Tag Archives: education

As Crafty as a Fox

Today dawned cool, clear, and calm.  Once all of the animals were fed, pooper scooped, and set free for the day, I parked myself on the porch swing with a mug full of coffee and the newest edition of Taproot magazine.

Morning

To the east there were tractors mowing and baling, to the west a single tractor mowing. If the weather holds for a few more days, the tractors will be here, mowing our farm and baling the hay for winter.

Today was the beginning of the two day hatch for Mama Hen #2.  At dinner time tonight, she had 4 healthy fluffy active chicks, one just hatched, still wet and trying to find it’s legs, and one pipping.  The rest of the eggs were put under her on day two, so perhaps there will be more tomorrow.  Without the grandkids here, I am leaving her alone, hoping not to have the loss we had two weeks ago.  The Memorial weekend chicks will be 2 weeks old tomorrow.  They are beginning to get the tiny wing feathers that come in first.  They are in and out of Huck’s coop with no trouble now, feeding and scratching where the hay bale sat before I erected their little pen.  This morning, I finished putting a base on the second nest bucket for the newest littles.  They will be moved with the hen late tomorrow and I’m sure she will keep them inside the coop for at least a few days.  Most of today’s hatch look like mixed breed birds, all but one have some darker feathers, so they will all be culls, raised for 16 to 18 weeks for meat.  I am hoping for at least 3 Buff Orpington pullets out of these two hatchings to increase my laying flock.

Today has been a crafty day.  My favorite denim skirt has been getting threadbare.  Each time I put it on, I realized that I shouldn’t be wearing it, but I didn’t want to discard it, so this afternoon, Icut the bottom 5″ off to make a strap, sewed the bottom together and squared the corners and now I have a new denim tote bag with pockets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Late last winter, eldest son, who wears a knit hat from fall to late spring, lost one that I had made for him to go with a Moebius scarf.  Not having any more of that yarn, I used some of my handspun yarn to make him a hat to wear as it wasn’t warm enough to go without one yet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is a nice warm hat, but just a tad big on him.  Also, it has to be hand washed.  I promised him at least one more before next winter, that can be machine washed.  One of the installments from my monthly fiber club from Unplanned Peacock, was superwash merino.  It is called Candied Violets, but the colors are complementary with gray, so I have spun most of it up since yesterday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is mostly a creamy white with hints of gray, yellow, violet, and blue.  I ordered a slate gray superwash from her yesterday and will spin it and ply it with the white to make another for him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The last of my May Spinning Box was spun into a mini skein that reminds me of a box of crayons.  It will probably be added to my shop, though it is only 69+ yards of sport weight yarn.  Maybe I will use it to knit trim on a hat made of the cotton candy pink merino in the shop and sell the hat instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Toward the end of the month, I am going to spend an afternoon with 7 to 12 year olds at a summer camp to teach them a bit about spinning.  They will see a spinning demonstration with the wheel, but before that, they will each be given a drop spindle that I made today.  A bit of fiber to teach them how yarn is made.  Once they play with the spindles for a while, each will be given a chance on the wheel to spin a bit of yarn to take home.  Each of them will leave with a spindle, a couple of ounces of fiber, and a piece of yarn that they spun on the wheel.

Yesterday, I harvested the garlic scapes and made garlic scape pesto with half of them.  That was frozen in an ice cube tray, the rest chopped and frozen to use as garlic when I begin to make pasta sauce later in the summer.  Last night, I harvested edible pod peas and chard and we enjoyed them with a chop for dinner.

Still loving life on our mountain farm.

From Farm to Table

Years ago, when I taught Biology on the high school level, I was often reminded that our society of city dwellers are so far removed from the production of our food, that most of my students had no idea that their food was grown by people, harvested and processed into the canned and frozen products on the grocery shelves.  The idea that their meat had been a living animal and that someone had to raise, feed, and have it slaughtered and butchered to be put on the styrofoam trays, wrapped in plastic in the meat case was so foreign to them that they would argue with me over it. Truly a sad state of affairs.

Though they visited farms in Florida, I think it has been a good experience for my grand children to see that the chickens that I raise produce our eggs.  That the chicken we put on the table was grown here on the farm, killed, cleaned and prepared here.  The plants in the garden produce the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, squash, popcorn, peas and beans that they eat. They like helping out in the garden and pulling weeds to feed the chickens.  To see the chicks hatch and know that they are being raised to produce the chicken and eggs we eat.

It is wonderful that there are cities that have started community gardens and schools that have gardens to teach children about food production and nutrition, but it needs to go farther.  Watching chicks hatch in an incubator in a second grade classroom doesn’t really tell them from where their eggs and chicken come.

N and her mom went with me to an alpaca sheering and she sees me spinning yarn and knitting them hats, mittens, and sweaters from yarn, so she also has some realization that clothing doesn’t just come from a store.

Though I haven’t convinced them that homemade bread is better than factory produced balloon bread, they do love my corn bread, biscuits, scones, and made from scratch pancakes.

This has been a week of illness at our house.  N was sick on Sunday, ok on Monday, sick again on Tuesday, ok on Wednesday and sick again yesterday.  Today she seems ok again and started eating again last night.  Daughter is in her first week of her new job and she has the stuffies, maybe from pollen that is increasing each day. One evening, I felt the virus that N had, but fortunately it was very short lived, only the one afternoon and evening, never like N.

Last night, two of my spinning friends came to our house to learn to make soap.  In the frenzy of giving them the hands on experience, each making a batch with the other looking on and me on the sidelines coaching, I failed to take a single picture.  They each left with a full mold of soap they made, one 3 pound batch of Lavender Rose and one of Bergamot Lemongrass and some palm oil to help them get started on their own.  The only photo are the little muffin tins of overflow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Both of these ladies are fiber artists, animal raisers, spinners, knitters and I was gifted with fiber to spin and knit in thanks, a great gift.  What a great feeling to help others learn a skill and send them home with some of what they need to get started.

These two friends attend the spinning retreat that I attend, and one of them mentioned that she was selling her Strauch Petit Drum Carder to get a mechanized one. Once home, I talked with Jim about it and last night, she brought it to me as I decided to purchase it from her.  I am excited.  I will be able to blend fibers and fiber colors now. If I finally get brave enough to attempt to dye the fibers myself, I will increase my fun some more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With Easter coming up this weekend, I was asked by K to hard cook some eggs for the kiddos to dye before Sunday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Farm fresh eggs won’t peel if boiled, so I learned after starting to raise my own eggs, to steam them for 20 minutes.  They cook perfectly, no green ring around the yolk and peel like a charm.  This is the batch I did second, when the first batch had three cracked eggs in it and I knew not to let them dye them.  I’m not a fan of the commercial dyes, but they are easiest and most child friendly, so they will dye the dozen eggs with their Mom and Dad tonight or tomorrow.

I didn’t want to be left out of the natural dye method this year, so while their eggs were steaming, I did three with yellow onion skins, three in beets, and one each of my Americaunas’ eggs as one lays blue eggs and the other green.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Later I am going to do a few with red cabbage, both brown eggs and Americaunas to see what shades of blue I get.  The beet dyed ones surprised me, instead of the pink I expected, it turned the brown eggs more yellow.  I know that these won’t be peel-able for deviled eggs as they had to be boiled with the natural dyes to get their color, but for breakfast or egg salad, they will be fine.  Since 4 of the 20 eggs cracked during cooking, I enjoyed a couple for my breakfast.  The kids were fascinated with the natural dyed eggs, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun for them as once you put them on the stove to boil with their dye, they just cook. They will have their fun later.

I love the rich brown of the onion skin dyed eggs.  Maybe I should start saving more of the skins and see what color it dyes yarn.