Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miniature Llama Play-Day

Last Saturday (the 27th) my friend Connie invited me to a farm near Windom to help demonstrate weaving while she wowed the crowd with her marvelous job of spinning llama fiber on her beautiful, double-treadle spinning wheel. I think that her theory was “If Jody can do it (weave), then anybody can do it!” I enjoyed the weaving very much. Connie brought her little two harness loom, already strung with the white and brown ‘warp’ threads. My ‘weft’ threads were brown, and the design was quite bonny, indeed! Poor Connie! She has the patience of a saint, I swear to you. But I only broke the loom one time, and my table runner actually was beginning to look pretty decent towards the end of the day.

But the day was not all spinning and weaving. I got to spend quite a bit of time with the miniature llamas and ‘their people.’ Wow, are they ever cool! They have the most beautiful, enormous eyes with long lashes, and their little llama lips are just so kissable! And besides falling in love with them, I learned a lot of llama facts. Did you know: that llamas are pregnant for 11 ½ months and they only have one baby (while standing up!?) They ‘hum’ as a means of communication, they can be used as pack animals, they make great guard animals, they can live up to 15-20 years. And (last but not least) their fiber may be used for spinning and weaving. It is incredibly soft, and it does not itch at all!

And no, I did not get spit on, but I did hear one of them ‘hum!’ I got to lead one of them around through a small obstacle course, and pet many of them. I even got to feed a beautiful appaloosa stud a cob of corn. Take a look at the pictures of the Miniature Llama Play-Day, taken by Connie. I was so absorbed the whole time that I did not even know that she was taking pictures! Thanks again, Connie, for a fabulous, fun day!

Hey everybody! Look! I'm actually 'looming!"

Doesn't Connie take amazing pictures? Take a look at everything going on in this next photo: I am kneeling on the ground in front of a miniature llama, getting a lesson in 'llama raising' from Bill (owner and breeder of award-winning miniature llamas); other people are leading llamas through the obstacle courses; Bill's wife is taking a picture of Laura, owner of the 'kushing' (kneeling) llama in front of me; and in the background is the beautiful cornfield, a grain storage bin, and the wonderful blue sky that shone above us all day. What a perfect fall day in southern Minnesota!


And here is the most beautiful male llama of the day, as far as I am concerned. Look at his little spotted legs! He is the stud of this farm. Can you just imagine what it would be like to take that (shaved), spotted fiber, and spin it into naturally colored buff- and brown- yarn? How cool is that???


FOOT NOTE: I just looked at friend Connie's blog (Ash Lane Farm, at the top of this page on the left) and she is showing a picture of the little table runner that I made on Saturday!!! I was amazed that it took such a small amount of time to do it, and yet I accomplished so much. I feel like I spent most of the day goofing off with the minature llamas! Weaving on the loom goes very quickly. One could whip out a rug, or a table runner, or a set of place mats in a day. The part that takes the longest amount of time is putting on the warp threads. I am keeping my fingers crossed until 2:00 today, as I am so hooked on weaving (I prefer to call it looming!) that I bid on a loom on ebay, and I am the only one that has bid, so far!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh, well (Again)

Life on the farm, it seems, is not always the way that we expect it should be. Especially when it comes to life, itself.

We woke up Monday morning to find that our wonderful tame chickens, Ruby, Tuesday, and Friday, were missing. Upon further investigation, we also found that two of our half-grown Guinea keets were gone, as well as my best friend’s brooder hen – the one that has hatched and raised all the little baby Guineas.

We found a pile of buff-colored feathers (that would be Connie and Norm’s Buff Orphington, the momma hen) and a pile of Guinea feathers. But after searching hi and lo all day long, and calling periodically for the chickens, we found no ‘bodies’ to go with the feathers. It remains a mystery as to what happened to my beloved chicken-pets. Lord, how I miss them! I picked beans yesterday, all by myself. I didn’t have the hens pecking at my clothing and remarking oooh! and ahhh! over the bugs that I stirred up amongst the plants. We worked together as a team, those chickens and I. And I loved them! Who would a’ thunk it; me falling in love with those chickens?! Especially knowing that, when their time was up, they would end up in a bubbling pot, surrounded by homemade egg noodles! Yes, I am very sad about the disappearance of the chickens.

After conferring and commiserating with Connie, we have decided that the most logical explanation is that the family of fox that live just down the road from us made a midnight raid on the hen house. Though, how they got my beloved pets and not those worthless, white, non-laying Leghorns is beyond me! That would explain how all of the chickens would disappear all at once, and the bodies could not be found. If it were an owl or a hawk, there would come up missing only one at a time.

I will not buy any more chickens this year. Winter is sneaking up on us, and I should just wait until spring when I can start out with new little baby fuzzy chicks. I am leaning towards the Buff Orphingtons, but I may settle for those Gold Stars again. They are the friendliest chickens I have ever had, ever. If I get them in the spring, they can grow big over the summer (if nothing eats them, that is) and they would start laying in the fall. Meanwhile, Connie has said that I can get some of those wonderful blue and green Americauna eggs from her.

And, my thumb is slowly recovering. I will take the stitches out either tomorrow (Wednesday) or the next day. I keep getting these little ‘electric shocks’ when I accidentally bend it, so I am trying to keep holding it straight all the time. It is hard, but once you have experienced those ‘shock’ things, you just learn really fast how to do it. I believe that it may be because the nerve was severed. It should heal, over time. And I guess my heart will heal, too. But none of us will ever forget those funny, friendly chickens; our very first chickens on GOOD SHEPHERD farm. They were truly 'one of a kind.'

'Ruby' and 'Tuesday,' working hard on the farm


'Friday' looking pretty for the picture


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh, Well

I got a new paring knife, as mine were so dull that you could slide to China and back and never suffer a scratch. Remember that little poem that says: "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace..." Well, that is just WRONG!!!! I was born on Tuesday. And I have been known to walk down hallways, get my feet tangled up around my neck, and fall flat on my face. Yes, just ask my mother, it's true.

Well, last night I managed to attempt chopping an onion with my new paring knife, and severed an artery in my thumb and sliced a nerve. Except, for slicing a nerve, the darned thing sure hurts this morning! So, I probably won't be writing in the blog for awhile . The stitches come out in 7-10 days, and maybe after that happens I will write more. I am keying with my right hand and the going is very slow. I have taken a Tylenol for pain, and will go and lie down again. Enjoy this day...the sun is shining, there is no wind, and the excavation guy is here digging up the spot for the new shed to be built (thank you, Lord, for small favors).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Holy Tomato

I cleaned house all day yesterday. Washed 8 loads of clothes, washed floors, vacuumed, changed bedding, yada yada yada. All those things you do after company leaves you know the drill. Then, I went out to the garden. And that was my mistake.

I thought that I had spied a few red tomatoes when looking out from the bathroom window. I hadn’t been in the garden for 3 days, so I should have known better. What I found was: hoards and hoards of red, ripe tomatoes. Now, let us get this straight first and foremost: I am very grateful for the bountiful garden this year. It is by far the best garden I have ever grown. But I was quite unprepared for the first BIG picking of the year.

We have only 8 tomato plants. We bought one of those little 4-packs, and each little tray had 2 dinky little tomato plants in it. They looked sickly. I caught some carp down at the waterfall in Windom and brought them home. I dug 8 holes for the tomatoes, placing a carp deep in each hole. I planted the little plants, and watered them. I placed a cutout plastic milk carton over each one. Then I did my customary prayer over each individual plant. Well, whatever it was, it must have worked. One tomato plant gave me 40 enormous red, ripe tomatoes. Another plant gave me 32, and yet another gave me 30. In all, I picked 222 huge Beefsteak tomatoes, lugged them in boxes to the trunk of the Toyota, drove them back to the house and then lugged them inside. HOLY COW! They were sure beautiful! No cracks, no rotten spots. Just red, round, firm, HUGE tomatoes. I was so psyched!

Today, I made 6-1/2 gallons of spaghetti sauce. I only used up a little less than half of the tomatoes! I will try and get up early tomorrow and finish the others. I should end up with over 12 gallons of spaghetti sauce and a few more packages of whole tomatoes. Then, I can sit back and relax...

For 3 more days!!!


A sink full of tomatoes


A double batch of spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove


Finished spaghetti sauce cooling, and one of the three boxes of tomatoes


Look at the size of these Beefsteak Tomatoes!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day

I looked up Labor Day on Google, and clicked on the Wikipedia site. (I love Wikipedia!) For those who do not know the history of Labor Day, here is the (condensed) story:

"Labor Day is a US holiday observed on the first Monday in September. The holiday originated in 1882 as the Central Labor Union (of New York City) sought to create "a day off for the working citizens". Congress made Labor Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1894, two months after the May Day Riots of 1894. All fifty states have made Labor Day a state holiday.

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. Today, Labor Day is often regarded as a day of rest and parades. although events held by labor organizations often feature political themes and appearances by candidates for office, especially in election years. Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water sports, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer." (Wikipedia)

THIS Labor day was extra-special for me, as my family came down to the farm to spend the long weekend. My mother, my brother, and his girlfriend, Diane spent their time visiting, eating, fishing, eating, having an enormous bonfire, helping out around the farm, resting, and eating. A marvelous time was had by all, and it was especially exciting to get to know Diane, the newest member of the group. She works with Tim at the hospital, and she is an incredibly sweet person. I look forward to seeing her again, soon. Here are some pictures of this past weekend:

My "Leetle Brother" and I

Tim and his girlfriend, Diane. They appear to be looking at mother.

I think that Mom is having a good time!

Yes, she definitely is having fun! We ended up coming home with 64 bullheads and 4 sunfish. Wow, did it take a long time to clean all those fish!!!

Typical family shot, for us! (Tim is eating the fish, mother is groaning...)

Our hu-normous bonfire! (Don in the foreground)

We each planted our own tree, in honor of the event.

We each planted a Crab Apple tree which will bear mounds of beautiful red flowers each spring. What a wonderful way to remember our special Labor Day weekend!