Different types of challenges

There are fun challenges, physical challenges, financial challenges, personal challenges, mental challenges, and many more.

We face various challenges daily with different mindsets. Sometimes our challenges require us to buck up and tough it out. Sometimes our challenges overwhelm and send us spiraling downward. Or upward when we overcome them.

The social media spindle group to which I subscribe offers monthly challenges. Some have definite guidelines, others are to set your own and then strive to fulfill them. This past month, the challenge was to spin color, it could be your favorite, one you don’t like, one that is new to you. I had be given a two samples from a braid of Rambouillet wool. They came with two new spindles, one I won the lottery to be able to purchase, the second, a gift from hubby for our 45th anniversary. One sample was browns, whites, and teal, the second was just the teal. I reached out to the indie dyer from whom the Jenkins (spindle maker and his wife who does all the labelling, marketing, and packaging) had obtained it. She was able to send me a 4 ounce package of just the teal, a color I generally lean toward (my phone case, some accessories, etc).

All month long I have been spinning this wool, mostly on my smaller Jenkins Finch style Turkish spindles, a little on my Golding drop spindle with a lovely inset of Sunflowers, painted by a Ukranian artist. The month is coming to a close and as of yesterday, there was still about 1/3 of the package of wool to be spun. Several ounces into spinning it, I no longer cared for the color and the wool, a breed I had only sampled before reminded me too much of another breed I don’t care to spin. Basically, wanting to just quit on it.

Yesterday, the local spinning group to which I below, not just the couple of neighbors that I spin with weekly, held it’s annual front deck spin in hosted by one of the members and her DH. This all afternoon event includes a pot luck lunch and in addition to the regulars that can attend the one afternoon a week meet up, folks from as far away as about 4 hours, who many of us know from retreats, also attend. An opportunity to see some friends only seen a couple of times a year is wonderful. I had been looking for a small travel spinning wheel, and the couple from 4 hours away had one they were willing to part with. They brought it with them yesterday for me to purchase.

A new challenge, plying the wool spun all month on a wheel I had never previously used, outdoors in the chilly breeze. It took a little while to get the tension and ratio right for the fine, too soft almost threadlike singles of the spindle spun wool, but it was accomplished, hopefully with enough twist to be good yarn.

And once home after spinning more on the spindles at the event, a bit was set aside to fulfill the last week of the challenge and the remaining wool is being spun on the new wheel to be plied later today or this evening. It is spinning to the same yarn weight on the wheel, so there should be a nice, light weight, large yardage, 4 ounce skein when the two are combined. It may get set aside until the color again appeals to be to made into a project, or the skein may become a door prize or gift exchange item for a later event.

This project has presented several different types of challenges, some self imposed, some imposed by other reasons, but it almost done.

Next month, a more preferred fiber for spinning will be chosen as it will be a practice for the Tour de Fleece challenge in July. Our group doesn’t compete in any of the larger Tour de Fleece challenges with other groups, it is just a “for fun” challenge within our group with some prizes at the end. I will definitely pick a wool with some color variation and of a breed that I enjoy spinning. Rambouillet is now added to the list to not spin again in the future. I definitely don’t prefer the very soft, shorter fibered wools. I want a bit of substance in my spin.

Be Local

There are variations of bumper stickers around to remind us to keep our money close to home, to support local businesses, local farmers, local crafters. I particularly endorse this mindset. When we eat out, we try to go to the local restaurants, yes, they do have to purchase some goods trucked from many miles away, but many also support the local farmers and purchase their goods when available. We do a weekly trip to the local Farmers’ Market, where they can sell nothing grown more than 50 miles from it, so all meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits are grown locally. The meat vendors prescribe to the practice of pasture raising their animals and do not use feedlots to “fatten” them up before processing. The produce vendors practice organic methods of growing, even if they don’t all go through the expensive and arduous process of becoming certified. Many of them do use big hoop houses to extend the seasons, so often, greens, radishes, and pea shoots are available long before and after my gardens can provide.

Every couple of years, I reread, Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, of her family’s one year adventure to only eat what they could grow or purchase from local farmers. It helps me to renew my resolve to try to keep it local. We aren’t as dedicated as they were, continuing to purchase fresh fruit and frozen berries out of season that has been hauled from Mexico or California during the off seasons. But we do have an orchard with 4 different fruit trees and 3 different berries to enjoy in season as well as Wine berries and wild blackberries growing around the hayfields of the farm that can also be picked when the hay is mowed and you can get to them. This year, it was harder to get going on the garden for some reason, though it is now all planted. I am currently rereading her book to jump start my motivation to stay on it. The loss of nearly half my hens in the past few months was difficult, but the remaining 7 are providing enough eggs for daughter’s family and our use.

As I go to deal with the hens in the morning, I walk along the north edge of the vegetable garden and note the first asparagus tips emerge, then the daily or near daily venture in to cut the ones that are 6 to 8″ tall. This allows me to walk past the garlic and see it’s progress, and up past the peas, spinach, carrots, and radishes. The other side of the asparagus bed are the beans. This morning, a large handful of asparagus was cut and the garlic had scapes, so they were snapped off to bring in as well. This sent me back out with scissors to cut the large spinach leaves with the idea that sauteed garlic scapes and spinach would be a delightful addition to dinner. I will also enjoy some of the asparagus (not hubby’s favorite). With an egg for my protein, that will be a wonderful dinner if a healthy starch is added in the form of brown rice, sweet potato, slice of local whole grain sourdough bread, or even a baked or roasted white potato. He will get some meat with his. It doesn’t get any fresher or more local than this.

The asparagus will soon come to an end so they can grow the tall ferny tops to provide the crowns with the necessary food to provide us with stalks next spring. When the weather gets consistently warmer, the spinach will bolt and it too will end until a fall planting can be made. The second crop of radishes is up, the peas are flowering, the beans are sprouting, and all of the starts planted out a few days ago are thriving. It took some self motivation to get going this year, but the garden is providing and will continue on for the next few months. The Farmers’ Market will still be visited for vegetables I don’t grow, meats for hubby and visitors, and an occasional loaf of sourdough bread or chunk of local cheese. We strive to be local, and are thankful for the garden, orchard, and local Farmers’ Market that is the best one I have ever visited.

Let’s Try Again

The farm’s (my) bee experiment last year was a total failure. Early this spring, two nuks were ordered from a local beekeeper, member of the same organization I joined for help. Son 2 who started this adventure on our farm, picked up all of the deep boxes and frames to expand his hives where he lives. Because of my age, strength, and a recently ruptured bicep, I decided to work only with medium boxes and frames. This morning, I received a text saying my bees were ready to pick up and could I come today. That wasn’t a problem, the graduation ceremony at the University was very early today, so traffic was not as bad as the last few days.

We picked them up, put them in the cool garage, and went to take our walk. Once home, equipment was gathered, the boxes set up on the stands with the bottoms in place. The new spacers and entrance reducers were installed, the extra frames that would be needed to fill in the five from the nuk were put in place and finally, donned the very hot bee jacket with veil and gloves. The nuk boxes were opened and bees transferred to their new homes. The nuks were much better than the ones we started with last year, lots of bees, lots of capped brood, and two good frames of stores.

They will be left to settle in for a couple of weeks, then I will examine them and make sure that all is well. The locust and basswood trees are in full bloom right now, so nectar flow should be good and hopefully, there will be greater success this year.

Again, I will try to be a beekeeper.