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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Year Of The Horse - Part One

While every year as long as I can remember has been "the year of the horse", this year I have something really neat in the works to celebrate some of the horses who have made those years so special. 

I've had several really nice horses.  Horses that taught me so very, very much.  Horses that opened doors for me and took me places I never dreamed I'd go.  I have very little left but memories.  I didn't even own a camera back then.  What I wouldn't give for some pictures of pretty Aria as a young mare.


I remember quickly cutting these locks from Handy's tail as the backhoe lumbered up the driveway that awful morning last year, but I don't remember specifically cutting the different colors.  Maybe I did.  I don't remember cutting that chunk of mane either, but there it is.  And that's all we're going to say about that. 

Several years ago I found a chunk of Handy's tail out in the "pond field".  He was never out there and even if he had been, there was nothing out there that would have snagged his tail and cut it like a knife.  I think he must have caught it on a fence nail and a bird picked it up and tried to carry it away to build a nest.  I saved it.

Tim gave me something for Christmas that including a flat piece of hitched tail hair would be icing on the cake.  I don't know anyone who hitches and didn't want to risk sending Handy's hair off to a stranger so I decided to see if it could be woven.  I did a tiny sample using some of Hickory's tail and felt encouraged enough to give it a try.  I used that tangled bird nest hair...just in case.


Because there was no way I was ever going to be able to separate out each individual hair, I decided to cut it into manageable lengths and work from there.  At first I pulled out random groups of 15 hairs and let the colors fall wherever they ended up.  As I worked further, I decided to try and manipulate it into a pattern. 


I used a simple straight twill threading and the stair stepped picks look remarkably similar to hitched hair.  The strong linen warp I used was slick, so I added a little beeswax to each strand to help it all grab better (not sure if that's going to help or not, but figured it couldn't hurt).  I threw in some sections of wool too because everything's better with wool ;-). 

The white wool is Punkin and the red/brown is some Keebler dyed with walnuts.  Wait!  That's actually Buddy :-D.  See, blogging really does help you remember...or reminds you when you forget ;-).  When I looked for the walnut post to link, there it was - it's Buddy :-). 


And as I was weaving I glanced out the window and saw a snow heart in one of my favorite trees.


Here's a hint for Part Two - coming soon!


And here's a great thing to do with scrap horse hair (and yarn, thread, wool, dog hair...).  Maybe there will be a bird out there this spring who'll be saying "Remember when grandma talked about that big chunk of horse hair that was so big she couldn't carry it home?"

Spring will be here before we know it and I'm going to be looking forward to riding!


Yarn Along - A Silver Medal Finish

Technically I did knit a Rebecca Boone "vest".  I just ended up making a miniature one so I could figure out all sorts of stuff that I didn't even know I needed to figure out until they happened.  If you realize something isn't going to work and needs to be ripped back and re-knit, it doesn't hurt as much if you are only talking about 70 stitches rather than rows and rows of 200 ;-).  

Designing patterns is hard work.  When you see that small charge next to a pattern download, pay it happily (and fairly).   Someone has put a ton of work into those three or four sheets of paper you are getting ready to print out.  And if you are thinking about giving it a try yourself, do it!  You'll learn a whole lot and make a cute little sheepy or teddy bear really happy :-D.


"I can't believe someone knit me a handspun sweater!"


And now on to my favorite part - blocking.  See how wonky everything is?


I start with a good soak in some warm water with a little Mrs. Meyer's lavender laundry soap.  I didn't use quite as hot water as I usually do because I was nervous about the Cotswold yarn being more shrinky than a more medium wool.  Not sure if it is, just a fear.  I should do a test of some different swatches sometime and find out.


Pinned out to dry.


Tadaa :-)


A close up of the collar.  I was wanting to do a lock spun yarn from Rebecca Boone's lamb fleece that I still have stashed.  It's so pretty and lots of different colors and darker grays.  It didn't look quite right though with the lighter gray sweater, so I pulled down some of Graham's lamb fleece. 


I'd originally planned to tail spin it around a core the proper way, and I did, but I didn't like the yarn.  I've not found a core spun yarn yet that I really like.  Oh, they're pretty to look at, but I just don't like the feel of it knitted.  Maybe I'll try weaving it sometime.  In the meantime, I just fluffed up his baby locks and spun two small singles and then plied them together.  Worked fine, looked good and knit up just the way I wanted :-).


Here's a better view of the the lace pattern and the attached i-cord edging on the front panels.  The pattern worked out well and was easy to maneuver around because it had so much stockinette stitch involved, but when I do a full size sweater, I'll mirror the patterns on the fronts so they, well, mirror each other.  Lots to learn :-).

Burrnie Update - and his name is going to stay Burrnie.  It just fits him.  He's doing really well, is really sweet, super smart and we're glad he's here :-).
 
I started having some trouble yesterday with Daniel Not-Boone (who's maybe actually more Bossy Boone than we'd have thought ;-).  Poor Daniel.  Chocula doesn't like being separated from the rest of his friends.  "I didn't doooo anything.  Why do I have to be in priiiison over here?..."  If Chocula's upset, his big brother Daniel is upset.  Burrnie was completely behaving himself, but was still getting some retaliatory punches and it looked like it wasn't going to stop.  No one should have to feel scared, especially at night.  I kicked Daniel out of the group :-/.



I went back up before bed to check on everyone and all was quiet.  This morning I found three sleeping spots outside, near the back corner of the barn. I'm guessing that's Chocula and Hershey together on the right and Burrnie on the left.  Daniel had a matching spot just over the fence corner a few feet away.  While I was sad they'd all slept out on the cold ground, at least they'd all slept together.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Burnnie's Big Day

Burrnie had a pretty big afternoon. The original plan was to put him in a separate paddock and stall with Chocula and Daniel, thinking they'd be calm and quiet and not too intimidating.  Turned out Burrnie needed a little intimidation :-o.  He was pretty excited about being out with a couple sheep and was a little too, um, assertive with them.  They were scared half to death so I headed back to the barn for some "muscle".

Hershey was just what everyone needed.  He was able to reassure Chocula and Daniel that everything was okay and when Burrnie thought he could whip him...he set things straight right quick ;-).  After a couple good cracks, Burrnie decided maybe he'd just settle down a bit and see where that got him.  Also, Burrnie is not at all afraid of Hank and I was afraid that Chocula and Daniel might convince him otherwise.  It was a win-win for everyone.


Then Auntie Reg came out. 


"You've got cookies?"


(Gulp)



And everyone got some hay.  At first Burrnie ate by himself.



But in no time they were all eating side by side.



While they were distracted eating, John and Tim got started on a barn revision so that they could all bunk down in The End Stall Formerly Known As Tim's Boat Storage.  During the summer the roll up door stays rolled up so there is plenty of air moving through.  In the winter all that air isn't so welcome. 


They put in a side door that so that the big door can stay shut during the winter :-).  Big thanks to both of them and especially Saint Tim, who's moved his boat outside until we can put Burrnie back in with the rest of the flock sometime next month.


I love this picture.


After the door was finished, we needed a big distraction so Tim could hook up and pull his boat out of the barn.  Another cookie party!


Look who's right in the mix :-).



We were very happy with how everything worked out this afternoon.  It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn close.  The big boys did a good job letting bad behavior roll off them and I'm pretty sure I know a small red and white burr covered little boy who's going to sleep really well tonight ;-).



Another Whirlwind Weekend

We don't leave the farm much.  While a nice long relaxing vacation would be fun, it's stressful to leave animals behind and honestly, I'm probably a hard core homebody anyway.  When I do leave, it's usually just for a day or so and when we get home, we just look at each other and say, whew, another crazy trip ;-).

This past weekend we trekked out to New York.  One of the highlights of almost every trip out that way is stopping at Skoog Farm to visit with Gary and Lori and their crew.  For those of you who read Lori's blog and think "How does she do all that?" and "Is it really that awesome there?" I can happily report that first,  I have no clue and second, yes, it most definitely is :-).  

From there we headed to Nistock Farms to visit our other New York family and to add to our Kentucky family.  Meet Burr-nie (name probably to be changed so he can completely escape his awful start in life).  You can read his story on their blog.  

Robin and Andy have done a fantastic job bringing him back to health, but as he's so much smaller than any of their sheep that they didn't have anyone to buddy him up with, we decided to bring him here so he could buddy up with our "lambs" (Chocula, Daniel, Hershey and Maisie) and begin to build the family he needs so much.

Sheep are flock animals.  How he survived his deplorable situation in the first place and all alone and only a few months old on top of it, I just don't know.  I hate to think, as he fought and scavenged for food, somehow dodged coyotes and probably hawks who were plucking chickens from the air (he's horribly scared of stuff moving over his head), how much he missed his family.  He is the most scared/jumpy sheep I've ever been around.


"I'm doing okay now though.  Those nice people rescued me and gave me lots of food and taught me to eat cookies and then I went on a long car ride and now I'm in a new barn with lots of food and this new lady says I'm going to have lots of brothers and sisters and I can learn not to be so scared anymore and pretty soon it's going to be warm enough they can shave off all my burr filled wool.  I think that sounds pretty good."


"Hey, what's over there?"


"Holy moly!  There's a whole room here filled just with food!  And that bag has some of the food from my old farm in it.  I love that food and I'm glad I still get to eat it for awhile longer!"



"I guess I'll go over and meet my new family."


"Yeah, I came from Nistock Farms.  How do you know them?  Oh, you came from there too?  Wow!"


"My name's Maisie.  When are you going to get to come out and play with us?"


He'll have to stay separated from the girls for a few more weeks since he just got 'tutered a couple weeks ago.  I've explained to Chocula and Daniel that they are going to be in charge of taking him under their wings and making him feel welcome.  The three boys are going to move back into their lamb stall and side field until everything settles down.  We feel comfortable doing that right away and letting everyone sniff noses because he's already quarantined at Nistock's and received a clean bill of heath :-). 



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Sheep Shots

The snow was quickly melting the other day - sunny and warm.  Perfect for some sheep shots.


Renny


Keebler.  You can almost hear him snoring  ;-).


Beanie Baby


Woolliam


Hank and B. Willard


Queen Elizabeth


Betsy and Daniel - cat sniffing is a favorite sheep game :-).


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Progression (Or Not) Of The Day


This all started very innocently yesterday morning. I walked by the kitchen door and saw the little darlings napping together out on the chairs and I thought "How sweet.  I'll take their picture."


Aren't they cute?  And so soft looking through my expensive screen door camera filter ;-). 


  Claire Bear's joined them.  This is about an hour after the first shot.


Another hour has passed.  Comby's gotten hot and moved to sleeping on the porch floor. 


Eli's hoping by airing it out he won't have to move.


Early afternoon.  Comby's moved up to a table.


Eli hasn't moved at all.


Mid afternoon.  Comby's back in the chair. 


Now Eli's gotten too warm and had to move out for a bit to cool off.


But looks like there's a sign of life from Claire Bear.  Maybe.


Oops, never mind.


This is getting late in the afternoon.  I've gone to the town and back and they are still. sleeping.  The charm is starting to wear off, I'm telling you.


Right before I went out to start evening chores.  It is starting to get dark.  I refuse to take any more pictures.

Cats...