27 June 2007

Looking Forward To Friday

That's the day that the first clue will come out for Mystery Stole 3, which I've just joined.

Hearing that I might be interested in participating, my pal Kary sent me a gift of her new Knotty Sheep handpainted laceweight yarn! It's called Painted Ladies and the colorway is "Grapes Sing At Twilight" - a lovely periwinkle just perfectly mid-way between blue and purple, with dashes of misty gray, and dots of wine.

As with all of Kary's handpainted yarns, online photos just don't do this stuff justice. Since Kary knows what she's doing (handpainting small blips and snips of color, rather than just dipping a skein in three solid colors and then rewinding it to make it look mixed-up), I have never experienced pooling when knitting with her yarns. I'm a big fan of her Painted Toes sock yarn, so I'm thrilled to be working with this new offering.

At about 800 yards a prewound ball (Kary sent two!) I should be set for whatever form this shawl takes. The yarn is 100% merino - super soft, but spun tightly enough for good lace definition. I ordered some bead choices from The Beadwrangler, as I hear she ships really quickly... which is good because I want to start on this stole as soon as the first charted clue is posted.

I swatched and pinned the lace out hard (badly - excuse my rushed pin job!) to eight inches wide; I'm using Clover bamboo needles in a size US4.

It was over 90 degrees today, so Emma and Molly were forced to stay inside gnawing in frustration instead of running around joyfully in their playpen. I'm glad I had my knitting to keep me cool. Now, let's get this party started - it's still not too late for you to join, too!

24 June 2007

New Farmgirls

We welcomed some new farmgirls to Tuppinz this week:

Little Orphan Annie, whom you met in my last post, came to us weighing less than six ounces. Here she is on her second day with us. Today, her third day, she weighed 8.4 ounces! So far, so good... but there's a long road ahead.

Here's Ada, a two-month-old Oberhasli doeling, bonding with our Alpine/Toggenburg wether Pippin. We've wanted an Ob for ages, and Ada was the only available doeling we could find in the state. Like our sheep breeds, Oberhasli goats are on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy priority list.

Four Icelandic ewe lambs will also be joining us in August. Their names are Bjork, Birta, Asta, and Aquavit; two are black/gray, and two are badger-faced. Asta is named after a friend of ours who lives in Iceland, and Birta is named after her daughter.

This is Nellie, our new (old) Ford 8N tractor. She was born in the 50's. I guess we are real farmers now (which means no going back - we can't park this thing in a driveway in the suburbs!)

22 June 2007

A Single Life

Some would say one life isn't important.

You'll toughen up soon enough on a farm.

Let nature take its course.

Too busy to worry.

I say,

"Sentient beings are numberless. I vow to save them all."*

Welcome, little orphan Annie - two weeks old, two hour feedings, six ounces light and a few inches long. I'll do my best for you.

May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be free from pain and suffering.**

May we all.

*The first vow of a Bodhisattva.
**In memory of my father, who left this incarnation Tuesday.

07 June 2007

...But Will I Have Time To Read It?

Hobby Farm Mistake #346: Thinking you will ever have time to shower, maintain a blog, or keep up with your magazine subscriptions once you have livestock.

Did that knowledge keep me from clapping my hands gleefully, and resubscribing, when I saw that this was starting up again?

It did not.

If what I did for the past two weeks involved anything besides manure, I'd have a photo for you.

[Cue crickets chirping.]

Well, maybe there is something I can show...

I was sent a pic of a beautiful spindle utilizing a double-sided mandala from Nepal as the whorl, and of course I couldn't resist it.

You'll never guess who made this... unless you were to spin on it, and then you'd know for sure!

I also ordered a Golding Lazy Kate I, which is beautiful and works wonderfully.

Besides goat poop, my current interests (as seen here) are reading about farmgirl pursuits like those in Maryjane Butters' books; knitting some baby socks for our friends' new little boy, Donovan, from some lovely Rowan yarn; finishing spindling the Ashford Club's Shrek Rogue Merino fiber; and assembling my new dog/goat cart (which I won on Ebay for much less than list price).

I tried knitting one baby sock from the top down and didn't like the traditional heel, so I made a pair from my toe-up formula instead, along with a little hat to match (top-down - I'm such a rebel). This is the most knitting I've done in months, as is evidenced by my foul mood of late. I'm now trying to finish up a "have to" project (a Lopi-style sweater for Jeff, knit with Blackberry Ridge's yummy, sproingy natural yarns) so that I can get on to something fun, portable, light, and mindless, as my dad's in the hospital and I've a bit on my mind.

My beautiful girl Emma celebrated her first birthday with a grilled leg of organic Jacob lamb, marinated in garlic and lemon juice. YUM!

As you can see, she is taking her puppy-owning duties very seriously, being ever vigilant, and brining up Molly properly. Valentine just rolls his eyes...

Molly is growing like a weed. We're having her DNA tested so that we know what to expect from her, size-wise and health-wise, in the future. The results haven't come back yet, but we think she's partly collie, partly Lab, partly German shepherd dog, and partly wolverine - and you'd agree with that assumption if you ever got to hear her crazy voice. She sounds like a Ninja - it's indescribable. There's a reason her middle name is "Pipsqueak."

Molly's latest favorite hobby is digging for grubs, roots, and other buried treasures. The girl is tenacious as a Tasmanian devil, fearless when it comes to baiting Emma for a game of chase. Oftentimes I will hear wild noises and come into the living room to find Emma on her back on the futon, Molly sitting on top of her chest and barking furiously because she can't get a bit of paper towel tube that Emma's holding in her teeth, just out of reach.

The end of May brought shearing day. An event eagerly anticipated by handspinners becomes one of emotional trauma when you own your first sheep. I mean, look at the size of those clipper teeth! What would pass for a nick at a sheep-n-wool fest instead appears as a gash requiring a trip to the veterinary ER. I had to turn away...

That brings us to Hobby Farm Mistake #347 - thinking you are going to save money by growing your own spinning fiber. According to my calculations, these six fleeces have an average cost of $1,685 per pound. I hope Matt and Jamie at Wooly Knob Fiber Mill are insured, as UPS delivered it to them on Tuesday.

Speaking of fiber expenses, have I introduced you to our blue-eyed Angora doe, Arwen? She comes to us from Tall Grass Farm. If you're in southern Wisconsin in April or October, their Fiber Jubilee is a really great event.

Arwen is warming up to us a bit and will now eat from my hand (unlike the other goats who will bowl me over to get a bit of grain, or nibble on my ears when I put down a water bucket.)

Speaking of water buckets, thank goodness we ordered this portable fountain to go with our portable pasture fencing. Pippin and Merry enjoy the fresh, cool water.

The neighbors probably think we're nuts, but goats and sheep do in fact need shade when out to pasture. Since we rotate our grazing area to maximize pasture and minimize parasites, and since there aren't shady trees available everywhere, we had to make a run to Wal-Mart, which had this goatie gazebo on sale last week. Works great for afternoon naptime.

Gorgonzola was seriously embarrassed after being shorn.

But it wasn't long before everyone was sportin' a new do and heading out to pasture.

They complained a bit about the breeze...

... but soon forgot all about Mr. Edward Scissorhands and his evil ways. (That huge tree is a cottonwood - I love it! Wonder if the white, fuzzy sheddings are spinnable... they're all over the driveway now.)

For the goats, the day was just business as usual, so we found them up to their regular tricks.

Blogger is currently being crabby, so the rest of the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow. Hope these weren't too many to bore you! Have a great day.