boy is totally addicted to his wookie cookie/yak snacks. It has been a while since I've been around livestock that were this clever. He knows what the bucket that we keep the cookies in looks like, and when we tried to use an identical one to distribute the calves' feed, he came lookin' for treats. There are a lot of meaningful glances towards the cookie bucket then back to us whenever we're outside, and some disappointed snorts when he does not get a tasty treat.

He does not approve of the creep feeder-type setup we've got in place to keep him out from the calf food. The post setup we had was insufficient, so it got reinforced with some spare wood pallets we had laying about. Snort has managed to get his horns and upper body between the setup, but couldn't reach the food, and then got a little stuck on his exit, so he is grumpy about the whole thing. He's got a bit of green on his horns now from trying to outsmart it. Distracting him with cookies/COB whilst the other person goes to distribute the very anise-scented calf manna works pretty well.

Maria and Millie are both pretty shy. They'll eat cookies that are tossed in front of them, but they aren't bold enough to get past the cookie hog boys. Hopefully everyone will get more used to us and friendlier as we get to know each other.

I love the inevitable question of "So, how did you end up with yaks?" from people. Our insurance guy sounded really entertained by our purchase. They are enjoyable critters. I'll get more picture of them soon; I always seem to see the most adorable antics when the camera is safely in the house.

On the fibre front, I've been spinning up a bunch of dyed alpaca lately. I'm trying to decide what I want to do with it...I have two bumps of a dark teal, and a bump of light teal that compliments the dark very well. I'm spinning it relatively finely (not laceweight, but not bulky, either), and debating between a couple of options.
- I could do a two ply of the darks against each other and try to figure something out for the light to achieve an equal amount of singles to get a 2 ply out of.
- I could do my favourite navajo plying for a slightly thicker, but shorter length of yarn, leaving me with two yarns that I could work in contrast to each other.
- I could spin all three at about the same thickness and get a three-ply yarn going with the single contrast of the light teal. I'm not sure if I like this as much, as I tend to prefer more solid colours when working, but it could work.

Once I get the singles spun up, I'll take a picture and ask for opinions.

I've also been churning out hats like they are going out of style. There should be a few photos for my end of the month wrap-up, you lucky people.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yaks!

Sunday was a busy, busy day.

We woke up a little later than our usual 0700, which was unfortunate, as there was fencing to be done. Our house guests were drafted in assisting as we threw a bunch of 14 gauge 2x4x4' wire mesh fence on to a little paddock to prepare it for the new arrivals. Luckily, we got it all up (I love you, zip ties. You are awesome.) with time enough to spare so we could actually eat breakfast and get the food and water set up.

At around 1100, a huge pickup with a big trailer arrived. After a small mishap involving getting a teeny tiny bit stuck, the driver was able to maneuver into place. No livestock were visible, as it was an enclosed side trailer. The door was opened to reveal:

Our wee herd!

Checking out the lay of the land is important, as this is our lead bull. He is Mr. In Charge, even though he is only a year and a half old. Good boy.

Leading the charge out of the trailer!

This is Sir Snortimir, or Snort for short. Snort is very good at defending the babies, and is only a little bitey when fed wookie cookies. To acquaint you with the terminology, Snort is a Royal yak.

The pack of wee ones.

Gruntulus Maximus, or Grunt. Grunt is a sweetie, who also loves his wookie cookies. We have plans to train him to be a pack yak. Grunt is a trim yak.

Maria. The boys get silly names, the girls get musical-based names. Hopefully she will have a nice brood of Von Trapp calves in her future. Maria is a black yak, which you can tell because she has a grey nose. Yak colour conventions are kind of...odd.

Millie, who is the littlest one, named after the little spitfire from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Again, naming conventions should be easy with her starting us off. Millie is an imperial yak, as she is all black with a black nose. You'd think that would make her black, but, no. Crazy yak people.

The chickens aren't sure what to think of their new neighbours.

We have another 10 year old cow named Kate Grey-Nosed coming around Thanksgiving, once we're assured that she is bred.

So, lo! We are yak owners! We have a business and everything! Yes, we've gone into business with my family. My dad fronted the herd money, and my sister inadvertently named it...Because it is us, our company is The Silly Yaks, LLC. (Yes, Jen has celiacs, thus the pun. She had demanded a photo of a silly yak, and, well, one thing led to another. We love puns. See also: Off Kilter Designs for the leather kilt business. Jackasses are us!)

Expect lots of yak photos, for they are sweethearts and fuzzballs. I'll be collecting their fibre to spin/sell, and we'll sell off additions that don't fit on our 10 acres. Anyone who doesn't sell and isn't pulling their weight (ho ho) will go to the freezer, since, wow, yak meat is YUMMY. Leaner than chicken, with a flavour that is kind of a cross between beef, bison and elk, but tastier than any of the above.

Yay yaks!

Edited to add: Go check out the folks we bought the herd from. They are super friendly, full of great information, and their sense of humour is nearly as bad as ours! I knew I had missed something when I made this post...I was being rushed off for an exciting evening of watching Crocodile Dundee and spinning alpaca fluff. I am a party animal, I tell ya!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Progress!

I finished the super-ribbed skull cap that I was knitting out of leftover red-based sock yarn today. Unfortunately, I overestimated on the sizing and though it fits, it is a little less clingy than I would like. C'est la vie.

I also finished an impromptu birthday hat. Photos will be included in next month's wrap up! (Spoiler: It is cute.)

Whilst my sister was down visiting me, I got her to pick out a pair of socks for me to make her. She chose purple (shocker), and the pattern I'd paired it up with should be...uh. A challenge. I think I was feeling adventurous when I threw that one into my sock kit box.

The swirl shawl will be a scarf after all, since I'm more likely to use a scarf. I'm plotting to make a matching hat, which ought to be adorable, if impractical.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh, right, there was that thing I was doing...

Remember when I used to do that monthly check-in thing to keep myself honest on my knitting and spinning? No? That isn't surprising, since I stopped doing them in April. What I've been up to since I moved. (Warning: Ravelry link heavy post.)

656 yds of mohair/wool blend of some description. Somewhere between worsted and bulky, depending on how "rustic" it got. This was some of the first fluff I bought; I got it at the same time and place as my wheel, and figured it was time to stop dragging it around and do something with it!

204 yds of the same mohair/wool blend, from the same purchase time. I have another 236 yds of this same colour that I should be able to use with it, but I spun that a while ago.

Not pictured FOs:
Some 2 ply purple stuff I was working on back in VA, and finished off here.
86 yds of some of the flame coloured navajo plied stuff that finished off the ball of roving I'd been poking at since January.
44 yds of drop spindle yarn for a shawl that is mentioned below.
Not pictured WIPs:
Half a bobbin of gray and white angora; my first attempt at it. So soft! I have another bag of white angora. I'll probably spin that and ply the two against each other.
The spindle is darn near full again with the shawl yarn. I need to actually work on that.

From my ill-used sock of the month plan. These two were both unique snowflakes that I had not knit before. I'm counting the green as May and since I just finished them, the blue/purple as August.


Jaywalkers started out as unique, then my mother liked them, so I knit the pair on the left for her. Jaywalkers 1 were knit in May, Jaywalkers 2 in July. See, I got my pair of socks a month thing in!

Not pictured FOs:
One striped sock that is plain stockinette. This is purely "blind" knitting, so it only really gets worked on if I go to the movies, thus the lack of progress on it.
A red and blue ball, because it was hilarious.
An arigumi 'gator for Daven.

Not pictured WIPs:
Shawl 1 (currently waiting on finishing the spinning for it. Using my drop spindle, which is a bit slower, so it has been stalled for a while.)
Shawl 2 was just cast on yesterday, as was Shawl 3. I'm in a mood. Shawl 3 may end up as a scarf, depending on just how much of a mood I am in.
Also actively knitting two of these in varying yarns. The second one is using up all of the left-over red-based sock yarn, striped against each other, and it is looking pretty awesome.
I've got another pair of these going on, in some yarn that involves pink that makes me happy. This is my default pattern. What do I mean? I mean I just had yarn with me, and had a social call to make. I stopped by a shop and picked up new needles (Hiya Hiya 5" bamboo, which I think I have a crush on. They fit my hands so nicely!) and this is the pattern I carry around with me in my wallet. That's normal, right? Everyone...carries a knitting pattern in their wallet...just in case. Hm. Maybe not "normal".
I still have Daven's sweater to work on, but I haven't been feeling the urge lately. Urge to cast on 3929374 projects, not so much to finish them.

Maybe I'll take pictures of some of the other FOs eventually. I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The tally so far

We were good.

We resisted naming chickens for a long time.

But the last week and a half, names have been sticking.

Obviously, we have Henry and Abby. (Barred Rock rooster and Black Star Hen, respectively.)

They have been joined by:

Blueberry the light Brahma hen. Guess what her favourite food is, to the point that she will come if you say the word?
Raptor the Brahma rooster. The Brahmas have these almost eagle-like heads and beaks, and this is the fiercest looking of the lot, though he is relatively friendly.
Road Runner the mystery bantam chicken. (I think he/she is an old English game bantam.) He/she runs around like a crazy thing if you get too close, and constantly zips out of our reach.
Lunch and Dinner, the white Wyandottes. (At least I think that's what they are.) These are the stupidest and most "I will eat your toes, durr" chickens, so they have volunteered to be first in line for the freezer.
And tonight they were joined by Splenda, the Barred rock hen. She is smaller than the other BR hens and went from being utterly stand offish to being accepting of being pet and picked up to roost on my forearm. So, she was small and surprisingly sweet.

Blueberry, Lunch, Dinner and Splenda. Can you tell I'm on a diet? :)

Also: One of the white silkies has started to try to crow. It is like listening to a 15 year old boy try to sing an aria. Half painful, half hilarious.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No, I don't think I have a problem at all, why?

So, I'm going to participate in an organized yarn crawl this week. It is the "First Annual Hot August Knits Yarn Crawl", and it involves driving all over hither and yarn and fondling string. I'd heard about it in passing a few weeks ago when I popped into the fibre shop in old town Fort Collins, and so I started off by hitting that shop again (to expensive results) on Saturday.

Some time this week I'm going to drive a couple of hundred miles to Laramie and Cheyenne to go to 4 yarn shops, to get my little "passport" stamped. I'm on the lookout for some lace weight yarn for a shawl pattern I bought years ago and haven't touched yet, as I haven't found anything I've fallen in love with yet. Then, on Saturday, I'll drag Daven over to Greeley, Loveland, and finally up to Estes Park to hit the rest of the shops involved. I have one more in Fort Collins to visit, too, which I hopefully can do tomorrow.

Incidentals will no doubt include sock yarn of various types, because sock yarn doesn't really count towards the stash, right? Right.

By the way, what brought us back to the shop in Old Town was the promise of yaks. I pet the yaks, then went inside to shop, leaving Daven with the yak lady. Well, long story short, we are now getting yaks sometime in the next 6 months. Daven really liked the yaks we met up at the Estes wool fair when we first came out here, and meeting more has solidified his enchantment with them.

We spent a couple of hours discussing our critter plans last night, which resulted in some modifications to our existing ideas. The plans now call for a lot of fibre sources! What we ended up with:

Short term (within 6 months):
2-3 yaks, once we add a little fencing behind one of the outbuildings, and along two bits of fence. Yaks have an amazing undercoat, so they would be useful, as well as compact, non-stinky, easy to care for and playful.
2 dogs. Why am I counting this as fibre producing? I want a Samoyed and a Newfoundland. Black fluff and white fluff! I really am a farm girl, so these will be primarily outdoors dogs. We have a really nice dog run with a big dog house already, we just need to tidy it up a bit. It also has a door into the garage, so we can keep the food in there, away from too many critters. There will be lots of visiting the dogs and playing with them, but I have never had indoor dogs and the house just isn't very "big dog" friendly. Both breeds are very cold hearty.

Medium term (within 1 year or less):
3-6 alpacas, again, once we fix the fencing situation and get them a loafing shed. I was making this really difficult, but after some random research that kept me awake last night (Really? I had fencing based insomnia? My life is weird.), I think we can just modify the existing fence by attaching the mesh-style fencing to the pre-sunk cedar posts. I had thought they needed a 5' fence, but most of the places I could find suggested about a 4', which the existing fence is taller than, anyway. This will save so much time and money that I can't even tell you.
1 guard llama. We had planned on getting a Great Pyrenees as a guard dog, but I've never trained an animal guard dog, nor has Daven, and this way...more fleece!

Long term (maybe, not really a priority):
There may be a couple of sheep of various breeds. (Finn, Icelandic, Jacob)
Also, I want a pony. Maybe "pony" isn't the right word. I want a Shire. I just need to re-learn how to ride so I can get a giant horse!

I love having plans!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Well, I feel better now.

Because no matter what, I wasn't crazy enough to design this.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Worst. Pirates. Ever.

Henry, the Shoulder chicken.

Abby, the other shoulder chicken. These are the only two that have names, as they are the friendliest of the bunch. My chickens. They please me. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Take one down, pass it around, 41 chicks in the coop on my farm...

There is a certain feeling of failure when one loses a critter. I just lost #3 (one of the white meat birds), which isn't a terrible record, but I still am not terribly happy about it. This one was fluffed up and limping last night, and after a thunderstorm blew through, I went to visit the chickens and found him gone. Ah, shoot.

Well, 41 still with me. I wish it would cool down a bit so they wouldn't be so stressed. Weeks of 90+ temps is hard on anything.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My latest sewing project




No, really. I sewed that together with fishing wire. There are multiple panels on each part of the run, and I spent about a day and a half in the nice hot, 90+ degree weather, stitching them together. It may not look like much, but I am damn proud of it. I even built the door, which was a first for me.

And now, chickens in their new coop. Starting with Henry and then some of the fluffy chicks who are looking more and more like muppets every day:





Friday, July 9, 2010

The Coop: Or how refurbishing can sometimes be as big of a pain as building from scratch.

Gratuitous shot of Henry sitting in my hands. I can't help myself.

Sources can be misleading. For example, many sources said "your chickens will be fine in their initial container for up to 6 weeks!"

Well. I don't think they were expecting us to have 42 of the little buggers, and apparently I am feeding them something that makes them enormous very quickly (enormous being relative to how tiny they were when they arrived), so after the first week, Daven and I started working on the coop.

Step one: Plot, then purchase some lumber, chicken wire and bird netting. Dig fence post holes. (This was done by Daven, thankfully, since he has described the ground as having the consistency of sun-hardened clay, which, incidentally, it is.) He ended up using a pick axe for some of it. I love my husband so very very much.

Step two: Fall in 18" deep post hole. Acquire bone bruise, but do not manage to break leg. Spend the rest of the day drinking wine, applying RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and napping.

Step three: Have sister and her family come visit for a week. I accomplish almost nothing for the week aside from hang out with sister, nephew and brother-in-law. Daven sets all of the fence posts and puts up top beams.


Gavin learned the word "chicken", and was absolutely infatuated with the little cheepers. He's not quite 2. I'm such a proud aunt, and an excellent bad influence.

Step four: Change plot. Purchase more lumber and other supplies. Realize that what you have purchased Will Not Work. (Wallboard. Great for areas where the residents don't constantly try to eat the walls, but not so good for chickens, who will.) Cuss. Plot to return wallboard, remember that we are going to be finishing another room, and keep it anyway.

Step five: Purchase more lumber. Be amazed at how much money can be spent on refurbishing a crappy chicken coop to make it not suck.

When we started, it was filled with the following:
1 nasty nesting box
1 raised box that kind of looked like a rabbit hutch, if it was really crappy
1 giant pile of old gross wood
1 giant pile of straw/chicken shit/assorted other nasty things
1 dead cat, in the rabbit hutch. My dad found it (it was the source of the Aura of Funky that was emanating from the coop area), Daven buried it, and I never had to see it. Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?

Step six: Struggle with chicken wire. I popped for the expensive kind that should hopefully keep diggers out of the coop. My construction is not perfect. It is not even very good, imo. But hopefully it will be serviceable, and that's all that matters. Spend two days putting up wire. Acquire some interesting scratches on arms and (because chicken wire is tricksy) my left ear. Daven laid the groundwork for the new raised floor in the coop, and has over half of the floor down now. I finished the chicken wire and put up a section of the astonishingly stretchy bird netting. I had these thoughts that the netting was going to be attached at the top of the loafing shed, but, really, all we need is for us to be able to walk under it, and for birds of prey (we have a lot around here) not to eat my damn chickens. So, it will be applied at just over the height of the door into the coop, which will make life much much simpler.

Of course, we are on a bloody time limit, at least in terms of having Mr. Helpfulpants around, as he is heading off on Sunday to DC for a business trip for the next week. I'll be able to do a lot of this stuff, but it really is easier having him here to help. But, chicken's growth waits for no business trips, so they'll go in with just a floor, and no insulated walls yet. Those can come...later. The same can be said for the photos of the coop. I didn't take any before pictures, so you don't get any progress pictures. I'll just spam you with finished shots, whenever that happens.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Size matters

In case you thought that I was overstating that the bantams are much smaller than the standard birdies, here is a side by side comparison. The black ones are even smaller than this!

Also, meet Henrietta. She will hop into my hand as soon as I stick it into the stock tank. Mostly to attempt to escape, but it still is endearing as hell. I'm glad that the Barred Plymouth Rocks are the friendliest ones, since they make up the majority of my future layers.
(Edited: I think this may be a Henry, instead of a Henrietta. Either way, I am keeping 'em, since this is the only one who likes to be picked up and held. Fell asleep on me twice today. That's a heckuva improvement over the terrified shivering that happened when I started picking 'em up.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Learnin'

My cousin Kristy came to visit my farm after an excellent trip to the Estes Park Scandinavian Solstice festival this last weekend. On the festival side of things, Daven and I have been recruited by live steel Viking re-enactors. On the farm side of things...Well, Kristy has birds.

We sat and hung out with the chickens for a while. She mentioned that most people freak out and jerk back their hands if a chicken pecks at them. Ahem. Guilty as charged. :( So, she just left her hand in the enclosure for a while, and sighed sadly. "You should really work on socializing them."

Well, yes. I should, I suppose.

So I have.

The results:



I'd say that worked out pretty well. :) Now I can get a few of them to eat out of my hand, and hop up to explore my arm, too.

Somewhat unrelated, but because I mentioned the alpaca chickens, but haven't been featuring them in photos, here ya go:


They are really itty bitty things. Bantams look somewhat hilarious compared to some of the bruisers that I've got in my flock. Soon enough I'll have to split the roosters off from the hens, though I'll leave the silkies with the hens, since they have, shall we say, longer term plans.

Friday, June 25, 2010

In just seven days, I will make you a chii-ii-ii-iicken!

Today, the chicks are 7 days old. The changes are remarkable! Look at those wings! Scroll down to the previous entry for their little fluffball stage. Some of the chicks have tail feathers, and one of my favourite boys has feathers growing in on his fluffy feet. Ah, pre-teens. Next week: teenagers.

Rhode Island Reds - 5 days old


Rhode Island Reds - 6 days old

Rhode Island Reds - 7 days old

Today got up to 97F, which is REALLY HOT for wee chickies. Cooling them off was a multi-step process!
Step 1: Turn big fan on.
Step 2: Try to explain to chickens that the noise is really not going to kill them.
Step 3. Realize I am trying to rationalize with week old chickens.
Step 4. Sigh.
Step 5. Investigate giving chicks cold food to cool them down.
Step 6. Steal frozen strawberries from husband, have him chop them up.
Step 7. Put frozen strawberries on dishes, place in pen.
Step 8. Try to explain to the chickens that the little dishes really don't have poison, and they can stop flipping out.
Repeat step 3.
Step 9. Sit and watch chickens as they eventually get the idea, once I add some feed to the top of the strawberries.
Step 10. Watch chickens start swarming like sharks, then start playing a game very similar to football, where one chick gets a stained bit of bedding in its mouth and runs like hell whilst the others chase it.
Step 11. Try to explain to husband that the chickens are playing football. Husband was lifting weights, seemed amused but dubious.
Step 12. Realize that chickens will never replicate this game in front of husband, no matter how long he sits there.
Step 13. Contemplate if chickens are trying to make her look bad.
Step 14. Go inside and post instead of repeating Step 3 in regards to talking chickens into playing "football" when anyone but she is there.

I've also dropped a small fortune on materials for a chicken run. Hopefully the little buggers like it, as we'll start working on it tomorrow. Photos...eventually.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chickies are delicate.



So, just lost a second chick. (No, it wasn't the one my mother was holding in the above picture. I just thought I'd start things off with some cuteness.) They got riled up yesterday due to being startled, and one of them got knocked down and trampled. He seemed fine last night, but this morning he had a sticky bottom with bloody stools. I put him in the Box of Isolation (which seems to be an elaborate coffin, at this point) and he had died by the time I came back out to check on them 2 hours later.

Sigh.

Well, I still have a lot of chicks. This is why I bought oodles of the little buggers. I knew there would be a certain, shall we say, shrinkage to the flock.

It is disappointing, but not unexpected.

In other news, some of the chicks are already getting wing feathers! These guys are only 4-5 days old! They'll be out of the cute fluffy stage sooner than I expected.

Here is a comparison of one of the Rhode Island Red hens:
2 days old
3 days old
4 days old

Crazy, innit?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chikkinz!!

There is always one in every crowd who can't act natural, and ends up looking at the camera.

Completely unexpectedly, my chickens arrived today. They were supposed to be here on Monday or Tuesday, so Saturday left me in a bit of a tizzy. We had an exciting run down to Fort Collins (they didn't go to the Wellington post office) to pick up the little peepers. In the process, we ended up missing out on a family dinner, but I think everyone understood.

When we got to the post office, we opened up the box and the chicks were so excited/freaked out that they started trying to hop out of the shipping box. Everyone looked OK from the cursory glance, and after another errand, we headed home. This is the box:



I had just found the kind of bedding I wanted today, which was really opportune, as well as getting the length of chain we needed to hang the heat lamp. Here is our setup:


The little box contained Steve, The Sickly Chicken (as dubbed by my cousin Brandon who came with his folks to see our new house/visit the tiny baby chickens). Steve was one of the silkie bantams, and got a little smushed during shipping under his many (44!) fellow chicks. After general shenanigans involving Nerf Swords, and impromptu prayer session/vigil for Steve (as headed by Brandon), sadly, Steve didn't make it. I didn't really think he would, but man, nothing like a 12 year old's perspective to make you look at livestock a little differently.

And now, to shake off the woes of Steve-the-no-longer-with-us, here is a photo of a chick asleep in his food trough:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where do you go?

So, I'm giving up on the whole "keep this all fibre, all the time" premise of this blog. There will be anecdotes from the farm, possibly wibbling about health and general "huh, that's weird" stories.

To start this off...

We have a spider. He (or she, but I randomly have deemed it to be a him), lives in our downstairs bathroom, up on the ceiling. He has been there since we moved in, and since I'd rather have a non-dangerous spider keeping bugs under control than using a bunch of chemicals, we let him stay.

At first he had a friend of a similar size. Then, one day, no friend. Oops.

But this is all just background. The real question I have is to his whereabouts in the morning. By noon and into the evening, he is in his normal spot. Mornings, however, he is missing. I honestly can't figure out where he goes, since there aren't a whole lot of places to hide in that bathroom. Maybe in the fan?

Or, I can go with the solution that my brain presents to me: Trans-dimensional spider. Aw, yeah.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Estes Park Wool Market

Today was very very different than the trip to MD S&W. MD was immensely crowded, we had a minivan full of people that we hauled up there, and it was HOT. We went up to the festival today with just Daven and myself, and due to the weather being around 44F and drizzly, there was not so much with the crowds.

The first thing I have to say is that this is an amazing location. Estes Park is so very beautiful. The drive was about 1.5 hours from our house, but the lion's share was through some amazing rugged mountains. Estes Park is about 2000 feet higher than our house, so there was a little *gasp gasp* when we first got out of the car and started walking around, but we adapted pretty quickly.

With the weather as it was, we were wearing our oil skin dusters and cowboy hats, along with combat boots and bdus, as we knew it would be rainy and horrid. We got a lot of odd looks, but we got even more "You guys are the only ones who are actually dressed appropriately" comments from folks. Yes, I admit to snickering at the drenched girls in shorts and flip flops. Weather.com, people. Use it.

The festival is much much smaller than MD S&W. Whereas MD has an air of "family fun fair that happens to have a billion sheep", this was more "so you want to show your critters; we can do that for you." The vendors would fit into about 1.5-2 of the smaller vendor buildings at MD, but the quality of products was excellent. Creatively Dyed was there, as was my favourite sheep artist (shut up, I'm allowed to have a favourite sheep artist), but just due to the fact that it is kinda out in BFE, there was a much smaller group of people vending and displaying.

There was a much better variety of critters though! The organization is that each critter type got its own barn/tent. There were adorable yaks, including a baby that made the cutest noises ever. I got to pet a Paco Vicuna fleece, which was stupidly soft (I got the contact information for the breeder; she wasn't allowed to sell her fleeces at the market for some odd reason). There were actually as many goats as sheep at this festival, which is a contrast from MD. But the main critter types there were definitely alpacas, and even more so, llamas. They had llamas comin' outta their ears! Rather than the one or two alpaca farms, there was an entire tent of breeders, so you could wander around and eyeball a bunch of different livestock.

After I purchased a light grey alpaca fleece (surprise, surprise), we ended up over talking to a couple that have been raising alpacas for 12 years. They give seminars on raising alpacas, and initially invited us to join one of their classes. We talked a while longer, I gave them a general rundown of what my plan was, and they then modified their invitation to "come and have a beer with us on our farm". We'll probably be taking them up on that offer the last week of June. They're down in Loveland, about 45 minutes south, but they're familiar with our area. I was stupidly proud of myself for actually talking to some alpaca people, as this was on my list of things I must do at this festival. I get weird and shy about talking to folks on occasion, so it was nice that they were friendly and had really quirky senses of humour that we clicked well with. :)

I did manage to pick up a couple of ounces of angora bunny fluff, as well as some cards for breeders in the area of various types of bunnies. Again, I must find out if I can *spin* the stuff before I'm all crazygonuts and get a bunny, even if they are adorable and fluffy and...yeah.

Another triumph was getting the contact info for the bison ranch just north of us on the CO/WY border. One of the vendor's sister owns that ranch, and hooked us up with a card. Yay! Tasty meats for our freezer!

Unlike the feeling of being rushed and having to tear ass around MD, this was a very relaxed place. We ended up only spending about 3 hours there, and saw pretty much everything we wanted to see.

The drive down wasn't quite as much fun for me, as we were pointed downwards and I was definitely having some control issues with not driving. The last 5 minutes in the mountains was very close in, which triggered a bit of claustrophobia, but I lived through it. Apparently it is just a craps shoot for what the weather will be like. The vendors we talked to said that it can vary between snow and running around in shorts and tank tops. Variety pack weather!

Estes Park is absolutely going on the list of places to bring visitors, and I know I'll want to come back to the Wool Market next year. Hopefully by then I'll have some critters of my own!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life in the clouds

The tree that is an excellent landmark, which shows people where to turn onto the dirt road to get to our house. This picture makes me want to buy a nice camera to take more photos. Totally wrong species, but very reminiscent of Yggdrasil to me.

So, the move is done. We still have piles of boxes, and a lot of work to do to settle into our new farm, but so far, so good. Some of this information will be repetitive for those of you who see me on Facebook, but it should be a little more fleshed out here.

Moving to a farm has a few novel expenses that you don't get when you move to just a new house. I've purchased a scythe, the better to mow my field. I'm not terribly good with it so far, but I'll get the swing of it eventually, and it is a darn sight cheaper than a tractor. I also picked up a livestock tank, which will be the first home of the baby chicks when they arrive in a week and a bit. A chicken light and infrared bulb were also acquired.

My dad was able to scrounge up the chicken feeders and waterers from back when we raised chickens when I was growing up, and will be bringing them down to me next weekend. Lest you think that he is mad enough to drive from ND to CO just with some chicken supplies that I could easily purchase, he and my mother will also be bringing down the antique dining room set that I grew up with (It was 85 years old when they bought it. I was 3 at the time.), along with an antique table that my maternal grandfather's aunt had owned, and a bureau that has also been around as long as I can remember. The dark woods should go nicely with the new living room set we purchased. Hooray for Memorial Day sales, and delivery people who know how to drive down a narrow driveway!

Daven picked up a nice Weber grill and a table saw (the better to build chicken coops with, my dear), with my encouragement, and a few 10% off coupons for Lowe's.

My "office" is set up in the corner of the living/dining room. I've got my loom next to me and my spinning wheel on the other side of the big brick fireplace. I've got a great view, as illustrated below:


Our neighbours on all sides have horses. Must re-learn how to ride. After the house is set up, maybe.

Speaking of neighbours, we've actually met quite a few of them! We've been taking walks in the mornings, and some evenings, and have had a chance to chat with the folks to the east and west of us. The fellow to the south seems a bit reserved, but that is fine; not everyone has to be my friend.

We've got all sorts of critters here, too. Especially birds. I was simply thrilled when we arrived and one of the first things I heard was a Western Meadowlark. These were my favourites when I was growing up, and the fact that our land is simply filthy with them makes me grin. They have such a unique call.

Gratuitous critter photos:




Chicken pictures will be coming soon! Also, I failed to check in with my knitting progress for April or May. Those pics will turn up...eventually.