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Yarn And A Barn

Updated: 2014-10-06T22:40:54.238-05:00


To New Beginnings...



May 2011 bring you peace, abundance, and bright new beginnings.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to work on healing all aspects of my life. I am grateful for my wonderful friends and family and their outpouring of support and love.

My doctor is no longer ruling out cancer, and has scheduled a review of my latest brain MRI with a neurologist. I am not worried, and am living with acceptance of all things and joy for each new day.


My Barn Having Burned To The Ground, I Can Now See The Moon...


Brain tumor.
Pending divorce.
Sheep and most goats gone (to Lael, bless her heart! Did you see her featured in the winter Spin-Off? Yay! Support her and buy her marvelous handspinners' fleeces!)

What came next?

Fully-opened heart.
Unconditional love from dear, wonderful people.
Doc... the most amazing presence that I've had the honor to experience.

"Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we're so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act." ~ Ram Dass

I hold the intention that there is peace, abundance, kindness, serenity, and unconditional love in this world and this universe. Enough for all. I hold the intention that we are NOW reflecting and magnifying positive energy. My heart is wide open and I send you love. Please join me in holding these intentions! We CAN change our lives and others' with our focused positive energy! We must be IN THE NOW to do it!

What if WE were in fact in charge of co-creating our own reality? We are. We do. Let us be mindful of this at all times and in all places.


"Metta Sutta - Loving-Kindness Meditation"

May the hearts of all beings be filled with happiness and peace.

May all beings be safe and secure.

May all beings be healthy and prosperous.

May all beings live joyfully and with ease.

"An EEG study by Richard J. Davidson of people who meditate in metta, with a minimum of 10,000 hours practice, showed substantial differences in the magnitude of gamma waves as well as gamma synchronization, particularly during meditative sessions, and directly afterwards. During baseline states, where the subject was not doing metta, there was a signature brain wave pattern that distinguishes the metta practitioners, lay people as well as monks, from people, at baseline, who have not extensively practiced compassion meditation. This study also showed, during meditation, an increase in the activity of brain areas such as the temporoparietal junction, insula, and amygdala and increase the subject's ability to see things from another's perspective, and actually change the area of the brain that is involved the autonomic system so that the meditator's heartbeat increases. These studies show that the amygdala is modulated during compassion mediation. Compassion meditation has been shown to lower the participants reaction to inflammation and distress, both of which are associated with, "major depression, heart disease and diabetes," in response to stressors, a change that was dependent on the amount of time spent practicing, with practitioners who spent more time meditating having corresponding more significant changes in their brains." From Wikipedia.

Knit Nite at The Dog!


It's Thursday, and that means Knit Nite at Yellow Dog Knitting from 6-8 p.m. - see you there!!

Yellow Dog Knitting

When Life Gives You Lemons...


... paint them! Week two of art class.


This one was done with Daniel Smith pigments; I prefer them to the brand I used for the watermelon. Love watercolors!

Chef Jeff made a trip to the Amish village down the road for fresh-from-the-field cabbages... he's busy making sauerkraut again!


And we have even more guinea babies. I believe this brings this year's total to over 90. Sigh. Don't you need some guinea fowl?

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Fall's just around the corner... I'm going to make the most of the summer days left. Sweet corn roasted on the grill, here I come!

Never Too Late For Old Dogs


I have always wanted to learn to paint with watercolors.

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet (how much do we take it for granted??? Thanks be for the Internet!) I am finally able to take classes in my own home, on my own time (which is a blessing, since the only time I seem to be able to do art is usually at 1 a.m.!)

Behold the result of Week One of Laure Ferlita's Artful Journaling - Foundations class:


It's a piece of watermelon on a square plate... in case you can't tell. ;) You can embiggen it but it's probably better if you don't. ;)

I know there are lots of imperfections, and I'm ok with them. I know how to do better next time. One of the best lessons from Laure's class applies not only to art, but to life: if we learn from our mistakes, they weren't a waste of time.

I learned a lot about reflected colors in shadows, and blending colors from just three primaries, and contour drawing (and to pay better attention while doing it!)... and I had a great time getting out of my head and into the Zen zone for a little while.

I recently had a wake-up call concerning my vision, which gave me the impetus to sign up for the class (which is great, BTW). Is there anything you've always wanted to do, but haven't? Don't wait for a wake-up call... in the words of Nike, Just Do It!

Never Not Busy


It's been, what... five months? What's happened at Tuppinz Farm lately, you ask?Ada Oberhasli Goat came into milk, without having been bred or having had any kids. Apparently this can sometimes happen in strong milking lines, and is caused by high levels of prolactin. It's called "witch's milk" or "precocious udder." (Do they have special classes for precocious udders?) I duly milked the girl for a week, but in the end I decided to let her dry off (the vet having confirmed that she had no infection). We'd given all the milking equipment away when we decided not to breed or sell goats, so it was too much of a pain to milk without the little stainless steel milk pail - Ada kept kicking the bowls over. I do have enough frozen milk to make one serving of paneer (as long as Jeff still has a few cheffing days left...)Sheep and goat shearing was - as usual - postponed several times as we tried to find an agreeable shearer. The Big Day will finally take place tomorrow. The sheep will no doubt be relieved to be rid of the floor-length carpets which now envelop them and make them appear like so many Cousin Its on parade in the pasture. The 2010 Sheep Corraling Rodeo was completed today in two hours, with just two people, and went very well... after four years, we've got the process down. Or maybe the sheep do?There is nothing quite so freaky as Jacob sheep with camera flash in their eyes. This shot reminds me of Gene Simmons and the movie "Legend" at the same time... et tu?Having reluctantly come to the conclusion that Icelandic sheep and Angora goats, which both need to be shorn twice every year, are not a good idea for Tuppinz Farm (and its lack of available shearers), we are relieved to announce that our dear friends Lael and Larry Wilson will be adopting the majority of our sheep, and our five mohair goats. Lael is a professional shepherdess (visited regularly by a shearer!) and will perhaps be breeding our wonderful stock, and she'll definitely be selling their fiber via her website. I was a customer of Lael's before I became a shepherdess, and I'm confident you will be pleased with any fiber you purchase from her!We will keep four or five of our "pet" Jacobs (whom we think will allow us to shear them ourselves). They undoubtedly will provide enough wool to keep us in sweaters and socks for our cold Wisconsin winters, without intimidating me into hand-spinning paralysis via unprocessed fleece overwhelm (don't you dare tell me you haven't experienced it yourself after a buying frenzy at a fiber festival!)Thank you, Lael! You're a life saver!!What once was our horrible, haunted and cursed, falling-down farmhouse...... is now going to be my new round pen! Dressage donkeys, here we come! We have experienced The Great Guinea Keet Explosion of 2010 (which is still taking place...) Twenty-eight keets and their parents have gone to a new home with some lovely people. There are approximately 30 left... with more on the way. Yikes! Not the best year to confirm vegetarianism, was it?And finally, after four years of shepherdessing, I have moved my donkey tack permanently out of the sheep shearing area and to the other end of the Long Barn. Tell me, please, why does a woman with just TWO riding donkeys need THIS MUCH EQUIPMENT?! Because nothing fits donkeys properly! I won't even show you my saddle collection... time to place some CraigsList ads. After many failed saddle experiments, I'm happy to report that donkeys seem to be very comfortable in Wintec dressage saddles, with wide gullets and cushy sheepskin pads. Anyone in the market for a wide Passier jumping saddle, or a Big Horn Flat Topline cordura saddle? A mule headstall and breast collar? Send me an email!I haven't been doing much knitting, but I'm happily taking online watercolor painting classes from Laure Ferlita, which are wonderful. I recommend them wholeheartedly!If anyone tells you how peaceful and quiet life would be on a hobby farm, reme[...]



originally uploaded by Shelly Beauch.
Zentangle masterpiece by Shelly Beauch.

Our Home Stars In Commercial


Our house is in a commercial for Wausau Homes! You can see it being built behind the president as he delivers his message; near the end you can even glimpse our historic dairy barn. I wish I could get a DVD of this - I can't download it from their site. :(

To see it, click here and then on "play video!"

Snowmelt 2010


... and it is officially Mud Season here in Wisconsin. We don't have Spring with pretty flowers and clover and robins - we just get eight weeks of fog and muck. Well, that's what it seems like. When I look out the windows, all I can see is brown.

This is the first time I've seen the run without snow. It's located where the geothermal coils were installed. I do think I see a tiny island of pasture grass remaining...



"Please let me in! I'll wipe my feet!" says Boris.


At least Otter is already brown.



But Miss Molly's sparkling white boots have disappeared!


Molly actually hates stepping in anything oozy. She misses her very active exercise sessions, and instead tiptoes out and perches on the lone snowbank that remains. By the look on her face, I think Mud Season is making her a little bit crazy as well...


We all can't wait for May. In the meantime, I'm pretending I live in a sod house with a dirt floor out on the prairie. And washing lots of loads of old towels.

Back In Good Standing


I've redeemed myself with the Ravelympics Committee after my Ishbel disqualification, by finishing Traveling Woman last night.

Miss Molly models:






Check out this crazy, giant snowman at the organic dairy!


Fi And Her Minion


Fi And Her Minion,
originally uploaded by jeffnstasia.
Years ago, Beautiful Fiona had her own minion. :)

Emma And Her Minions


Emma And Her Minions,
originally uploaded by jeffnstasia.

Yay For Ravelympics!


Here are my medals thus far!





Making good progress on Traveling Woman...

Back to the arena!

* * *

ETA: Disgrace! Disgrace!

I awoke in the middle of the night vaguely remembering something about the WIPS Dancing event… Just looked it up, and that nagging thought in the back of my mind was TRUE: no other events can be listed in combination with WIPS Dancing!

I cheated! I must give back three of my four medals for my Ishbel! [Hangs head in shame. Goes to stand with disqualified female Chinese speed skater.]

I have let down my team. I’m so sorry. :(

I will work hard to finish Traveling Woman and redeem myself!

One Down...


My first Ravelympics project is finished - here is Emma modeling Ishbel:



Pattern: Ishbel (I must be the last knitter on the planet to have done this!)
Yarn: Malabrigo Laceweight, "Ravelry Red," from The Loopy Ewe
Modifications: did size L stockinette portion, and size S lace repeates (ABACDE). Had to fudge some stitch counts but it all worked out in the end.

I scored an hibiscus plant at the grocery store yesterday, and awoke to a bloom this morning:


That'll certainly help see me through to Spring!

The roosters are already feeling the change in daylight hours - one lured a hen up to the goat barn last night. The others are sizing each other up in the coop, raising their "manes" until they look like umbrella-heads in order to intimidate one another and impress the females. Our three largest - Golden Laced Wyandottes - are big babies and stay on their roosting perches and out of the fray... which is unfortunate, as they're the ones we want to win over the girls!

Off to knit on Ravelympics project two, Traveling Woman... Have a wonderful day!

Ravelympics 2010 and Famous Rooster


Still unpacking, ordering and hanging curtains and hooks, and trying to remember where I put everything, but I've had a few moments to knit and enjoy the Olympics.

My Traveling Woman shawl(ette) for Ravelympics 2010 (Team Wrap Around Ewe, lace luge and short track shawls events) has been easy thus far... but now it's time to begin the lace part! I love the "Persia" colorway of this Malabrigo Sock yarn:


I'm trying to finish up Ishbel before going to the charts on Traveling Woman; this is done in Malabrigo Lace in the "Ravelry Red" colorway:


I did the size L stockinette part, and the size S lace repeats (ABAC - just starting C in the pic above). I was worried about having enough yarn but I would guess there'd have been enough to do a complete size L. Really messed up my stitch count going into chart C, though... I just fudged it as I'll never be able to find what went wrong if I tink it.

My favorite competitors as the Games have been Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, Evan Lysacek and Yevgeny Plushenko. So inspiring! (Helping me stick to my diet for sure!)

My favorite ad is, without a doubt... "I'm on a horse!" Brilliant! Not. To. Be. Missed.

What are you liking about the Olympics this year?

Our Silver Spangled Hamburg(er) rooster, Keach, was incuded in the latest Hobby Farms magazine:


He's named for a very dear friend, and is a wonderful guy!

Help Is Still Needed!


Regarding my last post about the crisis in South Dakota, Christine asked,

"Good heavens, do you have an update on this? "

Yes, Christine, help is still needed - and I hope everyone will contact their representatives to make this situation clear to them!

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Native American Heritage Association

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Thank you, lovely readers! And happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!

Crisis In South Dakota - Please Help


From HUNAP:January 28, 2010, Cambridge – Native American Caucus students at the Harvard Kennedy School are taking action in response to the inadequate national response to the crisis on Indian reservations in the Dakotas due to severe ice storms and freezing temperatures. Last weekend, a powerful snow and ice storm ripped through the region, felling power lines, and cutting off power and water to thousands of South Dakotans, many of them on the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Indian Reservations. When full power and water will be restored remains in question.The ice storms cut off electricity in an area about the size of Connecticut. With no electricity, no heat, no running water, and a wind chill below zero, a crisis is mounting. The Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has declared a state of emergency for his community and is calling for immediate assistance.The tribes are working hard to bring families in out of the cold into shelters. The South Dakota National Guard, the State’s Department of Public Safety as well as the Army Corps of Engineers have come to the reservation and supplied some emergency generators. Help also is coming in the Red Cross and other tribes. But even with this assistance these tribes, among the poorest communities in the United States, are not able to meet the overwhelming needs of their communities.Outside the frozen plains of the Dakotas, this human crisis has received little attention. The Native American Caucus student organization at Harvard Kennedy School would be grateful to American citizens to give the spotlight to their fellow Native American citizens. They are in great need of your help and aid. The American People need to be aware of this emergency situation.To assist the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Tribes, contact Stacy LaCompte at Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place at (605) 280-8588.MEDICAL NEEDS: Dialysis Patients/Glucose Strips/Financial Support for HotelsThe dialysis patients have all been evacuated three hours away to Rapid City , SD. They are staying in hotels for at least a week and half, probably longer. Financial contributions are needed to help the families pay for their hotel expenses and food. An account has been set up at Wells Fargo to help with these expenses. You can contribute at any Wells Fargo or send to the Rapid City branch. Link To News StoryCONTRIBUTIONS:Wells FargoCheyenne Dialysis Patients (c/o Dew Bad Warrior)Acct. #: 58159043381615 N 7th St.Rapid City, SD 55701Medical Items Needed on the Reservation (shipping address below):° Glucose Strips° First Aid Kits° Children’s Tylenol° Children’s Cough SyrupFINANCIAL DONATIONS:The Tribe has depleted its emergency budget with the two blizzards that already hit the reservation since December. It needs funds to help buy food and supplies for the community and volunteers, to pay for gas and overtime for the workers, to replace the motor at the water pump station that was destroyed, etc.WIRE DONATIONS TO:Cheyenne River Sioux 2010 Disaster AccountDirect to: United Bkrs Bloomington ABA # 091 001 322Beneficiary Bank: Account Number 250 3373State Bank of Eagle ButteEagle Butte , SD 57625Final Credit: Account Holder @ UBB Customers BankAccount Holder: CRST 2010 Disaster, Account Number 103173MAIL CHECK DONATIONS TO:Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe/2010 Disaster AccountCheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman’s OfficeAttn: Ice Storm Emergency FundPO Box 5902001 Main Street (Tribal Offices)Eagle Butte , SD 57625CHEYNNNE RIVER SIOUX CONTACTS:Robin Le Beau, Chairman’s Assistant: (610) 568-2101Joe Brings Plenty, Tribal Chairman: (605) 365-6548CRST Emergency Coordination Center : (60[...]

When contrived motivation fails...


... go for caustic wit:


Available from ScreamPrinting on Etsy (used with permission).

Can't tell you how much I love this.

In Training


Ravelympics 2010If anyone is inclined to participate, Michelle and I have joined the Ravelry Small Shawl Lovers group's "TeamWrapAroundEwe" for the Ravelympics next month. Since we are making small shawl wraps/"shawlettes," our events will be LaceLuge and ShortRunShawl (unless they add more which would also apply).I never understood the Ravelympics before, but apparently what happens is that you...1) Join a team; you can join many teams and do many projects, but a completed project will only count as a "win" for ONE team. Your project, entered for one team, CAN count for multiple "event" categories (i.e., lace, shawls, etc.);2) Enter your project info on a new Ravelry Project Page; using Team, Ravelympic, and Event tags so that Ravelry can magically "see" your project and apply it to the proper Team. These tags will be made available by Casey automatically when the games begin, on your Project Page, triggered by tagging "ravelympics2010" there;3) Don't cast on until the opening ceremony;4) Knit/crochet/spin furiously while watching the Olympics on TV;5) Complete your project and mark finished on its Ravelry project page;7) Get a "medal" to put on your blog!It's all "calculated" automatically at Ravelry by the tags you assign to your project when starting it. The tags are what are most important - they "register" your project as participating in the games.Hope that makes sense. Took me forever to figure it out!Here is a Ravelry link, if you'd like to join our particular group and team: here are the official Ravelympics 2010 rules: TrainingI'm warming up my needles by working on this Ishbel in Malabrigo Laceweight ("Ravelry Red" colorway - how appropriate!) I'm doing the size large stockinette section and the size small lace section; I've read on Ravelry that I ought to be able to complete this with a single skein of yarn. Luckily, I have a second skein, just in case.Good thing I'm in training as I made a big, fat mistake on this project while visiting with Michelle last week. See how the centerline veers by the needles there? Oops. And it's not even difficult at this point! We were having too much fun chatting, methinks... But she was doing the lace border on Aestlight - I can't even imagine doing that in a silent room, much less while having coffee at Mickey D's!Terri just finished her Ishbel - isn't it lovely? Be sure to take a peek at Sabrina and Apollo, her beautiful dogs!To cross-train, I'm crocheting a hexagon afghan in Blue Sky Alpaca's dyed cotton - SO soft (and thick, which is great for instant gratification-minded crafters like myself...)The inspiration is from Lucy at the Attic24 blog - I love love love her color sense! I hope to have my craft loft looking like her home one day. Color is so inspiring and healing... and I don't get enough of it here in the winter hinterlands. Check her out and I bet you'll say, "I love Lucy!" too.The dogs are so pleased to have their new giant run. Some days, when it warms above 30° or so, they refuse to come in when called. I've stopped calling them, as I don't want to train them to ignore me when I can't "enforce" a command (and believe me, I'm not about to go chasing them over an acre of snowy, rutted pasture!) So I just wait patiently until they've gotten all the "piss and vinegar" out of their systems, and then reward them with a treat and a cheerful "Come!" when they finally scratch on the door to collapse on their poofs.Somehow, I think I'm the one being trained.[...]

Finishing Things Up


The knitting didn't take long, but the marinating ate up almost an entire year! I present the "Dixie Shawl," finally complete:


The pattern is Garnstudio Drops 108-47. I wish they would name their patterns - I can never remember the number, and it's not exactly a catchy phrase that'll top the Ravelry charts.

I made it in Garnstudio Alpaca and Glitter yarns, purchased at Yellow Dog Knitting. Can't remember if it's their regular Alpaca, or the fine Alpaca - Dixie will know! I will definitely knit this pattern again because I love this alpaca yarn. I hear that it is processed correctly, so it will not "grow" to the same degree that other alpaca yarns can.

Otter is dreaming of sugarplums by the fire, and sending you...


We are getting ready to finish things up around this old house - our move up the hill is scheduled for Friday, after the new house's inspection by the County on Thursday. Luckily, anything we don't wish to take with us can be left here to be incinerated when the fireperson training program ignites it in early January.

I will so be dancing around that bonfire...

Happy Holdays, all!

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Get One At - Friendster Comments

Wealth Is Neutral


I subscribe to The Daily Om. Today's message was one that really spoke to me. In this economic climate, I often hear people complaining that someone makes "too much" money. Chef Jeff will respond to such a complaint with the comment, "How much is too much? $100 more than the complainer makes? $1,000? $10,000? How much should the person make - and why does the complainer think they have the right to decide that amount for another human being?"The truth is, there is more than enough to go around, for everyone. An attitude of abundance - and sharing one's blessings - increases one's prosperity (and that doesn't just mean financial prosperity, but a prosperity of the soul - friendships, joy, awareness...)It is only when one begins thinking from a sense of abundance rather than a sense of lack that one realizes that it's ok - it's even great - for someone else to have more than it seems they could ever utilize in one lifetime. That means it's possible for us to receive such blessings in this lifetime, too!Be happy for people who are blessed. When you are blessed, share with an open heart. Have confidence that The Universe will provide for all of your needs. Ask for, and believe in, abundance.May you have abundance in all things: health, wealth, and happiness.An Instrument of ChangeWealth Is NeutralAt its most basic, money is a tool that enables us to meet our individual needs. As a form of potential energy that empowers us to generate change, it is neither good nor bad. Yet many people react emotionally to issues concerning finances, unconsciously condemning currency itself, the manner in which money is spent, and people who live lives of financial abundance. Individuals who are rich in gifts such as high intelligence are acknowledged for their positive traits while those who have acquired material riches or aspire to become wealthy are frequently judged harshly. However, wealth is not a trait upon which judgment can be legitimately passed. It tells us nothing about how a person lives, what they believe in, whom they care for, or the scope of their values. Like any blessing, wealth is merely an instrument of purpose that can be used both constructively and destructively. From an early age, people learn to court wealth while simultaneously associating money with greed, selfishness, and unethical behavior. Consequently, this idea becomes entrenched in their hearts as envy. To attain a balanced and rational comprehension of money, as well as a fairer perspective of wealth, we need to recognize that outward manifestations of wealth tell us little about the individuals enjoying those blessings. When we feel the finger of jealousy prompting us to draw unflattering conclusions about people whose lives seem more financially secure than our own, we should remind ourselves that there are many elements of their circumstances we cannot see. Their wealth may be the result of long hours of taxing labor, they may donate a large percentage of their resources to charitable causes, or their bounty may be an incidental aspect of a life spent doing what they love. Ultimately, we can heal our hurtful associations with money by turning a blind eye toward both wealth and poverty when interacting with others and instead focusing on the individual before us.If you take a moment to consider you own feelings regarding money and wealth, you may discover that you equate financial prosperity with happiness, power, security, independence, or self-indulgence. Money itself, however, is none of these things. You can begin [...]

The Mitten Mistake


I missed the final mitten class at Yellow Dog Knitting because I thought I was coming down with something, and didn't want to spread it to the nice people there (it turned out to be nothing...)

I thought it would be a piece of cake to do the liners for Cindi's lined mitten pattern; she showed me her samples and gave me the gist of the procedure. So I was off and running this weekend with some apple green Garnstudio Alpaca, doubled.

Just pick up the first purl round after the cuff, and knit another mitten for the inside! No problem!

Fools rush in...


I turned the cuff the wrong way when I picked up the purl bumps (it should be folded to the OUTSIDE of the mitten; I'd turned the mitten inside-out first. Ack.)

The only way to get it to act as a lining was to turn the whole thing inside-out on itself through the thumb hole - and look what that does: makes the lining purl-side-out.

I am spatially challenged; that much is clear.

Let's get this straight. If you want to make a liner for your mitten, hold a mitten up, normal side out. Fold the cuff to the outside of the mitten. Pick up and knit the purl bumps, on the interior of the mitten, at the point where your cuff ends and the interior mitten hand begins. Knit a new mitten, away from the exterior mitten. When it is complete, tuck it inside the first mitten. The knit stitches of the liner will be against your palm. :)

Let's turn away and look at something else, shall we?

Here's our little tripod, Delilah, snoozing away in the afternoon sun.


Please note: Delilah is a mini LaMancha goat. LaMancha goats are usually born without exterior ears. She did not lose ears (or her missing leg) to frostbite. Delilah sleeps in a straw-filled, snug barn which even has a heat lamp for particularly chilly days. :D

Hope your day is as relaxing and peaceful as hers!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wishing you and yours a holiday full of all good things.

Around our house, everyone's "celebrating" in front of the TV.



Finished Objects


Pattern: Multnomah
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in "Sahara", 1.5 skeins, purchased at The Loopy Ewe.


Pattern: Baktus
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, 2 skeins, purchased at Yellow Dog Knitting.

Always Busy On A Farm


There really is no "down time" on a farm, and this weekend was no exception. Chef Jeff shoveled and spread over 500 bushels of manure, alone. The goat barn has a new starter supply of hay for Swedish-style deep bedding for the winter; the chicken coop and nest boxes are fresh and clean as well; and the donkey pucks are out of the paddock. All that organic fertilizer should be great for next year's alfalfa crop - it'll work itself in over the winter and spring.The house has now been sided outside...... and drywalled and painted inside:We celebrated Chef Jeff's 40th birthday with dinner at his favorite restaurant due to a surprise visit from my mother. I also baked orange scones for him this weekend instead of a birthday cake - he isn't fond of sweets. Well, he enjoys sweets, he just doesn't eat them - the man has a will of iron with regard to his diet (which is why he looks 30 instead of 40; me, not so much!)Tonight we had "dinner in a pumpkin":This would make a great Thanksgiving dinner for those who don't wish to roast a whole turkey.The original recipe can be found here (warning: turn down your sound). I altered it a bit by using dark brown sugar, 1 tsp. of thyme, turkey instead of beef, 3 celery stalks with leaves, Native American hand-harvested and parched wild rice, and white pepper. I used fat from heritage Berkshire hog bacon for browning. The "stuffing" went into a sugar pumpkin that I grew this year. It was delicious!Next time we make it, we're going to nix the canned soup (albeit organic) and canned mushrooms, and go with dried wild mushrooms. We'll rehydrate them and use the stock from them to deglaze the frying pan, and then add in cream. We will use maple syrup for the sweetener, Worcestershire sauce for the salty, fermented taste, and real chestnuts instead of water chestnuts. Maybe some cranberries as well.The recipe I made tonight was double what would fit in the pumpkin. Luckily, I have another to use. :)In fiber news, the four Icelandic sheep and five Angora goats are shorn! Need wool or mohair? Get in touch!We used Bob Rajek from Rajek Family sheep services for shearing, and were pleased with his care of the animals and the fleeces. He was very easy to work with. He is located in Stanley, WI, and also buys and sells sheep (for those interested) - 715-429-0879.As far as my knitting, I've finished the large, blue and silver Drops shawl, as well as the Colinette Jitterbug Multnomah. I don't think I'll use that yarn again; it is still bleeding color after 10 rinses! I'm not too crazy about having been exposed to excess dye chemicals while knitting. If you are thinking of knitting a Multnomah, be prepared to do some fudging - it's not the clearest pattern I've ever read, and you sort of have to see the big picture and intention and do your own thing to make it work out. For instance, fit in new lace pattern repeats on the borders when you are able to after making increases - the number of "repeats" in the pattern seems to be off, and I've seen a whole bunch of projects which don't have a steady Feather And Fan border all the way around the edges because of that.I finished one gray mitten of Garnstudio Karisma Superwash, and started its mate; they'll be lined with lime green Garnstudio Alpaca. I also have a two-color Garnstudio Fabel Baktus on the needles. Pics coming soon... Who knows? Maybe the next Baktus I make will be the lacy version - I definitely have no intention of stopping knitt[...]

Moving Right Along


The house construction is moving along so quickly that I can't even get current photos posted before they're obsolete!I posted on Facebook on Oct. 30th that Dixie mentioned that she couldn't believe how calm I was about the house project. I realized it was because Wausau Homes/Dick Hieb Homes have the process down. No worries. Everything on schedule. The contractors show up on time, right after the last ones have finished their work, and they're all polite and conscientious (they are even friendly to the goats!) We had a single, small concern with one tradesperson - but that was someone we'd insisted on using, who was not part of the usual Wausau crew. We just can't say enough good things about Wausau Homes/Dick Hieb Homes of Black River Falls. If you ever build, check them out if you want a hassle-free house project.My father was a home builder when I was young, and I remember that there were always problems with the coordination of tradespeople, theft from construction sites, and arguments between contractors (when and if they bothered to show up). I was prepared to have to micro-manage this whole process, and really was not looking forward to it. I have never been so relieved to have my expectations proven wrong. I'm sure that having this house progress on-time and on-budget has saved my marriage and my sanity.Chef Jeff and I love that this type of "panelized" construction (not modular) is better for the environment, as is the geothermal heating/cooling we chose. We like knowing that the structure didn't get wet or moldy since it was up and roofed in about three days. My good friend Denise sent me this link to share about construction of panelized (different from modular) homes - hope you find it interesting.To get you up-to-speed, this was the status of the new house on October 2nd:This was October 27th; the house was up, and they were trenching for the well and the electicity:And this was yesterday. The interior drywall is almost finished! The UPS man, who is here almost every week, said, "Hey! When did you guys start building a house?!" He was shocked to see it appear suddenly, as if by magic.The current house is the white building on the right (sinking precariously, day by day, into the hill!)The 2009 chicken harvest has been deemed a success by Chef Jeff. We experienced only minor losses to a great horned owl and Otter. That would be our dog, Otter - not an otter otter. Let's just say that, for a hunting dog, she does not have a very soft mouth - and apparently has hunted her own vittles in her past life on the run. I learned not to walk her, even on-leash, near the pastured poultry.If our chickens look oddly bright and yellow to you, that is because that is what natural, pasture-raised, healthy chickens look like. The anemic, chalky chickens one sees in the grocery store are not only devoid of color, they taste as bland as puffed rice crackers. If you haven't experienced the flavor of organic, humanely-raised, free-range chicken, well... you have no idea what chicken is "supposed" to taste like. Wish I could get Chef Jeff to let me raise a heritage breed hog, because the same is true of pork (and beef, of course). What passes for meat at the supermarket isn't worth purchasing - I'd rather eat tofu. However, seeing as we have an overabundance of guinea fowl at present (25 at last count) and Chef Jeff finds himself unable to take them off to be made into roasters, perhap[...]