Monday, June 30, 2014

My First Yarn!

A while back I posted that I started spinning yarn on my drop spindle.  Well, I'm happy to report I've made my first yarn!  Yesterday I finished spinning the last of the gorgeous blue and purple roving.  I wound the first half into a ball, and the second half on an empty toilet paper roll.

I needed to get the yarn wound around something so I could form a hank (a big loop of yarn).  I thought I had a niddy noddy, but I looked all around and couldn't find it.  I'm still waiting on that fairy to come organize my yarn stash and all my tools.  So I had to improvise.  As Tim Gunn would say, I had to "Make it work!".

Turns out, treadmills really do come in handy for something!

I wound the yarn around the treadmill, then used pieces of string to tie the yarn all around, so it wouldn't tangle.

Then, to set the twist in the yarn (so it wouldn't untwist), I soaked it in hot water.  You can see how much the yarn wanted to twist back up after I removed the hank from the treadmill.

After squeezing out the excess water and "thwacking" the yarn on the counter (to relax the yarn fibers?), I hung it outside, using a can to slightly weight it and help it dry nicely.

I'm so excited to use it! I'm not sure how many yards I have, so I need to figure that out before I figure out what I want to do with it.  Our county fair is coming up in August, and there are classes for "handspun yarn" and "handspun knitted article", so I'm not sure if I'll make it into something or just enter it as yarn.  There are quite a few inconsistencies, so I'm leaning toward knitting something in the hopes that the inconsistencies will look more like art yarn than mistakes.  :-)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Road Trip: Part 1

A couple of weeks ago David and I took a road trip with a couple of friends of ours.  We were headed to Florida, to attend a wedding of some friends of ours.  We decided to stop in Savannah on our way down, and spend the night there.

It is about 10 hours from Maryland to Savannah, so we left at 4 AM Thursday morning to head down. We got to town around 2pm, and checked into our hotel for a bit of a rest before we went sight-seeing.  We had a 7:15 reservation at The Lady & Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant.

I didn't expect the restaurant to be a three story part of this building.  It's pretty big inside.

We spent some time looking around the gift shop before dinner.

After dinner we walked around a bit, and headed to the river walk.  There was a little square, called Johnson Square. Since my maiden name is Johnson, I had to take a picture with the sign.

There was a really neat plant that caught my attention, so I had to get a picture (this is a theme for the whole trip).

The river walk area was so neat. There were shops everywhere, musicians on the corners, artists set up to paint people, and a pretty view of the river.

This is Marc and Amanda, our traveling buddies.

WWII Memorial

A fancy honey shop...

And on the way back to our truck, we saw a horse and cart.  I managed to catch the horse relieving himself....oops.  :-)

We only had one night in Savannah, and there was so much we didn't get to see. I'd love to go back and spend an entire week there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Grazin' On...

The sheep and goats are on their second rotation of grazing in their main pasture this spring.  I've been rotating them heavily all around the property, and mainly saving their main pasture for week day grazing.  It's easy for me to keep an eye on them grazing in temporary fencing out in the yard during the weekends, and it's nice to have the security of the main pasture with permanent fencing when I'm at work.  The grass is still holding up very well, and we're due to get some rain tonight so hopefully it'll keep going strong for a while.  Usually we get a drought in late summer, so I'm preparing for that.  You can see they grazed the paddock to the left already, and this picture was when I moved them to a fresh piece.

June decided to go for the good stuff up high, and everyone came over to steal some leaves while she held down the branch.

Mulberry leaves must be tasty.

Hi Nessa!

Hi Barley!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Late June Garden

We went on vacation recently, and while I'm procrastinating posting pictures (so many pictures!), I wanted to document the garden's progress so far.  The weeds had grown a ton while we were gone, and I managed to weed a few aisles and the onion bed, but some beds still look like a hot mess. 

The potatoes in the cages have grown a ton, and I kept putting off "hilling" them, so now I am thinking it's maybe a bit too late for that.  I'll just see how they do as-is.  The potato beetles haven't hurt these plants nearly as much as the ones planted in the ground. 

I'll have to go back in the blog and see if I wrote it down, but I think this cage below has Norlands, which are supposed to be a more compact variety if I remember correctly.

Here is the onion bed after weeding.  Some of them look promising.  I've never had great luck with onions. 

The brassica bed.  Cabbage is doing fairly well, but the bugs are starting to put a hurting on the green (white?) cabbage.  The broccoli has been harvested, and I'm just waiting to pull the plants out.  I'm not sure what I'm waiting on, exactly.  Just haven't gotten around to it.

The row of green beans and yellow beans looks good.  There are little baby beans coming on strong!

I put in stakes for my crammed-in tomatoes.  I need to string them up as soon as I can find a roll of string. 

I ran out of stakes, so I used a cattle panel for some of the plants. I plan on trying to weave the plants into the panel and see how that works.  The cattle panel is in the back/middle of the picture below.

My poor potatoes are looking pretty rough!

Yikes...weeds and beetles makes for a poorly potato patch.

Here's my kale patch.  I just planted winter squash behind the wire trellis. Hopefully it'll have enough time to produce before frost this fall.

I planted lots of marigolds all over the garden, hoping they'd help repel some bugs.  They're pretty to look at, too.

The blueberries are producing! 

I've had horrible issues with squash vine borers killing my squash and zucchini these past few years, so this year I tried 2 things to get around that.  I planted late (after June 1), and I surrounded the plants with radishes. I've read radishes may help repel the vine borers. 

Oops, the squash seeds never germinated here, but the radishes are doing great!

That's about all for the June garden.  I've been harvesting peas, kale, and spinach (already petered out), broccoli, blueberries, and soon green beans, I hope! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Best Stuff on Earth

I love hay.  I mean love it.  When you have livestock, you need hay.  I guess some people have the luxury of being able to graze year round, but I think they're the exception and not the rule for most parts of our area.  I rely on hay through the winter and sometimes in the summer if we have a drought.  I also feed hay when I have animals in pens without pasture access.  Hay is crucial.  Every time I get a new bale or load of hay, I feel a huge sense of relief!  I'm sure other livestock owners will agree with me on that one.

We just got a new bale of hay yesterday....a beautiful first cutting, just baled in the past few weeks.  It smells heavenly.  I swear, there is nothing at all that smells better to me than freshly cut hay, and freshly baled hay is a close second.

Some people feel secure with a loaded bank account.  Others (like my sister) feel secure with a stocked pantry.  I feel secure with a new load of hay!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New in the Shop!

I recently added a few new soap scents to the line, and they're now listed in the shop.

First, a fresh and fruity scent perfect for summer!   Grapefruit!

I just love the color of this soap!  It's colored with natural oxide powder, and is the perfect grapefruit color.

Also new is Cedarwood!  I used to have a Cedarwood & Patchouli soap, but I have switched to the plain Cedarwood. This is a great, earthy scent. Great for men, but women also love it!

There's also a new coffee cozy in the shop!  

I just love this little flying pig!

Head over to the shop and take a look!  I'm working hard to restock all of the scents of soap, lip balms, and lotion bars.  I hope to have everything back in stock next month!
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