Saturday, December 31, 2022


On Christmas night, I took a project off the needles. I can only knit in short sessions these days - no handknitting marathons in the foreseeable future - so this second Hansel Hap has been in the works all Autumn.

Before washing and blocking, I couldn't resist taking one picture of the hap in all it's rumpled disarray:

In case it looks slightly familiar, this is the second version of the hap I made for my Occasional Helper and his wife when they were expecting their first baby. You can probably guess why I made this one!

The wool was all ordered from Jamieson and Smith in Shetland again, and this time I bought the main color on a single cone instead of in multiple hanks or skeins. It's slightly more economical that way, plus saves a lot of splicing. Yarn on a cone still holds some of the oil used in processing, and I wondered if it would affect my tension, especially in a project combining oiled and washed yarns. I considered winding off the amount needed for the hap, making a hank, and washing it before knitting with it, but was told it shouldn't be necessary. And I actually forgot all about the oil until just before washing the hap, but then I remembered and it's a good thing, because it might have been a bit of a shock when, after an hour-long soak, the wash water looked like this:

Downright murky!
It took three rinses before the water was clear:

Then the hap was gently rolled up in a big towel and Moxie and I pressed as much water out of the yarn as possible before beginning the blocking process. Blocking a blanket is a lot of gentle stretching and flattening and pinning. 

First this side...

then that side...

then around a corner...

and around and around and around.

Until what initially seems like an acre of unmanageable stretchy wet wool

becomes an orderly four-foot square.

It's quite satisfying when done, but the blocker may need a little lie-down.


Saturday, December 24, 2022

weather report

After getting fairly well into the Winter rhythm of life,
this was yesterday morning:

As the day went on, the temperature topped 50F.
Rain. And wind.

Happily, the sun made a surprise appearance once or twice, which meant I could race outside and do a quick chore or two without getting thoroughly soaked except from the knees down.
This was a sunny time:

I took the opportunity to let the fire burn out completely so I could clean all the ashes out of the woodstove. Then I immediately laid another fire, because in the afternoon the temperature dropped at a rapid clip. The rain turned to snow and wind around 6PM, but we were fortunately spared the drama some places saw, and didn't lose power. So grateful. Without power, there is no water. Goats need a lot of water.

The forecast called for single digits last night - a 50-degree drop! - so I lit the propane heater for the first time this Winter, as back up for the woodstove.

It was 4F and clear when I started the chores today, Christmas Eve.
The first round of feeding and watering took nearly 2 hours, and I had to come in twice to dunk my aching fingers in a bowl of tepid water despite wearing crazy-thick, insulated, rubber-palmed gloves. Just a minute in tepid water and my hands were as good as new and ready to get back to work.
Water is a magical element, is all I'm saying.

Too cold to take photographs today, so here is a recent picture from my tiny wildlife area, which is extremely popular these days. This bird is demonstrating the tail-brace method woodpeckers use, which is why I attach suet feeder to scraps of board. I like my guests to be comfortable while they dine.

Speaking of guests, if you are celebrating holidays with loved ones I hope it will be wonderful. And if you are enjoying a quiet weekend, I hope you have everything you need for a perfect time, including running water and heat and snacks. And plenty of hay.

It's nearly 4, and I've got one more quick round of chores to do before dark, so I'd better pull my socks up and get moving.

Sunday, December 18, 2022



A real snowstorm yesterday.
The hay sled is back in service.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

recent marks made

 Something I've enjoyed and appreciated about twitter over the years, has been the constant stream of images from which to sketch. And the variety of subjects! Pebbles, flowers, the Northern Lights...always something.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

slowly upstairs, faster down

I had to provide my date of birth several times this week, and each time I thought,
"Oh, my birthday is next Tuesday! Maybe I should do something special."

The fact is, I already bought myself a birthday present months ago, and put it aside because it's for my *birthday* and it's a book, so not likely to spoil in the meantime.

Today I realized something: my birthday is not Tuesday.
My birthday is Monday. Tomorrow.

Time can really sneak up on a person.
I'll be a whole year older, one day sooner.

The up-side is, I can open my book tomorrow!

Saturday, December 3, 2022


A morning sky, November.

In November we had a lot of rain. The little yard in front of the big barn and all the direct paths between the paddocks became muddy. Every footstep, human or caprine, became a pocket to catch more water.

Then the freeze began. Hundreds of little muddy pockets became high-edged frozen craters; uncomfortable walking for anyone, booted or hooved. At least once each day, glancing out the window at the herd, I thought a goat was lame. Then I remembered the craters. The goats weren't lame, but they were walking the way a human might walk through a room full of lego.

Fortunately we also had some lovely days in November, cold and clear. Here is Campion, Azalea's brother, enjoying the Winter sun on his spine. And beard.

Campion's mama, Lily of the Valley, ditto:

Now we are back to warm weather, buckets of rain, and deep mud, and I've been dropping boards here and there to make little walkways. Most of my extensive collection of salvaged lumber has already been re-used in dozens of projects, so new(!) lumber has been sacrificed to provide footing in a couple of very wet spots. Moving a couple of gates to reroute "traffic" could help, but there isn't a lot of leeway in my fencing arrangement. A vet once described my tiny paddocks as "like a jigsaw" which is both humorous and accurate.

Anyway, dealing with the mud takes some time every day, and hooves need to be checked and trimmed more often than usual. Absolutely no one enjoys this, and it's hard on my back, but it's one of those things that Must Be Done, and is never finished. With 56 hooves on the place, I'm pretty pleased if I can just keep up with the constant rotation. A spreadsheet that automatically calculates the time since the last hoof trim for each goat has proven very helpful indeed.

How are things with you? Is it early Winter or early Summer? Is it mucky or parched? What are you doing to take any rough edges off life these days?