Friday, February 28, 2020

february passing

This has been a February with all the bells and whistles.
Cold, grim, freezing rain, ice, snow, sleet.

An occasional clear day.
Then back to bitter cold, strong winds, more precipitation.

And always - always! - the ice.

At the end of December I bought an inexpensive pair of boots
to keep my ice cleats on, "in case" they would be needed.
But I felt so uncomfortable about buying boots made in China
that I returned them without even taking them out of the box.
Actually, the box never even made it out of my truck - 
it went straight back to the store the next day.

I called my logger boots back into service as "designated cleated boots"
and my gosh, have they seen a lot of wear this past month!

Absolutely everything has been covered in ice.
Without cleats, I couldn't have carried hay to the paddocks or water buckets to the barns. I have been thankful for those boots every single day in February.

Also thankful for my new barn coat.

I've been reluctantly trying to replace my old barn coat for a couple of years. It was a great old coat. It was purchased when I was about to start doing Continuous Forest Inventory plots in the winter of 2000-2001, and almost 20 years later still had remnants of tree-marking paint on it here and there.

I wore this coat day in day out for years, and as garments go, it was like an old and trusty friend. It accumulated rips from getting caught on fencing or nails - and saving my skin from the same. The insulated lining was worn into tatters. Over time both big pockets had holes chewed into their bottoms and their top seams torn by goats seeking carrot pennies or peanuts.

So I watched eBay and Etsy, and checked thrift shops every time I had the chance. Last year I bought what looked like an acceptable replacement at the Hospice Shop but soon discovered my "bargain" was very badly constructed. I salvaged fabric and buttons for future sewing projects and vowed to keep looking, be patient, and only buy exactly what I wanted next time.

My persnickety determination to find a particular (goat-baffling pocket design non-negotiable), long-discontinued model of a high-quality, low-mileage barn coat at a reasonable price was at last rewarded with a coat from eBay that looked like it had just come from the original shop. It may have been hanging in someone's closet, unworn, for years. I'm still breaking it in. This coat may outlast me.

So despite the weather and the need to fill the woodbox every other day, February has passed - almost! one more day! fingers remain crossed! - without causing great difficulty. Just to be on the safe side, I may spend tomorrow a bit like this:


Saturday, February 22, 2020

in other fiber news

Cloud Harvest 2020 has begun.

Spur of the moment contest:

First person to correctly guess
which goat was the first to be combed
will receive a little (sorry, not cashmere) prize!

Good luck, goat pals!


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

nearly wordless watercolor wednesday

Little bronze Apis Bull.
Egypt 26th Dynasty. ~664-525 BCE


archaeologist Ann Axtell Morris
(fanciful interpretation of field photograph)

dusk, at home

Friday, February 14, 2020

fiber friday

 The hap stitch pattern has become interesting:

No audiobooks, for the time being! 
I am having to pay very close attention
and do a lot of counting aloud.

The first color change has begun,
soft and subtle: 

I think - I hope! - this will be one of the nicest things I've ever knit.
It's certainly one of the most joy-filled. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

thankful thursday

There have been many wild birds here every day this Winter: juncoes and chickadees and finches and titmice and nuthatches and cardinals and jays and downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers. There is a small hanging basin for water, and every morning I pop out the disk of ice that has formed and refill the basin from one of the buckets I'm carrying to the goats, so that at least once daily the birds have access to water in a relatively safe spot. (I've also had hawks here this Winter, so the safety is not absolute.)

In addition to a suet feeder and a hanging feeder of mixed seeds, I've also been scattering seed on the snow under the thicket of Kerria japonica and Spirea branches. I began doing it so the juncoes would have plenty of food available instead of waiting for seed to fall from the hanging feeder, but as more and more birds made it clear that they enjoyed this less-exposed dining area, I began putting more seed on the ground. It's been quite remarkable how many birds will gather under and within those shrubs every day. And around the corner, the suet feeder is especially popular with all the woodpeckers.

This morning I happened to look out at the exact right moment to see two new visitors to the suet feeder, each appearing briefly before flying off. 

First the male:

Then the female:

Eastern Bluebirds!

This is only the second time I have seen a bluebird on my property, and it was such a gift to look out at just the right moment to see this pair. I'm sorry the pictures are a bit murky; it was sleeting lightly.

When I went out to scatter seed and fill the wild bird feeder today, I added dried mealworms to the little feeder attached to a window. The titmice and finches visit it now, but maybe the bluebirds will come back and give it a try if they notice the mealworms. Or maybe I'll put up a second suet feeder.
I would love to see bluebirds as regular visitors here.

But even if it's another two years before the third sighting,
I'm so grateful I saw these two today!


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

nearly wordless wednesday

Piper and I went for a short, soggy walk
and brought home



Monday, February 3, 2020

markmaking february

Every path between the barns, the house, and the paddocks is solid ice.
The temperature is ranging from single digits to low 30s.
We've had snow, sleet, and sun.
More snow predicted this week.

Hello, February.

Here is the Daily Markmaking so far:

 February 1

 February 2

February 3

February is the month when I remind myself to weigh the low-level anxiety of carrying daily water buckets over icy paths against the delightful absence of mosquitoes and biting flies. Even ice looks pretty great when you compare it to mosquitoes.

February is also when my thoughts turn to the gardens. When I have to rein myself in before I even open a seed catalog.
I've been piling catalogs up as they arrive and there are at least eight of them now.
Haven't opened a single one.

But it won't be long now.