Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Big Brother”-5/27/2019

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In high school, I read 1984 by George Orwell and in my naivette, believed that such dystopia could ever exist.  Then computers happened, and cell phones.  Debit cards and apps to  “get reward points.”  We are constantly tracked, watched, monitored, and sometimes it is frightening.  If I meet a friend for coffee, or dine out with hubby, even if I pay cash and use no app for rewards, often within a short period of time I am asked if I want to review where I was or a place near to where I was.

On Friday, I received a phone call which I didn’t answer as I didn’t recognize the phone number.  A few minutes later I received a text message from the caller, a valid call, but the caller was unavailable then to talk and said they would call later.  The call hasn’t been made as of yet, but I put the caller’s first name and number in my phone so I would recognize it when the call came in.  The next day, that person appeared on my Facebook list of people to whom I might wish to friend.  We have no friends in common.  That is frightening.

I know you can turn off location setting on your phone, but we actually found hubby’s lost phone a year ago by using it’s location.  I know that if you disappear and your phone is on you, you can be found using location service, but it is frightening.

I guess Big Brother really is watching and I don’t think I really want to know to what extent.

Olio – 3/9/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Last weekend was the twice a year Fiber Retreat that I attend each February/March.  The group was a bit smaller this time, but the company was fun, the food was good (they finally got a restaurant manager that knows what she is doing), and it was a pretty good vending event.

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I came home with a Jacob pelt to sit on, especially when I am on a hard chair at Living history events or retreats.

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Additionally, I came home with a gift of 5 raw fleeces, two are Jacobs, one of my new favorites from Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.  Some of the fleeces are going to be shared with a friend that raises Mohair goats, but at least one Jacob is going to be processed by me when I finish spinning my 15 breeds.

Prior to leaving, a new found social media friend and I were talking and she makes felted hats among other things.  Several years ago, I walked away at SAFF from a felted hat that I adored and have regretted it since.  Friend says she can make me one.  Some back and forth over style and color and since I wanted to use one of my woven tapes for the hat band, a price was set and this arrived shortly  after my return.

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What fun to wear.  Such a great purchase.

The week has been spent continuing to recover from our auto accident.  We each had another visit with our physician and each had another orthopedic manipulation done to try to loosen up the tight soreness from the whiplash and another discussion about how long the brain fog, headaches, and dizziness when I bend down will last from the concussion.  It is such a hassle to deal with the discomfort and all the insurance issues when we were not at fault.  The car is in the shop and is supposed to be ready by Monday afternoon more than a month after the accident.

The week has also been spent doing some spinning, finishing two more breeds for the challenge and spinning up a “black” Rambouilett Dorset few ounces and an orange Coopworth few ounces that I had planned to ply together, but didn’t like the way the sample looked knitted, so they were plyed on themselves.  The other two spun were Tunis, originally from Tunisia, and Black Welsh Mountain originally from Wales.  The Black Welsh Mountain is on the threatened list and the Tunis is on the watch list from the Livestock Conservancy.

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Currently I am spinning Hog Island, origin Britian and US and Florida Cracker, origin Spain, both on the critical list.  My last breed to make 15 is going to be Cotswold and it is on it’s way to me via mail.

Yesterday we awoke to it snowing and though the roads never really got bad, we had a few inches.  Some of the daylilies had broken ground and their tender tips got burned.  They will recover with spring thinking about making it’s way to the mountains.  The Autumn Joy didn’t seem to mind the snow.

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For the past couple of months, the kitchen sink drain has been sluggish.  I have tried all of the “natural” cures, baking soda and vinegar; washing soda and boiling water to no avail.  Last night while cleaning up from dinner, it didn’t drain and sat with a couple of inches of water in it all night.  This morning, I poured a cup or so of vinegar into the standing water and we went out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  On the way home, a stop at the hardware store and a 15′ drain snake was purchased.

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Though I have done other plumbing repairs including removing a toilet, clearing it and reinstalling it with a new wax ring when our youngest (now in his 30s) tried to flush a Burger King Capital Critter unsuccessfully), installing a new garbage disposal in a house about 30 years ago, clearing P traps and tub drains, this was my first experience with the snake, fortunately not requiring any real contortions due to continued soreness.  There is now one in the house for future use and I feel more confident in its use.

What love is. -2/14/2019

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Forty one years ago tonight, we became Mr. and Mrs.  It seems impossible that it could have been that long.  It has been a good 41.  Together we raised three bright, independent children.  There have been a few houses, many pets, lots of cars, a few job changes and finally retirement together.

There have been some medical scary moments, but we have gotten through them together.  Some tight money times when I stayed home with new babies, or you starting your own practice, but we got through them together too.

Your are my rock and my best friend.  You picked this day, such a romantic choice.  I love you dearly and hope we have many more together.

The Crazy Cat Lady – 12/14/18

But not cats, spinning equipment.  A while back, I posted that I finally had all the spinning equipment that I needed and it was all comfortable to me.  Well, an opportunity presented itself this past summer to purchase an antique sitting quill spinning wheel from Pennsylvania.  It couldn’t be shipped, but a friend was an acquaintance of the seller and was going to be in her area a few weeks after and she said she would pick it up and take it to her home until we could connect.  We live about 3-4 hours apart.  She and her husband were going to be setting up at the Shenandoah Fiber Festival in September and though that is also 3+ hours from home, we can visit our eldest son and his family in that region, a plan was hatched.

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This beautiful little wheel joined the huge walking wheel in our loft.  She has been taken to a couple of living history events as she travels in the back of my car nicely.  But this meant that the Ashford Traveller that I had been taking wouldn’t go anymore, and though a pretty little wheel, wasn’t what I wanted for everyday spinning, her bobbins were too small and I didn’t want to spend more money to get the larger flyer, so she was offered for sale and sold quickly.  The Ashford came apart enough to box it in a medium moving box and it could be shipped.  That left me with no everyday wheel and I wanted something with huge bobbins and yet small enough to travel, so Miss Polly came home with me, a Spinolution Pollywog, a tiny little 8 pounder.

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So now, I had the 49″ diameter great wheel, the sitting quill wheel, Miss Poly, and a gorgeous Golding drop spindle.  Then I found another Golding spindle that called to me and I purchased it.

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The Celtic sheep spindle is a joy and spindles are so portable to take spinning anywhere, anytime.

Yesterday was our spinning group’s annual Christmas Party with Dirty Santa exchange, potluck snacks, and camaraderie.  It is always a fun afternoon with the opportunity to give away fibery items you no longer want, sell those that you don’t want but don’t want to give away, and of course the Dirty Santa fun.  One of our group members has turned her interest to quilting in the past few years and has dropped out of coming to the weekly gatherings and the parties and she decided that since she was no longer using her wheel, that it should find a new home.  The hostess picked it up from her home and brought it to her own home.  The original owner did not want to sell it, she just wanted it to go to a new loving home.  The wheel is a 40 year old Jensen, hand made wheel and it is beautiful.  That wheel came home with me yesterday.

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She is larger than my sitting quill, but smaller than the great wheel, a large sturdy Saxony style wheel of Cherry wood and she glows.  With the leather fittings and old style hooks, she also can go to living history events with or instead of the sitting quill wheel.  The loft now houses 4 wheels, I’m running out of space, but not out of love for the art and the beautiful equipment.

Perhaps an intervention is in order.  At least an organization so that I can use them and get to the fiber to spin on them.

Changes noted – 10/7/2018

As we were doing our weekly grocery run for those items that can’t be purchased at the Farmers’ Market or grown at home a trend was noticed, not for the first time.  After picking up a couple of items that were lighter than they used to be, I noticed this.  Rather than keeping food products the size they used to be and raising the price as needed to keep the business afloat, they decrease the package size and keep the price at the old level, or only slightly more expensive.

You used to buy a pound of coffee but now the packages are 8 or 12 ounces, sugar for making jams used to come in 5 pound sacks, now they are 3 or 4.  We buy an inexpensive cat food to supplement the diet of our barn cat and you could buy it in a 4 pound jug that could be refilled with bags until the jug dried out to the point of having to be recycled.  Then I noticed that the bags no longer filled the jug and when I needed to replace the jug, they were no longer available.  The kibble is now in a 3 pound bag for the price the 4 pounder used to cost.  These are just a few of the items, look at jars of nut spreads and mayo, most are fewer ounces than just a few years ago.  Some of these items are available in bulk at the natural food store, so the price is reflected by the ounce and you buy what you need, but it has made me notice when the foods are prepackaged, even items we don’t purchase.

Our grocery budget reflects this as the items must be replenished more often, so there isn’t a saving and the illusion that prices haven’t gone up is purely that, an illusion.

Time was spent in the garden a couple days ago, the corn is down and tossed to the chickens to peck for bugs and ears too small to harvest.  Much weeding was done, but the Creeping Charlie is taking over and must be eradicated somehow.  The asparagus ferns were attacked with hedge clippers that didn’t begin to cut through them, so a stalk at a time being cut with a small cross blade clipper.  They are only about 1/3 down and the pile of dried ferns is huge.  They have to be dragged over to the burn pile and not composted because of the threat of asparagus beetles.  Some people burn them in place, but my asparagus are in a wooden box, so no fires in my garden, plus it is only feet from my main chicken coop.

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More walks this week, one along an old now paved rail grade.  I love the cut through the hillside, it is always cool and damp no matter how hot the afternoon temperatures.

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Sumac and wild asters lining the trail.

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And another evening harvest and canning session.

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The beans harvested that night for dinner were tough and tasteless, that season is done.  The tomatoes are ending, but the peppers continue to overwhelm.  The rest will be left on the plants to ripen to red for drying and fermented hot sauces.

The chicken molt has taken its toll on the egg business, In 3 days there have only been 5 eggs from 15 hens.  There are no pullets ready to replace them as the schedule didn’t allow for raising day old chicks for 5 weeks this summer.  The old girls will be replaced before next summer and will be culled  before next molt season.  Usually at least part of the flock is replaced each year so some hens continue to lay, but the entire flock were raised at the same time and are 2 1/2 years old.  Laying will probably be scarce after the molt due to age and cold weather coming on.  This may be a winter with no hens.  Rural King can order me chicks now and they could be ready to lay by spring.  Something to consider.

Back to the Harvest – 8/30/2018

With the trip behind us, it was time to return to the putting by for winter, a routine that generally is done a bit at a time all summer.  The berries were early and dozens of jars of jam were made and stored.  The tomatoes are not as prolific as in years past and with the blister beetle damage and something that takes a bite out of every one that turns red on the vine, I started picking them pink, ripening them in a window sill, and popping them in a huge bag in the freezer when they were ripe.  Once home, the apples and Asian Pears were ripe and beginning to drop, so they were harvested.  Also before leaving, a bag of Muscadine grapes were harvested and popped into the freezer for later.

The young apple trees that we bought about 5 or 6 years ago do not produce good fruit.  The fruits are small and gnarly, but have good flavor.  Some years I make applesauce from them, but it looked to be too much effort this year with the misshapen damaged little fruits and I wasn’t sure what would become of them, when Wilderness Road Regional Museum posted that their press was up and running and cider was being made for their Harvest Festival.  There weren’t enough apples to get much cider, but the Asian Pears were better formed in spite of some stink bug damage and they also were picked.  There were about 8 gallons of fruit in two buckets and Tuesday afternoon, off we went to press most of it.

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The two buckets produced a bucket full of dry pulp for the chickens and a gallon of rich cider for us.  A quart was stored in the refrigerator to enjoy now and the remaining 3 quarts were put into wide mouth pint jars and frozen for later.

Yesterday, the remaining Asian Pears were sitting on the counter and half were peeled and cooked down with a chopped orange and some sugar to make a few half pints of Pear Marmalade.

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Last night, the grapes were removed from the freezer and pulled from their stems to sit over night in a covered pot.  First thing this morning, a cup or so of water was added and they were simmered soft and run through the food mill to remove skins and seeds, then through a tight mesh bag to remove the pulp that remained.  There wasn’t enough juice to make a batch of jelly, so a couple of cups of unsweetened Concord grape/cranberry juice was added and a few half pints of very grapey jelly were made and canned.

Following that, the last few Asian Pears were peeled, cored, and chopped along with the pulp of a fresh lemon, some sugar, and pectin and a few pints of Asian Pear jam added as well.

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That left the tomatoes.  The bags of frozen tomatoes were dumped in the sink to begin to thaw so that the core could be removed and the skins slipped off.

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A pot full of basic tomato sauce was simmering on the stove to be turned into a  sauce that can be seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices for pasta or spiked with hot peppers for chili when the weather chills.  Once it  thickened enough, it was ladled into jars and canned for the panty shelves.

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The first six pints of 11 jarred.

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Though only 10 will make it to the pantry.  A blow out.  That hasn’t happened in a long while, but is a hazard of canning.

 

The tomato plants are recovering from the blister beetle damage and hopefully, we will get enough additional tomatoes for at least one more batch of the sauce.  We go through many jars of pasta sauce and chili tomatoes each winter and purchasing them at the grocer does not appeal to me.  I prefer knowing what goes into my food without the unidentified “spices” and preservatives that the labels always describe.

Now we await the onslaught of hot peppers for pickling and fermented sauces, the cabbages to mature for cold storage and another batch of sauerkraut, and hopefully more tomatoes as 11 pints will not get us through the winter.  There is still one pumpkins maturing in the garden and a few tiny ones that may never reach a usable size, but if not, they will be split and tossed to the chickens.

I am beginning to see more feathers in the coop and run, molting season is arriving and that means fewer or no eggs for a month or so.  Perhaps I should freeze more so there are some for baking during the non productive period.

 

 

Garden and Prep

Late yesterday afternoon I went out to pick the last of the peas and enough bush beans for dinner.  I ended up picking the peas and pulling spent vines for the chickens to peck through.  The bean patch was full of ripe beans and a whole basket was brought in, some enjoyed with dinner, the rest blanched and frozen for winter meals.  There was now a 4 by 8 foot bed empty from the peas and another planting of beans will be made there, the local natural foods store carries the Southern Exposure seed that I prefer and they still had the beans in stock today.

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My plan for today was to make fermented horseradish mustard for eldest son and one for me.  Going over to dig the horseradish root ended up with a major weeding in that corner of the garden that is my compost area every other year.  It was full of tall lambs quarters, some plant from the mint family that doesn’t smell particularly good, and other intruders.  That done, I could get to the horseradish and dug a good handful to soak, scrape, and grate.  Two pints of mustard are fermenting on the counter.

Each time we have enjoyed sweet corn this summer, bought at the local village store (I don’t grow sweet corn), I come home with three because they always have it priced at 3 for $1.59, but we usually only eat two, so the third one has been cooked and cut from the cob and frozen.  Today, it was turned into 4 half pints of corn and tomato relish, a slightly spicy one with a chopped jalapeño in it.  The peppers are beginning to provide in small quantities.

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While I was moving through the aisles to get to that corner of the garden, I realized that the onion tops had toppled, the clue to harvest them, so a wheelbarrow full of onions was brought into the root cellar and they were spread out on the shelves to cure.

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In the midst of all of this, a friend texted and asked if I wanted part of a daylily she was dividing and I never turn down perennials, but my bed was in need of some work, so grandson and I got it weeded, a new edge cut in, divided two of mine that needed it and planted them.  She will get a division of the peachy colored one in the header.

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And just because they are pretty while blooming, the barrels of herbs and flowers are included.

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It is a good time of year, with produce to put by, flowers to enjoy, and fresh herbs for cooking.

Still love my life on this mountain farm.

Sigh of relief – May 9, 2018

On Sunday, April 29th, our German Shepherd startled, broke her collar and bolted into the town neighborhood where our daughter and her family were doggie sitting for the weekend.  We arrived at her house to find her in tears, her husband out walking the streets, half their neighbors also looking.  We got there about 11 p.m., an hour and a half after she bolted and spent the next hour and a half driving through the neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods calling to no avail.  Over the next 10 days, we walked and drove, searched and talked to people. There were several sightings, some of them good sightings, but by the time our daughter or we got there, there was no sign.  Shadow is a farm/country dog and has never allowed us to socialize her very well.  She likes other dogs, cats, and children, but is wary of adults until she gets to know them, is terrified of bicycles, skateboards, people with walking sticks or canes, and the vacuum cleaner.  Thunder doesn’t bother her, but other sudden noises do.  She was lost in a very high density area and totally out of her element.

We had contacted the Animal Control and Care Center, the Humane Society, every local vet, and handed out at least 100 flyers with her photo, description, and our phone numbers.  We posted it on Facebook, Reddit, and Craigslist.   Sunday she appeared in a cul de sac where friends of our daughter live, they saw her just as two dogs chased her away, down a gully and off toward a more densely populated area of town homes.  That was the last sighting until this morning.  She showed up down in a muddy gully behind some houses with steep back yards and almost came to the woman who spotted her.  She tracked down our phone number and called me after lunch and told us to go through her yard down to the gully.  We immediately got in the car and drove the 25 minutes over there and did go down into the wet overgrown area, calling quietly as we walked in opposite directions from the yard.  There were dog tracks and lots of deer tracks until I could go no further due to the undergrowth.  Discouraged, I returned to the back of the yard where we started, still softly calling her and she came bounding out of the undergrowth, through the mud and right up to me, as relieved as were we.  Generally she doesn’t like the chain collar put on but she stuck her head right in, jumping up on both of us, a very uncharacteristic behavior and coating us in muddy paw prints.

As we couldn’t get in to see the vet for a check for 2 1/2 hours, we brought her home, rinsed some of the mud off, pulled ticks, and tried to check her for other injury.  She has a slight skunk odor, not like she was sprayed, just like she had walked through areas where they had been.  She has a few minor abrasions and a small cut under one eye, a bit of a limp and lost almost 7 pounds (she only weighted 70 when she disappeared).  The vet couldn’t find anything significantly wrong, said the cut looks like it is going to heal untreated, but gave us Rimadyl to help her inflammation and leg tenderness.  We got her spring dose of Bravecto to rid her of any fleas and kill the ticks.  She ate heartily, has an unquenchable thirst and is stretched out on the floor at home with her giant fur brother, totally sacked out.

Since she broke her collar in the escape, we stopped before the vet visit and got her some new bling, a new collar for her tags and a new matching leash.  We will probably keep her on a leash when she goes out for a day or two until we are sure she knows she is home for good.  She seemed to perk up as we drove down our long gravel road and driveway.   She has mostly stopped trembling.  Maybe in a few days we can give her a doggie shampoo and get rid of the rest of the mud and the scent.

Thank goodness for the folks who shared on social networks, looked for her, called us with sightings, and shared their care and concern.  It helped when we were stressing over her being lost, hungry, and alone.

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Does Absence make the heart grow fonder? 2/18/18

The blog has been quiet.  We took a cruise with no kids, no responsibilities.  Our eldest Daughter in Law came to the farm to critter and house sit which left us with no worries. What a dear.

An early start at 4:52 a.m. 10 days ago, an almost missed flight due to delay of our first leg, a delayed (fortunately not lost) suitcase, a night in a hotel in Tampa, Florida, then off on the ship. Saturday afternoon to the following Saturday morning with 4 port stops in the western Caribbean with several excursions, swimming with the dolphins, riding horseback into the sea, touring ancient Mayan ruins.  We ate, we danced, we swam, we ate some more and celebrated our 40th Anniversary twice, once on our Anniversary, Valentine’s Day in the steak house on board, and the next night at the Chef’s Table event where we had our dessert plates especially decorated, our photo taken, and the biggest meal I have ever eaten.

The Chef’s Table includes a tour of the main galley with pre appetizers, yes, 4 of them followed by an 8 course meal.  I am not a big eater, I don’t really like most seafood, and am not an adventurous eater, but . . .  This event for 10 people is not inexpensive and they dedicate 4 chefs to preparing the special meal, so I ate all of the presentations, Salmon tartar, Crab stack, and Seabass included. Two soup presentations, one cold, one hot.  Duck, beef, and so much more.  It was enjoyable, but it one of those things that as the saying goes, “been there, done that, got the t-shirt (photo)” and would not do it again.

We got in very late last night after many hours of sitting, first to debark, then to catch the first flight leg and more sitting to wait for the second flight leg.  It was 14 hours from leaving the ship to home with the two flights only consuming about 2 1/4 hours of the time.

It is good to be home, returning to a spring like week with some rain.  We will enjoy it knowing that there will be another winter blast before true spring arrives.

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Cruise laundry is done and put away.  House is vacuumed and dusted, and I enjoyed preparing a dinner meal for the three of us, not trying to select something from a buffet or off a menu.  It is good being back on our mountain.  Maybe in a few days, I will quit rocking on the always moving deck, the vertigo like unsteadiness will pass .

Olio December 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The second Holiday Market was yesterday.  It was biting cold when I got there to set up and it was noon before the sun came around enough to provide some warmth, never enough to remove my parka and hat, but I did finally remove my gloves.  It was a great market and I did very well.  It is the last event of the year for me.  The market manager told me that I should bring my spinning wheel and sit and spin.  It was too cold yesterday for me to even drop spindle until it warmed some.  When someone shows interest in the knitwear or yarn, I always let them know that it is hand spun and the knitwear, hand knit by me.  Two ladies were looking at the hats, sweater, and mitts when I told them that.  One of the ladies turned to me and said “What do you mean hand spun?”  Her companion said before I could answer, that it was spun on a spinning wheel.  Lady #1’s eyes got big and she said to me, “You make the yarn and then make the hats?”  She just couldn’t wrap her head around that idea even though I was standing behind my booth with a spinning drop spindle at the time and had knitting on the table.

The cold and wind when I had been fighting a cold for a couple days, left me totally voiceless today.   The week has been very cold and several days of  light snow.

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The grands missed one day of school and had a 2 hour delay the following day because of the extreme cold.  We drove across the state last weekend in the snow, but fortunately the roads were in decent shape.  We delivered Christmas gifts to our youngest and his family and enjoyed a few hours of visit and a meal out.

When we got home last weekend, we went to one of the cut your own Christmas tree farms and got our tree for the year.  It was put up in the stand and has been watered daily.  I put the lights on it and we were waiting for the grands to be able to help us decorate it, but between school, their activities, preparing for and moving stuff from storage to their new house, it hadn’t happened.  Since I am voiceless and a bit under the weather today, I built a fire, put on carols, and Jim and I put most of the ornaments on the tree, leaving a few for the kids to hang this evening.

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That finishes the decorating for this year, now we sit back and enjoy it for a couple of weeks.  Midweek, we made the Christmas dinner purchases as we will travel to visit eldest son and his family next weekend, coming home on Christmas eve.

There has been quite a bit of knitting going on with 3 little girl hats hand knit from my hand spun yarns. IMG_20171212_150448IMG_20171208_111447

 

I failed to photograph the third one, it was all pink.

Now I am working on a project for me, a Hitchhiker scarf, knit in a gradient merino commercial yarn that started with a soft salmon and has turned into a red, though several shades of reds to maroon.

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I tend to knit blues and teals for myself, so it is fun using something brighter.

The cold and snow have the chooks on strike.  Yesterday, there were only 2 eggs from 16 hens.  One of the hens doesn’t seem to be a layer.  Her body shape is more like a guinea hen, her neck longer and thin, and her comb and waddle pale.  She otherwise seems healthy enough as far as activity.  I haven’t seen any sign of parasite activity.  And unlike her Welsummer sisters, she can’t fly over the fence.  She may have to be culled from the coop.  There are too many hens for my coop right now and the coop is requiring frequent cleaning when most winters I can just use the deep litter method of keeping them clean and warm.

Hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.