Sunday, December 21, 2008

Almost Christmas. Time passes so quickly any more. I've been knitting tiny little newborn baby hats to take over to the Open Arms Crisis Pregnancy Center. I hope they like them. Its been a fun project. More snow that usual has fallen already and its only the start of winter. We had about 27 inches in 24 hours. We've had moose in the yard too. The snow has drifted in the back by the fence and I suspect the moose just walked right over the 6' fence there. I left and front and side gates open last night so they could get out, but this morning there were no large footprints so I guess they didn't go out that way. I'm so disappointed! One of my goats ate a very old gold earring I was wearing. LoverBoy (so aptly named) loves me and loves to taste and nibble my fingers, face, hair, ears. He reached up this morning and grabbed my ear and I heard the earring unsnap. He gulped a couple times and bye-bye :-( No sense grabbing him, they are so fast. Everyone is doing well in the pasture. I had to take the snowblower over a couple days ago and plow some paths for them to run around. They were so happy to be out of the barn and shed, which are remarkably warm even when the wind blows like it has been lately. Just getting out of the draft sure makes a difference. This picture is almost the same one as at the very top of the blog. Some difference! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No snow yet! I'm so glad, I still have work to complete outside before it does. Yesterday I took six of our chickens to be butchered. They certainly looked a lot bigger with their feathers on. She does it so quickly. It would have taken me most of the day, it took her about 1/2 hour total. Thank You! I can't wait to eat them. If you've never had fresh chicken, you are in for a real treat if you ever get the chance. A few weeks ago I was blessed with a Clemes carder by a friend. I've been carding a Gotland fleece I started several years ago. Gotland wool is from New Zealand and is what they made those beautiful capes from in the movie Lord of the Rings. It is so crimpy that I didn't want to use my big carder, afraid it would be too much. This carder is just perfect for it. Now I can spin the beautiful silver fiber either alone or blend it on the big carder with something else. That's my favorite, a gorgeous natural fiber blended with a dyed or over-dyed fiber. That's what makes the heathered yarns I'm so partial to. Pictures if I ever get it done. Nephew coming this weekend from out of state. Hope he likes the farm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What a tragic day. At 4am and again at 4:45 am this morning I heard a chicken squawking. Since it is very dark up here at that time I waited until it was light to see what was wrong. I found two dead chickens, one in the yard and one out by the orchard. I think I've finally figured out there's an owl that hunts at night that may kill them and partially eat one. Then in the daylight we have a very aggressive hawk that will swoop down right next to the porch and try to get the chickens. So far this month I've lost about six I think. Some were babies, but some were the moms that were trying to protect the little chicks. Our last remaining mother chicken I rescued today from the hawk. She looks like she has been through a windstorm with her feathers half gone and the rest all sticking out. The goats and alpacas are all doing so well together. I had a three-sided shed built so they can get out of the weather. They seem to like it ok, but this morning everyone had frost on their coats from laying out in the freezing air in the pasture instead of inside the shed. Silly things. With everything going on ... leaves to rake, apples to pick, chickens to rescue I haven't had much time to do much fibery stuff, although I did start spinning some of Oso's beautiful and soft black alpaca fiber. The two scarves on the loom haven't been touched since way last summer but I'm hopeful I can get back to finish them before too long. After all, Christmas is coming!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The month of Sept has flown by. Already we are putting away the summer tools and preparing for winter. How quickly time passes when you are so busy. I was in Arizona for a few days. The heat is oppressive, 92 degrees on the porch at 8:30pm, air conditioners still going strong. Our nights up here are so cool and fresh with the days in the fall warm and sunny. I was so glad to get home to both families ... human and otherwise. Yesterday my wonderful friends Mary and Stan from Aspen Alpacas brought me two more beautiful gelded alpacas named Raulito and Coop. They are both a rich copper color and the fiber is incredibly soft. It will be next spring before they get sheared and I can't wait to start spinning some of it. The turquoise dyed alpaca and apricot silk yarn I made a while ago was from another of Aspen's geldings, Diego. I gave the yarn to Mary for a scarf she will be making. How fun. You go girl! Here's a picture of the two latest additions to our farm.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I just realized today is the last day of August and I haven't done anything here this month. It really feels like fall already, last night was cold at about 39 degrees. The weather is usually so beautiful this time of year, dark blue skies, warm sunny days but cold nights. We are hopeful that this winter will not be as brutal as the last one. Just in case it is, today my daughter and I finished putting up the cattle panels on the new alpaca pen. It is next to the goat pen and much closer to the house than the barn and pasture are. There were a few times last year I couldn't get the gates open so I could feed the livestock because the snow was several feet deep. This year if that happens, at least the animals will be on this side of the property. Our little foster kittens are so cute and ready to be re-homed. Little Princess has already found a loving home with a big sister that is so delighted to have someone to play with. Reggie and Mr Comfy are still looking to be adopted by loving families. Since they didn't have a mama cat, they are so friendly with people. I've been so busy this summer that I forgot to enter anything in the Fair this month. I didn't finish my projects this summer either so maybe next time I will have a new scarf to post. I have started spinning the black alpaca's fiber. It is incredibly soft. For a black alpaca, Oso has remarkable fiber. I hope to be able to weave a scarf from it. We'll see what happens.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last week the new rescue pyr got a new 'forever' home. I'm sure he was so happy to finally be in place of his own. Today I tried taking a picture of the yarn I just finished along side the Campanula flowers that I dyed it to look like, but the flowers were all gone! They only last a couple of weeks. Our weather has been warm but not hot so I was hoping they would last a little longer. I took it with the lavender instead. This coming weekend is Art of the Green and the craft fair in Coeur d'Alene. Its always one of my favorite things to do. They have tons of food booths in the park, lots of shade to sit in and its right next to the lake. I can't wait! Our little foster kittens are about five weeks old today and are so cute. They have just learned to eat soft cat food from a bowl and insist on getting inside the bowl. Their faces are covered. It won't be long before they are old enough to adopt.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What a beautiful weekend we've had. Saturday we went to the parade in town, the Farmer's Market and the Lavender Festival. Summer in north Idaho is so much fun! Everyone is doing well and surviving the hot weather. The other day I was squirting water with the hose and our two alpacas were competing to see who could get the wettest. They love me to squirt their front feet with water. That's how they cool off. Well, they must have been really hot because they got in the spray from head to tail. They were soaked. Then a good roll in the dirt made them feel so good! Good thing I have a great mill to send their fiber to. The dogs are getting along very well. Bo seems to be adjusting to having so much room to run. He seems very happy and Dolly doesn't seem bothered by having him 'help' her do her guarding. She takes it very seriously and does a great job. The little pygora goats have figured out how to open the old cooler where I keep the pellets and grains. Snowball knows how to use her horns to pry open the lid. Yesterday we had to get a long chain and actually tie it to the stall wall. Oh well, this now gives them something else to figure out. They are so smart. Yesterday was the first day in a week we actually had time to swim in the pool, maybe today we won't be too busy to enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What a surprise! Yesterday afternoon one of my missing chickens came walking out of the woods with 8 or 9 little tiny chicks! I have been feeling so bad about Bo killing the other ones. I thought there were three gone, but this little hen was doing her thing in a safe place. As soon as she feels confident enough for me to come close, I will get some pictures. They are so cute. Since we have these HUGE crows she probably will keep the chicks pretty close to her for a while. Our weather has been in the upper 90's and last night we had a very strong rain storm. Just west of us they had nickel sized hail. The lightening and thunder were incredible. Since we are not air conditioned in this old farm house it got pretty warm when I had to close all the windows because of the rain and wind. This morning its sunny and beautiful and everything looks so clean. I'm so glad I got my yard mowed just before it rained. This flower is called Campanula. It grows all around the house and is quite large, about 1-1/2 to 3 feet tall. So pretty and only lasts a couple weeks.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I can never leave well enough alone. For some reason I thought I needed another dog. I received an email from Sharon at the great pyr rescue org saying there was a young male dog who needed a home. I made arrangements to meet him and his owner in Missoula MT Monday. He is a wonderful dog ... friendly, obedient (as much as a pyr can be) and just loves to be loved. Things don't always turn out like you think they will, however. On the way home (4 hour drive) he decided he should have used the bathroom in Missoula and proceeded to urinate in the back of my Lexus. Oh well, not his fault. Then we got home and I walked him on a leash for some time showing him the fence line and all the 'fun' places he could find. He was being such a good boy that I let him off the leash to see what he'd do. After being so good for so long, he took off after my chickens and killed three before I could get to him. I only had six to start with. Then my other pyr Dolly, won't have a thing to do with him and snaps at him when he comes close. I can't put him in the pasture with the goats and alpacas for fear he or Dolly might jump the fence and leave. I've decided he deserves a better home than this one and a lady is coming tomorrow afternoon to look at him. To her credit, she is even more of a dog lover than I am and the meals she hand prepares for her dogs, I could go for! Hope she takes him. He's such a nice boy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

How many days in a year? I think this is the 366th day of rain so far. We start to warm up, then it rains again. More this week and very cold. Since the snow is down to 4000' today, maybe that's the reason? There is always a rainbow, though. At least with this weather, working outside isn't something that I'm needing to do. So, that means I get to weave and spin without feeling guilty. I'm working on the Bamboo12 scarf with the tiny little spiderweb-y yarn from Cotton Clouds. It is so beautiful, but so tiny. Hopefully it will turn out as delicate as it seems. It is supposed to be very soft. The warp is long enough for two scarves so it will be a while before I get to take the first one off the loom. Maybe I can get a picture of the first one in the next couple days. The pattern is not as hard as I first thought, so maybe it will be ok after all.

Friday, May 30, 2008

We found the most beautiful moth earlier this week. Its official name Gloveri (Hyalophora gloveri) moth, or silk moth. I was able to snap a few pictures before it went away. Very large, maybe five inch wingspan. Uh oh, now my little maple tree is being eaten by something and I suspect the female laid her eggs in the tree. Not sure what I should do, ordinarily I would spray for bugs, but this moth is just too impressive. We'll see. After last night's rain storm, maybe they were all washed away because I sure can't see anything moving this morning. I'm wondering if it actually has a type of silk cocoon that can be boiled and spun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wow, it is already past Memorial Day. Summer is right around the corner. Goats and alpacas are enjoying the warmer weather and being able to graze a bit. We've been working on getting stuff put away upstairs in the new bookcase I had built this winter. Finally, after two years I can put my stuff away. Weaving has gone by the way side, I continue to spin on the dyed BFL I started. I'm almost done with the second batch and plan to ply the two together. I tried plying the first one with some white but it looked too much like a sporty yarn, so hopefully I'll be able to get the colors to coordinate. Actually being able to find supplies and lots of fibery stuff after so long is like Christmas in May. Our kitten has been going through all the fiber and yarn, she's quite the little nosy one. Just one problem, she likes to eat string, I keep pulling long pieces out of her mouth. Hope it doesn't make her sick. I guess I'll just have to be better at housekeeping now. A picture of River ... we should have named her Bandit.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The alpacas got sheared Saturday. They are so cute! It is amazing how different and small they look without all that fiber. Diego's is so white and shiny. They thought it would probably be graded 2, which is pretty good. Oso is a true black. What gorgeous fiber he has too. It is almost as fine as Diego's and there may be more of it. Off to Going To The Sun Fiber Mill in Kalispell to be cleaned and made into roving. Diana does such a beautiful job. I always want to sell some, but enjoy spinning it myself so much I don't usually have any left over. I got to mow my lawn today for the first time this year. It looks pretty nice, considering how much snow we had last winter. I also see lots of dandelions out already. Maybe I will pick some for salad before I spray them with weed killer. On second thought, maybe the goats would like to come over and do the job instead.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The painted BFL turned out pretty nice. The steaming worked better than the submersion dying and the wool stayed nice and soft without any felting. My original plan was to double ply it together, but I've decided to do singles of the painted and ply it with some white BFL. Just to see. Here's a picture of the single so far. A new project in the works now. The Bamboo 12 yarn from Cotton Clouds is so beautiful. I've just about got the warp measured out, maybe today will finish it out. Then on to warping the Ashford. The weft for one scarf will be lime green, the other a bright yellow. Both of these on a white warp. Should be great for summer. We finally succeeded in re-homing the two extra roosters from last year's chicks. They were too nice to eat but very noisy and the daddy rooster (Brooster) wouldn't let them near the hens or to eat. Poor little guys. The people that took them had 20 hens and no rooster. We were both happy. The cashmere goats are going to be sold soon, I hope. They have gotten too rough for me and are very jealous of the other littler goats. I had to move the cashmeres to the little pen where they started out a couple years ago, and put the alpacas over with the other three pygora goats and Dolly, our wonderful Great Pyr guard dog. Everyone seems so much happier now. The cashmeres are so wonderful and so loving and playful. I really hate to get rid of them, but it seems to help my stress level to have a few less animals to care for right now. They're calling for more snow this weekend, BLAHHHH! Everyone up here is so sick of it. Oh well, it can't last into summer, can it?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I've been working on dying some Blue Faced Leicester top. The roving was painted with Wilton's and rolled in plastic, then placed in the roaster with a little water in the bottom. I wanted to see how the steaming process would work instead of immersing them in the dye liquid. So far it seems like it worked fine. The colors are actually lime green and light purple, although it doesn't show up on the computer. I haven't got any spun up yet so we will see then if it fades at all. It was a little more work than the usual dying I do but they turned out pretty nice. Our weather is warming and we were able to get one of the pygoras sheared yesterday with the help of my daughter. I had a shearing stand built so it is a lot easier on my back this year than last. The cashmeres are just starting to blow their fiber so it won't be long before that is done, too. Our kitty babies will be eight week old Friday, they are so cute and playful. We wish we could keep them all, but that's not possible so we will keep just one. I can't believe it is April and I finally got my taxes sent in so that's done. Can summer be far away?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The alpaca turned out beautiful. I've spun it thick and thin, and plied it with a little turquoise colored mylar and some apricot silk I spun up last winter. I love the color combination. I can't wait to get more alpaca spun up. It spins like a dream and doesn't need to be blended unless you want to.

We have another goat, a little pygora (I think). She is very sweet and mild tempered. The little boys are ready to shear so I've ordered an Oster Clipmaster with a goat comb attachment. It should be here next week. The cashmere girls are getting combed out tomorrow. At least Hope is. She won't be happy, but its a yearly must-do. Their fiber this year is incredible. Must be because of the hard winter we've had.

The kitty babies are so cute. Five weeks old this week. Mama kitty is going to be adopted out we hope. We're keeping one of the babies and a friend is taking the other two. I need to get some new pictures of these little darlings.

Friday, February 29, 2008

We're finally starting to see bare ground in spots due to the 50 degree weather we've had the last few days. Finally! I'm so tired of this snow, until next year at least.

I've been weaving a new scarf from a painted warp I got from Heritage Yarns. It is so beautiful, I can't wait to finish it. I also have been spinning up some really pretty apricot colored silk and today decided to dye Diego's fiber from last year a teal to blend up with the silk. Here's a picture of the alpaca fiber in the dye pot. I used Wilton's that I dabbed on in places to give it a variegated look so hopefully it won't turn out too dark. I will spin it up and ply it with the silk, and hope I can get this alpaca dyed and dried and ready to spin before next week. I can't wait to see how it looks against the silk.

I'm trying hard to get enough stuff together this winter so that I have something to sell at our local Art Guild sale we have in August. My problem is I always give my things away to family / friends instead of buying a present.

The goats are getting cranky. They are sick of this sloppy snow also. Its almost time to start combing the cashmeres, which means its almost time to shear the pygoras. The alpacas will get sheared by a professional in early May, so I don't have to do them myself. Serano Alpacas has a great shearer that does theirs and mine at the same time. Thank you Ron and Judi!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kitties! We have kitties! Mama kitty has a new litter, born Feb 8. There were five but we're down to three now. The two littlest ones were just too small and weak. We are a foster family for Priest River Animal Rescue ( and were called last week to get this cute little family. The mama is beautiful, very small and young, and the prettiest calico I've seen. One of her kittens looks just like her. The second one is predominantly black and the littlest one is mostly gray. All three calico-ish. I think the two that died were males. One was orange striped and one was light gray. My daughter buried them out by the hay barn. It was so sad. They all will be ready for adoption around the middle of March.

My computer has been in the shop. I had my HD increased from 20 gigs to 80 gigs. Now I should have room for lots more pictures and music. Its a good thing I got it back, I was having withdrawals!

Since I didn't have my computer to play with, I did get the warp and weaving done on the new hand painted warp I was working on. All I have now it to finish the fringe, and wash and iron it. It is so beautiful with the two different yarns. Thank you Margaret for another beautiful dye job. I have ordered another one from her and I think its at the PO waiting for me.

The snow has been disappearing slowly thank goodness. If it melts too fast we flood. I thought it was all done but last Friday night we had another 4-6" of new snow. About this time of year I always get sick of it and start dreaming about spring. My neighbor (bless him!) came down with his ATV and plowed us out again. He has been my guardian angel all winter. I wouldn't know what we would have done without him. Thank you John.

I let the alpacas out of their pen while I do chores and feed the goats over in the pasture. They are so happy to be free! They've been running up and down the driveway and over the paths my daughter has created in the snow with the snowblower. They are so funny and have discovered the hay barn. They think they are doing something really sneaky by running down there and gobbling up as much hay as they can before I come back to feed them.

We have errands to do in town today so I probably won't get to 'play' much with my weaving. Hopefully I can get the scarf done and pictures taken in the next day or so.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The snow continues to fall in north Idaho. We have exceeded what our normal snowfall is and still have several weeks left of winter. The animals are getting restless and my daughter had to snowblow paths for the goats so they could get out of the barn. The alpacas are let out of their pen into the big yard twice a day and love to walk the driveway and around the house where it has been plowed. They have discovered the hay barn and I know exactly where to find them now.

I'm still working on getting the warp on the Ashford. All this snow causes so much work that I haven't had time to do any weaving or spinning and when I do have time, I'm just too worn out to do it any good. C'mon spring! I will be happy to see a little sunshine one of these days. The worry now is that it will all melt too fast and I will get flooded downstairs. We will just keep praying that God protects us as He usually does.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The picture was taken yesterday while the sun was out. Today is cloudy and darker, glad I got my camera out when I did.

Today is the third day of snow. And I hear we are only at the beginning of the next big storm. The animals are remaining in the barns and won't even venture out unless I walk the pasture first and make a path for them. I don't remember in 32 years seeing this much snow. We already have over our normal amount and have lots of winter left. I'm almost out of energy logs (big presto-type logs) so tomorrow I will venture out and try to find some. I bought 3 cords of good firewood last year but sold the stove I had, now the new stove is too small for the wood. Oh well.

I've been playing with getting the new warp on the loom. Its taking me longer than I thought it would, but I keep getting interrupted by lunch / naps / feeding animals and people. I can't wait to weave a couple inches to see how it will look with the taupe warp I bought with it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I received the new painted warp from Margaret yesterday. Wow! The colors are incredibly vibrant and sunny. I've got it about half warped on the Ashford and can't wait to warp the rest today. Maybe I can even get started weaving a few pics. I'm putting a new picture of the Leicester Longwool / Mohair scarf here. I finished the fringe yesterday. That's my least favorite part, but its satisfying because I know that's the end and I can start another project.

Since today is my birthday maybe I have an excuse to stay indoors all day and play. We are going to have a big snow storm this evening but I think we have everything done outside that needed doing. The snowblower, as usual, was broken after that last big storm. I finally fixed it yesterday. It keeps breaking shear pins that keep the auger blades turning. I think we probably get a little piece of gravel in the works and it grinds to a halt. I had six or eight of the bolts and only have two left, so I better be more careful. The way the ice builds up is probably a problem also.

I got a new computer game from my daughter so now we have something else to play with. We enjoy the same things a lot of the time. She is so much fun to be around. I've missed having her home. She's working on a new business venture she can do here on the farm so this spring I'm sure she will keep a lot busier than she is now.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I finally finished my woolen scarf I wove on the Herald Loom some friends gave me. It is a loose woven 10-dent / 10 ppi, longwool leicester / mohair blend. I skipped two dents every 10 and used a spacer to do the same for the weft. Very fuzzy. But when I washed it, it ironed it pretty flat so it's not too much. The yarn was so wonderfully soft and fluffy while spinning, but when I finally got it woven, it seemed so scratchy. So, wet-finishing is always the fun part to see the beautiful difference when its all done. I really like it. I'm not sure what exactly I will do with it yet. Probably just keep it to sell this summer. Pricing is always the hard part for me. I usually end up giving them away to friends and family as gifts.

The Herald Loom was a gift from some dear friends. Marilyn and Ed had purchased it second hand and Ed refinished it. It is so beautiful. What a work-horse. Its still missing some parts, like whatever allows the front and back beams to move simultaneously, but I had so much fun using it that those missing pieces are something that will be nice to have but not necessary right now. I don't think they have made Herald's now for around 20+ years, so finding anyone that is familiar with them has been hard.

Most of my weaving is done on my first loom, an Ashford 4-harness 36". The heddles are texsolv and I had never used steel heddles before the Herald. I have learned a great lesson. Never never use handspun fuzzy yarn with steel heddles as they can be abrasive on the fibers. I have never had a broken warp thread, but this time I had 10 broken ones! The Herald is so much heavier and bigger than the Ashford, I think it would be great on rugs or something heavier than my little scarf. I also did the perle-cotton log-cabin scarf on the Herald and it came out fine, so it must just be the handspun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's still colder than necessary, as far as I'm concerned. We've had below 0 now for several nights and I worry about all my little animals. They sleep in the two barns, but it's brutal. The coyotes aren't even coming by for a visit. They usually do and then wait outside my bedroom window until they are all assembled. At that point, they all howl at the same time just to scare me. If I were a cat, I would be stuck to the ceiling by my claws.

I adopted a rescue Great Pyrenees last summer named Dolly. She is the most wonderful dog. She lives with the goats and they all think they are family. She barks whenever she hears or smells something unknown, so everyone over in the pasture feels safe. I have seen her running and leaping to get the big black crows that love to search the pasture for food. That's quite a sight to see a 110 pound huge white dog so nimble. I would hate to have her chase me!

I have ordered another handpainted warp from Heritage Yarns this morning. I just love Margaret's colors and they go on my looms so easily. This one is a shorter scarf than I usually weave. I have been weaving the longer, tencel (I LOVE THOSE) scarves. I did one in perle cotton that turned out so nice. The log cabin pattern was fun, I hadn't done that before.

If I get my act together this morning, I plan to head up to Newport to the Create center. We don't call our group a guild, but same idea. The ladies are all so nice and I like taking my 'stuff' there. There's always someone who can answer any question. I'm off to bundle up and head out to feed everyone before they start calling me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

Saturday morning it started snowing. Great big flakes. We've had snow most of the winter but this morning we really got it. Then after watching the beautiful white stuff come down most of the day, the wind started up in the early evening. By midnight I thought the wind was going to take the roof off the house. Sunday dawned sunny and bright but the wind continued. No more snow but the drifts closed off my gates to the outside world. Fortunately a neighbor came by and stopped to help dig me out. It is so beautiful now, cold this morning around 0 degrees, but quiet and sunny. All the animals are so happy to be out into the clean air. They hate wind, you know. I think today will be a good day to try spinning the alpaca. Oso always enjoys the snow.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

I have just started spinning my first crop of cashmere, pygora and alpaca harvested in 2007. I am spinning the cashmere unblended. It is so beautiful and soft. No wonder its so expensive! Working with the pygora is a learning experience for me as it flies around the room. I think I need to spritz it with a little water next time. I have blended it on my carder with some BFL in the hopes that it will hold together a little better. I haven't had the time to try the alpaca yet. All my fiber babies are around a year old, so their fiber is very soft. I never had the micron count done but I'm sure it would be very low. Here is a picture of Oso Negro (Black Bear), Diego right after he was sheared, and the two little pygoras Lover Boy and Toby.