Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Hope you all had a great Halloween! We did! We were very busy, but we got everything fit in that we wanted to do!

We finally got a chance to go to Fifer's Orchard. We were supposed to go two weekends ago, but it was raining pretty hard. We went yesterday, and of course it was raining/spitting again, but not to terribly bad. I really wanted to get apples, so I wasn't about to let a little rain stop me!

We usually get the seconds apples, because they're cheaper. The seconds are the ones that aren't as pretty as the number 1's. They're still perfectly good, and you can sort through the huge pallet of them and pick out just the ones you want. They're only $6/half bushel, so we got a full bushel. They had Braeburns (one of my favorite), Granny Smith, Rome, and Golden Delicious. We got all of the different types, but only about 1/4 bushel of Granny Smith and only a few Golden Delicious. I've never liked the Golden Delicious, but I wanted to try them again just in case they're better now. Hey, it could happen.

The kids were pretty diligent about making sure the apples were free of bruising and spots.

The front porch of Fifers has TONS of different types of apples and other vegetables. We usually don't buy much here though, because we're usually on a budget. I love looking at all the different things they have!

They have tons of different gourds and pumpkins too. And see those mini bales of straw? Five dollars! A regular bale of straw doesn't even cost that much! I guess people will pay it though.

More pumpkins and squash.

I love these pumkins. So pretty!

So we came home, and after we cleaned the house (whew), we carved our pumpkins!

The kids had a great time, and they did a good job cleaning out the "guts". David even brought out his drill for some carving action. It made a mess, but it got the job done!

After carving and a quick dinner, it was time for.........TRICK-OR-TREATING!!!!

Introducing......the soldier and the ballerina!!

The tutu turned out really cute!! And she wanted pink hair, so we got the little spray can of hair spray. I think it was really cute!!

Here they are in costume with the jack-o-lanterns. The jack-o-lanterns from left to right are: Devin's, mine, David's, and Kylee's.

And here they are with no flash...sorry it's blurry.

They're ready to go! The kids' mom came with us, and we all had a good time walking around our old neighborhood. You know, we really noticed this year that there were WAY fewer houses giving out candy, and way fewer trick-or-treaters walking around. What gives?

And thanks to Devin for taking this picture! Hope you all had a great Halloween!!

Hopefully I'll have another post later today about the goats!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Little Giant

Well, I can now cross one thing off of my wish list! I got a Little Giant incubator from Tractor Supply a week or two ago. I've been trying hard to wait patiently until November 5th so I can set some eggs for a Thanksgiving Day hatch!

Wouldn't you know it, the 1 Americana hen I have that actually lays (there's another one that hasn't layed yet) has stopped laying! I was really hoping to be able to hatch some of her eggs, so I was really bummed. I realized I had 2 of her eggs in the fridge from about a week or 10 days ago, so I figured I'd do an experiment.

Refrigerated eggs have been hatched before, but since mine weren't too fresh it's kind of a long shot. I figured I didn't have anything to lose, so I put the two green eggs in the bator Thursday night at midnight (I guess that's technically Friday morning). In 5 days or so I should be able to tell if they're developing. Hopefully they are!

Here's the top of the bator with the viewing windows. The little white knob controls the temperature. It should stay at 99.5* F for chicken eggs.

It comes with a thermometer that sits on top of the eggs.

It's sitting on the kitchen counter right now.

Since I didn't get the automatic egg turner, I've been turning the eggs by hand 3 or 4 times a day.

I'll let you know in a few days if there's development when I candle the eggs!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tutu Time!

Kylee is going to be a ballerina for Halloween, so I decided to make her a tutu because, well, because I wanted to! I found her tights, leotard, and slippers at Wal Mart for pretty cheap. I figured it'd be pretty easy and pretty cheap to make the tutu myself. I didn't have a pattern, but I called my sister (who made one for my neice) and she explained how to do it.

I went to Joann Fabrics and bought this glittered tulle. I got 2 yards, just to be sure I had enough. I think it was $5.99/yd, but I had a 40% off coupon so I got it for a good price.

I cut the tulle in half lenthwise, then cut it in half lengthwise again so I had 4 long, narrow strips.

The ribbon (leftover from my wedding decorations) is the waistband. I basted a long strip of the fabric and gathered it so it was the length of the ribbon. Then I pinned it down to the bottom half of the ribbon to hold it in place. I did this for a total of 3 layers of tulle.

Once I had all 3 layers pinned to the ribbon, I zigzag stitched them down on the sewing machine. To make the waistband look nicer, I folded the top half of the ribbon over the seam of the tulle and straight stitched it down.

This is what I ended up with, although it's not the finished product. I won't show you the finished product until Halloween! I added strips of ribbon to the ends of the tutu so it can be tied on, and I trimmed quite a bit of length off the bottom of the tutu. It's so cute!

And now I have glitter all over my house.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've been featured!

Jodi of the creative JAR has featured my work! Thanks Jodi! You can see the post here. Mine is the picture on the bottom right.

More Sweaters

I found four more really pretty sweaters for felting and purse making! They were all found at Goodwill, but a different one than where I found the other sweaters.

I laid them on the kitchen floor to get pictures, and look what happened.

So I made him get up so I could arrange the sweaters and the little opportunist came back for more.

Finally, a clear shot!

I'm really happy with the lining fabric I found. You can click on the pic to enlarge it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not at All What We Expected

My friend, Lindsay, and I went to the Mid-Atlantic Hair Sheep Sale in Reedsville, PA yesterday. She had 3 sheep for the sale- Calvin, the Katahdin/Dorper ram that has been at my place, a Katahdin ewe lamb, and a Katahdin/Dorper ewe lamb.

Lindsay brought them in a utility van that is perfect for hauling a few animals! It's got a nice rubber floor mat so it's easily cleaned out.

We didn't quite realize how far away the sale was-about 4 hours from my house. The drive was scenic-through the hills of PA. We drove through Lancaster which is always pretty.

We finally got there in time for the sale, but there weren't many people there. Turns out a few other people were running late. The fairgrounds was pretty, with hills surrounding it.

There were only about 26 animals at the sale. That's a big difference from 60+ last year. Unfortunately, there weren't as many people there as last year either. There was only a handful of buyers. There were a lot of no-sale sheep. The sale sets minimums for the sheep, and many people just didn't want to pay those prices.

Here's the Katahdin/Dorper ewe lamb. She sold for $200 (which was the minimum for her).

This is the purebred Katahdin ewe lamb. A no-sale.

And Calvin. Also a no-sale.

Unfortunately it was just a bad day for the sale. I'm not sure if the economy has to do with the lack of interest, or maybe the rainy weather.

I did happen to find something interesting while I was there. A patch of mushrooms had grown up in part of the livestock barn. I thought they were weird and pretty at the same time.

So we loaded the two remaining sheep and headed home. I wonder what drivers behind us thought...

They settled down for the ride home. You know, I really am not a big fan of Pennsylvania roads. Windy, hilly, and terribly graded. There was standing water everywhere, water gushing across the road. It made for a slightly stressful trip driving back.

But we made it safely.

Now, does anyone want to buy a ram or a ewe lamb?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Elmer has a voice.

Up until the past week, I'd only heard Elmer bark on rare occasions. He's a very quiet dog. David taught him to "speak" one day while I was at the vet with Scooter. Elmer is very proud of his voice now! We've noticed that he usually only barks when he's sitting, and he's a little more shy around Scooter.

I was playing around with the dogs today and took a few videos. You'll notice that Scooter LOVES to speak, but he's not a very yappy dog luckily. He only does it when there are treats.

Garden Update

The sunrises the past two mornings have been absolutely spectacular! It's hard to drive to work and look at the sunrise, especially because I'm heading south and driving away from it. The colors were so pretty.

This is a shot from yesterday morning. It's slightly blurry because I was driving down the highway.

This morning I tried to be a little safer so I pulled over to take this picture. It didn't turn out nearly as pretty as it was in real life. It was so red on the horizon and you just can't see it in the picture.

Remember that saying, "Red sky at night sailor's delight; red sky in monring sailors take warning?" Hope all the sailors out there are aware of that. ;-)

The fall garden (meager as it is) is doing well! These are radishes. I think. I can't remember if I planted white radishes or not, so there's a small chance they might be turnips. I think turnips are much bigger though. I'm not really sure. That'll teach me to not write anything down.

Devin likes to pull weeds in the aisles. Hey, I won't turn down free help! You can see the kale in front of him. It's doing really well! I can't wait to start harvesting it.

Pull those weeds!

Spinach is coming along nicely. Hopefull this spring it'll really take off! I'm not sure if I should pick a few of the bigger leaves for salads now, or wait until spring to harvest.

Scooter had to come out and inspect to make sure we were safe. He was on alert. See Jack (kitty) in the background?

The zucchini plant and squash plant are kind of in limbo right now. They each have a small fruit, but they're just not growing. It's just slightly too cold. I'm going to wait it out and see if they get big enough to pick. I should have planted these plants a few weeks earlier.

The squash is a little bigger than the zuke, but it's still only about 3" long.

The beans are still doing really well. We're picking them every few days. They're not producing nearly as much as they do in the summer, but we're getting enough for a few dinners.

I asked Kylee to help Devin pull a big weed so I could get her in a picture. She was standing behind me the whole time.

Oh, and look at this gourd! I think it might have been a bushel gourd grown from a seed a coworker gave me. It's not bushel sized, but it's big enough for a craft or something. I saw Martha Stewart had a lamp made out of a dried gourd. That would be something neat to do.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Calvin's Spa Day

Calvin has a big day coming up on Saturday. He's going to the Mid-Atlantic Hair Sheep Sale in Pennsylvania. He'll strut his stuff and be sold as a commercial breeding ram. Since yesterday was such a nice warm day, I decided to give him a bath.

Here's the before picture. He's not terribly dirty, just slightly dingy.

My sister and I would always use plain Ivory dish soap when we bathed our sheep for 4-H shows. To this day, whenever I smell Ivory dish soap I think of sheep. I didn't have any Ivory on hand yesterday, but I did have this shampoo I bought a few years back. It's Sullivan's Bright Lights bluing shampoo. It makes me think of old ladies. This soap is good for getting out yellow stains (from lanolin, manure, etc).

First step, wet down Calvin really well. Then, load him up with shampoo. I really recommend only doing one side at a time. The shampoo is pretty darn blue, and it works better if you wet it down a little after you put on the shampoo, so you can really scrub and work up a nice lather.

Here he is all lathered up. He wasn't too happy about the bath.

I rinsed him really well and took an "after" picture. See his tongue? I didn't realize it was out until I uploaded the picture. :-)

And here's one big difference with hair sheep. Hair!!
Hair sheep are different than "regular" sheep because hair sheep don't grow wool like the other sheep. They do get woolier over the winter, but they can shed out their wool/hair unlike most sheep. Most sheep have to get sheared once a year, which can be a hassle for sheep farmers. Wool can be hard to market, and prices can be so low you might only break even when you add in the costs of shearing and transportation. Hair sheep are very low maintenance. Because of their shedding coat, they don't need to be docked (docking is the removal of part of the tail when sheep are lambs). Docking is necessary in wool breeds because the wooly tail can trap urine and manure, causing fly strike. Flies lay eggs in the matted wool and manure and it causes a big mess. Not having to dock or shear saves a lot of time and money when you're raising sheep for profit. Hair sheep also tend to be more parasite resistant than other breeds. Some breeds of hair sheep include Katahdins, Dorpers, and Wiltshire Horn (aren't their horns lovely?), and St.Croix.
Back on track! Calvin had a little secret. A little brown spot on his left hind leg. Cute!

And look at what a difference a bath makes!

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