Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Come and gone.

Well, Christmas has come and gone, we spent it with half of our family, and may have another Christmas this coming weekend with the other half. I came down with an awful cold 2 days prior, and am just starting to feel human again. I hope no one else gets it from me, as I was very conscientious in my hand washing.
I made a table runner for my mother, Arizona colors of course, her favorites. Pictured here.

I sold 3 of my barred rock hens today, Dennis and I really did not need all the eggs we were getting, so now we are down to only 6 hens, we should get 5 or 6 eggs daily from them. Also my two hen turkeys are now laying, so we are getting eggs from them also..
Today, I have all to myself as Dennis and Ryan are up near the Continental Divide Lake Trout fishing. I wonder if I should thaw out something for supper tonight, or if they were lucky.
Well anyway, it was nice having this day to myself. I only have a handful of them each year, and they are cherished.
I sent out 25 Christmas cards this year, and hardly received any. I guess due to the economy, people are saving on stamps and cards, hmmmmm, I wonder.
More later..........................

Monday, December 13, 2010

Overwhelming!!! to say the least!

Stairway to Heaven, well actually not,but sometimes it feels like it! It is my stairway up to the loft where we keep our computer.

This past month,I have been busier than a one armed paper hanger!!!!
Thanksgiving was spent with our daughter Tera and grandson Brady in Denver. Julie and Lily came with us, as Ryan had to work.
Lily, for her first Thanksgiving. Speaking of Lily, she cut her first tooth, and is crawling all over.

Tera(our daughter) had surgery on December 3rd, and I went to her home to help with her recovery from the 6-9Th. The day after I left she developed a fever and was taken to the ED dept and was told that she had developed an abscess. She is back in the hospital, spiked a temp of 103, they drained the abscess, so hopefully she is on the mend. Please say a prayer for her, she has been through too much these past couple of weeks. Nothing that any one person should have to go through.
We were at the hospital today, to visit with her. Took us 45 minutes to get out of downtown Denver. We could not figure out if we were heading N-S-E or W!!!!They always say that you can tell were you are going in Colorado if you look towards the Rocky Mountains. They are usually to the west of us. Well with all the tall buildings, we could not locate the mountains. And Dennis being the thrifty fellow that he is, would never spend the money to purchase a map. I do have a Garmin, a global positioning instrument, but with overcast skies, and tall buildings, and mountains, the satellite could not be located. Needless to say, we were able to finally figure out where we were.
Remembering when I was driving to Teras home on the south side of Denver, I was thinking to myself, that they need to have a "white knuckle lane" for all us old ladies over 50 years old who are not used to driving in the big city. Especially when there are more than 2 lanes. Hmmmmmmmm. There were at least 6-8 lanes going one way. I was too scared to count.

I have so much to do in preparation, not yet finished with Christmas shopping, and trying to make some gifts this year, special ones. Here is a Christmas stocking that I made for Dennis years ago that I will be making for Lily and for new additions to the family.

Here is a quilt that I have done for a wedding gift that I will not be able to attend in Minnesota the end of December.
With the left over fabric, I made a quilt for a baby boy for a dear friend of mine, backed with flannel.

To all you MN residents, a foot and a half of snow, and 4 degrees for a high!!!!!Whoo-hoo, you tough scandinavians! Gives me fond memories of my 40+ years living in that great state! Glad I live in Colorado. Our winter has been mild, we have no snow on the ground, and it reached 60 degrees today. The animals love it here also.
If I don't post here again until after Christmas, Merry Christmas to all of you!

More later.......

Monday, November 22, 2010

road trip, new sheep!, athletes

We woke today to a fresh blanket of snow, and even better than that the SUN!!!!! We put out the heated water buckets last night, good thing as it was 27 degrees this am. It has been cloudy here for over a week--or I may just be exaggerating but it seems like a long time, for this sun lover anyway. I was beginning to feel like I was back up in the tundra region of northern Minnesota--where there is cloudiness for days and weeks on end. Only a reprieve when the wind starts blowing and blows the clouds away, but then you have the wind chill to contend with.

Dennis and I travelled to Loveland, CO, near the Devils Backbone area to look at some sheep for a companion for Marble.
It was de ja vu as we saw a house that we had considered purchasing 1 1/2 years ago on one of our house hunting trips. The setting was gorgeous in the foot hills of the Rockies, but, only 5 acres and crowded. Plus the house needed an enormous amount of work to be inhabited. Probably a lot more storms and precipitation snow included. Well anyway, the sheep farmer lived right across the street from this house we looked at.
We ended up purchasing 2 sheep from him, about the size of Marble. When we first let them out of the kennel, Marble turned tail and ran. She did not know what to think of these strangers in her midst. But after a few minutes, they were following her around like a bunch of groupies.

So no more loneliness for my little Katahdin hair sheep. I could almost see the smile and peace on her face as I did chores this morning. We have not named the newcomers yet. Will have to wait and see what their personalities dictate. The black ewe has an "A" on one of her sides however, so there is some hint of what her name will start with.
We also had a second road trip that day. A new Nubian goat breeder lives by us, only 4 miles up the road. She was gracious enough to let us come and visit with her herd. She has some amazing milkers, giving 2 gallons per day no less! Now I really understand what the "poor mans cow" is all about. My goats aren't quite that good, but I will keep them. Always nice to meet new breeders and network and help each other out.

I laid awake all night Saturday night thinking of athletes. I have never been one with physical prowess, or have the need to compete physically. And have really never been jacked up by athletes performances. But this athlete is outstanding, if you just stop and think of his accomplishments. No team to back him up, just raw talent and the love of running. You see, my red hat friends and I went to a movie about one of the greatest athletes of all time. I was so touched by this film that I had to mention it. I still get tingles and choked up when I think of the greatness of this athlete. The athlete is Secretariat! The American Thoroughbred race horse who won the Triple Crown in 1973. That was the year that I graduated from HS and was only 18 at the time. I remember hearing of him, but did not take much interest, as my thoughts were on boys and my future, probably in that order. The Triple Crown is made up of three races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. These three races are all within 5 weeks time. Secretariat broke the record for the Kentucky Derby and I believe that it still stands, but the Belmont, he won by an amazing 31 lengths. 31 Lengths! I had to do some research into what his stud fee would have been etc, he serviced 58-60 mares a year, earning $125,000 per breeding and sired 653 foals in his lifetime. None were triple crown winners. He died on Oct 4, 1989. A great horse. A greater athlete.
I have always been a horse lover, and wanted them so bad all my life. But, by the time we were able to afford to buy land out in the country, I was too old and brittle of bone to get one. However, is there a miniature Big Red in my future??? We will see.

More later....................................................................

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1st snow(well one of them)

This is what we woke up to this AM. 34degrees outside, but very beautiful, but desolate at the same time. This is looking toward the town of Nunn. Dennis said that the weather man said that Fargo ND and Crookston, MN our hometown are supposed to be warmer than we are here in Co. But it is supposed to get up in the 50's by Tuesday. There was ice on the water buckets, Dennis said it is too early to get out the heated water buckets. WHAT?????!!!!!
Bear stopped dead in his tracks this morning as he came to greet me. He did not know if I was friend or foe with all my extra clothing on.

You could almost hear a pin drop outside, except for the goofy white Guinea male, perched atop the chicken coop, sounding off, at who knows what. But I thought that he looked particularly handsome with this background. It is hard to tell where the horizon starts when looking out on the prairie.

Marble, snug and warm in her little hut. She has a very thick winter coat, and is supposed to shed it come spring. Always greets me with a "maaa" begging for her scratching. Still have not found a little companion for her.

My three remaining turkeys. One tom and 2 hens. I may not be able to keep the male, as the chickens have been plucking out his tail feathers when he fans his tail. So sad, such a majestic bird, but short on brain cells. His only fault is that he is docile, and puts up with it.

We erected a lean to shelter for our two little buckling's. They are enjoying there new digs, and are closer to the females. I have not yet painted it, so it looks a little rough right now.

LuLu says "What the heck" snow again? Both the dogs love the snow, and can be seen rough housing in it by the light of the moon.

Ahhh, a day inside. Lets start quilting!!!!
More later..................................

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friends, anniversary, veterans and our first snow,

My friend, Linda, and I attended an auction this am. She had $8900 to spend, and I only had a measly $4100. After she bought what she had her eye on, she handed me $1000 of her leftover $$$. Now how is that for friendship. Unfortunately, I was not able to get what I had my eye on. Went well over $8000. Two gals behind me even passed $2000 up to me. OH well, I never was much of a gambler anyway. One gal took pity on me however, and gave me a quilting book and a pattern, so I did not go home empty handed.

Dennis and I celebrated our 36Th wedding anniversary. Here is a picture of the two of us 36 years ago, a few months before we were married. The dog is my Great Dane, Dixie Doodle Dandy, Dixie for short.
We celebrated by going to Greeley for a MUFON meeting(mutual UFO network) truly interesting. We had a very delicious meal at the Cattleman's steakhouse, with stimulating dinner conversation,a tasty Cabernet, a very relaxed, memorable outing for us old timers. Hopefully we will be around for another 36 years.

Today we had our first snowfall, since last March. Looks like a couple of inches. The high today is only 34 degrees, and is supposed to get in the teens tonight. But thankfully no wind to speak of. I am kind of looking forward to winter, hoping that I can do more "girlie" things around the house, namely quilting, spinning, weaving and knitting. Maybe clean once in awhile, but that won't be on the top of my list.

On a sad note, I lost one of my little Katahdin hair sheep.She is the white one, nose to nose with LuLu.
She is away for necropsy right now, some tests are still pending. Her and her sister were still in quarantine. I only have the one little lamb now and have been desperately looking for a companion for her. Sheep are very herd oriented, and don't do well alone. I have been giving her extra attention, and scratches, which she loves. Little Dido, gone but not forgotten.

To all the veterans out there, thank you for our freedom!

I guess that I should extrapolate on the auction that I attended, it was for my quilt club Stash busters. Every time we attended we got a star worth $100,(funny money) and for each show and tell we would rack up stars worth $100. I did not walk away empty handed however, I got a lot of projects finished during the year, and was inspired by alot of great quilters!

More later..................

Friday, November 5, 2010

When the cat's away, BOOOOO!, sewing room

When the cat is away the mice will cook????
Our daughter in law went to an out of town wedding the last weekend of October, and Ryan and Lili came and spent a day with us. Ryan cooked us a delicious seafood meal, the likes of which we have not been treated so special before, except maybe at an expensive restaurant. It is pictured below,
of course Dennis had to sample the wares before I had my picture. Ryan made fresh shrimp with Cajun seasoning and garlic cooked in butter, butterflied rainbow trout, wild caught that he and Dennis had caught the prior weekend at Cache La Poudre, up by the continental divide. Our garden new red potatoes, green beans, and for desert, pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust, and the pumpkin was not out of the can. And little Lili enjoyed her jar of organic baby food. Yummy!

I know Halloween is over, but here goes. We had a very memorable one, spent at Ryan and Julies home. Julie had purchased enough pumpkins for each of us to carve one. I have not done this in years, since my children were small, but it was great fun. Here is a picture of the family doing the carving.We were out on the deck on a beautiful fall day. Tera and Brady, Dennis and Lili, Ryan and me, and Jen, Julie's sister. Julie was the camera man that day.

Ryan treated us to supper that evening also. He made barbecue ribs, chicken wings, and sausage, baked beans,and corn.
Here is a picture of our little bat girl in flight,
and Lili with Dennis and I.

You will note some of the pumpkins that we carved.
Speaking of Halloween, my sister in New Ulm, Mn had 1100 trick or treaters(sure would not want her candy bill) my mom and dad in Tucson, AZ had 25, and we had none, the same as last year.

Here is my almost completed, but set up sewing room with the painted floor that I did.
I also made a fiber studio just adjacent to this. Set up with my two weaving looms, just waiting to be warped and a project started, hopefully when outside work is finished. But still have not painted that floor yet. The weather is supposed to be in the upper 70's here this weekend, so hopefully will get that project started.

This is a quilt that I am working on for my Saturday Sampler quilt club.
It is just the center pictured, I have all the blocks done, just have to assemble them, and add borders and quilt it. I have until March to complete this project.

My sweater is still a work in progress. It is turning out way too large, I will probably look like a line backer in it.
Oh well, should keep me warm, and I can always shrink it down. It is hard to knit with homespun yarn, as it varies in consistancy.

I came into some money, who-hoo. Not alot, but enough to purchase drapes for my living room. They are triple lined and room darkening, energy savers. Can you believe that when we purchased this house over a year ago, there was not one curtain up, anywhere. Just office looking blinds.

More later....................................

Monday, October 25, 2010

changing seasons, sheep, quilts, and SNAKES!

Fall is here! The temps are 50-60 during the day and the 30's at night. It is supposed to freeze here tonight. The grasshoppers, or whats left of them, have probably bedded down for the winter. Rumor has it that we are going to have a warmer dryer winter here this year. Dennis is finishing up what is left of the garden, the squash, the last to be harvested, is all picked and he has been tilling in all the organic matter, the garden should get better every year. Ahhh, the change of season. With the harvest, alas, also comes the harvest of the turkeys, one by one they will be going. We were going to keep a trio of them, but we shall see. They were a lot of work, but I really enjoyed their antics. So inquisitive.

Last night the guineas were locked in the back yard and roosted on the deck. When Dennis was ushering them back out of the yard, he noticed right outside our fence a lone coyote, watching. He stopped and watched for awhile, he could see the coyote occasionally making big leaps, just like a dog or cat would do whilst hunting some unforeseen prey in the tall grasses. I have read articles on coyotes, that they will watch a farm and learn their routine, before making their move on the poultry. I wonder if this is what he was doing. Dennis has seen him a few times, just out of reach, watching, waiting.

Two weeks ago, one of out chickens was running around the yard with something hanging out of her beak. Now if you have ever watched chickens, what one has the other wants, so the rest of the flock was giving chase, trying to run down this chicken and steal its catch. This was going on for sometime and Dennis decided to join in the chase and see what all the interest was. Lo and behold was he surprised to find it was an almost 12 inch baby rattle snake.
You can see the 2 rattles on the end of the tail.
A friend of mine in AZ used to call these "buttons". Rattle snakes in AZ are easier to ID from a distance as they have "coon tails", black with white rings around the end of their tails, except of course for the deadlier Mohave snakes. I am glad that the chicken got this snake, as the smaller the snake, the more venom it injects, since it does not know how to control it yet.

We took a road trip to Byers Colorado to pick up our two new Katahdin hair sheep. The trip was uneventful, and everyone is settled in at our place, once they figured out that the dogs were not going to eat them. They are quiet, except for feeding time, and not pushy like the goats are. The girls are Dido and Marble, guess which one is Marble?
They are only 4 months old, so still have some growing to do to reach their full size. I am glad that we were able to obtain the sisters, as they are very attached to each other, and do everything in unison.
They shed their coat in the spring,their hair feels coarse, not spinning quality, it is hard to describe actually. Nice to have an animal that is relatively maintenance free. Of course they do need occasional hoof trimming, and deworming if needed. You will also notice that they have long tails. The difference between goats and sheep, other than chromosome wise, is that sheep hold their tails down, and goats always have their tails up, unless they aren't feeling well. Sometimes it is hard to tell the two apart, if you don't have experience with livestock.

When I moved here last year, I signed up for two quilt classes. One was a stashbuster, using up fabrics in my stash, finishing unfinished projects, etc. Here is a quilt that I started in Arizona, and am just now finishing. It is a bee and flower quilt, with a black background, something that is out of character for me. But this quilt turned out quiet stunning, the black with the primary colors.
It will be perfect hung on the wall of a certain little someones bedroom.
My other class was a sampler block of the month quilt. We just got the final instructions of how to finish this quilt last Saturday, so hope to show you that one, but probably not soon.

My first hand knit sweater is coming along, I have the torso all finished, and half of one arm. Of course I ran out of dyed yarn, so had to try and match the shades, not to successful on that one.

As fall harvest wanes, there is still much to do outside. I have feeders to fix so animals don't get exposed to wind and rain when feeding, shelters to ready for the arrival of the winds and snows. Of course, weather and joints cooperating. My goals for this winter after keeping warm are a few more quilting classes and to get my looms up and weaving.
More later...............

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Anterior Uveitis, Turkeys, Elk Festival


Of the eye. Inflammation of the iris and ciliary body. Causes are infections, trauma, organophosphate poisoning. I rule out trauma in my alpacas case, since it affected both eyes to some degree. And I don't think that she had any kind of brain injury.
Yep, Sara Lee has it. It was very rapid onset starting in the left eye, which turned all blue, and she was totally blind in that eye, and then it started in the right eye. The vet said that he has never seen this in alpacas, but has seen it in horses, and it is called "moon eye". The treatment that we started was IV steroids, SQ antibiotic, along with steroid eye drops and antibiotic eye ointment ever 2, yes, every 2 hours. I did this for 4 days, before I saw any improvement. Now a 8 days later, there is blueness in the top 10 percent of each eye. I have titrated down on the frequency of eye meds and will keep an eye on here. Hopefully this will not return. She has her vision in each eye now, so I am happy about that. Camelids are very sensitive to steroid use, but I opted to have an alpaca that can see, not a blind one. The vet also commented that the good thing about "moon eyes" is that it is not painful. I was relieved about that, but boy did she look like something out of a horror film for the first 4 days. This is the normal eye color of an alpaca, and Sara Lees eyes look like this now.

The turkeys are always displaying their tail feathers when the are first let out in the AM. I caught some exceptionally good photos of their displaying ritual. They also make a puffing sound, Dennis can't hear that however. Here is a picture of 5 of the 6 males displaying to a female walking in front of them.
Note their blue heads!

Some turkey facts that I read in a recent Outdoor Life magazine, and on line sources. Juvenile hen turkeys are called Jennies. An old Master hen is usually the leader of a flock of mothers and young turkeys. They stay separate from the males, or Jakes which are 3-6 month old males. The males make a lot of noise with their gobbles and fighting to establish pecking order, so they attract predators, hence the females stay away from them. The females I have observed to make a twittering sound, kind of like the Predator movies, the sound the alien makes. Only the males gobble, and it can sometimes be heard a mile away. They can run 25 miles per hour, and fly 55 miles per hour. They have between 3,000-5,000 feathers. The males have a worm like thingy on top of their nose called a snood. They also have a wattle on their chin. Both of these turn bright red with courtship or excitement or anger. The snood can be very long, but also can be retracted to an inch. Turkeys almost disappeared in the early 1900's when their #'s dropped down to the 30,000, now they # in the millions. They can see movement 100 yards away, but have poor night vision. Just some interesting facts on turkeys, not to mention their popularity at Thanksgiving time.


We went to the elk fest in Estes Park Co last weekend. The most captivating part for me was the bugling contest. These folks grow up hearing these majestic elk every fall doing their calls. They had cow/calf calling along with bull elk calls. The youngest caller appeared to be around 3 years old and was oh so cute, and good at making the calls. At the end they had professional callers. The commentator said in the years past, they have sometimes had a bull elk run into their midst, all sweating and snorting ready to take on the challenging male. but that did not occur this year, however there were some calls made that were not on the program.
We were entertained by a Lakota Sioux Indian, who played this stick type instrument, It sounded woeful,lonely and mystical at the same time, like the sound of a Loon on a Minnesota Lake amidst the early morning fog.
We took a bus tour and viewed elk herds at rest, on the golf course, and a school football field.

You can see about 5-6 bull elk on the outskirts of the large golf course herd, waiting for dusk no doubt to start challenging the herd bull.
On our bus tour we drove by the Stanley Hotel, where the movie "The Shining" was filmed. Awesome. I am definitely going to tour that some day. It was gated, and you have to make reservations at least a day in advance. I wonder how many saw Jack Nicolson peering through the half closed doorway with his maniacal grin saying "heres Johnny?"
Ryan, Julie, Lili and I, enjoying a sandwich to the sounds of the babbling creek. Dennis was the camera man.
Here is little Lili enjoying all the festivities at the festival. A real people watcher at this stage of her life.

It is in the 50's here today, the wind is howling from the north, it is a grey, dreary day. There is snow in the mountains. I bet it will not be too long before our prairie will be blanketed in snow. Best put my winter survival gear back in the vehicle. We still have not turned on our furnace, but no longer sleep with the windows open. The time is nearing..........
More later................

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Harvest, To do lists

I guess that I had to wait for the harvest moon to write down my thoughts...Fall is finally here-our weather has plummeted from the 90's to the 70-80's. Last night we were 42degrees for a low. We are still sleeping with the bedroom window open-unwilling yet to let go of summer, not yet having our furnace on.
We have been in a drought the past few months, rain measured only in the hundredths.Wild prairie fires are the norm here. But we have been safe so far. The pastures are all brown and parched, yet the grass hoppers are flourishing, despite my crew of hungry birds. Here is a picture of my 8 Bourbon Red turkeys posing for the camera. Two of the turkeys are hens. Can you pick them out, a clue is, they are standing next to each other.

Projects are many for us here however. I start a lot of projects as my "wheels" are always turning. Dennis says we should finish some of them, before we move onto another. I have to take full advantage of his strength, since he turns 60 his next birthday, I need to get while the "getting is good" so to speak.
A recap of of some of our finished projects
The Wishing well, finally finished.

some of my canning accomplishments this past summer, our garden was not the best this first year, but with the adding of compost from the animal barns, our garden should be getting better every year. Also the drought did not help any either. We did have a bumper cucumber crop, so I put up about 32 quarts of pickles, yes, there is going to be a lot of pickle giving come Christmas this year. I also canned beets, wild plumbs, sauerkraut, and am in the process of doing tomatoes as we speak.

I did get the deck stained, and my 6 deck chairs sanded and painted also.

I am getting my two Katahdin ewe lambs next week, and we got our isolation quarters all set up for them.Note the little Quonset hut for the sheep. These are so useful for small livestock and so easy to move around.

I always practice bio-security when I bring any new animals onto the property. I check for parasites, any blood tests that I see that they need, before putting them on our pastures. Good animal husbandry to practice. I am getting my ewes from Dave Andrus, a near genius in the picture taking department. Here is one of the pictures that he sent me. The colored ewe is named Marble. This picture almaost looks like it could be painted on the ceiling of a church.

The electrician is finally done with our wiring of the barns, chicken coop and my sewing room(he started in July). I had a large light put up above my work area. Last night I started painting my basement floor. Battleship grey, and the inside side of the squares will be a dark maroon color.I had a hard time sleeping last night, as I want to get this project done!

I finally started my sweater. It is from Coopworth sheep fleece. I did all the processing myself. Washed the full fleece, carded, spun, dyed and finally am knitting my first sweater. I am making this for all those 20below winter days, hoping that I won't have to wear 4 layers, and be bundled up in a blanket all day in front of the fireplace. 100% wool sweater should definitely help. This sweater is knit from the neck down, and no seams. Yippee. I have to finish the sleeves yet on this.This is a close up of the colors, it was actually a dye job gone wrong, but the results are nice.

One of the highlights of this summer was getting together with my red hat friends and going to Terry Buffalo Ranch in Wyoming. We started off our tour with the restaurant, I had the 1/3# buffalo burger, very tasty, but not greasy like beef tends to be. Then we jumped aboard their train and toured their property. They had various types of animals, wild mustangs, llamas, camels, goats, cattle, and even a trout pond on the premises. But the one animal that impressed me the most was a beefalo they had. It was a buffalo crossed with a Texas Longhorn. The thing was huge with a white stripe down its back, also a kind of brindle hair coloring on the back. The guide said that it is not a good cross however as they tend to develop arthritis in a few years of age, and start falling apart. I could see the swollen knees on this fellow. But the smaller buffalo sure stayed away from him.

I just finished chores, still in the 40's, cloudy, and somewhat misty this AM. No outside work for me today! I love days like this, a lot of girlie stuff to get done!

More later..........