Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Beaded Sock Obsession

I love sock yarn. And I love beads. And I've discovered I love mixing the two together.

It all started a month or two ago when I knit my first pair of beaded socks (and gauntlets). I loved the look of the rich sock yarn colors and beads together so much, I knit another pair for a friend.

And then another pair for another friend.

And then I thought a fun, beaded pair of socks might cheer up my sister who has been having a rough time lately.

I can think of lots of other friends who might like beaded socks too, but I finally got to the place where I needed to try something else again. Something new.

But I keep thinking it would be fun to have a pair of warm, beaded stockings to wear under skirts in the winter.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

One of Those Weeks

It has been one of those weeks. One of those testing weeks. One of those weeks when you stop and think carefully whether you've been praying for patience.

After weeks of dry weather, we finally got rain. And more rain. Probably 8 to 10 inches of rain. After a couple of days, the garden looked wet. Really wet.

Many of the new beds created by Kurt and Gregory looked like islands.

My salad greens, carrots, beets and radishes looked waterlogged.

And while my garlic and onions appreciated a deep watering, I can only imagine they are starting to look like fingers after a long bath.

I really hate when this happens though we plant in beds because this generally happens a couple times during the spring and summer. And worst of all, fire-ants float around in the water keeping you from getting into the garden to do any kind of damage control whatsoever (a bigger problem during harvest).

At least I won't need to hand water for awhile.

I took these pictures while we were still expecting another couple of inches of rain. In an act of desperation, Kurt and Gregory got on the tractor, in the rain and plowed a hundred yard trench from the worst part of the garden, across the yard to the creek. Probably 50% of the water drained off through the trench. Our yard looks like we have a problem with giant moles. But we have some hope of the garden drying out before the next rain.

If a flooded garden isn't trial enough, my computer has been acting up in the worst way. It freezes up constantly. Lately, it hasn't rebooted at all. Unless my husband is around or I take it to the repair shop. Then it works perfectly. Sometimes it scrambles stuff.

But I out-smarted my computer. I took a picture of it misbehaving and figured out how to use the display on the camera to show Kurt.

Because the kids can't do school without my computer functioning (it is the server), Kurt came home from work a couple days ago to see if he could fix the problem. He figured out the fan on my video card had gone bad. (He is a very smart man.) Yesterday he bought a new video card for my computer.

The new video card is defective.

It wouldn't work in my computer and it wouldn't work in his. Finally in an act of desperation, Kurt slapped his video card into my computer. The kids can do school if Gregory works on my computer, though Kurt cannot do his homework. But he bought the video card out of town and we had to get the kids back to school.

Today, instead of finishing up with the computer problems, Kurt shopped for a scope for my 22.

We have another fox killing our chickens. This one is brazen, attacking chickens in the middle of the afternoon with the family on the porch. Gregory, Kurt and I took shifts last evening/night with the 22 hoping to end our fox problem for the year. Gregory got a shot at it, but without a scope to guide him, he missed. He has never fired a gun the old fashioned way. Kurt took the early night shift, but the poor man has been working so hard fixing things around here and not sleeping while he commuted back and forth from work that I found him asleep when I went out for the late night shift. I am a good shot without a scope, but without light (the fox wouldn't cooperate and go into the area we lighted up and baited with the chicken carcass left over from dinner) or young eyes, I had no way to aim when I got a chance at the fox. We are hoping tonight will be better for us and worse for the fox.

Things sure never get boring around here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Unexpected Start to the Day

We received a completely unexpected telephone call this morning. Barely awake, I was preparing to make breakfast before church. I knew Kurt had awakened, but he continued to lay in bed, nursing the last bit of sleep out of the early morning. And the telephone rang. Since my mouth didn't feel like it had started working yet, I grabbed the phone and handed it to Kurt. The caller ID told us the U.S. Government was on the line. Sounded like a call for my husband to me.

Turns out the post office wanted us to pick up the chickens we had ordered and were expecting tomorrow. Kurt heard "chickens" and "post office" and jumped out of bed. I pulled on my "work" clothes and we started our day. I quickly put together some muffins for breakfast and Kurt slogged through the sodden, flooded yard to start getting the coop ready for an additional 65 chickens. (Moving? Us?)

We actually expected our chickens last week. But they were delayed a week. We did get our 15 turkeys and the 14 surviving ones had been in the coop for the last few days. This morning we had to bring things "backwards" to be ready for day old chickens.

While Kurt went to the post office, I cleaned out the feeders and waterers and finished preparing for our day old chickens. (I also called my friend Darlene and told her we probably wouldn't make it to church. She had never heard of anyone getting mail on a Sunday.) Finally, after an unusually long time, Kurt returned from the local post office - empty handed. No one was there.

I grabbed the telephone and called the number from our caller ID. I kept feeling like the subject of a practical joke. I got a recording that listed the post office hours. Nothing on the recording suggested they kept Sunday hours. Crazy.

A few minutes after Kurt returned home, we got another call from the "U.S. Government." This time I took the call (being able to sufficiently speak thanks to the coffee I'd been drinking). The woman wanted to know if we were picking up our chickens. ???

Turns out we'd received a telephone call from a neighboring town's post office. The lady swore she told Kurt to go to her post office in Evergreen. After getting directions and securing a promise to wait if Kurt got there after 10:00 o'clock when they closed, Kurt took off again in search of our chickens. He finally got home with these:

To the 14 resident turkeys (we ordered 15, but one didn't survive) we added 52 meat chickens (they sent an extra 2), 10 Buff Orpingtons, 6 Rhode Island Reds (they sent an extra 1) and a mystery rare breed.

The poor turkeys didn't know what to make of it all.

This one decided to plop down in front of the feed and secure his spot:

Probably a good idea since meat chickens are little piggies with the feed.

We think we figured out which chicken is the free rare breed: (He is on the left, sort of in the center.)

From the look of the little bump of fuzz on his head, we're thinking we've have another crested chicken. Our best guess is a Golden Polish Chicken.

Gabrielle is very happy about having another crested chicken. Personally, I understand why the little funny looking half blind things are rare. The last one we had kept trying to mate backwards. None of the other chickens could tolerate the poor little thing and one of the roosters finally drove it away. Gabrielle likes to think that little chicken lives happily on his own somewhere in the vast woods next to our house. I let her think that if it makes her happy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Our Biggest Garden Ever

Kurt took a week off to spend time with us. He decided to help me out in the garden. Boy can that man work!

He took over bed-building while I added minerals and soil nutrients and planted. Gregory helped with bed-building too and almost all of the beds without hay were constructed by my guys in about 2 days.

I planted the hay covered beds in front with onions, garlic and salad greens. On the side I planted beets, carrots, radishes and more salad greens and spinach. Most everything has started coming up. The hay by the trees covers 3 rows of potatoes which I hope will grow despite being planted a month late. Kurt and Gregory made beds for our warmer weather produce, which I will start planting in a couple of weeks. Almost all of our time lately has been spent outside.

We have a new "weed" or wild plant growing around our property. It reminds me of a mustard. I'd sure love to know what it is and whether it is an edible green. The chickens have left it alone so it probably is not edible. One of the plants grew flowers. I snapped some pictures this morning.

The leaves are sort of purplish.

The flowers are a whitish purple color.

Anyone know what it might be?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Spring Rush

Spring is a busy time of year, even if it still looks like winter. Which it does. We actually drove through snow (in the air) to get to church on Sunday. The temperatures dropped into the mid 20's last night and the Weather Channel says we will see below-freezing temperatures again tonight. All of this weird weather confuses me.

Normally by this time of year we would be finishing with the planting of our cooler weather garden plants. But I just can't bring myself to put seed in the ground when I wake up to frost in the mornings. I have started forming my beds and rows and have amended my soil with good things for my plants for the year. I suppose I can keep working on my beds until the weather decides to behave. Soon it will be simply too late for cool season planting though. What to do, what to do. I have garlic and onions planted in the beds in the upper right part of the picture, under the hay, but nothing else so far.

In the meantime I have been squeezing in as much knitting and sewing as possible because soon, the garden will need all of my "extra" time.

I finished a new dress for Gabrielle.

I made it from some red velvet in my fabric stash and made it big enough to last a couple of years I hope. We've been listening to "The Little House on the Prairie" books on cd (we don't have many audio books and listen to the same ones frequently) and Gabrielle says her new dress is her new "winter's best." This dress taught me my automatic button hole maker doesn't work very well on velvet (no matter how I might layer my stabilizer). In fact, it got so bad in the end that I made most of the button holes with the "manual" feature and at least part of one button hole on Gabrielle's dress completely by hand. I suspect I too have been influenced by "The Little House on the Prairie" audiobooks.

I've spent some time working on my Mom's sweater. I posted a picture of my progress in my last entry. That picture depicts my first attempt with this sweater. I had knitted up to the arms or thereabout, when I finally had to admit the sweater was going to be too small. So, I ripped out all of my work and started again with a bigger size. I am using a lighter weight yarn than the pattern recommends so I needed a bit of time to figure it all out. I don't purl much and this sweater is based on the purl stitch so my gauge evolved as I fell into a knitting rhythm.

It doesn't look like I have done too much, but this is only my progress on the front. After ripping out my prior work, I managed to complete the back a couple of weeks ago.

I think I've finally found a pattern that works with the yarn we have. It is not easy to find the right pattern to showcase variegated yarn in a sweater and match my mother's taste for feminine looking clothing. I think the Minuette works perfectly. I still have to rip out the back and part of the front from the complicated Aran sweater I started with this yarn previously. That is going to hurt. But Aran doesn't work with variegated yarn. It looks pretty for a little while. Then it gets crazy. I won't make that mistake again.

Not to be bested by a pattern, I started another "Queen of Beads" pair of socks. (My last too small pair ended up as fingerless mitts, which I love.) Last night I finished my socks and they fit perfectly.

I like them so much that I decided to make another pair.

If I don't wear myself out in the garden (freezing to death) today, I hope to cast on this evening. These will be a gift I think.