Friday, November 28, 2014

authentic murk


We've had a bit of a storm, with heavy snow, downed limbs, power outage, and so on. Would you like to see a few snaps? They aren't much to look at, but they are quite accurate in their degree of murk.

I'd made a trip to the feedstore and gotten all the feed unloaded shortly before the predicted storm. And I've been getting the wood in for weeks, so no worries there. And lately I've been tackling the odd bit of fence-shifting and gate-adding with an eye to Winter short, I was feeling pretty darned smug about this predicted storm!

(Really - it's behind that big oak, see?)

Which is why it is so baffling that I neglected to do one thing I always do: fill several 5-gallon buckets for a reserve water supply. In fact, I was tucking the goats in early and with extra grub on Wednesday when I suddenly thought, "Wet snow. Branches will come down. I'd better head back inside and fill those buckets before we lose power." And as I reached up to turn out the light in the workshop, the light went out.

The view in one direction

The view in another direction.
(I think you can imagine the rest.)

So, it's been two days of kettles on the woodstove,
melting snow to keep the goats supplied with water.

A black goat, very well disguised.

Melting snow for water may sound romantic,
but personally, I find the Rugged Pioneer Effect wears off pretty quickly when it's my own darned fault that I have an extra task to do.
It was nice to have such easy access to clean snow, though;
I filled the kettles dozens of times just by leaning out the door.
Didn't even need to put my boots on.

Piper helping collect the mail
after our driveway was plowed:
This box - light but big - was quite a challenge!
I don't know who was more proud of her success,
Piper or me.

 Late this morning, utility workers from all over the Commonwealth
upped stakes from their encampment at the end of my driveway.
I had trudged down to thank them for their efforts in my area,
long before my power was actually restored.
I do not envy them their work!

But I also will not miss the flashing lights from the trucks
reflecting off my ceilings all night long.
Bizarre dreams.


Back soon, hopefully with brighter images!

Monday, November 24, 2014


This morning I got the first solid estimate from a carpenter willing to pick up the porch project in December.

It was...a lot.

After he left, I sort of reeled into the house.

At first I thought a little lie-down would be required, but then decided food might be enough. To bolster my strength, you know.

Not the pint of ice cream I probably would have eaten from the carton with a spoon if I was a weaker person.

Or if I happened to have a pint of ice cream. Which I didn't. Darn it.

No, all very healthy: two organic eggs (collected this morning, thank you hens!) gently fried in organic butter until barely set, then a dollop of leftover organic, steamed, winter squash (from my garden) added along with salt and pepper, and finally, the last slice of some respectably aged provolone.

Yes, food was enough. My left eyelid stopped twitching. There's one more carpenter I need an estimate from. Soon.

Weekend highlight:
Tsuga had a visitor on Saturday.
His name is Simon:

It was a short but enthusiastic social call.
Simon may be back in a few weeks
if Tsuga indicates that a second meeting would be helpful.
Meanwhile, optimism prevails.
Optimism and carrot pennies all around!
But especially carrot pennies for Tsuga.

It was raining earlier, and I had no excuse to further neglect routine indoor tasks. Is it strange that I'm feeling genuine satisfaction at being caught up on laundry? I suppose sometimes all it takes is the sense that one is In Control of Something. Or...maybe sometimes that's all it takes for me?

Now the rain has stopped.
A bright breeze is blowing, and the sky is showing pale bits of blue. 
In about 15 minutes, it will be dark.
Quick! Let's enjoy the blue!

And later tonight, after chores and giving Piper her supper,
and calling the other carpenter to nudge him toward a solid estimate,
and after topping off the woodbox and stoking the stove,
I will do a little bit of this:

Because, you know.
In Control.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

now with links

"Thank you!" to Dani for reporting on the ravelry access question yesterday! After a little research, I'm trying something new: adding a specific "shared by invitation" link to each rav-listed project I blog about. In theory, clicking a link will take guests to the related project page, whether or not one is a member of ravelry.

Let's take this for a spin, shall we? Here, in order of completion, are the five projects retrieved from obscurity for the WIPCrackAway KAL. I hope you are not getting sick of seeing these pictures! There are more images on the project pages. There may even be a goat or two.

Those (experimental) Socks

Orange Leaves

portuguese gypsy neckwarmer


Hay Hauler Helmet

Okay, readers...I'm counting on you to test these links and let me know if they work for you!

Just a heads-up: my project notes are sometimes quite detailed (because I have a memory like a sieve) and they are usually in reverse-chronological order - that is, they read from the bottom, up.

Good luck. Have fun. Ask questions!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

WIPCrackAway Recap

When I joined in on the WIPCrackAway KAL, I thought there was only one UFO sadly hibernating in my knitting basket. But as the 8 weeks of the knitalong progressed, I discovered that one now-finished object simply made way for another. Rummaging in the depths of the knitting basket began to remind me of scrabbling carefully in a hill of compost and soil, searching out the first new potatoes. Oooh! Found another!

One by one, the FUFOs (I have coined my very first fiber-related acronym! It stands for FORMERLY UnFinishedObject) began to add up to an amazing total of FIVE when the knitalong ended last week. And here they are, all in one place. First, the Hay Hauler Helmet:

Does this hat look vaguely familiar? It was a fun experiment last February, teaching me much about the structure of a tam. Which this clearly is not, because when I realized how much more yarn would be needed for an actual tam, I cast this one off as a cap, and put it aside for another think.

When I pulled it out this month - only 9 months later - I remembered how much fun it had been to tinker with. I decided to carry on making it up as I went along, adding features that might make it a useful barn hat. I picked up stitches on the cast off edge and knitted earflap shapes and a panel long enough to cover the back of my neck and - hopefully - stay tucked well inside my barn coat even when I'm leaning into feed barrels and tossing flakes of hay. I use a "skipping stones" motion for tossing hay flakes over a fence and into a paddock, but on a more vigorous, full-body-involvement scale. It's a perfect opportunity for snow to go down the back of my neck. I would very much like to prevent this. Stay tuned.

I think you've already seen these other four FUFOs as they came along on the needles: two pair of socks, one wisp of a scarf, and one buttoned neckwarmer. I'll just put this picture here to have them all recorded in one place.

Here's a ravelry link to my WIPCrackAway project page, for anyone raveler interested in the specific yarns or other details of these items. Project links for everyone, raveler or not, are now hereIf the link doesn't work for you - I am still not clear about whether non-rav folks can see the pages, does anyone know? Could someone not on ravelry please click the link and let me know? - just ask me in a comment and I'll happily share any info of interest. UPDATE: thanks very much, Dani, for letting me know the link on this page doesn't work for you! I'm sure rav has already worked out a way to do this, so I will research and see what needs to be done :)
And ANOTHER update: the links posted on the next page should now work for everyone, raveler or not. If there  is still an access problem, please let me know and I will start adding detailed project pages here on the blog. Thanks!  :)


This screenshot explains why it seems like a good day to post about knitting:

Note the bitter irony of the huge emphasis on "warmer."

(And it certainly never reached 30F here yesterday! What a fib.)

After a series of days like this,
spending at least a little time each day
knitting up warm things
using pleasant yarn
seems very, very sensible.

Something constructive to do
while thawing from chores.
And thinking, and waiting.
 Waiting to hear back from possible porch carpenters.
Waiting to hear back about Tsuga's possible beau.
Thinking about the amazing fact that in a single afternoon
without even leaving the house
I spent two thousand dollars.
(Not crazed extravagance: propane and auto repair.
Still, somewhat alarming. Deep breath taken.)

So...on a happy, productive, cozy note...
I'd like to share my arrangement for knitting these days.
You may wish to try something similar!

Key components:
  1. Fire burning merrily.
  2. Piper on hearthrug, just like a dog in a novel.
  3. Laptop on table, three windows open in screen:

Click image to embiggen.

To the left: the goatcam.
To the right: Finished Object Radar.
(This rav feature displays FOs in realtime, as they are posted on ravelers Project Pages. I can't watch video while knitting - some folks can - but just glancing at the screen now and then to see a wild variety of fiber project images as they appear is good fun.)
On the far right, almost off this screenshot, is an audiobook.
For me, audiobooks and knitting go together like...

goats and hay.

Time to bundle up for another round of chores.
I hope you enjoy a lovely Saturday, whatever the weather!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

drama in 3 acts

Act One:

Porch conversion begins, after years of planning and waiting.
Much tearing out and piling up of old materials into unsightly masses of non-recyclable Stuff. Thousands spent on carefully-sourced materials.
Much enthusiasm all around! Trepidation about impending Winter only increases determination to forge ahead!

Act Two:

Phone conversation with builder reveals diagnosis of carpal tunnel and doctor's orders to Not Use Arm.
Director's Note: after reading your lovely comments this evening, I must clarify; it's the builder who is having terrible trouble with his arm...not me! Very sorry for the ambiguity. I appreciate all the kind thoughts, though! And I will redirect them to the builder, in hopes they will speed his recovery!

Act Three:

I do the chores.
Because Act Two was earlier this morning, and I don't know what will happen next.
(Clearly I could have said that last thing yesterday, as well.)
A search for that rare creature - a carpenter willing and available to take on a project midway - has begun.


I have nothing but sympathy for the builder. Empathy, even, since the reason I hired him is that my construction abilities are now limited to the point of non-existence by my own pain issues.

Of course, as you know, I also have a lot of time, money, and hope - oh, the hope! - invested in a project that needs to be done as quickly as possible, working around the weather.

Tell me something: did you think things were getting too dull and predictable around here? Because I can't say I had noticed that. I thought Winter sitting on my shoulder while I searched out a window caulk that can be applied at 20 degrees F was Drama Enough.

Nope! Drama Level is definitely cranked up a few notches now. No panic, but frequent moments of deep meditative breathing.

And now I'm going to go fetch some hay. Which always makes me feel productive and successful and accomplished. (I am easy.)


One more edit, added this evening...
when I picked up the hay, I got another piece of unwelcome news:
the farmer I buy my hay from won't have enough to get any of his customers through the Winter. It's been a tough year for hay; the second in a row, actually. Everyone who buys their hay (as I do) will be scrambling soon if they are not already.

Still. Refusing. To. Panic.

Just stubborn, I guess.


Monday, November 17, 2014

freezing rain

I believed the weather prediction for a night and a day of rain, beginning Sunday. The high temperature was expected to hover below freezing point, so icing seemed likely, as well as relentlessly raw, wet conditions. Yesterday afternoon I texted the builder to cancel work on the porch today, put out extra hay and water buckets, and brought in plenty of wood.

By 3AM the freezing rain had begun. It hasn't stopped yet. Not heavy; almost a drizzle, but colder than rain and wetter than ice.
After their breakfast buckets, the goats opted to stay in their shelters all day, dozing and munching and watching the rain from the open doors.
The hens came out of the Poultry Palace as usual, but hastily disappeared under one of the outbuildings, and were not seen again til I put them to bed at dusk, which seemed to arrive at about 3 in the afternoon.
Piper abandoned her couch, rearranged one of the throw rugs to get it closer to the woodstove, and spent the entire day sleeping.


I can't say much was accomplished today.

But it was a very good day to be grateful for a roof and a fire.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

before sunup

 These snaps are all a bit dim in tone,
but welcome to morning chores!
Yes, it would be nice if the temp would rise above 22F (-5C), but
aren't we glad the snow has stopped?
This is the lengthy interlude between a very grey dawn
and the moment when welcome rays of sunlight
come a-dazzling through the trees.

We hope.

Since this was the babies' Very First Snowfall,
I brought a pocketful of celebratory carrots.
Carrots are a welcome treat, anytime, night or day.
Every one of my goats thinks carrot pennies are the best treat ever.

 "I loooove carrots!"

"As Herd Matriarch, I should have the Most Carrots.

"Did someone mention carrots?"

We got a couple-or-three inches of light, fluffy snow,
but under even the leafless trees there was less.

  Under the hemlocks, there was almost no snow at all.
I didn't take a picture of that absent snow, but here's a tip for you:
next time you are caught in the woods during a snowstorm,
find a hemlock.
Hemlocks are our Friends.

 Dara:"Look at this great pile of hay, Vinca!
Vinca:"Yum! Let's share it, 50-50, okay?"

Vinca:"New plan! Let's eat it up as fast as we can,
before Mama gets here and maybe knocks us sideways!

Fingers crossed it will warm up enough this week
that I can move some of these intrepid survivors to a safer place,
before the Return of the Snowplow.

Gardening has really been back-burnered since the porch project began.
But if I see one chance for transplanting this week,
I will gladly make it a priority.

Meanwhile...about those carrots...
Tsuga knows exactly which pocket to check.

Mostly because last year she very gradually, day by day,
quietly managed to chew a big hole in the other pocket.
Now anything I absent-mindedly stuff into that pocket just falls right through.
Which may be why I now have three single work gloves.
Or maybe not.
I do tend to leave gloves all over the place.

Tsuga is the one doe I hope to breed this year.
I have two potential bucks in mind, but there are tactical issues with both.
Stay tuned.

Oh Tsuga, little hemlock girl.
I am so looking forward to seeing your first kid.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

a different perspective

Would you like to see a couple of goatcam snaps?
Here is Lily of the Valley,
looking out the open barn doorway.

And this is what she is looking at:

The largest round glow is the light over my back door.
One wall of the porch (with it's new row of windows)
is visible because of the floodlights at the gable peak.

The little bright rectangle of light in between
is the window of the room where I am typing
right this moment.

And in the foreground...
those two blurry vertical streaks?
Those are two tiny snowflakes.
They are not alone.

There have been a couple of brief flurries earlier this season,
but this is the first snowfall predicted to drop
a couple of inches here.
We'll see.

The builder is off til Monday, so I'll be focusing on other projects (fence tightening and gate building, for example) and general tidying up, indoors and out, depending on how cold it is. And taking Piper for longer walks. 

Piper has been shortchanged on fun for much of the past week, I am sorry to say, as the days are so short and I have been, frankly, exhausted. To be honest, even getting the evening chores done has been a struggle; I've started feeding and watering the moment the builder leaves, at 3 or 4 PM, and crashing the moment chores are done.

As a result, Piper has been enjoying an unusual abundance of treats and snacks each day, and of course she gets some exercise running around here at home, but it's not the same as snorting up and rolling in and running through the woods, even briefly.

"Are you feeling guilty yet?"

Today I had a chiropractic appointment, so I put Piper in the car and we stopped for a quick run in the woods enroute to my appointment.

 And then, on the way home,
we stopped again, in a different place:

And - bonus! -
those brief interludes were very refreshing for me, as well.


progress on the porch

Yesterday a few hours were spent on another materials run...more lumber, rock wool insulation for the kneewalls, adhesive foil and caulk for around the windows, and more nails. Lots more nails. 

But it was a gorgeous day, and a start was made on installing windows. I'm looking forward to having them all in place so I can adjust my eye to the different view - it's quite a change from the floor-to-ceiling screens.

I think it's going to be nice.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

fret-free sunday

For the first time in over a week, I will not be spending much of the day fretting about where to find nine matching windows. Because as of 9 AM this morning, I know exactly where to find them:

They are lined up on the screenporch!

The building of kneewalls will commence at 9 AM tomorrow.

After the delivery truck had gone, 
I worked with a light heart.
Even during the babies' hoof-trimming,
which is not a favorite task for anyone involved.

The sun was almost shining,
the air was almost not cold.
There was plenty of time for visiting,
especially with Acer and Betula.
I told them all about the windows.
The mood was quietly festive.
There may have been some spontaneous singing.

"Is that what that was?
I thought someone was grinding stumps." 

"Don't listen to Betula!
I love it when you sing!
And then we have carrots!"

little Vinca: Why was that big truck here?

Betula: It was delivering windows.

Vinca: Why do we need more windows?

Acer: They aren't for us.


Vinca: What? I don't understand. Isn't there a building project going on?

Acer: Yes, but it's not something for us.


LeShodu: The world has gone mad. Fortunately, our hay supply has not been affected. Let's eat.

Happy Sunday, everyone! Let's eat!