Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Storm Prep

We're due to get a lot of rain in the next few days.  It's been a fairly dry several months, but we had about 2" of rain last night, and they're calling for about 4" through Saturday.  Then Hurricane Joaquin is threatening to dump on us as well.  We could be looking at 10" of rain in the next 5 days.

This evening it wasn't raining, so we went to work getting everything ready outside.  David cleaned the gutters and made sure all the downspouts had extenders on them, and sealed up a few things that needed sealing.

I spent time out with the animals, getting them ready.  It's one thing for rain, but another with so much rain and the threat of high winds, too.

The rabbits are fairly sheltered against a hedgerow, but I added this tarp to the front to protect them from rain blowing in.  I can roll it up...

Or let it down for protection.

I also used a tarp to block off the front of the hay shelter. I need to pick up another one for one side of the shelter.  Those are the most likely areas for rain to blow in.  The chickens were pretty interested in the new tarp.

I put new straw in with the lambs, and added their large plywood front to the shelter. It was open for summer, but since it's not a very deep shelter (from the front), I wanted to give them more protection.

I put the goats in the barn, since they are divas and really hate getting wet. Plus, it frees up more space in the main shelter, so the sheep won't have to compete for space or be stuck in close quarters with the goats.

I also loaded a good bit of hay in the barn, and filled up the hay nets so I can easily feed when it's pouring out.

The sheep got fresh straw, and Darla went to work finding the best parts to eat.

A few weeks ago I over-seeded the pasture.  It is coming up really well, and should really like the rain we're getting.  The new grass is so bright green!

Now we're all ready for the rain, and hopefully we can all sit back and stay dry and warm.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jalapeno Hot Sauce

We all like hot sauce in this family (some more than others), so I wanted to try to make some this year. I feel like it adds up when you buy it in the store, and the bottles are pretty small.  I got some peppers from my organic farming friend, and set out in search of a good recipe.

My short attention span sort of got in my way this time.  I found a recipe for fermented hot sauce, and "read" through it.  It's a lot of text though, and I'd rather see recipes in list form, so I skimmed it.  Since I skimmed it, I missed the part where they used wine as the liquid for the fermentation.  I used vinegar.  Oops.  I never really thought much of it.

I put the peppers in vinegar and let them sit on the counter for 2 weeks.  I never saw any mold growth, I guess because they were in vinegar (with salt added) and not in wine or a brine like other recipes use.

When I re-read the recipe today, I realized my mistake.  I wasn't worried though, I just strained the vinegar and put the peppers in the blender.

Then I dumped that into a pot, along with half the vinegar I strained out, plus a few cloves of garlic and some onion powder.  That simmered for about 45 minutes, and reduced by a bit.

Then I added it back to the blender and let it go until it was smooth.

Ta-da!  Hot sauce.  It made half a gallon plus almost a pint.

It's pretty good too, and should last us a while!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Louet

Before I got into spinning, I used to hear other spinners talk about how spinning wheels multiplied quickly. You'd start out with one, and before you know it you'd end up with several.  I thought they were crazy. Surely you wouldn't need more than 1 wheel, right?

Well, I now have 3 wheels.  I just posted a picture of the 3 wheels in my workroom post.  My most recent wheel is my Louet s15 that I bought from someone selling it on Craigslist.  I brought my friend Nancy with me to look at it, and we both spun on it and it seemed to work fine. The wheel was slightly warped, but it didn't affect the spinning ability.

I was spinning on it recently, and the part that connected the treadle (foot pedal) to the footman (rod that connects the treadle to the wheel) came detached.  I tried to re-attach it, but realized someone had improvised and replaced that part with a piece of cable (like coax cable).  I figured I could replace the cable with something similar, but softer so the screws to attach it would screw in easier. I was trying to take the workings apart, when I realized someone had also glued some parts together where it connected to the wheel.

Luckily, even though the s15 is a discontinued wheel, replacement parts are still readily available.  I went online and in 5 minutes was able to purchase all of the replacement parts I needed.

Here's the replacement cable they used.  A screw is supposed to go through this part, and the wires prevented that.

Here's the actual replacement part from Louet.  It's solid enough to hold its shape, but soft enough to flex.  It's almost like a hot glue stick (and if this one ever needs replacing, I may try a hot glue stick).

Here it is installed.

 The part that connects the footman to the wheel had to be pried off, since it had been super glued on.

Unfortunately the wheel got slightly scratched when we had to pry the pieces apart, but it's not very noticeable.  That metal bearing below was all crusty and old, so it got replaced too.

Here she is, all put back together.  Well, except for the drive band, which is hanging loose in the picture below.


I've been working on spinning Barley's fleece, and the wheel seems to really like the batts I've carded.  

From fluffy batt to spun singles.  I am loving the color.

Here's a short video I took while spinning the other day.  I was curious to compare my spinning to when I was first learning. I seem smoother now than I was, which is nice.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Workroom

When our house flooded this past winter after a pipe burst, we were very upset and stressed thinking about all the work we had in order to move stuff out, repair everything, and move everything back in.  Now that we're 99.5% done with everything (still have one small closet to drywall), things are much more positive.  Although it was not exactly the kind of motivation we wanted, it was a great way to get our space more organized.  The basement especially needed some help.

It took several months, but I finally got my space organized as a great work space for me.  It's now organized and has all my yarn, spinning stuff, felting stuff, and Purl & June stuff.  Well, there's still a closet full of all of my oils and soap/lipbalm making supplies upstairs, since all of that is made upstairs.  

But check out my space in the basement.   We've "divided" it into 3 spaces. One area will be a living space, with seating and a TV so we can have it as a sort-of den.  The second space will be for David's firearm and reloading area, and the third space is mine.

Here's mine!  I have just about enough room to store my stuff, but I underestimated how much STUFF I actually have.

This large 4' cabinet holds most of my yarn.

I got the storage bins at Home Depot, and even though they weren't cheap ($7 each adds up!), they are worth it.  I wanted to be able to put everything in nice bins.  My sewing machines are on the bottom, mainly for weight to stabilize the cabinet.   There are extra bins on top, along with fiber fill.

My second cabinet is only 36", because I didn't think I needed 2 of the larger ones.  It's a bit deeper than the 48" one, which is nice.  This cabinet holds my books (too heavy to put on a higher shelf), my fiber for spinning (bins on top shelf), fabric, and bins with sewing supplies and knitting supplies.

This is my fiber tower. It holds all of my fiber and roving for felting.  And check out my new drum carder on top!  I just got it yesterday.  It's the Brother drum carder with the extra fine cloth.  I will be able to prepare all types of fiber for spinning.

My three spinning wheels sit on the hearth.  The one on the left is the spindle wheel David made me for Christmas.  The one in the middle is my "new" (to me) Louet s15.  I got it last week and it's a very nice workhorse of a wheel.  Then the Ashford Traditional is on the right.

These shelves are great for drying soap, and there's room underneath to add more shelves when needed.  Right now it's great for storing bins.  The bins hold wool sweaters (for felting/fulling), Purl & June supplies, and other things.            

This shelf holds shipping and packing supplies, labeling supplies, extra lye (bottom shelf), and all the paper and labels I need for Purl & June stuff.  My new business printer is on the table on the right of the picture.  It replaced the one that got "rained on" from the flood.
I bought a 4' table that I can fold flat when not in use. It'll be a great work surface.

I am so excited just looking at these pictures!  Never before have I had such an organized space for creating.  I just really hope I can keep it looking this organized!!  
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