Monday, October 30, 2017

Farwell Indian Summer ...

A couple Fridays ago I had the day off. I had no plans when I first decided to take that day off, but knew that if it was nice out I had to be outside to enjoy it.

Sort of spur of the moment, I decided to take a hike on a hiking trail that has a trail head about 15 minutes away.



I am so glad I went.  The day was the last day of beautiful weather for my area. The temperature hit a high in the 70s and sunshine all day.

I went in about two miles, stopped for a lunch and a little bit of knitting, then headed back.


Entrance to the trail.


Well-traveled path, but not completely worn down.


New to me: There is a campsite somewhere just off the trail.


It didn't occur to me until after I started walking that there was a possibility of my going off trail.  Then I saw the blue markers.  Yay!


On the way in I was taking pictures left and right.  Even though leaf colors were past the peak viewing, it was still pretty on the trail.  Or, maybe I was just happy to be outdoors.


This is when I realized how big the trail is. It crosses seven states. Wow!



The trails are very well kept.  I was surprised. This is wider spot for atv/snowmobile access.  There were a few of these roads criss-crossing the trail. 


Someone actually kept the trail part trimmed. Nice!


I know there is a group of volunteers who maintain the trails in our area.  I very much appreciate all they do.


Sun coming through the trees.


This was a maker for the boardwalk I had to cross.


LOVED having the boardwalk. 


Shortly after the boardwalk I found a place to stop for a small picnic.


I viewed the map.


And I knit a few rows on my cardigan.  There was no way I was going to let a chance to knit in the woods go by.

I also did a short video.


I'm still not fully comfortable speaking on camera.  I feel the need to speak slowly, apparently.

On the way back to the trail head I discovered a tree that still had most of its leaves and it was so gorgeous it took my breath away. 





I tried taking pictures from underneath the leaves.


In a sea of green pine trees and brown bark, there was this oasis of orange.



On the way back home I stopped at the village library to pick up a few books.  After getting home, I had a cup of tea and then went out to clean the Chicken Coop of Love. Very exciting stuff.  The ladies were happy to see me. Though I think they they questioned my taste in music.

Friday, October 13, 2017

If we were having coffee ... Hello fall!

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 

 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... But today is not that day.


Currently in my cup is some decaf. Earl Grey. I'm trying to be a good girl and limit my caffeine. 

If we were having coffee ... I'd look at the date, and slightly cringe.  How on earth has it been a month since I last wrote? I'm in denial that we are as far into October as we are. I have not had much opportunity to let dust settle.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you about all the time I've been spending in the woods these last several weeks.  Hunting! I'm an official Hunter with a capital H.

 

My early Christmas present. I love it.  Thanks again sweetie! :-)


Last month I enrolled my son into hunter's safety. At first he wasn't too keen on it, but he wanted to hunt. So he knew he had to go. He came out of the classes with a fresh appreciation of all that goes into being a safe, responsible hunter. He also takes it very seriously. I have gone through hunger's safety a few years back, but I sat through it again because he asked me to stay with him. It was also good knitting time for me.

My son has taken to hunting better than I thought he would. He will go out and sit in the stand for hours at a time, at the ready, looking for any deer that may come traipsing down the path. The first time he was out in the stand, he did not want to come back in, and was so surprised at how much time had passed.  He thought he was out there only an hour. Oh, and a quick proud mommy moment: He's an excellent tracker.

Unfortunately, the deer have realized it's archery/crossbow season and have taken to hitting all the spots well after dark.  We have game cams set up so we can get an idea of where they are hitting, and what treats they like best.



If you notice the time stamp, it says 3:42 a.m. This boy is awful pretty, too. It's like he knows he's on camera.

My favorite photo, though, might be this one.

 

 My little brats went into the back 20 far enough that they found one of the stands.

Other photos have shown crows and blue jays.  Even raccoons.  I'm uneasy about this last one.  Raccoons are known for being chicken killers.

So, we have switched things up a bit and we are crossing our fingers that the changes in routine will be to our benefit. 

If we were having coffee ... I'd let you know that I've been slowly knitting and crocheting a few items. When I have a few spare moments I work on my Harvest Cardigan.

If you will recall, this cardigan broke my heart the last time I started knitting one.

 

I am *finally* to the point where the increases have stopped and I can now knit and purl to my little hearts content. I have somewhere between seven and eight inches to go before starting the edging.

Otherwise, I've been knitting and crocheting dishcloths. Nothing too spectacular. Granny square dishcloths, mostly.

 

Yes, I made this one while I was in the deer stand.


I also made this beauty when I had the itch to knit some cables. I'm also proud of this one for another reason.  I accidentally crossed a cable wrong. It was the first time I dropped stitches and recrossed a cable to fix the mistake. A few people were all "Don't worry about it, it's just a dishcloth" when I asked for help.  I took this as an opportunity to try something new.  Even if it didn't work out, I wouldn't have been ripping a lot of stitches.


A trio of sunflowers.

 

I've been very good about keeping record in my knitting journal, but I can't seem to get that information transferred over to the blog. Oh well. It's just dishcloths, right?

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you that my reading has picked up significantly. I wasn't reading much previously, so my "significantly" might not be as much as I think it is, I suppose. Or, maybe because I've been listening to a ton of podcasts about books, it simply feels like I'm reading more.

In any case, I have read "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson, for the Well-Read Mom book club. I'm currently working on a blog post just for it. However, the thoughts I have written down might be changing so I'm not sure if I will be revising what I have so far, or just continuing on.  I did enjoy the story.

 

Last night I finished "O Pioneers!" Also for Well-Read Mom book club. I'll write something separate for this story too. I still need to listen to the Well-Read Mom audios for both of these books.

During the weekend I read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  A few years ago I purchased this on Kindle, and now it's turned into a tradition to read it during October. I even have the audio version narrated by Tom Mison.  I pink, puffy heart love listening to it. Only in October though.

I enjoy this short story so much.  Each time I read it, I notice something new in the writing and smile.

Currently, two of my favorite paragraphs are these:


Now that we've raised and kept chickens for a few years, I can attest to how true this description is.

After having spent some time out in the woods, I can verify that Blue Jays like to think they are on good times with *everyone,* despite being little bullies.



Another book I read was "Jasper and the Riddle of Rileys' Mine"

Story about a two boys who run away to Alaska, during the Gold Rush. Lots of mishaps, trials and tribulations. A good story. At the end I wanted to know more about where their life would go.

If we were having coffee ... I'd give a quick update on the chickens.  The ladies are doing fine.  Nothing very exciting going on. Well, there was something, but I think they were just finding their "adult" voices.  The brahmas are a bit adventurous, however.  I think they are determined to give me a heart attack. When we let them out in the evenings, they go right to the front yard and go all the way to the road.  Our previous flocks did not do this, and I worry about predators getting them, or a car driving by and hitting one. Thankfully, as soon as they see one of us they come running back.

This group has also discovered the joys of coming up on the deck and leaving us presents. 


We have gates, but we don't use them.  So can I really blame them for coming up on the deck?

I do have a quick chicken story.  Yesterday afternoon, I went inside the coop after opening the door and letting them out.  Naturally the hens all act like they haven't been outside in years and bum rush the door, and fly off the roosts out the door, or the land on the floor and run out. 

One of the brahmas somehow managed to trip herself as she was going from one roost to another.  She tripped on a roost.  I saw her do it, and I still can't figure it out.  She fell. She landed very ungracefully on the floor and seemed to stun herself a bit.  I asked her if she was okay and she hopped up and started walking to the door, embarrassed, mortified. Hard to say what exactly. There was this look on her face that seemed to say "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I just did that." and "What? That wasn't me! You have me mistaken for some other chicken. I didn't just fall flat on my face." Then she ran out the door.

 If we were having coffee ... The weather has turned cool.

 

Earlier this week I had hard frost on my car, and the tender plants in the garden are done.

 

My preserving project is the carrots.  I still have to dig up my carrots, wash and blanch them for the freezer. I'm crossing my fingers that we don't have a freeze that causes the ground to go solid.  I figure the ground is the best place for the carrots to be, until I can dig them up and take care of them.

With the return of the cool weather, the desire to bake has also kicked in, and use the oven to warm the house. So I'm amusing myself with new recipes. Wednesday night I tried zuchinni fries. I cut them too thick.  Flavor is good and I will try the recipe again in the immediate future.  I don't recall which website I got the recipe from, but its a simple and easy recipe to make.



If we were having coffee ... I'd blather about something personal-ish.  After writing my last entry, my husband read it and said "You didn't say anything about ____."

Well, I didn't say anything because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say about ______.  Then I decided to "out" myself over on my personal Facebook. Which prompted me to decide I'll say something on the blog.

So, since the beginning of the year I've lost 30 pounds.

It is so odd to write this out, almost like I'm shouting it out on the internet.

Why else does it feel odd? Because I don't feel like I went on a diet. I did this with a "get healthier" mindset, rather than a diet mindset. I didn't do anything drastic, unless you count the miles and miles of walking I did during the spring and summer. I figured a calorie "sweet spot" and stayed within it. I also did not cut out any food groups, and I've been eating the healthiest I've ever eaten since I followed the Atkins program 13 years ago. Most important of all: I don't feel deprived. I eat whatever I want and feel like, but I do it in moderation.

Me about one year ago, and then back in July.  I haven't done any other side-by-sides.


It's only within the last month or so that my weight loss has really hit home. I see the number on the scale and it doesn't feel quite real because I don't feel like I did anything specific and "diet-ish."

Also, I now need new clothes since most of my current wardrobe no longer fits like it used to. I have way more energy, I'm sleeping *so* much better, and I'm cold.

Yup, I'm cold.  This realization hit me hard this week. I'm cold. Last winter, and possibly the winter before that, I wasn't cold unless it was extremely cold outside.

Currently I'm maintaining my weight loss.  I figure this is good for me in the long run.  I've read and heard that when you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, your body tries very hard to get back to a weight that feels like a right one.

So, when I'm not doing *all the things* I'm trying to find time for *me.* And finding time for myself has *not* been easy this last month. What I mean by *me* is taking some time to literally focus on me and doing some kind of physical activity to keep my body moving in a healthy way.  It's frustrating because I'm trying to push forward and take better care of myself, and not let my own care fall to the way side because life is busy.

This morning I decided to grab the bull by the horns and go out for a walk.  I haven't walked the circuit in ages, it feels.  It ended up being a good morning and time to do so.

It was gorgeous outside.

 

The sun was behind me on this photo, so the sky isn't quite the beauty the above photo shows.


I think this is my favorite tree in the area.  It is one of the first trees to change color, and it's this beautiful orange that gradually turns reddish.


I even stopped to admire the fallen leaves.


This is all that has kept me busy the last month.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!



Friday, September 15, 2017

If we were having coffee ... Where I prove I haven't fallen off the face of the earth

This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share, or when I feel the need to catch up. 

 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ... But today is not that day. In the meantime, here is a slightly blurry picture of me with a chicken. 

 

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you how life has been crazy busy for me these last several months. I decided to let a few things go to the back burner, and the blog was one. Sorry.

When I was looking over the blog, this time last year something very similar happened. The busyness of the season necessitates that I be out and about rather than sitting indoors. 

Back in July I started working on this blog entry again.  I had written a masterpiece, saving often and thinking I would put the pictures in later.  Well, when I opened the post to decide which photos I wanted, everything I had written was gone.  I was so steamed that I put the blog in time out.  Yes, you can do that.

Now summer is winding down, and I feel I can pick up the virtual pen, and put it to virtual paper.

So ...  How are you?  :-)

Me, I'm doing good. Still busy, but not quite as much. The family is getting back into the routine of school, early mornings, getting it all done, and trying to not rush out the door and chase the bus because someone forgot their lunch.

We are also trying to get the new ladies transitioned from the little coop to the big coop.  They aren't quite getting it yet.

Wait, I think I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me pick a point and start from there.

If we were having coffee ... I'd blather at you about the chickens. So many chickens.  At one point we had around 100 chickens on the homestead. Around 30 of them were meat birds. Best group of meat birds we've had so far.  Very friendly and they didn't act like dim light bulbs either.  Every time we went out to the coop to feed or water them, at least one would come up to you and stand right in front of you and look up, as if to say "I'm ready to be held/petted/loved."  It made it just a smidge more difficult at butchering time.


Meat bird babies back in April.  They grew so fast.


Smack dab, right in the middle, is one of our homegrown babies. They all look so sweet together.


Here they are, out in the open air coop, sometime in early May, or so. Seriously, some of the happiest birds meat birds I've ever seen.

Here's a photo of our first homegrown baby from 2017, fresh out of the egg, back in late March/early April.


Unfortunately we didn't have many eggs hatch out this year.  Either our Roo was shooting blanks, or he just wasn't doing his job. We wound up with four babies.  Two hens went off to live with one of my best friends. They have already starting laying eggs. Hooray! The other homegrown babies were roos, and we found them homes, even though we really wanted to keep one in particular.  He was super pretty, and because he was pretty, he found a new home fairly quickly.

To supplement the flock since so few hatched out, we decided to pick up more Americaunas, Black Marans, and Brahmas.


Americauna babies when they were feathering out.


Our little Maran Roo, back in April.  I held this little guy a lot, hoping to dispell the notion that Black Marans are crabby little buggers. I think it worked.  He's not aggressive towards us right now.  He seems to be a good Roo so far.  Always attentive to his ladies and not a jerk. However, he does like to keep the flock segregated.  As in, the brahmas need to stay away from *his* girls, which are the Marans and Americaunas.  So he chases them away, and comes back to his girls, aka, his angels.



Most of our little Marans.  They are sweet little ladies.


Our Brahma babies have been adorable right from the start. This year we decided to try placing an order from a hatchery. I'm very happy with how the whole transaction was handled.  We didn't lose any chicks.


Baby Brahmas on "delivery day." I flew out of the house when I got the phone call from the post office. It is amazing how many chicks can be squeezed into a small box. They were scipey little babies that first day. They were unhappy and wanted to let everyone know.  As soon as they got into the brooder tote, and warmed up, they quieted down.


All the Brahmas are sweet, except for one. The buff Roo.  He wants to mate all the ladies, all at the same time, and they aren't ready for his rough and wild ways.  He's a feather puller, too, and they aren't into that kinky stuff.

 

He's also sort of a jerk.  I have to shake my head at this, because I was so focused on making sure the Maran roo wasn't a jerk, thinking I didn't need to worry about the Brahmas because of their docile nature and sweet personality.  

We decided to take a break from raising turkeys this year.  Even though we have a ton of fun raising them, and having them in the yard. Butchering a turkey is not an easy thing, specially when it's cold outside, and we always feel so bad when the weather turns cold and we see them shivering in the coop.

I did have a close call with picking out a couple.  We went to an L and H and they had a "special" on baby turkeys. Buy one and get one free.  Oh, it was *really* hard walking away.  Baby turkeys are *SO* cute and sweet.

Maybe next year.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you how my crafting took a nosedive once the weather turned nice.  All I've really accomplished this summer were two pairs of socks.  I have a few things (I think) that have been off the needles for a while, and still need to be shared on the blog.  I'll post those items in a separate blog or two.

Vanilla socks
Started: June 6 2017
Completed: August 6, 2017
Needle size: 24 inch circ, 2.25 mm
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici
Colorway: Madrigal;  Lot: 59922


Yup, took me almost two month to knit a pair of plain vanilla socks.

The other pair I worked on was Dead Simple Lace Socks, out of WendyKnits  Socks from the Toe Up book.  I have had this book since 2008 and I've knit just a handful of socks out of it. It was an easy enough pattern that I could take the project everywhere. 

Dead Simple Lake Socks
Start: May 14, 2017 (Mother's Day U.S)
End: July 28, 2017
Yarn: Berroco Sox
Color: Blues
Color: 1436; Dye Lot: 3804
Needle size: US 1 - 2.25 16 inch circs.

 

First toe up sock pattern in many years. Couple boo boos in the pattern.  Would make the pattern again.


At least I can call this a "summer of socks" and not just one pair.

Yes, I finally have a pair of sock blockers.  They are a birthday gift from my MIL.  Yay! I've been wanting a pair for years.

Quilting and sewing pretty much stopped in April. I had fallen of the cross stitch wagon *hard* I have not haven't touched my "Happily Ever After" cross stitch since ... late March. *gulp* I'm getting things ready so I can pick it up again.  I have my needles threaded with floss and just need a chunk of time, and some good lighting.


Yes, I'm still at January's clue. This is probably not going to get touched until the snow flies.


I thought I was going to participate in the Tour de Fleece this year. ... Yeah, that didn't happen either.  No spinning to speak of. None.  My poor wheel has been gathering dust.  I've been listening to old podcasts, and the one gal is talking about spinning, and I have images of spinning pretty fiber again. I want to get the dyepots out again and dye up a braid or two.

There has been no various and sundry crafting done either. I know.  I'm pathetic.

The summer has been cooler and wetter.  My garden hasn't flourished like I hoped it would.  We are getting stuff, but it's not coming at that breakneck speed I hoped it would. 

My poor garden.


Reading has been scant the last several months, too.  I had been listening to audiobooks from the Void Trilogy. I will get back to the series soon.  I put it on hold when school ended and I started commuting with my son.

A couple books I did read were Foxlowe, and Bear Town.


I'm subscribed to a few book lists, and both of these novels appeared on one of them.  If memory serves correctly, I picked up Foxlowe because it was a story set with a "Gothic" background.

Um, if I had known just what the story was about, I don't think I would have picked it up.  However, I reached a point of no return and felt pretty invested in it.  It is definitely not something I would normally pick up. It is a coming of age story about a girl in a cult.  The woman who is the head of it is a sadistic woman who takes out her frustrations out on the kids who live in the commune. There is no happy ending. Just broken kids who grew up and are learning to deal and cope with what happened during their childhood.


Bear Town is the story about a small hockey town on the edge of the woods. Their chance to nationals is just within their grasp. A predictable incident occurs and it rocks the entire town and residents take sides.  What I really liked about this book was the different points of view, and how every one in the town is grappling with the news, and choices being made.  I liked how the novel was ended.  It gives the reader a reminder that actions done when you are young are always there when you are older. It's up to you to decide how to own up to them, and carry them during life's journey.

If we were having coffee ... I know you'd ask me, well, just what were you doing this summer that kept you so busy?

Well, in addition to keeping up with some homestead stuff, which there always seems to be something, (thank you very much Mr./Mrs. gophers) we did a whole lot of fishing and kayaking.

 

We have so many lakes near us, but many have sandy boat launches. We went fishing where ever and just carried the kayaks. Hubby now prefers fishing in a kayak to a fishing boat. You can go where boats can't go, and be super stealthy and just drop your line off the side. My son and I still like the fishing boat, but for me it's more for having our picnics on the water, together. You can't do that with kayaks, necessarily, unless you latch together. Which isn't that much fun. 




So much fish for my boys! Plus, we all get out of the house!

And now here we are, almost at the official start of Fall. I don't know if I can think of the proper adjective to describe how I feel about the quick passage of time that has been this year. I know things aren't going to settle down for a while, still. I know the snow is going to fly before I'm ready for it, and the family will be snuggled up in the homestead, around the wood stove.

Oh, speaking of the woodstove, to show how cool this summer has been, I've had fires in July.  I don't recall there ever being a July so chilly that the heat needed to be turned on.

Okay, well, I suppose I've blathered at you long enough. I'll admit, I had been working on this post off and on for so long, that I was cold feet, so to speak. The longer I sat on it, the harder it was for me to work on it. I really hate when I do that to myself, despite my "blogging without obligation" rule.

I promise to not go six months until the next blog post.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!