"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Shoveling Poo , Spinning, and Packing

 Look at the late winter sun shining on and through the bottles in my Blue Bottle Garden. Some herbs are just beginning to poke through the soil, the rosemary is going strong, the lilac in this garden is budding. The temperature has been in the low 60's for several afternoons now, and the sunshine is making my animals very happy and busy about all the activities spring brings on in the animal world.
 My free-range chickens spend their nights and mornings in the shed in the left of this picture. I release them after noon to do what they love to do. Scratch the earth for bugs and seeds, interact with each other creating some very interesting chicken drama , nap in the sunshine. A few motherly hens stay indoors to incubate clutches of eggs.
 The chickens are scratching through piles of manure placed here for future plantings. These piles are from my sheep pen. My oldest grandson shoveled all the sheep poo for me. Over the past 20-some years my husband has built up the soil in our gardens using the many, many loads of manure from our sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits. You know of course, there is a lot of hard work involved in shoveling all that poo. We don't have a tractor , shoveling is done by one of us ( me, husband, or grandson) requiring a shovel ,a wheelbarrow, and a lot of hard physical work.
 Sheep enjoying the warmth of the sun as they snuggle into a downed tree and stump.
 This is a flower bed on the shady side of our home. I dumped 2 wheelbarrows of mostly composted chicken poo into it yesterday. Two of the twenty-five overloaded wheelbarrows of chicken poo I cleaned out of a chicken pen over a period of 3 days. All by myself, just me and my shovel and wheelbarrow. Shovel, load, dump.Shovel, load, dump...25 times. That is a lot of poo. I have been so tired after shoveling so much poo that I have been unable to stay awake late , very unlike me.

In preparing to sell our home we have been taking down poultry pens and reducing the number of chickens I have. We are down to 2 pens of laying chickens, and my silly frillies ( frizzled bantam chickens ) inhabit the old shed and free-range. No more breeding pens for show chickens. I don't think I'll ever show chickens again but I will keep them for eggs and entertainment.
I cleared out my craft room. Last weekend my husband and I carried all the shelving out to the garage, along with many boxes and bins packed and labeled for the move. The craft room is ready to be painted and re-carpeted . After painting and re-carpeting I'll keep in my craft room only my sewing machine and all supplies necessary to work on a quilt I want to finish before we move. The supplies can all be contained in a big basket.

I have a lot of wool to be spun up into yarn. The 2-ply yarn in the picture above is some of my handspun Jacob sheep wool blended with Wensleydale wool  (500 yards of yarn ) spun up in the last few days. I spin most evenings while I watch television with my husband. I can get a lot of yarn spun up and don't feel like I've completely wasted my time when I watch t.v.

My past few days were spent spinning wool, shoveling poo, and packing. I need a nap.

Accomplished This Week~
  1. Poultry pens cleaned and taken down.
  2. Goat pen cleaned.
  3. Craft room packed , ready for painting and re-carpeting.
  4. Tea-cups packed.
  5. 3 skeins 2-ply yarn ( 500 yards ) spun up and ready for sale.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cats !

 This is what I often awake to, Blizzard my cat staring at me. I know this picture is slightly blurry, but I don't see well without my glasses or contacts and this really is what I see, close up and very personal. Blizzard does not sleep with us at night, my husband does not want the cats in bed. However, when my husband goes to work early in the morning Blizzard opens the door ( yes, he can open firmly shut doors ) and allows Miss Marple , our other cat, to precede him into the bedroom and onto the bed. Blizzard often tries to sleep close to my face but when he wakes me up while trying to curl up on my pillow I move him away and eventually the cats and I settle with them curled up at the foot of the bed. I sleep on quite peacefully with the comforting sound of a purring lullaby.
Our daughter and her children were visiting last week. You can see Blizzard knows he is an important member of the family. He took his place on the sofa to listen in on the conversation, and why not ? Cats, I love them, especially mine .

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eight Ladies Waiting ~ Countdown Begins !

 The first lambs of 2016 were born yesterday.
 Twins ! Bide-a-wee Buttercup gave birth to twin lambs, a boy (ram) and a girl (ewe). Buttercup is 11 years old. The lambs' sire is Cedar Pond's Goth, also 11 years old.
 Have I mentioned before how much I love this time of the year ? Lambing time ?
Now there are only eight ladies waiting and just look at this bunch of plump ladies. I suspect there is at least one more set of twins to be born any day now. Sassafras is also 11 years old ,she is the ewe in the foreground and spent breeding season with Buttercup and Goth. Sassafras may very well be the next ewe to have lambs Oh I am sooooooooo excited !

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February Spring

Here are my two Sebastopol geese Ella and Fella splashing in our pond along with the ducks. I took this video last year . Ella and Fella spend part of every day in the pond but lately have taken to hiding themselves in unlikely places. I have found them in the wood shed, the kiwi arbor, the hay shed,  behind the veggie garden hiding in the long wild grasses on the other side of the fence, and behind a tall shrub in the front yard flower bed. I had a suspicion that proved true...
 ...they're ready to lay and hatch a clutch of eggs. My husband found the first goose egg of the season today. Look at the size of it compared to 3 large chicken eggs I just gathered. I am going to try to incubate the eggs in a small incubator I own. The last 2 years Ella and Fella were diligent parents and tended their eggs faithfully. For some reason all the eggs developed fully but the goslings were unable to hatch and survive. ( Even with help.) This year I am hoping to accomplish what Ella and Fella were unable to do and return successfully hatched goslings to the nest for them to raise. We'll see.
The weather has been warm for this time of the year and the sound of the frogs at night is almost deafening. Our honeybees have been out and about and it is a good thing my husband supplements them with sugar boards he places in their hives because there are not enough flowers or trees blooming to sustain our hives at this time.

My Jacob sheep were sheared last month and I can see 9 of my ewes seem about ready to pop with lambs. Their udders are full and lambs should begin arriving any time from now until the end of March. The ewes ( female sheep) seem almost comatose in the sunshine as they lean against fence posts or soak in the heat of the compost pile. It looks so funny to see sheep literally stretched out all over the pile. Later on after the lambs are born they'll have fun leaping over the pile. Who knew a manure pile could provide more than garden enrichment ? SHEEP ! ( 11 year old and very pregnant Sassafras shown in the picture )

I know the calendar says it is still winter but our animals , bees, and wildlife say it is spring.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Work Begins ( Packing Up )

 The work began right after Christmas ~ sorting through belongings , deciding which to discard and which to keep. My craft room has to be sorted and emptied out by the end of this week so we can  re-carpet and paint it in preparation to sell our home. I have been finishing many projects to accomplish some sense of order and help me decide what I want to do with our space and my time in a new home. What is worth keeping here ?
 I sorted through my fabric stash and have a huge box ready to donate to the goodwill . I have kept most of my fabric though . I have collected fabric for future quilts and comforters and know I will sew them in the future. ( above picture ~stack of things I will sew before we move.)

Later on today I am hoping to finish packing up the craft room. I have art supplies and scrap-booking supplies to sort through. This is going to be my hardest work because I know I have too much to justify taking it with us on our move. I am also NOT looking forward to going through years of paperwork in the office section of this room. I am amazed I have been able to neatly and efficiently stash so much stuff away in this room that was once our daughter's bedroom. I also know I never want to store this much STUFF again.
Blizzard has been helping me by checking out every pile of fabric and seeing which ones are suitable for a cat nap.
Tasks &Accomplishments thus far since January :
  1. Finished weaving 4 rugs , took off loom to pack rugs and loom, weaving supplies packed up.
  2. Had sheep sheared , ready for lambing.
  3. Began skirting * wool fleeces to take to wool processor so I can have wool batts ready for moving.
  4. Mucking out poultry pens , taking big pens down for moving. ( HARD physical work ! )
  5. Deciding on which poultry to keep, sell, etc.,
  6. Already cleaned out most of pantry, boxed up dishes, etc, some for future garage sale.