Monday, 31 May 2010

Harvests and spinning and snakes and stuff!

So snakes shed their skin. I imagine they get itchy and warm, humid air, moist soil and slightly irregular pots must make it more comfortable for the beast. He left his skin in my plants a few days ago. Ick... My sweetie was brave and took a stick to move it from my plants to the back of our property. I thought then he might be gone for at least another year, but no..... today I found him between a bag of composted manure and a metal tray! I imagine that was pretty hot to touch, but it was already 31C outside, so who really knows what the silly serpent was thinking. I'm just not used to seeing him there yet and am not sure I'll ever be.

I harvested the radishes. I ate one to test it out. It was supposed to be a mild radish, but it was burn the back of your tongue hot. Now, I don't mind nippy radishes, but if it's too hot for me, then it's no-one else here will eat them. So they're all pulled out and I'll plant either more radishes and hope they grow more quickly, greens or some carrots there. I also harvested the first salad. It's spinach, green romaine, red romaine, an oak leaf and two different leaf lettuces. I'm pretty sure that without some help, the romaine won't head up, so I'm just picking the leaves.

Also, I picked Basil, Lovage for tonight's pasta sauce and some mint for yummy tea. Now, if it actually rains, instead of just threatens to rain, the beans, potatoes, corn, beets, carrots and a variety of salad greens might actually germinate!
What's left to plant? Beans... I'm staggering these in hopes of getting an extended harvest. A few herbs, the weld and some flowers is all.

I've been sampling different breeds of sheep fibre. It's not my favourite thing to do, I will admit. I much prefer spinning for a particular purpose or at least some fibre I really like with a general idea of the end product. However, it's homework for the course I took. It could get quite overwhelming if one put this sort of thing off too long, so I'm just doing it. It does cut into the other play time and sure doesn't feel productive.

There are a couple of the chooks which have been trying to roost. We've still got a couple of the chick feeders in use and I find them roosting on those. The small chick waterers have been removed, but they were roosting on those as well. They can't roost on the 5 gallon one because the top is different. Today I found one roosting on the brooder lamp wire of all places. So this evening, my sweetie built them a roost. They are still at the this is curious and I'm not sure what it is stage, but at least they're curious. I don't imagine the white meaties will use it much, as they're already pretty big, but the girls will, once they figure out what it's for.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Colours of May

Time again for the Colours of the Month. Sue started this and it's pretty interesting to see little glimpses into another part of the world.
Late in the afternoon we had quite a t-storm. As it moved on and the daylight faded, I looked out the window to see this. I grabbed my camera as I ran outside and snapped. By the time I got across the road to eliminate the hydro wire, it was both too dark and disappearing rapidly. I don't see rainbows too often, but this one sure was pretty.

The first poppy. I wish I had gotten seeds from the other house as there were a variety of colours. Here there are lots of them, but only orange ones. Paper-thin double ones that are huge and spectacular, but orange none the less.

A cast off Robin's egg. It was such a pretty blue. This shell had obviously hatched already. We have lots of them nesting around our house. My sweetie says it's because I make the place too bird friendly, feeding them well all winter and somewhat in the summer too.

A pile of wood. The fresh cut wood contrasted interestingly with the rest of the colours. We'll be able to use it for campfire wood next year, once it dries a bit.

Bleeding hearts framing the pond. I like the spring colours. After the whites, browns and greys of winter, the bright colours are wonderful.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Tired but .........

Phew... it was a long weekend here in more ways than one! Not only was it a holiday weekend, but it was when we ran the SCA event FOOL, which is a weekend of hands on classes. Lots and lots of work, but despite the rain, people seemed to have a lot of fun.

At the weekend event, I taught 2 classes. The first was on skirting and washing a fleece which went over surprisingly well, considering I really didn't think anyone would be that interested. However we had a full class, lots of laughter and fun, despite being under a sunshade in the pouring rain! The other class was an indigo dyeing class. It is a bit of a hurry up and wait class and really, I only taught it because a friend requested it. Normally I do Indigo as part of an all day class, with lots of other dye vats, so there is tons to do while waiting for the Indigo to reduce!

I came home to a jungle instead of a garden! The grass is now mowed and the garden is starting to look a bit more civilized. The weather turned really warm and the Arugula has bolted to seed before it was even big enough to harvest, not even a single leaf! I've got more seed and will start doing small plantings every couple of weeks to try to keep the greens coming. Although I really think we should have been harvesting by now, the weather didn't cooperate earlier in the spring.

I did get some tomatoes planted last night... yay... They still need an addition of a bit of top soil, but since tomatoes will grow roots from their stems and do well being planted quite deeply, it should be fine to add the soil on top.

Guess who has taken up residence in my greenhouse? Yes, the snake. I saw him on Monday when I got back from the event and worried that I'd gotten him on the shelf by accident and was in danger of starving. I couldn't figure out what would be worse, being startled by a snake or finding a dead snake. So I had my sweetie move the tray he was sleeping on out of the greenhouse and we prodded him out into the grass. He slithered around disoriented for a few moments and ran back towards the greenhouse. Since he lives UNDER the greenhouse, I wasn't worried. However he's been back several times since then. He obviously can get up there at will and must take delight in scaring the crap out of me. Hopefully he'll have moved by the time I want to plant the things he's currently napping on! The Chooks! Aren't they getting huge? You sure can see the size difference now between the white meaties and the black layers. The white ones are dual purpose heavy birds, but they take much longer to run on than the meat hybrids. I think if we do this again, we may just go with the hybrids which take only 8 weeks to mature. Chickens are little poop machines and that would be a much shorter time to deal with all that poo than the 16 weeks these boys will take!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Gardens, Chooks and Fairy Godmothers

Garden update..
Old Garden: In the ground, leeks, onions, potatoes, madder and Japanese Indigo. I'm not happy with the leeks as a few of them have disappeared. There were all in the same section of the row so I don't know whether they just didn't make it through the night or if a small, hungry beastie with a taste for tender leeks had a few nibbles.

Herb Garden: I need to dig this up tomorrow morning. It's full of things I don't want there, like Hostas! The daffodil bulbs, the Columbine and Lily of the Valley will get moved to the side leaving a nice space, with easy access to the house, in which to grow herbs.

New Garden: It still needs dirt! I've got rows of leaf mulch, green mulch and 700 litres of top soil. It needs more dirt. It might have helped some if I hadn't expanded it mid project! I won't have the time to do anymore to it until next week.

The chooks are growing like gangbusters! We put in this huge new feeder and they emptied the darned thing in just 2 days. We'll have to put a roost in there soon. I went in and one was roosting on top of the waterer. I had to clean off an awful lot of chicken poo! It would seem better to have roosts and to need to wash the waterer less often. They sure are a scraggly looking lot though, with their feathers coming in and the beginnings of combs.

A few weeks ago, I met a new spinner (new as in just learning) at a guild meeting. We were going to the same course, so I impulsively suggested we commute together. I didn't even think that she might be a chain smoking, junk food junkie with bad driving habits at first. At any rate, we hit it off and have a scary amount of things in common. The drive was one of the best parts of the whole week long course! She collects antique sewing machines.

Isn't this a beauty? It's a Singer 201-3. It's very similar to the sewing machine I learned to sew on, though that one didn't have the belt drive. I don't still have that machine unfortunately, which is something I have often wished I did. It was a very pretty machine and well, it was my 9th birthday present. So back to the pretty Singer 201. Yesterday at a guild meeting, a friend gave me this one! I'm so thrilled about this as it brings back lots of memories and I've always had a very soft spot for those old black Singers. The 201 does only a straight stitch, but does the best straight stitch in the world. I have an old Singer 15K (I think) and it needs work, but I have the accessories for it. I wonder if they will fit the 201? This makes me want to fix up the old treadle machine I've got. It was my grandmothers and I did a fair bit of sewing on it as a teenager.

Monday, 17 May 2010

A day of mixed emotions..

Today was a busy day. I did the chicken chores, then fussed in the garden for most of the day. I set the seedlings outside so that they'd get sun and catch some of the breeze. It's supposed to help the stems become stronger and also hardens them off, so they transplant more easily. When I was putting the first tray of seedlings back, I had this odd sensation that I was being watched. I was alone in the greenhouse, so just ignored the feeling. I still felt it when I put the second tray back. When I put the third tray back into place, a bit of movement caught my eye! Look what I found on the shelf in the greenhouse! I think this little guy is the snake that lives underneath the greenhouse, that I've seen sunning himself on the cement slab in front. I don't mind him hanging out on the ground. I'm not so thrilled he's decided to move into MY play space!
That being said, I was quite happy to get an award from Leigh. It sort of took away a bit of the shudder aspect of finding that snake.

This award comes with a bunch of questions...

1- What would your perfect day consist of?

I'll have to admit to not being able to pick a perfect day. I mean if every perfect day were the same, they'd be boring and not so perfect. Perfect days are when things just come together. Yesterday was a perfect day when a bunch of friends pooled our strengths and efforts to put in an Anglo-Saxon garden at the longhall. There are perfect days and perfect moments, scattered about. Sometimes they are days alone and sometimes with family or friends. Sometimes they're busy and other times quiet. They just happen..

2- How would you describe yourself if you were an item of clothing?

I sort of find this a rather odd question as I really haven't considered myself as a garment. Maybe handknit woolen socks? I really don't know. Obviously, while my imagination runs off on bizarre tangents, sometimes it just doesn't run far at all!

3- What hobbies are you currently working on?

I've got a pair of socks about ready to start knitting. I've been working on a new historical sewing project, a 1530's kirtle. Spinning - always there. I've been hoping to get a warp wound before Friday so I can do an Ikat project in an Indigo dyepot. I've finally learned to make cord on a lucet. I found my big bin of composition doll bodies and I found the box of finished heads. Someplace in there are two that match and will make a reproduction Bru doll. I've been itching to do another one for ages. Mainly though the past few weeks and the rest of this week will be spent on finishing up SCA event stuff for a weekend event which focuses on hands on skills and activities.

4- Walking in the woods in Wellies or Barefoot on the beach?

Woods in wellies... Not only am I a poor person to take to the beach as I hate sitting around doing nothing in the sun, but I hate going barefoot and when the sand dries on your feet... ugh..

5- Have you ever hugged or sang to a tree?

Nope.. I've talked to plants, chatted to a variety of animals including horses, dogs, cats, sheep and chickens. However, we did a Scout's Own under a gigantic, ancient tree, probably an oak or maple - it was winter and I couldn't tell - so we sang and did a bunch of spiritual stuff around it. Does that count?

6. Growing your own veggies or nipping to the supermarket.

You had to ask? I'd rather the experience of growing and picking my own. There is nothing quite the same.

7. Have you found anyone exciting in your family tree?

I've never explored my family tree, so no...

8. Slap up meal in a posh restaurant or fish ‘n’ chips from the wrapper?

My ideal restaurant experience is food that I wouldn't normally cook at home. That means it tends to be ethnic or specialty. Definitely not posh, 'cause I cringe at paying some enormous some of money for something we eat at home. Fish 'n chips from the wrapper though, I'd go out for.

9. Which element do you most resonate with, Earth, Wind, Fire or Water?


10. Do you believe in fairies?

Well, I can't really say yes or no.. You see as soon as you stop believing in something like that they disappear from your life and your possibilities. I think I'd rather believe in the possibilities of them then have none of that mythology and mystery in my life at all

Passing this on to....

Karen - a friend

Jody - an amazing knitter with lovely beasties

Cool Nest Box Contest

This is a very pretty and colourful farming blog. They're having a contest to give away a really nice nesting box! I've entered because... well.. we don't have nesting boxes yet in our coop and these are awfully nice..

Friday, 14 May 2010

Washing Marshmallows

One of the samples I got recently at the spinning course was from a coated Cormo sheep. Well, apparently mainly coated until not long before shearing. The fleece showed it as there is virtually no vegetable matter or crud in the fleece and only the smallest bits of tips are dirty. It is very fine and full of lanolin. It is springy, really, really springy. How springy? Like really good, fresh marshmallows.

I filled up the sink with a spurt of dish washing soap and really hot water. I stuck the fleece into the sink. I had to gently keep pushing the fleece down. It wanted to just float on top! It really was like trying to push marshmallows underwater! After two washes it was extremely white and took several rinses to get the water clear. It was still pretty springy when wet! That was new to me as I've never had wet, springy wool before.

I dried it in lingerie bags clipped onto the clothes line. It dried in no time because it was sunny and windy out today. Carding it was a novelty! It is fine and not very long. The longest staple I have is probably less than 3 inches. When you card it, it either wants to stretch out and spring back and become neppy or just fluffs up and says I want to be yummy woolens, depending on how quickly you card it.

When rolled into a rolag or sausage, you get what looks rather convincingly like a MARSHMALLOW of all things! Being a fine wool, it spins a little less easily than the lovely Shetland that I tend to gravitate to. Right now I'm trying a worsted prep.... ick... but I'll bet it will do a long draw beautifully and make yummy, soft mitten yarn.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Stanley Cup Play Offs..

Go Habs Go!

Gotta love it when your goaltender is on his game.....

Monday, 10 May 2010

I'm working on a new 1530's Tudor kirtle. The fabric is a wool/rayon blend twill in a woad blue colour. The boning is split reed. I realize that this will affect the way it gets washed somewhat, but I had some around and decided it would be faster to try it, than to figure out where the metal snips are, snip and grind the spring steel bones from the bulk roll. The first picture shows the interlining with the boning channels marked and sewn. I'm lining it with a fairly bright pink linen because I had it and didn't have any lovely blue to match. Not that I mind the pink linen. It's very pretty. Mainly though it's sturdy, where the wool twill has a much softer hand. The second picture shows the kirtle ready to do the side back seams. Then it's sew up the armscyes and attach the skirt. Tomorrow a friend is going to help mark the skirt and put in eyelets on those back/side seams. She is a corset maker by trade and has a nifty machine to set eyelets professionally. While hand sewn eyelets would be the way to go, this is mainly a camp outfit. Since I managed to slice my right index finger open on the apple slicer, this will mean I can actually get the garment done in a timely fashion 'cause right now hand sewing and spinning hurts!

I've been re-potting the tomato plants. I finally got some more potting soil and of course one of the boys decided to tidy up a bit and I think that the milk and juice cartons I'd been saving to use got put in last week's recycling. The seedlings are too big for the little starter packs, but it's still too cold to put them outside. It dropped below freezing last night! Still lots more to go though.

The little chooks are growing. Every time we enlarge the brooder, they grow to fill it up. However, with several days of unseasonably cold weather, wind storms, frost and a few flakes of snow, we have hesitated to enlarge it again over the past weekend just to help them stay warm. In a couple more weeks, they'll be fully feathered and it won't matter so much. They don't seem to be complaining yet. They do seem to want to perch on things. They eat, and eat, and eat, and eat! It's quite amusing going into the coop some times. You know when you wander into a group of people engrossed in conversation and they stop chatting when you come near? Well, the chooks are quietly chirping and fussing amongst themselves and when I go in, the all stop and some run to a corner and the rest just watch and stare at me. I start wondering what sort of chicken conspiracy plans I've interrupted.

I've a new Blueberry bush to plant, a new raspberry, two blackberries and a black current bush to plant. Now to find places for them. If we didn't have all these darned trees, it would be easy but as it is, finding places with enough sun is a little fussy. Nobody here seems to like my idea of pulling half of them down to let in the sun!

Monday, 3 May 2010

And Now I Need a Nap!

More Shetland - Two more skeins, albeit not gigantic ones, just regular ones off the wheel. I'm not winding the skeins as I've yet to wash them. Wound up it looks like a much lesser amount, so I'm leaving it like this for now.

The chicks have outgrown their brooder and will need a new one. We'll be just blocking off part of the coop for now to give them more space to run, although I really think we'll need to separate the meaties from the layers soon. My sweetie put a door on the coop! It didn't have one as the chicks came before we had time to finish the coop room in the barn. We figured we'd have a bit of time before we absolutely needed the door.. Wrong! Their wings feather out first and when I take the top off the brooder, they get all excited and try out their new, getting somewhat effective wings. So the coop got a door before one of them got out and we had to find them in the mess that is the rest of the barn.. mostly not our mess, I might add, but junk left by the previous owners. I wouldn't have minded so much if they'd left antique tools or something, but broken bits of wood, trash, rusted bits of who knows what and old, worn out stuff.. not so much...
Anyway, the coop door is nicer than any door in the house!

Other than that, I've been mowing our yard with the push mower. It's a big yard, but the riding mower just chops up the grass and you can't even rake it. With the push mower, I can bag it up and toss it in those garden beds I was working on last year. By adding the fresh grass clippings, it will balance with the leaves from last fall. I'm adding some soil and compost as well. Of course, soil by the bag was just to get started.. we'll probably need a somewhat larger amount and some wheel barrow power! At the rate that I get around the garden, by the time I get to the front yard, it will be time to mow the back again!

Garden update-
Onion sets are just barely starting to peek through the soil
Golden beets, spinach and lettuce are big enough to be identifiable
No arugula yet :(
Woad seeds germinating nicely
In the greenhouse, the plants are still looking happy. I was at a garden centre yesterday and they had single tomato plants for $3 each! They were a bit bigger than mine are, but I'd hope so for that price. Sadly there wasn't a single container with multiple seedlings in it.. no 4 or 6 packs. That would be an expensive way to get your garden growing! So the tomatoes look fine. Did I mention that I've got somewhere abouts 50 tomatoes started? Not sure how I managed or rather mis-managed that one. So if I'm giving you tomato plants, it's cause I have way too many!
Marigolds, Elecampane, Borage, Madder, Woad, Japanese Indigo, Ladies Bedstraw, herbs.. lots doing really well. The only things which have not done well are the Black Hollyhocks and the Rudebekia Goldsturm, for some reason.