Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring fever

It's been pretty quiet around the homestead since I last posted a blog update. Mostly I've been keeping the home, or whatever it's called, and waiting for spring to finally arrive. 

I got a booklet full of crochet dishcloth patterns and I've been attempting those. I thought I had this crocheting thing down, but I don't think so. I'm still struggling with the patterns.



Temps are finally going up.  We are all so pumped for this.

Other things we are excited about? Planning the garden and getting baby chicks.

This year we are raising meat birds for the first time. We are also getting more Americaunas and Rhode Island Reds (I think). Our chick order won't be in until next week. I feel like I've been waiting forever already.

A couple weeks ago I picked up 10 meat birds from the local feed store.  They had their first batch of chicks for the store come in.


Okay, these guys are majorly cute and were adorable as they ran all over the brooder box. 


Love the little expression on this face. 


The chicks are now around two weeks old and oh my stars have they changed.  They now mostly just chill, drink a lot, eat a lot and poop a lot. Wow do they poop a lot. I had a pretty good idea they would but they have exceeded my expectations.  I spent the first week cleaning little fluffy butts to prevent pasty butt.


This is not the face of a happy baby.  Bath time was not very enjoyable.  She did enjoy snuggling with me afterwards.

This is what the babies look like now.



About three weeks ago a gentleman contacted us and asked if we wanted a small flock of hens. We said yes and set out to get them.

They look like they are homegrown and most of them have some banty or polish lineage in them.

Fiesty doesn't quite do it when describing them.  They haven't been hand raised and most screech like they are being murdered if you try to hold them.  There is one Barred Rock in the group and she's a little punk.  She was the first hen to peck me when I was checking for eggs.  There is also a girl who looks like a purebred leghorn.


And then there is the lone Americauna.  Oh, she is a sight. She's got scissor beak, odd feather coloring and I swear that all she's missing is crossed eyes. But, as my BIL said, she's got a great personality.  She doesn't screech when you hold her.  She makes you work for it though.  She's not easy to catch.


So now we have to learn how to care for a girl with special needs.  She does all right though. With a little more time and care I bet she'll start to be as sweet as little Elvis (when she's not broody).




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hibernation

All quiet on this front.  Why?  Because there hasn't been much going on.  My area got a bit of a cold snap, though nothing like last year.

Things have settled down since the holiday season. Well, the boys were sick at the end of January but nothing that lasted days and days.  Just days.

Since there has been no projects going on I have been hanging around the woodstove when it's running. 


It's hard to NOT want to sit in front of it and be cozy.

The girls are still producing eggs.  Production has slowed slightly. We've had two broody girls and we lost a few girls this winter.


The roos are feeling just fine and dandy.  They are all trying to show off and impress the ladies.  I don't think the ladies are impressed much. The orange homegrown roo still gets his butt handed to him on occasion. 

In the evenings I've been doing some crafting still.  Though I'm not producing much.


These poor socks still have no heels.

Meanwhile, I've started another pair of socks.  One has a heel and I'm almost done with the second one. 


I did finish my shawl. I am so pleased with it.  I wear it around the house when there is just a bit of chill in the air.


I've made this shawl several times.  This was the first time I did the crochet edging.  I'm so happy with how it turned out.


I'm slowly getting comfortable with the tatting. This cross is my first "big project." I haven't blocked it or anything yet.  I'm don't know how tatting should be handled once it's done.  Not too bad for a first project and I had to interpret the instructions a bit.  I know I made mistakes in it but I don't care.


I decided to make a little flower with beads.  I added a jump ring so it could be worn on a necklace. 


My current project is the "Amusement" pattern.  I'm needle tatting it and it's been a slow process. I'm just starting row three of four. I like how bright the colors are.


I've been practicing a bit with the tatting shuttles and I'm getting the hang of it.  A little bit.  There is still a bunch I need to learn but I think I've got the basics down.

Other than that  I've been daydreaming a bit of warmer weather, weekend fishing trips, baby chicks and starting the garden.

I can feel the sun's rays are stronger. I'm feeling the first stirrings of spring fever. It will hit me hard next month when the temps, hopefully, start hitting the 30s F.




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Threads that bind (and all that good stuff)

Today at work I was chatting with one of the gals in the work building. Turns out she's been doing some knitting.  More recently, she went through the yarn she inherited from her mom and she's got a decent-sized stash.

When she was going through UFOs she remembered one thing in particular and went looking for it. She found it, and also found some handspun yarn that had been made by her aunt (I believe) and it was made back in the 1970s. 

Here it is 2015 and she is now using that handspun to make socks for her sister.  How cool is that?  I can't think of too many crafty things that can span across time and generations like that. I'm so excited for her and I hope she brings the finished object in so I can see the socks.

I mentioned to a few friends today how I decided to order a few piano lesson books for my son.  He got a keyboard from his aunt and uncle.  I may have mentioned this already. Anywho, he's been slowly learning to play songs *but* he doesn't have any proper books to learn from.  Last night he decided he wanted music from the Forrest Gump soundtrack.  Specifically, this one.


We have found music but it may be a bit above him.  He's slowly figuring out the first few lines of the song, however. But that's mostly from listening and picking out the notes. I don't know how he does it but he can.

I also told my friends how my son was getting frustrated because he's been waiting quite a while for the second level of recorder karate from the school.  Something's going on with the supplier, I think.  No one in the school has it.

He comes home with this today.  It's a preview because the books, or whatever the kids are getting, isn't ready yet.


He's already working on the Wedding March and he might have it memorized already. He was thrilled to see that Jingle Bells is included.  He already knows it and can play it on both the recorder and keyboard.

After work I drove over to Duluth to do a pick up at Acme Tools.  Since I was over that way I decided to head up to Hobby Lobby and get myself some new tatting thread.

This is the thread I have been practicing with.  Found out today it is #3 crochet thread.  Wow. I thought it was #10.  I don't know where I got that number from. 


This color is "water lily" and is #10 thread. What a difference between the two. I got to use a finer needle when I practiced with it tonite.


I'm feeling a wee bit proud of myself. I made this butterfly tonite. From a pattern.


It's a bit wonky and I have no idea what to do with it, but I did it.  I figured out a written pattern.

I spent time on my lunch hour looking up tatting patterns.  The majority of what I found called for tatting shuttles and/or beading.  I'm still not ready for shuttles.  I'm pretty sure the patterns are interchangeable. I haven't learned how to place beads yet.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend doings

Weather was somewhat decent this weekend. It's almost a shame we didn't have any pressing outside projects that needed to be done. 

Almost.

*Ahem.*

I took advantage of the slightly warmer temps and did some chicken chores out in the chicken shack.  Shoveled out under the roosts, add more pine shavings to the floor, etc. I did this all while being shadowed by CeeVee.  She hangs out right next to me when I'm in there.  She wants to be near humans but not actually handled are anything. 

When any of us go out to the chicken shack the chickens always come running because they have certain expectations of the humans having food. 

I went out there with a bowl full of cooked vegetables and dumped it out on their tray.  Then I set the bowl up on the nesting boxes and started my work.  

I noticed Miss. Greedy-Gut, the Wynadotte, had jumped to the top of the nesting boxes and had her head in the bowl. 


When it was determined that the bowl no longer had food in it, she decided to hop into the half-bale of pine shavings I had stored up there.  She scratched around it for a bit and then hopped out. 


When we hauled feed in to fill up the buckets a few of the ladies came running over.  I suppose they expected we were filling up the chicken scratch bucket.  


The ladies hung around a bit because they were so sure we were going to give them scratch.


This is one of our homegrown roos.  He is so pretty.  The bird in the back with the reddish neck is also a homegrown roo. He's got Americauna genes.  He's pretty in his own way as well.


Miss Elvis is broody, *again.*


In the nesting box next to her Grandma's baby has taken up residence.  She's broody too.  She's not quite as crabby as Elvis.

And in other news ...


Seeds are for sale at the local Menard*s.

It was a fairly quiet weekend otherwise. I did some knitting and spinning. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around tatting.  I've been watching videos here and there.  So far I'm finding more videos for shuttle tatting than needle tatting. A video series was recommended to me but the gal is Italian and there are 40-some videos in her how-to series.  Needle tatting is already feeling familiar and comfortable to me.  Shuttle tatting is looking intimidating now.  What I need to do is work through a pattern on my own.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A crappy thing happened on the way to work

It was a bit of a rough morning at the homestead. My son told me earlier in the week that he had been picked to participate in the school's spelling bee.  He said he didn't want to participate but got picked because of a "fluke." If I understand correctly, four students from each class were chosen to advance to this level of the spelling bee. 

Anywho, he *really* didn't want to do it. There was a little gnashing of teeth and maybe a few tears, mixed with a whole lot of "I don't wanna."

I promised him I'd pick him up something special today.  He was appeased slightly. 

Off I went to work.  I was cruising along on the highway when I saw something brown-reddish out of the corner of my right eye.  I glanced over just in time to see a bird the size of a chicken fly into the passenger window of my car. 

Not cool!

Never in my driving career has a bird decided to fly into my car like that. Ugh.

When I got to work I inspected the impact area. To my relief there was no damage.

And then I shifted myself and looked at my side mirror.  Oh-em-gee! The whole outer shell of my mirror is gone.


 When I took a second look at the mirror when I was in my car I realized the whole thing has shifted some how.  I haven't tried to adjust the mirror yet and I can't see if the defrost works. 

Grrrr.

I spent most of the day fretting over the potential cost of  having to replace the mirror. Because, the more I thought about this, I figured I would most likely have to replace the whole thing.

Fortunately my guy has good google-fu when it comes to finding deals.  He was able to find a replacement part for much less than I thought it would be. There is a youtube video where someone explains how to replace the mirror. Fingers crossed for me please.

Work was fairly quiet. I made myself go out at lunch time and the sun was out.  The temps were over 30 degrees F and the snow was a bit melty.  If I didn't know better I would have sworn it was spring time.

The special goody I got my son?  A brownie box mix. He was a happy camper when I pulled the brownies out of the oven.  I had only a small nibble.


 My son told me tonite that he didn't make it all the way through the spelling bee.  He got flubbed up on the word "truffle." I'm proud of him.

A few days ago I started my shawl. I'm four repeats into a 10 repeat pattern.


I've tried doing a little bit more tatting but I haven't been successful with anything yet. The pieces haven't turned out right or something weird happened while I was pulling the thread through the stitches. 

I'm feeling very TGIF-y for tomorrow.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New hobby (I told you, I collect them)

I'm not doing so great with the writing this month.  I'm still trying to get back into routine and it hasn't been easy after having so much time off of work and school. It's a weak excuse but it is the truth.

Last Wednesday we had our first no school day due to the cold temperatures. Thankfully the day was my work-at-home day. It made for an interesting time.  I'm so thankful my son knows how to entertain himself.

I'm finally on a week where I don't have to worry about getting stuff ready for the following publishing Monday.  Gives me a chance to catch up on a few things and have grand delusions of long range plans.

Some knitting has been accomplished.


My stripey socks are almost done. All that is needed are the afterthought heels.  I'm going to let these marinate for a bit before I wrap them up.

I think the next thing I pop on the needles will be a shawl. Not a complicated one.  Something made from LionBrand homespun yarn.  I *heart* that yarn for big comfy shawls.

This week I decided to try my hand at tatting.  Yes, you read that right. Even though I told myself "oh no, I won't get into tatting," I did.  A few months ago I purchased the necessary tools. A few shuttles and a set of tatting needles.  Someone suggested to me that I try needle tatting first. 

I scoured the interwebs and got a pretty good idea on how to do the stitching.  It's the joining of the chains and circles which has me a bit frustrated. A few websites were suggested to me, as well.

Last night I found this youtube video.  I liked how clear and even paced the video was. But I wanted to *make* something.

I settled on following the tutorial by TotusMel over on Instructables. I couldn't quite follow the instructions and the video went too fast and had no sound.  I did find out that she loaded the same video with audio and I followed it while I made the project. 

After a few false starts I got something.


Woo hoo!  I think it's pretty great for a first project. 

Yesterday I stopped at the store and picked myself up a little case for carrying around any tatting projects I might be working on.


Many years ago I got a gift from a friend in a cool gift box.  I've been holding onto the box.  The tatting tools I'm not using will go in it. 


I haven't read any more of Wine of Violence (Medieval Mystery) because I got Cat Trick (A Magical Cats Mystery) from the library. I got Scrap-N-Craft mystery for my kindle from the library.  I'm a glutton for punishment when it comes to books.

Weather people are assuring us that temperatures will hit the 30s F by the weekend. Right now it's cold and windy.

Our little Elvis is going broody again. She's starting to guard the fake egg with a vengeance. 

I didn't realize until today that we have four roos.  It sort of slapped me in the face when I saw them this afternoon.

Hens are doing all right.  We are getting 10-12 eggs a day. We've developed a taste for hard-boiled eggs on our salads.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to normal

Yesterday was our last day of vacation. We pretty much hung out at home and didn't do much of anything except watch TV. I discovered Star Gate is on Amazon Prime. Yeah, we are going through the whole series again. I forgot how much I enjoyed the show. 

I did do some spinning yesterday.  Oh, it was glorious. I had two bobbins ready for doing a two-ply. Took less than half an hour to ply. It was just what I needed to satisfy the spinning itch.

Today was my first day back at work and "normal." After almost two straight weeks of not having to do much of anything it was a bit hard to get back into routine. The day was fairly quiet, thankfully.

My commute was boring because I don't currently have an audiobook to listen too.  Boo!

Knitting has been going on. I'm almost done with my first sock.  It needs an afterthought heel and it will be complete.  Decent progress has been made on the second one.


I've started a new book on my kindle. It's Wine of Violence (Medieval Mystery #1)   At first I wasn't sure I would like it but now I'm intrigued to see where the story goes.

The cold is still here. With the windchill factor it felt -25 to -45 degrees F, at times. The sun was out for a bit.  By the end of the work day the sky was grey.

The chickens are doing all right however.  I can tell they are getting a bit of cabin fever. Many of them look out the door when I open it.  No one dares to try and run out now.  They can feel the cold.