I’m Joining My Ancestors

I come from a long line of farmers. From about any angle as you travel back in my personal history there are farmers. Did I say I come from farming stock? There were a few who didn’t get the memo that they were suppose to be farmers but considering most of my ancestry has been in the States since the 1700s and before and didn’t live in cities, the given is that they were the farmers that they were.

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Last summer in my little world

Now I live on my own little piece of land and we are building our own little world on it. I often consider what I have and what they had and the agriculture census’ from the 19th century are interesting to compare what we each have. Of course, they had more land than we do, and had crops that we don’t, but I do like seeing where we cross over and this week I even added to our similarities.

Looking at the 1850 agriculture census for Jasper County, Illinois – horses, milch cows, other cattle, sheep, swine are the common animals. With some oxen thrown in here and there. Well, we own one horse and have our third foster looking for a forever home. We don’t have a milch cow, and I believe that would be too much milk even for me to make and use in butter, cheese, etc. The other cattle is taken care of. We have the five heifers still and hopefully four will go to market soon and one will be in the freezer. I doubt the swine will ever come into play but you never know.

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First page of an 1870 agricultural census entry for Hidalgo, Crooked Creek, Jasper County, Illinois

The early agriculture census didn’t include chickens but by the 1880 agriculture census poultry is included as well as how many eggs you got by the dozen over the last year. And yes, everyone has their poultry. So I can claim to have joined the poultry crowd. I’m sure the earlier dates they all had them as well but for some reason whoever set up the categories of the agricultural census didn’t think they were important. I wonder if they were so ubiquitous that it would be easier to see who didn’t have a dozen chickens than who did.

But did you notice that I missed one of the animals up above? My 3 great grandfather John Cummins had 18 of them in 1850, 7 in 1860. Eliphaz Brooks had 14 in 1850. James Carr had 22 in 1870. Reuben Carr had 43 in 1860 and 25 in 1870. Montraville Washington Utley had 10 in 1870 (and yes that was a common name in the family and I wonder where it came from) 10 in 1870. And lastly Jonathan Cowger had 10 in 1870.

So last Saturday evening I got a message from a friend that has Gulf Coast Native Sheep and she had twin boys whose mother had died. Did I want to take on two bottle babies? Can you guess how long it took for my heart to start racing and going ballistic at the possibility?

After talking with Mark and lots of messages back and forth, I went and picked up two sweet boys to add to the farm.

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All packed up to head to our new home

We made the run on Monday to pick them up and they have been so much fun. Quite entertaining and boy do they love feeding time.

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It is a lovely day

Now they have a whole new world to explore, and I get to join my ancestors who also had sheep. Can’t wait to see what the future holds. And the poor boys are still waiting on names. Their new mother is very particular about names and so they are still just The Boys.

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What is this?

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber | Tags: | 3 Comments

Darning Good Socks

I have three pair of good thick wool socks, and yes, my feet get cold even in a Central Texas winter. I love my thick wool socks. Alas, I wear them all over and it doesn’t take long for heels to wear out. Now these three pair of socks I just couldn’t get rid of so I decided that I must learn to darn socks. So to YouTube I went and found out that it is quite basic and not much to it but practice.

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Getting started

So the first lesson I learned in the practice of darning is that if you are going to darn socks it is best to do it before holes get too large. The above sock was the smallest of my holes to fill. Small is easier. But anyway,off we went with each individual sock. I picked some of my early handspun yarn that was lacking much. It seemed a good dimension though.

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Warp finished

Now one is to weave back and forth till you have a warp to then weave through with the weft. I did learn that it would be better to try and get the threads closer together but then also I need to use better yarn the next time.

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One sock done

Alas, it looks sad but I finished this green one with one piece of yarn that didn’t come apart once in the pulling of it. It is not remotely really good but I can wear the sock and as soon as it wears out again we will know how to fix it better the next time.

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Completed

See that missed thread above. Yep, a bit to learn and practice at this yet. But it totally does its job so whose complaining. And they look so much better once turned right side out again.

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Two pair and do you see the mistake?

Time passed as I worked on 5 of the socks and got to thinking to well of what as happening. When I finished the sixth one and took the lightbulb out of it (yes, I went old fashion for a round object inside or at least twentieth century old fashion), I realized I had forgotten to turn it inside out first. YIKES! Doing them inside out hides so much when it is actually worn. So I have one reminder of how not to do it but it still will work. Will just have to correct it when it wears out again. The third pair missed the above picture as they were already on my feet. I can tell the heel isn’t quite the same as the rest of the sock, but it is covered and has been warm since it was completed on a cold night. I am happy.

It seems I have found several uses of late for all that badly spun, learning to spin, fiber yarn, from the beginning years of learning to spin that I still have sitting around here. Need a few more projects but I am pleased with this one and will be darning socks from now on. Will check on some cotton ones next.

Categories: Fiber, Fiber Arts, Sewing, Spinning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Rooster May Crow, but the Hen Lays the Egg

Ok, so my chickens are making possible liars of me on Facebook. I have hence decided that the story needed a larger platform, and just for the memories here is what has happened over the last three days.

Yes, I was on normal afternoon chores when glancing in the coop, I suddenly realized there was something in a nesting box that wasn’t there before. Went to open the boxes and sure enough we had our “first” egg.

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“First” egg?

 

We were excited. I even posted this picture on Facebook. OUR FIRST EGG!!! Actually wasn’t expecting any till at least another month. See these girls are only 6 months old and, yes, that is when they should start laying but winter is a slow season for eggs and not wanting to rush them, we didn’t do any of the “keep those eggs coming” tricks.

Next day I glance in the coop and thought a girl had popped an egg while on the roost and it had fallen and broken as it looked like half a shell on the floor. But when I reached in, lo and behold, it actually was a shell-less egg. Read about them but so cool to actually hold one.

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Shelled egg left, shell-less right

So got a picture of the two eggs together. Ever so happy. We are on our way. Our first two eggs. What joy! I may not have to buy any more in a very short time.

Then. After shopping today. Mark calls. I was on my way home. Did I know there was a nest in the barn and there are seven eggs in it? WHAT??!!?? Yes, the girls had fixed themselves up with the preferred nesting area and were busy laying eggs in the barn. They had quite a nice nest. All private in a corner. Full of eggs.

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Behind the old tractor

They actually had done a good job of it for a bunch of girls without mothers to show them the way. Amazing how God put in them the innate ability to do their job. Of course, having mothers to help is better, but thankful they don’t have to have a mother nearby. These twelve girls are figuring life out together.

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A nest of 7 eggs of both types of chickens

Then to top the afternoon off, Mark did check the nesting boxes again on our way back to the house and there was another egg. For a total haul of eight today.

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Today’s gathering

So the question remains. What was our first egg? The one I posted so happily, proudly on Facebook? Or one of these seven found in the barn. I haven’t the slightest idea. I guess I don’t know if I ate the first one for breakfast this morning or not. I do know that it was good, and I am sure that these will be good as well. Anyway, we may have to have an omelet here. I did come home with an 18 pack of eggs from shopping.

So to see you out here is a close up of some of the Twelve.

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The pretty girls

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Two Projects

I did get a hat woven off loom style that actually fits my head. Not only that, it was a bit big. So I’ve crocheted on it and it still is a mite big but works. May still do another single crochet round taking in again but it is good for stuffing all my hair in when going out to do chores.

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Wearing the hat

My usual hat model refused to model a hat again. Did get a picture of Mattie laying down with it on but can’t find it now. So here I am wearing my hat. For as little as I could enlarge the pattern I have to think it has to do with the alpaca that it came large this time.

Also recently at the guild Christmas party, we learned to make Dragon Boats. Of course, I had a bit of getting it going but once I got it, it was rather fun winding it and seeing it grow and cover the whole model without having to change a thing you were doing. I absolutely love the yarn I used. Still need to make a proper hanger for it, but here it is.

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Not perfect but pretty

Oh, and a big plus to today. As I was coming back in after chores I checked the coop, and we have our first egg. Totally wasn’t expecting it so a very nice surprise.

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One of the girls was busy

 

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber, Weaving | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Homestead Faire 2016

One of my favorite places, nearby, to visit is Homestead Heritage. It is just north of Waco and they demonstrate and sell so many of what many today consider old fashion crafts and a way of living that is closer to nature. Each year on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving they have a faire and demonstrate more than any one person can see in a day. Plus have lots for sale. You only pay for a parking pass to get in (cheaper bought ahead of time online) and then you can attend all the seminars, workshops, and demonstrations for free though there are quite a few things that you can pay to do and lots of food and items to buy.

Last year we went on a most miserable day. As in cold, rainy really miserable. They actually for the first time repeated the event the following weekend because the first one was quite so miserable. This year I headed north by myself to attend and stay as long as I wanted. I drove through a gully washer getting there and prayed that the weather app was right and things would be very clear by noon.

One place I always check out is the weaving and spinning booth in the craft barn to see what is for sale and drool heavily. This year I was caught by the potholders. Remember making them as a child? Well, they have come a long way with different sizes of looms. I have always loved color and weave patterns and the array of different patterns in them was a wonder to look through. There were two different places with them so lots to see. Made me want to dig out my loom and cut up some socks and try some of the patterns.

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The tags have the name of the young person who made them and their age

I also got a quick look at a sheepdog working hard. Actually, I was hurrying between seminars so didn’t stay long but it was interesting for a short moment.

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Picture taken at a distance so not real sharp.

I also watched a flax demonstration. They have gotten flax to grow and a young gal had some that she then showed the processes that are involved with making linen thread. She used the retted flax and showed simply the steps to turn it into thread and had a bag to show the end process. The funny bit at this was the people that were interested in it and knew nothing so were asking some good questions and learning. I didn’t learn anything new, though enjoyed seeing the different color of the flax between pond and dew retted.

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Flax that has been dew retted and pond retted. If I remember right the cream colored is the pond retted.

I also got to watch rope being made with sisal, again if I remember right it was an 80 foot long station here. I wanted to jump in and take over a bit of the discussion as the guy doing it knew how to make rope, but couldn’t tell why the twist stayed or what was really going on with it. I enjoy watching rope making as the principles are the same as spinning and yes, I do understand the magic of the twist and what is happening. Guess some minds just want to know more of why of what they are doing and what is happening.

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Still setting up the sisal before the twisting starts happening.

One of my favorite demonstrations was the apple press. I actually learned a bit there that was quite interesting and since my favorite snack was some hot apple cider and apple cider donut (SOOOOOO yummy) it was fun to watch it happen.

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Young boy turning handle breaking up apples. Young man pressing apples with cider running into a bucket behind the trash can.

I listened and took notes in seminars on sustainable gardening, alternative energy, chickens, and planning a homestead. Loved the day despite rain in morning and so very cold all day. Would love to go back today but need to get things done here instead. So of course, I’m sitting here typing instead of working. OK, off to work now.

 

Categories: Fiber, Spinning, Weaving | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Learning to Spin

Yes, I learned to spin a few years ago. Have you noticed that learning to spin and mastering all it has takes more than a few years? I feel like I could be spinning the rest of my life and still feel like a beginner.

But what does one do with all those beginning spinning yarns? Most are just small bits. Just a few ounces of fluff that you turned into a semblance of yarn. So they continued to accumulate in baskets and on shelves and soon you wonder what will happen to them. Something needs to happen.

Then one day you are looking at your Zoom Loom and realize you have the perfect tool for using up little bits of homespun. So you start weaving away and start gathering lots of little squares of all colors. What next?

Mine went into a cape. I laid them out in different patterns on the floor, many different times, and eventually came up with a pattern for the back that worked well with what I had so far. (Picture long gone but did take one for when I started putting it together when I had a pattern I liked.) Then started down the front. Alas, as this was a work in progress and depended on what was spun it ended up with a not so evenly pattern on front, but then that is kind of what kind of project this was. What was at hand is what went into it. So the best of the early learning to spin yarn became a new cape.

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The back

The original back idea, that was approved by me, got shortened by a row because of wanting more for the front of certain colors. I now wish I hadn’t changed that and had kept the original back pattern. Alas too late for that change. I am not taking it apart to change anything! I do still like its symmetry. I even remember many of those yarns and their spinning. Some from the very beginning and some further down in time. I do like the thick squares best for looks despite the fact they are so hard to weave the last couple of rows.

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The front

Of course after such a nice pattern on the back I was left with leftovers for the front. There is more of a pattern from the top coming down that then somewhat goes its own way and did its own thing. I don’t dislike it but looking at it on a small scale in a picture, I see where I would now switch some of the squares around and place them in different spots.

I will say though that some of those squares are really nice and some aren’t so very nice. Still blaming it on that early learning curve. The wonder is that I can see where I’ve been and where I’m at now in spinning.

That is quite a fancyish crochet border around it. Two rows done on the same level one in front of the other.  I think this border would look much nicer in a very thin crochet thread on something nice a bit delicate. But it does give it the bulk it needs for what it is.

So Learning to Spin is complete and I do still have several bits of early spinning that is cream colored in a basket. They all look really sad compared to these. Need to dye them and find something to do with them now.

I did post a bit on this project while still not finished at Then and Now Spinning.

 

Categories: Fiber, Weaving | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Hat Declared Done Revisited

I have discovered the pictures that I knew I had taken when I went to record my hat that I wove at A Hat Declared Done. I knew I had them. I hunted all over this computer but to no avail. Then yesterday I realized I had several pictures still on my phone that went that far back. Alas, my computer and phone refuse to communicate right now. Two problems have developed because of this and are driving me crazy trying to figure out but… I can email the pictures to me and have done that this morning, so now I want to show how the hat was done. The pictures aren’t great but at least I have a record.

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The pattern for the warp

First you take this pattern and enlarge it to fit your head. Alas, I’ve known for some time that I have a large head. I can’t wear my husband’s hats. Hmmm… I would have never guessed but I have had a time enlarging this just right. But here went another try and from the pattern side you can see that the underpart is warped. The dotted lines show where the warp goes on the backside of this.

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Started weaving

Once it is all warped then you start weaving. It is going around and around until you have it packed to please you. Now do not look too close at this because I didn’t realize it at the time that I had caught some of the threads and guess what? Yes, one should just tear it all apart if you do that. Guess how I know? Yes, I worked with it since I was already going, but without details, it can be bad and a lot more work when done.

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Top of hat finished weaving

So here I am done with weaving, so now to turn the poster board over and start on the shorter brim area to weave it.

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Weaving the underside of the beret.

Once you have the top packed to please you, then you turn it over and do the same with the underside of the beret. You can see here that I found that the long needle from my Zoom Loom works great for weaving as you can pick up quite a few warp threads at a time.

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Sam gets to appear again. Love this picture.

So here it is done again and sitting on my ever patient with mom, Sam. I really would love to find the book I got this idea out of again. It was an off loom weaving book and I wish I had it again.

Oh and by the way, I have another hat, woven with my handspun alpaca, downstairs just washed and drying. Guess what? It is way too big for this head this time. Guess I will crochet another round on it again and try to tighten it up. Should I give up matching this head. I have had four misses now. I wonder if some of it is the fiber. As I didn’t enlarge it very much between these two.

 

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A Hat Declared Done

I should have recorded this hat sooner but as it has been a bear, I have put it off. You see, I won this yarn as a door prize at a guild meeting, but it refused to be turned into anything. I tried a couple projects that died almost as soon as they started. This was a thick thin yarn of variety of color and looks like types of wool. In my book not a cohesive whole. So it laid about for a year, two, three, who knows how long but way too long. And yes, it has been in the plural of the word year.

Then I decided that it would probably work in the beret pattern that you use poster board for the loom. I had forgotten, I had taken pictures of the weaving until just now. So am stopping to find them. Yes, even getting this thing finished now has taken too long. This yarn really hates me. …. OK. I’m back and though I distinctly remember taking pictures of the process of making this hat, I can’t find them anywhere on this computer. Frustrating but just know that they weren’t great pictures.

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Hat sitting on the first bear Mark bought for me.

Anyway, there is a pattern that you punch holes on poster board and then weave in the warp threads through the holes according to the pattern. When done you then weave as normal around the circle on top and on bottom of poster. After it is stuffed with weft, you then tear out the poster board and have a hat with the top crown and then a turn under. Then you can finish off the bottom by crocheting around it.

Despite this being the third time I’ve made one of these, I still can’t seem to make one large enough for me to actually wear. This one is larger and before the crochet just about fit. But my head is just too big – which my husband would probably have a comment at that point.

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Sam an unwilling model.

Well, to continue the dreary drama. I can’t get a decent picture today of it. Maybe its because I’m doing this instead of what I need to be doing. Or this yarn really is jinxed. But anyway, here is an unwilling Sam, who tried his best to not be mom’s model, but the poor boy is quite picturesque and takes wonderful pictures. Which is odd as his sister is the prettier dog but doesn’t take too many pretty pictures. But I digress. Here is the hat on a living being. Not a perfect fit for a head at all but it does sit there nicely if he isn’t moving.

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A top view

I tried to get a good picture of the colors that are in this yarn and hat. Alas, if there is more daylight it looks white in the light areas and with the dull light inside it looks still washed out. It is a prettyish purplish with spots of green and lavender and very dark purplish yarn. Anything that looks very light in the picture above is actually more lavender and lilac.

So it is done and I can’t wear it. Hmmm… To a box it will go till a time that it finds a new home.

Oh, and if anyone reading this is aware of the book the pattern came from, I’d love to find it again. It was an off-loom weaving book I found at the library about ten years ago now. But this one used poster board for the loom. Rather ingenious method to get the top and then it to curve under. Wish I had the pictures of the process but will be doing another one so will do better about saving the pictures next time.

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A Romantic Morning in the Country

I do have projects going but nothing at the moment to add to my memories as far as they go. But the last two mornings, I took the camera out with me on morning chores and thought I would share the romantic mornings I have. Now of course I am using that word “romantic” half tongue in check. It is work and getting out early and mucking out and stuff. But all in all, I really love my mornings outside with all the animals.

My first job is to get feed out for Candy and Mani. Without a word to me my dear husband joined Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. I found out the day he told me we could be fostering horses by that evening. Well, despite an initial OH DEAR ME OH MY?! I immediately went online and bought a couple of books and got ready for them. We both have ridden many times – but actually care for them? Another ballgame. We soon had Candy dropped off to us (not the same day as I learned of this venture, thankfully) and a bit later then came Thor to join us. This past weekend was the big adoption expo. Thor was adopted by a family who does train horses which is good for him. He was beyond our means to know how to handle. Candy, though, refused to get in the trailer to go and as Mark had wanted to adopt her since the first day she came, she got to stay and is officially ours now. At the end of the expo we had another horse dropped off to foster. A sweetheart named Mani (hate the name though) who is 21 years old. Has a leg problem so can’t be ridden but makes a great companion. So Candy is not alone now. (She didn’t handle Thor leaving well at all.)

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Mani and some hens

As the early hours begin I go and get feed out for them and soon after, the door of the chicken coop opens and the hens start scattering about in the direction of the horses. They have learned that horses drop a bit of food and it is good scavangering under their feeding. Neither horse is bothered by them, and they are smart enough to move when the horses do.

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Sun just rising over the upper paddock.

Now I get out there before the sun is actually over the edge of our property. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t up for the area though. We are in a small dip and from up above the sun is well on its way with the day. I do enjoy seeing it come up in cloud, fog, clear mornings. Yesterday was foggy but today all clear.

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Candy finished eating and waiting on Mani

So at this time the horses are fed, the chickens are free ranging. I’ve counted hens. Looked over horse. Mucked out what needed mucked out where they eat. And I have turned on the hose to fill the trough that is at the barn. This trough isn’t just for horses and heifers though. I think the hens use it more than the waterer at their coop.

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After a long night it is time for a drink.

The hens do provide lots of entertainment around here and if you don’t have any, you should get some. Many cities allow backyard hens and if I was back in a city, I would have some, though since we free range I’d feel sorry for them being stuck in a small area. These guys travel and have fun while doing it. Always something going on. Well, unless it is still a hot Texas fall (Fall where did you go? I would really like some cool to cold weather.) and they roost in the big bushes during the afternoons.

I might add though that this trough has become a frog nursery. There are millions, evangelistically speaking, baby ones all around here. I actually think home is underneath it as it sits a bit crooked.

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One of the big ones.

Just yesterday I actually saw larger ones than the tiny ones. So here is one I got a picture of. When we clean out the trough and surroundings, I hope it discourages them a bit.

Back to farm animals, the heifers soon came over and joined us. They don’t beg for food in the mornings anymore since they only get extra in the afternoons, but this morning they came in close (Spooking the horses once.) and decided they needed to eat some of the hay that is available. Yes, we are dry and the pastures are a bit sparser than I’d like to see them. We will probably need to get hay soon.

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Why are you disturbing breakfast?

The five heifers are doing well. They mostly are still laying about in the early morning but sometimes get with the job of eating before I leave for the house.

After all is done at the barn, I put everything back and head for the chicken coop. Fun to watch the chickens around the wood pile. This must be one of their best opportunities for critter eating. They spend a lot of time here and that is fine by me. I like the idea that they’ve taken care of anything before I go up those stairs.

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King of the Mountain

Sometimes they all rush after me back towards the house as I refresh their water and check on their supplemental food. They do get some from us and aren’t totally dependent on what they find to eat. So check the coop, water, food and the animals are dealt with. Well, almost.

Many days I also wash down the coop, water plants, take care of things in the yard. But when all is said and done, I try to remember one last thing before going inside.

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The last washing up.

You never know what all is on your wellies when heading back inside. I always wear them to the barn. Then I don’t worry about what I step in or what can get in my shoes. So they must get a good washing down so that I don’t groan when I see their spot by the door full of who knows what that has fallen off.

But back to that – Well almost. When all outside critters are dealt with, I do still have to feed Sam and Mattie breakfast. I don’t think some mornings they like being last. I guess that is the problem of being the domestic animals of the place.

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Is it our turn yet?

Someday these days will be over and I will miss them. I hope that day is well in the future, but for now here is a note of what it is like in early in the morning in my peaceful corner of the world.

 

 

Categories: Bent Oak Farm, Fiber | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Maybe There is Hope

You know when you have big ideas and then they crash before your eyes, and you become depressed and ignore it? Yes, that is what was happening with the warp on the floor loom. I wrote about starting it in There is Something on the Loom.

Now as sad as this is, I did try several things with this warp and nothing looked great. I did weave along but found it hard to want to as it just didn’t look nice, good, ok, well maybe, oh dear what is this mess. So it was time to think radical, and I decided to redo the tie-up on the loom (a countermarche) so that I could weave it in a 3-1 twill. I actually managed to do that fairly easily. It actually is rather simple how the tie-up works on a countermarche though you do have to wrap your head around it and make sure you understand.

So first step accomplished and then a complete change in weft thread was the next step. And we were weaving again.

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This is the backside of the cloth

So I started weaving with a cream thread and it went quickly. You can see a bit of the colors through it but this will be the back of the cloth when finished. I did the tie-up so that three shafts were down and one up for a better shuttle race. So I will be weaving and watching the back. But I did find it quite easy to see that I was keeping it in order. Quite easy to see the twill line and immediately notice a mistake.

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From underneath trying for a picture of the front

I think I am pleased with what is happening now. I at least like it incredibly more than what was happening. You can see in the first picture the dark blue taking over the whole piece.

Now to get this warp woven and off the loom. I have a variation on Log Cabin sitting here beside me that I can’t wait to get on the loom. Somehow I seem to be happier with my two shuttle shadow weave and overshot patterns best.

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